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Let’s Talk Biology Again

I’ve discussed this before, in bits and pieces, here and there, now and again. But perhaps it’s wise to assemble all this under one roof where it can be easily referenced.

Approximately 1 in 15000 females, at birth is XY. They are females with female genitals, the works. XY does not mean male. Of these, 1 in 80,000 is Swyer’s Syndrome, and 1 in 20,000 has complete androgen insensitivity syndrome. Another subset has partial androgen insensitivity syndrome and estimates of those born female vary greatly there, from 1 in 20,000 to 1 in 50,000. The cumulative numbers for these three groups are generally assessed at 1 in 15,000, but the frequency could be even higher. The vast majority of XY females are sterile, but rarely some are not, as documented in this study.

1 in 20000 males at birth is XX, also called de la Chapelle syndrome. They are males with male genitals. XX does not mean female. However, the frequency of XX males where the SRY gene crossed over from the Y chromosome to the X may be even higher than that, as this study suggests SRY gene crossover happens more often than previously suspected.

1 in 600 children is XXY, Klinefelters. For the longest time, doctors assumed XXY were always male, because only XXY males had fertility issues, until some biologists decided to go look. And suddenly they found lots of XXY females. This breakthrough came in the last decade so it is relatively “new” news and not all doctors may have heard this year.

The above situations are all scientific facts and prove, conclusively that sex and gender are not determined solely by 5th grade biology lessons about XX and XY, which were simplified for you because at that point in your life, you couldn’t have handled the complexities involved.

So what determines sex and gender? What sex is a male soldier who loses his legs and genitals to an IED. It’s all gone. He has no testicles, no penis, so what sex is he? Stupid question, isn’t it?

It’s stupid because sex and gender are determined in the brain, specifically in the white matter structures of the brain.

Every fetus starts out female and stays female until week 8. That’s when sexual differentiation begins.

The brain is the first human organ to sexually differentiate. This occurs between weeks 8-16. The fetus doesn’t even have genitals until week 14 and then it’s only the unisex “genital tuber” which will later become clitoris, vagina, labia, or penis, testicles, and scrotum.

What drives sexual differentiation? Not genes. Not XX. Not XY. What drives sexual differentiation in the fetus is hormones. Males develop as male because they received about 4 times as much testosterone as estrogen. Females develop as females because they receive about 5 times as much estrogen as testosterone. This is another scientific fact. Cry about it all you want but this is what creates sex and gender.

Consequently, if the mother, during pregnancy for some reason has hormonal interactions that change the basic hormonal ratios away from the median described above, you can get a child whose brain develops one way then their body develops another. Not enough testosterone in weeks 8-16 then returning to median hormonal ratios for weeks 16 and onward? Transgender child with a female brain and male body. Too much testosterone in weeks 8-16 then returning to median hormonal ratios for weeks 16 and onward? Transgender child with male brain and female body. Here is the American Medical Association’s 2011 Annual Meeting Presentation on how hormonal ratios can vary and thus produce the entire spectrum of LGBT people. The presentation is about 70 minutes long, but informative, so be prepared to sit and listen.

So why not fix the brain? We don’t know how without killing the patient. Further, “fixing” the brain would likely destroy the entire personality of that person, a severe violation of their personal liberty and autonomy. So what do we do? We fix the body, which turns out to be relatively easy.

This is the reality of what being transgender means. And I, for one, am tired of ignorant people not understanding science and trying to impose their small minded bigotry against transgender people.

Educate yourself. The science is all available if you want to understand it. The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Physicians all support the above statements, and all support social transition, hormonal therapy, and surgery as the proper treatment for being transgender. The AMA supports hormone treatment and surgery for transgender patients. The American Psychiatric Association supports transition related medical care for transgender people.

Those of you who choose to wallow in ignorance and hate are what drive transgender kids to suicide, not being transgender but being hated by small minded bigots like yourselves.

Grow up, and stop hating. And stop claiming 5000 year old superstitions that you call a “bible” are somehow right when compared to science. The rest of us are tired of your narrow minded, childish, and anti-scientific ways of thinking. Transgender women are women. Transgender men are men. Deal with it.

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Finally a Sense of Peace

I’ve mentioned before in other venues about how comfortable I was with my body changes almost immediately. I’ll mention them again here now – by the third day after surgery, I realized I couldn’t even remember what the old genitals felt like and it was a massively liberating feeling.

My traveling companion, who I love dearly and who I’ve called my “guardian angel”, said this about my immediate relaxation and sense of self-comfort:

“What was totally freaking awesome was seeing you lose all body modesty and shame the day you came back from the clinic.

Prior to surgery, you went to shower clothed and stepped out of the closed bathroom clothed. First day home you walked naked across the room talking about politics while looking for a dress. No self-consciousness at all.

That made me tear up. I knew you’d crossed into new territory in your life.”

I hadn’t even thought of that but she’s right. I no longer felt completely wrong naked, even and especially in front of my closest female friends.

I still tire easily, and run out of steam at the end of the evening, but last night, Sunday night, August 23rd, was the first full night’s sleep back in Texas. That was a breakthrough as well. I’ve consequently been awake all day today, working at a measured pace from home, dealing with some remaining Human Resources issues after my trip, and while I’m tired, I’m not feeling like I need a nap before bed tonight, probably around 11pm.

Nerve endings continue to wake up and I’m in a bit of discomfort but no real serious pain. A few aspirin now and then seem to work wonders for me. One part of down there has decided to be hyper sensitive at the moment. Hopefully that won’t continue too long, at least not quite like it is at the moment.

As I told friends today, wonderful is slipping on a pair of jeans and not dealing with a bulge or needing to tuck at all. Everything just slides on the way it should.

I didn’t have any real doubts left by the time surgery rolled around. By then, it had been several years of reviewing all the thoughts in my head. I do remember thinking, as they added something to my IV right before I lost consciousness, “Here we go. Let’s hope all this thinking has come to the right conclusion.” Yet when I awoke from surgery, that question was nowhere to be found. I asked a nurse if everything had gone ok, and she smiled and nodded, and gave me a thumbs up. When I saw Dr. Chettawut, he said things had gone wonderfully.

As for how things are going, I’m at the one month mark of my surgery (actually that was Saturday) and doing very well. I am not in any pain at all, just tenderness and general discomfort.

I began dilator #3 this week and that was, at least at first, a breathtaking experience in a very wincing way. Now it’s just tight and I need to be patient and persistent with myself. I’m on day #5 with dilator #3 so I’ve been impressed at the rate that I seem to be stretching to accommodate it.

I seem to be gaining strength each day, which is good. Back on estrogen again and the hot flashes are gone and my body temperature seems a bit more stable, at least to me.

Finally, while I’m improving, a different chapter of my life is closing. Our family dog of the last 11+ years was diagnosed with cancer so we’ll be putting him down soon. He’s been affectionate, caring, gentle, curious, fun, and very much a part of our family. He will be missed.

As one door closes, another door opens.

A Visit With Dr. Chettawut And Other Random Thoughts

IMAG0099-resizedIt’s Wednesday morning in Bangkok and  I had my final visit with Dr. Chettawut today. He said I am healing “beautifully” so far. We took photos and while I guess I look less than stellar, no makeup and clearly physically tired, I’ll excuse myself with it having been just three weeks since surgery.

My only remaining medication is my antibiotic, which I was told to finish. Judging by what’s left that will be sometime next week.

My dilation schedule with #2 changed this week. That’s the dilator that’s getting most of the time now with #1 just basically helping me to relax and loosen up. Strangely enough, unlike a lot of the other women I’ve met here, my most relaxed session is the morning, and I’m at my tightest in the evening, so that session takes the longest.

I’ve stood a few times looking at myself in the mirror now, both dressed and undressed, both frontal and sideways. I don’t think I’m doing too badly for a woman my age either. And I will admit that I’m starting to see what my daughter must see when she teases me about a bikini next summer.

I recently participated in a long Facebook thread started by a woman who posted publicly (if you don’t want dissenting comments, post for friends only!) about her opposition to transgender protection regulations in a Houston suburb school district. I provided fact after fact, but these people refused to consider these facts, or the professional opinions of the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Medical Association, or the American College of Physicians. They refused to accept the scientific research, with one paranoid delusional claiming that science and professional medicine had been taken over by “liberals” and “Satan”. Well, buddy, when you’re that paranoid and delusional, you are the one that needs psychiatric help, not transgender kids. And they refused to accept the criminal evidence provided by the states and major cities that have enacted transgender protection ordinances, again claiming “liberal” conspiracy.

This little discussion was absolute proof that these bigots don’t care about facts. They just twist facts to try to justify their bigotry. They totally lack the compassion, empathy, and love that Christ himself told them to show.

That’s what dealing with transphobic bigots is like. Deny, deny, deny, fall back on “cuz Gawd”. It’s a blatant display of willful scientific and medical ignorance. And they are often proud of it!!! You’re left with a sick sinking feeling that these people are the exact sort that would gladly load cattle cars with human beings just so long as nobody disturbs their comfort. And granting equal rights under the law to transgender people? They just don’t want to. One practically admitted he wanted someone else to mock. These are sick, sick human beings.

In other matters, Tuesday evening (last night), Julie and I went to the Japanese restaurant just outside the Tesco department store about 5 blocks down the street. It was a feast for 950 Baht total (roughly $26). We got the beef and seafood. They put hot coals in the little burner in the center of your table and you cook your meal there, with over half a dozen different seasonings provided. We had more beef than we could eat, plus mega-shrimp, small salmon steaks, and various vegetables we could put on the grill as well. There was also a rice bowl that basically looked like fried rice unstirred, so we stirred that and ate about half of that as well. Julie and I split the salad and it was gone, and we each also got Miso soup with the meal. All in all, I came home stuffed and happy. It as delicious.

Today Julie is at the Tiger Temple. I have her looking for a few things for me for other people, plus I told her I wanted my own stuffed tiger if they’re available. She’ll be gone all day as that trip is 3 hours drive each way north of the city and 4 hours at the temple proper. She’s going to try to sign up for the chance to get a tiger photo where the tiger puts its head in her lap. I hope she gets it! If I can return someday, I want to see the Tiger Temple too, when I am healthier.

Our trip to the other side of the world is drawing to a close. Julie and I will see one of the local temples tomorrow, and maybe one other local sight on Friday. Saturday we rest and pack, as our ride back to the airport comes to the hotel at 9pm that evening and our flight back to the US begins just after midnight. We’ll arrive back in Houston on Sunday, August 16th, at about 8:30 am at international terminal D. I need to help Julie get over to terminal B for her flight home to Memphis that leaves around 10:30 so it will be close. We have to come in through customs, collect luggage, take the train to terminal B, then she has to check in at the counter and check her bag again for the separate flight home. We’ll make it but we’ll be busy. After she’s set, I’ll arrange to meet my ride outside terminal B at the arrivals pick up area. And then home, where the process of settling back in, re-establishing my dilation and massage schedules begins, and where I get comfortable for a week before resuming work on Monday, August 24th.

To all who have helped distract me on this trip, keeping my mind off the difficulties of healing early on, thank you. You have my gratitude for simply being there. But don’t worry. I’m not going away, and as I recover, I do hope to meet more of you who are in and around the Houston area.

I Had A Wonderful Ren Fest

For the weekend of November 7-10 (Friday through Monday), a large number of friends came into town for the Texas Renaissance Festival. It’s always good to see these particular faces and this time was no different, though seeing me may have been a little different for all concerned.

We had another great dinner Friday evening at Vero’s Italian Kitchen. Saturday at the Fest was interesting, as it always is, and led to all sorts of fun discussions among us. Saturday evening we all got together at Willie’s Hamburger place. My only real regret that evening was a friend who had wanted to come this year had passed away a few months previously and was no longer among us.

We did, however, discuss all manner of things, as we seemingly always do and just about nothing was off limits, including my own recent eye opening experiences, at which the other women present said “Welcome to the sisterhood” and “Now you see what it’s really like!” Let me assure anyone who doubts in the least, at all, there very definitely is such a thing as male privilege and I’m experiencing not having it anymore at all and it’s both amusing and annoying. And further, too many men in our culture do treat women as sexual objects instead of people. Believe me, I’m seeing that too, up close and personal.

I also am having trouble getting my head around men either coming on to me or men just looking at me in a clearly sexual manner. It comes with the territory, I know. And intellectually, I was ready for this and even had experienced it in limited ways in the past. But now, since I’d gone full time back in September, it was actually getting common. I understand the annoyance of that woman in the video that went viral and believe me, being a lot older, I don’t look near as pretty as she does, but those comments, leers, whistles, and other things are definitely out there. One fellow at the Ren Fest even looked me in the eye before giving me the “appraisal” look from head to toe, even while he was holding his wife’s hand as she had their baby on her shoulder. I just shook my head at that.

Part of the problem is also realizing what my friends keep telling me – I look very good for an older woman. Now I don’t have a full length mirror at home but there was one at the hotel and seeing myself in that and ready for the day’s activities at Ren Fest, I realized my friends were telling me the truth. I have a pretty nice figure. Of course, it’s one thing to hear certain words intellectually. It’s another thing to really feel them in your heart.

And Monday was some obligatory thrift shop hopping, this time mostly at the Salvation Army store in the next town over from where I live. We discovered that me being over 50 meant half off every Monday on everything for the 50+ crowd and there was also a half off Saturday for everyone in case I wanted to return for that. I’m planning to take my daughter with me there and perhaps a few other people as well. It should be fun.

Work continues to go very smoothly. I work for an awesome company and I appreciate that very much. They’ve made this process easier than I ever expected it to be. I am completely accepted at work and thoroughly supported on any issues I have had thus far.

There are other things I considered writing about here but I’ve abstained because there is someone who stalks me through this blog. I’ll just let her wonder at my early and unexpected Christmas gift. 🙂

Sixth E3000 Session

I underwent my sixth session at E3000 on September 12th. The before photo is a bit blurry but does show continued decreases in overall facial hair with remaining high density areas continuing to be the lower chin and neck.

I will note that the results seem different this time. In the past there tended to be more hairs broken off that had to push their way out afterwards and I would often pluck those. They never hurt because they were already dead. But now, three days after, there are still zero hairs to pluck, I suspect that HRT is continuing to change facial structure including thinning the skin in a more feminine manner, perhaps making yanking the hairs after being zapped easier. I will also note that the cheeks are almost completely cleared now and the upper lip gets completely cleared in less than 30 minutes.

My electrologist seems to be confident that we’re headed the right direction.

session-6-before

In other news, I have my appointment with my lawyer tomorrow (9/16) to begin the formal legal name and gender change process. If I can obtain all the relevant letters from doctors and such in time, she can include me in the September 29th session she is going to do. I’m looking forward to getting this step done. 🙂