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Showing posts from June, 2015

A new visibility

There has been an explosion in the number of kids and parents seeking counseling for transgender issues recently. As the reality of this condition continues to sink into the public psyche as something real and tangible, people who suffer gender dysphoria are speaking out in larger numbers. This is hardly surprising because in the past going to your parents would have meant being taken to a priest or counselor and told you were mentally ill.

Those of us who grew up during those years have first hand experience.

Now with the diagnostic community and legions of transgender people serving as protectors and advocates for others seeking answers, there is a growing support network that is being established.

While it may appear to the uninitiated that there is an epidemic afoot what we are actually seeing is the reality that always lay beneath the surface but dare not emerge. The people with the most to lose were those in established families with strong religious principles who saw this as a…

From where we've come....

When Magnus Hirschfeld was treating his first patients, he started noticing the same thing that Harry Benjamin eventually saw years later; namely that these gender variant people were sometimes blurring a line between what he was then coining as transvestism and the later identified transsexualism.

Today we understand gender dysphoria to be a kind of continuum and don’t make the clear cut distinctions because we can’t. Part of the reason the hard line existed was because advocates like Virginia Prince who insisted that crossdressing was a heterosexual practice of men who had no intention of transitioning. Ironically, she pursued full time living later in life as did some other members of her entourage. Prince also liked to think that all crossdressers were heterosexual but clearly some were homosexual, bisexual or asexual and some were clearly transsexual.

Over the last third of the twentieth century, we began to develop a better understanding of how gender identity and sexual orient…

Happy Father's Day

As I write this entry I am sitting having a coffee dressed like a woman. It is a Sunday morning and at 8 AM I will be attending mass as Joanna and having a coffee with my friend Janet who does not even have Internet or own a computer.

It is an odd feeling to think that it's father's day today and that I am able to live in this odd way. It is a lifestyle that I never envisioned needing to adopt. But here I am.

My seventeen year old daughter is off with a group of friends camping and my son won't be up for many hours. At fifteen years of age he can sleep far more than I and is showing no signs of being the early bird I have always been.

They are both at an age where their attention focuses inward as they try to establish an identity for themselves in this very strange world of ours. I won't be offended if they forget to text or call as they will begin to come out of their teen angst in a few short years.

So I say happy father's day to all those transitioned and not w…

Authentic lives

I was reading through Jack Molay’s blog yesterday and came upon this entry on his entry titled “The Autogynephilia Theory Again...” which was published in July of 2014:

“The trans activist and philosopher Julia Serano refers to a subconscious sex which has been repressed throughout a misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic upbringing. Dr. Jaimie Veale argues that many crossdreamers start out as introvert people pleasers, who are willing to do anything to gain the respect and love of family, friends and peers -- to the point of completely obliterating their gender variance. This is a reaction similar to the total denial found among some gays and lesbians. The sex drive is strong, though, and it pushes its way through into dreams and fantasies.

The difference between crossdreamers and non-crossdreaming transgender, or between "late onset" and "early onset" transsexuals, is therefore not primarily about sexual orientation, but about personality traits and temperament.

The DSM-5

The newest version of the DSM (version 5) describes gender dysphoria as a marked difference between the individual’s expressed/experienced gender and the gender others would assign him or her, and it must continue for at least six months. In children, the desire to be of the other gender must be present and verbalized. This condition causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

It also notes that gender nonconformity is not in itself a mental disorder. The critical element of gender dysphoria is the presence of clinically significant distress associated with the condition. Therefore if you are happy with your particular expression of gender you do not suffer from gender dysphoria.

This is an important fact that transgender people should remember. Your expression of gender may vary from a societal norm but as long as you are psychologically stable you are not considered to have a condition according to this lates…

Reparative therapy

Reparative therapy for transgender children is a controversial topic. Kenneth Zucker has practiced it for years at Toronto's CAMH where Ray Blanchard used to also call his home base. Whether it works or not is open to debate but in the wake of Leah Alcorn's suicide in 2014, more and more legislators are examining the possibility of outlawing the practice.

If indeed there is a biological source for this condition, then this sort of therapy would border on witchcraft. Yes there are always children who exhibit gender variance and then outgrow it but what about the ones who are clearly transsexual and in need of a different type of assistance?

It's a fine line to walk because we could fall prey to putting kids on androgen blockers too early and set them on a path that could lead to personal disaster. On the other hand employing exorcism-like practices based on the belief that God does not allow for mutations of gender identity smells an awful lot like the 15th century.

There …

The new transparency

I try to focus quite a lot here on the science (or lack thereof) which might explain the transgender condition because it matters more than some of us might like to think.

Even if the newer generations of transgender people are prouder and more transparent about their identity, they might not realize that the scientific and psychiatric communities see them a little differently than they see themselves.

I have not made a secret here of saying that perhaps gender variance may be rooted in mental illness but not in a way that means that the person is not lucid or is crazy. I am making more of a comparison with conditions like chronic depression, OCD or even schizophrenia all of which are rooted in biology but yet form part of technically abnormal conditions of the brain.

I pointed recently to the 2009 Australian study which concluded that there could very well be a genetic tracer to gender variance if the brain were not sufficiently masculinised at birth. This would then technically be …

Long way to go

Its going to get uglier before it gets better.

This morning I was reading about a transwoman being attacked by five men in a Sydney hotel and ending up with a bruises including a black eye. Apparently the hotel staff knew the perpetrators who were regular patrons at the hotel bar where this woman was going to play bass with her band. She was called faggot and had her hair pulled before things got even uglier.

The new trans visibility is pushing a new envelope in our respective societies and the more low brow elements of each one will need to be curtailed. This issue gets to the heart of the emasculation anxiety of every insecure male on this planet and for some it's an invitation to violence.

If you read the comments after every story dealing with transgender issues you will see a plethera of bile from the knuckle draggers and from the supposedly spiritual yet strangely mean spirited religious fundamentalists. There is also an astonishing amount of misinformation being posted as …

A genetic tracer?

Back in 2009, an Australian study (the largest ever undertaken) on transsexualism was conducted which tried to see if there were genetic links to the condition. The researchers looked specifically at androgen receptor (AR), estrogen receptor (ERB) and aromatase (CYP19) genes for evidence.

The main function of the androgen AR receptor is as a DNA-binding transcription factor that regulates gene expression; however, the androgen receptor has other functions as well. Androgen regulated genes are critical for the development and maintenance of the male sexual phenotype.

The study group included 112 male to female transsexuals and 258 non-transsexual males and associations in repeat lengths of the aforementioned genes were examined.

The conclusion found was that the transsexual group showed longer repeat lengths of the AR gene than the non-transsexual group with no association for transsexualism found in the EB or CYP19 genes. No links to the interaction between the three sets of genes and…

The grand reveal

Seeing Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair really hit home for me.

Although I am 12 years younger than Jenner, we both come from the same generation that predated the internet. Back then we lived in the dark and suffered in silence in thinking we were the only people in the world who doubted their gender identity. We would surreptitiously look up books in the library trying to understand what was wrong with us and why we were such freaks of nature.

Now at 65 years of age, she is finally having her coming out party.

No doubt that Caitlyn’s grand reveal will be a boost to the transgender community if for no other reason than to put the issue of gender dysphoria even more on the public radar. Kids who grew up watching Jenner on the Kardashian reality series (which I confess to never having viewed) now can witness a media figure undergo a very public gender role transition.

Much to her credit, she presented herself to the world with glamour and style. She looks like a woman at ease…

It just happens

Paul McHugh of John Hopkins argues that the gender treatment of young trans kids will come back to haunt their therapists in the years to come. He states that these young people, who presumably transition down the line thanks to misguided help, will eventually realize they have made a mistake thus proving that gender reassignment is the wrong approach to take. Ironically he uses the example of David Reimer who was reassigned as female without his consent and not told he was born a boy until much later.

If anything the flawed work of John Money proves that there is indeed such a thing as a gendered brain and whether we have a penis or not our brains know very well what gender we are very early on. Had David Reimer not suffered a botched circumcision, he would have been raised as the normal boy that he always felt he was.

But if the brain is gendered at birth then what about those kids who believe their identity is somehow in opposition to their birth sex?

The reference to McHugh’s essa…