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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » Boy goes back to school...as a girl.

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Author Topic: Boy goes back to school...as a girl.
scouser1
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I "kid" you not.
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asmalls4
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I agree that the parents of the other students should have been told about this before the assembly so that they could tell their kids and talk to them about it. Maybe it wouldn't have been such a shock if the kids had heard before hand from their parents than to just arrive at school and be very confused by the fact that a once male student was now female. And for the school to than demand that the students call her by her girl name and refer to her as a girl. Its understandable that some of the kids were scared and were crying. Thats a lot to take in so suddenly.
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TommySama
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Why is he being allowed to have this surgery at such a young age?
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Funean
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I bet he was born intersexed and they made (innocently) the wrong remediation choice at birth. Under most circumstances sexual dysmorphia is not diagnosed or treated until adulthood, but when a kid is born with ambiguous gender the picture is different.
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Rallan
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quote:
Originally posted by TommySama:
Why is he being allowed to have this surgery at such a young age?

If you read the article, you'll find she hasn't had surgery yet. Apparently she can't even begin hormone therapy until after the onset of puberty, so I'm guessing surgery won't be on the cards until her physical development is finished.

So only time will tell whether she can beat that sixteen year old German's record as the world's youngest post-op transsexual.

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Jordan
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quote:
Tommy-sama:
Why is he being allowed to have this surgery at such a young age?

My perspective on this is a little odd, because I know a few friends who have experienced gender dissociation since childhood and are now in the wrenchingly difficult position of having to decide what to do with the fully-developed adult bodies they inhabit that don't correspond in the slightest to their self-assessment of gender.

If there were really some very successful way of altering their internal identification, I'd say that was undoubtedly the best thing to do. However, if hormone treatment and surgery are more successful at treating the disorder, then while I don't think we should neglect other avenues, it seems best to start as soon as a very firm diagnosis is reached. In particular, it makes more sense to start treating GID before puberty, or if it can be done safely to delay the onset of puberty somewhat while a diagnosis is being reached; this way, it will be far easier to effect the physical transformation.

Simply, I'm ambivalent about the best way of treating it; I consider that the evidence to date points to a neurological aetiology. If psychiatry has a decent rate of success in allowing such individuals to live happier, healthy lives, then psychiatric treatment should be the first port of call. Otherwise, I'm perfectly fine with seeking hormone therapy or surgery, even at a young age.

quote:
They said the head teacher should have informed them in advance of the “sex change” so they could prepare their sons and daughters and inform them about gender issues.
Poppycock. The girl's decision to seek a sex-change is absolutely her, and her parents', private business. The school can recommend a different course of action, but under no circumstances do I believe they should go against the family's wishes and violate their privacy in advance. I'm also not convinced that telling parents and children earlier would have saved the girl from "cruel taunts"—it seems equally possible that it would have afforded more opportunity for children to think up cleverer insults, and perhaps for strongly opposed parents to encourage resistance.
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RickyB
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I just doubt the wisdom - albeit definitely not the courage - of going back to the same school. Of course it's the girl's right and that of her parents, but if available, I would have transferred the child to an equally good school where the kids wouldn't have known her as a boy, even if it would have meant a longer bus ride.
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Jordan
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quote:
RickyB:
I just doubt the wisdom - albeit definitely not the courage - of going back to the same school. Of course it's the girl's right and that of her parents, but if available, I would have transferred the child to an equally good school where the kids wouldn't have known her as a boy, even if it would have meant a longer bus ride.

I agree. However, it's possible that they were banking on the fact that she was already behaving in a feminine manner to soften the "blow" when children discovered that she was previously considered to be male—and also that the new school may not have co-operated with allowing her to use the girls' toilets and changing rooms, thus revealing the circumstances anyway.
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RickyB
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Yeah, I was thinking that at least some exposure in bathrooms and showers is nearly unavoidable, but it would still be free of prior baggage.
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hobsen
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As the article states, she was entering a new secondary school after finishing her primary education. Her parents seem to have hoped she would not be recognized in the larger school, and I do not see how the school authorities could have insisted on telling everyone in advance against the parents' wishes. They did provide her with a separate toilet and changing room, in an attempt to handle the matter discreetly.

On the other hand, once her former classmates had recognized her and had told everyone something like, "There's a boy here pretending to be a girl," the school really had to call an emergency assembly to tell students how to behave and to threaten severe punishment for bullying. No doubt that did frighten some of the younger boys, who became fearful someone was going to grab them and turn them into girls. But however upsetting such students found the matter, they were in no danger of physical harm - and the girl most likely was in danger if no action was taken.

[ September 19, 2009, 04:33 PM: Message edited by: hobsen ]

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seekingprometheus
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Good analysis, hobsen.

On a semi-related subject, has there been a thread on Caster Semenya, the apparently hermaphroditic athlete from South Africa?

It appears that the president of SA's athletics, the guy who has been accusing everyone in the world of lying, jealousy, racism and anything else he could think of has been lying the whole time, knew about the issue before the competition, was advised not to enter Caster, and is generally responsible for the circumstances of the horrible world spectacle that has erupted around this already traumatic revelation in her life. Big surprise, right? Of course, he's still railing about all the terrible people of the world who are sinfully undoing all the work he's done to protect and help her. [Roll Eyes]

I am curious as to people's thoughts on the larger issue of ambiguous gender in sports, and (atrociously callous and insensitive as it is) I do want to be the first to quip: Semen? Yeah! (Shame on me--here we are discussing the cruelty of children regarding ambiguous gender issues, and I can't find the maturity or moral fortitude to pass on the easiest of tasteless puns...).

Can someone point me to an existing thread on the topic, or should I make a new one?

[ September 19, 2009, 05:45 PM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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TommySama
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quote:
I bet he was born intersexed and they made (innocently) the wrong remediation choice at birth. Under most circumstances sexual dysmorphia is not diagnosed or treated until adulthood, but when a kid is born with ambiguous gender the picture is different.
This was my initial assumption, however I could not find anything in the article to indicate whether or not this was true. Doctors make the wrong cuts on occasion, but it seems this is a case where his brain was hardwired to be female. If he had started growing breasts without the hormone therapy this would be easier to figure out [Wink]


quote:
Simply, I'm ambivalent about the best way of treating it; I consider that the evidence to date points to a neurological aetiology. If psychiatry has a decent rate of success in allowing such individuals to live happier, healthy lives, then psychiatric treatment should be the first port of call. Otherwise, I'm perfectly fine with seeking hormone therapy or surgery, even at a young age.
This is true. My only real concern is whether a child that age could actually make and understand such an important decision. But I assume that some steps have been taken to make sure he wasn't confused or acting rashly. And if the surgery is the best way for the child, twelve is probably where the change would be most successful.


quote:
If you read the article, you'll find she hasn't had surgery yet.
Yes, Rallan. Which is why I said 'he'. If you read what I wrote, which you clearly didn't, I asked 'why is he being allowed to have this surgery at such a young age', not 'why was he allowed to have the surgery'. While it is true he has not begun hormone therapy, the article is implying it will be soon.

This is the kind of nuance you can pick out of language if you take the time to understand what was written.

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Rallan
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The answer would be "why not?" This kid has identified as female and deliberately adopted female mannerisms as soon as she was able to grasp the concept of gender identity, and stubbornly kept on publically identifying as female despite what was probably a fairly rough few years in primary school. It's a given that if she isn't given permission to undergo surgery as soon as she's old enough for it not to interfere with her growth, then she'll just find a cooperative doctor the moment she's eighteen.
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TommySama
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The answer is that you are having trouble with reading comprehension. You can either take my original question for what it clearly asked when it was posted and apologize for your slight against me, or you can shut the **** up. Its pretty simple. When I need help understanding a culture I have been immersed in since I was 6 years old, I will be sure to come to you for enlightenment.

As to 'why not?', that is not an answer. That is an extension of your original arrogant comment. The question is whether or not a 12 year old has the necessary insight and understanding of sex and gender to make an informed decision to have a dramatic physical and social change. How many adults have a really firm grasp of the difference between "men" and "women" and --intersex--?

I'm not worried about him becoming a she in middle school to feel more self actualized. I am worried about a young child having hormone therapy and a sex change that might not be the right thing for him. It is similar to if people were concerned that their teenager was certain they were ready to settle down and have a family.

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LetterRip
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TommySama,

quote:
Doctors make the wrong cuts on occasion, but it seems this is a case where his brain was hardwired to be female.
Probably more complicated than that [Smile] The last I looked at the research it suggested that a big chunk of our sexual orientation is likely due to hormonal exposure during pregnancy.

http://www.pnas.org/content/96/13/7538.full

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuroscience_and_sexual_orientation

So our brains might not be 'hard wired' for attraction to a specific gender at all.

LetterRip

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Jordan
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quote:
Tommy-sama:
This is true. My only real concern is whether a child that age could actually make and understand such an important decision. But I assume that some steps have been taken to make sure he wasn't confused or acting rashly. And if the surgery is the best way for the child, twelve is probably where the change would be most successful.

That's a legitimate question. A useful starting point would be to ask, of individuals who experience gender dysphoria in childhood, how many continue to experience the same in adulthood?

From asking my few friends who experience GD, the answer I commonly receive is that gender identity is something that is internalized from a very young age, albeit generally suppressed with alacrity to avoid contempt from peers whenever it deviates from the norm. Puberty in particular is a fairly traumatic experience for most, in which they watch their bodies diverge even further from their self-image, and stories abound of horrific self-mutilation.

You're right to observe that a twelve-year-old is not generally considered to be responsible and informed enough to make major, life-changing decisions like this high reliability. However, if it's true that gender dysphoria can be reliably diagnosed at a young age, and that psychiatric treatment has significantly less success in improving their mental wellbeing than early transition, the latter seems like the most beneficial option. I'm certain we don't disagree on this, so what really remains is for us to replace some of those "ifs" with good data. I'll ask around and see what I come back with. [Smile]

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TommySama
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"Probably more complicated than that [Smile] The last I looked at the research it suggested that a big chunk of our sexual orientation is likely due to hormonal exposure during pregnancy."

LetterRip, my comment was addressing Jordon who brought up intersexed people. So what I said meant that regardless of whether or not the kid was intersexed, he apparently identifies as a female. So I don't really know why your comment was necessary. I've read Orson Scott Card's Homecoming series, so I know all about gender and sexual identity [Wink]

quote:
However, if it's true that gender dysphoria can be reliably diagnosed at a young age, and that psychiatric treatment has significantly less success in improving their mental wellbeing than early transition, the latter seems like the most beneficial option.
Another important thing to do would be observe kids who show symptoms of GD as kids but not as adults (if there are any, and taking into account Christians who send them to reeducation camps and that kind of stuff).
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Lobo
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My name is Billy and I'm a head case.
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Gaoics79
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I often wonder: can the symptoms of gender dismorphia, however severe, justify a procedure that seems to leave a person in a state of sexual limbo, in a position where it is almost impossible to fit in and be accepted by society? Don't these people have a massively increased suicide rate?

I often wonder if a person isn't better off being a female trapped in a fully male body than being a female trapped in a mutilated quasi-female body and never being accepted as anything other than male by 99% of the population no matter what the birth certificate says.

But then I have no idea what it's like to be one of these people. I just hope that people like this, especially at such a young age, go into the procedure appreciating the fact that they will never be accepted as female by the vast majority, no matter how much surgery or hormone therapy they undergo. This is will probably never change.

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scifibum
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"they will never be accepted as female by the vast majority, no matter how much surgery or hormone therapy they undergo"

I don't know what you mean. I believe that some candidates for surgery can reasonably expect to be known/accepted as their preferred gender by a large majority of the people they will interact with for the remainder of their lives.

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Gaoics79
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quote:
I don't know what you mean. I believe that some candidates for surgery can reasonably expect to be known/accepted as their preferred gender by a large majority of the people they will interact with for the remainder of their lives.
Depends. If the transformation is complete enough to make a believable transition, then you're right; it goes without saying that if people think you're a woman / man, you will be treated like a woman / man by casual acquaintences.

However, if the transition is not perfect and the person can be identified as transgendered, then I would disagree with you. While most decent people would make best efforts to treat a transgendered person as the sex that they prefer, almost no one perceives a trans person the same way they'd perceive a natural-born member of that sex.

If you doubt me, ask yourself how many heterosexual men, no matter how progressive, would be content to form a romantic or sexual relationship with someone they discovered was born a man.

Which brings me to the biggest way in which transgendered people can never be accepted by society. As a transgendered person, even if you look feminine (or masculine) enough to pass as a natural male / female, if you disclose your history you face a near 100% chance of rejection, but if you fail to disclose, you face an even worse outcome if your partner ever finds out. You'd also be taking your life into your hands not disclosing with many men.

It's a horrible dilemma, isn't it? Face a life of solitude and abstinence, in effect denying your own sexuality and resigning yourself to a loveless existence, or else lie to your partner facing the ever-present fear of discovery.

This seems like a pitiful existence to me.

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Jordan
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Jason, consider that there is a not insignificant transsexual community and thus that most transsexuals will know at least a few others. This provides a small but exploitable pool of partners who are themselves flexible in their acceptance of sexual variations. [Smile] And I think that nowadays, a far larger number of men and women are willing to put aside their preconceptions of gender meaning binary sex than one might expect, especially when faced with a beautiful transperson who has become the apple of their eye. If he had lived in the twenty-first century, I doubt that the writer of the Song of Songs would have minded nearly so much if his adored one was always so perfectly conformed to his ideal physique.

Myself, if I were single I'd happily consider dating a man who was once considered female. After all, any partner I find will at one time have been prepubescent, and thus entirely without any of the characteristics that I find attractive in adult men—as, indeed, this will be true of almost all teleiophiles. From this perspective, it doesn't seem like such a remarkable thing to accept.

[ September 21, 2009, 03:26 PM: Message edited by: Jordan ]

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TommySama
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quote:
If you doubt me, ask yourself how many heterosexual men, no matter how progressive, would be content to form a romantic or sexual relationship with someone they discovered was born a man.
Point in fact
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PegLeg
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quote:
If there were really some very successful way of altering their internal identification, I'd say that was undoubtedly the best thing to do.
I don’t know. I mean, if somehow it were possible to flip a few switches, move a few wires around inside the old noggin to fix something like that (is anything even broken?) would a person still be the same person? Or would they have lost a part of themselves, something that contributes to making them who they are? A unique individual in a world of unique individuals. That is what we all are, right?

I don’t think she really has a problem with who she is, or knowing what she is. Maybe 99.9% of the people in the rest of the world have a problem with who she is because she does not conform to the way they think things should be, but she seems to have a loving and supportive family and she is obviously tougher then nails and will probably be just fine staying true to herself.

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seekingprometheus
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"if somehow it were possible to flip a few switches, move a few wires around inside the old noggin to fix something like that (is anything even broken?) would a person still be the same person?"

No.

But I think some of the assumptions here are mistaken. I never tire of opining that this idea that there is some static "essence" that defines us as individuals is mistaken. I'm not a unique "thing," I'm a response to a unique set of dynamic variables. Certain patterns in this response may be perceived as enduring, and thus used to predict future responses to possible scenarios, but even the patterns are in constant flux.

Any given individual will no longer be the same unique "thing" tomorrow that they are today. The choices (changes) made in the interval, and the distinct circumstances faced at the future time assure this. The only question is the magnitude of perceived change in terms of what responses can be predicted for projected scenarios.

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Jordan
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sp, that's an excellent way of phrasing it.

2 Corinthians 5:17 says that when you accept Christ into your life, you become a new creation, and what you describe is partly what this passage means. Alternatively, Greg Egan describes a father comforting his child, who fears becoming someone completely different as an adult, by explaining the concept of [url= http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schild%27s_ladder]Schild's ladder[/url]: no matter what direction it ends up going in, it is constructed by a series of small, simple steps, none of which individually have a significant effect on the construction's trajectory.

quote:
PegLeg:
[M]ove a few wires around inside the old noggin to fix something like [transsexuality] (is anything even broken?)

I think most transsexuals would agree that there is something broken: their experience of sex is radically different from their biological sex. If you can change someone's self-perceptions and have them turn out healthy, happy and fulfilled, this should be considered both a legitimate option and the first line of treatment. If the only way of resolving the disparity is by amending someone's biological sex to conform more closely with their experience and expectations, then that is the best route. My bias towards non-surgical techniques is mostly due to the assumption that if psychiatric treatments can be effective, they are surely safer and may have a more satistfactory overall result than a body that is not entirely faithful to the design of a healthy member of their desired sex. (E.g. inability to conceive for transwomen, imperfect penis for transmen.) This is normal practise for all disorders, medical or psychiatric; one tends to avoid invasive and potentially dangerous surgery when effective alternatives exist.
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philnotfil
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I get that some people are physical both or in between, but I have trouble understanding why the rest of society should care about the people who self identify as something they physically aren't.

Since when does a person's opinion about themself trump the reality about that person? I self identify as being Harvard quality, do they have to let me in now? I self identify as being of average weight, can the airline still charge me for two tickets? I self identify as not guilty, can they still put me in jail?

Why does this apply for gender, but no where else?

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Gaoics79
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quote:
I get that some people are physical both or in between, but I have trouble understanding why the rest of society should care about the people who self identify as something they physically aren't.
Well it depends what you mean by "care". If you mean we should treat these people kindly, and with respect, and not hound or humiliate them, then that's a given. Obviously no rational person condones violence against transexuals.

On the other hand, if you suggest that a person should not "care" about the biological sex of a person in terms of casual or romantic involvement, that's a whole other can of worms. This is particularly an issue in the sphere of romantic / sexual relationships (where a person's sex is integral to how he / she is perceived by prospective partners) and also in the sphere of athletics, where biological women and men compete separately due to the significant differences in strength and stamina between the sexes.

quote:
Since when does a person's opinion about themself trump the reality about that person? I self identify as being Harvard quality, do they have to let me in now? I self identify as being of average weight, can the airline still charge me for two tickets? I self identify as not guilty, can they still put me in jail?

Why does this apply for gender, but no where else?

This is one of the major philosophical problems I have with transexualism generally.

On one hand, I have no interest in hurting anyone's feelings. If someone wants me to refer to them as "she" even if he was born a man, why wouldn't I accede to that person's wish, if it makes him / her happier? Practically speaking, there's no reason why I wouldn't treat a transexual woman as I would any other woman.

However, just because someone has had his penis cut off and has been pumped full of female hormones, doesn't mean that person is a woman. A biological woman has certain internal plumbing that arguably is one of the essential characteristics of being a woman, and that cannot be duplicated currently. Even the most sophisticated sex change operations are basically just forms of elaborate cosmetic surgery.

When a person claims that he is Napolean, we call him a crazy person. Even if it is highly beneficial to his psyche to believe that he is Napolean and to be acknowledged as Napolean, we don't say that his own self-perception should trump reality.

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TommySama
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"This is one of the major philosophical problems I have with transexualism generally. "

Sort of a, "if god gave you lemons, you can't make apple juice" sort of philosophy?


quote:
But I think some of the assumptions here are mistaken. I never tire of opining that this idea that there is some static "essence" that defines us as individuals is mistaken. I'm not a unique "thing," I'm a response to a unique set of dynamic variables. Certain patterns in this response may be perceived as enduring, and thus used to predict future responses to possible scenarios, but even the patterns are in constant flux.
Wow. You are my new favorite.
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Gaoics79
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quote:
Sort of a, "if god gave you lemons, you can't make apple juice" sort of philosophy?
Yes. Or to use another metaphor, if you carve an apple into a lemon-like shape and then spray paint it yellow, it doesn't become a lemon.

I sort of think that having ovaries and a uterus and the ability to conceive has to be one of the key defining features of being a woman.

On the other hand, I recognize that there's a paradox in that view, insofar as I would not doubt the womanhood of a natural woman who had a hysterectomy, just as I would not doubt the "applehood" of an apple that had been dyed yellow and carved into a lemon-shape.

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Pyrtolin
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quote:
Originally posted by jasonr:
I sort of think that having ovaries and a uterus and the ability to conceive has to be one of the key defining features of being a woman.

What about women who are androgen insensitive? XY chromosomes, but because their hormonal receptors reject androgens, their body develops to be morphologically female- the only difference being that they have no uterus and internal testicles where ovaries would normally be?

How also do you account for the fact that for most transgendered people, their brain structuring and general activity tend to closely match people with the opposite assigned sex?

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Gaoics79
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quote:
How also do you account for the fact that for most transgendered people, their brain structuring and general activity tend to closely match people with the opposite assigned sex?
I can't. Arguably, these people are neither men nor women, hence the "trans" which suggests a hybrid situation.

The question is, should a person who arguably fits into neither category well be entitled to be treated according to his/her preference?

It may very well come down to a matter of opinion, and in that arena, I take a democratic approach: if most people see you as a woman, then you're probably a woman. If most people see you as a man, then you're probably a man.

I have some problem with the notion that a person's internal idea of themself is somehow more valid than what the rest of humanity thinks when faced with the evidence.

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seekingprometheus
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quote:
How also do you account for the fact that for most transgendered people, their brain structuring and general activity tend to closely match people with the opposite assigned sex?
Well, one can always point to the paucity of data on this point, as well as bringing up the fact that the development and function of microstructures in question are so poorly understood even today that using the tiny-sampled studies from a decade ago (perhaps there are new ones that I don't know about...but last I read, that research didn't really branch out much because of the sampling problem and the fact that the variables in which correlation was found are simply not remotely understood) to make this kind of impact statement involves a
s t r e t c h.

Transgender is transgender. Somehow not really one or the other, but something in between.

Jason's objection seems to me to be pretty straight-forward: one can't really demand that people accept "z" as "x" or "y" simply based on the fact that "z" wishes to be accepted as "x" or "y". "z" ain't "x" or "y," it's "z"--regardless of how uncomfortable it is for all involved.
quote:
Wow. You are my new favorite.
Well. I was yesterday, anyway--we'll have to see if that particular pattern endures. [Big Grin]

It's definitely good to be reading your posts again, T. I'd say that of all the dynamic responses behind the ornery avatars, yours are the patterns in which I've noticed the most change since the last time I was around.

I spose it be dat kawlidge lurnin or sumfin, but I reckun ye be gittin all growed up.

I do hope that you can still be counted upon to interject the particular brand of reality that this place sometimes lacks. [Big Grin]

[ September 25, 2009, 03:39 AM: Message edited by: seekingprometheus ]

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Jordan
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It seems to me that many, if not most, issues with transsexualism stem from an incorrect mental model of biological sex coupled with a Platonist approach to physiology. People tend to understand "sex" as a binary characteristic, and any deviation from this are swept under the carpet as "ambiguities". This is a very powerful and significantly flawed assumption which disguises the simple biological reality that sex is continuous.

More specifically, "maleness" and "femaleness" are two polar extremes on a smooth distribution. It is U-shaped, i.e. most people are at one end or the other, but with people occupying every point in between, a very small number falling close to the centre. This elegantly explains, and embraces, the range of sexual variations we see among human beings.

There are few biological indicators of sex that are not subverted from the norm in some way. There are women with an XY karyotype, and undescended testes instead of ovaries. (I should note, Jason, this means that there are women who from birth violate every single one of your criteria for womanhood—and then some!) There are men with breasts and micropenises. There are men and women with exotic karyotypes: XXX, XXY, XYY, each with its own consequences. (For example, XXY and XXYY men are somewhat feminised, presenting infertility, smaller testicles and gynaecomastia, while XYY men are somewhat more virilised: taller than average but are largely normal, healthy and fertile.)

Babies with ambiguous genitals are commonly "fixed" so that they are more clearly of one sex or the other. Here's one for you: common paediatric guidelines specify that a stretched penile length just over two centimetres indicates that a child is male, and may have testosterone administered; any less, and unless the response to testosterone treatment is positive the testes should be removed and the child should be raised as a girl with an enlarged clitoris. Just imagine! The difference between a boy and a girl is not strictly delineated or obvious, but rather a judgement call on an order of magnitude of about a quarter of an inch. A quarter of an inch! How does that tally with there being "essential characteristics" of sex? How does that match with a binary mental model?

The obvious answer is that it doesn't, and that a model which does not match to reality ought to be replaced with a better one where possible. Yet, extraordinarily, instead of acknowledging that the model itself is flawed, surgeons operate on newborns and physicians administer hormone treatments so that infants may align more closely to one sex or the other. Human bodies are surgically altered without consent, and often against the adult's later wishes, so that they can fit someone else's incorrect model of reality.

Against this backdrop, the idea that an individual may feel that their body does not conform with their experience and expectations of sex, and thus make a conscious and significant attempt to alter it, does not seem nearly so remarkable or unreasonable. Sex is a variable thing indeed, as the controversy over Ms Semenya has made very apparent: a woman with more testosterone than most other women, but still far less than most men. (The speculative figures I have heard indicate that they are about three times higher than normal for a woman, but a third of what is normal for most men. I state this not as fact, but to indicate my current understanding of the case, so please do not take this as remotely authoritative!)

I have argued before that given the range of variation in sex and reality of intersex, the existence of neuroanatomical sex differentiation and our knowledge that neonatal factors can affect neurobiology, it seems not merely possible but indeed likely that there will be some number of individuals who possess the physical characteristics of one sex, but whose brains "expect" to be of a different one. If one believes that a female infant's brain could be exchanged with a male infant's brain with neither experiencing any conflict in expectations, then one may not consider a neurobiological aetiology to be realistic (or, rather, may believe that GID is a symptom of some other neurological condition).

But even then, it remains that the notion of some enduring, invisible and definitive essence of sex is pure fiction, at least from a biological perspective. To go with the "apples and lemons" analogies, there are quite a few bitter apples, and even some lemons with apple-seeds, growing from the apple tree; and also some very non-citrusy lemons indeed growing from those lemon trees. In fact, there are fruits that even a horticultural expert could not identify as being from one tree or another, and as it turns out might well get wrong.

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seekingprometheus
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Jordan:

The reality of the continuum of phenotypes you've described is highly important to understanding the complexities of this topic, but such observations don't confound the validity of the perception of a binary nature of sex.

Sex has a primary biological function which subsumes the psychological and sociocultural processes that have developed around this function. And this primary function operates in a binary nature.

That fact that all individuals don't fit into the binary system doesn't mean there isn't a real binary.

It's actually an apt description of the problem: society has always had a vested interest in reproduction, so sociocultural norms have been codified for individuals who fit into the binary system, while individuals who don't fit into said system have no culturally established social place.

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seekingprometheus
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Hmm. That last sentence doesn't ring right. I should amend that solid: "no culturally established social place," to a softer: "an underdeveloped social place."
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OpsanusTau
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quote:
That fact that all individuals don't fit into the binary system doesn't mean there isn't a real binary.
You're right that that is not what means that there isn't a real binary.

<considers diving in headfirst to fascinating discussion of genetics and biology; reconsiders, heads to library>

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