(20 Apr 17)
‘This Novel ‘Gender Revolution’ That Has Been Thousands Of Years In The Making’
Sahwdee Khaf, Dear Friends.
Just a quickie today.
Allow my thoughts to share with you regarding the National Geographic ‘Gender Revolution’ video that our Trans Spectrum support group viewed this past Tuesday. I originally began with a few lines that I thought that I’d add to my previous post (‘Happy Songkran!’, 13 Apr 17), but the more thought that I put into this commentary, the more extended this effort became, and now it deserves a full page on its own.
‘Everything is happening too fast.’ Hardly! Inter-sex is nature itself – as old as eggs, sperm, and embryological development. Transsexual and sex change has been done throughout history:
- The Bible recounts stories of male-to-female – as mentioned about Jewish culture’s six genders.
- Those of us from the Thai experience learn to varying levels that Thai culture is among societies that have been accepting trans identities for many centuries.
- Social history tells of women who transitioned to live as men to overcome discrimination – Billy Tipton is one notable example – as well as fullfill gender identity issues.
- Western medical science began working through chemical and surgical transition since the 1920s when that science began making advancements. Christine Jorgensen was certainly a pioneer of chemical and surgical transition during the early-1950s, yet merely the first known person to successfully survive through hormone treatments and surgeries.
- Varying sources report that anywhere from 1000 to 3000 Americans were diagnosed as transsexual by 1980, that was when society and the lack of information made it difficult for prospective people to know what was available.
Not to have made this too much a downer, but more attention could have been made about the past’s mass butchery routinely done to infants (whether inter-sex or ‘normal’ infants injured by circumcision or other circumstance) and to the extent it continues nowadays when birth room doctors take unfair advantage of ignorant parents. That brief summary of the Reimer twins was too brief. How many millions of American children – maybe tens of millions – were mutilated to satisfy fiendish doctors on the false science of Dr. Money. How many more continue to this day?
In this documentary, one child declared at her fourth birthday, ‘I’m a girl, Mom.’. Her mom and dad hugged her, they gave her a new dress as her birthday present, and they supported her transition to female.
In my real life, I insisted ‘I’m a girl!’ to my parents, sister, and other relatives throughout my childhood (since age 3) and teens; my parents beat me for saying that. My mom and I endured a nasty argument one Saturday morning when I (at age 8) insisted to her, ‘My name is Sharon!’; my mom reported to me years later that she had no recollection at all of my momentous assertion. My parents beat me when I wore female attire, I could hardly have expected them to buy a new dress for my 4th birthday or any birthday (that new dress was totally out of the question at any age); neither parent nor any relative so much has ever sent an honest birthday card to Sharon. My parents never accepted me and my desire to transition as a child, or as a teen, or as an adult.
It would be utopia to expect most of our parents, siblings, relatives would support us as was recorded in the National Geographic video. I suspect the truth is far more likely that we share what I experienced.
These families represented in this video are comfortably upper-income, typical in these ‘happy talk’ documentaries. It’s easy to present those trans cases whose families are at the top of Maslov’s pyramid.
- They have few base worries about making ends meet, homelessness, un-employment, lack of medical attention.
- They have all the resources available to them.
- They have happy, intact families.
I’d rather want to have seen National Geographic tackle the real issues facing real people in real crises and spark national political action.
- Come interview Millye and Regina here in Phoenix – the shelters they operate for homeless trans residents.
- Interview Denise who endured two Tijuana surgeries during the 1960s; she nearly died both times all because American surgeons refused to perform the operation here in this country – a place where current federal administration is returning us.
Okay, so this documentary included Renee Richards in one brief segment. She has more of a story than what this video presented. Richards cautions people about the permanence of transition. She regularly speaks of regret for her own transitioning and surgery, but that was excluded. The documentary otherwise effectively ignored anyone and anything older than the past few years – as if trans began with either a few recent ‘transtrender’ cable TV shows or Caitlyn Jenner coming ‘out’ in 2015. Certainly the producers could have found a few minutes of conversation with Christine Jorgensen, for all the interviews she did during her lifetime.
The documentary inferred that there are neither examples of trans persons from childhood through adulthood nor longitudinal studies of such persons.
Okay, I was no Jazz Jennings celebrity, or whatever, with all due respect. I’m also the last one to suggest that I am the only one who grew up during the 1950s or 1960s following Christine Jorgensen who was an ‘out’ trans child and who transitioned upon legal adulthood. There must certainly be plenty of us still alive and kicking for researchers to document. You’d better hurry, though, we are not getting any younger.
Here I am, among the other trans children of those past times, if anyone doing research wants to add me to document the long-term life of a trans person. I submit that we came out alright. I was quite lucky. I survived despite immense pressure and many instances of psychological and physical abuse as I document here at this web-site; others flourished with supportive families. My sympathies to those whose results were disastrous.
There is nothing new about puberty blockers. I learned that they have been available since at least the 1960s; they would have been available to me if only my parents and pediatrician provided them to me. Parents, the medical community, and insurance companies created the heavy opposition to their applications through recent years; they currently maintain obstruction of their use when they find ways to impose their authority. Current American politics will make this worse, not better.
‘Dead-naming’: ‘It never really was me.’ asserted one peri-op interviewee.
Okay, yeh, people go through this phase during their transition. I respect each person’s requests. I submit that some hold severe antipathies far too long. I choose to live on my own plane.
I hated the ‘before’ me with a vengeance during my younger life, but age and maturity eventually taught me to actually love my ‘before’ self and not hold any anger about that part of my life. Those first 18 years will always be me. I eventually realised that it was more personally productive to accept and cherish my ‘before’ rather than place it in the dust-bin or to pretend that it never happened.
Nickie / Nick / male – that was me and I love him with all my heart, who he is, all that he accomplished, all that he endured, all of him those first 18 years made me Sharon / female since then.
Nor could I ever get angry at anyone who chooses to ‘dead-name’ me who does so without malice. In fact, I take it as something endearingly empathetic when someone recognises what I endured during all those ‘before’ years. Jamie, can you comprehend this innocent perspective? Daniel does.
Marriage equality was glossed over.
The current-day couple presented an experience lacking complications with their marriage. That’s not to say that all marriages survive transition; sadly, many marriages can fail. In those bad old days of yore before marriage equality, all states required the marriage to be dissolved. Some states obligated the couple to divorce before any action began – counselling, medical care, hormones; other states did not impose divorce until latter stages of transition such as a legal sex identification change or SRS / GCS surgery. Forced divorce destroyed even the best of good marriages.
To be transsexual – whether open or stealth – especially today – makes a political statement about the sociology and legality of our times.
For all the ‘happy talk’ among a small group of trans persons at one fast food restaurant, employers nation-wide are gaining sinister momentum making it easier to deny employing trans persons, to fire trans persons, and to outright illegalise our very presence in our American workforce.
Republican right-wing talk on TV, radio, Internet, and in print are increasing their antagonism against trans – they spew their hatred each and every day.
Other than being fired twice from two different employers (1983, 2008), living in ‘stealth’ kept me employed and safe from assault; I began receiving valid death threats when I presented myself as trans in 2015.
Certainly, secrecy is no way to live in our supposed ‘open society’; yet no one should be forced to either hide in a closet or exist with a target on their backs – that is ‘terrorism’ defined. Current federal politics are taking us down that hole full speed ahead; the President and Congress are acting with full, hostile force to reverse the bare gains of the past few years, the Supreme Court is poised to rule that religion holds absolute status over all aspects of American life and law.
Say good-bye to our secular society and hello to the coming Christian Conservative-style American Taliban.
‘Transtrender’ could be as discussed – people who hang on each ‘new’ idea with little thought to the essence, ramifications, and consequences. Meanwhile, it is healthy human behaviour to explore one’s self throughout their lifetime. So be it that someone explores their sense of gender identity at whatever age when that issue occurs to them; we live our lives on our own timeline, not on one monolithic demand.
If, and when, topics become ‘trendy’ and that awakens even one person, then that is important to them and to their circle of family and friends.
In its entirety, I am disappointed that this documentary was more about ‘happy talk’ rather than representing reality.
There surely are many great stories – it is important to see the successes. Yet this documentary could have reported better the messy disasters, loss of family and friends.
Beyond the immediacy of one’s own family are the denial of civil and human rights extending throughout the nation – such as what additional details could have been provided of the Grimm case and others working through the councils and courts nationwide. As Grimm said, this nation is moving to restore ‘separate but equal’ in matters of gender and sexuality – a reversal of law and Constitutional protections. That is only in this nation and does not even begin to cover other societies and other countries that are far more oppressive. And I got it; this video was published in January 2017 before the Supreme Court’s Republican majority refused the Grimm case.
Maybe National Geographic could have produced a series on this topic rather than one episode of incomplete information.
There is one aside that I want to share with you who are a medical professional who might find this reference usefull. Dr. Paul MacDonald gave a presentation to the University of Arizona Medical School in 1974 in which he identified the three primary lines of inter-sex:
- ‘Testicular Feminisation’ – the ‘Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome’ (AIS) XY karyotype line. It is easy to describe because it is the simplest – it is about variable levels of testosterone, cellular receptor site affinity to testosterone, and the quality and quantity of hormones. Vary the androgen, whether quality or quantity, and vary the capacity for the cellular receptor sites. Mullerian Duct Regression Factor (MDRF) controls the absence of the upper tracts. If I recall correctly, these patients lack their upper and middle third, both male and female phenotype.
- The other two are the XX karyotype lines that are far more variable and also include cases of excess chromosomes that impose anatomical variations that effect the upper, middle, and lower thirds. With these lines, there is one which varies the MDRF and another that does not. These patients also have varying developments of their upper and middle thirds due to this variance of MDRF. The extremes can result in ‘normal’ female development, to an inter-sex patient with complete sets of both female and male genital structures (‘hermaphrodite’ in out-dated parlance), to a ‘normal’ male (an XX male) as Dr. MacDonald describes.
Perhaps the UA Medical School can make their video available to watch at their local campus (for those here at either Tucson or Phoenix), post it to their web-site or to an Internet video web-site, or make a copy for you on DVD. I had a copy on VHS, but the thieves who burglarised my home stole that tape among other things.
Perhaps our Trans Spectrum group can present this National Geographic documentary again at a future regular Saturday meeting when we have more time to break into sub-groups and discuss this video among ourselves.
Tomorrow’s scheduled ABC TV network broadcast of another Caitlyn Jenner interview remains to show the world what she wants us to observe.
‘Access Hollywood Live’ ran a Kris Jenner interview (20 Apr 17) including her comments about now-Caitlyn’s recent autobiography of then-Bruce’s marriage to her. Kris asserted that this latest book is filled with false information. Kris added that she would catch then-Bruce wearing her intimate clothes but that he refused to explain himself.
Caitlyn claims that his sex life with Kris was great, yet Kris has her own words to refute that. She also mentioned that the failed intimate life of Bruce and his first wife was among the reasons his first marriage was a disaster – but ‘he’ withheld that fact from her.
One positive comment from Kris was how she was willing to endure a marriage with Bruce’s complication kept behind their closed doors and that she was glad that Bruce waited til their children were older for Bruce to come out as Caitlyn. This decision whether to wait or to plow full steam ahead is certainly a personal decision that can only best be made by those involved and not imposed by outsiders.
I may have many sour words for the Jenners and the Kardashians as over-blown, over-rated celebrities, but transition is an entity of its own and is experienced by the entire circle of family and friends who can either come together in unity or can fall apart in divisiveness. Good for Jenners and Kardashians that this transition has a mostly happy continuance. Which way will your circle choose?
Kathy, Bev, Nancy T, Clint, Mary C, Donna and Pete – if you are reading this. How about you? How much you wanna bet that you do know someone else in your life who is LGBT – may very well be transsexual – and you get along fine with them. How can you hate me with such vile? Why does making it personal between us so difficult?
We are not getting younger; our clock is ticking and time is running short. How much longer will you persist your antipathies? How sad that you can’t reconcile with me whom you have known for a lifetime.
Kapung Khaf, Dear Reader.
Thank you for visiting. Please come back soon.