Sunday, June 10, 2007

Gender correction for Saudi girls

Sebastian Usher
BBC world's media reporter
Five sisters in Saudi Arabia are having operations to become men.

The doctor carrying out the surgery stresses that he is performing what he calls "gender correction" rather than sex change operations.

As a conservative Islamic state, Saudi Arabia does not allow surgery for transsexuals, but permits operations on people with an intersex condition.

Three of the five sisters have already been operated on. The remaining two are to have surgery next week.

The sisters' ages range from 19 to 38.

Dr Yasser Jamal - who is performing the operations at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah - says the sisters are not Saudi by origin but Arabs who have lived in the country all their lives. None of them is married.

After their operations, they are moving to a different district, although Dr Jamal says they are not facing problems in their community.

'Smooth transition'

In tacit acknowledgement of the sensitivity of the subject in Saudi Arabia, Dr Jamal, himself a Saudi, emphasised that the sisters fell into the intersex category - without clear male or female sexual characteristics.

He said that he would never perform surgery on transsexuals - people with normal genitalia but who believe that they belong to the opposite sex.

He said Islam did not allow people to change what God had created.

In Saudi Arabia, transsexuals are associated with homosexuality, which is banned in the kingdom.

Dr Jamal has performed more than 200 intersex operations.

He said the transition from being treated as a woman to a man in Saudi Arabia usually went smoothly, but that there could be problems for men becoming women.

He said they found the restrictions of being female in Saudi Arabia difficult to cope with. . . .

"The Birthday". . .life of Iranian TSs. . .

. . .with English translation.

"The Birthday": Dutch Documentary on Iranian Transsexuals

January 11, 2007

Dutch filmmakers Negin Kianfar and Daisy Mohr take viewers inside the experience of young Iranian men who decide to become women. As noted here before, sex change operations in Iran are legal, sanctioned by none other than Khomenei himself.

If you don't speak Farsi or Dutch, the documentary "The Birthday" may be bit tough to follow, but it's worth it even for the on-the-street, behind-closed-doors, and in-the-operating-room visuals. Watching conservative Iranian parents try to come to terms with their son's decision is particularly interesting. Heading into doctor's office is also eye-opening. And simply walking the streets of Iranian cities like Qom offers a window into a world we rarely see. . . .


Sunday, June 10, 2007

The story of this year's San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Film Festival, a.k.a. Frameline, isn't necessarily how many films made the cut, but that more than 600 were considered. The number says it all: The LGBT experience is being showcased and analyzed in more films than ever before, from every corner of the world.

This year's festival kicks off Thursday and continues over the following 10 days with a dizzying array of films. From features, to shorts, to documentaries, to experimental works and films from established directors, Frameline swirls with variety and creativity.

This week and next, we'll offer an overview of some of the films to be shown at the four festival venues: San Francisco's Castro Theatre, Roxie Film Center and Victoria Theatre and the Parkway Theater in Oakland.

Here are thumbnail looks at some of the films scheduled for the first few days of the festival: . . .

"Alexis Arquette: She's My Brother," 7 p.m. Friday at the Victoria: Kids, meet Charlie Weaver's transgender granddaughter. Well, of course, no one needs to meet her at this point. David, Rosanna and Patricia's sibling has been proudly out and visible on the Hollywood scene for several years. The film ends up being a kind of inside-out look at single-subject reality films, as Alexis gets a bit tired of being in the spotlight halfway through. At that point the film gets even more interesting and, in many ways, much more real. . . .

"Trained in the Ways of Men," 4:15 p.m. Saturday at the Castro: Shelly Prevost takes on the very difficult story of Gwen Araujo, the transgender East Bay teen who was savagely murdered in 2002. Although it could stand some significant editing, the film looks at Araujo's struggle with her identity, her mother's journey of understanding and the trial of the young men who ended Gwen's life. The film is an often poignant reminder of how important it is to protect other Gwen Araujos. . . .

"25 Cent Preview," 10:15 p.m. June 17 at the Castro: Cyrus Amini looks at the not-so-pretty life of hustlers in the Tenderloin, mixing documentary footage from the real streets of San Francisco with improvised performances. The raw, gritty texture of the film fits the texture of the lives of a pair of hustlers, named Marcus and, who just want to survive. Kids, don't try this at home. . . .

FRAMELINE 31: The film festival runs Thursday through June 24. Schedule and ticket information:

Men are really the weaker sex

By Kathleen Parker
First published: Sunday, June 10, 2007 In the world of gender politics, death is the latest measure of parity.

Not only do women outlive men, but recent research shows that they're also being born more often than in the past. The allegedly stronger sex, it turns out, is really the weaker and more vulnerable -- from conception until death do us part.

Nature has always seen to it that about 105 males were born for every 100 females, but that ratio has been shifting the past three decades, possibly owing to environmental pollution as well as to stressful current events.

In both the U.S. and Japan, the male-to-female ratio dropped between 1970 and 2001 -- from 106.3 boys for every 100 girls to fewer than 105 per 100 in Japan, and from 105.5 to 104.6 in the U.S.

Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh say that these dips, though small, suggest that paternal exposure to environmental pollutants is taking a toll on the male reproductive system. Some studies have shown that certain pollutants may affect the viability of sperm that bear the Y chromosome, which determines male sex.

In Italy, men who were exposed to dioxin during an industrial explosion fathered significantly fewer boys than girls. Another study of workers at a Russian herbicide plant found that only 38 percent of children born to male workers were boys, while female workers produced the normal male-to-female ratio.

If the environment doesn't reduce the male population, current events may. Last year, researchers at the University of California at Berkeley reported that women stressed out during pregnancy tend to produce fewer males. In the former East Germany, for instance, male birth rates declined following the country's 1991 economic collapse.

One possible explanation is that when women are stressed, their bodies produce high levels of stress hormones -- glucocorticoids -- that cause problems for male fetuses. Researchers concluded that women's bodies spontaneously abort weak male fetuses and embryos because weak sons aren't likely to produce as many offspring as will strong sons -- or even weak daughters.

If nature is unpredictable, at least she is consistently ruthless.

Not only do the strongest survive, but only the strongest males make it to the birth canal. . . .