Wednesday, September 12, 2007

On David Reimer's life. . .

David Reimer (birth name Bruce) was born an identical twin in Winnipeg, Manitoba. At 6 months of age both boys were mistakenly diagnosed with phimosis, a natural condition of the infant penis. The so-called doctor Jean-Marie Huot botched the first circumcision completely destroying Bruce's penis. Twin Brian's circumcision was canceled; he made a full recovery from his "condition" of phimosis, without further treatment.

Shortly after the botched circumcision Bruce's mother Janet saw a television interview with John Money, a physician from John Hopkins Hospital who worked with cases of gender identity, transsexuality and intersex conditions. Janet wondered if perhaps she had found an answer to the horrific situation her baby was in, could Bruce be raised as a girl?

John Money thought he saw an opportunity to prove gender is learned behavior, and Bruce was an ideal subject with his twin brother Brian as a scientific control. Bruce was reassigned as Brenda. Money reported several times that the experiment was a success, and Brenda had adjusted well and liked to help her mother with traditionally female tasks around the house. Money built much of his career and theories of gender on the "successful" outcome of this case. Reality was far from the rosy domestic picture Money was reporting, Brenda never adjusted.

As a young teenager, refusing to take the prescribed female hormones and facing vaginoplasty surgery, Brenda rebelled to the point that her father broke down and confessed to her the botched circumcision which had led to the forced feminization. Brenda immediately assumed a male identity and took the name David.

'You're a woman, because you're not a man'

Karima's dual 'conversion'

by Karima Idrissi and Michel Hoebink*


Karima Tieleman's first 'conversion' was from male to female; six years later she converted to Islam. However, the acceptance she hoped to find has also proved to be sadly absent among her fellow believers. She believes it is her fate to be misunderstood and rejected for the rest of her life. Although she says she's happy with her life, she also admits that she sometimes tires of having to fight all the time.

Karima Tieleman.jpg
Karima as she is today (RNW photo)

Karima Tieleman, her blushing Dutch face ringed by a black chador, speaks softly and is a little shy. It took her a while and much thought before she consented to tell her story.

Psychiatric clinic
Now aged 31, Karima realised she was a female in a male body when she was around eight years old, but waited until puberty to tell her parents. They were extremely shocked and took her to a doctor. In the 1980s, transsexuality was still a taboo in some circles. She was admitted to a psychiatric clinic at a hospital in Utrecht.

She then fell into the depths of misery. She failed at senior school - she wasn't accepted by her fellow students - and attempted suicide twice. The only person that understood her was her younger sister.

As a man
When she was 17, she decided not to fight the world any more and to go through life as a man. She went to work in the horticultural sector, going to discos in the evening where she'd gaze at girls who she didn't find at all attractive.

She managed to maintain this charade for three years before realising it wasn't going to work. Finally, she chose for her own truth. She went to the gender clinic at the Free University Hospital in Amsterdam and found the expertise and support she needed. It was here, that for the first time in her life, she heard that it was okay and that she could prepare to live her life as a girl. A couple of years later, now aged 24, she underwent the final operation to become a woman. She started working in a shoe shop in Rotterdam. "After that last operation, I really started living".

Always rejected
However, it wasn't an easy life. New friends disappeared as soon as they heard her story and she didn't have much luck with relationships either. Her greatest love betrayed her, and later turned out to have been married all along. Since then she's come to the conclusion that she will always be rejected and no longer wants to have a relationship.

Her second 'conversion' took place last year. Many of the customers in the shoe shop were Moroccan women and she got on well with them. Young headscarf-wearing women told her about Islam. She felt accepted by those women in a way that was totally new to her. That is exactly what makes Islam so attractive to her: "In Islam you are accepted just as you are". She eventually decided to convert. She went to a local mosque and said the Shahadah, or profession of faith. . . .

When kids question gender

If a child is confused about his or her sexual identity, there are sources for help.

Last update: September 03, 2007 – 7:41 PM

CLEVELAND - When words failed her, Deena expressed herself the old-fashioned way -- she screamed and sobbed. She was never so fluent as the morning she graduated to big-girl panties.

As the 3-year-old convulsed with emotion, her mother finally understood. Deena wanted to wear boy's underwear, not panties.

"It was a need," her mother, Carol, said. "She wouldn't have left the house otherwise."

The little girl also refused to wear dresses and get her hair beaded. She wanted a penis like her brothers so she could urinate standing up. She was vehemently disturbed by pictures of herself at 18 months in a dress and braids.

The pieces began to fit. Carol and her husband understood that their now 9-year-old girl identifies as a boy.

They aren't fighting it. Under her brothers' hand-me-down baggy basketball shorts, Deena wears boys' underwear. And she adopts boys' names when it suits her. They enrolled her in a private school when public school was an emotionally devastating experience.

"She was sobbing in her bed after school," Carol said. "It's killing us financially, but she's one of the better-liked kids in her classroom."

As Deena and her mom played "horse" at their backyard basketball hoop on a recent sunny day, Deena looked every inch a boy, her shoulders broad and her arms muscular.

Her Cleveland parents, who've chosen to remain anonymous, are steeling themselves for some hard decisions that will be demanded of them soon.

"We're in a state of calm," Carol said, "but we're expecting complications as puberty hits." Carol got a preview when she had the classic mother-daughter talk about puberty. Deena was repulsed.

If Deena gets her first period "and nosedives into a depression," Carol said she would consider using puberty-blocking medications. This would buy the child time to better understand herself and her future options, including gender reassignment surgery.

Fostering acceptance

No one knows how many children believe they're living in the wrong body -- a condition that the American Psychiatric Association calls Gender Identity Disorder. It is unrelated to sexual preference.

The best guess is that it affects one in 30,000 males and one in 100,000 females, said Dr. Edgar Menvielle of Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He based his calculation on the number of sex reassignment surgeries in the Netherlands.

People with gender identity issues traditionally lived beneath the radar, forced into silence by prevailing cultural expectations. The genitals defined gender, and gender roles were sharply defined. Deviation from the norm was a punishable offense.

But mass media changed everything. The world became a village in which everyone knew everyone else's business. Deviation from the norm was news fodder, and the entertainment industry worked the angles.

Tom Hanks dressed like a woman in "Bosom Buddies"; Julia Sweeney played the androgynous Pat on "Saturday Night Live;" Dr. Phil featured a man who became a woman; Barbara Walters interviewed children with gender issues, and Jerry Springer let a family rail about a transsexual cousin. Documentaries around the dial have explained everything we ever wanted to know about sex.

The media exposure also helped people understand their emotional burden and give it a name.

Imagine, for example, a woman who was a little overweight and a lot sad, crushingly uncomfortable in her own skin. Her marriage failed after six months, so she usually ate dinner alone in front of the television. The year was 1998.

As the Discovery Channel documentary unfolded -- "What Sex Am I?" -- the woman finally realized that her childhood feelings were valid -- inside, she was male. And she didn't have to pretend any more.

With hormones and breast reduction, she became Jake Nash, a nice-looking guy with a goatee, a receding hairline and a loyal and loving wife he met in a Christian chat room. They were able to marry because he was born in Massachusetts, where the sex designation on birth certificates could be corrected.

The couple speaks to groups together, to sensitize agencies and institutions to gender variant children. For fun, Nash doesn't tell the audience until the end that he is a transgender male. He admitted that he gets a kick out of seeing their reaction.

He also facilitates a support group at the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center of Greater Cleveland for teenagers with gender identity issues.

"I don't want kids to go through what I did," Nash said, "and I want their parents to understand they didn't do anything wrong."

Deciphering clues

No one knows what makes a person certain they are male or female, psychologist Menvielle said. There are only theories why a brain sometimes doesn't match the body. Perhaps the brain was bathed with hormones of the opposite sex in utero, or a spontaneous genetic mutation occurred.

When it happens, a young child is likely to drop clues for a parent to gather and analyze.

Psychologist Hawk Stone of Albany, N.Y., specializes in gender issues and counsels parents nationwide. Listen carefully and watch for consistency, he tells them.

"Does the child say, 'I want to be a boy,' " he said, "or do they say, 'I am a boy'? Does the child's life revolve around the clothes, toys and friends of the opposite sex? Has this behavior lasted a few years?

"We let the child lead the way," he said.

However, most children's desire to be the opposite sex fades, Menvielle thinks.

"At 13, it's a different story," he said. "When the kid reaches puberty and gender anxiety increases, the kid is on the transgender path."

Trans Passions!

A 100% free online dating & social networking community for the transgendered community, MTF & FTM transexuals, transvestites (TV's)/ cross-dressers (CD's), drag queens, drag kings, female impersonators, male impersonators & everyone else who loves the 'Trans' community. Whether you are pre-op, post-op, going through the process, just enjoy dressing up, or you are an admirer, this is the site for you. Sign up now to enjoy free chat, message boards & email. And on top of all that, enjoy something extra.

South Korean military urged to change rules for transsexuals

4th September 2007 12:50 writer

The military in South Korea has been urged by the National Human Rights Commission to change its physical examination procedures to avoid shaming transsexuals.

The commission was hearing the case of a 29 year old transsexual, identified only as Kim, who reported being humiliated during his examination to establish whether he had to undergo compulsory military service.

Kim had reported his change of sex on a family registry, in accordance with a landmark decision in June of last year by the Supreme Court which concluded family registries could be modified in the case of individuals undergoing female-to-male sex changes.

But that decision also meant those individuals would become eligible for military service.

Kim considered the subsequent examination - in which he was forced to reveal his genitalia - a violation of his rights, "especially because I had submitted sufficient materials for the physical check-up indicating my sex, including a written court decision and diagnosis." . . .

Power of the kilt

Dropping pants for comfort's sake


(Sean Kilpatrick, Sun Media)

Just don't call it a skirt.

Those who wear a kilt say there is nothing more masculine. Especially when it comes in denim or camouflage, with snaps, straps, cargo pockets and even a tool belt.

Statistics Canada worker Todd Chambers ordered his first Utilikilt six years ago. Now he has a half-dozen of them and wears one to his Ottawa office every day, donning leg warmers when temperatures drop.

"I found them so comfortable," he says, "I basically eschewed the use of pants ever since."

Paul Henry, who also works for the federal government, doesn't go that far. His weekends however, are unencumbered.

"Once you've gotten over the difference of wearing it," he said. "It's very liberating."

Utilikilts founder Steven Villegas sewed up his first utility kilt eight years ago when he decided shorts weren't cutting it. "They're kinda binding," he said. Enter one of his company's macho mottos: "We sell freedom." The then-motorcycle refurbisher got a major positive reaction from both sexes. So he got to work. He sold 750 Utilikilts the first year, jumping to 15,000 in 2006. Canada is Utilikilts' second biggest international market, behind the U.K.

The idea has spawned competitors, two of them Canadian. Robert Pel, an opera company stage manager, bought a traditional kilt back in 2000 and loved it.

Then he read about Utilikilts.

"I went, 'Oh geez, I could wear a kilt every day,'" he said. "So I made a kilt I could wear while working at the opera."

People loved his black denim kilt so much they started asking for their own. . . .

No Sex Change for 'Matrix' Director Larry Wachowski

'Matrix' Director: No Sex Change, Thanks

Larry Wachowski is still a man.

The co-director of the "Matrix" movies was rumored to have had a sex-change operation recently. Internet sites started buzzing recently that Larry was now called Lana. Someone even edited his Wikipedia entry to that effect. The Wachowski Brothers, they said, were about to become the Donny and Marie of filmmaking.

I must say, returning from a two week trip to Africa, I found this news rather startling.

Of course, Larry Wachowski — who’s reportedly into a lot of wild, tough stuff — has encouraged this kind of speculation among his fans and the press. He dates a dominatrix and publicizes it.

He let his wife’s vague angry language in their divorce filing make it seem as though as he was on the verge of a huge announcement. Either he was becoming a woman or turning into a pygmy. . . .

POV, Critique, Opinion: In Malaysia. . .

Gender identity disorder and parental guidance

A PERSON is less prone to facing a gender identity disorder if given proper sex education and parental guidance at an early stage at home, according to an expert in male health.

Damai Service Hospital andrologist Professor Emeritus Dr. Ismail Tambi said that even at the baby stage, the child should learn how to distinguish between its mother and father.

“I have a patient whose disorder was possibly triggered by his closeness to his mother.

As a child, he wanted to wear a panty liner, a sanitary pad and tu-dung when he saw his mother wearing them.

“He was confused about his gen-der because his father was seldom around and he didn’t know what a male role should be,” he told newsmen after a discussion on Transsexuality and Homosexuality from Religious, Scientific and Psychological Perspectives at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang yesterday.

Dr. Ismail, who was among the presenters at the discussion, also said a clinical survey in the Netherlands showed a stark contrast in the ratio of transsexual men and women.

He said the survey revealed that one in every 30,000 men suffered from the disorder compared with one in 100,000 women.

Another presenter, Board of Counsellors Malaysia member Professor Dr. See Ching Mey, said gender identity disorder was usually caused by several factors.

“Psychological factors include having overbearing mothers, absent fathers, parents who wanted a child of the other sex, repressed homosexuality and sexual perversion.

“Sexual abuse is also one of them. When a father rapes his daughter, this may cause her to say ‘I don't want to be a girl anymore; I want to be a boy’,” she said.

She said instead of being ostracised, transsexuals should be viewed as productive humans.

Dr. See said sexual reassignment surgery should only be considered as a last option because it was irreversible.

“Many transsexuals have to undergo a long and painful journey, and the conflicts in their mind are not of their own choosing,” she added.

The other presenter was Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia lecturer Dr. Zulkifli al-Bakri.

Lose Muscle! Gain Fat! Dieting for MTFs

Want to feminize your physique? It sounds like a tabloid crash diet, but Lose Muscle! Gain Fat! Dieting for MTFs is the way to sensibly and healthily take maximum advantage of HRT and tested body building techniques to reduce your muscle mass and gain feminizing fat.

By Mistress Krista

When Raverdyke was transitioning, she took great pleasure in my observations that she was looking weaker and fatter. Probably few people would be happy to hear this normally, but Raverdyke just happened to start out as a 210 lb. male bodybuilder with a metric assload of muscle. At her height of just over 5'6", she cut an imposing figure even as a guy. She had problems finding jeans to fit her thighs (a testament to the power of squatting), and we used to joke about her back being used as a landing strip. Clearly, she was going to have a bit of a difficult time stuffing a 48" chest and 17" biceps into the average woman's clothing styles, or passing as any other woman than Kim Chizevsky.

Normally writing a diet and training plan for people is easy. They all want to gain muscle and lose fat in some combination. There is some standard, straightforward nutrition and workout information to achieve this end. But we had never, in our collective fitness experience, encountered anyone deliberately dieting to lose muscle and gain fat. Which isn't to say it didn't happen. Often it did, unintentionally. We had to look at the cases in which dieting resulted in a loss of muscle and eventual gain of fat, and pool our combined knowledge of nutrition, drugs, and training to produce a plan of action.

First off, we decided that gaining fat was pretty easy, so we wouldn't worry much about it. She had some fat but it was in the wrong places, mostly displaying the archetypical android (male, as opposed to gynoid or female) fat deposition pattern: belly and lower back. We figured we'd leave the fat deposition shift to the effects of estrogens, which would help deposit fat on hips, thighs, and breasts. Any gain that was needed would be achieved with a strict regimen of Doritos and Ho-Hos after the muscle mass loss was complete.

The bigger concern was getting rid of so much muscle. Poor Raverdyke, resolute as she was about transitioning, was nevertheless a bit bummed to see so much hard work going down the loo. She had put in a lot of effort in the gym and spent some time wailing about the loss of her beloved hamstrings. Again, the effects of estrogens would come in handy here. There was some small loss of muscle which could be attributed to the effects of hormones alone. However, despite anti-androgen medication, there seemed to be enough circulating androgens to retain most of the lean tissue. Something more would have to happen.

  1. Protein intake got cut way down. Protein intake while dieting is important in retaining lean body mass (LBM), aka muscle. When it diminishes, there is an increased likelihood of muscle catabolism (breaking-down).
  2. Carb intake went up and fat intake went down. At this point we had the classic late 80s/early 90s diet. Which, as people learned through experience, ate through LBM like wildfire, especially when combined with...
  3. Endurance cardio. Lots. Low-intensity endurance cardio is all about catabolism. Ever notice that marathon runners look like dried out string beans, while sprinters look like lean, healthy race horses? Not accidental. Part of it is a result of self-selection of body types, but a lot of it has to do with training. And low-intensity endurance cardio is the express bus to Catabolism City. Boring as hell, unfortunately, but Raverdyke gamely hopped on the stationary bike with a good book for 30-60 minutes, 4 times a week.
  4. We experimented with weight training, but eventually just discontinued it. She felt that it was making her retain too much muscle. I was torn on the issue because I knew that weight training helped a lot with weight loss, but I also knew that she had enough circulating androgens that hypertrophy remained a possibility, even with a workout protocol that was designed to avoid mass gain. I suggested training legs alone, because she wanted to retain much of the muscle on her legs, but that also fell by the wayside as pure size loss became the primary objective.

The process of leaning out is still ongoing for Raverdyke, since she had so much size to lose, but she's down about 45 lbs. from where she started. When she began transitioning, she had to wear XL men's shirts. Occasionally she could find something in a women's size 22 or so, but there were many tearful moments in mall changerooms (both of us developed intense sympathy for big women, who must go nuts trying to find something sexy in anything over a size 12). Clothing shopping can still be difficult, and she stays away from stores that cater to stick insects, but currently she can fit into a size 14-16 with relative ease. She still has a muscular physique, but now looks like an athletic female, not a freaky male bodybuilder. And when she sees cellulite on her bootay, she doesn't mind one bit. . . .


Don't make issue of transgender

Friday, September 7, 2007 3:29 AM
Dear Abby: I'm married to a wonderful man with a family secret.

His brother "John" used to be his sister "Joanne." This doesn't bother me, because I met John as a man, and I consider him a man

100 percent.

Now that I am expecting, however, I have started putting photo albums and scrapbooks together. I want our children to see pictures of my husband during his childhood, but his "sister" is in almost all of them.

Because my brother-in-law doesn't know that I know, I want to be sensitive to his feelings and don't want to share these albums with friends and family without having an answer to the question "Who is that little girl in the picture?"

This is something that no one in the family discusses, and I think I'd be overstepping if I were to call another family member for advice. I don't wish to strain a wonderful relationship with John, his wife and their adopted children by telling them I know. How should I handle this?

-- Anonymous in Arizona

Dear Anonymous: Please understand, if you don't already, that a transgender person is someone who has been born in a body of the wrong sex.

In other words, your brother-in-law was always a boy but trapped in a female body.

My advice is to continue assembling the albums, and if anyone asks about the "little girl" in the pictures, to relax and tell the person, "That's Uncle John when he was young. He may have looked like a girl then, but it really was Uncle John."

Then turn the page and change the subject.