Thursday, September 27, 2007

Candis Cayne in "The Tomato Lounge" - "Hunka Burnin Love"

The Oprah Winfrey Show

And, don't miss this Friday, 28 September 2007!

What would you do if your 7-year-old daughter said, "Mom, I should be a boy." Facing the world transgendered.

POV, Critique, Opinion: Is Your MMOG Buddy a…Transsexual??

Published by Dan O'Connor September 26th, 2007

Today in our brand new feature “Seriously, that’s an issue for you? Ummm, OK, well, I’ll be over here being, y’know, normal” Timothy Burke over at Terranova has a thoughtful discussion of reports that a Chinese MMOG has suspended the accounts of players whose avatars (and those readers of a genteel disposition may wish to turn away now) were not the same sex as the player!

Like Burke, I suspected this was an “only in China” moment, but, reading through the comments section I stumbled upon (or StumbledUpon, if you must) this:

I think all action games should feature men characters. As a guy, i never create or play female character. It just doesn’t feel right.”

Seriously, you’re spending your spare time pretending to fight dragons whilst wearing imaginary chain mail and it’s the being a woman bit that doesn’t feel right? Which was why it was so nice to then read:

I’m steadfastly opposed to this sort of, frankly, idiocy, because I know it’s going to harm a lot of people who already seriously marginalized by society, and because frankly, here in the West at least, we’ve already “gotten over it”. No-one playing WoW, for example, can genuinely be surprised that many of the female avatars are played by men.

Hurrah for sensible people online (even gamers). There was some concern in the comments on Burke’s story that people could feel “fooled” by transsexual avatars. Interestingly, this was something that Tad Williams explored in his (frankly precognitive) Sci-Fi series, Otherland, wherein a terminally ill boy, Orlando, became best friends with someone named Fredericks in an online FRPG - only for Frederics to turn out to be - da dad daaaaah - a girl, much to his anger. Orlando’s point is that Frederics has lied to him, to which she points that, he - a boy who cannot leave his own bed - has been playing a muscle bound super strong barbarian warrior for years. It’s not deceit, it’s fantasy.

It was interesting to read some of the comments which suggested that female avatars were often treated more kindly than male ones, especially in male-dominated MMOGs - and equally interesting to read comments from female gamers who had frequently felt that they had to “cross” and become male characters in order to be taken seriously. (Such was certainly Frederic’s argument in Otherland) It reminds me of my first tentative steps into the world on online interaction… I am, as my many (ahem) admirers will know - a total geek for US politics. About 5 years ago I got heavily involved in an American political discussion forum. At first, I properly identified myself (male, white, European) and got into some enjoyable debates. I started to realise, however, that I wasn’t being taken seriously on some of the issues because, well, I just wasn’t American. So - in a fit of pique - a registered the totally fictional username “Kate Fansler”, identifying myself as a female American from San Francisco. I carried on writing the precise same opinions, but found myself getting alot more kudos for what I was saying. Partly it was that there were precious few other “women” on the forum (a problem with most political blogs, message boards etc.), so there was novelty value - but it was also about being “legitimate” as an American. Now this, I would say, was deceit: we were talking about real world issues, and grounding our opinions in our own experiences. In my - or rather Kate Fansler’s case - these were entirely fictional, which was unfair on the other board members. Even the idiot Republicans. I’ll put my hands up to a clear-cut case of unethical digital transsexuality; but the guys and gals doing it in WoW? Not so much. . .

Functional MagnetoResonanceTomography...and Transsexuality

. . .from A.E.Brain

In German, yet, from ArzteZeitung (Doctor's Journal)

Ok, here's a partial free translation:

"An Examination of the use of fMRT for diagnosing Transsexuality

The brains of anatomically male transsexuals, who identify as female, did not react as typical males do to visual erotic stimuli. In a study using functional MagnetoResonanceTomography(MRT) the reaction was instead typically female.

This work was performed by the University of Essen. 36 subjects were shown visually erotic films, while fMRT was used to study the reactions inside the brain. The study was performed co-operatively with the Klinik für Psychosomatik, and attempted to answer the question of whether fMRT could be used to diagnose Transsexuality, and especially to help in the decision to permit Sex Reassignment Surgery.

Twelve heterosexual men and twelve heterosexual women were examined, along with twelve anatomical males who identify as women. As Dr. Elke Gizewski stressed at the Röntgenkongreß in Berlin, it was already well-known from preliminary investigations of other groups that differences between men and women appear in fMRT when they are presented with erotic stimuli.

In men, the limbic system and upper regions of the hypothalamus, the amygdalae and the insular cortex were activated substantially more strongly. “We confirmed this finding in the comparison between the heterosexual men and women of our Cohort”, said Gizewski.

This specifically male activation of the limbic system was not found in the transsexual sample. Under fMRT, the pictures corresponded rather accurately to those of the female sample.

Radiologists can now confirm what transsexuals report - that they feel “trapped in the wrong body” - on the basis of the activation of the brain when presented with erotic stimuli. There is obviously a biological correlation with the subjective feelings."

I'm not sure that's wholly proven. I'd need comparison tests between Gay men, Lesbian women, and Gay, Straight and Lesbian Transsexuals (both FtoM and MtoF) too. It may be that the sample of transsexual women were all Hetero, none Lesbian. If so, it may only prove a biological basis for sexual preference, rather than gender as such.

But that in itself would be even more unacceptable to those who persecute us, and call us "mentally ill".

Sex change funding undermines no gays claim

· Ahmadinejad account rejected in Iran
· Homosexuality illegal but transsexuals tolerated

Robert Tait in Tehran

Wednesday September 26, 2007


When Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's combative president, provoked his latest controversy in New York this week by asserting that there were no homosexuals in his country, he may have been indulging in sophistry or just plain wishful thinking.

While Mr Ahmadinejad may want to believe that his Islamic society is exclusively non-gay, it is a belief undermined by the paradox that transsexuality and sex changes are tolerated and encouraged under Iran's theocratic system.

Iran has between 15,000 and 20,000 transsexuals, according to official statistics, although unofficial estimates put the figure at up to 150,000. Iran carries out more gender change operations than any country in the world besides Thailand.

Sex changes have been legal since the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, spiritual leader of the 1979 Islamic revolution, passed a fatwa authorising them nearly 25 years ago. Whereas homosexuality is considered a sin, transsexuality is categorised as an illness subject to cure.

While the government seeks to keep its approval quiet, state support has increased since Mr Ahmadinejad took office in 2005. His government has begun providing grants of £2,250 for operations and further funding for hormone therapy. It is also proposing loans of up to £2,750 to allow those undergoing surgery to start their own businesses.

Maryam Khatoon Molkara, leader of the country's main transsexual organisation, said some of those undergoing operations were gay rather than out-and-out transsexuals. "In Iran, transsexuals are part of the homosexual family. Is it possible that a phenomenon exists in the world but not in Iran? Transsexuality is a real disaster. It's a one-way street. But if somebody wants to study, have a future and live like others they should go through this surgery."

At Columbia University on Monday, Mr Ahmadinejad said homosexuality did not exist in Iran. "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country," he told a questioner who accused his government of executing gay people. "In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who has told you that we have it."

But Ms Molkara - who persuaded Khomeini to issue the fatwa on transsexuality - said his stance was inconsistent with the state's sex-change policy. "They are saying homosexuality doesn't exist, but they have never given me a chance to use my influence among transsexuals to prevent transsexuality from happening," she said. "You could change the culture but the press and state TV are not allowed to write or say anything about transsexuality.". . .

'Oh, the things I did!'

Lou Reed sang about her and Andy Warhol made her a superstar. As Holly Woodlawn heads for Britain, John Patterson meets a drag queen legend

John Patterson
Wednesday September 26, 2007

"Holly came from Miami F-L-A,
Hitchhiked her way across the USA,
Plucked her eyebrows on the way,
Shaved her legs and then he was a she ..."

That's how Lou Reed made Holly Woodlawn, the Warhol Factory superstar and legendary drag queen, famous in his 1972 song Walk on the Wild Side. Here's Woodlawn's expanded version: "I was 15 years old and failing at high school in Miami Beach because I was too busy partying. I was supposed to go to summer school to catch up and really didn't want to, so I joined some of these Cuban queens to go to New York. I hocked some jewellery and we made it all the way to Georgia, where the money ran out and we had to hitchhike the rest of the way.

"Atlanta, Georgia, of all places - you could expect to be tarred and feathered and murdered in those days! But we survived and I remember the first time I saw New York: the Emerald City. I thought the sidewalks were made of diamonds because of the specks of mica in the asphalt. It was 1962. Marilyn had just died. I lived on the streets like everyone does when they run away. I met some girlfriends who took me in and we found a place in Queens. I was really lucky. I met this guy who fell in love with me and asked me to be his girlfriend. I started taking hormones for a sex-change and lived as his wife, working in the days as a clothing model at Saks Fifth Avenue. Oh, the things I did! And for six or seven years they never knew I was a boy. Not a clue!"

I meet Woodlawn at her apartment in West Hollywood, Los Angeles' gay village or ghetto, on a sweltering hot day. In a few weeks she'll be in the UK to promote an exhibition of paintings of herself by the British artist Sadie Lee, showing her in a less glamorous guise than usual. "I said, 'Why don't you paint me as everyday me for a change, instead of all peaches and cream?'" she says.

As we sit on her balcony talking, we're favoured with an ambient soundtrack that, appropriately, seems more redolent of Manhattan than of sleepy California: a fire nearby means that we're constantly interrupted by screaming sirens. "All right, already," howls Woodlawn. "Find the fucking fire and shut up. I swear, West Hollywood is breeding pyromaniacs today."

The Holly Woodlawn of 2007 is a far cry from the sweet-voiced cross-dresser who made her first splash in the film Trash in 1970, fake-masturbating with a Miller beer bottle to considerable acclaim. Back then - during what we must inevitably call her 15 minutes of fame - she was one of the many drag queens and hustlers at the lower end of the Warhol social scene, congregating around his Factory studio and at hangouts like the bar Max's Kansas City. "The mole people," Factory manager Billy Name called them. "The amphetamine people." At the other end were the rich, famous and powerful: Jim Morrison, Yoko Ono, Janis Joplin, author George Plimpton.

The 61-year-old man who answers the door today is out of drag, bent and frail, though indefatigably cheerful, using a Zimmer frame because of various slowly fusing discs in his spine that, he says, are unimaginably painful and incurable. "Oh no, this is IT, honey, downhill all the way from here on!". . .

Book excels in gender issues

Encourages student in identifying, coping during changes

By: Ruth Lane

Posted: 9/27/07

A rare event has occurred in the area of gender studies - the publication of "The Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman On Sexism and The Scapegoating of Femininity" by Julia Serano. Not often do readers have the luxury of reading a thorough, fairly objective yet personal appraisal of misogyny from a transsexual woman. In this segment, I will simultaneously present a review of "The Whipping Girl" while tying what Serano writes into some of my personal experiences with gender.

Serano's book courageously presents situations in which femininity is treated with sincere disdain. The book's main focus is to show how transgender phobia is not based on dislike of persons who are transgender solely for those persons being transgender. Rather, transphobia is described as being based on the hatred of femininity. What is most striking in the book is how Serano sheds light on the ways in which femininity in particular is frowned upon within the queer community and explores how masculinity is often most applauded. When femininity is accepted in the queer community, it is within the drag show setting where femininity becomes a show, an act to please an audience. Serano repeatedly illustrates how society as a whole carries the perception that femininity is a farce created to please those who witness it.

To make this more personal, in my late teens I transitioned from female to male, and I identified somewhere between being a gay male and a bisexual male. To fully embody living as a male, I underwent a series of physical alterations such as two years of testosterone hormone therapy and several surgeries that ultimately gave me a masculine appearance. But after the two years of transition, I began to have an experience similar to what Serano describes in her book. The experience was that my subconscious sex was misaligned with my physical body. In my early 20s, I decided to de-transition and live as a woman again because I came to realization that my subconscious sex is female. . . .