Organization Intersex International: Transgender people using “brain sex” theories damage the Intersex community’s ability to organize
July 26, 2014
By Morgan Carpenter, new Director of Organization Intersex International Australia:
Intersex, brain differences, and the transgender tipping point
5 June 2014.
Over a decade ago, intersex and trans activist Raven Kaldera wrote that trans people seeking classification as intersex might be seeking legitimisation, as if a physical cause is necessary to obtain social or familial validation. He said that trans people using brain sex theories to claim intersex status were basing a political stance on unproven science and damaging the intersex community’s ability to organise.
We might hope that times have changed, with the amazing Laverne Cox appearing on the cover of Time magazine, as it declares The Transgender Tipping Point. This is great news (also, we can’t wait for the next series of Orange is the New Black) but, sadly, a high proportion of enquiries that we get at OII Australia, a national intersex organisation, are still from trans folk seeking biological validation for their identity.
Intersex is a term for innate physical differences in sex characteristics, known controversially to medicine as “Disorders of Sex Development” and historically as hermaphroditism. At least 30 or 40 genetic differences causing intersex traits are known to science. Intersex is not defined as a gender identity. Intersex people have all sorts of gender identities, just like trans and other people. Some intersex people have non-binary gender identities, just like some trans people, but most intersex people are men or women.
Correlations between brain sex differences and same sex attraction in men, and trans gender identities in women, have been widely reported over a long period of time – yet there’s still controversy even regarding the notion that men and women have different brains. Given the known biological basis of many intersex variations, much of the research on causes of homosexuality has been carried out on live foetuses and infants with intersex traits.
Late last year, a neuroscience study inspired headlines proclaiming, “hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are “better at map reading” (And why women are “better at remembering a conversation”)”. Cordelia Fine writing at The Conversation shows how the reporting and the study itself, of nearly 1,000 people, inflated very modest differences into something “tediously predictable“. In reality:
In an larger earlier study … the same research team compellingly demonstrated that the sex differences in the psychological skills they measured – executive control, memory, reasoning, spatial processing, sensorimotor skills, and social cognition – are almost all trivially small…
the social phenomenon of gender means that a person’s biological sex has a significant impact on the experiences (including social, material, physical, and mental) she or he encounters which will, in turn, leave neurological traces.
The more research that is conducted, the more clear is the evidence that brains are plastic. Differences are often over-stated, especially where results fit social preconceptions, but brain structures change according to circumstance and repeated activities.
Studies in recent years have found that a short eight-week mindfulness meditation program changed the brain structures of 16 participants, while other studies have found brain differences in active longer-term meditators. Scientific American has collected some good links.
More recently, a study in Israel has found that parenting rewires the male brain, particularly those of gay men: “the experience of hands-on parenting, with no female mother anywhere in the picture, can configure a caregiver’s brain in the same way that pregnancy and childbirth do“. In heterosexual men, brain differences were “proportional to the amount of time they spent with the baby“.
Laverne Cox said in that Time interview (via The Guardian):
If someone needs to express their gender in a way that is different, that is OK, and they should not be denied healthcare. They should not be bullied. They don’t deserve to be victims of violence … That’s what people need to understand, that it’s okay and that if you are uncomfortable with it, then you need to look at yourself.
It’s time for a bit more pride, and time for phone calls seeking validation based on brain sex to stop.
Biological validation doesn’t improve access or quality of healthcare. Testing for biological differences creates its own risks. Basing a human rights campaign on being “born that way“, or not being able to help being different is undeniably seductive, but we all deserve human rights whether we’re born a particular way or not. It shouldn’t depend on your genetics or your brain structure any more than your gender expression or what you choose to wear.
- Raven Kaldera (c.2000-2004) Dangerous Intersections
- Katy Steinmetz (29 May 2014) The Transgender Tipping Point in Time Magazine
- Simon LeVay (30 August 1991) A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men in Science 30 August 1991: Vol. 253 no. 5023 pp. 1034-1037. DOI: 10.1126/science.1887219
- OII Australia (29 April 2014) Submission on the ethics of genetic selection against intersex traits, includes material on research on the causes of homosexuality using foetuses and infants with intersex traits.
- Christie Nicholson (22 January 2011) Meditation Correlated with Structural Changes in the Brain in Scientific American
- Eileen Luders, Arthur W. Toga, Natasha Lepore and Christian Gaser (15 April 2009) The underlying anatomical correlates of long-term meditation: Larger hippocampal and frontal volumes of gray matter in Neuroimage, 15 April 2009; 45(3): 672–678. PMCID: PMC3184843, NIHMSID: NIHMS90659
- Scientific American (31 October 2013) Taking a Closer Look at How Meditation Improves Our Brains [Video], collected research on meditation and brain structure.
- Cordelia Fine (4 December 2013) New insights into gendered brain wiring, or a perfect case study in neurosexism? at The Conversation
- Elizabeth Norton (27 May 2014) Parenting Rewires the Male Brain, American Association for the Advancement of Science.
- Amanda Holpuch (30 May 2014) Laverne Cox heralds ‘transgender tipping point’ on cover of Time in The Guardian.
[Bolding by me. Images added by me.-GM]
January 3, 2014
This post is dedicated to the deluded autogynephiles featured in the previous post.
November 19, 2013
GLAAD -formerly the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation- is now an organization headed by heterosexual male Jennifer Finney Boylan and representing the medicalization of social sex roles or “Transgenderism”. GLAAD, who have removed “gay” and “lesbian” from their name and now wish to be known by the stand-alone acronym only, has issued the following video in an attempt to persuade New York State to provide Medicaid coverage for “gender treatments” designed to disguise the sex of individuals who would like to appear as the opposite sex, or who would like to use medicine and/or surgery to modify their secondary sex characteristics in some way.
Stephen Ira, the daughter of Annette Benning and Warren Beatty, appears in the video. Stephen Ira is known for her activism against lesbians and feminists, having publicly organized against the rights of women to hold radical feminist conferences, at one point even publishing on her blog that she often thinks about shooting feminists. Stephen Ira is a heterosexual woman who identifies as and calls herself a female “fag”.
The following is a partial list of some of the treatments and procedures identified as “medically necessary” by WPATH, the World Professional Association of Transgender Health:
Synthetic Cross-sex hormones
facial feminization surgery
Laser hair removal,
November 5, 2013
Much discussion has occurred on this and other feminist sites on the attempts by the trans politic to erase female reality under patriarchy by destabilizing the fact that reproductively female humans actually exist, as a class, and are oppressed as a class on the basis of our sex. The trans politic, in part, adopts this tact disingenuously as a strategy to confer authenticity on their gender-based personas, totally disregarding the effect of such a politic on the lives of actual females, which are both unfathomable and unimportant to the men promoting our erasure. In private, among themselves, such men- many fathers and husbands- tend to freely acknowledge, even celebrate, their maleness in male-only groups and seminars and gatherings.
Not surprisingly, very few female transgenders make these claims. Very few females convey a sense of ownership over and entitlement to possessing a male body, even those females who have undergone extensive body mods to “pass” as male. Unlike men, women have always lived in “the background” of women’s lives. Indeed, they were raised into it. They know firsthand the systemic social, political, psychological, and violent warfare conducted against female humans by males based on our reproductive sex. Even the most kool-aid drinking transgender F2T fantasist seldom forwards the idea that humans are not a sexually dimorphic species. F2T drive the “genderqueer” and “agender” and “not 100% a man exactly” arms of the transgender movement. They are the “Zirs” and Zies”. One F2T pioneer described her penis to me in correspondence as “a slab of flesh from my forearm sewn onto my crotch”. I have never, ever seen a F2T insisting her phalloplasty was an actual penis, or claiming that she has a prostate. Females know all too well that they are oppressed on the basis of their reproductive sex, and that there is no way to fully escape from this.
The experience of males- including males that fancy themselves to be actually female- is quite different. These men were raised with the expectation that women exist to serve them and care for them. Even gay boys grow up assuming they will someday own a woman, if they want one. M2T, like all men, are raised as members of the overlord class with little consciousness or interest in the lives and experiences of the underclass which exists only to serve them.
This is how a man who proclaims himself to be female after a lifetime of male-privilege, fatherhood and marriage can not only remain completely ignorant of female reality, but position himself as an authority on it, with the wisdom from “on high” to correct women from making the “silly mistake” in recognizing our sex-based oppression, or even our sex itself.
An example of such a man would be Dana Beyer, the “executive director” of Gender Rights Maryland, a designation and an org of his own invention. In an essay blogged last week on the Huffington Post, Dana describes the women who fail to reject the reality of human sexual dimorphism as “Radical Lesbian Separatist[s]”. I am a gender-critical lesbian feminist, and even I don’t personally know any radical lesbian separatists. I assure you, neither does Dana. But that is how he genuinely perceives actual women that are not serving him. Further, this: “Even the radical lesbians, who base their feminism on their panic deriving from the potential to be forcibly impregnated by men, feed off this male anxiety about those who willingly surrender their male bodies and male privilege.” Our panic! Our sudden, uncontrollable fear or anxiety often causing wild unthinking behavior! The cwazy cwazy reaction women have to fending off violent sexual slavery for their entire lives in a history of reproductive mayhem perpetuated against females for the whole of human history. Now, now, ladies! Don’t panic! Base feminism on something else!
Remember: this perspective on the reproductive caste system (nothing to panic about ladies!) is coming from a man who actually believes himself “to be” female. Oh, and “surrender” your male privilege by calling yourself female and wearing a dress? That is not how things work sir. People only treat you as female if they perceive you to be female, not because you think of yourself as one. No one has ever perceived Dana as being female. No one gets to “choose” their oppression based on their own thoughts and feelings. But men like Dana have been raised with such entitlement that they regard oppression as a series of choices that one can opt into, or “surrender” themselves to by their will alone. Just as female transitioners know all too well that there is no escape from the sex caste, male members of the over-caste see reproductive oppression as completely irrelevant to their lives as men, except perhaps as a palette of life experiences they can tally with, tourist like, as just another of life’s many options.
The reality of female oppression does not exist for men like Dana, except as an inconvenient interruption of his male needs: his gender fantasies. Men like Dana will say and do anything to sustain their fantasies about women -and women better not have a damn thing to say about it. Ironically, this includes female transgenders and males who are trying to come to terms with gender dysphoria in a reality-based way.
Here is retired eye surgeon Dana Beyer MD’s definition of sex as a medical doctor:
“”Sex” includes the cellular materials that make up the sexual anatomy and physiology of a human being, including:
The cellular machinery for controlling the genetic material and its expression as RNA and protein
Other reproductive organs
Secondary sexual characteristics, such as breasts and facial hair
Brain (the most important factor) “
The brain is the most important factor!
Completely brain-dead women kept alive on mechanical life-support have successfully reproduced with no brain function whatsoever. So no, doctor. What this transgender physician means is that his desire to inhabit a series of cultural sex-based stereotypes enforced violently upon women is more “real” than the objective reproductive reality experienced by females and exploited by men like him. So much so that he is willing to “surrender” his medical reputation.
Another transgender physician posted an eerily similar essay on Huffington Post last month, in this case the highly positioned David/Danielle Kaufman, Md, Chief of Radiology at Kaiser Permanente. The essay is titled “Male Organ or Not, This Really Is a Female Body”.
“…I’m convinced, a year out from my trans-woman awakening, that this really is a female body. It may have been a male body once, but I’ve made a lot of changes already, and I haven’t finished. My beard, as well as my chest and abdomen hair, are mostly gone. I’ve had extensive surgery to feminize my face. I’m on estrogen; my body now runs on this female hormone, with testosterone blocked. As a result of the estrogen, I’m growing breasts. About a year into estrogen, my natural breasts are only about an A cup size, but they’re growing; they’re real women’s breasts, and I’ve had my first mammogram. There is real glandular breast tissue in there. Estrogen has shifted fat from my abdomen to my upper thighs and buttocks. I now have thunder thighs. They rub together no matter how I walk, and I’m afraid to go into the woods during the dry season for fear that I’ll start a fire.
So no, penis or not, this is a female body now, if for no other reason than that I’m female and it’s my body.”[*]
Women (“Radical Lesbian Separatist” or not) know that sex-deniers are harmful to those of us struggling against a violent sex-caste system. It is past time for the transgender movement – especially the medical providers who are inextricably attached to it- drop this denialist tact, which is an exercise in delusion and madness.
[* Sadly, Dr. Kaufman committed suicide after the publication of his essay]
November 1, 2013
Guest Post from Gregory:
I have tragically come to realize my story is fairly typical of most MtF persons. I was molested by my “trusting” grandfather at age 3, father was killed at age 5 and while my mother remarried; you could essentially say I grew up without a “father figure” or role model. By 10 or 13 years old; the gender confusion had begun. Only I didn’t know its origins. I was frequenting the gay neighborhoods by 16; assuming this emptiness and sexual craving was a signal of who I was. But, it wasn’t gratifying; and always left me disgusted. By 25, I was cross dressing in earnest. Buy, purge, buy, purge this repetitive cycle of self hatred continued unabated. For the next 15 years I was married and divorced twice. The root of the failures I believe some bent up anger and feeling of inadequacy stemming from a childhood I had no control over.
By my late thirties, this feeling of a “feminine core” continued. It led me to purchase online and experiment with Estrogen and an Anti-Androgen. My body slowly started to feminize. I dieted and exercised feverishly and got my body down to an acceptable female weight. I felt great; this must be who I am?
I remarried again in my early forties to a wonderful woman. Yet, the programming in my mind was so scrambled by then that it was difficult to differentiate between reality and fantasy. By the time I started seeing a gender therapist and a surgeon they were as convinced as I was that I was female.
Since I was already on estrogen, the endocrinologist felt morally/ethically obligated to continue that same protocol and at least monitor it and prescribe it legally. I received my first letter for surgery after a year and the second after two years. My childhood issues were jotted down by the therapists almost as if a side note. (A very common failure in approving surgery.) At no time did I tell my family, consider my career or even consider talking to the love of my life of my plans. This “sickness” and it is a sickness, consumes and takes over your life! You will lie to everyone around you as you continue to lie to yourself to get it done.
The first six months post-op SRS were wonderful. By the eight month, things were changing. Now my interest was finding out how to end my life. That is called REGRET. How long it takes you to come to this point is subjective; probably once the excitement wears off. You realize this was completely wrong. You have destroyed everything in your path to get it done and no-one in the medical community will stop you. How can they? You lied to yourself for so long. Fooling them was the easy part. Or did they even care? “When would you like your next appointment?”
The recently published WPATH Version VII has simply allowed the medical community to open the “floodgates” for this very tragedy to unfold. To get on cross gender hormones and then have surgery has become almost as simple as going to the convenience store for a pack of gum. If the client wants it, give it to them. “Real Life Test”? Maybe, maybe not, depending on your circumstances, occupation, etc. It is a billion dollar industry that thrives on your illness.
Get help. Don’t mutilate your body. The psychiatrist, psychologists, and surgeons will enjoy a wonderful life. You, however, could end up with a tortured life, ending up penniless, possibly unemployed, without family or friends and maybe even homeless. And that’s if you haven’t tried or committed suicide by then! All so you can become the girl you “think” you are inside and wanted to be! People, God or whatever you believe in made you in the correct gender. It is encoded in your very DNA. If you think differently, get real help; but, DON”T CHANGE IT.
This essay was previously published on REtransition.Org.
Thank you Gregory.
October 24, 2013
The following is a list written by a detransitioning woman outlining the missing factors in the care they were provided by medical practitioners, advocates, and the trans-supportive community at large.
Much lip service is paid in transgender political lobbying around the difficulties in accessing “care” for transgender people. Yet this “care” is profoundly, singularly directed towards modalities that proscribe misogynist, heteronormative, and indeed transphobic(!) adherence to sex-based gender roles and the pathologization and medicalization of sex-role nonconformity.
Increasingly, this narrow focus of “care” is being directed towards children as young as 18 months old who are being diagnosed as medically disabled and “gender defective” and are celebrated as such for their “bravery” in the face of developmental sex-role deformity by the mainstream LGBT community as if they were contestants in a queer “special gender olympics” version of Toddlers and Tiaras.
What of the individuals like Nathan Verhelst for whom such treatments abysmally fail to diagnose or cure? What treatments are available for gender dysphoric individuals for whom cross-hormone and cosmetic surgical options are medically contraindicated? What “care” is available for those many individuals suffering after “transition”?
When Joel Nowak of Retransition.Org contacted WPATH (the premier medical lobbying group for transgender psychiatric and medical care) regarding resources and information for those who need to discontinue cross-sex hormones for various reasons they were told that WPATH had “no idea”. NO IDEA. “That is a very good question” he was advised. This organization has presented itself as the worldwide cutting-edge authority in medical and therapeutic treatment for transgender individuals for decades, and is recognized as such by legal and medical and governmental agencies globally. Yet they had “no idea” how to advise transgender medical consumers on how to safely desist cross-sex hormone therapy, and “no idea” where to refer such transgender persons.
While continually citing the suicidality, morbidity and psychiatric and medical emergency of gender dysphoria, the carers and advocates for transgender persons- including those of the highest professional, therapeutic, academic, political and activist standing- have decided that care should be confined to those who can (and want to) medically and psychologically tolerate gender normative “treatment” and all other transgenders who suffer from sex or gender dysphoria can literally be damned.
Transgenders who medically detransition, or whose dysphoria is uncured after “treatment” – and the percentage is large- are not only completely rejected from care but are shunned, and even attacked by those claiming to promote care for sex and gender dysphoric (transgender) persons. Supportive medical and therapeutic care for these particular transgenders is considered non-imperative as their distress is deemed inconsequential and their experiences and outcomes disposable.
Below is the list provided by a detransitioning woman (now negotiating medical and social de-transition without care or support, because none exists) listing the elements that she identifies as missing in her pre-transition care.
Sadly, this woman has been subjected to a barrage of harassment and intimidation by individuals (also identifying themselves as transgender) who want to silence any sex or gender dysphoric individuals who share information on gaps in existing care for transgender people.
Anyone who is genuinely concerned about providing care for transgender individuals – perhaps especially families struggling with “transgender children”- would do well to take note of the items on this list.
From her post:
“As someone who views transsexualism as a medical condition, I believe everyone should exhaust other alternatives and transition only as a last resort. That is what I did. The thing is, I didn’t have the resources to utilize that I could envision in a better world. Transition was the best option at the time for me, but I can think of a lot of things that would have allowed me to make a better decision. Some of these things are:
- Knowledge of the existence of detransition
- Realistic, accurate, and honest information about detransition
- Visibility of detransitioned folks sharing their story
- Information on alternative options for dealing with dysphoria such as meditation and exercises to re-align my self of self with my body
- Knowledge of radical feminism
- Knowledge of how trauma can influence one’s sense of self
- Trained, knowledgeable support for my trauma
- Someone to guide me into addressing my trauma, instead of letting me go through therapy thinking it really didn’t affect me in any significant way
- Better role models to look up to who exemplify living confidently as a gender non-conforming woman
- More accurate information on the effects of testosterone
- Honest discussion on the mental effects of testosterone
- Parental support in being gay
- Parental acceptance of my being gender non-conforming
- Better support by non-parental figures in being gay and gender non-conforming
- Knowledge of how deeply misogyny can affect females
- Acknowledgement and information about internalized misogyny within the FTM spectrum
“Last resort” is a misleading phrase here. I think virtually all trans folks are in a compromised position where better resources could be available, but are not. Detransition has been entirely taboo to talk about anywhere. It has been dismissed by trans folks and framed as cautionary bullshit coming from transphobic people. That one aspect alone puts anyone considering transition at a significant disadvantage if they are ignorant of the possibility of detransition.
Am I against transition altogether? Until these sorts of support and resources are available to the majority trans people, that question does not apply. We do not live in a world where these things are prerequisite to transition, so how could anyone know if transition would still be necessary if better support and resources were available? Sexual trauma is completely ignored as an influence of transsexuality by most therapists in an effort to be “PC”, and that is appalling.”
Read the rest of her post and more of her thoughts here: http://twentythreetimes.tumblr.com/
[Bolding by me not the author- GM]