Zoe Brain’s Blog – A.E.Brain
For awhile last year, I read Zoe Brain’s blog almost every day, and we exchanged a few emails. She answered questions and allowed me to share her answers with others. She is a believer in moving a mountain ‘a teaspoon at a time.’
Reading again after a long absence
For a longer time since then, I slipped out of the ‘daily reading’ category. Recently, I visited her blog again, read a few of the most recent posts and left comments.
Still learning to be an advocate
I’m still learning, and I hope to continue to learn until I can be an adequate advocate. I thought of a response after a recent conversation with someone (a super-nice person, by the way) who said, “I believe God created men and women …” leading to the belief that transsexuality is ‘wrong’. I thought later that I should have said, “We can believe what we want, but that does not change the reality that there are people who are transsexual. Their existence does not depend upon our belief in them. They exist. Who are we to disbelieve?”
Please correct my terminology and any misconceptions
I would like comments from men and women who are transgendered. Please correct me on terminology and science as needed.
Recent comments on two of Zoe’s posts:
on this post, Friday, 20 February 2009, From a Canon Lawyer, I had a question:
I’ve not been reading here for awhile, and I’m way behind on the definition that transexuals are neurologically intersexed. Zoe, maybe you can send me a note about this and further my education. 🙂
The topic of ‘transexuals’ has come up at work, several times recently, and I’ve tried to present the ‘in the wrong body’ explanation to those who say, “I believe God makes people male and female.”
Is ‘neurologically intersexed’ the current way of describing the experience of being transexual? Are the brains of transexual persons more like the ‘other’ sex than like the one whose phyical characteristics they have?
If there really is, or might be, some kind of measurable brain differences then surely there will some day be a greater understanding and acceptance. I tried to suggest to a coworker that if the world were neutral and accepting, then people would not feel the need to try to live a life that feels wrong. (This also applies to all the gay people who have married with the hope that it will make them heterosexual.) I don’t think she was very open to that idea, but at least it was spoken aloud. A spoonful at a time, right Zoe?
Zoe’s reply in a comment:
Zoe Brain said…Deb,
Some of the many papers are easily available online.
Male-to-female transsexuals show sex-atypical hypothalamus activation when smelling odorous steroids. by Berglund et al
Male–to–female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus. Kruiver et al J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034–2041.
Sexual differentiation of the human brain: relevance for gender identity, transsexualism and sexual orientation. Swaab Gynecol Endocrinol (2004) 19:301–312.
A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality. by Zhou et al Nature (1995) 378:68–70.
And many more. The brain, and in particular the lymbic nucleus, is sexually dimorphic. One pattern is typically male, the other typically female, though the patterns vary between individuals.
It was as far back as 2003 when the Full Bench of the Australian Family Court said:
At paragraph : ‘The traditional analysis that they are “psychologically” transsexual does not explain how this state came about. For example, there seems to be no suggestion in the evidence that their psychological state can be explained by reference to circumstances of their upbringing. In that sense, the brain sex theory does not seem to be competing with other explanations, but rather is providing a possible explanation of what is otherwise inexplicable’.
At paragraph : ‘In other words (as I understand it) the brain of an individual may in some sense be male, for example, though the rest of the person’s body is female’.
At paragraph : ‘In my view the argument in favour of the “brain sex” view is also based on evidence about the development and experience of transsexuals and others with atypical sex-related characteristics. There is a vast literature on this, some of which is in evidence, and I can do no more than mention briefly some of the main points’.
At paragraph : ‘But I am satisfied that the evidence now is inconsistent with the distinction formerly drawn between biological factors, meaning genitals, chromosomes and gonads, and merely “psychological factors”, and on this basis distinguishing between cases of inter-sex (incongruities among biological factors) and transsexualism (incongruities between biology and psychology)’.
At paragraph : ‘In my view the evidence demonstrates (at least on the balance of probabilities) that the characteristics of transsexuals are as much “biological” as those of people thought of as inter-sex’.
Source: Deakin Law Review.
There’s also a pile of papers not easily accessible. The German and Swiss studies using fMRI techniques are now mapping the extent of the cross-gendering, not merely confirming its existence.
It appears that not just the lymbic nucleus, the “reptile part” of the brain is affected, but some higher brain functions too. We’re talking about physical differences, things visible using imaging techniques, in areas of the brain we knew beforehand are sexually dimorphic, where men differ from women.
Zoe, Thanks for the info. I hope it’s okay to pass this along. This will help me make a more intelligent response when the topic turns to people not ‘believing’ in the reality of TS people.
on this post, Monday, 23 February 2009, One Woman’s Story, it was so easy to see that a ‘gender neutral’ would would make all the difference in the world. By ‘gender neutral’ I do not mean we do not reconize gender, our own or that of others. I simply mean, if we did not judge people by their gender, or what we perceive it to be, or what we think it should be, there would be so much less pain for so many people. My comment:
Wow! I tried to comment on the Salon post, but I’m not a Salon member. So, please just send her my, “Wow! What a moving story!” comment.
I’m imagining how different her life would have been if gender had been a non-issue with those who rejected her (just as if sexual orientation were a non-issue for those who reject lesbian and gay people).
I’m glad (and amazed) that she was able to move to another country and raise enough money to get the surgery and now have a happier life.
All through the story, I was wondering if this would be a good story to print and show to the people who say, “I believe God made people male and female …” I’m glad this story has a happy ending (and, glad the two of you were able to meet).
Zoe Brain said…
I did leave a comment, but she decided to delete it.
She’s Deep Stealth, and there’s too many connections between us. She’d prefer it if I didn’t comment further.
It’s a pity, she omitted much of her story. But as the details might possibly help identify her, it will remain untold.
She’s not the only person whose life I could destroy if I said too much. “We walk among you” as was said in TransAmerica. I’m part of the 1 in 10 who are not Stealth.
From Autumn Sandeen on Pam’s House Blend, Transgender Veterans Care: Under Review?
MORE FROM ZOE BRAIN:Tuesday, 24 February 2009 The Evidence
TRANSGENDER IN THE BIBLE:Confusion Over Gender by Some Religious Leaders
Intersex Infant Surgical Abuse