Brain Gender Identity – a presentation by Dr Sidney Ecker, MD FACS

Zoe has a really interesting post on her blog A.E. Brain

A letter I recently received from Dr Ecker, to whom many thanks:

Hi Zoe,

Yes, we gave our presentation to 60 plus psychiatrists from the US, AU, FR, IT, EU, UK, Holland etc.

We spoke for 2 1/2 hours on why cross gender identity was a normal inherited variation of humans. We showed how Transgender Brains think, smell, and hear like the opposite sex. We presented internationally accepted guidelines for hormonal treatment of transsexuals to be published Summer 2009.

Here are my slides and with my participants’ permission I shall send you theirs. We are now in print in the APA Syllabus and soon in the APA Journal this summer. I am checking if we were recorded.

My greatest personal compliment came from Frank Kruijver, from Holland, whose research of the human brain in TSs started it all. He thought we have taken his work very far in our understanding of the human brain. Hope you can do something with this. Sid Ecker, M.D.

Continue Reading at:

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Catholic Church shamed by Irish abuse report

DUBLIN – After a nine-year investigation, a commission published a damning report Wednesday on decades of rapes, humiliation and beatings at Catholic Church-run reform schools for Ireland’s castaway children.

The 2,600-page report painted the most detailed and damning portrait yet of church-administered abuse in a country grown weary of revelations about child molestation by priests.

The investigation of the tax-supported schools uncovered previously secret Vatican records that demonstrated church knowledge of pedophiles in their ranks all the way back to the 1930s.

Wednesday’s five-volume report on the probe — which was resisted by Catholic religious orders — concluded that church officials shielded their orders’ pedophiles from arrest amid a culture of self-serving secrecy.

“A climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for boys. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the next beating was coming from,” Ireland’s Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse concluded.

Victims of the abuse, who are now in their 50s to 80s, lobbied long and hard for an official investigation. They say that for all its incredible detail, the report doesn’t nail down what really matters — the names of their abusers.

“I do genuinely believe that it would have been a further step towards our healing if our abusers had been named and shamed,” said Christine Buckley, 62, who spent the first 18 years of her life in a Dublin orphanage where children were forced to manufacture rosaries — and were humiliated, beaten and raped whether they achieved their quota or not.

The Catholic religious orders that ran more than 50 workhouse-style reform schools from the late 19th century until the mid-1990s offered public words of apology, shame and regret Wednesday. But when questioned, their leaders indicated they would continue to protect the identities of clergy accused of abuse — men and women who were never reported to police, and were instead permitted to change jobs and keep harming children.

The Christian Brothers, which ran several boys’ institutions deemed to have harbored serial child molesters and sadists on their staff, insisted it had cooperated fully with the probe. The order successfully sued the commission in 2004 to keep the identities of all of its members, dead or alive, unnamed in the report. No real names, whether of victims or perpetrators, appear in the final document.

The Christian Brothers’ leader in Ireland, Brother Kevin Mullan, said the organization had been right to keep names secret because “perhaps we had doubts about some of the allegations.”

“But on the other hand, I’d have to say that at this stage, we have no interest in protecting people who were perpetrators of abuse,” Mullan said, vowing to “cooperate fully with any investigation or any civil authority seeking to explore those matters.”

Buckley, who said she was abused at an orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy, which ran several refuges for girls where the report documented chronic brutality, said the religious orders for years branded the victims as money-seeking liars — and were incapable of admitting their guilt today.

She criticized Mullan for suggesting that “today, having read the report, he doesn’t mind if the abusers are named and shamed. Isn’t that a little bit late for us?”

The report found that molestation and rape were “endemic” in boys’ facilities, chiefly run by the Christian Brothers order, and supervisors pursued policies that increased the danger. Girls supervised by orders of nuns, chiefly the Sisters of Mercy, suffered much less sexual abuse but frequent assaults and humiliation designed to make them feel worthless.

“In some schools a high level of ritualized beating was routine. … Girls were struck with implements designed to maximize pain and were struck on all parts of the body,” the report said. “Personal and family denigration was widespread.”

Ireland’s myriad religious orders, much like their mother church, have been devastated by 15 years of scandals involving past cover-ups of abusers in their ranks.

The Christian Brothers have withdrawn from running several schools that still bear their name and the order has had few recruits in Ireland in the past two decades. Other orders are down to a handful of members, and their bases are closer to nursing homes than active missions.

“Most of these orders will literally die out in Ireland within the next generation or so,” said Michael Kelly, editor of the Irish Catholic newspaper in Dublin. “Many of them are already in wind-up mode. They lack the confidence even to seek new vocations (recruits), due to the stigma associated with their members’ shocking, scandalous behavior.”

The Irish government, which in 1999 apologized for its role in permitting decades of abuse and established the commission to nail down the full truth of the matter, has tried to use money to bring closure to the victims.

A government-appointed panel has paid 12,000 survivors of the schools, orphanages and other church-run residences an average of $90,000 each — on condition they surrender their right to sue either the church or state. About 2,000 more claims are pending. Irish Catholic leaders cut a controversial deal with the government in 2001 that capped the church’s contribution at $175 million — a fraction of the final cost.

Some victims emphasized, even as they began thumbing through the report, that nothing — not even criminal convictions of their long-ago tormentors — will ever put right their psychological wounds and make their nightmares go away.

Tom Sweeney, who spent five years in two Christian Brothers-run institutions where he was placed for truancy, says he suffered sexual abuse and beatings. He also has bitter memories about more everyday humiliations — such as being forced to wrap his urine-stained sheets around his neck and parade in front of other children when he’d wet his bed.

“It’s something you’ll never forget, the way you lived in these industrial schools,” he said.

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There has been much misrepresentation (1, 2, 3) in the attempt to understand the potential for hormonal administration to alter sexually dimorphic human brain nuclei.

In an effort to correct these misconceptions, OII staff member M. Italiano has received permission to post an unpublished letter by Dick F. Swaab, M.D., Ph.D. of The Netherlands Brain Research Institute to publicly correct these misconceptions.

To read Dr. Swaab’s response: Click here

1) Hulshoff Pol, H.E. et al. (2006) Changing your sex changes your brain: Influences of testosterone and estrogen on adult human brain structure. European J. Endoc., 155 (Suppl. 1), S107-S114.

2) Lawrence, A.A. (2007) A Critique of the brain-sex theory of transsexualism. Click here

3) Bailey, J.M. & Triea K. (2007) What Transgender Activists Don’t Want You to Know: and why you should know it anyway. Persp. Biol. Med., 50(4): 521-534.


Breaking Rules and Befuddling Friends

Leslie, who has been one of my BFFs since 1972 tells me how she just doesn’t understand where I am coming from almost every time we talk.

Thirty seven years…  What a long time to be girl friends.  We’ve known each other through joy and sorrow, relationships and break-ups.

We met when Ron, a man who has been helpful and supportive of both of us sent her to the NTCU office when she came to California from Virginia.

She popped up on a Monday morning just as I was opening the office up.  I took her to breakfast at the infamous Compton’s Cafeteria.  She told me she was a model and I wrecked her by asking to see her portfolio.

We couldn’t possibly be more different. I was a stone Yankee on the fringes of Weather Nation with a deserter boy friend and ultra left wing politics, an atheist even then and she was the last southern belle, conservative and traditional.  I was feminist hippie with a pop taste in clothes, she was ultra feminine in chiffons and other flowing fabrics.

She told me she couldn’t believe I was a sister and that when she met me she assumed I was a co-ed working at the office while going to school, a sort of internship.

We got our surgery at Stanford, me in 1972 and her in 1973.  At one point Dr Laub, who was far more in tune with what girls and women from the Bay area were like asked me if I thoght she was a transsexual and not a queen because she was so ultra feminine and flamboyant.  I said with a shrug, “She’s Southern.” drawing out the word southern for emphasis.  Thirty some years later I would visit the Rose Festival Museum in Tyler, Texas and see exactly how profoundly accurate that assessment was.

We went to movies together, black and white classic movies of the 1930s and 40s.  She loved the glamor and I loved the photography.

We ran through the gay dance clubs that allowed women in as well as men, mainly the Stud on Folsom Street owned by Alexis Muir, the probable model for Mrs Madrigal of “Tales of the City”.

She slept with my lover and confessed to me some ten years later.  I told her I knew, that he had told me when it happened.  She couldn’t understand my in-difference.  I told her the only thing different about that particular incident vis a vis   my relationship with my boy friend was that I hadn’t slept with her too.

She was shocked but when it had happened we were a far better world, also we were young and bohemian… Life was a movable feast.

I became a groupie and a model.  I focused on lead singers, lead guitars and rising movie stars along with a bunch of never going to make its.  I was indifferent to modeling and preferred to be looking through the viewfinder.  She wanted to model but lacked the ambition and ambition so clashed with her desires for a 1950s life as a traditional wife.

I became a radical feminist and a woman identified woman, something that meant a militant lesbian in those days.

Now, when we talk, which is trying for me since she has been very ill for a long time with a pancreatic problem I am afraid she is dying.

She tells me she is disappointed I never married and entered a traditional relationship, I tell her how sad it is that she wasted her considerable artistic talents.  We talk about our friends who are no longer with us and how we miss them, the tragedy of lives live too fast for too little time.

When we talk I am reminded of a Dylan song, “And you’re right from your side and I’m right from mine, we’re just one too many mornings and a thousand miles behind.”

The reality is she did what she thought was right for her and I did what was right for me.  I wouldn’t trade my life for hers nor would she trade her life for mine.

I am writing my life story, I’m afraid she has neither the time nor will to write hers.

We love each other and cherish  the friendship that has had its high moments and lows for nearly 40 years if you include the years when we were so angry with one another we swore we would never speak to each other.

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