Thursday, July 31, 2014

Is It All In Our Head?

There is a short article in the Rolling Stones this month about the causes of gender dysphoria.
The Science of Transgender
Understanding the causes of being transgender
By Sabrina Rubin Erdely
July 30, 2014

What causes people to be transgender in the first place? The prevailing theories used to be psychosocial: That early traumas like dysfunctional family dynamics or childhood sexual abuse were responsible. "That is absolutely not true at all," says Dr. Johanna Olson, medical director of the Transgender Clinic at Children's Hospital Los Angeles. "But I still get people in my clinic who are trying to unravel what the traumatic incident was, that caused their kid to be trans."

Rather, a growing body of research is pointing to biological origins. The 2008 discovery by Australian researchers of a genetic variation in transgender women—their receptor gene for the sex hormone testosterone was longer, making it less efficient at communicating signals—set off speculation that insufficient uptake of male hormones in utero contributed to a "more feminised brain." And the brains of trans people do look different. Recent Spanish imaging studies have shown that the white matter of untreated trans men look much like those of biological males, and that the patterns of trans women's white matter fell about halfway between those of biological male and female control groups. But it's premature to draw conclusions from those studies, warns Olson, since "those parts of the brain are shaped by performance and experience," and so may be a product of nurture, not nature…
I am always leery of finding a biological cause for either gender dysphoria or sexual orientation because nature is so diverse that I don’t think that there is one cause, but many factors may contribute to us being trans* or gay or lesbian or all of the shades in between.

There is a 2005 article in the New York Times where they interview Dr. William G. Reiner a doctor who has studied intersex children and I think he has the best answer to the question how do you determine the gender of a person…
Q. What conclusions do you draw from your study?

A. That sexual identity is individual, unique and intuitive and that the only person who really knows what it is is the person themselves. If we as physicians or scientists want to know about a person's sexual identity, we have to ask them.

A Bum Rap

Today’s blogs are both from the Rolling Stone; the first is about CeCe McDonald, the trans-woman who was convicted of murder for defending herself.

It happened one night in Minneapolis, CeCe was walking down the street that night when she was attacked by skin heads calling her names and one of them hitting her with a bottle in the head. Her trial was stacked against her when the judge ruled her defense couldn’t talk about the man she killed in self-defense had previous violent crimes or the Nazi tattoo. She had a choice 40 years in jail or plea-bargaining the charges down to second-degree manslaughter. She took the deal.

She severed 19 months in jail plus the time she waited for her trial and she was released early for good behavior. She did her time in a men’s prison.

She had a trouble life growing up, according to the Rolling Stone article,
CeCe had always tried staying in her mom's good graces by being a responsible, diligent child, constantly neatening the house, making the beds and whipping up recipes inspired by cooking shows, but nonetheless she felt her mother grow distant. CeCe was unable to find sanctuary with her family, and tensions grew in the crowded three-bedroom house. One day, an uncle found an undelivered love note she'd written to a boy and, CeCe says, knocked her to the kitchen floor and choked her. She ran away from home, never to return. She was 14.

She crashed with friends before taking up residence in a glorified drug den where other runaways congregated. CeCe tried to see the bright side of her family's rejection: She was finally free to be herself. The first time she tried on a bra and panties, she felt a shiver of recognition that she was headed in the right direction. Instead, she fell right through a trapdoor. She'd reached a crucial point in the too-typical trans woman's narrative, in which, cut loose at a young age from family, she falls directly into harm's way… CeCe grew up fast. "Honey, I think there's not too much in this world that I haven't heard or seen or done," she tells me. "And a lot of that is sad."
Jane Doe who is being held is following the same path as all too many other trans-youth, from a dysfunctional family she was forced in to prostitution when she was a pre-teen and CeCe was forced in to live off the streets when she was fifteen. I have to stop and wonder how will Jane Doe turn out when the system throws her out at 18, will she be like CeCe and earn her GED and go on to college or will she end up back in prison? DCF is threating to press charges and try her in adult court for the incident that involved her and three other girls.
…Despite a strong network of friends, and the continued affections of her boyfriend – both lifelines to her – she's struggling. She has residual PTSD and trust issues. She's unemployed, and with a felony on her record, she's less hopeful about the job applications she's been filling out. For now, CeCe is living on food stamps and the remaining funds raised by the Free CeCe campaign; for her housing, she's crashing with a kind supporter in a small spare bedroom.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Jane Doe

Jane Doe is the 16 year old Latino trans-girl who is in the custody of Connecticut’s Department of Children and Family (DCF). While she has been in DCF custody she has been sexually assaulted over a dozen times by the staff and by the other residents, before that she was prostituted by her family members. She suffers from trauma and PTSD and she has been bounced around from one therapist to another therapist for a total of five therapists and has never been with one long enough to have a working relationship with one.

She has been put in solitary confinement at an adult women’s prison and held without any charges filed against her. She was then put in the Pueblo Detention Facility for Girls where she got into a fight with three other girls they put her in the boys' Connecticut Juvenile Training School and once again in solitary confinement “for her own protection.” She was supposed to go to a facility in Massachusetts that specializes in children with trauma and PTSD but that was cancelled after the incident at Pueblo.

The Hartford Courant had a editorial yesterday that said,
What a woefully one-dimensional account the state Department of Children and Families has spun in steering transgender teen Jane Doe's heartbreaking trip through the juvenile justice system.

The state agency has singled out her conduct for public dissemination, without putting it in context, according to the state's advocate for children. Any minor, no matter how troublesome, deserves better from her legal caretaker.
[…]
Ms. Eagan [the State Child Advocate] is on the money in calling DCF's treatment of the 16-year-old a "public shaming" and "inexplicable," considering that the other girls were not named. Why publicize only a "fraction" of an incident, as Ms. Eagan called it?
Last week the New Haven Register also published an editorial on how DCF is handling the Jane Doe case,
The Connecticut Department of Children and Families has an annual budget of $900 million. It has more than 3,200 full-time employees.

It successfully lobbied for state funding for the creation of a secure, locked facility in Middletown to house girls who represented the “most difficult” cases.

It is led by a commissioner with an incredible resume. Joette Katz left the Connecticut Supreme Court to lead the agency.

Yet DCF is flummoxed by the case of a single 16-year-old girl. Not, we would argue, because she’s the worst-behaved kid they’ve ever dealt with, but because she is transgender.
[…]
It’s not because of her symptoms — plenty of kids who get bounced around among foster homes and institutions lash out and assault others. It’s because they don’t know what to do with, or don’t understand, or don’t want to go out of their way to help, a transgender child.
And the editorial goes on to lay the blame right where it belongs…
The Connecticut Department of Children and Families’ treatment of Jane Doe has been cruel and unusual, and it’s in response to problems in her behavior that were caused in large part by its own negligence.
There will be a rally for Jane Doe this afternoon in front of the DCF headquarters at 505 Hudson St. and it is a 5:30pm.

Clothes Does Not Make A Transsexual

You can dress 24/7 in clothes from the opposite gender and that doesn’t make you a transsexual, it goes a lot deeper than what clothes you wear.

Slate has an article about a butch lesbian who wears men’s clothes all the time.
Why I’m Still a Butch Lesbian
By Vanessa Vitiello Urquhart

I first began wearing men's clothing a few years ago, because I thought that looking like a lesbian might help me get girls. Once I'd started, I realized almost immediately that I was feeling far more comfortable and confident and that I liked the way I looked in the mirror for the first time in my life. Other people who knew me said I looked more natural, more like my clothing fit my personality. It felt a bit like I'd been wearing an uncomfortable, ill-fitting costume all my life.
For me I also “liked the way I looked in the mirror for the first time in my life” but for her it just how she liked the looks and for me it went much deeper than the clothes. It went to my identity, it went to who I felt inside, and I also think it went to how society sees you and treats you. I am more comfortable as a woman, I am more relaxed as a woman.

She sees herself as female and I see myself as female.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Catcalls…

There was an article on CBS News about women firing back to men who make catcalls.
Minnesota woman confronts and exposes cat-callers
CBS News
July 23, 2014

For Lindsey, hearing catcalls is nothing new, but now she is exposing her alleged harassers.

"Women were put on this earth to satisfy a man, so if she feels offended she should've never been born," another cat-caller said.

"Oh my God!" Lindsey responded.

She created a website which has already posted more than a dozen videos of her street side confrontations.
[…]
A study last year found that nearly two-thirds of females experienced street harassment. About 41 percent of those said the harassment became physical.
So why did I bring this up? To stop it, it is a form of sexual harassment, the guys probably think they are being cool and some are maybe doing it to hide the fact that they are gay.

An also because it happened to me on Saturday when I was out on Fire Island, but in a very negative way, if you look at yesterday pictures you can see that the boardwalks are narrow and go right by the cottages.

I was coming back from the ocean side in my bathing suit with a towel wrapped about my waist when I passed a group of men sitting out on the deck; when I walked by one of the men called out a man’s name and said, “There is one for you! Do you want me to fix you up with her?” and all the other men laughed.

My first thought was “A**hole,” my second thought was, at least they thought that I was a woman and then I thought this is the cr*p that women have to put up with all the time.

Jerry Springer All Over Again...

They is a hubbub over a trans-woman who has had plastic surgery in excess, well folks cis-gender also abuse plastic surgery.
Transgender woman thrown off pro-plastic surgery TV show after botched breast augmentation
Daily News
By Marianne Garvey, Brian Niemietz and Oli Coleman
Sunday, July 27, 2014,

A new pro-plastic surgery show on E! — which claims to fix “horrible boob jobs, disfiguring nose jobs and cheap implants” — has ruined a transgender woman’s life, she claims.

Nicole Sanders says she filmed a breast correction for the show, and ended up suffering complications that have affected her ability to work. Sanders, who has since been cut from the reality show, is now “furious” that producers are no longer using her footage.
[…]
Sanders was born Jason Torres, and has had countless surgeries over the years in an effort to resemble a Barbie doll — including five breast surgeries, calf implants, lip fillers, four nose jobs, a brow lift, cheek implants, jaw surgery, chin implants, tons of Botox and sexual reassignment surgery. Her transformation has cost more than $100,000.
And the producers thought she would be good on the show? Someone who is addicted to plastic surgery? Someone who wants to look like a Barbie Doll? All the producers really wanted was a person who was a “Jerry Springer show” type of a person that they could exploit and because she is trans* she casts the whole community in a negative light. Cis-gender women do the same thing but it does make all the women look bad, but she makes the whole community look bad.