4thWaveNow

by Marie Verite

 In the six days since the launch of the petition urging Brown University and PLoS One to continue supporting research into the sharp increase in youth—particularly females—who seek medical intervention for gender dysphoria, over 3700 have signed and over 1060 have written comments. The initial signature goal was 1000, which was quickly surpassed in less than 12 hours; the goal has since been continuously raised. As of this writing it stands at 4000.

The signatories include many families affected by rapid onset gender dysphoria (ROGD), medical professionals, therapists, doctors, and academics. You can read them all—and sign the petition, if you have not yet—here.  A small sampler of the 1000+ comments:


— Lee Jussim – Chair Psychology Department, Rutgers University “If it’s wrong, let someone produce evidence that it is wrong. Until that time, if the research pisses some people off, who cares? Galileo…

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Rainbow Double Helix (DNA)

Excerpts from a letter by Diane Ehrensaft to The Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. Read the full letter HERE. Ehrensaft is a psychologist who is considered by some to be the “premiere expert” in the field of pediatric transgenderism. Read more about her extraordinary theories on “Gender Angels” and “Gender Ghosts” by clicking HERE. Diane Ehrensaft’s work is distinguished by a profound metaphysical belief that sex stereotypes (femininity, masculinity) are biologically innate components of reproductive sex, rather than social traditions constructed to ritualize female subjugation to males.

Excerpts from Diane Ehrensaft’s letter:

————————————————–

“Our gender clinic at the Child and Adolescent Gender Center at UCSF Benio Children’s Hospital has a continual flow of children and adolescents I have come to refer to as “the double helix rainbow kids.” I coined this term to refer to the overlapping spectra this group of youth find themselves on— the autism spectrum and the gender spectrum.”


“The twenty- first century has been accompanied by a dramatic paradigm shift in Western concepts and practices of gender. No longer is gender considered to exist in two distinct non-overlapping boxes—male/female. The construct of the gender binary has been replaced by the image of the gender spectrum, an array of gender shades and hues of infinite variety, oscillating between the poles of masculine and feminine (Ehrensaft 2012, 2016; Hidalgo et al. 2013; Keo-Meier and Ehrensaft 2018).

Even beyond that is the notion of a gender web, a three-dimensional interweaving of nature, nurture, and culture, accompanied by a fourth dimension of time, in which each individual spins together their own unique gender identity (who I am as male, female, or other) and gender expressions (how I “do” my gender—dress, appearance, activities, etc.) to arrive at their authentic gender self. Based on the interstices of constitution, socialization, and environmental context, no two people’s gender webs will be exactly the same (Ehrensaft 2011, 2016).

Rather than static or fixed by age six, which is what is postulated in traditional theories of gender development and constancy (Kohlberg 1966; Tyson 1986; Fast 1999), the gender web pulsates and resituates itself over the course of a life time, which explains why some people who have consistently lived in one gender for many years may gradually or suddenly arrive at an understanding that this gender is no longer a good fit (Harris 2005).

Actual slide from Ehrensaft lecture on “pulsating gender webs”.

We have also learned that gender does not lie between our legs, but rather between our ears—in the messages of our brain as to who we are (Diamond 2002).

This brings us to some particular idiosyncrasies of double helix rainbow individuals. Typically diagnosed early in life as being on the autism spectrum, their early childhoods may be devoid of any self-reference to gender at all. Even though their parents may have told them, “You are a boy” or “You are a girl,” for the child, these markers may be empty signifiers. As one double helix rainbow transgender youth expressed, asked when they first realized they were transgen- der: “When I was little, I didn’t think about gender at all. It was a category that had no meaning to me. I was just a person. Only when my body started to change, when I was 12, did I suddenly come to the startling, and awful, realization that I had a gender. I hated it and I certainly didn’t want to be the one my body was telling me I was going to have to be.”

Unpacking this youth’s narrative gives us much food for thought as we read through this journal’s issue on autism and gender. To understand a person who is neurodiverse, a neurotypical person needs to leave the comfort of their own social position and view from the inside out, from the neurodiverse person’s perspective.

With gender, the neurodiverse individual’s experience may be the most revolutionary of all in deconstructing a society’s fixed and unbending mores of gender. It is sometimes theorized that the reason so many people on the autism spectrum show up in gender clinics with either gender dysphoria or an asserted transgender identity is that they have failed to read the social cues that interpersonally guide and shape us in our understanding of our gender selves (Strang et al. 2018). If that is so, we might also say that the neurodiverse cohort is freed from the social constrictions and binding mores of “correct” gender roles and behavior, allowing them a far more creative gender journey, in line with the twenty-first century understanding of gender in its multiplicity and expansiveness rather than its entrapment in two designated boxes. We might also say it is not the autistic, but the neurotypical folks who are failing to read the social cues so poignantly provided by the neurodiverse community.

Both clinicians and parents have been known to interpret the insistence on a transgender or non-binary gender identity that shows up more prevalently in autistic children than in their non-autistic peers as just an obsessive phase, like so many other obsessions the autistic child passes through. It is interesting to note that, using teacher ratings on the child behavior checklist, elevated levels of obsessional interests have also been identified by Dr. Kenneth Zucker and associates as a feature of “gender referred” children at their gender clinic compared to non-referred children (Zucker et al. 2017). I do question the interpretation of these data, with the teacher ratings of obsessional interests of the gender-referred children on the child behavior checklist perhaps having more to do with a sense of urgency, a pushback toward others who are attempting to thwart their gender expressions or interests, a bias on the teachers’ parts toward those gender-diverse interests, or a need on the child’s part to communicate to others in an exaggerated fashion a gender identity or non- conforming gender expression rather than an indication of obsessionality. Still, the implication is that double helix rainbow kids may also have a double dosage of obsessionality.

With that said, if an obsessional phase was at the root of the neurodiverse children’s assertion of a transgender or gender-nonbinary self,, the phase should dissipate over time, like other obsessional interests; yet it does not. [sic]

Unlike the children who report no sense of gender at all in their early life, there are other autistic children who declare a transgender identity at an early age and do not back down or divert from that message. Rather than a passing phase, the gender declarations can become more insistent or urgent over time, especially if the request for acknowledgement is denied or overridden by the adults in the child’s life.

In lieu of “just a phase,” a more salient argument for the prevalence of transgender or non-conforming gender articulations among neurodiverse children and youth is that the bundle of neurons that may shape gender messages in the brain that say “I am not the gender that matches the sex designated to me at birth” may live side-by-side or interactively with the bundle of neurons that shape autistic experience, creating a cohesive mosaic of neurodiverse/gender diverse individuality.

What we know about gender expansive/transgender experience and the experience of autism is that they both may be accompanied by a strong dose of social anxiety (Cohen- Kettenis et al. 2003; Bellini 2014); we also know that both experiences are considered to have a strong constitutional component (Rosenthal 2014, 2016; Frith and Hill 2003; Frith and Happe 2005).

With that said, I would like to finish with a story about a young autistic child presenting with an inordinate amount of anxiety. This child was diagnosed with severe autism at the age of two. At age eight, the child had minimal expressive language, consisting primarily of “Mommy, Daddy, i-Pad.” Brought to a gender clinic because of the child’s insistence that they were not a girl, but a boy, the only full sentence uttered by the child in the initial exam, in response to the parents’ reference to their child as “she,” was a loud, adamant, “Don’t say she, say HE.” The child made no eye contact, shied from any physical contact, and anxiously hummed and rocked. After several months of mental health treatment with a gender specialist who also had experience with autism, the family, with the therapist’s support, allowed their child to begin living full-time as the boy the child consistently asserted they were. Sometime after that, the child returned for their follow-up visit at the gender clinic. The clinic team was astounded to discover a child who strode into the clinic, shook hands with the team, made eye contact, and began talking in full, although truncated, sentences. The stunning observation leaves us with a question to ponder, “Could gender be an alleviator for the stressors of autism?” Not every person with a diagnosis of autism will be gender expansive, but it might behoove us to find that out, and more generally, to remind ourselves that gender is a fluid concept that may be experienced and expressed differently, depending on whether one is neuro- diverse or neurotypical.”


More:

 

In 2014, I asked San Francisco Health Commissioner (2012-present) Cecilia C. Chung for data on HIV transmission rates among transmen who identify as gay men. Cecilia Chung is regarded by many as the national authority on HIV/AIDS in the transgender community. Chung responded to my inquiry by passive-aggressively sending me a link to a list of all the demographic studies hosted by the San Francisco Department of Public Health website under ‘HIV /AIDS Programs and Research’.

By reviewing these studies I discovered that since 1996 the San Francisco Department of Public Health had been reclassifying all Transmen (Females who identify as male) diagnosed with HIV as Transwomen (Males who identify as female) for statistical purposes. When I pointed this out to Chung he refused to respond. Only after the exchange was re-tweeted by famous actor and comedian Roseanne Barr did Chung admit this to be so:

“You are correct. We have recently changed the method to capture the wide spectrum of gender identity and sex assigned at birth,” Chung finally replied.

2014

However, an updated review of department materials indicates that this change was never implemented. Chung’s department continued to reclassify transmen as transwomen in their HIV statistics. Their most recent (2016) HIV Epidemiology Annual Report states [Page 97, Note on Transgender Status]:

In September 1996, SFDPH began noting transgender status when this information is contained in the medical record. Transgender individuals are listed as either male-to-female or female-to-male. The majority of transgender HIV cases are male-to-female (trans female). Due to the small number of trans male cases and potential small population size, their data are included with trans female cases to protect confidentiality.

[bolding by me. –GM]

https://www.sfdph.org/dph/files/reports/RptsHIVAIDS/Annual-Report-2016-20170831.pdf

2016

Note how this reclassification of transmale HIV data was cited as being for their own good, nonsensically arguing that total erasure of AFAB transgender HIV data ‘protected their confidentiality’. Female HIV transmission rates among women who do not identify as transgender was not reclassified as male, nor was any heightened risk of potential confidentiality breech cited for non-transgender females. Only HIV data pertaining to transmen (women who identify as male) was deemed a risk to patient confidentiality. Only HIV data pertaining to transmen was deliberately erased.

More than one in ten transgender people living with HIV are transmen (identified as female at birth) reports a study released today in the American Journal of Public Health.

 

Characteristics of HIV-Positive Transgender Men Receiving Medical Care: United States, 2009–2014

Ansley Lemons MPH, Linda Beer PhD, Teresa Finlayson PhD, MPH, Donna Hubbard McCree PhD, MPH, RPh, Daniel Lentine MPH, and R. Luke Shouse MD, MPH, for the Medical Monitoring Project

http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/10.2105/AJPH.2017.304153

The study looked at data starting in 2009 and ending in 2014, the same year I asked Cecilia Chung to stop reclassifying transmen as transwomen in official statistics.

AIDS Map reports:

“HIV-positive transgender men in the United States have significant unmet social and healthcare needs, according to a study published in Research and Practice. Approximately half were living in poverty and only 60% had sustained viral suppression.

“Many transgender men receiving HIV medical care in the United States face socioeconomic challenges and suboptimal health outcomes,” write the authors. “Although these transgender men had access to HIV medical care, many experienced poor health outcomes and unmet needs.”

Transgender people experience poorer health outcomes compared to cisgendered individuals (people whose current gender identity is the same as the one with which they were born).

Little is known about characteristics and outcomes of HIV-positive transgender men (designated female at birth). A team of investigators therefore analysed the records of patients who received HIV care in the United States between 2009 and 2014. Their aim was to characterise the sociodemographic and clinical characteristics of these patients.

Overall, transgender men constituted 0.16% of all adults but 11% of transgender adults receiving HIV care in the United States. The majority (59%) were aged between 18 to 49 years and 40% identified as gay or bisexual. Although 42% had completed high school, almost half (47%) had an income below the national poverty level. A third were uninsured or relied on a Ryan White programme for their health care. Over two-thirds (69%) had an unmet support need and a quarter were currently living with depression.

Most (53%) were sexually active.

The majority (57%) had been living with HIV for ten or more years; a quarter had a history of an AIDS diagnosis. The vast majority (93%) had ever taken antiretrovirals; 88% were on HIV therapy and 83% were fully adherent to their treatment. Last viral load measurement was undetectable in 69% and 57% had a current CD4 cell count above 500 cells/mm3. Two-thirds of patients had a viral load test every six months but only 40% had received sexual health or HIV prevention counselling from a healthcare professional.

More than 1 in 10 transgender persons receiving HIV care were transgender men. HIV-positive transgender men receiving medical care in the United States constitute a small group with socioeconomic challenges, unmet needs for supportive services, and poor healthcomes,” conclude the authors. “To decrease disparities and achieve health equity among HIV-positive men, HIV care models could incorporate transgender-sensitive health care and mental health services and health insurance inclusive of sex reassignment procedures and physical sex-related care.”

[bolding by me. -GM]

 

 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/meet-alex-bertie-the-transgender-poster-boy-z88hgh8b8

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TRANS HEALTH MANIFESTO

September 20, 2017

 

‘Action For Trans Health’ Logo (Facebook)

From the UK ‘Action for Trans Health‘ Org:

TRANS HEALTH MANIFESTO

INTRODUCTION
Following the centuries-long repression of trans lives at the hands of the state, the next stage in the UK government’s war of bureaucratic attrition is the recent publication of an NHS consultation that fails in every possible capacity, and a survey that gathers less data than we’ve already presented them. We call upon everyone fighting for the health of trans people to boycott this consultation & the survey, and reject its procedures & results in full. We encourage hostile participation in the form of direct submissions of demands that don’t react to the questions posed or restrict themselves to the scope imposed by the government.

We wholly reject the NHS’s attempt to codify the abuse, torment & traumatisation of trans people under the guise of ‘healthcare’. We demand accountability for the historic & present abuse of power that the NHS has encouraged glorified psychiatrists to carry out. You do not own our bodies, you cannot control our lives, and you will not prevent our needs being met. We will not tolerate compromise.

The following living document is our vision for trans futures.

We do not consider that our work will ever be complete, there will always be greater things on the horizon. As such, this manifesto is not final, but an open draft which will evolve as we do. This is our call to action. We will fight anyone who stands in the way of universal liberation. This is war, and we will win.

Read the rest of this entry »

From HERE.

Dr. Richard J. Curtis

 

Dr. Richard J. Curtis has announced that she will be closing her private UK gender clinic by the end of the year.

For twelve years the ‘TransHealth’ clinic provided private-pay cross-sex hormone treatments and surgical referrals at exorbitant cost for clients who had been rejected for treatment by the NHS or for those who wanted to bypass the free National Health Service protocol.

 

From her website

The announcement comes on the heels of the suspension of Dr. Helen Webberley’s online gender clinic following calls for increased supervision of off-service providers.

Dr. Richard Curtis had previously been placed under investigation by the UK General Medical Council following allegations of failure to follow accepted standards of care.

The clinic was started in 2006 when Curtis took over the private practice of infamous psychiatry consultant Dr. Russell Reid, once the UK’s best-known expert on transsexualism. Reid was found guilty of gross professional misconduct for authorizing inappropriate surgeries for gender dysphoric and body dysphoric clients, including the amputation of healthy limbs for “Body Integrity Identity Disorder” clients.

Dr. Richard Curtis, a heterosexual female formerly named Vanda Zadorozny, underwent medical and surgical gender procedures herself in 2005.

Vonda Zadorozny

Dr. Curtis announced last year that she had decided to stop providing gender treatments to individuals under 18 years of age.

The decision to close the clinic entirely “arises due to a number of personal, professional, and business related reasons” according to her website.