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It’s Not Really About Bathrooms

In November 2015, many of us in Houston, Texas, feared that we would lose on the recall vote about the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance. We did, and we lost massively.

During that campaign, the primary weapon of the religious right was the bathroom predator myth. They had TV ads and everything and blasted that myth across the airwaves. It was not until 2 days before the elections that any local media even began to refute those lies.

As a consequence, we lost that vote bigtime by 61% to repeal the ordinance versus 39% to retain it.

When we lost that vote, within a few days, I made the prediction that the GOP would take the bathroom predator myth nationwide. Why? Because it both helps defeat trans rights and in doing so, it drives ignorant Republican voters to the polls. The bathroom predator myth is, therefore, just a tool to turn out ignorant white straight fundamentalist voters.

This means they are scapegoating trans people as a means to grasp at political power. This was never about women’s safety or bathrooms. This was always about the GOP finding a divisive fear generating wedge issue and then hammering that wedge issue with a sledge hammer til it fractures other coalitions and drives voters into Republican arms.

Republicans see this as a win, because it lets them back down (a little, not all the way) on racism as a fear tactic and instead scapegoat a much smaller population that is unable to defend itself. I’ve even seen Republicans make overtures to black churches about how “bad” trans rights are.

If the SCOTUS ever does rule on this and supports trans civil rights, like the Gavin Grimm case returns to the SCOTUS, you can count on right wingers making “rollback trans rights” into another Supreme Court nominee litmus test just like “rollback abortion rights” is right now.

They will argue they need to pack the court with anti-trans judges to stop this “horror” and “danger” to society. And transgender people will be scapegoated and actively harmed solely to support Republican fear mongering. Trans people will die just so Republicans can use fear mongering to gain political power. And that, my friends, is the real evil here.

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.

Authenticity and “Passing”

I originally wrote most of this as a comment to another blog I follow. But I realized it’s useful and wanted others to have the chance to consider this as well.

I really really dislike the term “passing” but I’m going to use it here because so many people in the community understand it. I prefer to think of it as just acceptance of who I am.

One of the things about “passing” seems to be a lack of effort. And I don’t mean that in the way some people might think. In fact, perhaps I mean it the opposite way.

When we’re unsure of ourselves, when we’re not authentically ourselves (which I agree is hard!), we start to “act”, and our role in society becomes performance art rather than just who we are.

But the funny thing is that people seem to be able to detect performance art versus authenticity. Maybe we try too hard. Maybe we make subtle mistakes or maybe we’re acting so hard that we don’t make mistakes. Maybe we “act” too hard and it sends signals to others.

I’m not really sure. But what I do know is that as I acquired personal inner peace, as I began to simply “be me” as opposed to someone society thought I should be, my issues with “passing” vanished.

Yeah, I admit I’ve had medical help along the way as an MtF trans woman but that help, while it definitely helped, wasn’t the final piece of the puzzle for me.

It was when I finally found a way to “be me” that I stopped acting. And almost as soon as I stopped acting, I stopped getting misgendered, etc. I know it’s not that easy for everyone. I know that hormones need time to work. I know that there are other aspects. But regardless of all those things, it does seem to me that “passing” includes being authentic, just “being you” rather than a construct.

NOTE: Part of finding that inner peace, for me at least, did come from surgery. Once I completed GCS, then I began to finally, for the first time in my life, begin to feel positive about my own body. So surgery played a role there too, but only a role.

Mental Delusions and White MTF Late Life Transitioners

Over and over again, I encounter late life transitioners who are absolutely desperate to hold onto their conservative and Republican credentials. This tells me they’ve not really started to transition yet because if they had, if they had been out among other women and learned and seen what other women put up with from the right wing Neanderthal mouth breathers in the GOP, they either could not be Republicans or they have hearts of ice and stone filled with hate for their fellow human beings.

The GOP has lied about everything it touches. The GOP courted KKK votes in the south beginning with Richard Nixon, via the “Southern Strategy” as created by his campaign adviser, Kevin Phillips. This article is from 1970 from the New York Times where they interviewed Kevin Phillips to understand how he won the South. Now either all those hateful white supremacist George Wallace style voters all, down to the last man, woman, and child, suddenly had a conversion and began supporting civil rights for people of color… OR they were attracted to the GOP via a series of code words and phrases that signaled white supremacy and dismissal of the black man. Which seems more reasonable to you? Yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

And this was not a one time thing either. Lee Atwater, in the middle 1980s, had his interview where he explained how they stopped saying “N*****, n*****, n*****!” and instead resorted to using code phrases like desegregation, forced busing, welfare bums, etc. Atwater was so upset with what he did with his life that he begged forgiveness on his death bed in the early 1990s for being a racist. Yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

Another of Nixon’s men, John Erlichman, said this also: “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” Yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

Even further, in 2005, Ken Mehlman, then RNC chairman, publicly apologized to the NAACP for the GOP’s long history of racist attacks against people of color, and for using people of color to induce fear in ignorant white voters. This is public information yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

The GOP has never once balanced a budget on budget cuts as they claim. The budget being balanced in the 1990s was a compromise of budget cuts in some areas, and substantial tax increases in other areas, including on the highest bracket income earners. But you won’t hear Newt Gingrich or Republicans admit that. Republican states are among the poorest in the USA with the states taking the most federal handouts being Republican 9 times out of 10. On the other end, blue states (Democrat controlled) pay more to Washington than they take back. So who’s the real deadbeats here? Sam Brownback’s Kansas application of libertarian right wing nonsense now has the state running deficits of incredible proportions for such a small and relatively poor state. Even other Republicans in Kansas want to reject that nonsense now. Likewise, Scott Walker has done no favors to Wisconsin or its residents, cutting the state university budget by $450 million just so he can spend $400 million on a new sports stadium. Yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

The Republican Party in 2015 introduced over 110 anti-LGBT bills in states and the US Congress. Zero were introduced by Democrats. The Republican party introduced in states and the US Congress over 200 anti-LGBT bills so far in 2016. Zero were introduced by Democrats. The GOP just passed the most anti-LGBT party platform in its history, calling for the repeal of marriage equality, for open discrimination against transgender people, and for reparative therapy to be used on LGBT people, both children and any adults committed for being LGBT, despite the fact that no major medical organization considers being gay or trans as a mental health issue anymore. Yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

That same party platform carries open unscientific lies, claiming children in LGBT households are more prone to drug use, criminal behavior, and mental health issues, yet the scientifically proven truth is exactly the opposite. Yet very few older white MTF transitioners ever know about this, let alone accept the truth of it.

Over and over again, I get the impression that older white MTF transitioner believe that this is just about their body. Take the hormones, get surgery if needed, and you’re ok, right? WRONG! If you are a woman, you need to learn about women’s experiences. You need to get out and make friends with cisgender women. You need to understand how often we get raped. You will rapidly find that you suddenly have more friends who’ve been raped than you ever openly knew before in your entire life, because male privilege was hiding that from you. You will discover that women get treated as sex objects whether we want this or not. You will find men talking over you and getting angry if you try to interrupt to take back the floor. You will find men looking at you, not as a human being, but as a piece of meat to be evaluated to be fucked or raped.

And once you begin to understand what it is to be a woman in today’s society, you begin to understand that your worst enemy are conservative white men – exactly the group you were part of before. You begin to grasp that, as an older white male, you were part of a sick, twisted, ugly privileged self-centered group of people who want the entire universe to revolve around them. You, as a trans woman, begin to relate directly to the crap that your friends of color, both trans and cis, are experiencing, and all the crap that goes with that. You begin to understand that suddenly you’re worth less in the marketplace, just because you are a woman, and if you fight back about it, you’ll get fired.

So what I see, every god damned time I encounter a “fresh off the boat” brand new older white MTF transitioner is someone who thinks they can somehow, magically remain a part of that privileged, self-centered, lying brigade of white men who think they deserve to control everything.

I got news for you, honey. You’re a woman now and in their eyes, you ain’t shit. So get with the program and start educating yourself. Make lots of cisgender female friends then listen to them! Listen to their health care issues, how white male doctors dismiss issues that those same doctors would take seriously with a white male. Listen to them as they try to tell you that Old White Guys™ want to control their vaginas. Listen to them as they try to explain how hard it is to raise kids when the father is a deadbeat and the social safety nets have been torn to shreds by Old White Guys™. Listen to them as they tell you how Old White Guys™ talk over them or dismiss their ideas, then turn around and agree when a man says the exact same thing you did just a few minutes before.

And once you start to listen, once you start to learn, unless your head is so far up your ignorant ass that you’re already dead from suffocation, you will start to open your mind and realize that the biggest enemy you have, right now, today, in 2016 are Republicans. I wish that was not the case, but that’s the truth. Maybe someday the GOP will decide to focus on liberty and “live and let live” as they did once a long, long time ago.

But that day is not today and that year is not this year. If you are a transgender woman and you’re voting Republican, you’re still trying to hide behind your white male privilege. And I can guarantee you one thing – eventually they will turn on you too.

A Response to the Lies of “A Sacred Androgen”

Recently, the Antioch Review has published an article full of hateful lies, stereotypes, and absolutely incorrect medical information about transgender people titled “The Sacred Androgen” (link marked as “nofollow” so as not to boost the page’s rank).

In response to this, Brynn Tannehill wrote a scathing condemnation of the article and The Antioch Review itself, titled “Antioch Demonstrates Why Mid-West Kills Queers from the Inside Out“.

And in addition to Brynn’s article, I sent the following email to Christina Check who is listed as the contact for The Antioch Review. I encourage all of you to do likewise. The more they hear from us, the more they may realize they have done something ugly and horribly wrong, and perhaps retract and apologize for that piece of garbage they published.

My letter to the editor lies below this line


 

Really?

If you had published such a pile of garbage laden pile of tripe about black people, your offices might have been buried under angry responses from across the nation already.

If you had published such a garbage laden pile of tripe about gays, you would have been dragged through the major press and rightfully pilloried publicly destroying your reputation.

Yet you think you can get away with it against transgender people?

Your author uses every bad stereotype, ignores all the current medical evidence including neurobiological evidence that has led the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Association of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association all to conclude that:

1. Being transgender is not a mental illness (and it’s no longer listed as one in the DSM)
2. Being transgender is a neurobiological medical condition caused by in utero hormonal ratio variations during early pregnancy.

Your article goes on and paints trans women as sex obsessed fetishists which couldn’t be further from the truth and which theory has been totally destroyed. Bailey’s work on “autogynephelia” has been refuted because what he thought was solely trans obsession turns out to be common natal female behavior as well.

Your author asserts that transgender people are mentally ill while mental health professionals say that being transgender is not a mental illness. Your author then goes on to support reparative therapy which has been proven to increase suicidality, and never ever “cures” anything.

Your author cites the 41% suicide attempt rate as proof of mental illness and ignores that mental health professionals cite that as proof of the deep systemic hatred and oppression our culture has displayed towards transgender people. Mental health professionals say YOU need to change your attitudes towards trans people, and not that trans people need to change.

Your author launches into rape culture objectification of women and then tries to use that as a reason to see trans women with disgust.

Your author tries to assert that trans women are just gay men but ignores actual biological evidence that trans women are as different from gay men, in the brain, as they can possibly be.

The above microscope slides are just one of many studies demonstrating that trans women have brain structures very similar to cisgender women and nothing at all like gay men.
In short, your article, “The Sacred Androgen”, is hate speech targeted at a minority group that is being actively attacked and oppressed today in popular media and by right wing politicians and churches for being different. Yet the medical community, across the board, supports trans people and who they say they are. There are only a few old fossils, like Paul McHugh, Bailey, and others who get regularly trotted out by the right wing to support these hateful views.

With the publication of “The Sacred Androgen”, The Antioch Review demonstrates that it is not a rational nor respectful publication and that anything it publishes should be ignored, discarded, and that the Review itself should be driven into the ground as a purveyor of hate speech.

You should be ashamed of yourselves but bigots never are. Just like racists have been hiding in the closet for the last 40 years until Trump came along, bigots never give up their ugly ways and we now know that The Antioch Review is a publication of bigots and bigotry.

Cara Ramsey