Why Conservatives Are Totally Wrong About Caitlyn Jenner

MTF_Brain_Scan_differencesConservatives have been screaming about Caitlyn Jenner for the last few days. They have also been making woefully unscientific statements about gender, claiming anyone with gender identity issues must be mentally ill, and screaming about 5th grade biology, as if XX and XY settled all debate in all cases. Let’s explore the reality of gender versus the conservatives’ childish wish list of what they’d prefer it to be.

The position of the American Psychiatric Association is that gender identity issues are not mental health problems. Caitlyn Jenner is not mentally ill.

The position of the American Medical Association is that being transgender is a medical condition that has a specific neurobiological cause, and can be treated via hormone therapy, surgery, and social transition (which is what Caitlyn Jenner is doing).

The position of the American College of Physicians is identical to that of the AMA.

There are now dozens upon dozens of peer reviewed scientific studies that demonstrate the neurobiological basis for why people are born transgender.

These studies also have helped identify when it happens (in utero) and why it happens. The lack of this basic scientific knowledge of this topic by conservatives is yet another failure of right wing politics and evidence of denial of reality.

Further, gender (and sex which are different things) are not predestined via genetics.

1 in 30,000 females at birth is XY, due to AIS. Do you even know what AIS is and how it produces this effect? These women have female genitalia.

1 in 30,000 females at birth is XY, due to Swyer’s. Do you even know what Swyer’s is and how it produces this effect? These women have female genitalia too.

Most XY females are sterile but some are not. If she gets pregnant, carries to term, and gives birth, is she still a man just because she is XY?

1 in 25,000 males at birth, with penis, testicles, scrotum, the works, is XX, due to de la Chapelle syndrome. If an XX dad fathers a child is he female because he is XX? How absurd!

1 in 600 children at birth is XXY (Klinefelters). For years, doctors assumed Klinefelters were all males because it was the males who had reproductive issues. They someone went and actually looked for XXY females and discovered that they exist too, and usually have no reproductive issues. If a Y chromosome is always male, why do some Klinefelter’s babies become male and some become female?

Hint: Science itself abandoned the use of the Y chromosome as the “male marker” clear back in the early 1970s. The IOC and NCAA followed suit in the 1990s. The simplistic childish XX/XY explanation you got in school was simplistic because you needed a simple explanation of the general case but not all cases. Genes are not destiny. Genes are blueprints and nature can and will implement variations on blueprints rather frequently.

And genitals do not define maleness either. If they do, are you going to tell that young soldier who lost his legs, and his genitals to an IED that he is now a female? Really? Don’t be insulting.

Gender is defined in the white matter structures of the brain. There are significant differences between the white matter structures of the average male heterosexual brain and the average female heterosexual brain. These differences cannot be changed once they set between the 8th and 24th weeks of pregnancy.

If there are any variations in hormonal ratios between testosterone and estrogen within the mother’s womb outside the “average” range, the child’s brain will develop along a different path than their body. This is how people become transgender. This is why you can’t pray it away. This is why it is not a mental illness.

We do not know how to alter the white matter structures of the brain without killing the patient. But we do know how to align the external body to the internal brain of the individual with this medical condition.

Just like a cleft palate, club foot, or other birth defect, there are therapies and surgeries to assist in correcting this issue.

Claims that deny the above facts demonstrate gross ignorance of the science, and ugly hateful  condemnation of a medical condition that people are simply born with.

Conservatives, claiming the mantle of science, ought to be the very first raising the flag for transgender people, to ensure that they are treated rationally, compassionately, and ethically within modern medical guidelines, and to ensure they are treated equally under the law.

But all I see coming from the right wing is ignorance, hate, irrationality, denial of reality, and, quite frankly, bowing down to the social conservative wing of the GOP, the worst part of the Republican party, the one that is driving more people away from the GOP, and the one that most interferes with rational discussions about budgets, fiscal priorities, energy security, , national defense, and sensible foreign policy.

So what will it be, conservatives? Deny science to bow at the altar of religious bigotry? Or stand on the side of science and the law to tell the religious bigots to shut up? So far conservatives have bowed at the altar of religious bigotry. Will any have the courage to stand tall in the 21st century? Let’s watch and see, but don’t hold your breath.


12 thoughts on “Why Conservatives Are Totally Wrong About Caitlyn Jenner

  1. “I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.” -Mother Teresa
    All I have to say to the Conservatives is “I’m Trans and I’m proud, Get over it.”

  2. As a conservative evangelical, I’d like to apologize for the way we’ve behaved. Although we may not come to the same conclusion, the way we’ve gone about it is absolutely sad. You’re right, “ought to be the very first raising the flag for transgender people, to ensure that they are treated rationally, compassionately, and ethically within modern medical guidelines, and to ensure they are treated equally under the law”. My entire apology is up on my blog if you’re interested. All the best!

    • I replied to your blog post. If it seems harsh, remember that words are cheap, and the actions of the church to date, against transgender people, have been horrific.

      Part of me keeps hoping the church might someday change. Then the rest of me reminds me how I’ve been treated, even by my own “Christian” family. And then I realize that darkness that the church dares to call “love” will never change.

      • They are no more harsh that some of the words that have been pointed to transgender people. Thank you for taking the time to reply, and to comment on my post. You took a great deal of time and effort to write what you did. I agree, words can be cheap. I can’t argue that point at all. My hope is that you got the message that I think we’re handling it wrong. My hope is that Christians, especially of the conservative bent, begin to realize that we’re not following the way of Jesus by damaging, hateful, discriminatory speech and actions. Even in disagreement there has to be space to honor each other in order to hear each other out and spur each other on to action. We’re not really good at that. I’m not really good at that. I’m sorry that you find my words cheap. My hope is that there is room in us to change. That it’s not a lost cause as you point out. Thanks Cara.

  3. *
    I studied these issues (from 1974 – 1989) beginning with Dr. Paul MacDonald at University of Arizona Medical Center. Science advances. The author’s facts are well-presented and accurate.

    Another curious element is that Rev Pat Robertson has been supportive of transsexual / transgender research and says so on his CBN ‘700 Club’ TV show. Yep, it’s nice to see right-wing Christian Conservatives join the ranks of science, though most still fail to accept the ‘L’, ‘G’, and ‘B’ of ‘LGBT’.

  4. Pingback: Yet Another Reply To Those Who Continue to Demean Transgender People | Liz - Day By Day

  5. *
    Allow me to add more directly to this post:

    – sexual identity fixes during the 2nd month of gestation

    – sex organs do not begin completing their formation until the end of the 3rd month of gestation.

    This is one explanation how and why a person of one mental sex can have the anatomy of another physical sex.

    All human morphology begins as female. If no chemistry happens to interfere, the anatomy will develop into a fully-functioning female human. The internal and external structures will all naturally form as female. Patriarchical males so hate this fact of life; they can’t imagine they could ever have been female at the mere accident of their hormones not working correctly.


  6. I know this was posted a couple years ago now but you are giving inaccurate and at the most generous misleading information. You say that what determines gender is the white mater to grey matter ratio of the brain which is absolutely wrong though the data had been explained that way and continues to get peddled as you have done here.
    The original 9 cadaver brains that served as the basis for the study had all been treated with female hormones and while they were all known to be from Transwomen the researchers had no access to information about whether these where androphilic or gynophilic transwomen. So essentially they took what Levey had demonstrated about a particular similarity in the brains of heterosexual women and gay men.
    When the trans brain study was replicated but drawing on MRI scans from hundreds of individuals where they compared both androphilic transwomen (often referred to in studies as homosexual mtf transexuals) and gynophilic transwomen (heterosexual mtf transexuals) to control groups that included heterosexual cis men and women, gay men and, lesbians as well as transwomen though I think these where all either androphilic or presumed to be.
    What the findings confirmed is that the gay brain, not the transgender brain is a more accurate interpretation of the data through to be more precise you would say that they found a correlation in the white to gray matter ratios and the number and size of neurons of the brains of people who are primarily or exclusively attracted to men and a similar but reversed similarity shared among brains of people attracted to women. In a number of other ways such as the thickness of certain membranes and the overall brain volume, the brains of natal makes both gay and trans resembled one another. And Ms.Jenner is in the other subset of transwomen so for her we look elsewhere for answers.

    • You are absolutely incorrect. See my page about the “One Stop Trans Brain Research List“. The study by Zhou has been replicated at least three times that I am aware of. In each study, the examinations broadened. In addition, they subsequently included cadavers of trans women who did not transition and who had never taken hormone therapy. Further, there are multiple other markers for trans women that are similar to or identical to cisgender women, and not cisgender men. In addition, I recommend you sit and listen to this 2011 AMA Presentation on Sexual Identity.

      You are making factually incorrect statements that are not confirmed by peer reviewed scientific studies. The only reason I allowed your comment was to point out the errors in your assertions so anyone else coming here could see a response to them. There are dozens upon dozens studies now that affirm there is a biological basis for being transgender, and being transgender is not the same thing as being gay. Every major medical organization, from the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Association of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association now affirm that there is a biological basis for being transgender, and that the best therapy is social transition, hormone therapy, and surgery as required.

      Finally, when I review your website, I see you are carrying water for Blanchard, Zucker, and the rest of those who have been shown to openly lie, falsify data, and in Zucker’s case, remain accused of child abuse which is why his clinic was shut down. I suggest you broaden your perspective from a few anti-trans fools with axes to grind to look at all the data and all the other researchers who have gone on to demonstrate that these people, including McHugh (guilty of falsifying research data which is why he really left Johns Hopkins, under a cloud), are completely wrong.

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