Re: Beyond Appearances: The Ambiguities of Sexuality (sic)
- It ought to be astounding that a New York Times reviewer, compounded by all
the editorial checking that publication must have, can write an article so
laughably (but also frighteningly) misinformed. Without seeing the book she
is supposedly reviewing one cannot be sure if the book is as bad, but if
the faults are in the book, it cannot excuse the reviewer being equally
ignorant and reproducing it's huge errors.
I was going to simply say that she fails to see that "sexuality" is not the
central issue in being transsexual and ask if it could possibly be that
people get confused by both words including "sexual", but reading the
entire review from the NYT website reveals many more errors.
Personally I prefer, avoiding that confusion, "Benjamin's Syndrome" instead
of "transsexual", crediting that wonderful doctor, Harry Benjamin, who
first (1966) published seriously, and compassionately, how the condition
manifests, can be diagnosed, and can be resolved
<http://www.symposion.com/ijt/benjamin/index.htm> and transformed so much
for the better the lives of so many of us, not least a wonderful friend of
mine who first experienced his belief, understanding and support in 1958,
at 13, after 3 close suicides and more than 30 eminent psychiatrists,
including Ivy League professors, had, over several years, basically (and
some literally) told her mother to "get your fag son out of my consulting
Sexuality is a matter of being attracted to others, or failing to be, or
needing to attract others, sexually, which can lead to accepting a label of
heterosexual, lesbian, gay, straight, queer, normal, bisexual, etc..
Being Transsexual is one's own gender identity being at variance with one's
birth genitalia, and the secondary sexual characteristics that, without
helpful intervention develop later, and the social role expected to go with
all of those, quite independent of sexuality. It's a condition, a medically
treatable one (as explicitly recognised by the UK courts and many other
legal systems), through changing the physical to match the identity, the
need, to match the brain, a curable one. Logically one is not transsexual
when such treatment has been completed; brain and body match, and most of
us then identify solely as the sex we have fully become, and move on. For
me transsexuality is a 30 years-past part of my medical history, only
relevant to my painful infertility, my having no presentable birth
certificate and not being allowed to marry. It has been demonstrated many
times that my sexuality is no different to many, many women. Transsexuality
is clearly not an ambiguity of sexuality.
Obviously it is sometimes confusing for the less mentally gifted to
understand that someone can have a mental gender, a gender of obviously
innate reaction, or body image totally at odds with appearances. They might
fail to comprehend that a transsexual girl attracted to boys would consider
herself a heterosexual girl, and not a gay boy, even though she was born
with male genitalia. A lot of "LGBT" groups, and "equality professionals"
don't get it. But that girl probably felt she was a girl, or was intended
to be one, long before any sexual desire emerged. After all, so many works
on child development, based on solid research, now tell us that children
identify with people of their gender very early and that cannot be changed.
Children show more interest in those of the same gender before the age of
one. Prof Bob Winstone tells vast audiences it comes inexorably from brain
differences. Prof Eric Vilain was lecturing last week that those
differences may well come from genes that express sexually dimorphically in
the brain significantly before the gonads develop and change the genitalia.
Prof Louis Gooren and colleagues have shown that it is visible in post
mortems of adult brains, including of well documented transsexual people. A
study heading for publication shows it in MRI brain scans, comparing many
transsexual and control subjects. Identity, those one is more interested in
as a child, feels safer with, listens to, watches, models oneself upon,
turns to to learn how to cope.
To consider sexuality to be the core of that sort of situation, rather than
the mental gender, and the physical disparity, is to entirely miss the
But then the article is riddled with such huge errors:-
>New York Times[snip]
>29 October 2002
>BOOKS ON HEALTH
>Beyond Appearances: The Ambiguities of Sexuality By DINITIA SMITH
>In her new book, "How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United[snip]
>States," Dr. Joanne Meyerowitz, a professor of history at Indiana
>the editor of The Journal of American History, examines changing definitions of
>gender through the prism of transsexuality, that most mysterious of conditions
>in which a person is born with normal chromosomes and hormones for one sex but
>is convinced that he or she is a member of the other.
>......5-alpha reductase deficiency syndrome, in which a person isIn that syndrome the testes are there from the foetal stage.
>genetically a male, but has ambiguous genitalia and may at first appear to be a
>girl. At puberty, the person may develop testes...
>Of all the conundrums of identity, transsexuality is most imbued with theNot sexual orientation, sexual identity, gender identity.
>contradictions between physical sex and sexual orientation...
>...the distraught parents of a boy,Actually it was 1997 when they blew the whistle together, on Money's 1973
>Bruce Reimer, whose penis was accidentally cut off during surgery for a
>condition called phimosis, brought him to Hopkins. The case was first reported
>in 1973 by Dr. Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii-Manoa in Honolulu and
>Dr. H. Keith Sigmundson of the Ministry of Health in Victoria, British
(and following) false reporting of the case, in the professional press,
although the lies about the supposed success of assigning the normally born
and normally gendered male to become a female, which was being used as
(false) evidence of gender not being inborn, was exposed majorly, and
clearly, with Diamond's help, in a BBC documentary 'Open Secret', in 1979,
and Diamond published a follow-up in Archives of Sexual Behavior,
coinciding with a BBC follow-up in 1982 (as Medline shows). But
"professionals", psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatric endocrinologists,
and pediatric surgeons, ignored it and continued to abuse intersex children
based on those false reports by Money.
>Today, scientists, psychiatrists and psychologists have reached something of aTranssexuality yes, not sexuality!
>consensus about gender, saying that sexuality is determined by "psychological
>sex" or "gender role orientation," possibly caused by hormones or genes.
>As a consequence of the sexual revolution and the Internet, which hasActually completely the opposite way around. A female to male who has sex
>forum to organize, transsexuals have begun to demand the right to define their
>own sexuality. Some male-to-female transsexuals have sex with men and call
>themselves homosexuals. Some female-to-male transsexuals have sex with
>call themselves lesbians.
with women considers himself a straight man (or bisexual), as would any
other man, a male to female who has sex with men considers herself a
straight woman (or bisexual), as would any other woman...
>Meanwhile, scientists continue to ponder the meaning of sex. In 1995 anotherActually the opposite; <http://www.symposion.com/ijt/ijtc0106.htm>, with a
>Netherlands study suggested that a region of the hypothalmus may differ in size
>in transsexuals from ordinary males and females.
follow-up in 2000
<http://jcem.endojournals.org/cgi/content/full/85/5/2034>, reported the
central sub-division of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis was
remarkably similar to those of women with the male to females, and to men,
in the case of the female to male (when a female to male was included in
the samples in the second study).
>....But, despite the studies, andOnly if one has totally failed to grasp all the concepts involved.
>gains in knowledge, all these books point out gender's essential mystery.
>Science is no nearer to determining what gender is than it was a century ago.
>"The definition of sex," writes Dr. Meyerowitz "was (and is) still up for
Horrifying. Does the NYT have an ombudsman?
- Dear Anna and colleagues,
You may be interested in the following discussion broadcast this week on a
national weekly radio program I host here in Australia about the mind,
brain and human behaviour called "All In the Mind"
(http://abc.net.au/rn/science/mind/) (not to be confused with the BBC
program, I'm with Australia's public broadcaster, the ABC). This week's
program related to the discussion on this list - ie. attempts to grapple
with the confluence/confusion between "sex" and "gender", and to some
The transcript is at: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/mind/s714773.htm
And Real Audio
Certainly not a definitive set of interviews by any means (only a 1/2 hour
program) but may be interesting nevertheless
(The title for the program comes from Dr Milton Diamond, it is not my own)
Presenter/producer - "All In the Mind"
Science Unit, ABC Radio National
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
GPO Box 9994
Sydney, AUSTRALIA, 2001
Ph: 61 2 8333 2219
Fax: 61 2 8333 1414
Visit the ABC's new health gateway, "Health Matters": http://abc.net.au/health
- natasha <natasha.mitchell@...> posted:
>Thanks indeed for that "heads-up". The opportunity to actually hear Prof
>Dear Anna and colleagues,
>You may be interested in the following discussion broadcast this week on a
>national weekly radio program I host here in Australia about the mind,
>brain and human behaviour called "All In the Mind"
>(http://abc.net.au/rn/science/mind/) (not to be confused with the BBC
>program, I'm with Australia's public broadcaster, the ABC). This week's
>program related to the discussion on this list - ie. attempts to grapple
>with the confluence/confusion between "sex" and "gender", and to some
>The transcript is at: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/mind/s714773.htm
>And Real Audio
>Certainly not a definitive set of interviews by any means (only a 1/2 hour
>program) but may be interesting nevertheless
>(The title for the program comes from Dr Milton Diamond, it is not my own)
>With kind regards
>Presenter/producer - All In the Mind
>Science Unit - ABC Radio National
>Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Diamond and Jamieson Green for the first time was much appreciated. Your
rapidly provided transcript and attached links were also of value, a model
for radio and television producers.
I'm afraid your other guest, the only Australian, didn't have much of a
clue about what others experience, seeing the need for a body that matches
one's brain as simply the following of societal values:
>Felicity Haynes: But there will be some people who don't need to have aPerhaps your programme's remit would sometime allow you to look at why
>penis constructed because their identity of 'maleness' doesn't require
>that physiological change. There are others for whom it's desperately
>>important because they want to mirror the image of masculinity the
>society values. But for lots of those people it's impossible to either
>afford the surgery, it's impossible to 'out' themselves in that way.
Australians can no longer have sex reassignment surgery paid for publicly,
and how misunderstandings like Ms Haynes' might have led to that?