Friday, January 30, 2009

And The Peter Weighs In

Right on cue, leading wingnut over at AFTAH has weighed in on the Birth Certificate issues I mentioned yesterday.

Says The Peter(™):

First, it’s utterly reprehensible that anyone in the medical community would be complicit in facilitating a psychological disorder by amputating healthy body parts. There is a condition known as either apotemnophilia or Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) that is characterized by the desire to amputate a healthy limb. It is useful for comparison in that it is thought by many to be closely related to Gender Identity Disorder (i.e., transsexualism), which society is increasingly accepting as a valid identity that emerges from biological influences and whose behavioral manifestations are morally legitimate.


Let's start with the obvious things here. Mistake number one is LaBarbera's insistence that transsexualism be compared to apotemnophilia. Frankly, I don't buy that argument to begin with. It rests upon the very shaky assumption that transsexuals transition and have gender surgery because they are fixated upon the physical change that surgery will bring. Except for Bailey/Blanchard/Lawrence, few in the medical community actually believe such a premise. The 'autogynephilia' hypothesis tends to rest upon declaring transsexuals as liars when they discuss motivations other than the physical for wanting to transition.

Unsurprisingly, The Peter cites Anne Lawrence. There's a lot about Dr. Lawrence I respect and admire - but her "autogynephilia" hypothesis doesn't impress me - especially when it runs contrary to so much other data.

Most people, rightly in my view, recoil in horror at this decision. But it is difficult to see how amputating a healthy arm or leg is substantively different from amputating a healthy penis or breasts.


If that was all that gender transition was about, I might almost agree with that. The reality is that gender transition is much more about what's between the ears than the physical changes. Yes, the physical changes are important - do not make the mistake of assuming I trivialize their role in transition - but they tend to reinforce and support the journey that the individual is making in their heart and mind.

Second, these two men remain men even without their penises, even with hormone-induced or prosthetic breasts, and even with hormone-induced female-ish voices. As I’ve written before, my mother was no less a woman following her mastectomy, hysterectomy, and oophorectmy than she was before her surgeries. The disordered desire of these two men does not change objective reality.


So...tell me, Peter. Since you clearly understand that womanhood (or manhood) is not completely tied to the physical, what makes you think that it is impossible that a woman may have been born into a male body?

Finally, these two men are not merely asking the government to become complicit in their disordered delusion; and they are not merely asking the government and all of society to accept their delusion as reality; they are also asking the state to commit fraud. They are asking the state to affirm in a legal document a falsehood. Even these two men acknowledge that they were born male. If they hadn’t been born male, they couldn’t have had a “sex-change” operation.


Ummm...no, it's not committing fraud. What The Peter is whining about is not fraud - any more than a name change is a commission of fraud. The government has every right (and likely a requirement) to keep the old and revised versions on file, just as they would with a legal name change.

To say that it is fraud, one would have to demonstrate an intent to deceive. In this situation, we must recognize that the Birth Certificate is an important document for someone establishing citizenship, or applying for a passport. Why should these people be subjected to additional scrutiny every time they apply for key identification documents?

The problem that The Peter has here is that he doesn't want to admit that transsexuals are real people, with real lives. He sees transfolk as sinful, delusional and liars.

Unfortunately, what he is wanting to propagate is a pattern of ongoing, systemic discrimination that someone who transitions across genders experiences. A birth certificate with an old name, or a wrong gender marker on it can very quickly turn into an excuse for being fired from a job, or one finds their passport application suddenly comes back with demands for more information or proof of something or another. Every time you apply for a passport, suddenly you go through the process of 'outing yourself' one more time to somebody (who probably doesn't care, but when transsexuals are assaulted or worse with frightening regularity, you never know)

Already the government has been complicit in this monumental deceit and delusion by allowing them to change their “gender” designation “on their driver’s licenses, passports and Social Security Card.” Just as the medical profession acts unethically when amputating healthy body parts in the service of a delusion, so does the government act unethically when changing legal documents to affirm a falsehood in the service of a delusion.


Unfortunately, he doesn't even know what a delusion really is:

A false belief based on incorrect inference about external reality that is firmly sustained despite what almost everybody else believes and despite what constitutes incontrovertible and obvious proof or evidence to the contrary. The belief is not one ordinarily accepted by other members of the person's culture or subculture.


Okay, let's explore this in the context of transsexualism for a moment. A transsexual presents at a therapist's office, and the commonly held assumption is that the narrative is "I'm a woman in a man's body". (A gross oversimplification of what really happens, but it will suffice for now)

So, from an external perspective, we have someone who is quite aware that they are physiologically male. There is no question of their awareness of this. The trickier question is establishing whether the person is in fact psychologically female.

The second part of the problem is harder to establish, and in fact is why the therapy process can be so important. Someone who has lived a good portion of their life in one gender will have a lot of adaptation to go through before they will be able to live successfully in their chosen gender. Whether the individual is willing and able to make that adaption successfully is a pretty good indication of how real the latter is. (Trust me - someone who is a man will not find it easy to fit into a woman's world - and the converse is also true, and is in fact one of the driving forces that leads transsexuals to pursue transition.

It's very hard to describe a transsexual as deluded. They are, if you read the literature, excessively aware of the reality of their situation, and the challenges that they face are a combination of internal and external stresses that need to be resolved.

LaBarbera is simply demanding that more obstacles exist for an already marginalized population. Where is the spirit of Christian teachings in that position?

22 comments:

INDIANA OPEN said...

Actually the government does participate in falsifying documents and then denies those very same people access to those documents. Adoptees. Funny the ACLU won't help us out.

MgS said...

From my perspective, your issue is a 'close cousin', in that there are valid reasons to have access (direct or indirect) to ones biological forebears.

There is a significant difference between an adoption and a transsexual's requested amendment that must be handled with a great deal of care.

Where the transsexual is asking for an amendment to their personal record, and that amendment affects nobody except them, disclosure of birth parent related information does open the can of worms related to the right to privacy on the part of the birth parents.

I do not argue that access to the unamended records should not be available, but rather that there is a need for a degree of appropriate respect for the rights of the other party that would be affected by the disclosure of that information.

That said, best of luck in your own quest!

Just Jennifer said...

What could you possibly find to admire about a self-hating kook like Anne Lawrence? Lawrence has done much harm to those with Harry Benjamin Syndrome. Of course, I imagine that Lawrence is a darling of the the transgender crowd, but that is another matter.

And I would be curious to know what your opinions are on changing birth certificates for non-ops?

MgS said...

(1) I do give Ms. Lawrence credit for publish some very useful information on her website about GRS. I disagree intensely with her theories about the motivations to transition, but she is an intelligent lady who has tried to make an informed contribution in a number of areas. (I do not have to agree with her to respect her)

(2) With respect to non-operative transsexuals and birth certificates, there are some legitimate arguments that parallel what I have already raised.

However, that said, In the absence of something as definitive as surgical change, I would have to advocate that there would be a legitimate reason to require some proof of long term commitment - similar to the RLE requirements in the WPATH SOC.

Some kind of fairly clear guidelines need to exist in these matters, since we are in many ways dealing with laws.

A non-op TS still has significant challenges should they be imprisoned for some reason - and the ability to change the birth certificate won't affect that at all. (There are enormous issues with how law enforcement deals with transfolk in general, and birth certificate changes won't help a non-op TS at all)

Just Jennifer said...

Well, first off, I feel that Lawrence's alignment with Blanchard and Bailey have pretty much rendered any previous efforts questionaable at best. And Lawrence has, quite frankly, identifed as a man with a fetish. Lawrence has not only given up any claim to legitimacy, but has contributed to contradicting any claim of legitimacy for transsexuals, or as I prefer, survivors of Harry Benjamin Syndrome. Personally, I believe Lawrence is a person who made a mistake, and who regrets having had sex reassignment surgery.

As to so-called "non-op transsexuals" (an oxymoron if there ever was one) I cannot remotely see where they have any basis for changing the sex designation on their birth certificate, or any other identity document for that matter. They have made it abundantly clear that they desire to retain they physical attributes of their birth sex, and so they should not be allowed to commit the fraud of changing their birth certificates.

Harry Benjamin Syndrome (a preferred term for what otherwise might be called true transsexualism) is a legitimate, but relatively rare, medical condition. Those who have been successfully treated for it should be entitled to live their lives as the sex that matches their neurologicsl makeup. But that entitlement should not extend to those who simply wish to play dress up, or who have motivations other than a legitimate medical need for seeking to "change their sex."

MgS said...

Personally, I believe Lawrence is a person who made a mistake, and who regrets having had sex reassignment surgery.

An interesting thought.

Unfortunately, beyond her alignment with Bailey/Blanchard (which I agree taints much of her recent efforts), I don't have any real evidence to support or refute that conjecture.

Harry Benjamin Syndrome (a preferred term for what otherwise might be called true transsexualism) is a legitimate, but relatively rare, medical condition.

I'll agree that transsexualism is rare indeed. You'll have to pardon me if I express some reservations with the rubric wrapped up in the "Harry Benjamin Syndrom" advocacy, though. I accept that there is a growing body of evidence that suggests a series of biological fundamentals that influence transsexuals. However, I must temper that with a caution that the evidence is extremely limited at this time, and for the most part draws correlation, but does not yet establish a causal links. (I do think that the recent study out of Australia has some intriguing promise in having the possibility of being directly linkable through some fairly easy testing).

Believe me, I would love for there to be a clear, identifiable set of causal vectors that could be associated with transsexualism as causal factors. That said, I do not feel that such clarity exists yet.

As to so-called "non-op transsexuals" (an oxymoron if there ever was one) I cannot remotely see where they have any basis for changing the sex designation on their birth certificate

To me, this is a little more of a gray zone. There are some legal and societal reasons such might be appropriate. However, I do think that it would be necessary to substantiate the claim that in fact the individual is fully transitioned, and intends to remain so. Then some documents (e.g. passports or driver's licenses) may be appropriate to update. Whether the gender marker on the birth certificate needs to be updated is perhaps more contentious. As far as I know, few jurisdictions in North America will change a gender marker without having a notarized letter from the surgeon who performed GRS.

Just Jennifer said...

Actually, I would say that Lawrence's involvement with Blanchard and Bailey, along with the efforts to discredit transsexualism in general are pretty good indications of regret.

And while the evidence is still coming in, it should be noted that it has been overwhelmingly in favor of a physical cause. In fact, I am not aware of any real evidence for any other possible etiology. I believe there are probably any number of things that can cause the ultimate result of someone having a brain that is at odds with the body, but the root cause of HBS or true transsexualism is that the brain is sexually differentiated at odds with the body.

As to so-called "non-ops" I see no arguments. They have retained their physical sex. And please, don't give me the medical or financial arguments. Few can easily afford SRS, but those who need it will have it. And there are few reasons that anyone is ever permanently barred from surgery, and quite frankly if the person really does need the surgery, and they really are barred, then they will probably take their own life. No, non-ops (the proper term would be transgender or transgenderists) are just playing at being something they really are not. I don't believe you should be able to have it both ways, and certainly not legally.

Véronique said...

@Just Jennifer

...the root cause of HBS or true transsexualism is that the brain is sexually differentiated at odds with the body.

I agree (except for terminology), and have said as much in both blog and vlog entries. And we were sexed incorrectly at birth by those who think that sex is genitalia and nothing else.

And yet you say:

They [non-ops] have retained their physical sex.

How can this be when sex is so much more than genitalia? Our brains are physiologically different, physiologically female. Those who have genital reconstructive surgery do not become women when they have the operation. They have the operation because they already are women -- and because they feel it is necessary, and because they can afford it, and because they do not have medical contraindications.

Few can easily afford SRS, but those who need it will have it. And there are few reasons that anyone is ever permanently barred from surgery, and quite frankly if the person really does need the surgery, and they really are barred, then they will probably take their own life.

And no doubt you have the evidence to back up such a sweeping, and I must say classist, statement. You do, right?

No, non-ops (the proper term would be transgender or transgenderists) are just playing at being something they really are not.

No doubt some are. I don't know how many. But all non-ops? Only a dogmatist would make such a statement. I prefer evidence to dogma.

Just Jennifer said...

Sex refers to several things, but the primary measure of sex is the physical configuration of the genitailia. And no, one is not "sexed incorrectly at birth by those who think that sex is genitalia and nothing else." One is "sexed" on the basis of the evidence at hand. Doctors and nurses are not mind readers. And that aside, one is still "sexed" correctly. That is why we have our sex reassigned. Those who insist on calling it "gender reassignment surgery" puzzle me. Sex can be changed, but gender is, as far as anyone has ever been able to determine, immutable. That is why the term "transgender" is actually rather silly. No one changes gender. Some may change their gender presentation, but their gender remains the same.

Again, sex is primarily genitalia. The brain is sexually differentiated, but that is not the primary definition of sex. We can change the body, but not the brain. And those who are women will do everything possible to have the surgery. They will not be satisfied being a male. Cost will not be an excuse, and again, cases where one is truly blocked by medical conditions are actually extremely rare. I knew one person who had severe diabetes. She had been stopped for years because of her health. She finally had a modified procedure where they removed the penis and testicles but did not create a vagina. No, those who call themselves "non-ops" are inevitably men who wish to retain their penises. They just make excuses.

And there are any number of recorded cases of suicide by those who are denied surgery. I am specifically talking about people who claim to "accept" that they cannot have surgery. Those who loudly, and proudly, proclaim themselves to be "non-op." I know people who struggle for years before making it. In truth, those who claim to be "transsexual" while also professing to be "non-op" are insult to those who have sacrificed to afford surgery.

Simply put, "non-op transsexual" is an oxymoron. They don't exist. If one does not need surgery, then one is simply not a transsexual. Charles Prince, who calls himself "Virginia" coined the term "transgenderist" which is where the term "transgender" came from. Of course, he has a history of trying to reinvent crossdressers.

Actually, I prefer objective terminology. If you need surgery, you are a transsexual. If you don't, you are not. Sorry, but the transgender delusion is dogma. It is totally without evidence.

MgS said...

Sex can be changed, but gender is, as far as anyone has ever been able to determine, immutable.

The degree to which sex can be changed is necessarily limited at this time. A post-op MTF (or FTM) is not capable of producing offspring in their post-surgical state. So the assertion that 'sex can be changed' has only a limited truth value.

... That is why the term "transgender" is actually rather silly. No one changes gender. Some may change their gender presentation, but their gender remains the same.

I disagree with you on this claim. The term transgender is extremely broad, and in general refers to anyone who is to some degree cross-gender identified. What we have to recognize here is that in this context the term 'Gender' refers primarily to psychological identity, and to a lesser degree social identity.

As someone who started on one side of society's gendered roles, and now lives on the other, I unquestionably went through a significant period where my own social gender was excessively ambiguous, and would correctly have been described as 'transgender' from a social perspective, even if my core identity remained constant.

There are large numbers of people who reach some point where a mixed presentation feels comfortable for them, and they are happy. Why would I deny them the validity of their existence?

I believe you have confused the terms 'transsexual' and 'transgender' in your usage, and in doing so have concluded that the term transgender is "silly", instead of recognizing that transsexuals are simply a subset of the broader population covered by the term transgender.

Sorry, but the transgender delusion is dogma. It is totally without evidence.

Actually, there is quite a body of evidence - it is why the categorization of transsexualism has changed quite dramatically from its first appearance in the DSM II to its current incarnation under the term 'Gender Identity Disorder'. There has been a growing understanding of gender identity over the last forty years, and psychologists have found that cross-gender (or cross-sex if you prefer) identities exist in a broad spectrum.

The 'lack of evidence' only exists if you are prepared to dismiss the mental health research over four decades.

Just to make things even more tangled, we should not lose sight of the fact that the terms 'sex' and 'gender' are heavily overloaded in English, and worse yet are synonyms in a number of contexts.

Women not so long ago were referred to as 'the fairer sex'; gender can be used to refer to someone's sex; or it can refer to the social construct of manhood or womanhood (and similarly, so can the term sex).

In short, the terminology is tangled by the very history and plasticity of the English language. Where the two terms once had distinct roots in Latin - with clear delineations between them, that has gotten quite muddled over the centuries since English's predecessors absorbed some percentage of Latin.

Technically, Gender Reassignment Surgery is just as correct as Sex Reassignment Surgery. I personally prefer to focus on the use of the word 'Gender' simply because it sidesteps the issues of sexual identity (and sexuality) that the term SRS evokes for people. For me, the sexual experience - while important - is but one facet of the entire discussion about why one transitions in the first place.

Those who do not choose to go as far as surgical interventions are not less valid people than those who do - they merely find their balance point in a different place than transsexuals do.

Véronique said...

@Just Jennifer

Sex refers to several things, but the primary measure of sex is the physical configuration of the genitailia.

No, the configuration of the genitalia is just one part of determining sex. No question it is the most obvious one, at least if one is naked. But people are born with many variations of genitalia -- larger, smaller, more or less well-formed, even ambiguous. A person with a vagina is not necessarily a woman. A person with a penis is not necessarily a man.

That is why we have our sex reassigned. Those who insist on calling it "gender reassignment surgery" puzzle me.

I call it, idiosyncratically I admit, genital reconstructive surgery. I use that term because that's what it is. It will not change my sex. It will allow me to change my legal status and get all my gender markers correct. It will not confirm anything. It will not reassign anything. It will simply give me genitalia that correspond to the mental map I was born with. And genitalia are only one aspect of being male or female, and indeed one that few people ever see.

The brain is sexually differentiated, but that is not the primary definition of sex.

At this point, no. That's because we don't yet have a test for brain sex. I imagine that will happen before long. Scientists years ago gave up trying to determine sex based on karyotype. At some point, sex based on genitalia will have to be provisional, as it currently is (when correct protocols are followed) for intersex people.

We can change the body, but not the brain.

Actually, we change the brain all our lives (unless we stop learning), but some things do seem to be immutable, including sexual orientation and the perception of one's own sex.

And those who are women will do everything possible to have the surgery. They will not be satisfied being a male.

You're imposing your own dogmatic definition of male here. There are women who are on hormone therapy, who have transitioned, who live their whole lives as women, indeed sometimes as lesbians, but who simply don't see any reason to have surgery on their now-shrunken genitalia. I really do want surgery, and I'm fortunate enough to live in a province that covers it (and could pay for it if I had to). I think it would be the height of arrogance for me to tell someone who has not had genital surgery, for whatever reason, that her daily life as a woman is just a big fake job.

In truth, those who claim to be "transsexual" while also professing to be "non-op" are insult to those who have sacrificed to afford surgery.

The world seems to be pretty black and white for some people. I find that odd.

Actually, I prefer objective terminology. If you need surgery, you are a transsexual. If you don't, you are not. Sorry, but the transgender delusion is dogma. It is totally without evidence.

I always prefer evidence to dogma as well, as I already said. I'm still waiting.

However, I should stop waiting, because I am well aware that True Believers are immune to any evidence that does not support their faith. And this is not my blog, and I'm taking up a lot of space.

Just Jennifer said...

The ability to reproduce does not determine sex. I mean, surely you are not saying that a woman born sterile is not really a woman?

It is the fact that the term "transgender" is so broad that makes it so silly, and completely worthless. It is simply an artificial social and political construct. It has no objective meaning. And yet, so many try to force it onto others.

And no, gender refers to the inherent sexual differentiation of the brain. Someone may wish to imitate another gender, but one cannot change their true gender. It is more than just "social identity." It is something much deeper than that. Gender roles can be changed, but gender itself cannot. There are far too many "gender activists" who had highly successful careers as men, but who later decide they want to imitate women. Simply put, they have not really changed that much.

Now, I agree, some people enjoy messing with gender. They choose, for whatever reason, to rebel against societal norms. That is certainly their right, but it is also my right to disapprove of their behavior.

And no, transsexual is an objective term (though I prefer Harry Benjamin Syndrome). Transgender is a highly subjective term, to the point of being essentially meaningless. At best, it can be seem as an adopted identity. At worst, and unfortunately...all too often, is a label that is forced on people whether they like it, or not.

You see, the problem with "transgender" is, it supposedly covers a lot of people who have nothing in common. You exhibit the same behavior of insisting that people who often don't desire to be labeled that way are still forced to accept it.

And the term "gender identity disorder" is used to oppress transsexuals. It is not an improvement. Of course, quite a few activists are pushing for a far more subjective view of "gender identity disorder." They want to be ride the coat tails of transsexuals. In fact, that is a major reason for the HBS movement. There is nothing disordered about my gender identity. I identify with the gender if was born with.

And yes, I am more than willing to dismiss quite a bit of the so-called research presented by the likes of Blanchard, Bailey, Lawrence, Money, Zucker and any number of other who have tried to discredit transsexuals.

And it seems odd that so-called transgender activists are often the worst about confusing sex and gender.

Of course, the reasons for this are simple. It creates the idea that one can choose one's gender just as one can choose one's sex.

And the term "gender reassignment surgery" would only be correct if the inner gender were somehow changed. It is not, and the term is a fraud.

And originally, gender only referred to grammar. Words had gender, not people. The term was adopted to refer to something that was previously believed to be synonymous with sex, but which is not understood to be strongly linked to sex, but not always congruent with sex.

MgS said...

I mean, surely you are not saying that a woman born sterile is not really a woman?

No, of course not. I am merely stating out loud the limitations of what is popularly called a sex change.

And no, gender refers to the inherent sexual differentiation of the brain.

Care to substantiate that claim with actual evidence? Last I checked, science is remarkably ambiguous about the differences between male and female brains, much less whether those same differentiations are common among transsexuals as well.

In the meantime, I will continue to work from the position that gender has both psychological and social dimensions which cannot be ignored.

And yes, I am more than willing to dismiss quite a bit of the so-called research presented by the likes of Blanchard, Bailey, Lawrence, Money, Zucker and any number of other who have tried to discredit transsexuals.

I wasn't referring to research by any of those people. It's not like they are the only people engaging in research on the subject.

Of course, the reasons for this are simple. It creates the idea that one can choose one's gender just as one can choose one's sex.

Human behaviour occurs with such diversity, that it seems quite ridiculous to assume that something as fundamental to our beings as gender would not be similarly diverse.

It is not so much a matter of 'choosing one's gender' as recognition of the reality that gender identity (in particular) exists in far more than a polar binary. Just as cissex people are one end of the spectrum, and transsexuals are the polar opposite (with respect to their bodies), there are similarly going to be those who fall somewhere in between.

While I do not claim that transsexuals are the same as (for example) crossdressers, I recognize some similarities do exist. Just as I recognize that various IS conditions are distinct, but are appropriately held under the broader umbrella of InterSex.

Gender

sex

Sorry, but the term "gender" goes far beyond the limited notion you claim it represents. Sex and gender are well tangled terms in English today, and as much as it would be nice if they weren't, that's unlikely to change significantly in our respective lifetimes.

Just Jennifer said...

There are few, if any cases where someone can actually said to be truly ambiguious. They may vary from the norm, and this variation results where the differentiation is not complete, but so-called true hermaphrodites are extremely rare. Most people are closer to one sex or the other.

Granted, sex is not alway congruent with the brain, but such cases are relatively rare. People who have other issues are far more common.

I have no problem with "genital reconstruction surgery." And I realize that some quibble over whether or not sex is changed. I would say it is. And the only legitimate reason for SRS is one's own satisfaction. Having it for others is insanity.

And given that true transsexualism is so rare, all a brain sex test would do is exclude those who are not truly transsexual. Granted, it would also help those who are intersex, as a child could be raised properly.

Within the context of this dicussion, we cannot change the brain. We cannot make a male brain female, or vice versa.

I'm sorry, but someone who has a penis, who wants to keep that penis, even if they call themselves a "lesbian" (now that is a real insult to lesbians) is a man. I don't care how much estrogen they have taken, I don't care how much their penis has shrunk, and I don't care how many dresses they parade around in...yes, if they want to keep their penis, they are a man. If they were really a woman mentally, they would not want to keep it.

Yes, the world is pretty black and white in some areas. Personally, I am tired of people trying to blur things.

You claim you prefer evidence, and yet you spout dogma. You want to make everything extremely fuzzy, so evidence does not matter. The desire for surgery is evidence of being transsexual. The lack of that desire removes the evidence. You insist thst transsexual is meaningless. I would say you are the one who is going on faith.

Just Jennifer said...

Yes, SRS has limitations, but the results are actually quite good.

The only reason science is "ambiguious" about the differences between male and female brains is that there remains a group that refuses to accept the evidence. It has long been a part of feminist dogma that any differences between men and women are only social constructs. That has long ago been proven false, but some persist in demanding that it remain part of accepted dogma. Do any web search on the subject, and the evidence is quite obvious.

Unfortunately, many gender activists look to feminist dogma for suppport.

Even though you claim that you are not referring to the research of Blanchard and company, that is exactly what you seem to be doing. For example, many still point to Money's false claims to back up their dogma.

Now, the truth begins to come out. Like so many "transgender" types, you reject the concept of binary gender. Sorry, but that simply plays into the idea that transsexualism is a choice. Simple, and unbiased observation, will show that those who "fall in between" are making political statements. Trust me, I know more than a few such "gender rebels" and they are quite a hoot, but they are not remotely credible.

And what similarities exist between a crossdresser and a transsexual? That is a ridiculous claim. They are totally distinct. And to compare the classification of "Intersex" with "transgender" is grasping at straws. Intersex is an objective term. Yes, more than one condition falls into that category, but they are all clearly defined. Transgender is an identity, not an objective term. There is no set criteria.

And I notice that the source you cite points to "feminist" sources as the cause for the attempted change in the meaning. On the other hand, the source you cite for sex specifically mentions genitalia as the criteria. And if you scroll down, you will find that "transsexualism" is, of course, defined in a manner that specifically excludes so-called "non-ops."

MgS said...

Jennifer,

(1) It would be intellectually sloppy to ignore the impact of feminism as a whole on the English language. Like it or not, it has had a significant impact - especially in North America.

(2) The only reason science is "ambiguious" about the differences between male and female brains is that there remains a group that refuses to accept the evidence.

Ummm...no. Where the ambiguity lies is in determining whether those differentiations exist substantially in transsexuals. Second, even if those differences do exist, we do not understand enough about how the brain develops to ascertain whether those differentiations are a result of birth, or are influenced by factors such as hormones.

The etiology is far from clear.

(3) You insist thst transsexual is meaningless

Neither Veronique or I have ever made such a claim. In fact, I think I've been quite clear that there are distinctions.

(4) Even though you claim that you are not referring to the research of Blanchard and company, that is exactly what you seem to be doing.

Prove it. I'm not citing Bailey/Blanchard/Lawrence for good reasons - starting with the fact I disagree with the underpinning assumptions of their theories.

If you are going to claim that I am basing things on Bailey/Blanchard/Lawrence, then I must insist that you substantiate your claims.

(5) And what similarities exist between a crossdresser and a transsexual? That is a ridiculous claim.

Plenty, if you step back from it for a moment. They have different needs in the long run, but there are some fundamental features to be considered: (I'll frame it in terms of MTF for convenience)

(1) Both are born male

(2) Both claim some degree of feminine / female identity.

(3) Both have a need to find a social and physical congruity in their lives.

(I'm just scratching the surface here - there's another essay entirely that I could write on this matter)

The two differentiate in the degree to which they need to make changes in their lives in order to achieve congruity.

(6) My final point on this matter:

I reject exclusionary dogma in the absence of strong, compelling evidence. (especially when that dogma would require me to declare the narratives of others "invalid" in order to support it - I have criticized religion for doing exactly that to GLBT people in general)

So far, the HBS lobby is being exclusive without adequate supporting evidence in my view. My own observation is that if one assumes that human behaviour and identity exist along a spectrum is far more productive and flexible from a theoretical perspective.

Nobody has yet presented me with the kind of evidence that a 'spectrum of behaviour' model does not explain.

Véronique said...

@Just Jennifer

I don't make everything fuzzy. It's just that I don't have a problem with the fuzziness that exists. I can live with the ambiguity and variety of the world, all the colours, including black and white. Some can't stand that, and so create artificial boxes.

Sexuality exists on a continuum. Sex/gender exist on a continuum. I didn't make those up. They come from observation. I don't have a problem with such things. I don't feel any need to deny them. I know who and what I am. I have no need to judge others.

I am not interested in faith or in dogmatic arguments. I am only interested in evidence, and where the evidence leads. If there is insufficient evidence, then conclusions are tentative. I have not spouted one line of dogma, and I know that to be so.

By the way, in a debate, I think it's best to remember two things: 1) address the subject, not the person; 2) address the topics actually being discussed. Oh, and refrain from second-guessing.

Take care.

Just Jennifer said...

Oh, I realize that feminism has had an impact on the language. The question is whether or not this impact has any veracity.

There has been considerable evidence that shows that the brain is sexually differentiated in utero, and virtually none to show any other influence. The one major study that included transsexuals was replicated, and in the second study included controls that showed that hormones were not the cause.

I would not say that the etiology is far from clear. There has been no real evidence for anything other than a physical cause.

You have not made the claim that transsexualism is meaningless, but that seems to be the logical conclusion based on your beliefs.

And yes, much of what you have said seems to be rooted more in the views of Blanchard and Bailey than you are willing to admit.

Interesting...

Now you claim that MTFs are male. I thought earlier you were claiming that the brain made one female.

And to compare the claims of a crossdresser with the situation that exists with a transsexual is more than a bit of a stretch. They are not remotely comparable.

As to conguity...crossdressers actually need just the opposite. They need the sense of being a man wearing a dress. That is their source of pleasure and motivation.

On the other hand, someome with HBS (a true transsexual if you insist) is seeking congruity and quite simply, to just be normal. That is the opposite of what a crossdresser seeks.

Bottom line, crossdressers are seeking the opposite of congruity.

In any csse, it appears that you tend to label anything that conflicts with your beliefs as "dogma."

I tend to wonder how much of the belief in a spectrum stems from insecurity about one's own identity. Some seem to fear that anything that narrows the definitions might exclude them.

MgS said...

Jennifer:

If you wish to dismantle or negate the impact of feminism on our language over the last century or so, go for it - but at least have the intellectual fortitude to admit to the current reality - even if you don't like it.

Now you claim that MTFs are male. I thought earlier you were claiming that the brain made one female.

I never made any absolute declaration about such matters. In so far as a great many MTFs survive into adulthood living as men, and are to that point more or less biologically male, that seems like a fairly logical starting point.

What I have called to question is your repeated claim that the brain is female-differentiated in a MTF TS's case. There's no doubt in my mind that there is a difference for TS's, but whether the brain of a MTF is 'female-normal' is open to debate - especially given the lack of compelling evidence that you have cited to support that claim.

And yes, much of what you have said seems to be rooted more in the views of Blanchard and Bailey than you are willing to admit.

Once again, I insist that you substantiate your claims here. Assertion is not proof.

As to conguity...crossdressers actually need just the opposite. They need the sense of being a man wearing a dress. That is their source of pleasure and motivation.

Not being a CrossDresser, I won't claim to know their motivations personally. What you describe runs contrary to the clinical literature that I have studied over the years.

In any csse, it appears that you tend to label anything that conflicts with your beliefs as "dogma."

Ummm no. I label anything that is backed up with "it's true because I say its true" arguments as dogma.

I tend to wonder how much of the belief in a spectrum stems from insecurity about one's own identity. Some seem to fear that anything that narrows the definitions might exclude them.

Nice try. How about it comes from a great deal of study, a lot of observation and just enough common sense to put it all together.

Just Jennifer said...

Things are not as fuzzy as you wish them to be. And I do not see any evidence that sex or gender actually exist on a continuum. Of course, many see what they wish to see.

And I am sorry, but much of what you have stated is dogma. Sorry, but that is simply what it is.

Just Jennifer said...

Again, I don't doubt the impact of feminism. I simply question the veracity and validity of much of radical feminist thought.

Granted, I might have confused your arguments with Veronique's. I went back and looked, and she seems to have made the assertion that I mistakenly attributed to you.

Now, the issue for a transsexual is not whether they lived as a "man" but how successful they were in doing so. I tend to be a bit suspcious of someone who, after a successful career as a male, suddenly decides to become a woman.

If you have spent as much time as I have around both transsexuals and those who merely claim to be transsexual, you would have a better grasp of this. But I will give you a quick and dirty way to tell. If someone claims to be a MTF transsexual, but most of their friends are transgender, then something is probably amiss. If, on the other hand, they spend more time with women born women, fitting in, then they are transsexual. It may seem simplistic, but it works surprisingly well.

And I don't know what "clinical" literature you have read, but none I have read contradicts what I said. Now, quite a bit of transvestite fiction does, but that is another matter.

Funny, but I have never said that.

Now, would you care to elaborate on the nature of your study and observation? Was, it for example, as part of an established scholarly research project? Did it involve conducting interviews with numerous participants? I have had that experience. Have you?

Véronique said...

@Just Jennifer

Me: I don't make everything fuzzy. It's just that I don't have a problem with the fuzziness that exists.

JJ: Things are not as fuzzy as you wish them to be.

It's disingenuous to claim that someone said something that they in fact did not say.

And I do not see any evidence that sex or gender actually exist on a continuum. Of course, many see what they wish to see.

Excuse me while I LOL.

And I am sorry, but much of what you have stated is dogma. Sorry, but that is simply what it is.

Spoken like a true dogmatist. I'm sure I'm not first who has called you on it, and no doubt won't be the last.

Speaking of last, I did say I was bailing out earlier, and I didn't. My bad. This time, I'm done. You're welcome to the last word if you want it.