Tuesday, September 25, 2007

‘Mom, I need to be a girl’: Now in PDF format


Lynn Conway notes:

I’ve just compiled and posted Evelyn’s book, “Mom, I need to be a girl,” in PDF format for easy printing of hardcopies. Here are links to the current html and new PDF versions of the book (the 77 page PDF version is 970 KB in size):
* ‘Mom, I need to be a girl’ webpage
* ‘Mom, I need to be a girl’ (PDF)
As we know, this wonderful little book is great resource, especially for young trans teens who are trying to come out to their parents. Many print-out and give the book to parents and relatives as part of the process of reaching out for help. I’d appreciate it if you’d forward the link for the new PDF version to your friends and site readers.
PS: I’ll also be compiling PDF’s of the Spanish, French, German, Portuguese and Arabic translations of the book sometime soon.

Related content:

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Posted by Andrea James on 09/25 at 12:17 PM
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Monday, September 24, 2007

Writing for an international audience?


A reader notes:

I wish there was a more constructive way that I could express my gratitude towards you… from my point of view, I’d written off the idea of ever transitioning, so daunted was I by the obstacles in my way. That’s the traditional media for you! Then, I found your site, digested the information over and over, and saw for the first time something I never believed I could ever feel: Hope.
You’ve given me hope.
That’s the power of truth, and truthful information. The value of your site is immeasurable.
If I have one suggestion, it would be to include ‘international’ friendly material, i.e. for TS women who are considering travelling to America for surgery with Dr. O and Meltzer.. I’m sure there’s a few smile For example, it took me a while to figure out what a Rx was! *lol*

My reply:

Thanks for the nice note! I’m so glad my info is giving you hope-- it wasn’t until I found a couple of transition accounts to which I could relate that I had a similar hope.
My apologies for the local nature of my site. When I was writing, I really did not even consider an audience outside of the United States. When time permits, I’ll try to go back through and fix that. I use a lot of American slang and abbreviations that even have fluent speakers scratching their heads!
Best of luck with your transition, and I hope you continue to find sources of hope out there!

Related information:
* International resources for transsexual people

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Posted by Andrea James on 09/24 at 11:19 AM
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Will FFS make my forehead too thin?


A reader notes:

First of all, I love your site.  I ran across it a little over a year ago, and it was one of the first sites that convinced me it was possible to have a “good” transition.  Before, I was afraid that transitioning would utterly ruin my already unhappy life.  In the year since, I’ve begun my transition, and happily have not had an overly bad experience yet.  Thanks for your inspiration.
I had one question on facial feminization, in regards to a brow shave.  Is there a risk that the resulting forehead bone will be too thin?  (I wouldn’t want to accidentally bump my head and crack it like an eggshell.) I’m sure this isn’t the case (or at least not that drastically), but it’s something which has been puzzling me.  I have a consultation coming up with Dr. Ousterhout soon, and he’ll probably be able to clear things up, but I thought I’d run the question by you.

My reply:

While I don’t plan on head-butting anyone ever again, I don’t have worries that my new frontal bone configuration is dangerously thin. Two of Dr. Ousterhout’s three procedures actually fill and thicken it.
Beyond a certain tenderness wearing my bike helmet immediately after, my forehead has not been a concern.

Related information:
* Forehead recontouring

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Posted by Andrea James on 09/24 at 10:48 AM
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Gunter Dorner and preventing gender variance through peace?


A reader notes:

I spoke to a group of grad students a few nights ago in a Human Sexuality class.  I mentioned the Hamburg (Germany) studies that I’ve heard of, but never actually viewed source data.  Briefly, Hamburg (sp), Germany was devastated by Allied bombers in WW II.  The bombers targeted arms, munitions, and other war machine production facilities.  The bombings were long termed.
The studies, as I’ve heard, followed the children born in Hamburg during and shortly following the bombing.  The studies continued for several decades and, I understand, found an increased incidence of transsexualism and homosexuality.  One of the conclusions, I believe, was that increased stress levels may impact the incidence rate of each.
One of the students was interested in locating the source studies or other articles about the studies.  Unfortunately, I’ve only heard of these findings, but have never read anything authoritative on them. I’ve searched the net, but so far it seems I’m finding tens of thousands of hits for the city, but the studies remain hidden from view.
Would you possibly be able to direct me to some source reports or articles on these studies?  I would very much appreciate any assistance you could give.

My reply:

Gunter Dorner is a prolific author on issues of endocrinology, especially as it relates to homosexuality and sex differences in the brain (I included the abstract for one of over a dozen major papers he’s done on the subject).
You’d be well-served to read some of his work if you are pursuing this as a new career.
His “Hamburg theory” was controversial and has been challenged by some thorough investigations since (see the Schmidt abstract below). The Schmidt paper will give full references to the Dorner studies. I recommend ordering it.

J Homosex 1995;28(3-4):269-75
Does peace prevent homosexuality?
Schmidt G, Clement U
Department of Sexual Research, University of Hamburg, Germany.
This study attempted to replicate a series of investigations by Gunter Dorner and his associates that concluded that more homosexual men are born in wartime than in times of peace. That conclusion is based on Dorner’s belief that war induces stress in pregnant women and that stress causes a drop in fetal androgen levels which in turn leads to the development of a homosexual “orientation”. The replication not only failed to support the Dorner conclusion but also found that even those cities that suffered the most severe bombing during World War II showed no evidence of increased numbers of homosexuals. The authors conclude that homosexual men can go on loving peace and getting involved in the peace movement.
PMID: 7560931, UI: 96028457

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Posted by Andrea James on 09/24 at 10:43 AM
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Laud Humphreys, Steven Pinker, and other attention-seeking pseudoscientists


A reader notes:

Is anyone familiar with the “Tearoom Sex Study” by sociologist Laud Humphreys?  There was a mention of it in today’s NYT as being one of the first and most notorious examples of unethical social science research.  I found the following (excerpts) in a quick web search:

He stationed himself in “tearooms” and offered to serve as “watchqueen” - the individual who keeps watch and coughs when a police car stops nearby or a stranger approaches. He played that role faithfully while observing hundreds of acts of fellatio. He was able to gain the confidence of some of the men he observed, disclose his role as scientist, and persuade them to tell him about the rest of their lives and about their motives. Those who were willing to talk openly with him tended to be among the better-educated members of the “tearoom trade.” To avoid bias, Humphreys secretly followed some of the other men he observed and recorded the license numbers of their cars. A year later and carefully disguised, Humphreys appeared at their homes claiming to be a health-service interviewer and interviewed them about their marital status, race, job, and so on....

There were also social costs. The research occurred in the middle 1960s before institutional review boards were in existence. The dissertation proposal was reviewed only by Humphreys’ Ph.D. committee. Only after the research had been completed did the other members of the Sociology Department learn of it. A furor arose when some of those other members of the department objected that Humphreys’ research had unethically invaded the privacy and threatened the social standing of the subjects, and petitioned the president of Washington University to rescind Humphreys’ Ph.D. degree. The turmoil resulted in numerous other unfortunate events, including a fist fight among faculty members and the exodus of about half of the department members to positions at other universities.

There was considerable public outrage as well. Journalist Nicholas von Hoffman, who was given some details of the case by one of the angered members of the Sociology Department, wrote an article about Humphreys’ research and offered the following condemnation of social scientists: “We’re so preoccupied with defending our privacy against insurance investigators, dope sleuths, counterespionage men, divorce detectives and credit checkers, that we overlook the social scientists behind the hunting blinds who’re also peeping into what we thought were our most private and secret lives. But there they are, studying us, taking notes, getting to know us, as indifferent as everybody else to the feeling that to be a complete human involves having an aspect of ourselves that’s unknown.” (von Hoffman, 1970).

There are a number of articles commenting on the controversy from a contemporary standpoint in the Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 24, 2004.  However, it costs $25 to read this issue and I haven’t decided yet whether to cough it up.

Also, I recently read a criticism of Pinker’s The Blank Slate by Simon Blackburn, Professor of Philosophy of Cambridge University, in which he analyzes the technique (attention-seeking through adoption of sensational and extreme positions) favored by many of the last ten years’ crop of pseudoscientists.  One excerpt is:

So if you wish to demonize theorists on the nature side, present them as genetic determinists, holding that there is no more to growing up than following a formula written in the genes. These dangerous fools think that iron is programmed to rust wherever you put it, as if oxygen and damp had nothing to do with it. And if you are demonizing theorists on the nurture side, then portray them as holding that human beings have no characteristics at all except those that are inscribed by environment and culture. These dangerous fools think that the chemical nature of iron has nothing to do with whether it rusts.  (There is also a second-order or meta-demonizing move to make. Not only have the dangerous fools got themselves into an extreme position, they also have the gall to paint people like us as ourselves extreme. They are not only blind to their own extremism, they are blind also to our moderation. The things they call us! They must be doubly demonic.)

The irony is that having satisfactorily trashed the other side, people tend not to stay in the reasonable middle that they claim to occupy.  The fig-leaf of moderation is very quickly discarded.  Just as in football a defeat for one side is a victory for the other, and in politics a defeat for the left is a victory for the right, so here a defeat of the others is a victory for whichever extreme appealed in the first place. We want simplicity, and our binary thinking is not hospitable to compromise or to pluralism. George W. Bush can woo the people by saying that you are either with us or against us. He cannot do so by saying that you are either with us or against us or somewhere in between. It appears that only fitfully and with effort can we keep it in our heads that iron rusts owing to a number of factors. In our hearts, we are pulled one way or the other.

If you wish to read the entire essay ("Meet the Flintstones"), it’s available at:

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Posted by Andrea James on 09/24 at 09:54 AM
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