Women at Risk

From the New York Times

“I actually look good. I dress good, am clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne — yet 30 million women rejected me,” wrote George Sodini in a blog that he kept while preparing for this week’s shooting in a Pennsylvania gym in which he killed three women, wounded nine others and then killed himself.

We’ve seen this tragic ritual so often that it has the feel of a formula. A guy is filled with a seething rage toward women and has easy access to guns. The result: mass slaughter.

Back in the fall of 2006, a fiend invaded an Amish schoolhouse in rural Pennsylvania, separated the girls from the boys, and then shot 10 of the girls, killing five.

I wrote, at the time, that there would have been thunderous outrage if someone had separated potential victims by race or religion and then shot, say, only the blacks, or only the whites, or only the Jews. But if you shoot only the girls or only the women — not so much of an uproar.

According to police accounts, Sodini walked into a dance-aerobics class of about 30 women who were being led by a pregnant instructor. He turned out the lights and opened fire. The instructor was among the wounded.

We have become so accustomed to living in a society saturated with misogyny that the barbaric treatment of women and girls has come to be more or less expected.

Continue reading at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/08/opinion/08herbert.html?_r=1

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Trying to be Respectable

My friend Sophia Siedlberg has a new blog which I am adding a link to on the Blogroll sidebar.  Sophie combines intellect and righteous anger in her writings.  She is absolutely fearless and never shies away from speaking truth to power.


Sophia’s Cutting Anger, UK

August 4, 2009 by sophiaofthescythes

What am I so angry about? Well we could start with the ugly situation where someone spends their entire lives being told what they are, what they should be how bad they are, how they must be pitied. Intersex children face this from day one, it is not always at the hands of the parents either. Most of the trouble seems to come from those self appointed “Experts” who seek to tell the parents what to do, and how to raise their child. If (As is sometimes the case) mistakes are made then the parents and the child (Usually reaching adulthood by this
time) are looked down upon as people who bred a child the experts regard as “non compliant” and as bad parents.

So who would these self appointed experts be? Well they fall into two camps, the medical professionals with pet theories and the religious moralists who do not have a clue about the religious values they preach yet alone the situation they are dealing with.

There is a third group consisting of people from both camps I call the “NARTH-Clarke -Northwestern Axis”. Which sounds like something out of a Dan Brown Novel, and in some ways this would be an accurate description. This third group are not however some all powerful cult, but they are on the whole a mix of religious and medical “Experts” who seek to impose some theocratic model on people.

In the following blog entries they will simply be referred to as the “NCNA crowd”. Why are they such a problem for people like me who are more concerned about the ethical treatment of children with intersex conditions or variations? Well as I say these people want to control the discourse and the lives of any affected individual to a point that goes way beyond what most people would consider to be ethical boundaries. So who are these people, and why are they a problem?

Let’s start with NARTH. or the National Association of Research and Therapy of Homosexuality. I think the title says it all really. NARTH is an organization that started life when homosexuality was removed from the DSM, the “mental health bible” in some circles. They have since mutated into an organization who’s main concern seems to be gender policing. They have taken what can only be described as an unhealthy interest in children, be that children who may grow up to be gay or lesbian, children who may grow up to be transsexual or
transgendered, and intersex children.

As a parent reading this you probably feel that this all seems a little strange, and you would be right in thinking that, how can a new born child with some clearly identifiable medical condition be classed as a sexual minority to be targeted by an organization like NARTH for “Reparative Therapy”? Well if you heard the doctor describe your child as a “Disorder of Sex(ual) Development” Guess where that came from, none other than a few people connected with NARTH and the other institutions I will mention.

The Clarke is a clinic in Toronto which has a “Gender Identity Disorder Clinic” currently run by one Dr. Kenneth Zucker, this “Clinic” is basically set up to use the techniques of “Reparative therapy” (As devised by NARTH) on children, mainly children who are regarded as transgendered or transsexual but Dr. Zucker has been known to use the self same approach with intersex children who were surgically “Sexed” and rejected it. The Northwestern is the university in Chicago where there can be found a number of people who conduct
“Research” into sex differentiation (Mainly with a focus on sexuality again), and they all tend to write in a journal known as the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

If as a parent you are still reading this and wondering why these experts are somehow lumping your child with what the experts describe as “Sexual disorder” well join the club. This is what we are all asking.

This is where being “Respectful” towards the “Experts” becomes very difficult, they have no idea about what you as a parent would be facing and no idea about how someone like me, an individual with an intersex condition feels about all this. All they want to do is treat the world like an untidy garden and make the garden tidy. But they have too much of an interest in things like weeding and pest control. And they regard those people they don’t like as weeds and pests.

The truth is these “Experts” have to be confronted, because as you will see they have no interest in the well being of the people they have decided are “Disordered” all they want to do is impose some social order that stamps on the rights of individual human beings and renders them non human. It is their very theatrical nature, this strange sounding clique of experts that sound like something from a Dan Brown novel that makes this situation so absurd and surreal.

The truth is most of us would just like to go and see the doctor when we are ill and follow our own beliefs as we see fit. there is nothing wrong with that simple request, it is no more unreasonable than having a newspaper delivered or eating a meal or going to work. To most of us that is what “normality” actually is, not some crusade against people (Mainly children) who do not live up to some bizarre ideal of the sort seen in fictional stories like Stepford Wives.

In a backhanded sort of way I am saying that we all need to preserve and protect the concept of normality, but from those who seek to impose a rigid ideology that they call “normality” but in truth is little more than a caricature of an ideal society of the sort we see in Stepford Wives.

Systematically brutalizing children on the off chance they may be different is abnormal, and this is actually a common theme with the NCNA crowd. They do not represent Judaeo Christian values, they represent a theocratic ideal that seeks to impose a caricature society and “Moral order” (Ask yourself: Since when was child abuse a moral order?).

I will be honest, yes I will be talking about other minority groups such as those in the LGBTT organizations who are also facing much of the wrath of the NCNA crowd. I don’t feel that it is that wrong to have some involvement in protecting their human rights, they were the people the NCNA crowd targeted first.

Like anyone else I actually do prefer to lead a normal life, but by a normal life, I mean a life where I can buy a newspaper, eat a meal, live in a house and exist as a viable human being instead of some zombie that was mutilated into that state by those who seek to impose their beliefs on us without and just cause. Look at most parents, all they really want to do is bring their children up as they see fit, doing the best they can. They do not need people like Dr. Joseph Nicolosi (Co founder of NARTH) telling them how to torment their child in order to make them lead zombie like lives in a zombie society. It is time there was some brutal honesty here, the NCNA crowd say they represent “Family Values” they don’t they represent an ideal of dictating to families, telling them what sort of children they can have and what they must do for some “Greater good” (Which often entails being stripped of their dignity, their basic human rights and living robotic lives that are essentially pointless).

People need to draw a line in the sand, if the theocratic want to lead their lives by such strict and meaningless rules and conventions, that is fine, but they do not have the right to impose the same on everyone else. In the US there was a good reason why religion and the state have been kept separate, it was to prevent people going on crusades like this and turning a democracy into a theocracy.

So yes it is relevant because these people the NARTH-Clarke-Northwestern-Axis make it relevant, they have turned health care, education and pretty much everything else into some
religious crusade. Politically they are not conservative, conservatives in the true sense don’t work like that, they are petty minded dictators using the conservative lobby as a means to impose an unworkable society.


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The Upside of having been Born Transsexual

Sometime when I read what some of the other women born with transsexualism have to say about their life experiences I wonder why we didn’t all just commit suicide and be done with it.

But the reality is more like the ying-yang symbol there is light as well as dark, joy as well as depression.

I will grant you that if your main ambition in life is to lead a life of dull boring conformity then having been born transsexual is kind of a curse.

But I for one can look at what my life would have been if I had been a normborn female in the exact same circumstances and say that life would have truly sucked.  You see I have a brother who is ten years younger than me.  He is pretty much a slacker and loser.  At 52 he never left home and still lives in the poverty stricken mountains of northern New York, in a village I not so fondly have nick named Butt Fuck Nowhereville.

It is a place the lucky, bright and bold escaped.  Being born different meant that as soon as I was aware of places like Greenwich Village, I wanted to escape there, because the in-bred macho assholes where I grew up made my life hell.

Places like that have a force of gravity that hold people who are conformist and normborn.  Conventional in every way and lacking in imagination they obey the rules, marrying their childhood sweet heart, working like slaves, popping out children because that is what they are told to do by the church that makes the rules and takes their hard earned money with the promise of paradise that never gets delivered on.  They vote Republican and think the queers are responsible for their having to work so hard for scraps.

Their biggest joy in life is having someone to look down upon be it the immigrant, the person of color or someone like me, the obvious transkid.

So I escaped first in books and movies.  I saw the power of unions and the civil rights movement.  I dug the beats and rock and roll.  I saw the artists as role models.  I read Camus, Genet, Baldwin, McCullers, Capote.  I knew something was happening somewhere else and being a transkid meant I would probably like it better there than in Butt Fuck Nowhereville.

I wanted to escape the grayness of conformity, the life governed by rules.  I wanted the anarchy of a life governed by existential choices.

Others had class privileges that helped them escape the gravity of that small town existence, I had being born transsexual, my innate differentness.

When I told my mother I had been living as a woman for a year and taking female hormones in preparatin for having a sex change operation she told me she had known I would do this from the time when I was a little kid and she also knew I would never find happiness in the small town where I grew up.

I didn’t just escape small towns I escaped small minded bigotry.  My motivation was in having been born different.

As a teenager at a time when there were not hundreds of books about transsexualism and transgenderism a serialized biography of April Ashley provided me with a role model as she too escaped her working class background for a far more exciting life than she would have had if she had been a normborn female.

Being different threw an element of anarchistic rebellion against the rules of convention into my life.  In order to exist I had to not only question authority but fight for my right to exist.

I am somewhat saddened when I see others born transsexual like me in many ways and yet unlike me in that they decide to become enforcers of the rules of conformity.

Who tell those who do not conform that they are more the enemy than those with the power to actually make the rules.

I’m an old woman now, I’ve seen most of my friends from my early days die hard deaths brought on by the hard lives mandated for them by a society that makes everything harder for those born non-conforming.  And yes, the self medication to smother the pain, the slow and not so slow suicides and occasional violent deaths serve as a reminder that society comes down hard on the non-conformists just as it does on the poor and people of color.

You will not hear me saying things like “gender euphoric” or “gender blessed” because the persecution that goes with being born trans tends to suck euphoria out and replace it with loneliness and adversity.

But because of being born trans I left home and became part of a Red/Black collective, fought for things I believed in, dared to take risks, slept with rock and roll guitar players and singers as well as more than a few movie stars.

I became a person in history with it not mattering how minor my role in that history was.

A participant and not a spectator.

Like the book title says, “Well behaved women seldom make history.”

I don’t feel a need to claim something that makes me different from my other sisters born with transsexualism because I can look around and see some very exceptional women who like me were born from the adversity that transsexualism brought into our lives.  It tested us and tempered us and I dare say if many of us thought about it and weren’t afraid of other sisters censuring us for saying so..  That many of us would admit it has made our lives far more interesting than the lives we might otherwise have had.

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