by: coffeesp00ns

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I'm sorry artie, this turned into a monster.



you know what the fun thing about the history of Jazz is? The way I see it, it's basically the same story as classical music, condensed into 150 years or so. The story of a continued "harmonic breakdown" - basically things get more chromatic over time.

This is, of course, incredibly simplified and leaves out a lot - but the parallels are there.

We start off with a rigidly structured music, the Blues. Even though there are improvisatory elements in Blues music, the chord progression is almost always identical: I--IV-V-I. If you're not musically literate, those roman numerals won't make sense to you, but they're essentially the building blocks of all western art music.

This mirrors, in a lot of ways, the earliest periods of music in Europe that are in the scope of Classical tradition - Gregorian Chant. You know, this stuff:

very harmonically simple, and the words are the most important part. Blues is the same - a repeating chord rhythm, where the words are what differentiate each song.

After this, Classical Music had this intensely complicated period called Baroque. I'm no scholar of Jazz specifically, but as far as I know, Jazz never had a whole lot like that, but this period does have one element in common with baroque - the solidification of group sizes, and the creation of musical "forms"(like blueprints) . In the 1800s, The US gains Louisiana and Florida in a series of diplomatic sales and land grabs. On this land are slaves previously under Spanish and French rule - Creole (some of whom have been absorbing traditions from their owners, or even playing European Classical music to entertain them) -, and a group of people who had been expelled from Upper Canada in the 1700s - Acadians, or as we know them, Cajun. Over time, with lower class intermingling, Blues music begins to absorb all of these traditions. This is where we get this:

At the same time, after the Civil War, dance halls are becoming popular. African Americans, having more free time since, you know, not being slaves, begin to blend their music with dance culture. Musicians, employed to process in funerals, start to form bands.

You'll notice harmony is still pretty simple, but has a little bit more going on. There's even a few short solos. Armstrong was a relic of an older kind of Jazz. Even though he lived a long time, and performed until quite late in life, his style is always very reminiscent of 20's Jazz. Indeed, his style of trumpet playing defined how trumpeters played in Jazz for a long time, until he wasn't cool anymore. Because he was so popular with white audiences, he unintentionally became a kind of "Uncle Tom" figure in jazz late in his life, at which point people really began to pull away from his playing style. Just like Haydn, he started ahead of his time, and ended as a relic.

Cue: The Great War, the subsequent depression, and WW2. Music, and dancing fuelled by Live bands in particular was cheap and popular. Prohibition also helped things along, giving lots of venues for bands to play in. Majority white audiences are starting to catch on to this Jazz thing. Jazz composers such as Ellington start to appear (I'm jumping over a lot here to try to keep this short), and they begin creating larger bands, to give themselves more music tools for composition. To pander to Audiences, "Big Band" jazz is much more... genteel?

Like Beethoven before him, Ellington is not content to simply walk in the back entrance like a servant. He wants for be treated like the musical genius he knows he is. He and his band might be going town to town in beat up old cars, but damn if they don't look fine doing it.

We've moved into Jazz's " romantic period" here (depending on how one defines "romantic period" in classical music) the first threads in the sweater of Jazz's tonality are being pulled, and solos are getting longer, becoming more integral to the music.

After the war, Big bands start to lose steam. Trying to keep a 20-piece band employed is a lot more difficult than keeping a 4-piece employed. When you've just got 4 or 5 dudes, it's also a lot easier to experiment.

Then, just as Jazz is getting intensely chromatic and complicated, it simplifies - Like Classical, it's "neoclassical" period hearkens back to an earlier time. In concept, this piece:

and this piece:

have a lot in common, hearkening back to old music, old traditions. It's reactionary to the increasing chromaticism and complication. the chord progressions are simpler (though still tinged with more modern harmonies) and so are the forms. This strain still exists in a lot of ways, just like neoclassical music never really went away, even through the seriously avant-garde shit.

avant gard shit like this:

and this:

or alteratively this:

(the singing is out of tune on purpose)

It's really in this avant garde stuff that has the elements you're talking about - extreme technicality, "free" chromaticism, and stuff that is kind of hard to understand if you're not steeping yourself in it constantly. A lot of jazz being played right now is not like that - just like a lot of classical Music is not like that.

Regarding Buddy Rich: Buddy Rich was a great drummer. He was also a supreme asshole, who grew up in a time when conductors and band leaders were god when it came to the ensemble. Arturo Toscanini is the most egregious example of this in the 20th century - Messiah Complex if there ever was one. So he acted like God, and bossed a lot of people around. So did Stevie Wonder, so did Billy Joel - They made a lot more money, and were at least as good musicians.

As I mentioned to you in my PM, I'll talk with you out here, not because I've got something against private conversation, but because I am a.) unashamed of who I am, because there is nothing "wrong" with me, and b.) willing to be an educator, and If i'm going to be an educator, it might as well be in a classroom, and not in a private session.

The biggest and most important thing I'd like to impress upon you - and really if you get ABSOLUTELY NOTHING out of this conversation other than this fundamental point - is point B. Not the whole thing, just this part:

    willing to be an educator

The key word is willing. Not every person in a minority is willing, interested, or able to be an educator. On top of that, it is not your right to have an educator. That phrase can sound a little B.S., but the basic concept comes down to this - there is a difference between "I'd like to know about this, can you tell me more?" and "I need you to explain this to me. If I don't get it, then it's not a thing."

You've not really said either of these things, but you did say,

    Conversely, if I didn't take the time to post my doubts, you wouldn't have been able to further attempt to educate me on the issue, and by proxy, anyone else feeling confused about the matter. When people stay quiet on a matter that concerns them, they're stifling their own personal growth, because they're isolating themselves from healthy feedback from people who think differently.

and yes, this is true. However, it is not minimum_wage's job to educate you or anyone else, especially when the information is relatively widely available, and no harder to get a hold of than when you were writing a paper in high school.

So seriously, that's like the "sunscreen good, no sunscreen bad" of communicating with people who are part of a minority, or anyone really - young, old, male, female, anyone whose experience in life is different from yours.

But I'm not here to shit on you, nor for you to feel shit on, which is just as bad as actually being shit on. So let's move on, though it might not feel a whole lot like moving on.

I've got another stumbling block that we're going to have to get over - and this one's a doosey for a lot of people, especially because of the questions it raises the further we get into this discussion (a lot of which get answered with "genetics is complicated").

That stumbling block is this: Gender Binary doesn't exist outside of the societal construct we are familiar with.

What we are all taught in school (and which is reinforced by lots of things in our society, such as gendered marketing), that XY is male and XX is female, and never the twain shall change, is a huge simplification of what we know and have observed about humans and how our chromosomes work. Just zip down to the bottom of this wiki article on Kleinfelter's Syndrome and you'll begin to see what I mean. XXY,XXYY, XYY, XO... It's like a bad game of tic tac toe down there. All of these things are genetic disorders which are completely ignored by a gender binary that says "XY male, XX female". Like, what does that make these other people, some of whom present and are raised male, some of whom present and are raised female.

(side note: when I say "present" here, i mean "how they are generally perceived in the world". It's fewer letters that way, and it's sort of part of the "lingo".)

Now, hidden in that list of chromosomal disorders are two that are really interesting for the topic at hand:

XX male syndrome - in which someone looks like a guy, and develops as a guy, but is sterile and may have small testicles.

Kleinfelter Syndrome - as mentioned above. XXY chromosomes, and the most common Chromosomal disorder. Between 1:500 and 1:1000 men have this condition. that means there are approximately 318 000 men in the USA with this condition, as a conservative estimate. from the wiki -

    Often symptoms may be subtle and many people do not realize they are affected. Sometimes symptoms are more prominent and may include weaker muscles, greater height, poor coordination, less body hair, smaller genitals, breast growth, and less interest in sex.

This is leaving Hermaphroditism completely off the table, even though it relates here for similar reasons.

Also of interest is Androgen Insensitivity syndrome - in which an XY karyotype human has difficulties absorbing the proper amount of testosterone. It's also pretty common at 2-5:100,000. It has 3 forms, Mild, Partial and Complete insensitivity, varying in intensity. Someone with a Mild form might have malformed sperm, but also be less hairy than usual and have a higher voice. Partial insensitivity is a wide specturm (there's a scale from 1-7, and it usually includes levels 2-5). with PAIS you could look like anything from a man with a small penis and some breast development (not unlike Kleinfelter's) to a masculine looking woman with a large clitoris.

You already know what complete insensitivity looks like, because I showed you. I lied to you in this paragraph:

    What we are all taught in school (and which is reinforced by lots of things in our society, such as gendered marketing), that XY is male and XX is female,

under XX is a picture of a woman named Eden Atwood. She is a woman with CAIS. She is an XY karyotype human who developed from the womb as a female. While she is not one of them, there are cases of XY women giving birth, and even one case where and XY woman gave birth to another XY woman - That shit's a scholarly journal, not Ripley's Believe it or Not.

I might as well let the cat out of the bag with the other picture, too. I couldn't find any pictures of XX men (it's not a super common syndrome), so I put in a Picture of Buck Angel, famous Trans Man porn star. Buck is born XX, and transitioned in his... 20s i think?

All of this is to say - The human body is INCREDIBLY COMPLICATED. People often ask the question of "How do Trans People exist?" when really, the question should be "With all the other crazy shit our genetics do, why are we surprised that trans people exist?"

So, that was a lot of writing. I hope you got through it with most of your brain intact - It's a lot to take in.

Trans people, for a minority that represents an estimated 1% of the population, are surprisingly well researched (or surprisingly poor researched, depending on your perspective). The TranScience Paperdex is an incomplete list of the studies that a have been done regarding trans people. Some of them are obviously extremely out of date, but it's an interesting body of work.

Trans people are also nothing new. People cite Christine Jorgensen as a famous early modern case, but really she is just the first trans person that modern western media ever got a hold of. There are many examples of "Third Gender" peoples, all the way from the earliest writings we have in Mesopotamia. Third Gender people are mentioned in the writings of Plato, show up in Old Israeli words, and are even in some current cultures, such as Hijra people in India, and kathoeys in Thailand.

So, now that (hopefully) I've convinced you and others that trans people aren't just mentally ill, or a new fad, onward to specific questions from you.

    I don't know if feeling like you're the opposite gender of what you were born is natural or unnatural.

Is feeling like the opposite gender of what you were born "natural"? Yes. It's just not super common.

    I don't know if undergoing hormone therapy and even surgery to correct such a feeling is right or wrong.

First I'll point out how much total bullshit there is to get onto hormones in the first place. like, I've been head on the road towards hormones for more than a year and a half, and only recently got onto step 1, which is not full hormones. It required hours of counselling sessions, and repeating my "story" over and over to various people until I got sick of minutiae and created a "Party line" that I used for everything to keep a consistent story. To get Gender reassignment surgery I will likely be on a wait list for over 2 years.

Nothing about this is fast or easy, nor is it a snap decision.

But packed into this is also some other questions - what happens if you don't like it? Can we fix the feeling another way?

Well, we know that giving trans people more of the hormones of their expected Karyotype gender makes them feel worse (nor is there any evidence that hormone imbalance exists in trans people), and we also know that Hormone Therapy is associated with a greater quality of life in trans people.

We, unfortunately, have some pretty decent case examples of what happens when you give someone cross-gender hormones and they don't want them. David Reimer springs to mind, though his whole story is sad and it's not just about cross-gender hormones). Feminizing hormones were also used in the UK as part of the Labouchere Amendment (also known as Section 11). They were used to punish gay men who got caught, by reducing their libido and making them sterile. It played a factor in Alan Turing's suicide.

Basically, if you don't feel better on hormones, then don't take them. You can stop at any time, and many of the effects will reverse (though not all). Hormones are the best treatment we've got for Gender Identity Disorder. There are risks (including things like kidney damage), but hey, it's better than the alternative.

This isn't a "just because we can, doesn't mean we should" situation. this is a "we finally have a way for these people to stop hating themselves" situation, and a "wow, these people have been hiding in corners for centuries and just want to be treated like human beings" situation.

Anyways, this post is long enough, and I'm sure question will come up, so rather than pre-empt them, I'll just let them happen.

What does it mean to be human? It's complicated.