Comments on: Trinidad hospital slays the goose that laid the golden egg History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sat, 20 Sep 2014 15:26:05 +0000 hourly 1 By: Historiann Fri, 17 Dec 2010 14:39:20 +0000 Zoe, please review the comments policy here. Long multiple comments are not about a conversation but about rhetorical bludgeoning.

In any case, I don’t think you’re going to change Emma’s mind about this.

By: Zoe Brain Fri, 17 Dec 2010 09:50:45 +0000 Re Anne Fausto-Sterling – as her classic book “Sexing the Body” was published in 2000, she can hardly be faulted for not being aware of papers published in 2000-2010 – that is, all the papers I mentioned, apart from Zhou’s 1995 paper in Nature.

Obviously I didn’t give TMI after all. So here’s a few more:

Regional cerebral blood flow changes in female to male gender identity disorder. – Tanaka et al, Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2010 Apr 1;64(2):157-61.

RESULTS: GID subjects had a significant decrease in rCBF in the left anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and a significant increase in the right insula compared to control subjects.
CONCLUSIONS: The ACC and insula are regions that have been noted as being related to human sexual behavior and consciousness. From these findings, useful insights into the biological basis of GID were suggested.

White matter microstructure in female to male transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A diffusion tensor imaging study. – Rametti et al, J Psychiatr Res. 2010 Jun 8.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the white matter microstructure pattern in untreated FtM transsexuals is closer to the pattern of subjects who share their gender identity (males) than those who share their biological sex (females). Our results provide evidence for an inherent difference in the brain structure of FtM transsexuals.

These two are particularly disliked by those whose ideology requires there be no such neural circuitry:

“Prenatal hormones versus postnatal socialization by parents as determinants of male-typical toy play in girls with congenital adrenal hyperplasia” Pasterski VL, Geffner ME, Brain C, Hindmarsh P, Brook C, Hines M Child Dev 76(1):264-78 2005

Data show that increased male-typical toy play by girls with CAH cannot be explained by parental encouragement of male-typical toy play. Although parents encourage sex-appropriate behavior, their encouragement appears to be insufficient to override the interest of girls with CAH in cross-sexed toys.

Sexual Hormones and the Brain: An Essential Alliance for Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation Garcia-Falgueras A, Swaab DF Endocr Dev. 2010;17:22-35

Boys and girls behave in different ways and one of the stereotypical behavioral differences between them, that has often been said to be forced upon them by upbringing and social environment, is their behavior in play. Boys prefer to play with cars and balls, whereas girls prefer dolls. This sex difference in toy preference is present very early in life (3–8 months of age) [1]. The idea that it is not society that forces these choices upon children but a sex difference in the early development of their brains and behavior is also supported by monkey behavioral studies. Alexander and Hines [2], who offered dolls, toy cars and balls to green Vervet monkeys found the female monkeys consistently chose the dolls and examined these ano-genitally, whereas the male monkeys were more interested in playing with the toy cars and with the ball….

I’d give more, but I think I’ve tried the patience of our host too much already. And besides which, would any more citations of experimental results be helpful? If a small mountain of evidence isn’t enough, would a bigger one, or two, or three, or a hundred make any difference?

I can recommend the presentations by Dr Veronica Drantz, Biologist, Lesbian Activist, Feminist on the subject.

By: Zoe Brain Fri, 17 Dec 2010 09:30:20 +0000 Re: the ADA – citation:
135 Cong.Rec. S10765-01 (1989).

Honourable mention to Jesse Helms, who did the actual arguing in 1990.

One case that found in favor of a transsexual as a handicapped person was Doe v. United States Postal Service [67.]. This is the same case that was discussed under the equal protection analysis. Doe advanced several different claims, among them was a claim that as a transsexual she was handicapped and was covered by the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The court upheld the handicap claim, of Doe, against a motion by the USPS to dismiss for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The court found that, “the language of the Rehabilitation Act and of the accompanying regulations is broadly drafted, indicating a legislative intent not to limit the Act’s coverage to traditionally recognized handicaps. [68.]” The USPS counter argument was that since a transsexual’s condition may be alleviated by hormones and gender reassignment surgery the impairment was short-term and therefore not covered by the Act. However the court said that “the mere fact that treatment may be available does not automatically remove an afflicted individual from the scope of this statute.” [69.] In 1992 Congress amended the Rehabilitation Act to exclude transsexuals [70.]. To understand the reasons for the exclusion of transsexuals it is necessary to look at the legislative history of the American’s With Disabilities Act of 1990.

In 1990 Congress passed the American’s with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA contains an explicit section [71.] stating that transsexualism and gender identity disorders are not, without a physical causation, considered disabilities. This section was put in at the request of Senator Jesse Helms. [72.] The exclusion clause adopted into the Rehabilitation Act is identical to the clause in the ADA. Recall that the court upheld in Doe v. United States Postal Service [73.] the equal protection argument made by Doe. Recall also that the USPS advanced no rational argument for denying Doe employment other than that she was a transsexual. The assertion by Senator Helms that the ADA would cover a transsexual is correct.


By: Historiann Fri, 17 Dec 2010 02:36:08 +0000 Zoe–trans folk are very different from the berdache/two-spirit examples you cite above. It’s not imposing a “western socially-constructed box” on an identity to be historically and culturally specific.

Emma, I hear where you’re coming from philosophically about the essentialism of trans identity, but what’s the realistic solution? Tell people that they can’t have SRS? Outlaw the procedure? I just don’t get your anger over the existence of SRS. (At least, I’m reading your comments here as angry. Apologies if I’m misreading you.)

I know trans issues are kind of hot on feminist blogs (like this thread here, for example.) But off-line, I don’t see where trans issues pose a real threat to feminism.

By: Emma Fri, 17 Dec 2010 02:00:47 +0000 The ADA amendments to preclude coverage of Transsexuality were introduced by the late Strom Thurmond, against the advice of the medical profession, and on the basis of ideological belief.

Again, with no citation. Unless he did it from the grave, the current ADA, which reaches much farther than the prior version, wasn’t touched by Strom Thurmond.

I’m not a huge fan of studies that purport to bio-essentialize sex/gender identities.

Welcome to the rathole of trans-essentialism hidden beneath the heart-tugging civil rights claims.

My support for transsexuals has more to do with my latent libertarian views than anything else.

In which case, trans-essentialism? The farthest thing from libertarianism, or liberation, since the invention of hysteria.

I think Zoe’s given a pretty good demonstration of the gender essentialism that grounds trans politics. Read ENDA’s proposed language on trans protections, for one, to see how that legislation bioessentializes gender.

Given that, it seems to me a that an imperative line of inquiry might be what the consequences are for women should trans-essentialism prevail as a lefty liberal civil rights analysis. And whether supporting Dr. Bowers without any critical analysis of what she does or his and her places in patriarchy supports an ideology of gender that requires women’s inequality. I would say yes, but undoubtedly Zoe has another “study” about the liberation of recognizing male circuitry and female circuitry.

Also, Zoe did not respond to me “in kind”. Zoe responded to me as if I was a clueless transphobe who needed to be yanked up on a chain and shown the elementary errors of my bigoted ways with off point “information”. The same way she’s now treated everybody on this blog. Why does discernment and critical thinking go the way of the dodo anytime anybody challenges popular thinking on transsexuality and its discontents?

By: Emma Fri, 17 Dec 2010 01:42:43 +0000 I’m sorry this is overly nuanced.

Oh, but it’s not. So no need to apologize. Again, the presumption that I need “education” on what trans is, or what it takes to get surgery, is wildly off base.

well-evidenced sexually differentiated cognitive and sensory circuitry on the other

I think Anne Fausto Sterling might have something to say about that particular myth.

By: Zoe Brain Thu, 16 Dec 2010 10:10:13 +0000 When does History begin? 1 millisecond ago… but I’ll confine myself to pre-1500 CE.

There are trans people and groups that only fit very broadly our modern definitions of “transgendered”, or “transsexual”, and few of those historically practiced genital surgery.

The Galliae (Cult of Cybele) in Rome did, as did the Hajira in India.

But there are many others: The Berdache of the Illiwinek, the Muxes of the Zapotecs and Oaxacans, the Incan Quariwarmi, the Sekhet of the Egyptian Middle Kingdom, the Ashtime of the Maale in Ethiopia, the Mashoga of the Swahili, the Maangaiko of the Ibo, the Sumerian Kugarus, the pre-vedic Tritya Prktri, and so on.

Some used an unrefined form of the hormone Premarin – which comes from PREgnant MARe urINe. Others, such as the Kwaalu-Atmol of the Sambia in New Guinea or the Guevedoces of the Dominican Republic have “natural sex changes” due to 5-alpha-reductase-2 deficiency mutation in a significant fraction of the population.

Some of these groups survive today, little changed: the Whakawahine/Mahu Wahine/Fa’afahine etc of Polynesia for example. The Khatoey of the Siamese, and the Hajira of course.

Trying to shoehorn them in to western socially-constructed boxes that are less than a century old doesn’t work too well – which should tell us that those boxes, recently constructed by psychiatry don’t reflect reality very accurately. What we should do is listen to their narratives, with open minds.

From a neurological perspective, a facet of a complex reality, both stereotypical “male” and “female” brains have far more in common than differenced. Studies on Intersexed people indicate that, broadly, 1/3 of people are strictly male, 1/3 female, and 1/3 could function adequately as either gender – the exact proportions depending on how well the societal construct of gender in that environment reflects real biological differences.

In today’s society, that’s not very much. What we see as “gendered behaviour” with a supposed biological basis is (mostly) nothing of the sort, and varies between societies and times.

Mostly. But it’s the bits that are not mere social constructs that lead to “gender identity”. Senses of smell and hearing for example are as sexually differentiated as height. That’s a good example, because there are many tall women and many short men, yet males are taller on average than females in every society.

I’m sorry this is overly nuanced. I’m trying to tread the line between superstitious nonsense with no evidential basis about “hysterical women” who “can’t handle maths” on one hand, and the well-evidenced sexually differentiated cognitive and sensory circuitry on the other. Superstition and Junk Science about the first has been used by the Patriarchy to oppress women; Superstition and Junk Science about the non-existence of the second has been used to oppress Intersexed and Trans people, to coerce them into gender roles they can’t fit.

By: Historiann Thu, 16 Dec 2010 01:29:12 +0000 OK, Zoe–you’ve made your point. Now this is TMI.

I’m not a huge fan of studies that purport to bio-essentialize sex/gender identities. My support for transsexuals has more to do with my latent libertarian views than anything else. Why shouldn’t people use medicine, science, and technology to make themselves happier? (I’m also big on legalizing drugs and I think athletes and others should juice themselves to the max if that’s what they want, so long as everyone understands the risks. YMMV.)

As a historian, I think it’s an interesting question as to where trans people were before the possibility of sex reassignment surgeries. I’m not saying they didn’t exist–we know of several cases of intersex people going back into the early modern period, for example, but I think that’s somewhat of a different issue. It’s just interesting to consider how/what trans people thought about themselves and how they constructed their lives, if they had any liberty at all to do so. I’m not sure what kinds of sources might reveal them to us now.

By: Zoe Brain Thu, 16 Dec 2010 00:27:31 +0000 To see what Transsexuality is…. some light reading.

Male-to-female transsexuals show sex-atypical hypothalamus activation when smelling odorous steroids. by Berglund et al Cerebral Cortex 2008 18(8):1900-1908;

…the data implicate that transsexuality may be associated with sex-atypical physiological responses in specific hypothalamic circuits, possibly as a consequence of a variant neuronal differentiation.

Male–to–female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus. Kruiver et al J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034–2041

The present findings of somatostatin neuronal sex differences in the BSTc and its sex reversal in the transsexual brain clearly support the paradigm that in transsexuals sexual differentiation of the brain and genitals may go into opposite directions and point to a neurobiological basis of gender identity disorder.

Sexual differentiation of the human brain: relevance for gender identity, transsexualism and sexual orientation. Swaab Gynecol Endocrinol (2004) 19:301–312.

Solid evidence for the importance of postnatal social factors is lacking. In the human brain, structural diferences have been described that seem to be related to gender identity and sexual orientation.

A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality. by Zhou et al Nature (1995) 378:68–70.

Our study is the first to show a female brain structure in genetically male transsexuals and supports the hypothesis that gender identity develops as a result of an interaction between the developing brain and sex hormones

A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity. by Garcia-Falgueras et al Brain. 2008 Dec;131(Pt 12):3132-46.

We propose that the sex reversal of the INAH3 in transsexual people is at least partly a marker of an early atypical sexual differentiation of the brain and that the changes in INAH3 and the BSTc may belong to a complex network that may structurally and functionally be related to gender identity.

Regarding the debate about keeping GID in the diagnostic manual, even though it doesn’t meet the DSM’s criteria for a mental illness, see Seminar S6 of the 2009 American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting:

S6. “In or Out?”: A Discussion About Gender Identity Diagnoses and the DSM (DSM Track DM03)

* The DSM-V Revision Process: Principles and Progress William E. Narrow, M.D.
* Beyond Conundrum: Strategies for Diagnostic Harm Reduction Kelley Winters, Ph.D.
* Aligning Bodies With Minds: The Case for Medical and Surgical Treatment of Gender Dysphoria Rebecca Allison, M.D.
* The Role of Medical and Psychological Discourse in Legal and Policy Advocacy for Transgender Persons in the U.S. Shannon P. Minter, J.D.

The conclusion was that until this congenital anatomical condition has a place in other diagnostic manuals, it should remain in the DSM so patients can access treatment.

See also seminar S10
S10. The Neurobiological Evidence for Transgenderism

* Brain Gender Identity Sidney W. Ecker, M.D.
* Transsexuality as an Intersex Condition Milton Diamond, Ph.D.
* Novel Approaches to Endocrine Treatment of Transgender Adolescents and Adults Norman Spack, M.D.

A good summary is in the abstract of Sexual Hormones and the Brain: An Essential Alliance for Sexual Identity and Sexual Orientation Garcia-Falgueras A, Swaab DF Endocr Dev. 2010;17:22-35

The fetal brain develops during the intrauterine period in the male direction through a direct action of testosterone on the developing nerve cells, or in the female direction through the absence of this hormone surge. In this way, our gender identity (the conviction of belonging to the male or female gender) and sexual orientation are programmed or organized into our brain structures when we are still in the womb. However, since sexual differentiation of the genitals takes place in the first two months of pregnancy and sexual differentiation of the brain starts in the second half of pregnancy, these two processes can be influenced independently, which may result in extreme cases in trans-sexuality. This also means that in the event of ambiguous sex at birth, the degree of masculinization of the genitals may not reflect the degree of masculinization of the brain. There is no indication that social environment after birth has an effect on gender identity or sexual orientation.

By: Zoe Brain Thu, 16 Dec 2010 00:17:27 +0000 As regards Janice Raymond and “The Transsexual Empire” – it’s still in print, so you can see where she recommends that Transsexuals be mandated out of existence.

The book is not the most damaging writing that Raymond has penned. Far worse is 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.

- Source. This report is a matter of public record.