Archive Page 2

22
Jun
12

Identifying with the other

So, recent comments on my intersex post have led me to feel the need to write another post. Hooray for you! (sarcasm)

The discussion (for those who don’t want to read all the comments) is about identifying with the other. Wanting to be the other to justify why a person feels the way they do, the other not understanding why anyone would desire to be that other, feeling they don’t understand what being other entails. Thus, I’m going to lay it all out there…

It seems many trans individuals want to have a label so that they understand WHY they feel like their parts don’t match what they feel in their hearts and minds. Having a diagnosis that explains why stuff doesn’t match up. OK. I get that. I get that it is difficult to deal with the internal cognitive dissonance that comes with the external incongruence. It makes complete sense.

The reality, though, is that for all the similarities between trans and intersex (having to deal with stupid doctors, a medical community who rarely understands the needs of the individual when it comes to both the internal and external organs, etc) the differences are ignored. Intersex people do not WANT their genitals to match the dichotomy. They do not wish to be shoved in a pigeon holed description of what sex and gender are to the majority of non-intersex people. They want to live as they are (or were before being hacked upon by some self important asshole).

Like trans people, intersex people want to be able to use the public restroom without fear of retribution. But that fear is based solely on the structure which dictates what is too small or too big. They want to go through their day and not have to hear a joke about how much size matters, that someone needs to ‘grow a pair,’ or that a man isn’t a man if his penis is ‘too small.’ They want to have their clitoris be loved as it is. Not have a mate turned off because she is too big to be a woman. They want to live life, not having to wonder how things might have been, had they not been reassigned without their permission and without their parents being pushed to have it done (if they were consulted at all). They want to hear someone speak of female genital mutilation, knowing it wasn’t done to themselves, ripped apart because some stupid doctor with a tape measure could see her parts when the doctor felt it shouldn’t be seen. They want to know that their size really doesn’t matter, despite what the jokes and snide comments say.

I want it understood…I am NOT saying that the intersex road is harder than the trans. They are both two very difficult rows to hoe. But I think trans people sometimes underestimate the daily struggles of living in a world where, the only way a person can be judged of their full worth, is by what is or is not in their pants.

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21
Jun
12

Call for an End to Cutting Intersex Girls’ Genitals in the US!

I don’t usually post this sort of thing here, but this one is a biggie. Please take the time to read it and then the address provided below. Thanks!

http://www.change.org/petitions/hillary-clinton-call-for-an-end-to-cutting-intersex-girls-genitals-in-the-us

Call for an End to Cutting Intersex Girls’ Genitals in the US!

Greetings,

I just signed the following petition addressed to: HILLARY CLINTON.

—————-
Call for an End to Cutting Intersex Girls’ Genitals in the US!

Dear Secretary Clinton & Ambassador Verveer,

February 6, 2013 marks the tenth annual International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C).1 Cosmetic genital surgery is a practice of cutting girls so that they can fit cultural norms, even though there are no medical benefits. Many people in the United States believe this is something that only happens in other countries. Unfortunately, it happens here too. Every year, hundreds of girls in the U.S. undergo cosmetic genital surgery because someone had decided their clitoris is “too big” to fit our cultural norms.2 An estimated one to two in 1,000 births results in surgery to “normalize” genital appearance in children with intersex conditions or DSD (differences of sex development).3

Survivors of normalizing surgery have compared it to FGM/C, stating it has similar results. Normalizing surgery can result in a loss of sexual and reproductive functions, genital pain or discomfort, infections, scarring, urinary irregularities, and psychological damage.4 These surgeries are not medically necessary.

Last year, in honor of the Day of Zero Tolerance, Secretary Clinton made a strong statement condemning the practice of FGM/C. This year, we call on her to recognize that genital cutting affects girls in the U.S. who are born with an intersex condition, and to condemn these unnecessary genital surgeries. We also call on Ambassador Verveer of the Office of Global Women’s Issues to add her voice to this call, and to use her influence to bring this issue to Secretary Clinton’s attention.

As Secretary Clinton has pointed out, culture and tradition can provide no excuse for a practice that mutilates children’s genitals with no medical benefit.5 It can be much harder, though, to see the flaws in our own culture than in others. The United States will be in a much stronger position to address FGM in other countries when we have acknowledged and addressed the way our own society modifies girls’ genitals to suit cultural ideas of beauty and normality.

We, the undersigned, are concerned citizens who urge our leaders to act now to stop this harmful practice. On the Tenth Annual International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM/C, we ask that Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Verveer acknowledge that genital-normalizing surgery happens to girls in the United States who are born with intersex conditions or DSD. Let’s work together to stop all forms of non-consensual genital cosmetic surgery, simply to fit cultural norms, in the United States and abroad.

1. U.S. Department of State. International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. (Accessed June 3, 2012 at http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2012/02/183458.htm.)
2. http://www.thenation.com/blog/36481/leading-cornell-doctor-performing-genital-cutting
3. Intersex Society of North America. Frequently Asked Questions. (Accessed June 7, 2012, at http://www.isna.org/faq/frequency.)
4. 21 Tul. J. L. & Sexuality 1, 11
5. Secretary Clinton Marks International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation. Dipnote Bloggers. February 15, 2012. Accessed June 12, 2012.

20
Jun
12

intersex is NOT a disease

Claim: That is an opinion and I can accept that is where you stand and you have the choice to hold that view if you wish.

The words sex and gender have often been skewed to indicate that these are entirely determined by culture. They are not. They are however a combination of cultural and individual experience and the genetics with which a person was born. Such fallacies are implemented due to the poor research and misleading publications, not of a social psychologist, as this photo suggests, but rather by those of a psychoendocrinologist who developed these theories (Dr. John Money).

We, as animals, do not have a gender, but as social creatures we do. This statement in the picture, however is contradictory to the statement above it which states that gender is biological in nature.
Nouns do have gender, as do pronouns (for the most part), however it is very ethnocentric to make said statement about all languages, as many have gender in items such as desks, pencils, chairs, etc. Secondly, this statement is also stated quite poorly as ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ are not in fact nouns, but adjectives.

To say that XX, XXY, XYY, and the myriad of other variations are ‘deformations’ is both condescending and purposefully inflammatory. Green eyes are a ‘deformation’, as are many other characteristics that are easily seen about any individual’s appearance. The assumption that any of these variations are believed to be newly discovered is, at best, misguided. XX and XY, while being the most commonly occurring genetic variations, however the explanation that follows is incorrect. The XXX, XXY, and XYY variations do not occur due to random mutation of a normal gene. They are, in fact, genes of their own consistency, that is to say they are heritable. Also, to equate said variations of intersex with Down’s Syndrome is incorrect. Those individual with Down’s are most often infertile, and when not, Down’s is not heritable. Additionally, there are many other types of intersex variation that do not include the genetic variations listed above. Some of those are random mutations, yes, but mutation does not equal deformity, only difference.

‘Hermaphrodite’ is a medical term that describes none of the three intersex variations listed above in the picture. The terminology here is very off, which would indicate that the individual who created it is not informed on the correct terminology. Hermaphrodism refers only to individuals who have BOTH male and female primary or secondary sex characteristics and does NOT include those of the ambiguous variations.

99% of XY women do not reach puberty? That statistic is blatently false. I’m not exactly sure how many of them do, as that would actually be a suicide or accident statistic, but the vast majority do in fact reach puberty, but because pubertal onset means an increase in both estrogen and testosterone production, the secondary sex characteristics can be either male, female, or both, depending on the individual. Secondly, the bad grammar here again diminishes the accuracy of this picture (more taller).

“Take the brain that occurs the most” doesn’t even make sense, see comment above. The male brain has no different ‘parts’ than the female brain. This entire section makes no sense whatsoever if anyone is even remotely educated in brain structures. There are relatively few sex differences between male and female brains. The ones that do exist occur after pubertal onset, when there is a major change in growth and a pruning of unused neural pathways. Some suggest that the cultural norms of what females are expected to do vs males may be responsible for these differences, other evidence suggests that it may be hormonal. The reality is that they just aren’t sure. The only significant difference between the two is size. Women’s brains tend to be somewhat smaller, but have an increased number of gyri, thus increasing the overall surface area.

There is not a legitimate scientist (endocrine, geneticist, neural, or otherwise) who would use brain structure as a determining factor of sex. That is another blatantly false claim. Again, male and female brains do NOT have different parts.

Well, for all the arguing against any rights for intersex individuals, at least it makes a good argument for transsexuals. False, but convincing, nonetheless. In reality, what the photo to the left fails to indicate (as does the text to the right) is that the hypothalamic activity (and yes, that is what the photo to the left is actually showing) is changed with high levels of chronic stress. MTF transsexuals have an incredibly high level of chronic stress and, thus, would have the levels concurrent with those of females. A good example of this contractual error is the SIDS research of the early 20th century. Hundreds of thousands of children’s brains were irradiated to reduce the size of the hypothalamus because they thought that large ones caused SIDS to occur. In reality, they were only comparing upper class SIDS deaths to those of poor (and highly stressed) infants lost to other causes (such as starvation). Bad sample, much? Point being, this is being misattributed to sex differences when it is in fact a stress difference.

Cisgendered is an act of choosing not to PERFORM gender, not to identify that one is not present. Again, false. And why, exactly does this photo repeatedly compare intersex to physical illness or life threatening differences? Intersex is not life threatening (unless someone who is ignorant or misinformed beats someone to death).

And now, we get personal. Call it logical fallacy if you wish, but as I have offered fact alone up to this point, I really don’t give a shit. The last comment on the right would indicate that A. intersex individuals are sterile (which is true in the minority, but most are fertile) and that B. fertility should be somehow controlled, or intersex individuals should be somehow contained so as not to spread their ‘disease’. There is a reason that there is no source information on this photo. It promotes genocide, is inflammatory, and uses (at best) half truths to make a point for hurting people who deserve nothing but the same humane treatment every other person receives. How dare you, or anyone else imply that intersex people are any less people than you are. It is exactly this type of ignorance and half education that cause people to die at the hands of doctors who think they know how to hack a person’s genitals to pieces, or at the hands of ignorant bastards who believe that a person’s worth lies in his/her pants.

But I ask you now, what is it exactly that gives you the knowledge to back any of the statements made in this graphic? Is it a degree? Is it hours of research on intersex variations, articles about those variations, history of those? Weeks, months, and even years of talking to experts in the field or the individuals who are affected daily by the ignorance this graphic displays? Perhaps it is the daily experience of facing the challenges often associated with the intersex? Or maybe it is grant writing to the NIH to advance study of the consequences of this type of ignorance on the individuals who suffer it’s wrath? You see, it isn’t culture, biology, or society that cause intersex individuals problems. It isn’t their health, or their fertility, or their brain activity. It is the ignorance of people who refuse to do the work necessary to actually learn something other than the regurgitated (and false) shit that gets thrown at them by a grossly falsified graphic. THAT, is what needs to be fixed.

24
May
12

Did you really just say that?

I have had a great deal running around in my little head as of late but I am just now taking the time to put it down here.

Anywho…Here goes…

Why on Earth must people be more concerned with specific details of an individual’s genitals than they are about the consequences of actions? I am sure you probably, at the very least, just raised your eyebrows and uttered a mental “I’m sorry…What!?”

Seriously. This gets VERY old. When people hear of intersex variations, they want details. What makes a person intersex? Exactly what do you mean by atypical? Why don’t they just fix it? Aren’t there counselors for that? I’m going to address this as though I am actually talking to YOU, so please do not take offense if you are a person knowledgeable enough not to say stupid shit. OK, first I’m going to actually answer the questions, then I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with it, and lastly offer some better alternative responses.

1. “What makes a person intersex?”

Definition-Intersex is when a person’s genital development is atypical. In other words, their genetic makeup, their primary sex characteristics, or their secondary sex characteristics don’t line up, or are outside of two standard deviations from the average (note that I did not say “norm”).

What’s wrong-If someone is sitting there telling you that their child’s foot (which you can’t see) is different, but it is not a medical problem, do people say…”What makes is a foot different?”

Better option-Mind your own damned business and focus on the issue at hand.

2. “What exactly do you mean by atypical?”

Definition-Not typical.

What’s wrong-You are asking for specific details that are irrelevant and none of your business.

Better option-Mind your own damned business and focus on the issue at hand.

3. “Why don’t they just fix it?”

Answer-There are actually no firm answers for this one, but I’ll give it a try. Well, surgery implies that there is in fact something wrong, when there really is no medical issue present (in most cases).

What’s wrong- How dare ANYBODY have the nerve to suggest to a parent that they allow surgery on a child when said person had not heard of the variations until 5 minutes earlier? Secondly, most ‘corrective’ surgeries end up causing more harm and need for future surgeries. Third, would you give an infant rhinoplasty because you think their nose is too big or too small? I think not.

Better option-Mind your own damned business and focus on the issue at hand.

4. “Aren’t there counselors for that?”

Answer-No. Not really. While there may be some services provided for those who have received (or been victims of) surgical intervention, there is little to nothing for those who have not been butchered.

What’s wrong-Um…You just implied that intersex equates to mentally ill or in some other way disturbed. HELLO!? Do they have counselors for really small feet?

Better option-If you honestly feel that there may be a problem, offer your help to assist in finding a counselor who may be sensitive to the issue. Do not question the sanity of the endocrinologist (as a psychoendocrinologist is not a crazy endocrinologist), do not suggest that someone ask their PCP (because SURELY that hadn’t occurred to them yet), and please, please, PLEASE do not explain that your complete and utter lack of knowledge will somehow be a good use of your unlicensed, unqualified, and uninformed skills.

So, in short, consider yourself (although sarcastically) informed either on an issue of which you were previously unaware, or on the crap that comes out of people’s mouths.

23
Apr
12

harold* and the purple crayon (*names have been changed to protect from homophobes)

Bullying is a major problem, we know this. There are anti bullying initiatives, programs, and classes. Schools tell kids to report it. They tell them to stop it. They tell them not to do it. That’s great and all, but me think we are not getting to the crux of the situation. We are pulling at weeds, picking the leaves, and not touching the roots. Yeah, yeah…Enough metaphors. My point?

Parents. We spend millions of dollars per year trying to keep kids from beating the crap out of each other and making each other feel like shit, and yet parents are ignored or enlisted to help teach. This is where so, so, SO many of the teachers need to be the students. PARENTS teach hate. PARENTS teach homophobia. PARENTS teach bigotry. These are not traits that a small child picks up at the local bar on a Friday night. Four year olds don’t judge because someone’s crayon isn’t the right color.

I don’t share a great deal of personal information here, but today it seems necessary. My daughter was upset when I picked her up today because one of the other girls yelled at a little boy for having a purple crayon. My daughter had a blue one. She informed the other girl that if she could have a blue crayon, then the boy could have the purple one, then proceeded to retrieve said purple crayon from the trash (the other girl threw it away) and hugged the little boy.

I get that children have developmental milestones they reach at different times, including indication that ‘blue is for boys’ and (in this case) ‘purple is for girls’. Yeah. I get that. They gender divide. BUT belittling the little boy for the purple crayon? Throwing it away in the trash? THAT is NOT a milestone. That is hateful, mean, and spiteful. I don’t blame the little girl. She did not know that it was hateful, mean, or spiteful, she only knows that is something an adult in her life would never tolerate.

05
Mar
12

Vaginaphobia

Due to circumstances beyond my control, it’s been quite awhile since the last post. Still dealing with said circumstances, but I just have too much wandering about inside my little head.
V-Day having just passed, I feel the need to comment. For those non-feminists in my reading public, V-Day as mentioned here refers no to WWII, but rather to the day(s) devoted to bringing awareness of issues relating to violence (sexual and physical) against women worldwide. As part of the V-Day movement, The Vagina Monologues (VMs) is a collection of theatrical monologues performed to both educate and to raise funds for local violence shelters. So, having provided a short background, I will get on with my random thoughts…

This year there was a great deal of backlash about the VMs. As promotion, our group of young (and not quite so young) women went out and “chalked” our university campus, writing various bits of vagina information, including the dates of the show, some statistics and “Until the violence stops,” among others. One of those with which we were the most impressed was the section on the library steps, ”Vagina words: What do YOU call it?” Here there was a wonderful list written in various colors, many of which offered by passersby who were entertained by the fervor with which our chalk was flying. Some even asked to draw chalk vaginas on the sidewalk and we gratefully granted the chalk for the artistry.

The next day, as the young (and not so young) women involved in the chalking wandered campus, they listened with pride as people commented on the drawings, dates, and yes…the vagina euphemisms. It wasn’t until later in the day that things went awry. Our vaginas were disappearing. Not the drawings, not the FABULOUS euphemisms (which admittedly were the most likely to offend, so we thought), but the actual word: VAGINA.

I received a slightly intriguing email from a professor informing me of the disappearing vaginas. Said that appeared to be the only thing missing. Sure enough, on further inspection, the vaginas were the only thing missing. Someone or someones were removing “vagina” from every chalk tag within a 50 foot radius of one particular building of campus (the other side of campus was left untouched). Reluctant facilities services workers were dragging wet mops across the letters, removing them as though they were some form of profanity. A professor (who shall remain nameless here) was seen removing the word from a large tag stating “The Vagina Monologues 2012, Until the violence stops!” Yes, it was not the euphemisms that were found offensive (beef curtain was a personal favorite, as was the snack that smiles back), but the actual word “vagina”.

That same night, the young women (and not so young and a couple of male assistants) showed up in force with a great deal more chalk than before, and covered the section of campus that had been carefully censored. Also, there was hairspray involved for the purposes of sealing against future mopping. The next day, the same facilities service workers, as reluctant as before, began the work of removing the freshly restored vaginas. At this point, the head librarian stepped out and informed them that they were not to touch any of the work within her area, as that was her domain and it was done with her permission (which is only about half true, but that’s not the point).

It was wonderful to know that we had support. It was amazing to see people standing together for a cause so important. It was disappointing to see that people were so disturbed by such a simple word.

Had the word been “arm” or “leg” or “heart”, I am fairly confident that it would have remained untouched. I am saddened that the words “sideways clam” and “fish sandwich” remained, while “vagina” was removed. Why?

Why is vagina thought to be such a dirty word? Why was something as simple as a body part offensive, while negative euphemisms were left behind? Why, in an arena of free thought and advanced learning, is VAGINA thought so disgusting that it must be censored?

I don’t know the answer to these questions, but I do understand now, more than ever, why it is of the utmost importance that Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues be presented time and time again. We must, MUST begin to realize that vagina is not a dirty word, that it is a body part like any other while being a part like no other. To quote Ensler:

“THE HEART IS CAPABLE OF SACRIFICE.
SO IS THE VAGINA.
THE HEART IS ABLE TO FORGIVE AND REPAIR.
IT CAN CHANGE ITS SHAPE TO LET US IN.
IT CAN EXPAND TO LET US OUT.
SO CAN THE VAGINA.
IT CAN ACHE FOR US AND STRETCH FOR US,
AND DIE FOR US.
AND BLEED AND BLEED US INTO THIS DIFFICULT…
WONDROUS WORLD.”

07
Feb
12

Redefining Marriage

Tomorrow begins “National Marriage Week” in the US (and possibly world wide, admittedly I’m not clear on this point). As such, Focus on the Family and other groups are pushing their definition of marriage on millions of Americans who’s marriage rights continue to be denied.

The most common argument I hear against equal marriage rights continues to be “you can’t redefine marriage. Marriage is a religious institution between a man and a woman. You can call it something else, but your can’t redefine it.” OK, I finally figured out why this argument bothers my so much, aside from the blatant falsehood that marriage began as a religious institution and not as a means to transfer wealth…They claim that marriage is being broken by attempts at redefinition, and yet redefine is exactly what they have done.

Biblical doctrine repeatedly states that women are given to men, that parents match their children (or God does so directly with many conditions attached). So, when exactly did it go from a means of parents assigning the best match for their children to a marriage of love and family? When exactly did the redefinition to an institution of love and support occur?

Hello Kettle, this is the pot and I am calling you black. Please practice what you preach, religious right.