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There is a Chinese curse that says, "May you always live in interesting times." We are living out this curse this September, as it has been an unusually eventful month for the transgender community worldwide as well as for the personal lives of your officers. Thus, this will be a rather "fat" newsletter -- devoted more to the worldwide events than to your officers, though. A few of the major articles about these events have been reprinted with permission from other sources. While the Crystal Chronicle is not in the habit of reprinting outside material, doing so was quite necessary and appropriate this month.
What has happened this month? To hit the high (or low) spots, early in the month, Dee McKellar, an important national figure in the TG community, died of a heart attack. Shortly thereafter the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association conference convened in Vancouver, BC, where major revisions to the Standards of Care for transsexuals were debated heatedly. Meanwhile, legal ground is being broken by our sisters in Great Britain, where governmental policies limiting or prohibiting alteration of sex designators on legal documents are being challenged with the help of the TG legal and intellectual community worldwide. Closer to home, our president, Cathy, has been restructuring her life. She has been phasing out her business and has just accepted a contract for the sale of her house. She and her wife will be divorcing shortly. My own life has been full of almost as much turmoil but of a considerably more personal nature, so I won't discuss it here.
Adding to the "fatness" of this issue is a theoretical piece I've written on sexual differences in the brain. I thought it important for balance sake to have at least something theoretical this issue. Also Jamie Elizabeth submitted an excellent review on the book, Gender Shock, which I delayed printing for one month. I don't want to delay another month. So you see everything has converged somehow upon this month. Next month I'm sure nothing will happen, and I'll be able to send the newsletter on a postcard. P
by Cathryn, President
Although it might sound like a paradox, one of the constants of life is change. The Crystal Club is currently undergoing quite a bit of change. As many of you know, Luanne and Carol Anne are moving out of state next month. Cait Ball has agreed to take over as screening officer for the club. This will allow us to keep the same phone number for contacting us. Jannie has agreed to take over as editor of the newsletter and webmistress of our web sites provided she can get access to a decent computer.
Luanne once told me that the impression many people have is that she and Sarah and I sit around chatting and drinking coffee somewhere waiting to answer the phone. This isn't the case. My own life has undergone an increasing larger amount of change. I've changed my name, gone full time and now find myself facing even more changes to my life. My business has failed and I have found myself having to put my house and tools on the market. My spouse of more than 24 years and I are splitting up and starting our respective lives over. I'm faced with the need to find a new career, a new home and a totally new life all at once. Right now the club is in pretty good shape. We have a regular meeting place set up and a good relationship with that location. Our Halloween outing and Christmas party have mostly been planned. The other positions that need filled are being filled. We still need someone to step forward to take over soon as president. The Crystal Club is a worthwhile organization. Please don't let it die for a lack of committed leadership. If you have gotten something out of membership in the club, now is the time to pay that back with your time and energy to keep it going for the others who will need it in the future. I'll continue to do whatever I can to make things better for transgendered people in Ohio, but running the Crystal Club does require more than I can comfortably give much longer. This time last year I took over informally the running of the club when a crisis in Adrianne's life forced her to resign. Is there someone willing to extend me the same help now? You'll be getting a club that is running fairly smoothly at this point.
This month's main meeting will take place at the same location we met at last year. It will be a picnic starting at noon and continuing until the evening hours. Please bring a covered dish or two to share, something to drink, and if you wish, an outdoor game or two. Sarah has offered to bring her grill. She and Carey will be making us some BBQ brisket beforehand. We will take up a collection to reimburse them and to send a couple of us out to buy other meats and buns.
Still no more takers on the Halloween weekend? I know some of you attend the national conventions and these cost hundreds of dollars plus travel expenses. We are talking a mere $60 for the entire weekend with dinner, shopping and a pajama party to boot. Please, the club has already paid a large deposit for the cabins, we need for you to let us know if you are planning on attending. I'm always surprised that club members wait until the last minute before committing to something like this. Our October meeting will be this weekend and yes, you can just attend on Saturday for the regular meeting fee for the entire day and evening. We will be all going to the Lodge for a nice dinner and last year several of us wore costumes for that. Everyone has had a truly wonderful time at this event in the past with no problems. Shopping at Jeffersonville mall will also be a featured event for those brave enough to do it. Great bargains! Please contact Dianna Mills if you haven't already.
I haven't gotten any feedback about a storage area for clothes and such at the new club location. If you think this is worth doing, please let me or one of the other officers know.
My therapist friend, Marti Keyes, will be starting a new group for people who are struggling with transsexuality. The group, called "Becoming Whole," will be for therapy and support of transsexuals and those struggling with the possibilities of being transsexual. It's open to non, pre and post ops, MtF and FtM and will meet weekly starting on Monday, October 13, 1997, provided at least 8 people sign up. Rates will be set at $25 per one hour session. While each session will be topic-based, the group will be open for continuous membership. Therefore, while attendance is not mandatory, it is strongly encouraged. There is no intake fee or psychological testing required for acceptance to the group. Marti will conduct a brief telephone interview prior to the first group session for those members she has not met previously.
Please pass the word on to anyone who would be interested. The group will meet on Monday nights at 8:30 at a Columbus, Ohio location. Anyone interested in joining the group can e-mail me and I'll pass her name to Marti.
You are asked to keep gender presentation and name consistent. If, for example, you are MtF and wish to use a femme name, you should provide enough femme cues to be consistent with that name. This doesn't mean fancy dress, jeans and a pull-over top are fine. Add a wig if you are hair challenged and a couple of other cues.
Marti Keyes is finishing work on her Ph.D. in psychology and has extensive experience with transgendered clients. She is one of the warmest, most open people I've ever met, and she is of course a licensed therapist. I've encouraged her to do this to provide a choice in Ohio for gender counseling and group sessions. You'll find her approach modern and enlightened. Yes, I'm the first one to sign up.
Last month I wrote about the medical situation in Central Ohio for transgendered people. At that time I wrote to the Columbus Medical Association and requested their help in improving this situation. I've heard back from them and they have sent out copies of my letter and a cover letter to nine area doctors requesting that they consider working with transgendered clients on a ongoing basis. I'll keep you informed of the progress in this area.
Jannie and I have both joined the UU church in Clintonville. This church has proven to be extremely accepting of transgendered people and a number of us regularly attend services there. If you are looking for a place to worship in an accepting atmosphere for all comers with a wide range of belief systems part of the services, I'd suggest you consider joining us there on Sunday mornings. Services are at 9 and 11 with a coffee hour afterwards. Most of us attend the 11 am. service.
Another reminder that our Christmas party will also have our presenting Choices, the local women's shelter, with gifts of dolls and other toys. Please, new dolls and toys. These gifts provide a bright spot in the midst of troubled lives for those children of the women who need the shelter. Our gifts in the past have been greatly appreciated and this is one of the most worthwhile activities of the club. It's certainly not too early to start buying some dolls and toys to donate to them. The Christmas party will take place on the second Saturday of December and will have a semi-formal dinner theme. Volunteers to cook and clean up afterwards are welcome. We will also be having a regular November meeting this year unlike the past policy. This will be a regular meeting at our regular location. No special activity is planned for this meeting yet. If you have any ideas, I'd love to hear them.
edited and reprinted with permission from announcements by
I must report with the greatest of sadness that one of our dear TG sisters, Dee Skene McKellar of Houston, a renowned nonoperative transsexual and national TG community leader, died at age 55, September 6, 1997. She had just moved to her new apartment within a few miles of the Montrose area of Houston. On that Saturday evening she had ridden her bicycle into the Montrose area to participate in Q-patrol activities. (Q-patrol is a volunteer civilian radio patrol that serves as eyes and ears for the Houston Police Department on weekend evenings to protect citizens of the Montrose area from homophobic thugs.) As she and her friends were being assigned their rounds, she was felled by a massive heart attack and died before reaching the hospital. CPR was begun and Houston's EMS arrived within minutes of the attack. They treated McKellar with the utmost of professionalism and respect.
During the next day, many of Dee's friends gathered along with her daughter and planned for the activist's remembrance. The service was an open casket, grave-site service on Saturday, September 13th, at 11AM, at the Woodlawn Cemetery. Everyone that knew and loved Dee (or David, as she was known in the NASA area prior to 1991) was invited. The Q-Patrol served as honor guard and all transgendered activists were encouraged to wear whatever activist T-shirt they may have possessed to the service.
Dee McKellar was a national leader in the transgender community. In 1991, she was one of the founding committee members for what has become the International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy (ICTLEP) now in its seventh year. She served as a Director and as its Secretary for several years. With Dee's assistance and push, ICTLEP has been in the foreground of transgender re-integration within the lesbian/gay/bisexual community. Dee assisted in organizing, and attended, both the 2nd National Transgender Event in Washington DC in October 1995 and the 3rd National Transgender Event in Washington DC in February 1997. She spoke to countless people needing help who called, wrote or e-mailed the ICTLEP office.
While serving as a Director of the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association, Dee served on the NLGLA committee responsible for the unanimous NLGLA Board vote in August 1997 that brought bisexuals and transgenders fully within the bylaws of that organization. Dee also served as a Director of Gender PAC for a short time assisting with organizational and bylaw procedures.
At the state level, Dee was one of four who planned, and one of twelve who participated in the transgender protest of the 1995 Lesbian Gay Rights Lobby's March on Austin in the spring of 1995 in Austin. This LGRL event was to call attention of Legislators to violence and hate crimes against gays and lesbians. The transgenders who were with Dee resented being purposefully left out of the LGRL push. As a result of the protest, most of the LGRL marchers were persuaded that the TG protest was right and proper and that TG issues of violence and hate crimes were the same issues as the gay and lesbian folks. Also, in that same legislative session, Dee assisted in the planning, and attended the hearings for transgender legislation dealing with document changes.
On the local level, Dee hosted two Transgender Employment Day events. She was a Director of Spectrum, a member of Q-Patrol, a member of Lesbians in Business (LiB), a volunteer with both the Houston READ Commission and Annise Parker's Campaign for City Council, co-moderator of the local Helping CrossDressers Anonymous (HCDA) chapter, and an instructor on transgender issues for classes of the Houston Police Academy. Dee is know to many others in Houston. She worked for the League of Women Voters several years ago and was a beloved member of the Houston Writers League.
Previously known as David McKellar, she attended Massachusetts Institute of Technology and completed three years of engineering studies. She worked for Boeing in Seattle and later for contractors in the NASA - Clear Lake City area in computer flight simulation design for many of the early astronauts. She had a private pilots' license and loved the skies. She was also an avid photographer. So when you look up at the clouds, smile in case she is about to snap the shutter.
Dee is survived by her proud and loving daughter, her mother and two brothers, and a very large community of friends. Anyone wishing to send cards may do so. Send separate cards to her daughter (Deborah Donaldson) and mother (Elizabeth McKellar) in care of Phyllis Frye at 5707 Firenza, Houston, TX 77035. For more information, call Phyllis Frye at 713-723-8368. P
by Dallas Denny
The 15th meeting of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association was held 10-12 September, 1997 in Vancouver, British Columbia; the host organization was the Gender Identity Program at Vancouver General Hospital.
HBIGDA is a worldwide organization for professionals who work with transsexuals. Named after the pioneering endocrinologist Harry Benjamin, M.D., it was founded in the late 1970s. HBIGDA is perhaps best known for its Standards of Care, a document which establishes minimal guidelines for the provision of hormones and surgery to transsexual people. Registration for the conference, which was held at the rather expensive Sutton Place Hotel ($269/night, Canadian), was more than 200, quite a few of whom were not only professionals, but transsexual as well. The local population of transsexuals and transgendered people was represented. Some registered for the conference, and some staged a protest during the Thursday morning plenary, complaining of the high cost of the conference and demanding access to the seminars. HBIGDA decided to allow protesters to attend sessions without charge, and several did so. Unfortunately, those who did helped themselves not only to the free knowledge, but chowed down liberally at the buffets for paid members and some even attended the Saturday night banquet. This was an expense borne by the registered members, many of whom had sacrificed in order to attend the conference. Meals were expensive; each of those who ate without registering cost the money-losing conference at least $100 in food costs. (Note: I found the protest admirable-- my concern is not with the protesters in general or with those protesters who were invited by HBIGDA members to eat, but with those who ate without invitation. Had their protest included a demand for meals, or had the HBIGDA membership decided to feed them, my opinion would be different.)
At the 1993 HBIGDA conference, which was held in New York City, trans members of HBIGDA were very low key, wearing their "We're all Professionals Here" hats. The unspoken presumption at the conference was that transsexuals are marginal individuals; this atmosphere was also reportedly present at the 1995 conference in Bavaria, which I did not attend. 1997 was different, however, transsexuals and transgendered folk were out and proud and very much a part of the proceedings. Valerie Harvey, Dr. Becky Allison, Dr. Sheila Kirk and myself had the opportunity to address the entire assembly at a plenary on Saturday; many transpeople, including Jamison Green, Marsha Botzer, Dr. Tarryn Whitten, Christine Burnham, Stephanie Castle, Dr. Rebecca Auge, Jude Patton, Rosalyne Blumenstein, Tracie O'Keefe, and Dr. Anne Lawrence presented papers or posters. Non-trans presenters included a roster of surgeons, including Dr. Eugene Schrang, Dr. Donald Laub, Sr., Dr. J. Joris Hage, Dr. Toby Meltzer, Dr. Stan Monstrey, and Dr. Refaat B. Karim; other physicians (including Drs. Rosemary Basson, Stacy Elliott, Louis Gooren, and Bengt Lundstrom; attorneys (Dr. Louis Schwartz and Dr. Richard Green, who is also a psychiatrist) and social scientists of all sorts (Drs. George Brown, Sandra Cole, Walter Bockting, Eli Coleman, Lee Emory, Collier Cole, George Meyer, Randi Ettner, Leah Schaefer, Milton Diamond, and Bonnie Saks). I'm stopping right here; I realize I left out about 90% of the presenters, but if I continue with the listing, there will be no article.
The conference was kicked off by a talk on sexual differentiation of the brain by Dr. Roger Gorski. Following was a plenary. Dr. Marilyn Wilchesky of the gender program in Ottawa led with a paper about psychoanalytic theories of transsexualism (the same old stuff-- separation and individuation, weak fathers, narcissistic mothers). Dr. Wilchesky was followed by Dr. Holly Devor, who set the tone for the conference by presenting a multi-factorial model of female-to-male gender variance and pointing out that gender variance is not prima facie evidence for psychopathology, but can be a healthy adjustment to restrictive gender roles. Dr. Devor brought many attendees to their feet when she called for HBIGDA to acknowledge and serve the many kinds of gender-variant people rather than dividing the world into transsexuals and nontranssexuals.
Dr. Devor was followed by Dr. Walter Williams, who spoke about models of pathology, and how they vary with the cultural zeitgeist. He gave an example of a Native American culture in which twins and the mother who bore them were exiled to a "Twin Town," and an example from Western culture, pointing out that at one time women who pursued an education were considered deviant. He hammered home Dr. Devor's point that it is time for us to stop looking at gender variance as an illness and celebrate it as a natural form of human difference.
After this plenary, the talk was all about continua and variability; the transgender revolution had finally come home to roost at HBIGDA. There were a few dour faces, which was only to be expected; HBIGDA's world had just turned upside down. One member suggested that if there is nothing wrong with transsexuals, the organization simply disband. In my talk on Saturday, I noted that the change of viewpoint means that the organization is more needed than ever before; if it concerns itself with the use of medical technology to transform human bodies rather than the perhaps artificial notion of transsexualism, it will reach people, like "heterosexual crossdressers," some of whom do the same things do their bodies as transsexuals, but have heretofore escaped the safety web cast by HBIGDA because they are not "transsexual." This new way of thinking was apparent at a plenary on intersexuality on Friday; it was clear that the HBIGDA membership has concerns about the surgical reassignment of infants with unusual genitalia. Previously, there is little doubt that most members would have endorsed the prevailing practice of operating on infants to make their genitals "normal."
A logical consequence of the ideological rollover was a realization that data are needed, especially to justify the Standards of Care. Valerie Harvey and Dr. Becky Allison made this explicit at a Saturday plenary in which they noted that those who access medical technology will not tolerate gate keeping from the professional community unless data exist to justify that gate keeping. As part of the same plenary, Dr. Sheila Kirk spoke about how she had come to realize that hormonal therapy can be appropriate for those who are not inclined toward genital surgery. I followed Dr. Kirk, stating baldly that the classical model of transsexualism propels people to a surgery they may neither want nor need; the transgender community has come to realize that while surgery is necessary for many, it is not for all, that there are all degrees of gender variance, and that a one-size-fits-all approach is not only unhelpful, but can be damaging. In contrast to all this talk of variability, Saturday afternoon saw Dr. Stephen Levine presenting the proposed Standards of Care to the assembled members. The Standards do away with the number Standards and Principles format of previous versions in favor of a much more understandable descriptive prose style. Unfortunately, they also call for a period of either psychotherapy or real-life test before initiation of hormonal therapy; this is in addition to the 90-day evaluation period now in effect.
Discussion of the proposed Standards was heated. While it was obvious that the Standards Committee had put a lot of work into the document, members took exception to various provisions and to the deletion of material from previous versions.
The Standards of Care will now go back to committee, and, after one more revision, will then be taken to the membership for vote.
The conference ended with the installation of Dr. Richard Green as President and the announcement of the results of the recent election. Alice Webb, who was fired from her job last year by then-president Friedemann Pfafflin, was installed as President-Elect, and new Board members were announced; this included two out transfolk, Sheila Kirk and Jude Patton.
The next HBIGDA meeting will be held in two years in London.
Editor's note: Liberty, a British organization for transgender law, has recently taken the case of Sheffield and Horsham v. UK and have contacted the transgender legal and intellectual community worldwide for help in preparing their case. Following is opinion ICTLEP wrote in response.
Transgendered people come basically in two types. One type is a part-timer or partial gender crossover person. This person is often called a crossdresser, a transvestite, an effeminate male, a masculine female, a drag queen and a host of other labels. Essentially this person does not fit within the extreme bi-polar, socially stereotypical format of an all-male type of man or an all-female type of woman. With some social pain and difficulty, this person learns that she or he naturally fits somewhere between the bi-polar extremes. This person usually expresses a either a continuously partial blending or a part-time yet complete blending of socially stereotyped gender bi-polar behaviors or dress based upon past social expectations and predictions of behavior that are genital based. Each is an individual in composition, upbringing and presentation.
Essentially, if a child is born with what appears to penal and scrotal tissue, the doctors predict that this person will grow up and be socialized to be at the all-male type of man, bi-polar extreme. If the child is born with what appears to labial and vaginal tissue, the doctors predict that this person will grow up and be socialized to be at the all-female type of woman, bi-polar extreme. For the part-timer or partial gender crossover person, the crossdresser, transvestite, effeminate male, masculine female, or drag queen, the bi-polar extreme is invalid, and it is cruel for this person to be made to suffer with throughout their entire lifetime.
One way to conceptualize this crossover behavior is to note the country and western trend across the United States. Some people in the USA who live on farms and ranches with real horses and cows dress in a country and western fashion. They like the clothes, the music and the social expectations. Others of these same farm and ranch people do not: they do not wear the clothes, do not like the music and do not like the social expectations. There are in-betweens of every shade and degree. Some of these folks go to "the city" and go hippie, uniform, leather, yuppie, surfer, Hollywood, jock or whatever in manner of clothes, music and social custom while others remain on the farm and ranch but are not "country and western."
As the country and western trend has grown in the United States, many city-fied folks are now going country and western. They do not live on a farm or ranch and do not own a horse or cow, yet they go to rodeos, wear country and western clothes, listen to country and western music, go to country and western bars and dance halls. Some who do not need a truck for work will even drive a pickup truck so they can feel more country and western by driving their "cowboy Cadillacs." Some folks do it a lot: some folks do it a little: some folks make it a way of life. Yet because they are not living on a farm or a ranch and do not own a horse or a cow, they are also in a crossover behavior: they are crossdressing just the same and could conceivably be called "trans-west-ites."
The other type of transgendered person is the full-time gender crossover person. They are often called transsexuals, transgenderists, pre-op, non-op and post-ops. The prediction made at their birth by the physician, nurse or midwife -- whose social expectation of what usually results from pre-natal brain formation and social training being directly associated with at-birth genitalia -- is a non-negligent, incorrect prediction for them and must be corrected. Multiple biographies, medical texts and glitzy media tell us that the correction process called transition is extremely difficult at best. Jobs are lost, families of origin often ostracize or are ashamed, religious guilt is often applied, divorces and loss of child or grandchild visitation can result, and embarrassed piers and neighbors are often cruel during the transition period of gender crossover. In addition, legal hurdles for documentation correction add another layer of stress.
This person is full-time in her or his gender crossover. Some have genital surgery as soon as possible, and others wait for a variety of reasons. Some decide that now, with their completed full-time gender crossover, such surgery is not important to them (or as in the above conceptualization, they may have moved to a farm or ranch, but they do not want to own a horse or a cow). They hire attorneys or follow state procedures to get their legal documents in order. They take physiologically altering hormones, most of the effects of which are irreversible without surgical intervention. Some go through electrolysis, voice therapy, trachea shave, breast reduction surgery, scalp hair transplant, breast augmentation surgery, hysterectomy, orchiectomy or metaoidioplasty. At this point, they are all "completed" transsexuals whether they have had the so-called "operation" (genital alteration surgery) or not. Only by making the "completion" of transsexualism to be final, without the precondition of genital alteration surgery, can the transsexual decide if surgery is really the correct thing for that individual.
It must be noted at this point that the previously mentioned hurdles are faced only by teenage and adult transsexuals. That is, once someone is past puberty those hurdles are then erected. The hypocrisy is that for an infant born with uncertain genital appearance or who is intersexed with both genitals appearing completely or in part, a totally blind prediction is made by the parents and the physician, and surgical intervention is applied to make parental-physician chosen genitals. The infant's mental imprint is never consulted. After that the social bi-polar gender extremes are applied as the child grows. Sometimes the prediction does not match the brain. Why such commonplace procedures are deemed socially and medically acceptable at birth -- with no way of knowing how the child's brain was formed, whereas when an adult tries to do the same thing for her or his self (or the adult person for whom the wrong chosen genitals were surgically applied at birth) it is socially difficult at best and often socially brutal -- is an hypocrisy and is very cruel to impose.
One of many hurdles that transgendered people face is the challenge of getting their legal documents in order. In the United States, they face the fifty-one jurisdictions of the fifty states and the District of Columbia. These legal documents are important because they are most often used in everyday commerce as identification for cashing checks or verifying ownership of credit cards. Because of immigration laws, these legal documents are now being used in commerce as identification in job application. Some times these legal documents are required to obtain a marriage license, but that is usually on an ad hoc basis depending upon the clerk at the county or parish where application is made. And if a person wishes to leave the country for travel, these legal documents are required.
The most common document is the state drivers license (or state identification card if the person does not drive or is ineligible to drive) that is routinely issued by the Department of Public Safety (Highway Patrol, State Police, "Smokies") in each state. This usually shows the legal name, address, date of birth, sex, a photo, a magnetic strip (as on a credit card) and restrictions (eyeglasses and such) and if the person wishes to be an organ donor in the event of an untimely and sudden death. THIS STATE ISSUED DOCUMENT IS THE MOST COMMONLY USED IDENTIFICATION WITHIN THE UNITED STATES. It is used for almost everything including job applications, period!
Change of name for any adult, who does not want to change their name to a number or to Santa Claus or to some other fictitious or notorious name, is routinely done without much problem. As ICTLEP Documentation Law Director, Attorney Melinda Whiteway notes that some states allow for a fee and a form to be filled out, while others require an order from a state court. The full-timers, the transsexuals, often do this early in transition or at the definite beginning of their transition. With this name change permit or court order, the name on the drivers license is easily changed by the state's policing agency. However, until recently, the gender marker -- "M" for male or "F" for female -- remained unchanged on that identification.
In 1992 ICTLEP began the argument that for a transsexual in transition, such a change of name on the most used form of identification without an accompanying change of gender identification marker acts as an incomplete change of name. Consider being John "F" or Cynthia "M". The results of using a "mixed" identification is a constant form of stress, fear and harassment when using the "mixed" document for check writing and credit card use, and often results in not getting hired for a new job. (Singer Johnny Cash sang a song entitled "A Boy Named Sue" and the lyrics related many resulting social punishments.) This stress, ICTLEP argued, could lead some transsexuals to "rush" through their transition and possibly have genital surgery before they were ready or without being sure. The operative terms are "could" and "possibly". The problem is that any legal system pressuring anyone, who as a result has an life-threatening and expensive and possibly unnecessary surgical procedure just to get a legal document changed to reflect a genital prediction that most people will not see, is barbaric. As a result, more jurisdictions are allowing the "full" name change ("full" meaning to include change of gender identification marker) at the beginning of the transition.
There is little or no case law here. All of this is being done on an ad hoc basis. In the administrative states, if an uncooperative clerk is on duty, the transsexual tries again on another day and in another location. In the court order states, if an uncooperative judge is found, the name change goes through without the change in gender identification marker, or a court transfer is requested or the case is dismissed and refiled as a form of forum shopping. Transsexual clients simply do not hire this appellate type of work to be done.
The birth certificate is the second most altered document. (The passport is not treated herein because it is used by fewer people and usually follows the results of birth certificate alteration.) There are very few, Ohio being one, USA jurisdictions that will not change the sex on the birth certificate. ICTLEP continues to suggest that all completed transsexuals from any state who want to marry someone who is now of their same sex, should go to Ohio with their unaltered birth certificates to get "heterosexually" married and "cram the law down their throats". (Note too, that as homosexual leaders work for the right to obtain legal same-sex marriage, they continue to ignore the equal protection argument of same-sex marriage already being legal for transsexuals. Consider an oppositely genitaled couple that becomes legally married where one or both later become completed transsexuals. Unless they file for divorce, they remain legally married. ICTLEP began in 1992 to encourage such couples to resist physicians' misinformed efforts to force their divorce prior to or after their transsexual completion.)
During the early days of transsexual sensationalism, many states applied the Corbett logic to deny correcting the legal, birth certificate sex. After many court fights in the nineteen sixties and nineteen seventies, most states have now come around and passed laws allowing for birth certificate correction. Usually a petition is filed which contains a notarized letter from a physician that surgical genital alteration is finished, a hearing is held and the court so orders. This is all post surgical and has become for the most part no problem in almost all of the states in the United States. In the case of those born in the Ohio-type states, transsexuals can move to another state and get a sex correction order. A non-Ohio-type sex correction state court order that is coupled with an Ohio-type non-correctable birth certificate will yield a sex corrected USA passport which can then be used in place of the birth certificate when needed even in an Ohio-type state.
In 1995 ICTLEP began to push for the legality of the completed transsexual without genital surgery being a precondition. Much of the theory has been discussed above. But to summarize, why should someone have to choose between having genital surgery or going back to the previously incorrect and unlivable gender presentation? In other than prison housing or military bivouac situations, just how many people will experience someone else's genitals in their lifetime? That number for most of us is comparatively few. (And in prison situations, why aren't the transsexuals segregated upon their request so they will not be raped by either heterosexual rapists or homosexual rapists? And as to bivouac branches of the military service, just how much actual combat is done using the genitals as weapons? Further, to deny non-bivouac branch, military service to transsexuals is a waste of taxes and talent.)
Why should someone have to choose between having genital surgery or going back to the previously incorrect and unlivable gender presentation? And if genital surgery is a precondition to legality, how can a transsexual make a free and uncoerced decision to have genital alteration surgery? Over the past two years, with ICTLEP guidance, some completed transsexuals who are long-term, irreversibly hormonally altered, employed and physician verified, have gone through the courts with full knowledge of the judges that they have not had genital alteration surgery and are getting their birth certificate correction orders.
"Correction", not "change". "Correction" because when the person was born, the brain was already opposite to the genital prediction. The genital prediction written on the birth certificate at birth was a non-negligent error which simply needs to be "corrected". No wholesale "change" is being made if we are merely "correcting" to the brain. (After all, if parents and physicians can blindly and sometimes incorrectly do the same to infants, why can not a mature society allow an adult to be true to their brain?) After this is done, the person may choose to have genital surgery or may choose to remain as they are.
As a final note, not every transgendered person in the USA agrees with the above. Even so, the above is the result of six years of annual intellectual intercourse with most of the transgender legal and transgender activist minds in the USA, Canada and England. This is cutting edge. It is also transgender generated, which is a departure from previous legal thinking on transgender issues that is written by non-transgender, so-called experts in the clinical and academic settings. By and large the non-transgender, member physicians of the transgender dedicated, medical organizations simply remain uninterested in what the transgender community has to say. Further, it does not invite transgender lawyers or transgender physicians or transgender activists to present at its non-transgender attended, medical conventions. If transgender dedicated, medical organizations really want to help transgenders, they should institutionally begin listening to the transgender legal, medical and activist leadership.
Is there a distinct texture/color difference between the heavier foundation covering your beard area and the lighter foundation covering the rest of your face? Just extend the area of thicker foundation to your cheek bones, and your blush will camouflage the change in texture.
Want to style your wig? The wig manufacturers warn you never to try it, but the professional wig stylists do it anyway. They use standard hot rollers.
You wig will last longer and be more manageable if you occasionally trim the hairs with damaged ends.
The Crystal Club fills a very valuable need within the gender community. More and more clubs have gone the same way that we have, inclusive of all transgendered people and all orientations. This is a good thing. It is also is a source of problems that are often swept under the rug. There are differences between crossdressers and transsexuals, and we aren't doing anyone any favors by continuing to ignore them.
It really is no accident that the club leadership has been mainly transsexuals for years while the bulk of the membership has been crossdressers. For a variety of reasons, crossdressers are unwilling to be "out" enough as a rule, to function as contacts with the world outside the gender community. Transsexuals, especially ones who are near transition have to deal with the outside world on an often daily basis. This is a hard thing for me to say, but the differences boil down to having to live the life and being able to avoid that except on a part-time basis. Between people who identify totally as opposite their birth gender and those who don't but feel a need to express an alternative gender while remaining comfortable with their birth gender as well.
I continue to believe it is very important that the club remain inclusive. I also feel it does none of us any favors to ignore TV-TS differences. Something that I'm sure many of the long term club members have noticed is that as transsexuals approach transition, they often become progressively less active in the club. There are very good reasons for this. The support needs of a transsexual at this point are very different that those of a crossdresser or of a transsexual not near the point of transition.
When a transsexual transitions, she lives her life as female. She is female in every sense that matters. She must have that respected. Earlier in the year I wanted to move the location of our meetings to a place that would have been very inexpensive. I wasn't able to do that because of a failure to reach a consensus on the bathroom issue. At that time there were a couple of transitioned transsexuals who were interested in taking an active role in the club. They didn't do so because of the bathroom issue. Since that time I have also transitioned completely. At this point I am the only active member of the club in this situation, but I'm also the president. Soon the issue will also arise with an associate member. Some of you are aware of the price I'm paying to transition. For those of you who don't know it, the price is everything -- my family, my career, even my house.
Our next month's meeting is at a state park whose management has requested we all not use the Ladies' room in the lodge. The Club agreed to this, but I personally cannot. It's here that the basic differences between crossdressers and transsexuals become clear. It simply isn't right to expect a woman to agree to use the Men's room. I cannot express how uneasy this makes me feel personally. I have never been comfortable in men's facilities and now that I have paid such an enormous price to be the woman I am, I have no intention of ever being placed in that situation again. I shouldn't be asked to any more than one of the wives should be asked to do the same thing. Our club, whose purpose it is to provide support to the transgendered, should accept this as a minimum position and should make the policy official by adding it to the club bylaws. A person's gender identity is simply not subject to decision by someone else. No one's gender identity should be open to debate. If you identify and live as female, you should not be asked to use a men's room, period, any more than someone identifies as male should be required to use a ladies' room. If you identify as male or both male and female, then policy needs to be settled on by the group regarding whether you should be able to use the ladies' room at any given functions.
This all might sound stupid to some of you. It isn't. It's very basic. This has arisen several times as a problem recently. The stance I took about the club's support of SPICE boiled down to the same issue -- the organization's failure to recognize the basic gender of a transsexual woman. I took some flak on that stance and I must say I was quite hurt and confused to have had that happen. To me the issue was quite simple. I am a woman, and any group that won't acknowledge that isn't going to get my support. This is one of the reasons I've become an activist. I had thought this was a fairly simple concept and one that everyone in the gender community understood as basic. I was really shocked at the way this didn't prove to be the case. Both online and within the club, I had to explain this over and over.
So where am I going with all this? Well, it's time the club had new leadership. It's way past time that a crossdresser served as president. I've been asking for months for someone to step forward and shoulder some of that. No one has. Our screening officer is moving out of state and no one from the club has been willing to fill that position. The club's screening officer is now Cait. She wasn't a member, so we had to give her membership in order to stay somewhat within the bylaws. It's way past time that some of the crossdresser members of the club step forward and do their share. I know that a couple have, always having shouldered their share of the responsibilities. My hat is off to both of those individuals. That's only two people though. The rest of you must do your part!
The Crystal Club should remain a support and social club. I agree with those of you who don't want to see it become politically active. Some issues, however, must be addressed. Whatever the club's stance on restroom use by crossdressers might be, the position must be that a transitioned transsexual has the right to her gender identity. I will try not to use any restroom at the lodge during the weekend but if I have to, it won't be the men's room , you may think I'm all wet but the reason is I don't want to be. I have compromised on many things since taking over a president. I will not, and should not be asked to compromise my gender.
by Vanessa Edwards-Foster
[Editor's note: This article was written by my dear friend Vanessa for the Texas Association of Transsexual Support newsletter (August 1997) and is being reprinted here with her permission. I think it complements Cathy's article quite well, raising important issues of restroom etiquette. Folks, it shouldn't take a major movement to get you to sit down when using the ladies' room!]
Bathrooms... you can't live without them, and you certainly don't want to live within them! Bathrooms are surely a necessity for us all; at least if we don't want to live unhygienically, or be arrested for urination or defecation in public. (Not exactly something that we'd like to be known by.) Most everyone in the transgendered community by now is aware of etiquette regarding 'the bathroom situation.' There are, unfortunately, a few holdouts; and an incident at the Law Conference prevailed upon me to grab a soapbox (though not one from the bathroom -- not good etiquette) and preach.
As I emerged from a rather sultry visit to the ladies' stall, (which had nothing to do with me... there was no air conditioning in there! Honest!) I heard the unmistakable sound of a stream of fluid splashily hitting a pool of water. In other words, some slob was standing in the women's room peeing like a sailor -- though hopefully not like a drunken one! Sure enough, I turned around to look and there were a pair of shoes pointed towards the toilet, in opposition to the shoes in the adjacent stalls. A wonderful visual emerged of a genetic female in the stall next to this person, suddenly wide-eyed at the realization that someone in the next stall was standing while letting loose the juice (and praying that it wouldn't splatter!)
About this time a mother--with elementary school-aged child in tow--rounded the comer into the bathroom and immediately gave a vaguely disgusted and dismayed look in the direction of the offender. She then turned to give the two of us 'gals' at the mirror a scrutinizing, once-over. I returned her glance with a shoulder-shrug and a faint shake of the head. She hurried her daughter -- who by now was quizzically looking for explanation -- and herself into the farthest stall against the farthest wall and curtly closed the stall door. Mommy was not a happy camper! Even though I saw the fountainesque 'humorist' (and I mean that in the sense of 'humor'...as in body fluid excretions, not humorous as in comedic) emerge from the stall, I deemed it inappropriate to take this person to task and thusly embarrass and shame the individual in front of peers and strangers. (Though I'm certain the strangers -- the genetic women in there -- thought we were the stranger strangers, being in their environ and all... but I digress.) Instead I just finished my business and hurried out; and since the offender was from out-of-town, I'll never get a chance for this to be addressed. Now I wish I had.
We are not at a point where we can feel free to walk into any bathroom in the country and use it as blithely as we would at home. Obviously there are laws against males in female facilities and vice-versa. Even where there are legal loopholes, there are still socially accepted rules to be abided by while in the lavatory contrary to your genetic sex. Failure to follow the expected etiquette in the powder room results, at the very least, in offending women with your brazen behavioral disregard. At worst, they can complain to management and have you ejected, or worse yet...arrested for creating a disturbance in the restroom.
Therefore, regarding urination, the solution is clear: if you feel it necessary to use the ladies' room, use it as a lady would. In other words, when in Rome do as the Romans... drink a lot of wine and pinch every cute butt in sight! No, honestly, don't do that! Just tinkle like Romans...uh, Womans... Womens. (You know what I mean.) If you want to be able to use the ladies' facilities, don't go in there and do something to piss them off! (sorry, crude but on target!) And while in the ladies' lounge, don't spend an inordinate amount of time dallying at the mirror, or chatting and joking with your TG friends in your basso profundo voice. Remember, it's not some exciting excursion! It's just a tiled room with toilets, and urgent genetic females with small bladders...sometimes with small children with big curiosities, even smaller bladders, and an even greater sense of urgency.
Women have to deal with a lot of male intrusion in their lives. The powder room is their last bastion of sanctity, and the last place they want to have to fight over whether the seat is left up or left moistened! Humor them. (and this time I don't mean bodily fluids--indulge their desires!) Act like a lady when in a woman's restroom. Otherwise you jeopardize the privilege for all transgenders; and lord knows that for those of us who want or need to sit, the men's room isn't very sanitary. Something to do with hand / eye coordination: the hand can't steer the one-eyed sna-- ...well, I think I'd better just let that one hang. Keep in mind, the ladies room is a privilege to be earned by correct behavior -- not a right to be demanded by those who would behave rudely. So do the right thing, take a stand for the privilege to sit down.
from off the Internet
via The Texas Association of Transsexual Support newsletter
God was finished with the basic structure on humanity and now it was time for the extras, the perks. So God says to Adam and Eve, "Ok, you've got the basic stuff, now who wants to be able to pee standing up?" Adam leaps to his feet and says, "Me! Oh please, I want to be able to pee standing up!!" So God says, "''Tis granted." And Adam goes off happy.
Then She turns to Eve and says, "Looks like all I have left are the multiple orgasms...."
[Editor's note: For those of you who are concerned, yes, I'm being sarcastic, and no, I'm not about to open a vein.]
When asked how a man differs from a woman, almost anyone can rattle off a fairly lengthy list of traits. Most people's lists would include several differences in body morphology (e.g. women having breasts) and possibly several behavioral differences (e.g. men being more aggressive), but almost nobody would mention differences in the structure and function of the brain. That is because most people think of the brain as a fancy computer only differing between males and females in the way it is programmed by society. In truth, male and female brains have important functional and anatomical differences irrespective of societal programming. These differences better enable individuals to fulfill the gender-specific roles handed down to them through 60,000 years of human evolution, irrespective of whether those roles retain any relevance today. While relatively little of our understanding of this issue is solidified with scientific data, we still know enough to formulate reasonable theories. The views I express in this article are no more than the speculative ramblings of one neurobiologist, based on known differences in male and female neuroanatomy.
Just like the bodies of newborn boys and girls differ, so do their brains. It is the differences in male and female brain structure that give rise to the differences in cognitive and perceptual styles and abilities, personality, emotional characteristics, and sexual responsiveness. During fetal development, brain cells are "programmed" by the presence or absence of testosterone either to differentiate into "male" cells or to develop into the default "female" cells, and once they have been programmed, they cannot be unprogrammed. Newly programmed cells then grow, develop, and establish connections with each other in patterns determined by genetic codes. While each cell has genetic codes for both male and female developmental patterns, only one set of codes can be activated, according to the hormonally-induced "programming."
With respect to sexual dimorphisms, the functional components (or "circuits") of the brain consist of two types. I'll call them "juvenile" and "adult" circuits. Most juvenile circuits exist at birth (or within a year thereafter) and arguably exist throughout one's life. They are essentially what make a girl a girl and a boy a boy, and they function in the absence of the sex steroids (estrogens, progesterones, and testosterones). Then at the appropriate time for puberty, the brain signals the gonads to produce whatever sex steroid they were programmed to produce. Testes produce testosterone, and ovaries produce estrogen and progesterone. These steroids then activate "adult" brain circuits that had previously been dormant -- circuits responsible for "adult" functions, such as being attracted to the (usually) opposite sex, developing male patterns of aggression, developing female nurturing characteristics, etc. Some of these "adult" attributes are mimicked by children; however, they become solidified and intensified during adulthood. The way these circuits respond to the sex steroids is determined largely by the events of fetal development. In the presence of testosterone, these circuits are "organized" in a male pattern and are prepared to be "activated" by testosterone during adulthood. In the absence of testosterone, they are organized in a female pattern and are prepared to be activated by estrogen during adulthood.
Assuming fetal development proceeds normally, the brain of a genetic girl develops in an all-female pattern, and the brain of a genetic boy in an all-male pattern. However, perturbations in the fetal hormonal environment, as well as other factors, can result in brain development that is partially or completely inconsistent with genetic sex. Individuals with these aberrant developmental patterns often become gender-variant. Depending on the particular brain systems affected, gender-variant individuals could have any number of combinations of gender-specific traits in adulthood. To understand more about aberrant patterns, it is first useful to examine some of the differences between "normal" male and female brains.
The brain consists of hundreds of structures, each with a different function. Among these structures is the hypothalamus, located in the "base" of the brain. The hypothalamus, a part of the forebrain, is a very important "motor" structure. That is, it is a structure that issues commands to the body. The two routes through which it controls the body are through the autonomic nervous system (that part of the nervous system not under conscious -- or "voluntary" -- control) and through the endocrine (or hormone) system. Hormonal control is achieved via an extension of the hypothalamus called the posterior pituitary gland, where nerve cells from the hypothalamus release neurochemicals into the bloodstream. Most of these neurochemicals are "releasing factors" that stimulate the adjacent anterior pituitary gland to release their respective hormones. The anterior and posterior divisions of the pituitary gland, under direct control from the hypothalamus, collectively control virtually every aspect of hormonal functioning throughout the body by controlling secretions from other glands. For this reason the pituitary is often called the "master" gland.
While many hypothalamic functions relate to lower-level body maintenance (e.g. regulation of water and electrolyte balance), many others relate to the various aspects of reproduction. The hypothalamus exchanges information with virtually every other part of the brain, particularly from regions involved in high-level sensory/perceptual processing and emotional involvement. In a sense, the hypothalamus is the highest-order sensory system in the brain, making ultimate decisions as to what is sexually attractive and what is not. For instance, nerve cells in the frog hypothalamus have been shown to respond specifically to mating calls..
Once the hypothalamus makes reproductive "decisions", it executes mating behaviors accordingly. Nervous output through the autonomic nervous system controls such things as sexual responses (e.g. penile erection), and hormonal output through the pituitary regulates the secretion of sex steroids, as well as other activities of the primary and secondary sexual organs. Not surprisingly, the hypothalamus functions very differently in men and women. One of the most obvious differences concerns regulation of gonadal activity, specifically with regard to the co-release of luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH). The male reproductive system is designed to operate with a hormonal steady state maintained by LH, which stimulates the testes to produce testosterone. As testosterone levels rise, LH release is inhibited, resulting in less testicular stimulation and therefore less testosterone production. As testosterone levels fall, LH release increases, testicular stimulation increases, and testosterone production increases. In this manner, testosterone levels are maintained at a relative steady level. The female reproductive system is designed to function cyclically, and to do so, it must have some instabilities built into it. FSH and LH work together to induce maturation of ovarian follicles, which produce estrogen. As the follicles mature, estrogen production rises, resulting in a shutdown of FSH/LH secretion; however, the maturing follicles continue secreting progressively higher estrogen levels. When a threshold blood level of estrogen is reached, the hypothalamus responds now by releasing a sharp surge of FSH and LH, resulting in the rupture of the ovarian follicle, the shutdown of estrogen production, and the commencement of progesterone production. As progesterone levels rise, FSH/LH secretion is inhibited, and in the absence of LH the corpus luteum degenerates (resulting in menstruation). Once the corpus luteum degenerates, inhibition on FSH/LH secretion is released, and maturation of another ovarian follicle begins.
The key measurable difference between female and male hormonal regulation, therefore, is the effect of blood levels of sex steroids on LH secretion. In males, testosterone always inhibits LH secretion. Estrogen, which is similar to testosterone, exerts the same effect in males. In females, lower blood estrogen levels inhibit LH secretion, but higher blood levels induce an LH surge. Therefore, one can test whether a hypothalamus is "male" or "female" by administering a higher dose of estrogen and measuring LH levels afterwards. In males, LH secretion is shut down, while in females, it spikes. Not surprisingly, since the hypothalamus plays a key role in reproductive behaviors, male homosexuals and bisexuals show LH spikes when so tested.
Female patterning the hypothalamus has also been claimed for male-to-female transsexuals. A recent study has concluded that a small hypothalamic nucleus, the "BSTc", responsible for certain aspects of rodent sexual behavior, is smaller in heterosexual women than in heterosexual men. While 6 male-to-female transsexuals had a female-sized BSTc, 9 homosexual men had a male-sized BSTc. The implications of these findings are unclear, since it is possible that hormone replacement therapy had caused reduction of the BSTc from male to female size.
While the hypothalamus is responsible for various aspects of sexual responsiveness, the cerebral cortex and related structures are responsible more for functions such as perception, cognition, and "voluntary" responses. As men and women differ greatly in these functions, it comes as little surprise that there are anatomical and functional differences in male and female cortical structures. The most prominent and frequently cited difference in cerebral structure is a thicker corpus callosum in females. The corpus callosum is the main communication pathway between the left and right hemispheres, and a thicker corpus callosum indicates more nerve cells carrying more information between hemispheres. This finding implies that there is more intercommunication between areas of cerebral cortex in women than in men. While some have tried to explain this finding on the basis of lateralization of language capabilities, the same difference exists in other species, including mice. In support of the hemispheric intercommunication explanation, PET scan and EEG studies have shown that patterns of cerebral activity are more broadly dispersed in females and more focal in males. Another prominent sex-related difference in cerebral structure is a more developed left hemisphere cortex in women, versus a more developed right hemisphere cortex in men. This difference suggests more developed spatial processing abilities in men, versus more developed linguistic capabilities in women.
While the functional significance of these differences in cerebral structure is a matter of some debate, I would speculate that they relate to differences in social and reproductive roles, at least with respect to our evolutionary past. Women are charged with the responsibility for bearing, raising, nurturing, and protecting their young, while men are charged with the responsibility for hunting, providing, and protecting the family from harm by intruders. These functions are mirrored by differences in body morphology, with men's bodies being more athletic. Because men's tasks are performance oriented, they depend on speed and efficiency, which is aided by the compartmentalization of neural processing into separate brain areas that operate with some degree of autonomy. This compartmental organization is particularly evident in individuals who have suffered damage to small portions of their cerebral cortex. For a brain lesion of a given size and location, a male will have more specific and profound deficits, while a female will have more generalized deficits of lesser magnitude.
The benefits of compartmentalization versus diffuse organization can best be illustrated by analogy. While several analogies can be drawn here, a more universally understandable one (not necessarily the best one) is that of remote controls. Coffee tables throughout America are littered with intimidating arrays of remote controls -- separate remote controls for TVs, cable tuners, VCRs, stereo amplifiers, CD players, ceiling fans, lawn mowers, etc. In an attempt to simplify people's lives, some manufactures have developed "universal" remote controls that have thousands of buttons for every anticipated function of every piece of equipment you might own or ever hope to own. If one wants to control one's VCR, one may use either the universal remote or the VCR remote. While the universal remote is generally a more "capable" device, it is still more difficult to use, requiring one to ignore superfluous buttons and often to execute relatively complicated command sequences (for instance: select - VCR - tuner - 0 - 6 - enter). The VCR remote is almost always more ergonomically laid out, has only the buttons necessary for operation of the VCR, usually has buttons for functions not supported by the universal remote, is usually smaller, and is simpler and more efficient to operate. With greatly enhanced sensory capabilities, people might also notice that universal remotes execute commands more slowly than VCR remotes, owing to their more extensive circuitry. (While this difference is very slight in a small electronic device, similar differences can be quite substantive in a huge electrochemical machine such as the human brain.) With the benefits of device-specific remotes comes the cost: (1) One's coffee table must be especially sturdy to bear up under the weight. (2) All of the remotes are likely to disappear one day, only to be discovered a month later incorporated into the bridges of a Matchbox superhighway system in your son's sand box. (3) Your monthly budget for remote control batteries could rival that for your children's toys. (4) After waking up to a TV infomercial at 3:00 AM while your cat is eating Dorito fragments out of your lap, you may grab the wrong remote in your semiconscious state and trigger the burglar alarm instead of turning off the $#@!ed infomercial.
Just as it is more efficient to use a VCR remote than a universal remote when watching a video tape, it is more efficient to dedicate a neural processing task to a relatively small, specialized, and tightly connected brain area that has only the processing capabilities needed for the task. This is the design strategy used in the male brain, better enabling men to meet the high performance demands associated with hunting, combat, and such. The cost of this organization, of course, is some degree of redundancy in the capabilities of the different brain areas, perhaps explaining why men have larger brains yet are overall no more or less intelligent than women. The greater size of the right cerebral hemisphere in men also suggests an emphasis on spatial processing capabilities. This emphasis is not surprising, considering the spatial nature of male-oriented tasks.
A woman's traditional reproductive and behavioral role is very different. A woman's primary job is rearing and protecting her young. For this reason she must have keen sensory and perceptual capabilities. She must accurately "read" the needs of her nonverbal infant from subtle cues in types of cries, facial expressions, and so forth. She must also have a keen awareness of her environment, picking up on subtle cues of danger, and she must be able to read the intentions of other people in her vicinity. Obviously the better she can perform these tasks, the better she can protect her infant. In these perceptual tasks, speed and efficiency of processing are relatively unimportant, while thoroughness and accuracy are paramount. Drawing on our analogy, women are therefore better off with universal remotes, as they are more capable devices and offer some compactness from elimination of redundancy. The organizational structure of the female brain suggest that women integrate information widely from different, less redundant brain areas, so as to formulate a "Gestalt" impression of a situation. Women are said to have a "sixth sense" or an "intuition" that is difficult to explain logically. This "sixth sense" is probably the product of such wide integration of information. There is of course also a relatively larger left cerebral cortex in women, suggesting enhanced linguistic capabilities. These capabilities probably reflect the need of women to communicate effectively, so as to protect themselves and their children from danger noncombatively.
Given that these brain differences exist, are there really differences in the perceptual, behavioral, and intellectual capabilities of men and women? Intelligence tests clearly indicate that men are somewhat better on average at performing spatial tasks and that women are somewhat better at strictly linguistic tasks. The differences might be more apparent were it not for the difficulty in designing IQ test questions that tap one type of ability without tapping the other and were it not for the fact that modern society encourages males and females alike to develop their spatial and verbal abilities to certain minimum standards. Still, these differences are quite apparent from common-knowledge differences in male and female cognitive, perceptual, and behavioral styles. For instance, men usually navigate on the basis of a mental image of the terrain, incorporating "dead reckoning" skills. These skills are quite necessary considering the relatively large range a hunting male must cover. Women, conversely, navigate on the basis of logical or verbal cues. For instance, they may drive down a certain road until they reach a Shell station, where they turn right and head to the second light past the McDonald's, all the while having no idea which geographical direction they are going. The preponderance of verbal/logical navigational cues in any city environment make this navigational strategy adequate for traveling even fairly large distances, but in a more "natural" environment with fewer verbal/logical cues, traveling over larger ranges would be difficult. That, however, is not a need that women traditionally have had, as the job their evolutionary past assigns them is to care for their young within the home territory.
Another obvious difference between men and women is the uncanny ability of women to "see through" what a person is saying and to "sense" what he/she really means or intends. Women are almost universally more perceptive than men. Most transgendered people know how difficult it is to avoid being "read" by a woman, compared to the relative ease of "passing" with a man. Besides having heightened perceptual abilities, women also pay more attention to the world around them. That is their nature, as their past requires them to be ever circumspect for signs of danger to their children. For this reason, women are better able than men to describe people and places for memory. How many times has a woman gotten mad at her husband for not noticing or remembering what they both wore on their first date?
While there are other more subtle differences between male and female brains, it is likely that these are the most important factors underlying the various aspects of one's psychological gender, and assuming one's development proceeds normally, the various brain systems will function in the manner "intended." Suppose, however, that through a mistake of fetal development a baby develops a brain whose gender is fully or partially discordant with his/her genetic sex. Very different patterns of brain functioning could arise, depending on the particular brain areas affected. The first system discussed in this article is the hypothalamus, which is intimately involved in sexual preference and mating behaviors. Ordinarily one would be attracted to men one's when one's hypothalamus develops in a female pattern and to women when one's hypothalamus is male. Perhaps some intermediary condition would result in bisexuality. However, various factors would likely impact upon one's sexual preferences. First, one is socialized to pursue members of the opposite genetic sex. While this would be unlikely to affect one's underlying sexual preference, it might discourage the expression of any sexual preferences deemed by society as inappropriate. Furthermore, one might deny one's homosexual preferences when one has personally embraced these same societal attitudes.
Perhaps a more important factor affecting one's sexual preferences is that of steroidal activation of the brain circuits necessary for sexual drive and attraction. The male hypothalamus is organized during fetal development to be activated by testosterone, and the female hypothalamus by estrogen. If one's hypothalamus is of a different sex than one's body, the hormones one's gonads would produce might not activate these circuits, resulting in a juvenile state of sex drive. Of course socialization pressures could influence a person to date, marry, have children, etc.; however, these may often be reluctant compromises on the part of the gender-variant individual. On the other hand, if one perceives one's self to be of a gender different than one's genetic sex, there may be some internal desire to fulfill one's gender role more completely by dating members of the opposite gender and same genetic sex. Still, either of these "preferences" would be weak, owing to the juvenile state of the circuits determining sexual preferences. If one then were to commence hormone replacement therapy, receiving hormones appropriate to one's hypothalamic sex, these circuits would then be activated in a manner inconsistent with one's genetic sex, such that a genetic male would be attracted to males and a genetic female to females. Another possibility is that one's hypothalamic sex is consistent with one's genetic sex but that other parts of the brain are of the opposite sex. In such case, "normal" sexual preferences would likely develop at puberty, but those preferences would diminish with hormone replacement therapy later.
Less is known about how "adult" functional patterns in the cerebral cortex might be activated by sex steroids. Steroid receptors do exist there, and steroids readily cross into the brain through the blood-brain barrier, so it is reasonable to expect that hormonal environments after puberty do affect cortical functioning. Anecdotal evidence of hormone replacement therapy inducing "rewiring" is prevalent in the transsexual community. Often when one's body switches from a testosterone-based system to an estrogen-based system, cognitive and perceptual abilities may be gained or lost. Sometimes these changes are quite profound. For instance, a few of my acquaintances had keen navigational skills prior to hormonal therapy but lost those kills almost entirely. Others may find that their brains seem to "work better," often with learning disabilities fading in magnitude.
Cortical connectivity patterns could be somewhat disordered whenever the cerebral cortex itself is part male and part female. Because male and female cortices follow different organizational strategies, with male cortices being more compartmentalized, a mixed male/female wiring pattern could result in some brain areas or capabilities being represented redundantly while others are absent. Furthermore, the way those areas are interconnected could be confused, with some connections being somewhat inappropriate, while others are never generated. These sorts of connectivity problems could underlie a wide range of learning disabilities that seem to be particularly prevalent among the transgender population.
Cortical organization probably determines the greater part of perceptual and cognitive style, and it is likely that all varieties of cortical "gender" exist, depending on which areas differentiate male and which ones differentiate female. Because there are so many different cortical areas with so many different functions, there are multitudes of cognitive and perceptual characteristics that determine how one interacts with the world and further which determine how one views one's self. The question of gender identity thus becomes very complex. There are of course "degrees" of masculinity and femininity; however, numerous factors make up this parameter: how one moves, how one talks, how one reacts to a picture or a poem, how one dresses, etc. These factors can exist in almost any permutation. What is important to the transgendered individual is whether the preponderance of these factors weigh in the direction of male or female, or whether the mixture is sufficiently mixed that one identifies with both genders. One's feelings in this regard depend in large part on one's personal views about what is important about being a man or a woman. These views differ greatly between people.
It is fortunate that neurobiological research has progressed sufficiently for us to recognize the existence of biological underpinnings to gender disorders. In the future we may be able to act on this knowledge to develop screening procedures for pregnant women and to identify those fetuses in risk of developing gender disorders while intervention is still possible. We still have much to learn, though.
by Jamie Elizabeth
Most of you have heard me say that our movement has positive social value, but we have yet to voice the cogent arguments. Phyllis Burke's book, Gender Shock, published in 1996 by Anchor Books, seems a good beginning. She has several revolting accounts of minor children with "Gender Identity Disorder" being turned over by their parents into the control of intellectually arrogant 'professionals' and being treated with electroshock, chemotherapy, and behavior modification techniques. Some of the descriptions made my skin crawl! (My first wife was manic-depressive and I have had some first hand experience with mental illness at the OSU receiving hospital. I never understood why society places so much faith in psychiatry.)
Ms Burke's concerns make sense when she explains that she is a lesbian mother and author who was often asked how she would provide for a man in her son's life. She said she read "Iron John" and thought about calling for help until she got her reality check from "a very wise elder in a Unitarian congregation." She wrote about this exchange:
(She) slapped the table and said "What is wrong with you? When I was married, and I was married for fifteen years, I played housewife and I did the roles I was expected to do. But when my husband died, I learned the hard way that there had never been a single thing that he did that I could not have done. I raised my sons, and there's nothing wrong with them, because I used all the parts of me to do it. What kind of mother can you be, if you think because you are a woman you are incapable of raising your own child?" An elderly gentleman challenged her, "What about Robert Bly? What about the deep masculine, and Iron John?" The woman looked him straight in the eye and said, "The heck with Iron John."
The man sputtered, and I flushed with embarrassment. I was supposed to be giving the lecture, and instead, she gave me one of the greatest lessons of my life. She helped propel me into a journey through the world of gender with a powerful experience of gender shock. Whereas the child makes an agreement, somewhere along the line, that he or she will suppress and deny a feeling or activity considered inappropriate to their gender, the adult, often in a state of crisis or confusion, has the experience of feeling the shadow self move inside. That shadow self is the trapped half of our identity, where we have hidden those parts of ourselves that are considered gender inappropriate.
The whole book has this quality of resonance for me. She talks about the growing movement of the intersexuals to take back control of their development from well meaning physicians until they can make their own decisions. If you see this book in a bookstore, read the back cover of the dust jacket. She divides the book into four main sections: Behavior, Appearance, Science and Gender Independence. It is in the last section that she presents the positives of individual gender diversity: "The advantages of gender independence are extra ordinary. People who are gender independent are more flexible and have a wider range of strategies for dealing with diverse situations. They do not suppress a part of themselves for fear of not being masculine or feminine, and so have access to more coping techniques and a wider range of problem solving tools. For example, the gender independent man is more capable of retreating from a no-win situation without fear of appearing unmasculine, and the gender independent woman is more capable of holding her ground, when that is the most strategic action to take, without fear of appearing unfeminine."
My goal like that of many others is to have a romantic relationship with a woman and be free to be like her. If I can't have both, I don't want either. My arriving at this goal has taken a long, long time. I would have reached this point sooner had I known how to be open and take risks in a relationship, but I waited until there came a time when the personal cost exceeded the risk. My employer has been notified, government security people have been notified, and my neighbors have seen me many times going to Crystal Club meetings. My wife, Susan, occasionally helps with clothing and critiques me, although she has yet to view this phenomena with enthusiasm. I think her attitude and that of much of society is the result of at least two millennia of bad press from the Judeo-Christian theologians.
Erroneous theories have caused tragic results for many like us, but the modern age asks us to accept individual responsibility for our personal models of "the good" instead of relying on people who know "more than we do". If the miracle of life is demonstrated anew with the birth of each and every child then it makes sense to want to participate to the fullest extent possible. To be fully human means to not shrink into either a classical "female" or a "male" role, but to be everything you can be. I have heard the argument that we kill creativity in children as part of the educational process. Is it possible that part of this process is to "educate" our children to be exclusively girls and boys? Surprisingly, in this time of "do it yourself" theology, we are getting support from many of the more liberal churches who are beginning to see social problems in a new way. Those of us with gender anomalies now have the opportunity to prove ourselves as social assets instead of liabilities. P
I recently received an email from Mary Fambrough of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. She is a doctoral candidate whose interests lie in the different social roles men and women live. In her own words, "I am in the process of designing a research project concerning how men can be enabled to "see" the world through the eyes of the less privileged -- namely women. I will be looking for people to interview, one to one, in groups, or both, who have experienced living both as male and as female. I am looking for suggestions of how I might find people willing to participate. The only reward is possibly helping to uncover something important for social change, an opportunity to be heard, and hopefully increasing respect for transsexuals in this culture."
I think we can help her out. My understanding is that the interviews do not have to be face-to-face, so this is something that can be done by our readers nationwide. If you think you can help Ms. Fambrough, please contact her at:
Case Western Reserve University
Department of Organizational Behavior
Weatherhead School of Management
10900 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44106-7235
Copyright © 1997 by the Crystal Club, all rights reserved. Articles and information contained in The Crystal Chronicle may be reprinted by other non-profit organizations without advanced permission, provided the author and source is cited and a copy of the issue containing the reprinted material is sent to the Crystal Club within two months of publication. The opinions or statements contained in the Crystal Chronicle are those of the authors' and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editor or the Crystal Club. Furthermore, neither the Crystal Club nor the Crystal Chronicle editor assume responsibility for any consequences resulting either directly or indirectly either from advice or from any other materials contained in this newsletter. Contributions of articles are encouraged but may be altered with the author's intent retained or may be rejected, whether solicited or not. Absolutely no sexually explicit material will be accepted or printed. Contributions may be emailed directly to the editor or sent to the postal address below. The Crystal Club is a non-profit support group for transvestites, crossdressers, transsexuals, female impersonators, and other transgendered individuals. Spouses and significant others are welcome and are encouraged to participate. Both male-to-female and female-to-male individuals are welcome. Also, members from related organizations, helpful professionals, and approved guests are welcome when cleared through a Crystal Club elected officer. Club policies, meeting dates, locations, and fees are available on request through our address below. We will exchange newsletters with any other similar group. Send all correspondence to: The Crystal Club, P.O. Box 287, Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068-0287. (614) 231-1368.