Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Anybody with SRS scheduled in Thailand?

Heya everybody,

I was contacted by a start-up called Junomedical. They work on providing independent, high-quality medical services based on the needs of patients. One of their innovations is an algorithm to help evaluate the quality of hospitals and physicians. From what I know so far, they seem to use a patient-centred approach, meaning that the patient is the customer rather than a number in a huge, state- or insurance-run health care system.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about … I’ll do a post about their services in relation to gender dysphoria later. This is just a quick post to ask whether anybody from the US is scheduled to have SRS … well, I let them do the talking:

The Junomedical team is looking for somebody from the US planning to get sex reassignment surgery in Thailand at the beginning of March and would be open to share this journey with others for a documentary television series.

We have been assured by the programme and the production company that they are very sensitive in their approach. The journalist has been recognized for her nonjudgmental approach, and she has explored everything from our universal quest for love and fulfillment, to important social issues like religious freedom and gender identity. The program transcends stereotypes, reveals surprising nuances and opens people’s minds.

Please just send a quick email to Shaz (shaz.i@junomedical.com) if you're interested and we'd be happy to share more details.

So, if you know anybody who might be able and willing to participate, let them know. The short time frame might be an issue, of course – feel free to share the request to increase visibilty.

Take care and have a good week!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

A quick update: Impact of sexual orientation, autism

Heya everybody,

I’m happy I found some time to do some updates! Finally ☺

I have added about ten or so new studies, but still have to upload them. I’ll do that soon, hopefully. ☺

A few studies that I found particularly interesting, warrant mentioning here:

One is Impact of Sexual Orientation Identity on Medical Morbidities in Male-to-Female Transgender Patients by Gaither, Awad, et al. (in LGBT Health, 2017). They used a large group of 330 male-to-female transsexual patients to measure sexual orientation (attraction to men, to women or bisexuality) and tried to find a correlation to other medical issues, including psychopathological problems. Their conclusion is that The majority of medical morbidities are not associated with sexual orientation identity. I believe this to be another nail in the coffin of Michael J. Bailey’s autogynephilia hypothesis. Differences were found with regards to depression (female-attracted male-to-female transsexuals suffer more from it) and HIV (male-attracted patients have a higher occurrence rate. Oh, and another interesting result: The share of the three sexual orientation categories was pretty much equal at about one third each.

Two other studies researched the link between transssexualism and autism spectrum disorders. One study (Evaluation of Asperger Syndrome in Youth Presenting to a Gender Dysphoria Clinic by Shumer, Reisner, et al. in LGBT Health, 2016) found a 23 % prevalence of autism spectrum disorders in a sample of 39 gender-dysphoric youth. The other study (Gender Variance Among Youth with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Retrospective Chart Review by Janssen, Huang and Duncan in Transgender Health, 2016) looked at the issue the other way around, by trying to find gender-dysphoric childrens and adolescents in a large sample of autism-spectrum-disorder diagnosed patients. They found a much higher prevalence of about 5 % for gender dysphoria (in both natal males and natal females) in autism-spectrum-diagnosed patients than the 0.7 % in the control group. I believe this supports the hypothesis by Simon Baron-Cohen that autism is linked to unusual levels of sex hormones during early brain development.

Have a good Sunday evening! Peace and Light ✨

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Brain differences in transsexuals

Heya again,

two posts in a row (to make up for the long hiatus?) 😏

This study is perfect to complement my last post, which was also about brain differences in transsexuals.

A new study by Guillamon, Junque and Gómez-Gil is called A Review of the Status of Brain Structure Research in Transsexualism (Archives of sexual behavior, 2016). They find:

Cortical thickness and diffusion tensor imaging studies suggest that the brain of MtFs presents complex mixtures of masculine, feminine, and demasculinized regions, while FtMs show feminine, masculine, and defeminized regions. Consequently, the specific brain phenotypes proposed for MtFs and FtMs differ from those of both heterosexual males and females.

Reviewed were studies about the brain structure of male-to-female (MtF) and female-to-male (FtM) homosexual transsexuals before and after cross-sex hormone treatment.

I’d say that’s another study providing evidence for the view that brain structures of transsexuals differ from those of cisgender people.

Peace and Light ✨

A YouTube video claims there is no evidence of a biological basis for transgenderism

Heya everybody,

happy new year, health and happiness to everybody ✨

Reader Alice, a young transgirl, was so kind to send me a link to a YouTube video by someone named Nicolas Kilsdon-Gervais, who claims to have extraordinary knowledge of what he’s talking about.

His point is that there is no biological evidence for transgenderism (as the headline says, sorry for the repetition). He starts by citing a number of studies about brain differences between cisgender and transsexual brains. All the relevant studies he cites, except for one, have been included on my website some time ago (phew - I did a decent job then 😏).

The studies he starts with are: Hoekzema, Schagen, et al. (Psychoneuroendocrinology, 2015) and Savic and Arver (Cerebral cortex, 2011).

These two studies are included in the references section 1.c: brains of transsexuals differ from their birth gender of my website. Both studies do find differences between transssexual brains and brains of a cisgender control group of the respective natal gender. Here are Hoekzema and Schagen:

However, region of interest analyses indicated less GM [gray matter] volume in the right cerebellum and more volume in the medial frontal cortex in female-to-males in comparison to girls without GD [gender dysphoria], while male-to-females had less volume in the bilateral cerebellum and hypothalamus than natal boys. Deviations from the natal sex within sexually dimorphic structures were also observed in the untreated subsamples. […] However, there are subtle deviations from the natal sex in sexually dimorphic structures, which can represent signs of a partial sex-atypical differentiation of the brain.

Savic and Arver state:

MtF-TR displayed also singular features and differed from both control groups by having reduced thalamus and putamen volumes and elevated GM [gray matter] volumes in the right insular and inferior frontal cortex and an area covering the right angular gyrus.

Nicolas Kilsdon-Gervais is correct when he states that neither study finds that transsexual brains are similar or identical to cisgender brains of their target gender. Both studies explicitly say so. But what Nicolas Kilsdon-Gervais doesn’t consider properly is that some differences between transsexual brains and cisgender brains of their natal gender have been found.

This is what to to expect if the theory of an innate biological gender identity is true: Imagine, for example, a female brain put in a male body. The male body does flood the brain with male sex hormones. The result will be brain structures that are different to both male and female cisgender brains.

The next study he’s citing is Kreukels and Guillamon (International review of psychiatry, 2016) (that’s the study I have to yet include on my website). What do they say?

Findings from neuroimaging studies focusing on brain structure suggest that the brain phenotypes of trans women (MtF) and trans men (FtM) differ in various ways from control men and women with feminine, masculine, demasculinized and defeminized features.

So, it’s the same things again – the authors see differences between transsexual brains and brains of cisgender people. I think this contradicts the point Kilsdon-Gervais is trying to make.

I can’t analyse the full video at this time, but I think this sums up the part about brain differences. My conclusion is that Kilsdon-Gervais is wrong, and probably quite biased against transpeople.

Peace and Light ✨

Monday, 19 December 2016

Jerry Coyne on sexual dimorphism and the “Gender” issue of National Geographic

Heya everybody,

After a long hiatus (work and private life tends to get in the way of my interests and hobbies), a gentle prodding by my friend Alexandra and some articles on Prof. Jerry Coyne’s website finally got me back to look after my blog and website.

Jerry Coyne, of course, is of new atheism fame, host of the "Why evolution is true" website and one of my favourite web personalities. I have been following his website (he doesn’t like it when you say blog) for years, and generally agree with his opinions, since they are fact-based and well reasoned.

He just published two short website articles on sexual dimorphism (here and here), which I found a very good summary on the public discussion about gender differences.

He argues that sexual dimorphism (differences between men and women), which exists clearly when you compare male and female bodies, also extends to behavioural differences. This is of course, the old nature or nurture debate – are we born a blank slate, and our behavioural traits, our personality, the things that make us an individual, are completely culturally and socially induced, or do they have a basis in our biology, in the way our brains have evolved? From the evidence I have seen, I firmly believe it’s a mix of both, and common sense seems to agree with that.

However, this causes problems for some who insist that men and women must be exactly alike in all respects, and that behaviour and psychology of human males and females are identical. Any differences we notice in everyday life is only a result of society and culture. This often goes along with blaming men or the patriarchy to create and enforce gender differences to keep women in their place. Unfortunately, this view sometimes goes hand in hand with a rejection of transsexual people, for they are seen as somehow misguided and enforcing the gender dichotomy, or worse.

Like I said before, from a scientific view, the debate has been settled – there are many studies on human newborns and on animals that show behavioural gender differences. Have a read at what Jerry Coyne says about this topic and the social discourse about it.

In a separate article called National Geographic publishes “gender” issue, still doesn’t satisfy SJWs, Prof. Coyne writes about the January 2017 of National Geograpic, which is about gender. I haven’t read it, but I will!

In the article, Jerry Coyne argues that the gender spectrum is not much of a spectrum, as more than 95 % of people fall in one of the two categories male and female (the rest being homo-, bi- or transsexual).

I think this is wrong for two reasons. Firstly, he makes a category error in conflating different aspects of human sexual identity, namely gender and sexual orientation and secondly, I think it’s largely a question of definitions or semantics.

If you class people into categories, then naturally the vast majority will fall into either the "male who is sexually attracted to females" or the "female who is sexually attracted to males" classification. If that wasn’t the case, then evolution by sexual reproduction would have done a pretty shoddy job, I think. However, this doesn’t mean there can’t be a gender spectrum.

If we measure sexually dimorph characteristics, i.e. the differences between men and women, including psychological and behavioural traits, and try to quantify them (very easy to do with height, for example), the result will be a normal distribution or a bell curve that has different peaks for men and women.

But this is true for every sexually dimorphic trait, and there are many of them. Any individual is made up from a combination of such traits, which make up his or her sexual identity. It’s this combination that makes up the gender spectrum as I see it. There is probably not a single person whose sexually dimorph traits all register at exactly the average value for the female population, and the same goes vice versa for men, of course. I don’t think the word spectrum implies an even distribution of parameters, it simply means there is a range between two extremes.

I fully agree with Jerry Coyne on the rest of the article, where he is taking some "social justice warriors" to task for having problems with the two covers of the magazine. Have a read, it is quite symptomatic for the challenges transsexuals face, even in a feminist and liberal culture. Transsexual women are still not seen as women and individuals can still not wear what they like. We still have lots of work to do to make this world a better place!

Have a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year! Peace and Light ✨

Monday, 4 January 2016

Gender dysphoria in children and Kenneth Zucker

Heya everybody,

To start off the new year with some good news, here is a link to Brynn Tannehill’s article The End of the Desistance Myth in the Huffington Post.

In her usual concise and hard-hitting style, she addresses two topics, which are separate, but linked together.

The first one is the question of persistance versus desistance when it comes to gender-queer children, i. e. the question of whether a gender-non-conforming child will grow up to be transsexual, or become content living in the gender role assigned at birth.
This is a vital question, of course – if it was known for sure that gender-queer children turn out to be transsexual later in life, therapy and transition could start as soon as possible, minimising the upset to the life of the child and increasing the quality of life.

However, one should err on the side of caution when it comes to irreversible procedures, and that’s why transsexual children are typically not medically treated. Only in adolescence, transsexual teenagers receive puberty blockers (with reversible effects) and later on, if the diagnosis persists, permanent treatment in terms of hormone therapy and surgery.

Unfortunately, the longer treatment is delayed, the less effective it becomes, and the waiting time robs people of living vital years in harmony with their body and gender role. In addition, transition later in life typically causes more distress. Early treatment has the potential to cure transsexualism, i.e. to allow people to live a normal life not negatively affected their by gender dysphoria.

Transphobes are still trying to deny treatment to transsexuals outright, or to at least delay it as much as possible. To cover their real motivations, they had a number of studies to point to which show that a large number of gender-queer children will not turn out to be transsexual later in life (the desistors). Studies do show that a large share of gender-queer children becomes homosexual, with only a minority suffering from gender dysphoria in adolescence and adulthood. So, does this mean that gender is fluid at a young age and that gender identity felt by children is not a reliable marker for gender identity later in life?

Well, the answer is both yes and no. As is usually the problem with transgender studies, definitions of what transgender or genderqueer means are varied, and that affects the decisions on who to include in a study. When looking more closely, either by using a more stringent definition of transsexual or by arranging study subjects on a continous spectrum from cisgender to transgender, the picture changes. The "more" transsexual a child is, or the more strongly gender identity is expressed, the more likely is the gender dysphoria to persist.

Transsexual children actually know who they are, and they feel their gender identity in the same way cisgender children do.

Of course, one should err on the side of caution – and we do have to weigh the potential negative impact of treatment on desistors versus the positive impact of treatment of persistent transsexuals. However, the chance that a child who strongly identifies with the other gender will remain transsexual is very high, and this knowledge should be taken into account when considering what’s best for an individual.

The second topic Brynn Tannehill is covering is the firing of the controversial psychologist Kenneth J. Zucker and the closing of his infamous clinic in Toronto. Kenneth Zucker was one of the last public figures promoting “reparative” therapy for gender-queer children, meaning he tried to enforce gender conformity and “convert” his patients to become cisgender and heterosexual.

I think Kenneth Zucker is of retirement age, so his life presumably will not be hugely negatively affected by this development. I hope the same is true for the impact of his treatments on his former patients!

It would be great if an attempt was made in the future to statistically evaluate the success of his treatments, to at least derive something good from this situation.

Let’s hope the year continues with positive news!

Great article about the differences found in transsexual brains from the Scientific American

Heya everybody,

Happy new year to everyone! Peace, freedom and happiness to the whole world!

I’m trawling through the roughly one thousand unread e-mails I have (😳), and I’m happy to say that I’ve managed about half so far (😥), which added six studies to my other references section. I’ll add short summaries later.

The magazine Scientific American has published a nice and short article summarising some of the latest findings about transgender brains. One of the studies mentioned is the 2014 study by Sarah M. Burke et al. showing the brain differences in reacting to odours, another one is the 2014 study, also by Burke, about the inner ear response to clicking noises. A great article to show to people new to the topic, as it’s brief, understandable, and lists study results from different, unexpected areas.
See: Is There Something Unique about the Transgender Brain?

Take care, peace and light ✨

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Happy holidays and merry Christmas!

Heya everybody,

I know, I know, I’ve neglected my posting here … but now it’s Christmas and I got almost two weeks off work! I promise, I’ll trail through my 711 unsorted e-mails (😖) and write some posts on what’s new. Sorry I haven’t been able to reply sooner, life keeps getting in the way!

Have a wonderful holiday and festive season! 🐾 ✨ 🎄

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Interview with Swedish researcher Cecilia Dhejne about her often misquoted 2011 study

Heya everybody,

I have written a number of times about the misrepresentation of the 2011 Swedish study by Cecilia Dhejne, et al., (see here for an example).

Cristan Williams, writer at the The Transadvocate has now gone directly to the horse’s mouth and interviewed Cecilia Dhejne in person. This has become the more necessary because trans-haters have continued their misrepresentation of scientific evidence and even claimed links between certain crimes and transsexualism. I so wonder about these people … why do they do that? Presenting facts in a dishonest way is surely the best way to show you have no ground to stand on?

Have a read of the interesting article at Fact check: study shows transition makes trans people suicidal.

Peace and Light ✨. Have a good Sunday!

Danish post-SRS study without conclusive results

Heya everybody,

I know I have been behind with updating the website with the latest studies … so much going on and so little time :)

This is just to mention one new study from Denmark, published in the Nordic Journal of Psychiatry (2015). The study called Long-term follow-up of individuals undergoing sex reassignment surgery: Psychiatric morbidity and mortality investigated a small number of people (104 individuals, which is nevertheless nearly all people having undergone sex reassignment surgery in Denmark from 1978 to 2010).

The authors Simonsen, Giraldi, et al. found that prior to surgery, 27.9 % of the subjects had been diagnosed with psychiatric illnesses, in comparison to 22.1 % after surgery. This difference was not significant. The authors state that: Despite the over-representation of psychiatric diagnoses both pre- and post-SRS the study found that only a relatively limited number of individuals had received diagnoses both prior to and after SRS. This suggests that generally SRS may reduce psychological morbidity for some individuals while increasing it for others.

Unfortunately, I haven’t had time to read and understand the entire study. I wonder whether the data has been adjusted for age, demographics, the overall increase in psychiatric diagnoses over the past thirty years, lifetime in years before and after surgery, etc. Even with that in mind, the numbers are quite small – with 29 individuals diagnosed before surgery and 23 individuals after. As usual, it would be great to have better and larger studies.

Peace and Light ✨