Thursday, December 31, 2009
An international meeting of experts on HIV has called for transgenderism to be reclassified as a medical condition, rather than a mental illness.
The second International Experts' Meeting on HIV Prevention for MSM, WSW [men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women] and Transgenders took place in Amsterdam in early November with 130 experts from around the world.
A report, called Moving from Intentions to Action, has now been published and calls for change in how trans people are treated.
It argues that trans people would then escape the stigma of mental illness that is frequently attached to them.
The report said: "Gender identity variance (transgenderism) should be reclassified from its current classification as a mental health disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual and the World Health Organisation’s International Classification Of Diseases (ICD).
"Instead it should be classified as a medical condition. This would provide a diagnostic category in the ICD that would accommodate the needs of those gender identity variant people who require medical care for their condition, but without the stigma attached to mental disorder."
Professor Stephen Whittle, of Manchester Metropolitan University and trans group Press For Change, welcomed the move.
He said: "This is another major contribution to the very important, and crucial debate on whether simply having a gender identity and the desire to express yourself through it can be a mental illness.
"We accept that many trans people need the support of mental health specialists – but not because of their gender identity, but because of the rejection of their gender not just on a personal transphobic level but also institutionally and at the wider structural levels.
"Every one of us has a gender identity and look at any group of people and one can see a vast number of ways ordinary people express their person gender place – how they want others to know them. At their core trans people want nothing more than to have the privilege to do the same."
Medical opinion once held that homosexuality was a mental illness. It was removed from the list of mental disorders by the World Health Organisation in 1990.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Gaza City (CNN) -- Two Palestinian teenagers stroll amid the mounds of rubble left by last year's Israeli military offensive, listening to the tinny beat of a Turkish pop song playing on a cell phone.
"Because of their facial hair, it was difficult for them to go out into the street. Psychologically they were distressed."
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
By Sophia Siedlberg
How often have I said that genes in the autosomes have the final say when it comes to sex differentiation? Probably about 500 times on record and at least 20 in my writings.
Well, the publication Cell has some nice, hard laboratory evidence of precisely the mechanism I have been describing. My point is that autosomal regulation of sex differentiation was something I had myself understood quite well in terms of computer models. And while Dr. Robin Lovell-Badge of the National Institute of Medical Research in the UK would not have been aware of my computer models, it is certainly true that the good doctor has confirmed what I have known all along. The dogma XY for a boy and XX for a girl is an old idea that is toast.
Let me quote Dr. Robin Lovell-Badge:
“We take it for granted that we maintain the sex we are born with, including whether we have testes or ovaries. But this work shows that the activity of a single gene, FOXL2, is all that prevents adult ovary cells turning into cells found in testes,”
And the response from the Murdoch Press is:
“The research, published today in the journal Cell, challenges a common perception that gender is determined purely by the X-chromosomes and Y-chromosomes. The gene that was switched off, known as FOXL2, lies on a non-sex chromosome that is shared by males and females.”
I am tempted to gloat given that in a previous article I said to a reporter from the Murdoch Press who asked whether I was genetically male or female that “I am genetically me”. But given that the Murdoch press were showing signs of being nice, I am not going to gloat. I am not in a position to because all the research has shown is that the sort of model I have been describing for years was true after all. But I am not the one who published it in a scientific publication (having been marginalized) and the research I did was purely theory. These people were not even testing my own theory. They just proved it correct as a consequence of their research.
However, I believe it was only a matter of time before some research in a lab proved this autosomal sex regulation model to be correct. The truth is when you look at the human genome up close and personal, that is spend the best part of five years gawking at nucleotide sequence data and constructing a polygenic model, you do end up predicting that the number of genes in the human genome is less that 40,000 before the Human Genome Project figured it out and you do know how sex is regulated by genes not in the 23rd pair of chromosomes.
What I am saying is, I am not some idiot (as the textbooks often claim about intersex people). I am saying I knew prior to both the discoveries I mentioned, and it is documented what those discoveries would be, and it was not down to some mystical power but hard work.
I am also not going to reap any benefits because I was not involved in the research on both occasions. But this is a question of personal integrity; you know the textbook description of intersex people being “mentally retarded”.
But the one thing I will benefit from is knowing that because of this latest discovery by Dr. Robin Lovell-Badge’s team I will be regarded as a human being instead of a monster, not because I was aware of the possibility that such research would incidentally prove me correct, but because the unholy dictatorship of “XX or XY” is over. I can call myself “genetically me”. And even that was in the Times a few weeks before Dr. Robin Lovell-Badge’s work was published, and reported on in the self same newspaper.
So I am going to ask just one thing. Can I be allowed to lead my life with some dignity, and not be dismissed as a mentally deficient monster or a pair of chromosomes that say nothing of who or what I am?
It seems the Murdoch press understand this is what intersex people are saying now. And to me this is perhaps far more important, because finally there is a degree of understanding that people who do not fit the classical biological definitions of what is male or female are not “dangerous” or “evil” or a “threat to society” they are just natural variations of the human genome. Genetically we are us.
Just like my namesake in religious mythology, she didn’t get listened to either but wisdom always gets proven right in the end. Let me just get on with my life is all I and those like me ask.
Source quoted: Click here
Sunday, December 13, 2009
The International Association of Athletics Federations has offered to pay Caster Semenya's medical expenses should she require gender surgery or other treatment to continue competing as a woman.
The IAAF is still awaiting the final results of the gender verification test carried out on the South African teenager during the World Championships in Berlin in August, though leaked reports have indicated that she is a hermaphrodite with internal testes and has three times the normal level of testosterone for a female.
If that is confirmed by the panel of scientists studying her condition, then the issue for the IAAF will be whether her raised testosterone gives her an unfair advantage over her rivals – a situation that would require remedial treatment if she wishes to race again in women's competitions.
Complete article: Click here
- There is no such thing as a human hermaphrodite. Hermaphrodism in humans – having one full set of female organs of reproduction and one full set of male organs of reproduction – is impossible. The application of the word "hermaphrodite" to human beings who are or may be intersex is an attempt to make us out to be fabulous monsters, creatures of ancient Greek myth and legend, deviant freaks and not real human beings. It is a weapon in the armoury of denial, of the refusal to recognize that variations in sex development exist and are so common as to have a prevalence of between 1:60 and 1:100 of the human population. By denying we exist, by pretending we are mythical inventions, the deniers can get away with doing whatever they like to us.
- Ms Semenya is not an hermaphrodite. See above.
- The word 'gender' means one's innate sense of being male or female, as a result of theorizing unsupported by actual evidence by John Money and second wave feminism since the 1950s. 'Gender' as we know it now is an invention of psychology and not a fact of biology. Sex is biological. Intersex is biological. 'Gender,' now being defined as psychological even though biological science continues to show that one's innate sense of what one's sex is as a function of one's brain sex, cannot be formed or reformed or assigned or reassigned by surgery, which is a manipulation of one's biology or more properly physiology. That is, 'gender surgery' is impossible. How can surgery on a someone's genitals somehow affect their innate sense of their sex? To believe it can is voodoo science at best. And voodoo is exactly what medicine has been practising upon the genitals of intersex newborns since the 1950's.
- If the IAAF is so desperately keen to know what Ms Semenya's gender is, why do they not simply ask her if she is a woman or a man?
- There is no actual evidence that having internal testes inevitably causes testicular cancer. It appears that, empirically, there may be a possibility of cancer later developing in 3% to 9% of people who have internal testes, although we have yet to find hard evidence for that assumption. By way of comparison, 10% to 12% of women contract breast cancer. Yet, surgeons do not remove all women's breasts as a matter of course. Surgeons in western countries do remove the testes from all AIS, CAIS and PAIS women as a matter of course. Why? It would appear that the authorities simply do not like the idea that some women may have testes.
- We find the idea that the IAAF may require Ms Semenya to undergo surgery to remove possible internal testes in order for her to continue competing quite disgusting and completely unjustifiable.
Scientists have identified the gene that keeps females female. An international team found that the action of a single gene is all that stops females from developing male physical traits, including testes and facial hair.
When this gene was artificially “switched off” in adult female mice their ovaries began to turn into testes and they started to produce a level of testosterone found in healthy male mice.
The discovery could eventually revolutionise gender reassignment therapy and improve treatments for babies who are born with a mixed gender.
The research, published today in the journal Cell, challenges a common perception that gender is determined purely by the X-chromosomes and Y-chromosomes. The gene that was switched off, known as FOXL2, lies on a non-sex chromosome that is shared by males and females.
Complete article: Click here
Monday, December 7, 2009
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
British doctors are becoming "world pioneers" in treating children and adults who are born with ambiguous genitals, it has been reported.
According to The Times, the NHS is the first health service in the world to begin treating intersex babies on the assumption that they should not automatically be operated on.
For years, medical opinion has held that it is best to attempt to assign gender at birth where a child is born with an unclear sex. This often led to surgery and distressing results once the child reaches adulthood.
A recent Scottish study found that ambiguous genitals are far more common than previously thought – up to one in 4,000 babies is born with this condition.
Sarah Creighton, a gynaecologist at University College Hospital, produced the first study which compared children who had undergone surgery to "normalise" them and those who had not.
The study, published in the Lancet, found that those who did not have surgery were faring as well as or better than those who had.
Creighton spoke to The Times about how parents are treated: “We advise parents to say the baby’s poorly, they are awaiting tests. All children are then allocated boy or girl, but much more controversial is: do you proceed to surgery? That is hard to undo.
"We tend to think that surgery is all-powerful and by having surgery you have a cure. These aren’t conditions that you can cure.”
She added: “We are leaders in this field, worldwide, in terms of disclosure to the parents and child, and challenging surgery.”
To read the full article, click here
The International Association of Athletics Federations has agreed that South African runner Caster Semenya can keep her gold medal, the prize money, AND keep the results of her “gender tests” private.
“Whatever scientific tests were conducted legally within the IAAF regulations will be treated as a confidential matter between patient and doctor,” the sports ministry said. “As such there will be no public announcement of what the panel of scientists has found. We urge all South Africans and other people to respect this professional ethical and moral way of doing things.”
Since Semenya’s sex was publicly questioned a variety of media outlets have reported that she is a “hermaphrodite” (intersexed- with male and female reproductive organs). These reports seem to have been leaked from the IAAF itself.
The sports ministry said Thursday it had asked the IAAF to apologize for its role, and had received this response: “It is deeply regrettable that information of a confidential nature entered the public domain.”
Maybe it’s time for all of us to apologize to Semenya who has said it’s difficult to be stared at all the time, even though she treats this entire controversy as a “joke.”
But it’s really not funny.
There’s nothing funny about the role of sports in insisting that all bodies- but especially female bodies- be of “certain” sex. Determining sex is messy business. Especially since some bodies are intersex. We’re not sure how many, but biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling has estimated that perhaps 3% of all babies are born without being fully male or female.
And there’s nothing funny about the role of media in making a spectacle of yet another African woman’s body as not “fully feminine.” Whether it’s the Venus sisters today or the Hottentot Venus (Saartje Baartman) 150 years ago, white claims to racial superiority often rest on the claim of more gender differentiation. White women are “feminine” (at least if they’re not poor and not lesbians), where as African and African-American women are “too muscular,” “too manly,” “hypersexual,” and more generally not “real” women.
It’s time for everyone to apologize to Semenya. She was born a woman; she was raised as a woman; she identifies as a woman. She should run as a woman.
Unless we want to consider whether we really need sports that insist on a coherent and stable gender? For instance, I just heard about a promising young female athlete who decided to start identifying as male. He was forced to quit his sport. Maybe he shouldn’t have been. Maybe sports could be about bodies of more or less similar size and strength competing against one another, regardless of gender.
And maybe we can all think about what we really want to get out of sports. A rigid and extreme insistence that the line between men and women is clear? Attacks on women who are “too good to be girls”? Or a space to push the human body, regardless of its gender, sexuality, race, chromosomal make up, or even attractiveness- to the limits of human flesh.