Misogyny drives not only the sexist oppression of women but the demand that women and men occupy strictly binary socially constructed gender roles.
What seems like a hundred years ago but was actually closer to 40-50 years ago people like Dr. Benjamin and the now often despised Dr. Money were postulating that a strict binary did not exist. That in reality maleness/masculinity and femaleness/femininity were more based on the weighing of a multitude of factors. They were actually proposing things that are not too out of line with that put forth by Anne Fausto-Sterling.
Of course that era (1960s & 1970) was an era that cared about human rights and freedom. It was an era when LGBT/T liberation, feminism, anti-racism and workers rights were taken seriously. An era before the ascendancy of Islamo-fascism/Christo-fascism and the Ayn Rand inspired economic policies of corporate fascism.
We were a better world when “Free to be You, Free to be Me” was a popular idea. We were on the right track when feminism pushed the idea that it was okay for little boys to play with dolls even if they did grow up to be gay and for little girls to play with trucks even if they did grow up to be lesbians.
I place the doctors in the following article in the same category as those who perform female genital mutilation and perform non-consensual sex assigning surgery on intersex infants.
Their religious back grounds as well as political backgrounds should be fair game as what they are proposing is straight out of the Nazism of Dr Mengele.
By John Byrne
Wednesday, June 30th, 2010 — 8:58 am
Dr. Maria New has a new strategy for treating unborn fetuses: the use of a potentially dangerous steroid aimed at preventing a rare congenital disorder that affects the adrenal gland, potentially consigning the future child to a lifetime regime of drugs.
It also prevents “some of the symptoms of [this disorder] in girls, namely ambiguous genitalia. Because the condition causes overproduction of male hormones in the womb, girls who are affected tend to have genitals that look more male than female, though internal sex organs are normal.”
Dr. New offers pregnant women dexamethasone, a risky steroid aimed at female fetuses that may have this disorder. Many exposed to dexamethasone through this off-label use are not being enrolled in controlled clinical trials.
And yes, it gets worse. As columnist Dan Savage points out, Dr. New is also exploring the use of dexmethasone’s effects on future fetuses’ desires to explore “male careers” or have disinterest in becoming mothers.
The majority of researchers and clinicians interested in the use of prenatal “dex” focus on preventing development of ambiguous genitalia in girls with CAH. CAH results in an excess of androgens prenatally, and this can lead to a “masculinizing” of a female fetus’s genitals. One group of researchers, however, seems to be suggesting that prenatal dex also might prevent affected girls from turning out to be homosexual or bisexual.
Pediatric endocrinologist Maria New, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Florida International University, and her long-time collaborator, psychologist Heino F. L. Meyer-Bahlburg, of Columbia University, have been tracing evidence for the influence of prenatal androgens in sexual orientation…. They specifically point to reasons to believe that it is prenatal androgens that have an impact on the development of sexual orientation. The authors write, “Most women were heterosexual, but the rates of bisexual and homosexual orientation were increased above controls . . . and correlated with the degree of prenatal androgenization.” They go on to suggest that the work might offer some insight into the influence of prenatal hormones on the development of sexual orientation in general. “That this may apply also to sexual orientation in at least a subgroup of women is suggested by the fact that earlier research has repeatedly shown that about one-third of homosexual women have (modestly) increased levels of androgens.” They “conclude that the findings support a sexual-differentiation perspective involving prenatal androgens on the development of sexual orientation.”
And it isn’t just that many women with CAH have a lower interest, compared to other women, in having sex with men. In another paper entitled “What Causes Low Rates of Child-Bearing in Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia?” Meyer-Bahlburg writes that “CAH women as a group have a lower interest than controls in getting married and performing the traditional child-care/housewife role. As children, they show an unusually low interest in engaging in maternal play with baby dolls, and their interest in caring for infants, the frequency of daydreams or fantasies of pregnancy and motherhood, or the expressed wish of experiencing pregnancy and having children of their own appear to be relatively low in all age groups.”
In the same article, Meyer-Bahlburg suggests that treatments with prenatal dexamethasone might cause these girls’ behavior to be closer to the expectation of heterosexual norms: “Long term follow-up studies of the behavioral outcome will show whether dexamethasone treatment also prevents the effects of prenatal androgens on brain and behavior.”
In a paper published just this year in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, New and her colleague, pediatric endocrinologist Saroj Nimkarn of Weill Cornell Medical College, go further, constructing low interest in babies and men—and even interest in what they consider to be men’s occupations and games—as “abnormal,” and potentially preventable with prenatal dex:
“Gender-related behaviors, namely childhood play, peer association, career and leisure time preferences in adolescence and adulthood, maternalism, aggression, and sexual orientation become masculinized in 46,XX girls and women with 21OHD deficiency [CAH]. These abnormalities have been attributed to the effects of excessive prenatal androgen levels on the sexual differentiation of the brain and later on behavior.” Nimkarn and New continue: “We anticipate that prenatal dexamethasone therapy will reduce the well-documented behavioral masculinization…”
It seems more than a little ironic to have New, one of the first women pediatric endocrinologists and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, constructing women who go into “men’s” fields as “abnormal.” And yet it appears that New is suggesting that the “prevention” of “behavioral masculinization” is a benefit of treatment to parents with whom she speaks about prenatal dex. In a 2001 presentation to the CARES Foundation (a videotape of which we have), New seemed to suggest to parents that one of the goals of treatment of girls with CAH is to turn them into wives and mothers. Showing a slide of the ambiguous genitals of a girl with CAH, New told the assembled parents:
“The challenge here is… to see what could be done to restore this baby to the normal female appearance which would be compatible with her parents presenting her as a girl, with her eventually becoming somebody’s wife, and having normal sexual development, and becoming a mother. And she has all the machinery for motherhood, and therefore nothing should stop that, if we can repair her surgically and help her psychologically to continue to grow and develop as a girl.”
In the Q&A period, during a discussion of prenatal dex treatments, an audience member asked New, “Isn’t there a benefit to the female babies in terms of reducing the androgen effects on the brain?” New answered, “You know, when the babies who have been treated with dex prenatally get to an age in which they are sexually active, I’ll be able to answer that question.” At that point, she’ll know if they are interested in taking men and making babies.
In a previous Bioethics Forum post, Alice Dreger noted an instance of a prospective father using knowledge of the fraternal birth order effect to try to avoid having a gay son by a surrogate pregnancy. There may be other individualized instances of parents trying to ensure heterosexual children before birth. But the use of prenatal dexamethasone treatments for CAH represents, to our knowledge, the first systematic medical effort attached to a “paradigm” of attempting in utero to reduce rates of homosexuality, bisexuality, and “low maternal interest.”
Every where I look I see signs that the movement to end GID and the pathologizing of transsexualism/transgenderism is reaching the point of Critical Mass. Like the parable regarding the hundredth monkey, once enough people start thinking that the whole idea that transsexualism or transgenderism as mental illness is a lie, a fiction created to oppress us then that idea becomes the new paradigm.
I saw this very interesting manifesto over on Stop Trans Pathologicalization 2012
International Network for Trans Despathologization
The advocates and groups who sign this document, and are part of the International Network for Trans’ Identities’ Despathologization, publicly denounce once again the psychiatrization of our identities and the serious consequences of the so called “Gender or Sex Identity Disorder” (GID). In the same way, we want to make visible the violence done to intersex people throughout the current medical procedures.
With “psychiatrization” we name the practice of defining and treating transexuality under a mentally disordered label. We are also speaking about the mistaking of non normative bodies and identities (those out of the cultural dominant order) for pathological bodies and identities. Psychiatrization gives the medical-psychiatric institutions the control over gender identities. The official practice of these institutions, motivated through state, religious, economical and political interests, reflects and reproduces the male/female binomial on people’s bodies. Making believe this exclusive position is a “true” and natural one. This binomial, supposes the solely existence of two bodies (male or female), and associates a determined behavior to each one of them (male or female). At the same time it has traditionally taken into consideration heterosexuality as the only possible relationship between them. Today, as we denounce this paradigm, which has justified the current social order with nature and biological arguments, we evidence its social effects so as to put and end to its political pretentions.
Those bodies which do not anatomically correspond to the current western medical classifications are classified under the label of intersexuality, a condition that by itself is considered pathological, whereas the medical classification is nowadays not yet questioned about it. Transexuality is also conceived as a problematical reality by itself. However, the gender ideology which psychiatry develops, is still not questioned
The legitimization of social norms that are part of our life experience and our feelings, implies the invisibilization and pathologization of all the other existing options, setting one single path that doesn’t question the political dogma around which our society is built: the solely and exclusive existence of only two ways of being and feeling. If invisiblizing means performing violent and normalizating surgeries on intersex newborns (those with ambiguous functional genitalia) it will be done. Especially when its’ goal is to eliminate the possibility of these bodies and to veto the existence of those differences.
The paradigm, in which the actual treatment procedures for transexuality and intersexuality are inspired, makes them become medical procedures of binary normalization. It is “normalization” because these procedures reduce the diversity to only two ways of living and inhabiting the world: those considered statistically and politically as “normal.” With our critique to these procedures we also resist to having to adapt ourselves to the psychiatric definitions of man and woman for being able to live our identities, so that our life’s value is recognized without giving up the diversity in which we constitute ourselves. We obey no kind of label or definition imposed on us by the medical institution. We demand our right to name us by ourselves.
Nowadays transexuality is considered a “Sexual Identity Disorder” mental pathology classified in the ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases from the World Health Organization) and the DSM-IV-R (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatrist Association). These classifications are the ones that guide psychiatrist all around the world when establishing diagnosis. In them, we find a less tan casual error: the mistaking of the transphobia effects for those of transexuality. Social violence against those that don’t follow the gender standards is invisiblized. This way, it is actively ignored that the problem isn’t gender identity but transphobia.
The DSM-IV-R revision is a process that started two years ago, which aims to determine the changes in the list of disorders. Few months ago the names of the psychiatrist who will determine the future of de Gender Identity Disorder (GID) were published.
In charge of the GID work-group are Dr.Zucker (the group’s director) and Dr.Blanchard , within others. These psychiatrists are well known for using reparative therapies on homosexuals and transexuals, and are linked also to clinics where operations on intersexual people are done. What they propose, is not only not withdrawing the disorder, but expanding its treatment to children who present gender-variant behaviors, and applying them reparative therapies for them to accept their original role. Because of this, the North-American trans movement has started to demand their expulsion from the group in charge of revising the DSM. The International Network for Trans’ Identities’ Despathologization supports wholeheartedly this demand.
Transexuality’s pathologization under the “Gender Identity Disorder” is an extreme exercise of control and normalization. This disorder’s treatment is carried away in different centers around the world. In some cases, like the Spanish State, it is compulsory to go through a psychiatric monitoring in the Gender Identity Centers. In some cases it is linked to a weekly control of our gender identity through group therapies, family, and all sorts of derogative procedures which infringe our rights. While referring to the Spanish State’s case, it is important to highlight that anyone who wishes to change their name in their official documents, or who wishes to modify their body with hormonal treatment or with some operations, has to go through a psychiatric monitoring.
Finally, we are directly speaking to all politicians. Our demands are clear:
We finish showing the extreme rigidity with which the male/female binomial is imposed as the solely and exclusive option. Binomial that is built and therefore can be questioned. Our solely existence proves its falseness and points to a plural and diverse reality. Diversity that we dignify today.
When medicine and State define us as disordered, they are proving that our identities, our lifes, deeply disturb their system. That’s why we say that the illness is not in us but within gender binarism.
We make public that the International Network for Trans’ Identities’ Despathologization is born to consolidate a worldwide coordination of our first goal: the retirement of transexuality from the DSM-TR the year 2012. A first step for diversity, a first knock to transphobia.
For the diversity of our bodies and identities!
Transphobia makes us ill!
J Psychiatr Res. 2010 Jun 8. [Epub ahead of print]
Clinical Institute of Neuroscience, Hospital Clinic i Provincial, Barcelona, Spain; Institute of Biomedical Research August Pi i Sunyer (IDIBAPS), Barcelona, Spain.
BACKGROUND: Some gray and white matter regions of the brain are sexually dimorphic. The best MRI technique for identifying subtle differences in white matter is diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether white matter patterns in female to male (FtM) transsexuals before commencing cross-sex hormone treatment are more similar to that of their biological sex or to that of their gender identity. METHOD: DTI was performed in 18 FtM transsexuals and 24 male and 19 female heterosexual controls scanned with a 3 T Trio Tim Magneton. Fractional anisotropy (FA) was performed on white matter fibers of the whole brain, which was spatially analyzed using Tract-Based Spatial Statistics. RESULTS: In controls, males have significantly higher FA values than females in the medial and posterior parts of the right superior longitudinal fasciculus (SLF), the forceps minor, and the corticospinal tract. Compared to control females, FtM showed higher FA values in posterior part of the right SLF, the forceps minor and corticospinal tract. Compared to control males, FtM showed only lower FA values in the corticospinal tract. CONCLUSIONS: Our results show that the white matter microstructure pattern in untreated FtM transsexuals is closer to the pattern of subjects who share their gender identity (males) than those who share their biological sex (females). Our results provide evidence for an inherent difference in the brain structure of FtM transsexuals. Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
PMID: 20562024 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]