Sunday 14 June 2015

Transphobic media continue to use Walt Heyer as source

Heya everybody,

I can spend only little time today on updates, but did want to quickly put a post on with regards to the exposure Walt Heyer got in the media (see here, here, here and here), following the public outing of Caitlyn Jenner as transgender.

Walt Heyer has been discussed several times on this blog; he is a person who was falsely disagnosed as transsexual, underwent sex reasignment surgery, only to revert back to his former, natal sex as a male.

Again, this post can only be short, and I don’t want to link back to my previous Walt Heyer articles, I just want to make the following very basic points:

  • If you have a successful medical intervention that produces a 95 % success rate, you will naturally have 5 % of people whose lifes have not been improved by the treatment. This should be obvious to anybody.

  • If you then start presenting people to the public who have not been helped by the procedure, without mentioning that the particular case is a rare event, you are doing a disservice to the public and you are lying.

  • If a treatment fails to improve your quality of life because you have been falsely diagnosed and therefore received the wrong treatment, then that’s tragic. This means we have to work harder on improving the success rates of medical diagnoses.

  • However, if this leads you to the conclusion that the condition you have been falsely diagnosed with doesn’t exist or that the treatment you received in error is not effective for the diagnosis, then you are either very, very stupid or dishonest.

  • If you have been wrongly diagnosed with a health condition, and you are subsequently portrayed in the media as a former sufferer of this condition, then somebody is misrepresenting facts or lying outright.

These are the main points, which should be obvious to anybody with an honest and open mind.

Oh, one of the articles says: Heyer cited reviews of more than 100 studies of transgender individuals that found that sex change surgery is not ‘clinically effective.’ Well, I’m not aware this many studies even exist on the topic.

For 83 studies, reviews and articles on the topic, please have a look at the sex reassignment surgery section of my “What helps?” pages, which paint a very different picture of the matter. To me, Walt Heyer is either grossly misprepresented, or he is lying. And this misinformation does cost lifes.

Saturday 13 June 2015

J. Michael Bailey is still at it; continues to claim transwomen are lying

Before I continue on the real science, and the facts and evidence surrounding transsexualism, I have to get this out of the way:

Discredited researcher John Michael Bailey, infamous for his autogynephilia hypothesis and his highly “scientific” research in Chicago bars, who has caused so much harm for transsexuals, and poisoned the relationship between transgender patients and psychologists like no other, has been given a platform on a Patheos blog called Warren Throckmorton.[1]

Apparently age, the avalanche of scientific evidence against his hypothesis, and the failure of others to repeat his results, have not caused him to reconsider.

He continues to spout his untruths and accusations. When transsexual Caitlyn Jenner says she was always gender dysphoric and experienced no erotic component of her transsexualism, John Michael Bailey naturally knows better: I believe it is very likely that Caitlyn Jenner’s transition was motivated by intense autogynephilia.

Oh, and he also knows how Caitlyn Jenner feels about the photos of her that appeared in Vanity Fair: I can assure you […]: Caitlyn’s [sic] thrilled with that attention. It’s an autogynephilic fantasy.

I have no words for this person.

We don’t we all don’t start remote-diagnosing people, assume they lie, replace their self-reported motivations with made-up just-so stories unsupported by evidence, and call others sick and sex-crazed individuals. Oh, and then we naturally fake astonishment and surprise at those who call us out on our unethical and harmful behavior.

[1] There is a lot of evidence against autogynephilia on the reference pages of Cakeworld. For a summary of the scientific view, please see Madeline H. Wyndzen’s article series Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Autogynephilia […].

Tons more studies!

Heya everybody,

lots of new studies added (I’ll do the upload later), and more to come later, I hope:

  • The chemical bisphenol A has been under suspicion for a while to alter gender-dimorph structures of the brain, since it mimics estrogen. Yurekli, Kutbay and Saygili discuss in a new article (in Endocrine Abstracts, 2015) whether it could cause gender dysphoria.

  • In Leisure/Loisir, 2015, Muchicko, Lepp and Barkley publish a study that finds that transsexuals exercise less than cisgender people; the reasons are less social support and poor self-perception.

  • Sadly, a study done by Klaver, Vlot, et al. (in Endocrine Abstracts, 2015) finds that hormone therapy for transsexuals increases weight 😏. While weight goes up for both male-to-female and female-to-male transsexuals, the percentage of body fat increases for the former and reduces for the latter.

  • Nota, Klaver, et al. find in Endocrine Abstracts in 2015 that prolactin levels in male-to-female transsexuals increase during hormone therapy, whereas they decrease in female-to-male individuals. For male-to-females, final levels are higher than those of cisgender women. The prolactin levels of female-to-males don’t quite reach the levels of cisgender men.

  • A metastudy by Horbach, Brouman, et al. (in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2015) tried to compare the results of different surgical techniques for vaginoplasty. They found that penile skin inversion is most common, but bowel vaginoplasty does not seem inferior.

  • Alcón and Molina publish their find in Medwave, 2015, that transsexuals suffer more from body dissatisfaction than a healthy control group, but not quite as bad as cisgender people who are being treated for body dissatisfaction.

  • In a somewhat weird study from Russia by Volkova, Porksheyan and Saida Kanaeva (in Endocrine Abstracts, 2015), gender dysphoria is seen as the causal factor for interrupted menses in a natal female.

  • Davey, Arcelus, et al. observe that self-injury is quite common among transsexuals. The prevalence is 19 %. Published in Health & Social Care in the Community, 2015.

  • In the Handbook of Child Psychology and Developmental Science (2015), prolific researcher Melissa Hines publishes a chapter summarising what we know about the development of gender in humans, including the contribution by sex hormones before and shortly after birth.

  • A Turkish study by Turan, Poyraz and Duran reports a case study (in Eating Behaviors, 2015) about an eating disorder in a transsexual male. The pathology improved with hormonal and surgical treatment.

  • An important and large study with over 1000 participants by Andersen, Zou and Blosnich (Social Science & Medicine, 2015) shows that the inferior health of individuals belonging to sexual minorities can be explained by maltreatment early in life. This further shows how important tolerance and support is, and that working towards a better society is essential.

  • Becker, Nieder, et al. report in Archives of Sexual Behaviour (2015) that transsexual persons suffer from body image problems. No subgroup differences for sexual orientation (FtM and MtF) and Age of Onset (FtM) were found.

  • A British study by Gunn, Goedhart, et al. (in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, 2015) comes to the conclusion that using hormone blockers to stop puberty in transsexual adolescents is effective and well–tolerated.

  • In the International Review for the Sociology of Sport (2015) a study by hargie, Mitchell and Somervill is called ‘People have a knack of making you feel excluded if they catch on to your difference’: Transgender experiences of exclusion in sport.

  • In a dissertation at the University of Cambridge, Miranda L. Abild researches the gender identity development in natally female children with heightened prenatal androgen exposure: Analyses reveal reduced gender typicality and gender contentedness in girls with CAH together with reduced female gender identity and increased cross-sex gendered behaviour. This adds further evidence to the biological origins of gender identity and for a probable cause of gender dysphoria.

  • At the 97th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in San Diego, 2015, Boh, Turco and Comi presented a study finding that subcutaneous hormone administration for male transsexuals is safe.

Sunday 7 June 2015

New link between genes and transsexualism

The Spanish team of scientists researching gender dysphoria have just published a new find, linking differences in a gene to transsexualism.

The study called The CYP17 MspA1 Polymorphism and the Gender Dysphoria, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine (2015), was headed by geneticist Rosa Fernández. The studied genetic polymorphism on the CYPA1 gene had been previously linked to higher levels of serum testosterone, progesterone, and estradiol. The find is exciting because hormone levels in the brain have been shown to shape gender identity, linking this genetic polymorphism to a plausible pathway causing transsexualism.

Rosa Fernández has previously published other studies about other genetic links to transsexualism. In 2013, she found that The (CA)n Polymorphism of ERβ Gene is Associated with FtM Transsexualism, whereas the 2014 study Association Study of ERβ, AR, and CYP19A1 Genes and MtF Transsexualism produced negative results.

New effect found


By the xkcd webcomic.

Saturday 6 June 2015

Ignorance and arrogance harms people – A response to the “Public Catholic” blog

Heya everybody,

I have to put more new studies on, but I found a link to an article called Trans … What Did You Say? Trendy Medical Malpractice on the Mentally Ill on the well-known Patheos blog platform in my inbox that needed a reply first. The article is pretty disgusting, linking gender dysphoria to all kinds of rare and extreme illnesses, a relatively modern version of equating gender-dysphoric people to people who think they are Napoleon or a rabbit. I don’t want to discuss these comparisons here, I just want to highlight one specific point.

The author, Rebecca Hamilton, asserts firmly that hormonal and surgical treatment for transsexuals is an outrageous medical malpractice, surgical mutilation, dismemberment, disfigurement, cruel, destructive, life-long hormone abuse. I wish she told us how she really feels instead of beating around the bush like this! :)

However, what’s relevant for the point I want to make is that she’s absolutely sure hormonal and surgical treatment for transsexuals is wrong:

It is wrong; it is flat-out wrong, to support the surgical mutilation, dismemberment and disfigurement of healthy people for the purposes of pretending that this is a ‘treatment’ for their illness. I cannot and I will not support something so cruel and destructive to the person as this.

I just can’t my head around the logic behind this. In reality, where most of us live, things are so simple:

  1. People suffer

  2. Our goal should be to make people suffer less

  3. We try different interventions, and see how effective they are

  4. We apply the most effective intervention, and keep perfecting it, while looking for better interventions

And that’s really all you need to understand. How hard can it possibly be?

People with gender dysphoria suffer. We can measure this objectively, by asking them, by rating their quality of life, by looking at their suicide rates, by looking at their social adjustment, etc. We can try different treatments on these people, and then measure their quality of life again. Then we know which treatments work and which don’t. That’s it. That’s really it. How can anybody argue against this process?

If you have no heart, and no empathy, and you can’t figure why society should help people who suffer, you even can put monetary values on things. A healthy, well adjusted person contributes +X euros to society, a poorly adjusted person costs society −Y euros. A specific treatment costs −Z euros, and increases the societal contribution of the treated person to some figure between –Y and +X.[1]

I’m not sure how to put it more clearly. All that transsexual individuals are asking for is that we look at how the suffering caused by gender dysphoria can be relieved. I don’t think that anybody is fixated on a specific cure, all we should do is go where the evidence leads us. And overwhelming evidence shows that hormones and surgery can help. Other things that help greatly are the reduction of discrimination, hate, bullying and more tolerance and acceptance.

Oh, before I end this post – pro tip for Rebecca Hamilton: One such step towards a more charitable society would be to stop calling people mentally ill without having sufficient evidence.

[1] I know that in a world with limited resources, we have to make cost/benefit analyses to base decisions on. The polemic at the beginning of this paragraph is reserved for people who are unable to see that helping distressed people is a good thing in its own right.

Friday 5 June 2015

Speaking from the Margins – Trans Mental Health and Wellbeing in Ireland

I have only now added the 2013 report by the Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI), after a friend pointed it out to me. It seems appropriate since Ireland is in the news after the marriage equality referendum![1] The report lists the results of the largest survey of transgender people in Ireland to date. It’s stunning in confirming how effective and beneficial treatment for transsexuals is, and sad in stating how discriminated-against transsexuals are, and how poor their quality of life before transition and treatment is. Here are some of the key findings:

  • Almost 80 % of participants had contemplated suicide and half of those had made at least one attempt.

  • More than 80 % of participants avoided some public places or situations due to fear of harassment.

  • 84 % report that they are more satisfied with life after transition, while 5 % report their satisfaction has reduced.

  • 75 % report their mental health improved after transition, with 6 % saying it has worsened.

  • 81 % say that their suicidal thoughts decreased after transition, 4 % report an increase of suicidal thoughts.

  • 87 % report that their satisfaction with their bodies increased as a result of hormone therapy, 2 % reported they were less satisfied.

  • 90 % reported a higher life satisfaction due to taking hormones, compared to 7 % who were less satisfied.

  • 92 % said they had no regrets about their physical changes due to treatment, 1 % had major regrets.

The report also covers other areas extensively, such as the experiences of the transsexual community when seeking medical help, and other areas of discrimination. Have a read for yourself!

[1] It’s great that the majority of voters in Catholic Ireland voted for marriage equality. It seems so simple to me – if we allow some people to marry the person they love, we shouldn’t deny it to others. I guess the chain of reasons of no voters broke down somewhere. After all, it is hard to provide sound evidence for: god exists, god doesn’t want homosexuals to marry, we reliably know god’s will and we have good reasons to follow god’s orders. 😏

Thursday 4 June 2015

Epigenetics influences gender identity, societal stigma harms transsexuals and more

Heya everybody,

I have been able to add some more articles and studies. The upload will follow soon; here are the summaries of the most relevant additions:

  • It is interesting how much public discourse and perception can differ from the current scientific consensus. While many people are still not accepting that an innate mental gender identity exists (thereby negating the lived experience of pretty much all transsexual people), scientists are getting ever closer to finding out how gender identity is established in the brain.
    In an article by Leslie K. Feinberg (in Science Signaling, 2015), the mechanism of how epigenetics influences gender identity in rats is laid out. Altering the epigenetic mechanism in female rats produced “neuronal morphology, protein marker patterns, and adult anxiety-related and sexual behavior more typical of male mice”. And, even more remarkable, this process is not restricted to the sensitive perinatal period, suggesting that enduring DNA methylation maintains the female phenotype in the brain. This means we have evidence for a biological mechanism that shapes brain gender and is ongoing throughout adult life!

  • In a 2015 article in The University of New South Wales Law Journal, Felicity Bell perfectly sums up the situation of gender-dysphoric children: [Gender dysphoria] involves ‘clinically significant distress’. Unfortunately, children with gender dysphoria (and indeed many gender diverse young people) are almost by definition at a high risk of depression and anxiety, as well as social isolation, self-harm and suicide. This is unsurprisingly often connected to the discrimination and abuse suffered by these groups.

  • Iranian researchers Azizi, Karimi and Iravani (in the International Journal of Review in Life Sciences, 2015) come to the conclusion that life skill training can improve the quality of life for transsexuals.

  • In the Acta Otorrinolaringológica Española in 2015, Casada, ÓConnor et al. find that the surgical technique of Wendler glottoplasty is effective in feminising the voice of male-to-female transsexuals.

  • Yang, Manning et al. contributed another study (in LGBT Health, 2015) to the question of whether psychological difficulties of transsexuals are directly related to transsexualism or indirectly via societal stigmatisation.
    They find that Higher levels of exposure to [transgender-related stigma] were independently associated with higher levels of depression […] and anxiety […], adjusting for self-reported health and sociodemographic co-variates.
    This adds further evidence to the claim that “transsexuals are not tormented by their condition: it is their condition, which prompts society to torment them“ (Sarah Seton).

  • Spanish researchers Guzmán-Parra, Sánchez-Álvarez, et al. have looked at a larger number of transsexual individuals in Andalusia and found highly interesting results (in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2015).
    Firstly, the social adjustment of male-to-female transsexuals was lower than that of female-to-males, secondly, depression was high in both groups (and personality dysfunctional traits and unemployment status were associated with depression). This adds yet more evidence to the theory that the suffering of transsexuals is caused by society.
    Thirdly, and lastly, they confirm the shockingly high figures of suicide attempts for transsexuals, which have been reported in many previous studies. In their study, they find 22.8 % had attempted suicide and 52.3 % had suicidal thoughts. This underlines the urgent need for support transsexuals have. I’m always surprised how many people don’t get this simple fact – here is a group of people that is suffering, and that’s why society should help.

  • In a large and interesting study published in 2014 (in Psychology and Sexuality), authors Joel, Tarrasch et al. find that the internal feeling of gender identity is on a spectrum and not binary. Sexual orientation was not a major contributor to the perception of gender identity […]. This further underlines the usefulness of separating the concepts of sex, gender, gender role and sexual orientation.

There’s more to come, I promise ☺

New studies, eating disorder and a new book

Heya everybody,

Finally I have started on working on my huge number of links that have been piling up since my last update! I just hope I’ll get everything done before the summer holidays. For a start, here are some news items and new studies:

  • Witcomb, Bouman et al. published a large study (European Eating Disorders Review, 2015) that compared transsexuals to people with eating disorders and a control group. It was found that transsexuals were dissatisfied with body shape and weight. Especially transsexual males are at risk for eating disorders and other body-image-related behaviour.

  • Widely reported in the media was an American study by Diemer, Grant et al. (Journal of Adolescent Health, 2015) that had similar findings. Diemer, Grant, et al. looked at a very large number of people (289 000 US college students), which included 479 transgender individuals. They found that transgender students had greater rates of eating disorders. For media reports, see here , here and here. Alexis E. Duncan, one of the authors, told the media that transsexuals may strive for thinness as an attempt to suppress features of their birth gender, or accentuate features of their self-identified gender. Monica Algars from Finland, who authored a previous study, said: Other potential explanations include minority stress due to stigma and discrimination and On a more positive note, many transgender people report that gender reassignment treatment can alleviate body dissatisfaction and eating (disorders).

  • A somewhat weird study from India looked at differences of the palates (the roof of the mouth) of eunuchs, control males and control females for forensic purposes and found statistically significant variances. I’m not sure whether the study is of a good quality, nor do I know whether eunuchs in India can be equated to transsexuals (male-to-female, presumably), but I have included the study anyway (Saxena, Chandrashekhar, et al in the Journal of Forensic Dental Sciences, 2015).

  • A Spanish expert working group (on gender identity and sexual development of the Spanish Society of Endocrinology and Nutrition) has published a position statement (in Endocrinologia y Nutricion: Organo de la Sociedad Espanola de Endocrinologia y Nutricion, 2015) emphasising that diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of gender dysphoria are essential to improve quality of life and to decrease mental comorbidity.

  • A Turkish study (Turan, Poyraz et al. in the Turkish Journal of Psychiatry, 2015) found some differences between male-to-female and female-to-male transsexuals. Social adjustment was lower for male-to-females, whereas females-to-males were more likely to receive medical treatment. The rate of undergoing sex reassignment surgery was higher for males-to-females.

A new book, Management of Gender Dysphoria: A Multidisciplinary Approach, discusses the current scientific status and view on the treatment of gender dysphoria. From the publisher’s abstract:

This book is especially focused on the surgical aspect on Gender Dysphoria. Male to female surgery is widely discussed as well as the female to male conversion. Full information on hormone administration and surgical procedures are provided. Mental health issues are also described, as well as ethics, the law and psychosocial issues. The text is extensively referenced and includes numerous photos, tables and figures to clearly illustrate information. Based on collaboration between international experts in transgender health, this book is an essential guide for health care professionals, educators, students, patients and patients’ families concerning the psychological, hormonal, surgical and social support of transgender individuals.

It’s published by Springer in 2015, edited by a team of urologists at the University of Trieste in Italy (Carlo Trombetta, Giovanni Liguori, Michele Bertolotto), and includes articles from well-known and leading scientists and researchers around the world.

Take care, more will follow soon!

Peace and Light ✨