Fifty years on: The Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic and the funding of a category without parallel
August 30, 2016
Fascinating account of some of the history behind Charing Cross, the predominant Gender Identity Clinic in the UK, and an analysis of the factors leading to the surprise announcement this week that the West London Mental Health Trust which has governed the clinic for 60 years, was terminating its contract and cutting all ties to the service.
by Susan Matthews, UK Academic
The Charing Cross Gender Identity Clinic is the ‘oldest and largest adult clinic’ in the UK. It was founded in 1966, the year that the first sexual reassignment surgery was carried out at Johns Hopkins Gender Identity Clinic, the world’s first GIC founded the previous year by psychiatrist and sexologist John Money (1921-2006). The founding clinician at Charing Cross, Richard Green (1936 -), came with an impressive academic pedigree, having worked with Money, collaborating on research on boys who demonstrated cross-gender behaviour. Money liked to claim (with some justification) that he had invented the modern sense of the word ‘gender’ – andit was Money who named the clinic (specialising in the treatment of intersex and transsexual patients) a ‘Gender Identity Clinic’. (Up until the second half of the twentieth century, the word ‘gender’ referred to grammatical gender, a feature of language not human…
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April 30, 2016
The nameless members of the Milwaukee Pride Parade Board of Directors stripped legendary rights activist Miriam Ben-Shalom of her honored spot as Grand Marshall of the June 12, 2016 “Heroes of Pride” event after men monitoring her Facebook page noticed women had made posts there that were critical of the idea of heterosexual “male lesbians”.
Miriam Ben-Shalom will be a familiar name to Lesbian and Gay Rights activists and historians. She was the first openly homosexual individual to be reinstated into military service after serving as plaintiff in multiple lawsuits and refusing a cash settlement.
After serving in the Israeli Army as an Armored Personnel Carrier driver, she enlisted as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army from 1974-1976, when she was dismissed on the basis of homosexuality, and served again from 1987- 1990 following her reinstatement after a decade of trials. She was then discharged, yet again, on the basis of homosexuality, ending her military career.
She co-founded the Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Veterans of America (GLBVA) and spent another decade organizing activism against the U.S. military policy of exclusion, and later against the Clinton era “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy. She chained herself, in uniform, to the White House fence in 1993. Along with Dan Choi and other lesbian and gay service-members she was arrested after again chaining herself to the White House fence in 2010. President Barack Obama invited her to the White House in recognition of her decades of activism, she stood present when he signed the law repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” later that year.
This is not the first time hetersexual male members of the “LGBT” have surveiled, attacked, and dishonored Miriam Ben-Shalom’s legacy. Last year trans activist Autumn Sandeen wrote an entire OpEd sponsored by the San Diego LGBTWeekly titled “Unknowingly protesting with a lesbian transphobe!” where he complained that he observed Miriam using the term “Woman Born Woman” on a facebook post. He said this was offensive to men because it made a distinction between individuals born male or female. He went on to state that he wished, as a heterosexual male, that he had never protested DADT, a policy which never affected straight men like himself anyway.
Here is the full text of the Milwaukee Pride Parade Board notification to Miriam Ben-Shalom, stripping her of Grand Marshall Honors, followed by Miriam’s response to the board:
Dear Ms Ben-Shalom,
I am writing you today about our offering of the 2016 Grand Marshal position to you.
The Board of Directors was excited to have an opportunity to acknowledge your many contributions to the LGBT community by offering you the Grand Marshal position for this year’s parade. However, shortly after we offered you the position, it was brought to our attention that your Facebook page contains a number of posts asserting that transwomen are a danger to young girls in public bathrooms and locker rooms. After considering these posts, it is the Board’s opinion that these posts are transphobic and as such represent an attack on an important segment of the LBGT community.
While we fully support a person’s right to express their own beliefs and political opinions, we also feel it is important that our Grand Marshals publicly declared beliefs mesh with those held by the Milwaukee Pride Parade and the Board of Directors. The Grand Marshal is the public face of the Milwauee Pride Parade and thus needs to be someone whose views are compatible with our own.
The Bylaws of the Milwaukee Pride Parade include our mission statement, “To provide an outlet to the citizens of South Eastern Wisconsin in which GLBT individuals and groups can participate in a parade to show their pride.” We are an inclusive organization that seeks to be free of intolerance, and seeks to promote the equality of all members of the community. As such, we feel that we cannot have a Grand Marshal who has publically and repeatedly denigrated transwomen.
We wish to apologize for rescinding our offer of this honor. It is not a step that we take lightly, and it in no way should be considered a denial of the important work you have previously done for the LGBT community. Please understand this was never our intent to lead you on.
The Board of Directors would like to thank you for your understanding of this situation.
The Milwaukee Pride Parade Board of Directors
Miriam Ben-Shalom’s reply:
To you bunch of Moral reprobates–so cowardly you can’t even post a name: Really rather a cowardly manner to deal with this. You are not correct about my FB page, although my FB page does have posts from others on it about the so-called trans issue. This issue is very sensitive for women born of women, but I would not expect men to understand. Further, no one asked me about my stance — which is very discriminatory indeed. For your information, I am indeed a PERF–penis exclusionary radical feminist who believes that women born of women have the right to safe spaces of their own and cultural events they put on for themselves and those sisters who might like to attend. After all, men have had a long history of male only spaces in the GBT community and not much ado was made of it.
I believe that gender roles ought to be abolished so that people can just be–without feeling the need to surgically change their bodies to meet binary stereotypes which are artificial and not biological. Your elimination is called sexism and is discriminatory and misogynistic. When I consider what the trans community did to the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival and the threats that were made there that I personally saw and heard and when I consider the threats directed at women who stand up to speak out about women’s safety, I become firmer in my estimation of who these people are and what trans means to –it appears–a great many people. No woman I know would threaten to kill another woman because of opinion. No woman I know would call others who differing opinions the nastiest words in the English language. Therefore, Pride Parade Committee: You are no better then those who threatened to hurt women born of women simply because they wished to be in a nurturing environ with others who were like minded. One may hope you take the so-called Trans community to task for all the threats and nastiness heaped on women as you took me.
I see that Milwaukee Pride cares more about men than it does about women’s safety. So be it. I was truthful about my beliefs and I hold with Thomas Paine: “It is impossible to calculate the moral mischief, if I may so express it, that mental lying has produced in society. When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to subscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime. He takes up the trade of a priest for the sake of gain, and in order to qualify himself for that trade, he begins with a perjury. Can we conceive any thing more destructive to morality than this?” Thanks for fucking me over for being honest about what I think. You are no better than the Army.>>
Should you wish more from me, I will be GLAD to cooperate.
Lisa Vogel, the creator and visionary behind the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival announced today that the legendary multi-generational women’s encampment and music festival will end this year.
After four decades of overcoming every sort of challenge imaginable in order to create the miracle that is Michfest, Vogel posted the following announcement an hour ago on the festival’s Facebook page:
Dear Sisters, Amazon, Festival family,
It has been my honor and privilege to produce the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival for 40 years. It has been my life’s work, my deepest commitment, my constant challenge and my most profound joy. Every single thing of value I have learned in the world I have learned in the process of being part of building this beloved community. Almost every friend and family member who I cherish I have met on that hallowed ground, and every single way I have learned to put my mind/heart/shoulder into the purpose of creating something beautiful that honors womyn has come from the sweat I earned on that Land.
I am writing to tell you that the 40th Festival will be the last Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival. The spirit of this community will live on forever, the friends and family we have found on the Land are eternal. Everything we have created together will feed the inspiration for what comes next. It’s possible that I will come back with something else, or that other sisters will take the inspiration of the Michigan community and create the next expression of our Amazon culture. What is true for me is that now is the time to bring this 40-year cycle to a close, stepping out on joy at our most incredible anniversary celebration.
We have known in our hearts for some years that the life cycle of the Festival was coming to a time of closure. Too often in our culture, change is met only with fear, the true cycle of life is denied to avoid the grief of loss. But change is the ultimate truth of life. Sisters – I ask you to remember that our 40 year Festival has outlived nearly all of her kin. She has served us well. I want us all to have the opportunity to experience the incredible full life cycle of our beloved Festival, consciously, with time to celebrate and yes, time to grieve.
There have been struggles; there is no doubt about that. This is part of our truth, but it is not–and never has been–our defining story. The Festival has been the crucible for nearly every critical cultural and political issue the lesbian feminist community has grappled with for four decades. Those struggles have been a beautiful part of our collective strength; they have never been a weakness.
For many of us this one week in the woods is the all too rare place and time where we experience validation for our female bodies, and where the female experience presides at the center of our community focus. A place to lay our burden down from the misogyny that pervades our lives from cradle to grave…a place to live in intergenerational community, and to live in harmony with Mother Earth. I know this is true for me. And I have a deep trust that each and every one of us can take what we have experienced on that Land and continue to create space that feeds our spirit, creates diverse community, honors our experience and supports our struggle as womyn making our way through the patriarchal world. Please take what you love about Michigan and use it to create something new and beautiful.
It is important that each and every one of us knows she is empowered to build on what we have experienced together on the Land. Everything you feel on the Land, everything you see – is something of spirit, and love, and passion for female empowerment….for womyn’s community. The Festival’s 40 years of culture and community are a powerful seed and our communal experiences have created fertile ground to plant in. I know that we will find inspiration and vision to create our next time and space.
For those of us who will be gathering for our 40th anniversary this August – let’s joyously hold up our incredible community and allow ourselves to be strong enough to consciously let go of this incarnation of her, with all the love we each hold in our beautiful hearts. Let us gather this August knowing that what we truly cherish about the Festival lives on in each of us, and more will come from this fertile ground. Let’s do this up together – Amazon proud!
I will meet you there in August – my eyes meeting yours, heart wide open.
With all of my love and respect,
September 10, 2013
Dr. Harry Benjamin Reports Successful Treatments Under Eugene Steinach’s Method
CLINICAL CASES ARE CITED
Elderly Men Regain Youthful Appearance, Grow More Hair and Do More Work.
It is indeed possible by means of a simple operation to ward off senility and to prolong the useful life of the individual at a moment when certain gland functions tend to end, said Dr. Harry Benjamin, a New York endocrinologist, in a paper entitled, “Preliminary Communication Regarding Steinach’s Method of Rejuvenation,” which he read last Wednesday night at the Academy of Medicine, 17 West Forty-third Street.
Dr. Benjamin returned recently from Vienna, where he investigated the work of Dr. Eugene Steinach, Director of the Biological Institute of the Academy of Sciences in that city, and was authorized by Dr. Steinach to report his findings to the medical profession in this country. The report was said to be the first authentic communication on Steinach’s discovery to be placed before the medical fraternity in this country by an American who studied under Dr. Steinach.
Clinical cases which Dr. Benjamin said had come under his personal observation showed that senility and premature senility had been influenced by the operation. He told of cases where men whose memory was beginning to fail had found their memory restored, their sight strengthened and had gained weight as well as physical and mental vitality after the operation. The growth of pigmented hair was another effect of the operation, he said.
As described by Dr. Benjamin the operation is a minor one consisting of the incision of the skin of the lower abdomen and the ligating or binding of a canal which he called vaso-ligature. The result of the operation is that an important gland necessary for the maintenance of mental and physical strength is stimulated. Senility, he said, is due to the cessation of the functioning of this gland and the operation discovered by Dr. Steinbach, by causing its renewed activity, is instrumental in preventing senility or in banishing it after it had set in.
No Foreign Secretions Used.
By the Steinach method the patient does not receive the gland secretion of a monkey or any foreign substance, but his own glandular activity is revived and strengthened.
The results obtained by Dr. Steinach in cases of senility, especially premature senility “ have indeed been sometimes so remarkable that they could most accurately be described as ‘rejuvenation,’ “ said Dr. Benjamin. However, he thought the word “rejuvenation” had not been wisely selected because of the possibility of exaggeration and thought perhaps a better description of the operation might be to call it a “surgical retarding of senility”.
Among the cases that came under his observation, said Dr. Benjamin, were the following:
A man 51 years old complained of exhaustion, mental and physical, upon the least exertion, also pains of an arteriosclerotic nature, failing memory and an inability to work. The operation was performed on Oct. 16, 1920. Two and a half months later the patient’s complaints disappeared. He gained weight, and noticed a distinct improvement in his sight. Six months after the operation he “looked surprisingly youthful, carrying himself more erect and was entirely free of any complaints and entered a new business venture.”
In May, 1921, following the operation, the patient wrote that his general condition was further improved, “the formerly unbearable pains in my back, muscle twitchings, difficulty in breathing, have disappeared.” He was free from attacks of vertigo as well as mental depression and said he had gained ten pounds in the previous three months and looked forward with pleasure to his daily work instead of disgust.
Looked Like a Man of 40.
In June, 1921, the man was observed, said Dr. Benjamin, and his appearance was that of a man of 40. He gained an additional two pounds. On July 26, 1921, more than eight months after the operation, he informed his physician that his condition continued to improve.
Another case was of a building contractor, 47 years old, who complained of his inability to do any physical work. He used to fall asleep in his chair, and his memory was failing rapidly. In spite of better nourishment for two years after the war he lost fifty pounds. He was unable to earn his living. The physical examination showed “an emaciated aged man with tired facial expression, hair gray on temples, hands and ears cyanotic and cold.” The case was diagnosed as premature senility and “beginning arteriosclerosis.”
The operation was performed Feb. 7, 1921. A month later the patient said he could count the tiles on the roof opposite. Five weeks previously they had been a blurred mass. “I am feeling as well as in former years,” he said. “My mind is clear, the tiredness has disappeared. I can work as before.”
On April 4, 1921, he reported that his appetite was good and that he slept well. April 15 the examination showed that the man’s improvement continued and that he looked young for a man of 47. He was then working daily in the fields from 4 A.M. to 6 P.M.
In June, four months after the operation, the man reported that his improvement continued and said he had re-established himself in his work as building contractor on a large scale.
Better in Two Weeks.
A packer 54 years old reported that he had consulted physicians for “air hunger and pains between the shoulder blades.” He was in great financial distress, could not work and had continuous pains in back and lumbar region. The physical examination showed “an emaciated, senile man with tired, depressed face, hair mixed red and white.” The operation was performed in the latter part of April, 1921. Two weeks later the patient said he felt better. In June he reported an increase in weight and that he read without glasses. He slept well and obtained work as a night watchman. On June 23 his painful attacks had ceased. Three months after the operation the man’s hair, which was formerly of mixed color and thin, had grown thicker and coarser.
A young man, technician, 34 years old, was operated on in May, 1921, and in July his bald head was thickly covered with fine hair. His barber first called his attention to it, and Dr. Benjamin said he confirmed it, as well as Dr. Peter Schmidt of Berlin, who performed the operation.
Continuing his discourse Dr. Benjamin said that whether a prolongation of life was obtainable was impossible to say. Thus far, he added, none of the successful cases have come to a second senility or have died, except of current diseases, like pneumonia. But judging from the cases in hand he was able to say that man’s working and creative life could, in many instances, be prolonged. Many cases were so improved after the operation that Dr. Benjamin felt the word rejuvenation could best describe the effect.
The speaker said that the case of a Mr. Wilson, who died in London on the eve of a lecture he was to have given, reciting his own experiences after the operation, was unfairly used against Dr. Steinach. He said he was in a position to state that Mr. Wilson was one of Dr. Steinach’s most successful cases. and that he died of acute pneumonia.
Dr. Benjamin Sounds a Warning.
Dr. Benjamin sounded a warning “against too great an enthusiasm and against raising too many hopes,” recalling that Dr. Steinach’s own words were “that within modest limits the process of becoming senile can be influenced.”
The principle used by Dr. Steinach in the case of men may be applied to women, the doctor said, but the surgical procedure is not followed, the X-ray being used instead. The clinical experience in women’s cases is not as complete as that of men.
Dr. Benjamin was of the opinion that the Steinbach discovery was one of the most scientifically founded, as well as one of the most promising applications of endocrinological principles. By proper application he felt the discovery would be of great benefit to the individual as well as to society.
It was reported that several prominent physicians took part in the discussion which followed the presentation of the paper and expressed themselves in favor of the Steinbach method.
The New York Times
November 20, 1921