On the Science of Changing Sex

Why Transgender Folk Hate Scientists

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on September 18, 2018

27867072_1811649452220144_4426664495691531655_nBlanchard, Bailey, & Lawrence… just listing them evokes waves of antipathy in the transgender communities, especially among late transitioning transwomen.  Ask many of them and you will be told that these three are hateful transphobes… in spite of copious evidence to the contrary.  But why?

A recent paper (Hannikainen 2018) explores the issue of lay people conflating the results of science research with the scientist’s ideology.  The study showed that there is a tendency to ascribe motivation “to prove” an hypotheses rather than simply to test one.  Further, this tendency, this effect, was more pronounced if the results, the data, were disagreeable to the individual evaluating the scientist by his results.

As Voldesolo wrote,

“This is a dim and dangerous view of science, and one that no doubt contributes to the increasing politicization of the field. If results discordant with our preferred worldviews can be cast as the workings of an ideologue in a lab coat, then reactions to research will increasingly polarize. The possibility for empirical truths to accurately inform our views erodes, and a shared understanding of the means by which we discover truth is undermined. If we turn to the results of studies to determine our level of credence, as opposed to the methods by which those results were achieved, then science becomes a breeding ground for our biases as opposed to their antidote.”

Thus, many transwomen hate Blanchard, Bailey, and Lawrence not because of who they are or how they feel about transfolk (which is actually fairly positive and supportive) but on the unpleasant truths that they discovered and wrote about.

Let me state it plain and clear:  The truth is the truth no matter who researches or writes about it.  Further, seeking to demonize scientists who discover a truth that is unpleasant is both despicable and self-defeating because the truth will out.  Shooting the messenger will not change the truth.

Further Reading:

Essay on transactivists reactions to Anne Lawrence conducting research

Further External Reading:

The Danger of Judging Scientists By What They Discover

Reference:

Hannikainen, Ivar. 2018. “Ideology Between the Lines: Lay Inferences About Scientists’ Values and Motives.” PsyArXiv. July 1. doi:10.31234/osf.io/gyk26.

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Misplaced Moralizing

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on August 28, 2018

Kay BrownThe other day, a non-transwoman on a “gender critical” (which usually means “transgender belittle”) forum hatefully misinterpreted a passing remark in one of my essays about maintaining safety and privacy when dating as a teenaged MTF transkid.  She very nastily described stealth, passing, transwomen not telling their dates that they are trans as “rapey”.

No, “rapey” is…

a tall, above 6′, very strong-looking man in his early 30s following a 5’7″, 140lb, 19-year-old transwoman, in a mid-thigh length dress and light sweater, off the bus at night, following her only a few paces behind her duplicating each turn down deserted streets toward her apartment obviously looking for a dark corner.  That young transwoman, steeling her nerves, turns to confront the man hoping that a brave face will deter the attack she knows must be coming, saying “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Whose going to stop me?” he says haughtily, tilting his head up to show his disdain.  The transwoman, having confirmation that this man does indeed intend to rape her and seeing her opportunity for surprise, folds the fingers of her hand to form a sharp edge of her knuckles and strikes him in the throat, turns and flees as fast as she can for the final few yards for her apartment door, her hands shaking so badly that she drops her keys before finally getting the door open, slips into the apartment, slams, locks, and bolts the door!

“Rapey” is…

a coworker grabbing a 21 year old transwoman in the hallway at work as she comes out of the women’s room, dragging her kicking and screaming to the men’s room while repeating over and over “It will be alright,” in a sick twisted “calming” voice.  In the doorway to the men’s room he pulls up her calf-length skirt, pulls down her panties and grabs her… oops… pre-op genitalia which he hadn’t expected.  At that moment she shakes loose, bolts down the hallway, enters a room and locks the door behind her.  She waits for an hour before peeking out the door then runs full tilt for the parking lot and drives home still shaking.

Rape Culture…

is telling management about the attack, where upon, she is taken to a dimly lit room with only one chair to be interrogated by two men looming over her.  Her request that she speak to a woman is denied.  After scoffing at her account she is fired a few days later.

Rape is….

…having fallen asleep on the couch at a stranger’s apartment because your date doesn’t want to go home yet.  Rape is when the occupant of that apartment, now that she is alone there, her date leaving her still sleeping, wakes that 20 year old transwoman by forcefully ripping her clothes off, dragging & throwing her on his bed naked, and forcing his penis into her anus… all the while she is screaming at the top of her lungs for help which never comes as he keeps talking like he is making love to her.  She kicks and tries to bite him but he is far too big, strong, and holds her two wrists in one large and very strong hand.  She is sobbing when he is done… only he isn’t.  Still holding her wrists above her head, drags her to the shower where using soap washes her off, removing the ‘evidence’ of his crime.  She sobs, horrified and shamed all over again as he does so.  The soap gets onto her wrists which allows her to slip his grip and push away from him.  She runs to her clothes, dodging the man by jumping over his couch, and runs out the door in a state of mostly undress, and keeps running several blocks before stopping to dress herself.  She makes her way home on foot in the menacing dark, puts on her least attractive sleepwear, and stares unseeing at the wall huddled protectively to herself until dawn.

Rape Culture is…

knowing that she can’t go to the police to press charges because she knows what happens to women… how they get revictimized and retraumatized though the whole process… how their sexual history gets dragged out in court to make her look like a slut.  Take that public slut shaming defense tactic and imagine what the press coverage of the “alleged rape” of a 20 year old “boy” who looks and acts like an attractive girl would be like in 1977.

That’s “rapey”.

Rape is…

… an almost 21 year old transwoman feels the knife at her throat wielded by a stranger who forces her to perform oral sex on him… while hoping against hope that she will still be alive when he is finished… and hopes that he doesn’t find out that she is trans… cause that’s how transwomen end up as the headline reads “Man Found Dead In Dress”.

Yes, that’s definitely “rapey”.

That transwoman in each of these incidents was me!

So don’t you DARE presume to some higher moral ground to tell ME that accepting an invitation to share dinner, or go to the park, to bike riding, or to the beach… without outing oneself as trans to him is “rapey” !  Oh that poor man…he had a pleasant time with a woman he never knew was a transwoman.  How horrible!  He doesn’t know how very traumatized he isn’t!

Rape is immoral because it is traumatizing, degrading, and demeaning.  By conflating transwomen maintaining their privacy for either safety or self-esteem reasons until they are certain that they wish to share that medical history with a prospective romantic partner with rape they are not expressing valid moral reasoning but simple trans and homophobia.   It relies on the notion that for a straight man to be romantically involved with an androphilic transwoman, no matter how physically and behaviorially feminine, no matter how desirable a personality or moral character, he is demeaned by the experience.  He becomes less of a man, either homosexual, clueless, or both, a figure of ridicule, while the transwoman is to be despised as a liar and a cheat, as well as an effeminate (misogyny) homosexual (homophobia).  The meme disparages both parties, increasing the discrimination that androphilic tranwomen experience and the likelihood of being severely beaten and murdered by transphobic straight men who find themselves attracted to such transwomen (whether or not they knew beforehand).  This meme is deadly to androphilic transwomen (no hyperbole).

Further Reading:

Essay on transphobic jokes and memes that falsely portray transwomen as sexual predators

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Safety First

Posted in Editorial, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on August 7, 2018

female_scientistPersonal Safety: Women’s and Transgender Rights in Prison

In one of the episodes of Pose, Blanca, a very feminine pre-op transwoman is unjustly arrested and is held in a cell with a number of very scary looking men.  The scene is presented without any editorial comment as the visual tableau speaks for itself.

When I was just 18 years old, my friend Marcella, a 24 year-old pre-op Latina transwoman and I were talking about what happens when a pre-op transwoman is arrested and jailed.  I was concerned about it to the point of not just not committing any crimes, but of ensuring I never was in a position where I might be suspected of a crime.  Marcella thought I was silly, saying, “In jail the men are there for you honey!”  She shared her experience of having been arrested for drug possession and spending some time in county jail.  (She had a fondness for Quaaluudes.)  She related that she was very well treated by some of the men who protected her from harassment and violence.  Me?  No.  I still wouldn’t have been willing to prostitute myself in order to purchase that protection, the price would be too high.

Over the decades, I have taken in a number of transfolk and non-transfolk for varying periods of time.  I had rules.  One of them was no illegal activities or substances, period.  (The same rule that fictional Blanca had for her house in Pose.) A decade ago, that rule was broken by one of the young transwomen I allowed to stay in my house during her recovery from SRS.  She had hidden that she was a drug addict and had brought into my house drugs and paraphernalia.  Taking a spare key, she also stole my airplane and crashed in a hay-field while high!  She spent some time in jail, presumably in a women’s ward as she was then of course post-op.

This brings up the issue of where we place transfolk during incarceration.  Our rules should be based on safety for all concerned.  But they aren’t always.  I’ve already brought up the issue of placing clearly feminine pre-op transwomen in with men and how one either trades sexual favors for safety or risk sexual and/or violent assault.  But is that the only concern?

Sadly, transwomen are not homogenous as a population.  Most transwomen, both pre- and post-op in Northern European and English speaking countries are gynephilic and autogynephilic.  And a minority… a small minority… are prone to criminality and violence… including sexual assault against women and children.

In the Dhejne study following up a cohort of post-op transsexuals they found,

Male-to-females had a significantly increased risk for crime compared to female controls (aHR 6.6; 95% CI 4.1–10.8) but not compared to males (aHR 0.8; 95% CI 0.5–1.2). This indicates that they retained a male pattern regarding criminality. The same was true regarding violent crime. By contrast, female-to-males had higher crime rates than female controls (aHR 4.1; 95% CI 2.5–6.9) but did not differ from male controls. This indicates a shift to a male pattern regarding criminality and that sex reassignment is coupled to increased crime rate in female-to-males. The same was true regarding violent crime.

Note that transfolk, both MTF and FtM had nearly as many criminal convictions as men.  It’s interesting that men still exhibited more criminality as both MTF and FtM by a slight amount.  If I had to guess, I would hypothesis that this is because of the inhomogeneous taxonomic structure of the MTF community in Sweden where the study is from.  While most transwomen would be AGP and thus likely to have identically the same criminality as men in general, the minority of ‘early onset’ transwomen pulls the rate down by 20%.

There are very few studies that explore the issue of transfolk and the risks that some may pose to others in a prison setting.  However, there are some disturbing hints.

In the Canadian court case of Kavanagh, a transwoman in prison, the following excerpt may be found,

“Dr. Watson’s suggestion that pre-operative male to female transsexuals would pose little physical risk to female prisoners was addressed by several of CSC’s witnesses. Dr. Dickey, Dr. Hucker and Ms. Petersen all disagree with Dr. Watson’s statement that most male to female transsexual inmates are attracted to men: To the contrary, they say, the majority of transsexuals in federal prisons are actually attracted to women. It takes serious criminal activity to qualify a person for a federal prison sentence in Canada. According to Dr. Dickey and Ms. Petersen, homosexual transsexuals do not generally have the degree of aggressiveness or psychopathy necessary to get them into a Canadian federal prison. The transsexuals that Dr. Hucker has encountered in the correctional setting tend, he says, to be “more ambiguous” in their sexual orientation… Dr. Dickey, Dr. Hucker and Ms. Petersen all say that they would be very concerned about putting a pre-operative male to female heterosexual transsexual inmate in a women’s prison, given the risk that the inmate would prey on female prisoners.”

Then there is the concern that some transwomen may be a danger to children.  There have been several cases of transwomen in prison for sexual assault on, and even murder of, children.  There is even documentation of two pedophiles seeking to transition and receive medical interventions who admitted a belief that as women their interest in being around children would be more socially acceptable!

Denying it does not serve the transgender community.  Balancing safety and respect for human rights for all concerned should be the goal and recommended policy.  Thus, while this is just my personal opinion, I highly recommend the following policies concerning transwomen, incarceration, and access to “women’s spaces”.

First, when arrested but before conviction of any crime.  Transfolk should be kept separate from non-transfolk to ensure personal safety and to respect their dignity.  Someone not convicted of a crime should not be “punished” by being put at risk and of being disrespectfully treated.

Transfolk convicted of a crime should be evaluated on a case by case basis as to their placement to maximize safety for all concerned.  Transfolk’s sexual orientation, etiology (taxonomic diagnoses), and surgical status must be considered but no hard and fast rule applied.  Where there is no risk of violence or sexual predation, a transwoman may be placed in a female facility regardless of genital surgical status (e.g. ‘early onset’ – androphilic transwomen are not a risk to women, but are at very high risk from men).  Risk factors considered should include the prisoner’s history of violence, especially toward women.  A transwoman who has ever exhibited violent or sexual crimes (not including prostitution) should NEVER be housed in a women’s facility regardless of current surgical status.  That is to say, a rapist has forfeited the privilege and the prison system shouldn’t provide new victims to a predator.

References:

Dhejne, et al. “Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden” (2011) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0016885

Kavanagh vs. Canada

Saunders, et al., “Gender reassignment: 5 years of referrals in Oxfordshire”
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-psychiatrist/article/gender-reassignment-5-years-of-referrals-in-oxfordshire/6B5F217162ABD9B3189F2EB82787034E/core-reader

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Exploring The Science of Transgender

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on July 16, 2018

Through Knowledge, Justice…

27867072_1811649452220144_4426664495691531655_nThis blog is on the science of transsexuality and transgender sexuality.  There are many myths and misunderstandings about transsexuality and transgender people.  Our scientific understanding of the transsexual phenomena has increased and dramatically improved over the past fifty years, yet much of what is available in popular literature is misinformation and disinformation.  Much of what the public, including transsexuals and transgender people themselves, believe about the etiology and epidemiology of transsexuality is based on wishful thinking on one hand and deliberate distortions on the other.  Worse, many cherry-pick among the scientific papers, choosing those that, in isolation, appear to support a given thesis.  Many transsexual and transgendered people have read misinformation and disinformation regarding the science, denying or decrying the science, often in emotionally inflammatory language (including vicious attacks on the characters of scientists and educators), that makes its rounds in the echo chamber of the web and social media.  Indeed, there are fora that will instantly ban any who discuss this science in any truthful way.  This blog is an attempt to correct this situation.

Learning an unpleasant truth is better than believing a comforting lie – Don’t let the “tribe” tell you what to think – Trust only evidence, not vehemence

All information found in this blog is supported by peer reviewed science and referenced (cited) in essay posts covering a given topic found on this site.  Many topics are interwoven with other topics, as they are interlocking issues.  Please explore the entire site for a full explanation of each topic.

One can find a bibliography for this blog if you wish to quickly find papers of interest.  You may wish to review the Glossary if a word is unfamiliar.

Remember as you read this site;  Transsexuals and transgendered people are good people, worthy of our respect, and even of our admiration.  Nothing in this material is meant to imply otherwise.  If you are a transsexual or transgendered person:  You have value as a human being.  You have the right to be respected, valued, and even celebrated as the gender to which you identify and aspire regardless of etiology.

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Detransitioners Are NOT The Enemy

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial by Kay Brown on June 21, 2018

Kay BrownTransgender folks should not fear detransitioners.

When I was 18 years old, on my own, effectively disowned by my family.  (I say effectively, as I was given a meagre allowance with the stipulation that I was NOT to come home or be seen by any of the family’s connections.)  I was fully socially transitioned and was just beginning HRT.  I had found a room to rent with kitchen and bathroom privileges.  The owner, a young divorced mom with a young daughter and her twenty something brother lived downstairs.  Two other women rented rooms upstairs.  Oh… and they often had boyfriends spend the night… so this wasn’t some female only space by any means.  In fact, I even had a date with the brother, went to a Jr. College dance together.  I couldn’t really afford the rent, so I did babysitting of the daughter in exchange to lower it to what I could afford.  I should mention that I couldn’t afford to eat either!  I went hungry for weeks at a time.  One of my high school friends found out about that and organized a food drive for me.  I ate a lot of strange stuff from cans for a while !  After several months of this… well, disaster struck.  I got read and outed.  No one in that house wanted a transsexual in the house, I was forced to leave.

So much for the theory that if people know an LGBT person, their hatred will be reduced… not in 1975 it didn’t.

So, I had to find a new place, fast… and I didn’t have enough money to rent my own space, no matter how humble.  I didn’t know a single transperson.  I had never met a transperson.  I was completely alone, no community, no mentors, no one I could turn to.

I was told about a place called the Alternative Community Center, where they had a bulletin board listing housing.  I hoped that I could find an LGBT friendly space.  I inquired at a goodly number of situations… While I found plenty of L friendly spaces, some G friendly spaces… there did NOT seem to be any T friendly spaces… In fact, in one mixed house I got quite the cold shoulder, openly hostile and vile comments.  But as I walked out, one of the straight men, ran after me and excitedly talked to me, actually trying to flirt with me, then admitted he was a closeted cross-dresser (i.e. a gynandrophilic autogynephile)… and while he clearly wanted to be my buddy, he also wouldn’t stick his neck out to support my joining the house-hold.  I was becoming depressed and disparate.  Then, my luck changed.

A very butch lesbian had a room available in a rented house near the beach.  She explained that it was temporary, it being winter, the off-season, so she had rented it dirt cheap.  I could have the room dirt cheap.  Her name was Curly Hummingbird.  She was totally cool with me being MTF trans.  I couldn’t believe my luck.

Living there was comforting and I felt more than welcome.  Curly even set me up with a man.  She loved sharing with me that all her lesbian friends had the hots for me.  She didn’t tell them I was trans.  She also made it VERY clear that she too found me attractive.

As time went on, we had many late night discussions.  It turned out that she was a detransitioner.  She had lived for three years passing as a man.  Yes, when gays, lesbians, and straights were all horribly transphobic when confronted by an actual transperson, a detransitioner was my savior.

After several months, winter turned to springtime weather and the house rent went up.  Curly was moving on and so must I.  I thought I had found a new savior, a mid-twenties, self-described “straight” transwoman I had met at the Stanford Clinic’s “Grooming Seminar Series”.  But she turned out to be a predator instead (as I wrote about years ago in another essay).  So, I learned that transwomen could be even worse than detransitioners.

But interestingly, at that “seminar”, Dr. Laub, Sr., the surgeon of the clinic made an announcement that one of the popular members of that little community of autogynephilic transwomen had decided to detransition AFTER having SRS.  This sent shock waves through most of the attendees, save for one twenty-something lesbian identified post-op who philosophized that “he” had found what he needed on his life’s journey and that no one should feel sad about the situation.

Thus, the earliest lessons I learned in the transcommunity… detransitioning was real.  It happened.  It was not tragic… and they were not my enemy.

Having said that, I will admit that there is one very loud asshat of a detransitioner who clearly is our enemy, Walt Heyer.  But notice that he seems to be the lone voice, beloved by the transphobic alt-right and Xtian Right alike.  He is the exception that proves the rule.

Finally, I want to point out that someone who begins social transition and/or HRT but backs away from that in a short period of time should perhaps not be considered a detransitioner?  After all, we used to have a consensus in the caregiving community that there should be a “Real Life Test” period sufficient to determine if such transition and medical interventions were the right thing for a given individual.  Perhaps we need to view such “detransitions” as not being detransitions so much as having conducted the medical / social / psychological tests and found that they were not right and count that as a win?

Oh, Curly, if you read this, please contact me?  It would be great to catch up after all of these years.

Further Reading:

Essay on Tranwoman as Predator

External Further Reading:

“I Wanted To Take My Body Off”: Detransitioned

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Shameful History of Reparitive Therapy of Transgender and Gay Children & Youth

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial by Kay Brown on June 11, 2018

Kay BrownThere is an ongoing ‘war of words’ concerning the best course of treatment for gender atypical & dysphoric youth.  Lately, as our society has learned to accept and even celebrate LGBT youth, there has been a reaction from religious and reactionary bigots who would wish to return to the days when parents and medical caregivers could treat gender atypicality as a serious psychiatric disorder that needed drastic interventions in and of itself, rather than a non-pathological variance found in all human societies.  So, perhaps its time to review the history of such interventions in the light of more recent scientific and humanitarian knowledge.

First, one must understand that historically, gender atypicality concerns were mostly focused on male children, sissies.  It was often assumed that ‘tomboys’ would outgrow it, but sissy boys would all too likely grow up to be homosexual or transsexual, both equally considered as disordered, criminal, and to be avoided at all costs.

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To understand the nature of a given intervention one must first understand the underlying assumptions about the etiology of gender atypicality, dysphoria, and sexual orientation that a given intervention was designed to address.  During the mid-20th Century several competing theories vied with each other but there was a common thread, that of a disturbance of nurture.  That is to say, that they rejected the role of biology and focused on the environment.  So, if the environment is broken, so will the child be.  From there, several theories emerge, first up, faulty family constellation, lack of “appropriate” role modeling, and the “Smother Mother”.

The faulty family constellation theory is from observations that many children grow up in so-called “broken homes”, where single mothers are raising children on her own, with no man in her life.  The theory is that a boy child simply has no male role model and thus learns only feminine behavior and identification.  But, this wasn’t true of all feminine boys.  So, another term was added, the “emotionally absent” father.  This was a man, who though physically present in the home, rejected his son and thus failed to mold the young boy’s behavior toward the “healthy” masculine norm.  Of course, a modern understanding would be that the boy’s femininity had been the cause of the rejection by a homophobic father, not the other way around.  Also, many masculine heterosexual boys had grown up in single mother households, so they had to add the term “vulnerable” to the description of the boys, that is to say, only those who were “vulnerable” to this absence developed into sissies.

The theory also holds that the mother in these families tends to ‘smother’ a boy, hold him close to her body for excessively long periods, ‘tie him to her apron strings’, etc., such that he can’t form a separate gender identity, or even any identity, of his own.

The intervention designed to ‘fix’ the faulty family constellation is to introduce a “healthy” masculine male role model to the boy and encourage identification and subsequent modeling upon that man.  Since it isn’t always practical to require a single mother to find a suitable husband willing to take on the task of ‘toughening up’ the sissy boy, the goal is to place the boy in therapy sessions with a suitable role modeling therapist.  For a pre-teen this would often mean “play therapy” with sex typed boys toys.  Ideally, there would also be family therapy where the boy’s father would be encouraged to take a greater role in the child’s upbringing and similar withdrawal of the mother’s involvement.  Playing with girl’s toys is to be actively denied, taking away beloved toys and dolls, often lampooned as “Drop the Barby” therapy.  Another aspect would be to restrict the boy from having female friends and require them to participate in single sex activities such as scouting, etc. where they are often exposed to peer disapproval and even bullying.  It sounds almost gentle and acceptable… but underneath, the message to the child is that they are not “ok”, that there is something wrong with them, that they are not lovable as they are, leading to reduced self-esteem and increased loneliness.

While we can all applaud the idea of family intervention to encourage more paternal involvement and bonding, the idea of decreased maternal involvement is simply not justified given that we now know that the faulty family constellation theory is just plain bogus.  Further, if a homophobic father can’t step up and bond with a feminine boy, that boy will need his mother’s acceptance all the more.  Further, placing the blame upon the mother for having “encouraged” the boy’s femininity in this manner is just plain evil.

{Personal Note:  At the age of ten, during the ’67-’68 school year, I was sent to such “play therapy” with Dr. Peters (you can’t make this stuff up), a tall bearded man in a large room filled with toys.  I don’t remember seeing any girl’s toys in the room, ever.  According to my parents, separately, since they divorced when I was a teen, I trust that they were both being candid with me, it had been the school psychologist who had insisted that I be refered to Dr. Peters and only Dr. Peters.  This would also explain why my teachers interfered with my female friendships and forced me to interact with boys in class, and there was nothing subtle about it.  —  What I find saddening about the episode is that in my case, the faulty family constellation theory is completely reversed.  My mother, though an amazingly capable and caring parent, was the one who became emotionally unavailable and rejecting.  It was my good fortune that my Dad was always a very warm, loving, caring, and devoted father to all four of his children… though, if we are all honest about it, I was likely his favorite.}

Another intervention that gained some currency in the mid to late 20th Century is, in effect, to place a child into a Skinner Box, that is to say, create a deliberate reward & punishment system, in therapy, in the home, and in the classroom, in which gender typical behavior is consistently recognized and rewarded, perhaps with tokens redeemable for desirable privileges, while gender atypical behavior is penalized.  This type of environment is often used in cases of extremely “disturbed”, aggressive, or violent children and teens where cooperative behavior is rewarded and aggression is penalized.  Here, the theory is that child is held to be “gender disturbed”, expanding the definition used for one class of children requiring extraordinarily harsh and controlling interventions to another.  There were a number of ‘therapist / researchers’ who have published and recommended such interventions using just this pathologizing language.

One of these, George Rekers, a self-hating closeted gay man, not content to label gender atypical boys “disturbed”, not satisfied with the stigmatizing term “effeminate” boy, coined the even more powerfully pathologizing and stigmatizing term “feminoid” in the manner of the racist stigmatizing of those with Down’s Syndrome as “mongoloid”.  One of Reker’s recommendations included abusively “spanking” (beating actually) young feminine boys when they committed some feminine behavioral infraction.  Interestingly, Rekers own research showed that such feminine boys were essentially like gender typical girls,

The amount of feminine play by the feminoid boys was found to be significantly greater than that of normal boys, but not significantly different from the predominantly feminine play patterns of the normal girls.”

Imagine putting a gender typical girl through this… yes, that’s the moral and psychological equivalent.  I can’t even begin to express how evil I find this so-called “therapy”.  And this is what some parents and pundits wish us to resume?

Special Note:

One of the most important and yet at the same time, distressing aspects of this shameful history is that these abusive interventions came out of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the late ’60s and ’70s.  At the very heart and center of this was Robert Stoller and Richard Green.  It was Dr. Green who gathered together these vulnerable gender atypical children to allow graduate students to conduct this shameful “research”.  Rekers, in his published paper on the “treatment” (read: torture) of Kirk Murphy (aka Kraig), thanks Dr. Green for providing him his victim.  Further, Dr. Green was personally involved in the research.  Knowing this has certainly lowered my esteem for Dr. Green who I had previously held in high regard.

External Reading:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Alan_Rekers

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/06/07/sissy.boy.experiment/index.html

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

References:

Rekers, G., Yates, C., “Sex-typed play in feminoid boys versus normal boys and girls”, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00917600

GEORGE A. REKERS AND 0. IVAR LovAAs, “BEHAVIORAL TREATMENT OF DEVIANT SEX-ROLE BEHAVIORS IN A MALE CHILD”, Journal of Applied Behaviorial Analysis (1974)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1311956/pdf/jaba00060-0003.pdf

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Transphobic Propaganda Aimed at Parents of Transgender Kids

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on June 9, 2018

Kay BrownI’ve been interacting with parents of transkids for many years now.  What they go through is heart wrenching.  I’ve talked to both supportive and non-supportive parents.  I’ve talked to even more transfolk, both those who were transkids and those who were adult transitioners.  Each was impacted either positively or negatively by their parents attitudes… but none were hurt more than those transkids who had been emotionally abused or abandoned by their parents as teens.

TransSupportUntil the advent of ubiquitous social media, the main means of “trashing trannies” was mass media and churches.  But now, with social media, parents of transfolk are bombarded with conflicting messaging from all sides and can have difficulty knowing which information to trust.  Just as in politics, there is now a great deal of “fake news”, propaganda, misinformation, half-truths, even outright lies to be found online.  Some of it from people whose only interest is to hurt transfolk because of religious or socially formed trans- and homophobia.  Some of it is from transphobic parents of transkids themselves.  There are even websites and discussion fora created by these very same parents bringing together such like-minded folks to create a wave of disinformation, fear, uncertainty, and doubt in others so as to bolster their own decisions to deny their own children the respect, agency, and medical services they so clearly need.

In this post I will actively gather such propaganda and explore how it works and why it is wrong.  My goal is to help parents recognize when others are trying to manipulate their emotions to effect their decision-making.  This will be an ongoing effort so this essay will be updated whenever I see or remember an issue that needs to be addressed.

Blaming the Internet and Other Transkids

A recent meme to question the validity of gender dysphoria in teenagers is the concept of “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (ROGD) in which being trans is described as a “social contagion”.  Gee… that’s just saying this is a “fad”… and like the old “phase” claim that transkids were discredited with in the past.  I’ve written an entire essay on this.

Therapy

In the past, it was near universal for therapy of gender atypical children, most often male, to mean attempts to “fix” them so that they were no longer gender atypical, as that was seen as a disorder in and of itself.  It was also believed, falsely it turns out, that if they could get these boys to be gender typical in their behavior, they wouldn’t develop into gay men.  Therapies ranged from gentle “play” with a masculine role model to direct punishing and shaming children for atypicality on one hand and rewarding gender typicality on the other.  Both philosophies encouraged parents to remove any and all cross-gender toys and activities and to shame children, especially boys, for such play.  Therapy for gender dysphoric teens was to “talk” them out of wanting to transition, usually by shaming them.  Today such therapy, along with therapy meant to “talk” gay & lesbians out of being homosexual, is recognized as being both ineffective and abusive.  Some states and countries have outlawed such practices.  Professional societies of therapists and physicians have declared them to be unethical.

{Personal note:  I was sent to play therapy as a ten-year old with Dr. Peters (you can’t make this stuff up) a tall bearded man as a role model.  While at home, my mother would jump down my throat if I so much as looked at a girl’s toy.  Of course, that didn’t work, so I was sent to talk therapy at 15/16, but knew enough not to talk about either my sexuality nor my gender behavior and identity so as to avoid any opportunity to shame me.  Thus, I know about these practices first hand.}

Today, most caring therapists and other caregivers recognize that gender atypicality is not in and of itself a disorder.  They also recognize that most young mildly gender dysphoric children will desist on their own as they near adolescence, so there is no need for drastic measures either way.  However, extremely dysphoric children need outlets for their gender expression and that attempts to suppress or change their innate behavior is abusive and will only result in low self-esteem and shame.  They also know that such children need reassurance that they are loved by their parents.  If punished for gender atypicality and/or expressing the pain of dysphoria, the bond between parent and child is put at grave risk.  And yes, some therapists and their caring families recognize that some pre-adolescents and adolescents are better served by social transition.

This new kinder and gentler approach to gender atypicality and gender dysphoria has led to disinformation put out by those who wish that they could continue to offer abusive  reparitive / conversion ‘services’, falsely claiming that such therapies do work.  Transphobic parents and members of the public also lament this situation and put out the lie that “affirming” therapists are forcing gender atypical children and teens to become transgender.

The basic truth is simple… just as it is not possible to “fix” LGBT people, it is not possible to force them to be LGBT against their nature.  Saying otherwise is an outright lie.

Another tidbit of disinformation is claiming that therapists regularly “ok” teenagers to get hormones with only one visit.  In over four decades of experience and discussions with literally… oh I can’t even guess the number of transfolk of all ages I’ve met or corresponded with.  It would have to be the hundreds now, the fastest I’ve ever heard of for someone to get their “letter” approving HRT from a psych professional was five one hour sessions.  And when others hear of that low figure, they are incredulous because most adults were required to have at least several months of weekly sessions and most had more, some over a year or more.  There’s a reason why therapists and psychiatrists are called “gatekeepers”.  For minors, it might be faster to get onto puberty blockers if they are seen in longer more intense sessions with at least one second opinion since the clock is seen as “ticking”, but to switch from blockers, or for an older teen, one already past puberty?  That will take longer.

{Personal Note:  I was that teenager who had only five hours in 1975, a record even for the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic: three one hour sessions alone, one hour with my mother, and one hour with my father.  You may read about those interviews here.  And no, I have no real idea why I got my letter with so few visits, but if I had to guess, it was because I still had to wait until I was 18 because my parents refused permission… and that I had previously been in therapy that had been anything but “affirming”.  Interestingly, when I was 23 and had the funds for surgery, the surgeon, a private doc in Colorado, required two recent “letters” from psychiatrists.  I had six one hour sessions with one psychiatrist and one hour for the second opinion… this too was considered a record.  This one I did know why… emotional maturity, intelligence, and five solid years post social transition with a great work and education history.}

 Social Transition

transkids

Transkids after social transition

I see over and over claims that merely allowing a child to cross-dress or socially transition is a form of “child abuse” in and of itself.  I’ve even seen transphobes complaining that letting non-transkids know that transkids and transadults exist and should be accepted and respected, is a form of child abuse!  These claims are usually from the most virulently transphobic and homophobic members of the public.  However, there is a more subtle form of this parental shaming in that people claim that because many pre-teens who are gender atypical will not be gender dysphoric, that they are “forcing” their kids to be transgender.  This meme even floats in the gay and lesbian community claiming that parents do this because they are homophobic and would rather have a transgender child than a gay or lesbian one (!).  My own experience has indicated that homophobic parents are universally also transphobic, so the logic of this assertion is faulty and groundless.

Parents should be advised that many pre-teens who are gender atypical will in truth grow up to be gay or lesbian, but there is no magic bright line difference between transkids and LGB individuals.  That is to say, that from our current state of research, we can’t tell them apart… and indeed, there may be no etiological difference, that the difference may in fact be one of degree and not of kind.  We see cultural and life experience differences leading to differences in rates of gender dysphoria in different cultures and subcultures in what may be the same biological groups.  Given this, loving parents should be open to listening to the needs of their children as they grow up and be flexible in their hopes.

A recent meme making the rounds is that if a child is allowed to cross-dress as a pre-teen, to use a new name etc. they will have social and personal difficulty later when they desist from being gender dysphoric.  Some go as far as to say that this will cause them trauma, having spent years growing up presenting as the “wrong sex”.  But this only shows their own transphobic bias, valuing the lives and welfare of desisting children over persisting transkids.   Consider this from the viewpoint of persisting transkids, if having to grow up presenting as the “wrong sex” is traumatic and that transitioning is a social and personal difficulty at that later age, won’t these kids have had a similarly bad experience if they are not allowed to socially transition earlier?  Either both are true or neither is true.  Actually, the truth is that children who will desist later are still in pain now.  And desisting children detransitioning is no more traumatic than either type transitioning in the first place.  But the transphobic propagandists aren’t interested in nuance and dealing with things in such a way as to reduce pain for everyone on a day to day basis.  Remember this.  Their goal is not to help your child be happy and emotionally healthy.  They are only interested in frightening the parents of transkids into NOT allowing them to socially transition in the hope that denying them this at a young age will force them to not get puberty blockers, which will them force them to endure a puberty which will make it that much more difficult for them to transition successfully as adults, which will keep them from being “one of those people”.

One of the ugly issues I’ve seen thrown around is that of impugning the motives and values of various researchers and clinicians, on both sides of the issue of pre-teen transition.  Most professionals have nothing but good intentions.  Each has nuanced views because this issue is not black and white.  But many insist that it should be black and white… and thus will smear those who don’t agree with their own position.

After the age of twelve, social transition is, or at least should be, a no brainer.  If a teen was gender atypical and dysphoric as a preteen, their desire and need for social transition is one that they should decide for themselves.  In fact, attempting to socially transition is a great “test” since if it doesn’t help them, it will be an obvious fact.

Surgery

Perhaps the most common propaganda seen bandied about is the oldest.  In the mid-50s, as the public began to learn about transsexuality and its medical treatment, many were quick to note that “there is no such thing as a sex change”, as though that proved something profoundly debunking.  Well, this is both a true and yet misleading statement.  It is true in that no surgery, then or now, can take a fertile individual of one sex and result in a fertile member of the other sex.  What is misleading is that the goal of surgery was never fertility, but palliative.  It is to allow individuals who suffer, and suffer greatly, from somatic gender dysphoria to inhabit a body that approximates that of the opposite sex to a close enough degree that it alleviates their dysphoria.  Although many transfolk would love to be fertile in their new gender, they are willing to accept this trade-off to enable a good enough life.

Some people will point out that SRS sterilizes transfolk as though that were in and of itself medical malpractice, even incorrectly invoking the Hippocratic oath “to do no harm”.  This is a puzzling attitude since many medical issues are treated in such as way that also results in sterilization and no one calls that malpractice.  In fact, many healthy men and women chose voluntary sterilization which is an accepted practice.  For young adults (even if under the age of 18) to knowingly make the trade-off of continuing to suffer somatic gender dysphoria vs. accepting voluntary sterilization is a personal choice for them and them alone to make.

The next bit of propaganda is to describe the result of surgery as ugly, monstrous, or diseased to invoke visceral disgust.  Mary Daly, an extremely transphobic author in the 1970’s described post-operative transsexuals as “Frankenstein’s Monsters”, invoking the image of people hacked together by rogue mad scientist doctors.  Other comments focus on and exaggerate the potential for surgical complications.  Very recently (in fact, just this past week), I’ve seen an outright lie repeated and amplified in social media in which the result of Male-To-Female transsexual surgery is an “open wound” which is easily “infected”, rather than a functional neo-vagina.  What loving parent would want their child to experience such iatrogenic trauma?

A more subtle bit of misleading disinformation is to combine the two memes above, to describe the result of MTF surgery as taking functional male genitalia and turning it into “dysfunctional male genitalia” in an attempt to invoke disgust on one hand and parental concern for their child’s future happiness on the other.  The lie depends upon parents not being familiar with the cosmetic nor functional results because, lets face it, that’s not something to be bragged about in public.  So, I will attempt here, while remaining within socially acceptable bounds, to answer that, given that I myself have such “dysfunctional male genitalia”…   Ummmm… well… I’m VERY happily married to a straight man… and neither of us is unhappy with the results…  ‘nough said.

Another reason these particular talking points work is that parents hang onto the false hope that their child will desist and be heterosexual.  While it is true that pre-teens who are gender atypical but not particularly dysphoric are more likely to desist than persist,  such boys will most likely grow up to be gay, the girls may or may not be lesbian, given that many tomboyish girls are mislabeled as gender atypical.  These tomboyish girls will most likely grow up to be straight.  However, those teens who had been gender atypical AND notably gender dysphoric as pre-teens will not likely desist after age twelve.  Besides, one doesn’t perform surgery on pre- or even early teens.  One is required to wait until the late teens at the earliest and by then, it’s pretty obvious that surgery is right for those who know the trade-offs… and rationally chose to exchange genitalia which they will never use for those that they will joyfully use.

Another bugbear thrown around is the specter of post-operative regret.  I won’t lie in turn; this is a real phenomena.  However, what is not often discussed in the parental fora is that the vast majority of those who later regret SRS are “late onset”.  (If you are not familiar with this term and its implications, please see my FAQ.)  These are usually males who have successfully lived as adult men, very often married to women, fathering children, etc.  They previously had extensive sexual experience as men, enjoying their ‘original equipment’.  Post operative regret is nearly absent from “early onset” transsexuals.  And those few who were regretful weren’t regretting the loss of their ‘original equipment’ but complained of the rare complications that may occur with any surgery.

For parents of Female-to-Male (FtM) transkids, there is often fear that “top surgery” to remove/reduce unwanted breasts will be regretted as well.  This fear is especially potent in the mothers of FtM transkids because of the natural empathy one feels, of putting themselves into their child’s position and feeling angst at the thought of the loss of their own breasts.  Of course, this is putting their own shoes onto their child, instead of walking a bit in theirs.

Puberty Blockers

CoreyOne egregious lie that I’ve seen bandied about, even by physicians, is that puberty blockers cause permanent sterility.  They do not.  In fact, that was the whole point of puberty blockers, to reversibly delay the onset of puberty and its effects to allow teens some time to emotionally mature before making more permanent changes in the course of their sexual maturation.  Without such blockers, their bodies will make the decision for them… and this may be very much against their wishes (it certainly was against mine!).  Cessation of the blockers allows the natal puberty to resume, with no loss of fertility, unless other medical intervention is begun (such as cross-sex hormones).

Another outrageous lie that I’ve seen recently is the assertion that Lupron (puberty blocker) directly causes suicide.  I guess if one is going to lie, one may as well make it a whopper.  To be clear, there is NO reported association between puberty blockers and depression / suicidal ideation in transkids.  However, if a child who is extremely gender atypical and dysphoric experiences negative social and familial attitudes, that may be an independent source of stress leading to depression.  Depression is unfortunately common and people who are prescribed Lupron as adults are often under severe stress due to their underlying illness, leading to reports of depression.

I’ve also seen a rather strange assertion that having been on puberty blockers then switching to cross-hormone replacement therapy somehow leaves the child in a prepubescent state. In the sense that the child won’t experience the changes that would have occurred had they not been on blockers, namely for natal females breast development or for natal males, enlargement of the penis and testicles, voice deepening, beard growth, along with increased upper body strength, this assertion is true… and indeed is the desired effect.  So why the strange assertion that this is somehow a problem?  The meme is also sending the false message that somehow the child will remain forever looking like a prepubescent child, never to appear to be as a sexually mature adult.  The fact remains that cross-sex HRT will allow the child to mature with all of the cross-sex secondary sexual characteristics in a manner closely approximating that of the opposite sex, which is, after all the goal.

Perhaps the most bizarre bit of misinformation is that somehow, if an MTF transkid doesn’t go through the typical natal male puberty to sexually mature, they will never be able to experience sexual satisfaction.  While testosterone does cause human male brains to develop at puberty, estrogen and micronized progesterone, both part of HRT protocols, will do much the same.  In fact, though never published, there is very strong anecdotal evidence that MTF transkids experience very strong libido development on natural estrogen (E2) compared to other sources (e.g. premarin or estinyl-estradiol).  If you think about it for a moment, this makes sense… given that women have sexual drives as much as men do… and they never went through a male puberty!

It could be argued (and indeed I have so argued), that it would be better to switch from puberty blockers to HRT earlier than some clinicians insist upon waiting, so that the final results are better and so that the teens will appear to be maturing on the same schedule as their peers, for better social functioning.  There are also concerns about bone strength later in life which may be impacted by extended use of puberty blockers.  This is an argument for earlier HRT, NOT against the use of puberty blockers.

One of the most illogical arguments I’ve seen against the use of puberty blockers is twisting the statistics that most transkids who go on puberty blockers will persist and require HRT and perhaps surgery… as though being on puberty blockers caused them to persist (!).  This is a failure to note that desistors do so before puberty.  The fact that most persisters in puberty who go on blockers continue to be gender dysphoric is a non-causal correlation.  The fact is that persisters who are unable to obtain blockers or HRT at that age will also remain gender dysphoric and will seek out and obtain HRT at a later age (either on the street or legally when they reach majority as I did).  Refusing to provide blockers or HRT in puberty will not increase the rate of desistance but will increase the need for more medical / cosmetic interventions later on (e.g. mastectomy / electrolysis) and likely leave such an individual “funny looking” as an adult (e.g. wide hips on a transman, androgynous face and low pitched voice on a transwoman).

Hormone Replacement Therapy

The most common bit of propaganda about hormones is that their use will be “life long” as though that was somehow an evil in its own right to be avoided at all costs (even including living a life of unhappy gender dysphoria and social akwardness).

To make a personal digression, swallowing a few pills each day has never been a major issue for me these past four decades and some.  Far more impactful in my own life is the fact that I’ve been dependent upon asthma medication since I was five years old, medication which has far more harsh side effects (theophylline caused insomnia for years, rescue inhalers cause the heart to race and the lungs to itch uncomfortably, steroid inhalers increase the risk of fungus infection in the mouth and throat… and if the meds fail to control the asthma, a trip to the emergency room is needed or one could die, no joke) and far more expensive.

Those who have diabetes are similarly dependent ‘life long’ upon insulin, a life saving medication.

However, forgetting to take one’s hormones for a short period of time is NOT life threatening, nor even very uncomfortable.  A few weeks of not taking them, if one has not had their gonads removed, they will begin to produce steroids again.  If they have had their gonads removed, they may experience ‘hot flashes’.  While not comfortable, they are not life threatening.  The greatest danger is the potential risk for osteoporosis.  But this an increase in the risk, not a certainty.

A number of individuals point to HRT as being inherently dangerous, increasing the risk of blot clots, etc.  These risks are no greater than girls taking birth control pills and if one is seriously worried about it, one can simultaneously take baby asprin as a blood thinner.

Another bit of propaganda is to grossly exaggerate the risk of breast cancer from estrogen.  However, with decades of HRT use by transsexuals, we have only seen a small handful of cases which were certainly NOT indicative of increased risk compared to natal females.  In fact, the risk seemed to be at about the same level as natal males who were not transgendered.  (Yes, men get breast cancer too.)

Interestingly, the risk of some cancers is significantly reduced in transsexuals due to surgery and HRT.  For example, top surgery reduces the risk of breast cancer prophylactically.  Radical hysterectomy (as part of ‘bottom surgery’) eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer.  For MTF folk, SRS eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate cancer, as does HRT itself.

As well as claiming risks of cancer, I’ve seen outright lies that HRT causes mental illness!

Another gambit is to point to a couple studies that show that estrogen “causes cognitive deficits” in MTF transfolk, specifically reducing their mental rotational abilities, while also saying that testosterone reduces FTM transfolk’s verbal fluency.  The HORROR, HRT causes mental problems!  Actually, what they are measuring is the very tiny subtle differences already found in men and women in which men are very slightly better, on average, than women at mentally rotating three dimensional figures and women are very slightly better, on average, than men at verbal fluency.  These turn out to be influenced by hormones in the brain, so no surprise that they should influence transfolk on HRT.  But the effect is so small as to be almost impossible to detect in any one individual.

I think the silliest claim I’ve heard is that “Big Pharma” is pushing the diagnoses of gender dysphoria so that they can sell more hormones.  Given that gender dysphoria is extremely rare… but even if it is silly on the face of it, officials in the UK actually investigated that claim and debunked it.

Parents deserve accurate information, not propaganda and lies — from either side.

 

NOTE:  If you see anyone spreading these memes, please respond with a comment and a link to this post?  If you have seen other examples of false propaganda directed at the parents of transkids, please share them with me?   formertranskid@gmail.com

Further Reading:

Advice to Parents of Transkids

Shameful History of Reparative Therapy of Transgender and Gay Children & Youth

Further External Reading:

When Children Say That They Are Trans by Jessie Singal

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(Cherry) Picking The Transgender Brain

Posted in Brain Sex, Editorial by Kay Brown on May 31, 2018

27867072_1811649452220144_4426664495691531655_nOr, How To Ignore Brain Science That Tells A Story You Don’t Like

Psychology graduate student and computer coding instructor Sophie Searcy, responding to the recent over-hyped study of transkids brains (mentioned in previous post) has produced an excellent example of transgender brain science cherry picking.  The one that REALLY stands out as egregious is that she cites the Joel study that she claims… well… let Searcy tell it,

“Indeed, not only is the existing literature on sex differences in brain imaging likely biased, but recent work does significant damage to the idea that there are distinct, separate, “male brains” and “female brains” at all. A research group led by Daphna Joel summarizes the findings of their meta-analysis that included brain images from 1,400 participants: “Brains with features that are consistently at one end of the ‘maleness-femaleness’ continuum are rare. Rather, most brains are comprised of unique ‘mosaics’ of features, some more common in females compared with males, some more common in males compared with females, and some common in both females and males.”

So what’s the problem?  Well, it’s dishonest cherry picking to cite a study that another group (Chekrouda, et. al) responded in the same journal with a similar study that showed that if Joel had conducted a multi-variate analysis they would have found out that male and female brains scans WERE in fact differentiable by a mathematical model at 93% accuracy.  As I explained previously I did a bit of calculation and found much to my amazement, that to “guess” the sex of the brain to 93% accuracy means that the effect size (Cohen’s d) would, if it were a single dimorphic feature, be a whopping 3.0 !!!!  That’s an over the top value.  Thus, as we get better imaging tools to see the fine details, we are learning that the human brain, in terms of multivariate statistics of multiple measurements at all points of the brain, is in fact extremely sexually dimorphic.  The problem is that no one area is all that dimorphic, but in aggregate, they are quite dimorphic.  That is to say, if one area is slightly dimorphic, giving a small statistical clue as to the sex of the individual, and a second area is also slightly dimorphic, giving a small clue as the sex of the individual, the two can be used together to give a medium-sized clue to increase the accuracy… and with many many areas, each additively pointing towards one sex or the other, the accuracy gets quite good.

Searcy should have noticed this second paper which shows that Joel’s paper does NOT debunk the hypothesis that discernible male and female brains exist.

So, why did she write this article and cherry pick the science?  Perhaps we can get a clue from another statement she makes,

“In a 2017 paper, Bakker and colleagues summarized similar work on adults as finding that “adults with GD [gender dysphoria] differ from both cis-gender [sic] men and women.” In other words, adult trans brains appear to be distinct from adult cis brains of either sex. Should trans adults be worried? In that same paper, the researchers actually found mixed results for adolescents. They looked at nine brain regions each for trans girls and trans boys. Of those 18 regions, the researchers reported significant differences in only four out of 18 areas. One area where trans girls differ from both cis girls and cis boys, two areas where trans girls are similar to cis girls, and one area where trans boys are similar to cis boys. What does this mixed bag suggest if we are to believe that trans brains must be similar to cis brains in order to be seen as legitimately transgender?

Ummm… this result is in complete agreement with another hypothesis that many transwomen find uncomfortable, one made by Ray Blanchard, in which he hypothesized that late transitioning transwomen would have brain structure differences from both men and women that would NOT be sexually dimorphic; while young (“homosexual”) transsexuals would show shifts in sexually dimorphic structures toward female morphologies.  There was an earlier review of previous studies (which I also wrote a post about) that had shown that hypothesis to be supported.

Searcy is likely to have written her article in an attempt to discount the growing evidence from transgender brain scan research that shows that the two type taxonomy for transwomen is supported.  Where once older transitioning transwomen cherry picked the brain structure research in an attempt to spin it such that all transwomen had female brains.  She is spinning the science to lead us to believe that brain structure research is unimportant and should be ignored, first by saying that there is no brain structure sexual dimorphism of any consequence and then say that what differences between transgender folk and nontransfolk is unimportant anyway.  I believe it represents a growing fear by autogynephilic transwomen that the brain scan science will undermine their own identity as transwomen if the public were to become aware of what the evidence means.

Further Reading:

Essay on Chekrouda paper

Essay on Transgender Brain Sex Review

Essay on Cherry Picking Brain Research to Prove All Transwomen Have Female Brains

References:

https://www.them.us/story/brain-scans-transgender-identity

Chekrouda, et al., “Patterns in the human brain mosaic discriminate
males from females”  http://www.pnas.org/content/113/14/E1968.full.pdf

 

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Transgender Teens Brains Crossed-Sexed

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on May 25, 2018

Teenage-brainBreaking News

A study out of the Netherlands (our favorite clinic where science is still happening) showed that adolescents with Gender Dysphoria, both MTF and FtM, have brain structures and activation like that of the opposite natal sex:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/05/180524112351.htm

Please remember, this data only applies to “early transitioners” / “early onset”…. NOT adult “late onset” / “late transitioners”.  Given earlier studies which show that late transitioning transwomen do NOT have cross-sex brain structures we don’t expect to see the same results in adults.  I will follow up when I can find more information.

(Update 5/27/2018:  I still haven’t seen that paper, but I did learn that the adolescents in the study were taking Triptorelin to suppress puberty.  Some wags have already claimed that this effect was caused by the drug.  But, this is very unlikely as puberty suppression means that the activating effects of testosterone should be suppressed to allow us to see the earlier organizing effects or the lack there of more clearly, if only we had controls who were not gender dysphoric.  Someone else pointed out that sexual orientation is a known confound and was not controlled for.  This IS a concern if one believes that gender identity is potentially an atomic / neurological difference between gays & lesbians and transkids… which many of us, including myself, do not believe.)

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Historic Transphobia in the Gay & Lesbian Communities

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on May 20, 2018

The Gay, Lesbian, and “Feminist” Backlash Against Transgender Inclusion

{I originally wrote this essay as supporting material for my TransHistory Class at the Harvey Milk Institute twenty years ago.  There were a number of minor historical errors which I have attempted to correct here.  I am republishing this material because I have been disturbed at the level of historical amnesia and because someone recently made a “both sides” criticism regarding transfolk and the so-called “TERF” war.  It is my contention that the animosity between the two groups was essentially one-sided from the 70’s until the 90’s and that intelligently and strategically confronting transphobia in the gay and lesbian communities, while discomforting in the short term, led to GREATER support within the LG&B community, not less, in the same way that gay and lesbian protests of homophobia helped us all earn greater support from the straight community in the long term.  All comments in curly brackets are modern.}

The modern era of the gay & lesbian rights movement is usually marked as starting on a hot July evening at the Stonewall Inn in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The New York police, as many city police departments across the United States did, made period raids on sexual minority bars to harass and arrest the patrons. On this particular night many resisted arrest touching off a riot that continued for three nights running.

In the next year, three transgendered people, Sylvia Rivera, Marsha P. Johnson, and Angela Keyes Douglas would play pivotal roles in organizing the emergent Gay Liberation Front and the Gay Activists Alliance. The goal of the Gay Liberation Front was complete acceptance of sexual diversity and expression. But by 1971 the gay men’s community had returned to the assimilationist strategy as the lesbians, in 1973, turned to separatism and radical feminism. There seemed to be no room for transgendered people in either camp.

In 1971, the GAA wrote and introduced a bill to the New York City Council that was the first omnibus anti-discrimination bill to protect homosexual people. However, in spite of early and avid support of the GAA by transgendered people the bill completely ignored transgendered people. Silvia Rivera, disgusted by the betrayal, said to the leaders of the GAA, “It’s not us that they are afraid of — its you! Get rid of us. Sell us out. Make us expendable. Then you’re at the front lines. Don’t you understand that?” This marked the first serious betrayal, but certainly not the last.

Disillusioned by the GAA’s betrayal of transgendered people, Angela Douglas attempted to form the Transsexual Activist Organization along the same lines as the GAA, with some of the loftier ideals of the GLF. She began publishing MoonShadow, a quirky newsletter for and about transgendered people and the struggle for legal rights.

In early 1970’s, Beth Elliott was active in a number of organizations including the Alice B. Toklas Gay Democratic Club, which she co-founded, the Board of Directors of the California Committee for Sexual Law Reform working to repeal California’s anti-sodomy laws, and the Daughters of Bilitus. The Daughters of Bilitus had been a pioneering lesbian organization during the 1950s and ’60s, but was losing membership in the ’70s as the lesbian community turned to more radical organizing. In ’73 Ms. Elliott was asked to stand for election as the Vice-President of the San Francisco chapter of the Daughters of Bilitus. Late in her term of office her transgender status became a point of contention at the West Coast Lesbian Conference, where she was outed and vilified for being a MTF transsexual. The complaint was that Beth Elliott had insinuated herself into a position of power over women as a patriarchal man, a propagandist ploy that was to become common when attacking other transgendered people . At the conference she was forced to stop her music concert due to the catcalls from the audience by women that knew nothing more about her than that she was transsexual. She was required to sit through a popular vote of the attendees to determine whether they would let her finish her set. In the weeks and months to follow she was further vilified and even betrayed by women who had once called her friend. The treatment she received led her to become “stealth” for many years after.

In July of 1973, during a “Gay is Good” rally, Sylvia Rivera was on the same stage as lesbian separatist Jean O’Leary. She denounced transgender people as men who, by “impersonating women”, were exploiting and mocking women. It was the beginning of a series of such high-profile transphobic attacks from the lesbian community.

In 1977, at the height of the Right Wing / Anita Bryant anti-gay rights backlash, the lesbian feminist separatist movement was busy attacking an even smaller community that only wanted to work within the lesbian community, lesbian identified transsexual women. Central to the conflict in ’77 was transsexual recording engineer, Sandy Stone, working at Olivia Records.

Sandy Stone was a recording engineer for A&M Records before her transition. Olivia Records needed a recording engineer with skills and experience to help their fledgling all women’s recording studio. They found it in Sandy Stone. She recorded a number of their early albums, training other women on proper recording and mixing technique. When word got around that Olivia had a transsexual in the company, lesbian separatists threatened a boycott of Olivia products and concerts. Olivia Records was on the edge of profitability. A boycott would destroy them. Olivia supported Stone at first but eventually crumpled beneath the separatists demands, asking for Sandy’s resignation.

Angela Douglas became upset at the vitriolic, absurd, and transphobic comments broadcast on listener sponsored station KPFA in Berkeley, California and letters published in the feminist journal Sister. She wrote a very tongue-in-cheek satirical letter to the editor of Sister, lampooning the fear mongering and hatred, the night before the 1977 San Francisco Gay Pride Parade.

{Personal Note:  I was physically there the night she wrote the letter, standing behind her shoulder as she typed it.  She pulled it out of the typewriter and asked me what I thought of it.  I advised her NOT to send it as it was too “filled with anger”.  She plucked it from my hand and sealed in an envelope with a dismissive ‘hurumph’.  I stand by my original opinion, her letter was a mistake.}

The next day, at the Parade, a “gender bending” gay man handed out fliers that was written in protest of the Parade Committee’s policy of exclusion of “Drag Queens, Transvestites, and Transsexuals” . The policy was formulated in the hope of heading off the media which tended to focus on the flamboyant, instead of the very serious issues of Gay & Lesbian community pride and efforts to fight homophobia in society. However, transphobia had operated in the Parade Committee to equate transgendered people with “flamboyant” social unacceptability and political liability.

After the parade, Angela Douglas wrote a short essay with photos for the Berkeley Barb, in which she decried the efforts to exclude transgendered people. She asked if there shouldn’t be a counter parade by transgendered people, to be held on Halloween, a day that one is supposed to be flamboyant!

{Personal Note:  One of the photos was of Douglas by me using Douglas’s camera, my very first publication credit.}

Two years later Janice Raymond in The Transsexual Empire, wrote of the events of 1977, casting Ms. Stone as an agent of the “Patriarchy” and “divisive”. The letter that Angela Douglas wrote as satire was quoted out of context, as an example of transsexual hatred of women, by Raymond. Her quoting out of context a letter written by Douglas was tantamount to intellectual dishonesty, with scholarly repercussions.

Janice Raymond was a professor at the University of Massachusetts. She is infamous for having written her post-modernist doctoral thesis attacking transsexuality, denying its medical reality, and for viciously attacking individual transsexuals, notably Sandy Stone and Angela Keyes Douglas in her book, based on her dissertation. The book uses insensitive and transphobic language throughout, while vilifying feminine MTF transsexuals as tools of patriarchy for upholding stereotypes of women, and vilifying androgynous lesbian identified MTF transsexuals for being tools of patriarchy, fifth columnists infiltrating women’s’ space and “raping womens’ bodies”, a typical ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’ trap. She dismisses FTM transsexuals as deluded and misguided lesbians, afraid of the label “homosexual”. Her thesis rests entirely on arguments that sex/gender identity are fixed within the genitals at birth, an essentialist theory that excludes the possibility of transsexuals being a form of intersex, a topic which Raymond never addresses.

The book, while it did not create the transphobic attitude in the lesbian community, did tap into and ‘validated’, at least for the transphobes themselves, the discrimination they practiced. Thus, what began in the ’70s, occasional attacks on individual transsexual women, became institutionalized discrimination against all transsexuals in the ’80s.

The Transsexual Empire, was not the most damaging writing that Raymond penned. Far worse was a United States federal government commissioned study in the early 1980’s on the topic of federal aid for transsexual people seeking rehabilitation and health services. This paper, not well publicized, effectively eliminated federal and some states aid for indigent and imprisoned transsexuals. It had a further impact on private health insurance which followed the federal government’s lead in disallowing services to transsexual patients for any treatment remotely related to being transsexual, including breast cancer or genital cancer, as that was deemed to be a consequence of treatment for transsexuality.

{Personal Note:  As a member of the ACLU Transsexual Rights Committee in the early ’80s, one of my tasks was to read Raymond’s government reports and respond to them.}

Ms. Raymond is closely associated with another noted transphobic writer, Mary Daly, who described transsexuals as “Frankenstein’s Monsters” in her book Gynecology, which Raymond quoted in her book.

Transgender participation continued to be controversial in the Gay & Lesbian Community. Transsexuals taking leadership positions in the community were especially subject to attack.

Ms. Carol Katz was on the Christopher Street West Gay Pride Parade and Festival Committee, serving as Security Coordinator from ’79 through ’81. However her position on the committee was a controversial one as many gays and especially lesbians objected to the presence of a transsexual. She recruited a number of transgendered people, both MTF and FtM to work as volunteer parade monitors and festival security each year . Her background in law enforcement facilitated greater cooperation between the Committee and local law enforcement organizations, LAPD and the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

{Personal Note:  I was one of the parade monitors one year.}

In 1980 Ms. Katz was asked to serve as Security Co-ordinator for the “Women Take Back The Night March” in Hollywood. She agreed to help. However… lesbian feminist separatists threatened to boycott the march due to her presense. Carol offered to step down in the interests of the larger community, with some private bitterness. The Committee accepted her resignation. But at the very last-minute, due to overwhelming details in doing the job without her… and perhaps a realization that it was wrong to push her out of her participation… the committee asked her to take back the job the very day of the march. The controversy over Ms. Katz’es leadership role lead to the effective banning of broad transgender community participation in event planning and execution in other events during the ’80s.   However transgendered people did march that night.

{Personal Note:  I marched that night.}

It should be noted that the memory of the gay & lesbian community is short, as demonstrated by the efforts of the transgender community in Los Angeles to win inclusion in the Parade and Festival in 1995; Transman, Jacob Hale faced a Festival committee that believed transgendered people had never been participants before. The work of the transgendered community in ’79-’81 had been completely forgotten, erased by the silence of the 1980’s.

In 1991 Nancy Burkholter was ejected from the Michigan Wymyns’ Music Festival at 1:00am by security staff suspicious that she was transsexual. She had done nothing to warrant eviction. She was forced to find transportation back to town to fly home, a holiday trip ruined by transphobia.

Unknown to the transsexuals who had been quietly attending the festival for years was an unpublished policy of the festival organizers that transsexuals were not welcome “on the land”. The policy was written out in the material for the next year that only “Wymyn Born Wymyn” may attend. The language was clearly designed to exclude transsexuals while avoiding debates regarding whether MTF transsexuals were “Wymyn”.

The next year, in 1992 TransActivist Anne Ogborn began organizing a protest to be held at the Festival, unable to go herself, she enlisted Davina Anne Gabrielle to attend. Davina and non-transsexual woman, Janis Hollingsworth handed-out buttons to women reading “I might be transsexual” at a table to enlist festival attendees in a dialog over the transsexual exclusion. Davina was ejected from “the land” in accordance with the written policy.

In 1993, the transgender community pitched CampTrans outside the main entrance. Jessica Xavier, Leslie Feinberg, among others attended to protest the Festivals’ “Wymyn Born Wymyn Only” policy. “Woman Born Transsexual” read a new button worn by CampTrans inmates. At the camp, workshops and concerts were presented as an alternative to the Festival. A number of women came out of the festival to participate in discussions. Notable was the participation of younger lesbians, especially members of The Lesbian Avengers. TransActivist volunteers stood outside the gate taking a poll of the festival attendees attitudes toward transsexual exclusion at the festival. The poll revealed division on the issue, but the majority of the women attending indicated that they would welcome transsexual women.

Participation in CampTrans and the results of the poll energized the transgender community to become active once again, after the community’s silent withdrawal from the larger gay & lesbian community the previous decade.

National and local transgender activist worked for months to gain inclusion in the 1993 March On Washington. Transgender volunteers aiding in organizing the March, notably Jessica Xavier, worked with March organizers for months trying to gain inclusion in the name of the March. There was a ‘divide and conquer’ politicking by transphobic gays & lesbians that pitted bisexuals against transgenders. They told the bisexual community members who were also working toward official inclusion that it was either transgender or bisexual, but not both. To their credit the bisexual members did not buy into the ploy. However, the issue of inclusion was still couched in such terms by the foes of transgender inclusion. When the issue was put to a vote by the organizing committee the bisexuals won inclusion easily. The vote for inclusion of transgender was divided. There were actual cheers from the gay and lesbian community when the committee announced their decision to exclude transgender which deeply dismayed the transgender community volunteers.

A new pattern emerged in the mid 1990’s. The generation that had grown up since Stonewall welcomed transgender people without reservation, perhaps even with a tinge of adulation for their contribution to the struggle for Queer Rights. The older generation, those who had struggled just after stonewall, those who had read The Transsexual Empire when it was new, had not changed their minds significantly. Those that had been accepting during the 1970s remained so, those that had been sitting on the fence now came down on transgender inclusion. But those who had adamantly opposed trans-inclusion in the ’70s still fought against it in the ’90s. In 1994 The Transsexual Empire was reprinted and used as a textbook in transphobic “feminist” classes once again.

{Note:  The original publication in ’79 was by Beacon Press, the publishing arm of the Unitarian Universalist Association.  But by ’94, the Unitarians had a change of heart, now understanding that supporting lesbians does NOT mean supporting transphobia after a number of grassroots meetings with transfolk who were dismayed that the UUA had published Raymond’s hateful screed.  Raymond had to find another publisher.}

In 1994 CampTrans was pitched again with Riki Anne Wilchins taking a leading role. The turn out was smaller than expected. It was not due to a feeling of failure, but rather a feeling that the issue of transgender inclusion in “wymyn only space” was being by-passed by larger and more important issues.

Also occurring in 1994 was the Gay Games. When transgendered people wished to participate they discovered similar transphobic attitudes that the International Olympic Committee held . The Games organizers refused to allow transgendered people to participate except under very restrictive rules, namely that had to prove that they had surgery or at least lived two years full-time, with hormones, in their gender of identity. Bi-gendered individuals were completely excluded. This reliance on rules that on the surface seem to come direct from the HBIGDA Standards of Care, offended the transgendered community.

Transsexual Menace of New York organized to protest the restrictive and discriminatory rules. In street protests the group held up a banner that read, “Gay Games to transgendered: DROP DEAD!!” The uproar and embarrassment forced the organizers to drop the rules and allow unrestricted participation.

Some gay columnists were calling the events the “transgender Stonewall”, comparing 1994’s protests to ‘the gay riots of 1969’, totally ignoring the historic irony that Stonewall itself included transgendered people and that if anything, the Compton Cafeteria Riot of ’66 in San Francisco meant that the Stonewall should be called the “gay Compton Cafeteria”. This lack of historic recognition sparked another protest in New York, demanding inclusion in planned events to mark 25 years since Stonewall.

In 1994 the issue of discrimination against sexual minorities became the biggest issue. The gay & lesbian community was working towards passing a bill in Congress, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA);. Transgender activists worked with the gay & lesbian community and the bill’s sponsors in Congress on transgender inclusive language for the bill, only to discover that the language was removed before the bill was introduced. When the issue was researched by Phyllis Frye, she discovered that the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) had objected to the language. Once again transphobia in the gay community had resurfaced as betrayal.

The betrayal by the HRC was echoed at the local level. In 1995, transactivists in Oregon worked with gay & lesbian activists with the Right To Privacy Political Action Committee (RTP) for a state version of ENDA. Once again language was changed at the last-minute by RTP, behind the back of the transgender community. Later, RTP board members denied this fact when charged by transactivists, claiming that it had been the sponsors who demanded the change. However, transsexual law student and legislative intern, JoAnna McNamara was in the meetings that were held with RTP and the bill’s sponsors. RTP representitives did not know that Ms. McNamara was transsexual, who later provided information to the local gay press regarding the betrayal.

{Personal Note:  I co-chaired the Ad Hoc Committee of Transsexuals to Recognize Alan Hart which sought to convince RTP to stop misgendering him, using him as a mascot, refered to by his dead name and calling him an “historically oppressed lesbian”, for the RTP annual fund raising dinner… and to work with RTP to include trans in the local ENDA and to stop sabotaging trans rights efforts.  We were actively supported in our efforts by the local chapter of the Lesbian Avengers.  I later worked closely with Joanna McNamara to directly lobby the Oregon legislature to protect employment protection that she had earlier won in court.  See my “about” page and the previous essays for more info.}

The transgender community lobbied the HRC and other organizations to amend the language to include transgender and gender variant gay & lesbian protection. Each year saw organizations that had previously supported the bill, drop its support in sympathy with the transcommunity. Each year of the second half of the ’90s saw organizations officially add transgender to their mission statement. Each year saw what started as inclusive lip service become real support until finally even HRC came to support transfolk.

{Harvey Fierstein took a New York state G&L organization to task for the very same backroom betrayal of the transgender community on an episode of In The Life in the early ’00s.}

In 1998. the Gay Games was held in the Nederlands. Ironically, while transsexual pop singing star Dana International performed at the opening festivities, the transgender community protested the reinstatement of the same restrictive rules that had excluded some transgendered people in New York four years earlier. However, European officials of the Games were unmoved.

In 1999, five years after the disagreement between the HRC and the transgender community over inclusion in ENDA surfaced the controversy continued, one of the bill’s Congressional sponsors, openly gay Representative, Barney Frank, played the “Bathroom Card”, saying that employers will not accept transgender people as employees since they won’t be able to convince their other employees to tolerate transgender people in the restrooms. This was quickly denounced by transgender activists as truly expressing transphobia, though Frank’s supporters countered that he wasn’t transphobic in that he had earlier voiced his concern regarding violence and discrimination against transgender people in the wake of the death of Tyra Hunter.  Transactivists then pointed out the irony as the “Shower Card” was used against the gay & lesbian community in its fight to gain the right to serve in the armed forces earlier in the decade.

{Frank’s public comments of “support” for murdered transfolk while simultaneously working against trans rights in Congress could be seen as morally the same as today’s “thoughts & prayers” for mass shooting victims at schools.}

In 1999, at the close of the 20th Century, the gay & lesbian community was still divided over transgender inclusion. Camp Trans was once again pitched in front of the gate of the Michigan Wimmins’ Music Festival. This time post operative male to female transsexuals were allowed ‘on the land’, but pre-operative MTF women and post-operative FTM men were not. The issue had now come down to possession of a penis. Although they were now allowed on the land, vocal transphobic lesbian separatists menaced transsexual women, while members of The Lesbian Avengers supported them.

{Working to confront transphobia should be done intelligently… NOT with violent words on internet fora.  In fact, forward thinking transactivists should work to calm the war of words and focus on results.  The so called “TERF” are losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the public.  Don’t feed the trolls.}

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