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Scientists Zero In On Trans Explanation


We never quite know what to make of these stories…

Australian researchers have found suggestive evidence that transgender identities are genetic. From the BBC:

DNA analysis from 112 male-to-female transsexual volunteers showed they were more likely to have a longer version of the androgen receptor gene.

The genetic difference may cause weaker testosterone signals, the team reported in Biological Psychiatry.

However, other genes are also likely to play a part, they stressed.

Increasingly, biological factors are being implicated in gender identity.

Now, we’re obviously curious to know why people are gay, straight, trans and the such, but opening up this can of worms also invites genetic manipulation.

For example, if this can be nailed down, so to speak, does that mean women may one day be able to determine prenatally whether or not their child will be trans? If that happens, will said woman abort her “abnormal” baby. Then again, such evidence suggests being trans is, in fact, quite normal. What say you, reader? Should scientists be searching for the reason why people “deviate” from the norm, or should we turn our backs on such research?

By:           Andrew Belonksy
On:           Oct 27, 2008
Tagged: , , , , ,
  • 52 Comments
    • Kid A
      Kid A

      I think it’s a dangerous to think that having information could be bad. Our society is already significantly science-illiterate. Adopting an attitude of willful ignorance is unscientific and counter to our development as human beings.

      That said, we can still use wisdom and humanity to guide our behavior as we learn new things. Technology has grown faster than our abilities to understand the information that it is giving us, creating for example, people who think that quantum mechanics can be channeled into making you rich and spiritual (…)

      So, I think that knowledge is good, Schoolhouse Rock and all that. But we just need to learn to temper our understanding so that our tech doesn’t lead us to change what is human about us (e.g. being trans, queer, handicapped, left-handed, what have you.)

      Oct 27, 2008 at 12:27 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • George
      George

      Agreed. I’m all for science. Enhancing our knowledge can never be a bad thing.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 12:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CLEMSONAJ
      CLEMSONAJ

      This a doubled-edged sword for all of us. It would be incredible to find a gene or series of genetic triggers that lead to someone be GLBT. We could finally shut the “It’s a choice!” people up. However this knowledge could also lead to searching for a ‘cure,’ which could eventually lead to the loss of GLBT people all together.

      Hopefully with better understanding of how nature works we will develop a sense that having GLBT people around is natural and actually benefits society.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 1:09 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BuildsTheBone
      BuildsTheBone

      The question for me isn’t whether or not having information is good or bad – the urge to place a value judgment is misleading. Instead, my concern is over that which motivates the desire to produce this information. The desire to identify the genetic location of sexuality as we think we want to understand it is not only futile (it’s not there), but questionable in its applications.

      Regardless of whether such information could be directly utilized (Kill the Baby/Reprogram the Baby!), or could function more broadly as a way of shifting cultural perceptions of nonnormative sexuality, the guiding principle is management, and of marking bodies in such a way as render them more susceptible to various forms of power and control.

      Finally, why do we rely so much on science in order to produce truth? Why the tyranny of empiricism? What lends science such exclusive power that to question it decries one as anti-human progress? For while my position could be considered ‘anti-scientific’ (not unscientific), I’m definitely all for movement when it comes to thinking about sexuality. The cry of ‘knowledge for its own sake!’ in this case carries with it an undertone of serious judgment – if you are not for my knowledge you are against humanity. This sounds like saying if you are not for McCain/Palin you are from fake America.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 1:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • BuildsTheBone
      BuildsTheBone

      oy vey, that could’ve been written better. Hopefully the points come across though.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 1:11 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smokey Martini
      Smokey Martini

      While it is a POSSIBILITY that some queer/trans-unfriendly folks will want to eradicate anything that may increase their baby’s predisposition to queerness, I would like to think that our society has learned enough from the dangers of Eugenics to know better than to dabble with genetic planning. But maybe I’m giving some people too much credit, here?

      Besides, don’t you think that medical associations would be on top of this? I mean, if such hypotheses are indeed proven true, then medical associations will definitely establish ethics around the alteration of a child’s genetic make-up — especially if it has anything to do with discrimination. Of course, for this to apply to homosexuality and transsexuality in the U.S., there would need to be (1) a protection of gay rights under the Constitution and (2) a de-pathologization of transsexuality by the DSM/APA, followed by the inclusion of gender identity as a condition for non-discrimination.

      Then again, in the 5-10 years (or more!) that it would take for these findings to solidify into medical fact, one would hope that the only people having babies are the young ones. 20-to-30- somethings who are considerably more liberal and tolerant than their parents; open-minded enough to not care about whether or not their babe turns out to be gay or trans. After all, the social conservatives who are against gays, lesbians and transfolks are also the ones who are against abortion, making abortion due to “abnormality” a less-than-likely situation.

      While abortions are acceptable for women who don’t want to have a child (in general), I have faith that there will be measures set aside to avoid mothers from aborting their children precisely because they fear it may turn out to be a little pink on the inside. I also don’t think that any technology will be developed any time soon (or ever) to specifically detect a baby’s predisposition to queerness. Call me crazy, but I think such findings will do more good for the queer/trans community than bad.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 1:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kid A
      Kid A

      Responding to your last paragraph BuildsTheBone, I wouldn’t say that science gives us “truth” but it’s our best guess at explaining the our corner of the universe we live in. You don’t offer any alternatives to science, I’m confused about what you would prefer. Conventional wisdom, divine revelation, Miss Cleo reading Tarot on TV? I’m not trying to misrepresent your position; I think you mean to encourage simply not pursuing touchy topics. I only list these alternatives because they are exactly what people turn to when they don’t understand science.

      I take the opposite position regarding your view that exploring the science of sexuality would be dangerous to us. “Conventional Wisdom” says that gays were abused, are sick and unnatural. It took the removal of Homosexuality from the DSM to counter some of that. Also, studies have shown that there are several familial characteristics that can affect sexuality.

      What “lends science its power” is its reliability and objectivity. Its proposals are falsifiable and subject to revision. Science doesn’t think the earth is billion of years old because a book says so. Evidence supports that conclusion. In addition, science doesn’t have power on its own. It is simply a method. We are the power behind it all.

      I think you misunderstood me or I wasn’t well-spoken enough :) regarding knowledge for it’s own sake. I don’t think we should just get knowledge for its own sake, damn the consequences. I’m proposing that we shouldn’t shrink from knowledge that is on our doorstep.

      I agree that ethically (not scientifically) that motive for research can be telling and should be taken into account (hence my note about using wisdom and judgment in our undertakings).

      I’m with you on Fake America. I’m certainly not proposing anything epistemologically analogous to that, so any similarity to politicians living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 1:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CHURCHILL-Y
      CHURCHILL-Y

      This is dangerous stuff and it’s not science.
      We constitute only a small portion of this worlds population yet we are one of the most reviled and hated groups all around the globe. The only reason a nation has for researching what determines one sexual orientation or in this case gender identity it’s to ultimately manipulate it and reversed it so that it fits what the majority views as normal and productive.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 1:49 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Qjersey
      Qjersey

      Genes = Civil Rights + possible eugenics

      They already made the movie

      “Twighlight of the Golds”

      Oct 27, 2008 at 2:24 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • St. Francis Of-a-sissy
      St. Francis Of-a-sissy

      I agree with George. Science must march ahead. Despite what Churchill-y says, science has no agenda.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 2:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Kid A & George – your posts indicate intelligence but just to say “knowledge is always a good thing: is incredibly naive and short sighted. You surely know from history this is very often a bad thing.

      Now, you’re going to say (which you already did) that we can’t “shrink” from knowledge at our doorstep. True to a point. But we can collectively and individually there are millions of problems in the world, we can’t possibly fund them all and research determining whether or not homosexuality or trans has a genetic basis DOES NOT NEED TO BE FUNDED. We have enough other things that need to be worked on.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 2:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CHURCHILL-Y
      CHURCHILL-Y

      No agenda?! If you think that a distortion or complete eradication of Gay or Trans genes is not their ultimate goal you’re a fool A-Sissy!!!

      Oct 27, 2008 at 2:56 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Greg
      Greg

      I disagree with Churchill-y. I am a gay scientist and I have not seen any evidence that research into queer biology is motivated by an anti-gay agenda.

      We should encourage more research, because minority groups are traditionally ignored by the scientific and medical establishment, leading to worse health across the board. Just look at the government’s handling of the AIDS crisis or the state of of trans health in the US today.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 3:10 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CHURCHILL-Y
      CHURCHILL-Y

      Why not research more advanced reproductive aid?
      Why not funnel more intellect, money and research on HIV/AIDS eradication?
      These are things that are waaay more important than deciphering what makes someone Gay/Bi/Trans, most of us know what we are and we don’t really need no ‘scientific’ confirmation of what we have felt since puberty or earlier.

      This kind of ‘research’ has only one purpose, and its not a good one for us.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 3:12 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Kid A
      Kid A

      Jaroslaw, I agree that there are much greater priorities for funding. My comments pertain less to this situation though, and more to exploring the general idea of what knowledge means to us as people.

      I have to agree with St. Francis of-a-Sissy. Facts cannot be harmful to us by themselves. The way humans misuse them can be. I think we can all agree on that.

      I think we’re torn on whether more info on this would be harmful or not. That’s ultimately a matter of opinion. I have only taken issue with the idea that knowledge in its purest form is “bad” and to be avoided. I do think that science should be guided by ethics.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 3:15 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CHURCHILL-Y
      CHURCHILL-Y

      “science should be guided by ethics.”

      But it’s not. It’s guided by greed, religious doctrine, biases and what the majority views as beneficial for humanity.

      Even the most Gay friendly heteros wouldn’t give a second thought to assuring their kids were not GLBT if the medical/scientific possibility existed. They would view it just as a vaccine.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 3:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Greg – you say there is no anti-Gay agenda. Then why does this stuff need to be studied at all?

      Oct 27, 2008 at 4:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Kid A – I really appreciate what you’re saying, really but you’re not thinking it through. People ALWAYS misuse facts, information and available means.

      This was obviously before I was born, but TV was supposed to be the great educator. Plays and debate and all manner of culture were supposed to available free to those who couldn’t afford tickets to the MET. It didn’t happen,of course, greed took over and almost everyone’s mind went to mush.

      So, should we have tried to stop TV? This is the hard question. It can always be said that “people” should have tried harder for quality programming etc. But this is ALWAYS said and never happens. Better to keep the genie in the bottle than to try to put it back in later. What that exactly means for science research, even I don’t know.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 4:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      But I do know I don’t like the direction any of this Gay research is going. It isn’t necessary for any purpose – let’s see what Greg has to say WHY we need it!

      Oct 27, 2008 at 4:36 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Smokey Martini – I have a couple friends in the medical profession (doctors) and while neither of them belong to the county Medical Society where I live, it was reported back to them by others that when Michigan’s Constitutional amendment was being deliberated, the majority of the dear, education elite doctors were just as homophobic as the rest of the general population.

      THIS, even after it was mentioned that the focus of physicians should be on making sure as many people as possible have medical insurance….. SAD. So don’t count on any group to do the right thing!

      Oct 27, 2008 at 4:41 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      The amendment I was talking about was to outlaw same sex marriage – and of course, accompanying benefits such as medical insurance for spouse and children.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 4:42 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smokey Martini
      Smokey Martini

      Jaroslaw: I guess that’s where the doctors in Canada and the U.S. differ. Given that sexual orientation is protected as a condition for non-discrimination in our Charter of Rights & Freedoms, it bars the homophobic elite doctors from having any power in, first off, outlawing same-sex marriage (which is now legal) and, secondly, to restrict medical insurance to spouses and dependents (which is unequivocally unconstitutional).

      This is why I said in my original post that it would be critical to protect gay rights under the Constitution and, similarly, to de-pathologize transseuxality and protect gender identity as a condition for non-discrimination — much like race, gender, or religion.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 4:57 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smokey Martini
      Smokey Martini

      Jaroslaw: I guess that’s where the doctors in Canada and the U.S. differ. Given that sexual orientation is protected as a condition for non-discrimination in our Charter of Rights & Freedoms, it bars the homophobic elite doctors from having any power in, first off, outlawing same-sex marriage (which is now legal on a federal level) and, secondly, to restrict medical insurance to spouses and dependents (which is unequivocally discriminatory).

      This is why I said in my original post that it would be critical to include sexual orientation and gender identity as conditions for non-discrimination FIRST, to ensure that such bars on same-sex marriage and medical insurance becomes difficult – if not impossible – for homophobic, elite doctors to promote and enforce.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 5:01 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smokey Martini
      Smokey Martini

      What the fuck… my internet is being stupid!

      Oct 27, 2008 at 5:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • crazylove
      crazylove

      I am not more worried about science about sexual orientation than I am about the science regarding race. The reality is that it’s going to happen. The real questions are ethical and more importantly the realization culturally that sexual variation is a natural and perhaps necessary part of human existence. Messing with this necessary portion may muck up something that maybe required for the continuation of the species. Not all things related to biology are easily known. Often I read the religious types saying that God wants the individual to procreate, and that maybe true of God. But for the species to survive variation exists. This variation also exists in other animals- such as to help with child rearing and some speculate even possibly population control. Changing these mechanisms maybe hurt us in ways we dont yet know. So yes, know the science will not hurt us. It’s the nutcase use of the science that can hurt us.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 9:51 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Greg, I of course was referring to CAUSES of homosexuality/Trans etc. don’t need to be studied. We have to study all health issues.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 10:02 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zoe Brain
      Zoe Brain

      It’s not as if millions are being spent on this.
      It’s not as if the suicide rate isn’t approaching 50%
      Begrudging what little is being spent is mean spirited.

      It’s no accident that what research there is that’s going on is outside the USA, where it’s “too controversial” to be funded. The accepted wisdom in the US is that it’s a form of insanity and/or sexual perversion. This justifies all sorts of exclusions, from Medicare and Insurance.

      If it had a biological cause, then things like the Wisconsin Inmate Sex Change Prevention Act – where treatment is forbidden, even though the costs of dealing with the suicides is higher – will be deemed unconstitutional.

      And many Gender Studies departments would also have egg on their faces. So it’s in neither the Left nor the Right’s interests to study this area.

      Facts will out in the end though, so putting one’s hands over one’s ears and saying “La la La I can’t hear you” is not a feasible strategy in the long term. Better to figure out any bad consequences (Eugenics?) and deal with them now, not be ostriches.

      Oct 27, 2008 at 10:59 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smokey Martini
      Smokey Martini

      Tell it like it is, Zoe!

      We must always keep in mind that such findings do not become accepted medical fact until there is enough evidence to dispel (aka “overthrow”) the pathological stance on transsexuality currently upheld by the American Psychiatric Association and its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Needless to say, with previous research on brain structures and, now, hormones and genes, we seem to be heading in the right direction. Whatever the cost, I encourage the Australian (et al.) doctors to conduct their study with a larger control group, as planned!

      The sooner we can ‘naturalize’ transsexualism and homosexuality (even if it is just a strategic move by more liberal scientists and doctors at this point), the sooner it can be introduced as natural and, in turn, be designated a non-issue.

      p.s.
      And I completely agree with you, Zoe, about Women’s Studies departments and their tip-toe around transsexual issues. Tsk tsk to them for not being *critical enough* to really shake their essentialist foundations/assumptions!

      Oct 27, 2008 at 11:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • gkruz
      gkruz

      Who is going to tell scientists they can’t pursue such research? Fortunately, science isn’t an opinion to be voted on. Physical reality cannot be legislated out of existence, although the religious right is still trying with its war on teaching evolution in public schools. (Not that the left hasn’t tried to eradicate inconvenient truths as well. Just think of Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union.) If you want to legislate or suppress scientific findings that make you uncomfortable, you might as well allow the religious right to return us to the Dark Ages when it was heresy to believe that the earth was round or that it revolved around the sun.
      This information is liberating in that it will now be ultimately harder for unsympathetic therapists, psychiatrists or surgeons to withhold hormones or surgery from trans-persons once they can no longer dismiss them as deluded, narcissistic, or self-loathing effeminate gay men or butch lesbians unable to accept their sexual orientation.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 12:23 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • SA-ET
      SA-ET

      “It’s no accident that what research there is that’s going on is outside the USA, where it’s “too controversial” to be funded. The accepted wisdom in the US is that it’s a form of insanity and/or sexual perversion.”

      First of all, unless I’m mistaken, part of this study was funded by the National Institutes of Health…a US agency/organization.

      Secondly, the United States Government changes one’s Social Security card’s gender marker after GRS. The US Government issues permanent Pass Ports after GRS. And all but four states issues some form of new birth certificates with fully half of that number issueing new BC’s and sealing the original in the state’s archives…and this goes back to 1964.

      I hardly think the United States considers post operative transsexuals insane or perverts, Zoe.

      Are were you talking about the transgender?

      Oct 28, 2008 at 12:33 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zoe Brain
      Zoe Brain

      SA-ET – many states issue new birth certificates. Just don’t try getting married using one. Usually you’ll be OK, but sometimes not. In the last 2 cases, courts ruled that their own state’s BCs were mere scraps of paper, necessary but not sufficient for a valid marriage. And of course, Medicare doesn’t cover TS. As for the VA… just look at the recent survey by TAVA.

      My point though is although some of the money for this experiment came from the US, as did many of the experimental subjects, the work itself had to be done outside the USA. Look at the multitude of papers on biological causation – from Holland, Sweden, Germany, Australia… but not the US.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 4:27 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Mike L
      Mike L

      “Even the most Gay friendly heteros wouldn’t give a second thought to assuring their kids were not GLBT if the medical/scientific possibility existed. They would view it just as a vaccine.”

      As a straight man, I think I have to give this comment a hearty “F you.” What a low opinion you must have of straight people! Do you feel queers have a monopoly on ethics?

      Oct 28, 2008 at 6:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CHURCHILL-Y
      CHURCHILL-Y

      @ Mike L,

      You wouldn’t give it a second thought! Even if all your best friends are “queers”, even if you’re supportive of equality on all levels for “queers”, if you decided to have children and there existed the possibility of screening embryos for Gay genes or some kind of genetic manipulation to make them hetero and it was safe and non-life threatening you wouldn’t think it twice.

      Doesn’t make you a bad person or someone without ethics it just makes you what you are, you belong to the majority and heteros are the ruling class in this world due to their reproductive capacity . Nothing wrong there, it is what it is for the time being, so lets not fool ourselves about what heteros would do in order to maintain their lineage. There’s a need to make sure one’s name and genes keep on existing in the future, something that would be more difficult, complicated or might never happen with a Gay offspring.

      That’s what at the end of the day is at the root for all the discrimination against us….And starting to ‘reseach’ what makes us “queers” tick will ultimately take scientist into a reparative approach to those genes they are researching.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 7:04 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smokey Martini
      Smokey Martini

      Gee, Churchill-y, that’s some antiquated logic you have going on there. Let go of the Marxist model (and the gross generalizations) and let’s be a bit more discriminate in our attempts at identifying the “bad guys”/”ruling class.” You’re not going to win any support from sympathizers if you keep going on like that…

      Oct 28, 2008 at 10:07 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      Smokey (and Mike L) – I hate to agree with Churchy about anything, but I don’t see what is wrong with his argument other than overgeneralizing about ALL straight people. And no Mike L, queers don’t corner the market on ethics but minority issues everywhere on earth tend to get swept into the corner by the majority as a rule. He (churchY) did say being part of the majority doesn’t make you a bad person…. After all is said and done, history is replete with thousands of examples of discrimination against Gays. There is a famous painting of the Spaniards feeding the queer Aztecs (?) to their dogs…(see the book Homophobia – it is like 700 pages! by Byrne Fone) and other things all over the world – all the way up to say 1960 where it was an IMPRISONABLE offense in this country to do “perverted acts against nature.” DADT still gets you a dishonorable discharge. Do I need to go on?

      Oct 28, 2008 at 10:40 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AJC
      AJC

      Baha’i philosopher Ian Kluge summarizes the Baha’i position on this:

      [1] Human nature has a rational/human and divine component as well as an animal component: it is the first two which are supposed to be in control, not the animal nature. To let the animal nature take control is a de facto distortion of human
      nature.

      [2] The fact that human beings have biologically driven impulses does not necessarily legitimize them.

      [3] Just because something is caused by a genetic factor doesn’t make it a part of (statistically) normal human nature. It could be a genetic anomaly like cystic fibrosis. Who would argue that we should keep cystic fibrosis or regard it as a part of (statistically) normal human nature because like some genetic anomalies, it occurs persistently?

      [4] In other words, it wouldn’t be an intrinsic part of human nature, but rather accidental. To say something is intrinsic means that it is necessary for human nature to have it to be what human nature is. Such is obviously not the case. Thus, homosexuality is accidental/non-intrinsic to human nature.

      Readers may draw their own conclusions.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 11:49 am · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CHURCHILL-Y
      CHURCHILL-Y

      ^ My argument has been substantiated.

      These types of research are just but cans of worms that would allow wackos like the one above to wreck havoc with us. Like it or not they are the majority and none of us will be able to stop them.

      Please people lets not support shit like this.
      There are other types of research that are more important and beneficial to us as Gay people.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 12:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smokey Martini
      Smokey Martini

      Valid point, AJC, but this brings us to a discussion about how both the scientific approach to studying transsexuality (the article here) and the theological approach of AJC (above), centres around the discussion of Nature.

      What the scientists are attempting to do, as the co-author of the study points out, is to establish a causal link between genes/hormones and transsexuality to counteract the ‘choice’ rhetoric made by the religious and conservative right. However, what AJC makes note above is that the religious and conservative right prioritize ‘human nature’ and its ability to suppress ‘biological instincts’ as the key issue. Homosexuality and transexuality are seen as both a choice (in the subject’s decision to NOT suppress their instincts) and as natural-yet-abnormal(given that they are ‘animal instincts’), creating a no-win situation for gay and transfolk. A catch 22, if there ever was one.

      But yes, what we must realize is how ‘Nature’ is strategically used by both sides to validate their stances on transsexuality. Nature, it must be noted, is itself a cultural construct that provides a conceptual framework to anything designated as ‘natural’ — one that attempts to frame its subject (in the case of the scientists, transsexuality; in the case of the religious right, animal instincts) as that which is untouched by human influences.

      ‘Culture’ on the other hand (in the case of the scientists, not a concern of theirs; and for the religious right; of primary concern) is seen as being beyond Nature, yet established on the fundamentals of nature (i.e. sex vs. gender; reproduction vs. the family), creating a starck and irreconcilable dichotomy between that which is supposedly man-made (culture) and that which is supposedly beyond human influence (nature).

      What both positions fail to acknowledge is to what extent Culture (and by extension, methods of observation and rationalization) affect our perceptions of Nature; and to what extent Nature (as a cultural construct) really feeds into our ‘Culture.’ In other words: how both Nature and Culture, as rhetorical tools, change their definitions depending on the argument at hand, to validate one position and denigrate the other.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 12:17 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Zoe Brain
      Zoe Brain

      Churchill-Y – I’m not gay. I’m Trans, or rather, Intersexed with a Trans life history. It’s fine that your concerns are not mine. It’s not fine that you seek to define us by promoting ignorance.

      Those words are overly harsh, but accurate.

      It’s been my experience that more problems have existed for the GLBT conglomerate due to lack of knowledge, than to misapplied knowledge.

      This is especially true for TS and IS people. The former because they’re still officially insane, and have to be diagnosed as such in order to be considered sane enough to consent to surgery. (Bit of a contradiction there…)

      The latter because they are subject to genital mutilation as infants on the theory that gender is infinitely malleable, and that transsexuality cannot have a biological basis.

      Look, in the process of investigating this, we’ve also found strong evidence that sexual orientation is hard-wired from birth. See BiGender and the Brain for example. The knowledge we gain from the study of TS has implications for everyone, gay or straight.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 12:31 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smokey Martini
      Smokey Martini

      Churchill-y, you point is not validated at all. Such a religious position can be supported by a gay person as well as a straight person. ACJ’s position is that of a religious fundamentalist, not a ‘straight person,’ as you wrongfully point out. Although, it’s true: SOME straight people are religious fundamentalists. But then again, SOME gay people are, too — and that’s a distinction you have to make if you REALLY want to validate your point.

      Given that such religious fundamentalists are “the ruling class” (as you put it) in the US, it is THEY who must be criticized, NOT your run-of-the-mill straight person. While it is true that straight people do have more privileges because MOST have the ability to reproduce; it must also be noted that there are SOME straight people who CRITCIALLY use these privileges (independent of their ability to reproduce) to fight for the rights of the less privileged who may not be given the light of day by the fundamentalists in question. It is these good-willed straight people who, unfortunately for us, give some weight and validation to our plights (i.e. the AIDS crisis never seemed to garner any support until Magic Johnson came out as a person living with AIDS), which has unfortunately been the sad reality of gay rights in the US since the 1970s. It’s not a fault of the ‘straight people’ per se, but of the fundamentalists who see gay people as scum — both the straight ones AND the gay ones…

      In any case, it seems like it’s time for you to go back to school and to brush up on some rhetoric courses. You ain’t going nowhere with that mentality of yours, young man!

      Oct 28, 2008 at 12:35 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CHURCHILL-Y
      CHURCHILL-Y

      Boy they must be handing gullible koolaid out in the streets as cheap as coal in China in the middle of summer.

      All I needed to read was Smokey’s first two words in response to AJC to know what a senile fart he probably is.

      As for you Zoe, where did I write that your concerns(If by that you mean as a Trans or Intersexed person)were not mine? As a Gay man I do not see my fight for equality any different than yours, because I realize that just like Trans there are Gay men and women who are not gender conforming and suffer equal discrimination as such…..and it so happens that the same research that are being done Down Under to decipher Trans genes are also being done for Gay and Bisexual ones. If you see all of us coming together once more to address an issue such as this that could end up harming us greatly as some kind of ignorant “conglomerate”, then that’s your problem.

      I see no insanity in someone feeling/knowing they were born in the body of the incorrect gender and seeking the appropriate help to image his/her self into the appropriate one they acknowledge themselves in and achieving it.
      Same goes for Intersexed people.

      I see no real need at this time where we are discriminated against all throughout the world in handing one more weapon to those who though initially might not be as vile as AJC could and I’m sure would end up heading in the direction I already commented on in my previous post.

      I’m assuming you know very clearly what you are and what you feel Zoe, I most certainly have known what I feel and who I am from my childhood, I don’t need no scientist to confirm it, though it would be nice I must admit, the harms that could come with it far outweigh that confirmation that in reality would not be for me or others like me but for heteros.

      I’ll tell you what I do need though, more reproductive aid research so that perhaps one day same gender couples can have offspring of their own, more research on the eradication of illnesses and viruses that are detrimental to us..etc,etc.

      I’m not opposed in no way to the confirmation of a Gay, Bisexual or Trans gene. What I’m opposed to is doing it at this time during this type of climate when we as GLBT people cannot defend ourselves against the urge for genetic manipulations that will surely accompany such a discovery.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 1:22 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smokey Martini
      Smokey Martini

      You’re right Churchill-y. Correction: what I REALLY meant was “point taken,” not “valid point” but the rest of my argument stays the same.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 1:29 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AJC
      AJC

      Just for the record: I’m gay. I don’t support the mainstream Baha’i position as articulated by Dr. Kluge. I just summarized it.

      The supreme irony is that the so-called Worldwide Baha’i Faith (based in Haifa, Israel) has as one of its principles “the elimination of all forms of prejudice.” Except for prejudice against gays, despite their casuistic arguments to the contrary.

      See for example:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Guidl-7oGn4

      http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/stop-bahai-anti-gay-discrimination

      Oct 28, 2008 at 1:30 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CHURCHILL-Y
      CHURCHILL-Y

      “go back to school and to brush up on some rhetoric courses. You ain’t going nowhere with that mentality of yours, young man!”

      Fair enough Old fart as soon as you go back to your retirement home. I have met some pretty awesome and smart GLBT senior citizens who are still much needed in our community but by reading your comments here I can most certainly affirm that you Sir/Ma’am are not one of them and your time might be more well spent on a rocking chair.

      p.s. I’m sorry AJC, but you did come off as an anti-gay religious bigot in your first post.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 1:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Smokey Martini
      Smokey Martini

      Actually, Churchill, I’m 24 and a strong proponent of Foucauldian/Butlerian analyses of knowledge/ power (what might be considered the counterpoint to the Marxist analyses you so obviously make use of in your arguments).

      While we may disagree on the structure and dissemination of power in the U.S., this is no reason to attack what you (mistakenly) presume to be my old-age. I could have very well taken an equally-as-personal attack on your (perceived) old-age because of your outmoded/ antiquated model of argument (an argument, from reading your comments above, you seem to perceive as being quite avant-garde)… but I know better than to go to such lows in supporting one’s position / dispelling another’s. It does nothing to encourage argument/ discussion and to present new positions/ideas on things.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 1:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • AJC
      AJC [Different person #1 using similar name]

      Then I should have made it clearer that I’m not.

      I posted the Kluge commentary to demonstrate that the adherents of anti-gay religions would love to genetically intervene in order to genetically alter gays. I think it’s extremely naive to think that they wouldn’t if they were given the opportunity to do so. A religion or religious philosopher who can argue that homosexuality is a genetic anomaly like cystic fibrosis is capable of anything. Anything.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 1:53 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • CHURCHILL-Y
      CHURCHILL-Y

      Agree completely with you AJC, all I would add is that although not coming from the same place of ignorance and hatred towards us MOST heteros(not all)would end up joining adherents of anti-gay religions in pursuing a reversal, eradication or a cure for a Gay gene for their offspring if one existed because in reality we are viewed already as a genetic abnormality by the majority of them even though a gene for us hasn’t been discovered yet.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 2:06 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M Shane
      M Shane

      The fact is that regardless of the eventual outcomes, the march of science will go on.
      It would be hard to say that we live in a better world than we did 400 years ago, even though we have faster growing tomatoes, gasoline engines, the H bomb.
      We are confronted with an age where there are a host of both good and ugly consequences available.
      The one thing that we can control is humanity and education. These will make all the difference.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 2:08 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      WRONG M Shane – science gets funded big time with tax dollars – most research is publicly funded. We as a society can choose how we proceed.

      Example: Great Britain instituted national health care in 1948 – when the country was the poorest – after being bombed out and zillions in war time spending. Yet today, the United States can’t afford to insure its citizens? Disgraceful and everlasting shame be heaped upon us!

      Your point 2:
      Humanity and education does not always help – read up on the history of how in the 1950’s it was thought TV would bring culture to the world.

      Oct 28, 2008 at 2:43 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • Jaroslaw
      Jaroslaw

      But we can afford hundreds of billions in a useless war in Iraq!

      Oct 28, 2008 at 2:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M Shane
      M Shane

      Jaroslaw:
      Most of the industries not privately funded are armaments and military related. Private funding assures nothing nor does public.
      The idea behind my comment about science marching on is that with something as minute as genetics where we are looking for cures for diseases primarily, it is impossile to separate out just what someone will find or it’s relation to everything else. Most things are discovered in the course of other investigations.

      T.V was a Botch mainly because of Private political interests. We have one of the lousies ted systems in the world, among other things they teach selfishness.

      Iraq would not have happened (1)if people cared about all the innocent victims and (2) were given the facts instead of deception

      Oct 28, 2008 at 5:44 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·
    • M Shane
      M Shane

      In this country, pretty much of everything is determined in the interests of Corporations. Had you noticed?

      Oct 28, 2008 at 5:47 pm · @ReplyReply to this comment ·

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