Thursday, November 24, 2011

Speaking of "Walking the Walk"

So, Canada's Prime Minister is waxing poetic over the "victory" in Libya:

“So let no one ever question whether Canada is prepared to stay the course in defence of what is right,” he said. “For we believe that in a world where people look for hope and cry out for freedom, those who talk the talk of human rights must from time to time be prepared to likewise walk the walk.”
I still think that the real story about Libya is yet to be written.  We don't know who the power brokers are yet, nor do we know what kind of power they really seek.

However, I'm going to point out that Harper, and just about all of his caucus voted consistently against bill C-389 in the last parliament.  He wants to talk about freedom and human rights, then let's talk about the discrimination that trans people in Canada face.  Although transgender people are "read in" to the interpretation of Canada's human rights act, the fact is that there are no clear protections in law. 

The fact is that trans people face obstacles in all fronts of life, and Harper is doing nothing about it.  In fact, he is standing explicitly against protecting trans people in Canada. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Focus On The Family Lies Again

I see that Focus On The Family has once again opened its yap about matters pertaining to Transsexuals, and they are lying about it:

Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons, who treats children and adults suffering from gender identity disorder in his practice in Pennsylvania, said the government is doing transgender people a disservice.
“It’s totally treatable and the issue can be resolved,” he said, noting that some therapists have an 80 percent success rate in helping people accept their biological gender.
“The problem is when you get sex-reassignment surgery, one of the major principles (of medicine) is ‘First, do no harm.’ With gender-reassignment surgery, you’re surgically mutilating a healthy body. And you’re supporting a delusion. Poor body image is a huge cause of it, and severe psychopathology in parents is a huge cause of it. That’s the mental health perspective.
The first thought that went through my mind was "who the heck is Dr. Fitzgibbons?"  Sure enough, a brief bit of searching on the web turns up that he is not really an authority on transgender/transsexual people per se, but instead one of the talking heads that NARTH likes to put forward to create the illusion of legitimacy.

He's written papers with NARTH's founder Joseph Nicolosi, Dale O'Leary and others which largely repeat the standard nonsense arguments about transsexuality that have been long since disproven.

His comments here about causes of transsexuality are a good example of the kind of silly arguments that we routinely find on the web talking about transsexuals:
Poor body image is a huge cause of it, and severe psychopathology in parents is a huge cause of it. That’s the mental health perspective.
This is completely backwards.  He's partially correct, transsexuals often do have major body image issues.  However, those issues are not a cause of transsexuality, but are in fact caused by being transsexual. 

As for drawing a link between psychopathology in parents and transsexuality in their offspring, that's just ridiculous.  Superficially, you can find a lot of people in any population who have screwed up parents.  Transsexuals are no different in this regard.  However, if 'screwed up parents' were a cause of transsexuality in general (and I have no idea how such a link could possibly occur), then how does someone like Dr. Fitzgibbons explain those transsexuals who come from perfectly normal, stable family structures?  Unless he has substantial population statistics that show that normal, stable family structures in the upbringing of transsexuals is somehow "unusual" (which I very much doubt), then it would seem to me that the doctor is quite frankly talking through his hat.

As for the argument about Gender Surgery and the "do no harm" aspect of things, I will turn to the recently released 7th Edition WPATH Standards of Care, on page 55 we find the following statement:

It is important that health professionals caring for patients with gender dysphoria feel comfortable about altering anatomically normal structures. In order to understand how surgery can alleviate the psychological discomfort and distress of individuals with gender dysphoria, professionals need to listen to these patients discuss their symptoms, dilemmas, and life histories. The resistance against performing surgery on the ethical basis of “above all do no harm” should be respected, discussed, and met with the opportunity to learn from patients themselves about the psychological distress of having gender dysphoria and the potential for harm caused by denying access to appropriate treatments.
In other words, there is often greater harm being done by denying transsexual patients access to surgery.  The harm may not be physical damage, but it is the more insidious psychological harm, something which Dr. Fitzgibbons should not only understand but respect far more than any surgeon.

His claims that there are therapists out there with 80% success rates "getting people to accept their bodies" is unsubstantiated, and I can find no papers which suggest any such thing.  Further, it is important to recognize that transsexuality is a fairly rare condition compared to conditions such as crossdressing.  The professionals I have talked to about such things have consistently expressed that only a small percentage of transgender people who approach them for treatment ever pursue medical and surgical aspects of transition.  So, while Dr. Fitzgibbons may well be correct that 80% of people who come forward to mental health practitioners with cross-gender concerns are not transsexual, that's quite a different matter from saying that 80% of transsexuals can be "taught to accept their bodies as they were born".

That Focus on the Family is daft enough to quote someone like Fitzgibbons is no surprise, but it doesn't make their argument any more substantial.  It's still firmly rooted in lies.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Wherein Walt Heyer Attempts To Invalidate Transsexuals In One Paragraph

I'll give Heyer this much - on the whole, he has tried to stay out of the usual language of invalidation and erasure that is so common among those who claim transsexuals are less than human.  However, somewhere along the way, he must have decided that he couldn't turn down the opportunity and makes the following statement:
It's easy to point out that DNA tells the true story of male or female.  In a court of law, you can convict a man of rape and murder just on the strength of a DNA test alone.  But a DNA test is never permitted to determine male or female sex gender for transsexuals in court?  Why is this?  Because a DNA test would prove with absolute certainty the transgender hormone therapy and surgery had failed to change a male into a female, or a female to a male.  Transgender activists know using DNA would expose the fraud and damage the social acceptability of changing genders.  Therefore, they have successfully prevented DNA from being used as the criteria to identify gender in the courts.
Wow.  Just Wow.  In one paragraph, Heyer has claimed that transsexuals are engaging in deliberate fraud, and on the other hand, the transsexuals out there are so astonishingly powerful politically that they have been able to stop the courts from using a particular piece of evidence to determine sex.

I'd love to know where this all powerful transsexual lobby is.  You'd think that it would be paying more attention to shutting down the malice and discrimination that transsexuals face on a near daily basis.  Further, I'm more than a little mystified how a tiny minority of the population which isn't terribly wealthy could hold that kind of clout.

Ah well.  I'm going to chalk that one up to being the fanciful musings of someone who lacks any coherent evidence to explain things more rationally.

Looking at his other claim about DNA, however, requires a little more careful handling.

First of all, Mr. Heyer is really referring to chromosomes and specifically Sex Chromosomes.  Men have XY chromosomes, and women have XX chromosomes.  Or so the general rule goes.  Sadly, general rules are prone to strange little things called exceptions.  Consider women born with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome  for a moment.  A woman born with CAIS has a Y chromosome, and yet developed in utero a female body.  To all outward appearances, and socialization, these people are women even though they have a Y chromosome. 

No doubt, Mr. Heyer would claim that an exception could be made in such a situation, after all the person had been born female.  (or was declared female at birth, more correctly)  His argument would be that such cases are so rare as to be irrelevant, or some such.  How rarity of a condition fits into dealing with transsexuals is a bit of a mystery to me - it's not like transsexualism constitutes a very large portion of the population to begin with, so making exceptions based on rarity seems a trifle ridiculous.

My underlying point is that there are very real conditions which Mr. Heyer's test would not work for, and these are people who are not transsexual themselves.

However, as other writers have pointed out, there is a great deal of evidence emerging that suggests that transsexuality may well have significant biological factors which influence it.  If you are going to make an exception for one case, why would you not make a reasonable exception in the case of a transsexual?  Especially in the absence of any conclusive evidence that transsexuality doesn't have significant biological factors involved?

However, Heyer seems to have fallen for the standard rightwing dogma that transsexuals are "fraudulent" somehow, simply because changing chromosomes isn't possible (yet!).  Well, unfortunately for him and his "allies" (I'm reluctant to call the likes of Peter LaBarbera an ally to anyone or anything), there are enough exceptions in the real world that trying to argue against transsexuals on this basis is really quite ridiculous. 
Allowing the original birth record gender to be altered has unintended consequences.  It can be misused, perhaps by a terrorist to hide his identity.  Or, some would say it will legitimize same sex marriage.  With an amended birth record in hand (changed from male to female), the new female would be free to enter into a legal marriage with a man.
First of all, the supposition about terrorists is really quite ridiculous.  You don't just walk into a clinic and have GRS one day on a whim.  No surgeon would touch you without supporting documentation from a therapist.  That's a red herring at best.

His comments about legitimizing same-sex marriage are equally ludicrous.  A gay male is a man who loves other men ... as a man ... having GRS would be anathema to such a person as they would no longer have something that they would consider essential to their masculinity. 

Ah ... the joys of listening to arguments that boil down to little more than a poorly considered attempt at erasure.  Sorry, Mr. Heyer, but you just haven't got this one.