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comment by coffeesp00ns
coffeesp00ns  ·  1246 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Transphobic violence in the punk community

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.




user-inactivated  ·  1246 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I would like to preface this by saying that I spent about an hour and a half writing up a response to what you posted. Unfortunately, when I clicked the "reply" button, Hubski had timed out and I had lost everything I had written. As a result, I'm a little frustrated (it was really well written damnit) and when I'm upset, I get terse. So if any of my response sounds clinical or unempathetic, please do not take it that personally. It is a failing on my part. Needless to say, I learned a hard lesson this morning.

    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."

Indeed. I'd like to make it clear that I never have been, nor will I ever be, under the assumption that people are obligated to interact with me (with the obvious caveat of navigating through necessary parts of day to day life), nor are they obligated to teach me anything. What I was addressing with minimum_wage (which if you're reading this, I apologize if you got the wrong impression) is that there is an important, inherent value to dialog and communication. Every conversation we have and every interaction we have influences people, for better or worse. Every moment can be a teaching moment, whether we realize it or not. The fact that you and I are talking now is a great example. Had he and I not thought differently from each other, this whole construction of the great wall of text wouldn't take place.

    Gender Binary doesn't exist outside of the societal construct we are familiar with.

Oh, I'm well aware of that. In fact, I think the idea that some tribal societies can have as many as up to half a dozen genders absolutely compelling. It does bring up a lot of questions, at least in my mind, about gender identity in those societies. I wonder whether or not they have the same issues as we do in the Western World with people with Gender Identity Disorder. I would like to think, or at least hope, that people in those societies are more comfortable with who they are. At the same time, I also wonder if maybe those societies have all of those constructs because they have a higher frequency of Chromosomal Variations. You bring up the Kathoey, and I can't help but wonder if they exist because of a social nuance in Thai society or if because they're all expressing some genetic similarity and that Thai society bent itself to fit around them.

    Wall of scientific text

You know, it's amazing how much of that I've actually picked up over the years through reading things here and there. I didn't realize how much I already knew about that kind of stuff until you laid it all out for me. That said though, you've created a great refresher and I think I'll dive in further. You know how these things go though, especially with Wikipedia. You start by reading one article and then the next thing you know, you have 20 tabs open in your browser.

Thank you for putting all of that together though. I'm sure it took a great deal of effort and I am genuinely appreciative of that.

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

I understand what you're saying here. I think it's important to make the distinction though that while it's naturally, it's arguably unhealthy. Now, don't take this the wrong way. I am NOT saying that people that are struggling with this are bad people or should feel bad with what they're going through. I am NOT saying that they are by default mentally ill or should feel like they should bear the burden of the stigma of mental illness. Furthermore, I don't think any mentally ill person, with whatever ailment, should feel like a bad person.

That being said, I do think that it is arguably unhealthy. Not because it's not common or natural or unnatural or even because it's different. I think it's unhealthy because it leads to a lot of people feeling hurt, depressed, isolated, confused and just brings on so much baggage. Those are all unhealthy side affects to which doctors and psychologists can point to Gender Identity Disorder as being the root cause. You obviously don't treat something if there's nothing wrong with it.

    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.

I want to start out by saying that I understand what you're going through must be very frustrating. I know that these things can be difficult and I really wish that you get the best care and the best results. You deserve it. So please don't take what I'm about to say next as a slight against you, as that's absolutely not the case. It's just my personal thoughts on the issue.

While I know the whole process (as far as what I've read and understand on the issue) can be very frustrating, I think that it's a good safeguard. People can get confused very easily sometimes and this is a good way to make sure that the people who do need the care get it, while protecting those who don't need it from making a potentially big mistake. Heaven forbid someone wakes up one day, maybe five or ten years later, and completely and woefully regret what they have done. It's a very scary thought.

If we go back to the Kathoey in Thailand, I remember reading or seeing something somewhere where a lot of them would take over the counter and/or pilfered female birth control pills during puberty to help them develop more feminine features. To me that's a very scary thought for a lot of reasons. Are they getting the medical supervision that they need? What about the psychological supervision? Puberty can be a very difficult time for anyone from any culture. Your body feels weird. Your thoughts are all jumbled. You're having a difficult time trying to navigate your transitioning role in society as more and more people see you as an adult. Doing something so drastic during that period easily compounds things. I think it's wonderful that Thailand is so supportive of these people and I'm sure they have a great support network for them. That said though, it does bring up a big safety and health issue. Safeguards are important.

    David Reimer

Yeah. I remember that case back in a psychology class. I don't have much to say on it, other than it reminds me a lot of Phineas Gage, only because sometimes the most tragic of situations can lead to so much insight.

    Labouchere Amendment

We did some very barbaric things in our near past. A lot of it isn't even justifiable as it's the result of men being callous and unempathetic. It makes me wonder what people 100 years from now will look back on today with horror. I feel somewhat comforted to say that today, at least in certain areas of science and life in general, we're trying harder to do right and while we might stumble here and there, our hearts are hopefully in the right place.

    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.

Oh, I agree completely. Transgender issues are not as easy as addressing something as a simple cut because as you well illustrated, there are a lot of nuances involved. We as a society owe it to each other to care for and look out for one another. Because of that, I believe that we owe people in your position as many options as possible, be they medical or otherwise, and to make absolute sure that those options are both safe and healthy both in the short as well as the long term. I think the more research that is done and the more we learn, the better. It will open up new avenues of treatment that will allow people and their doctors, to choose the most appropriate course of action.

Now, I do have to admit that I have personal reservations about gender reassignment surgery and I don't know whether or not it's wise to talk about the issue in depth for a few reasons. I'm afraid that expressing such concerns might paint me in an unfavorable light, making me look callous or uncaring and I do not mean to come across that way at all. I know it's something that you yourself are looking into so I understand that the subject might hit too close to home. To be completely honest, I don't really know how comfortable I am about talking about it, let alone how comfortable you are. If you want to though, we could start slow and see where things take us. If not though, it's cool with me. I can't tell you how much I appreciate what you've already done.

(I think that was all I meant to say the first time around. Hopefully I haven't left anything out.)

b_b  ·  1246 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Usually when that happens, you can hit the back button and then reopen the reply box. If you're using Chrome or Firefox, your comment should be cached (I'm not familiar with other browsers, so I don't know). This works. Usually. Not always. I've learned this lesson too many times, and I now always copy before I submit for anything longer than a sentence. If you develop this habit, your frustration level with Hubski will be diminished tenfold I promise.

user-inactivated  ·  1246 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Hmm. Yes. Every time that I hit reply now and there's a slight delay, a brief moment of panic lights up in my head.

someguyfromcanada  ·  1060 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Holy fuck my friend. What a great detailed post. I had not seen that before.

kurbs  ·  1229 days ago  ·  link  ·  

From one stranger on the internet to another, thanks for all of that. I feel slightly less ignorant for reading it.

Kurasu  ·  1204 days ago  ·  link  ·  

For the record, for those who wish to know, this is Buck Angel:

Kurasu  ·  1204 days ago  ·  link  ·  

The picture which has been linked here is not of Buck Angel. The picture linked is actually Loren Cameron (from his website here: http://www.lorencameron.com/).

coffeesp00ns  ·  1204 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Actually, the first Image I posted was of buck angel (the one under "XY is male", the bait and switch), and then the second one, which I credited as Buck angel was obviously miscredited. Thanks for the correction!

user-inactivated  ·  1246 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    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."

For the record, I have never and will never hold the opinion that people are obliged to share with me or converse with me for any reason (with caveats in navigating personal and day to day life of course). I will also never hold the opinion that just because something is unknown or unfamiliar to me that it is dismissable.

    . . . 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.

Indeed, indeed, indeed. What I was more trying to say is that we shouldn't shy away from open dialog, especially on issues such as these, because every conversation is a learning opportunity, both for the people conversing as well as for anyone else observing the conversation.

Now that I have a huge wall of text in front of me, it looks like I need to get my some coffee going and some reading started. I'm excited to see where this takes me and I appreciate all the time and effort you're putting into this.

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

Truth.