White matter

Klimt, portrait of Hermine GalliaTranssexual people exhibit different brain structure. A team at the National University of Distance Education, Madrid, performed MRI scans on 24 males, 19 females and 18 female to male trans folk, who had had no treatment. They found significant differences between male and female brains in four regions of white matter, and the trans men had white matter in those regions resembling a male brain. The team made a separate study of 18 trans women, finding that the structure of the white matter was half way between that of the males and females.

Words like “superior longitudinal fascicle” may trip off my tongue as easily as base-nodule of the stria terminalis central section. It may have implications on body perception.

In 2011, the New Scientist (where I found this) suggested that trans-identifying children with such white matter anomalies could benefit from treatment to delay puberty, but no such work had yet been done. The New Scientist referred to Sean Deoni’s work on white matter development in infants, but publication considered a causal link between breast feeding and improved intelligence, previously demonstrated epidemiologically. Here is the 2011 Journal of Psychiatric Research article, on the Spanish research.

As soon as April 2011, Neil Whitehead opined that any brain differences were caused by “years of repetitive thinking, fantasy and preoccupation with body image”. Reading the NS report, “each” M-F had the brain differences, and “the female to male transsexual people had white matter in those regions which resembled a male brain”, but Artur Lajos Halmi, portrait of an elegant young woman in a white dressWhitehead says “a modest majority had brains more like their heterosexual female counterparts”. This could be evidence of lying, though the two reports could be choosing different aspects to emphasise.

Whitehead’s is a prejudiced site: its home page states that “Huge amounts of impartial scientific evidence now make it abundantly clear that homosexuality is not biologically hard-wired and that change is possible”. This is a minority view.

This is all of limited use in deciding whether to transition. The question is, will you be happier transitioned? How much do you want it, and how accepting is your society? It has some use in persuading the undecided, though people like Whitehead will oppose it. More persuasive is the fact that people want to transition. Why not just let us?

More long words: White matter microstructure diffusivity.

Charing Cross

KlimtMy business in London was not The Solution, but it may do some good, eventually.

-It is rare for us to see someone at your stage in transition. Why are you here?

-About two years ago, my GP, knowing that one stays on HRT for a limited time, stopped my hormones, and my emotions went wild, I was shouting and weeping in the office and in the car. I went back on them within six weeks, and back on the full dose within six months, but my lability continued. At the time, I asked to see an endocrinologist here, to see if there was something to do with hormones- there are no double-blind studies, but you get to know your patients- and finding myself at last referred to a gender psychiatrist, I am here to see what good we can do together.

He is concerned that I will think the way he uses the consultation a waste of time, but I am in his hands. Insisting on my own way of using the time cannot be better than merely co-operating. He takes a history.

-What is your earliest memory related to transgender?

This one confuses me, because it is not a five-year-old’s memory, but a 47 year-old’s. I know we reconstruct memories every time we consider them, and twist them for our own satisfaction, but- I envied my sister’s party dress. It was yellow velvet.

Apart from that, I did not fit The Script- know there is something wrong aged 2, know I am a girl by aged 5.
-If they are honest, a lot of people do not fit that, he says.
I self-identified as a fetishistic transvestite. And, here cutting my long story short, when I was 35 even though I was terrified of transitioning and thought I would be sacked and ostracised for it, I knew it was what I had to do.

-How did you feel about the changes of puberty?
-Growing body hair really pleased me. I wanted to fit in, then, I was ashamed at how slight my arms were.

Giving my history reminds me that I had several times off with depression while in Oldham, the longest six weeks. My emotional problems were before I came off the oestradiol.

He suggests it would be good for me to talk about these things, so suggests counselling, at his clinic in London as local counsellors can get hung up on the gender issue. OK. He sends me to the phlebotomist, and thinks it would be useful for me to see an endocrinologist there. He makes me another appointment with himself: May is the earliest possible.

There, I see a woman aged 19, who is diffident with the receptionist, one hour early, and who huddles in the corner staring down at her phone, the picture of our extreme meekness; and an older woman, with a male voice, helping a trans man with registering as the man cannot manage the forms. She explains to him, possibly inaccurately. Having nothing better to do in London, I take the train home, and phone Jayne to meet for coffee. She tells me all about the hassle of organising a lunch for a group of which she is now vice-chair. I would have told her of the GIC had she asked.

The next visit to Charing Cross GIC is here.


Klimt_-_Der_Hofschauspieler_josef_Lewinsky_als_Carlos_in_„Clavigo“ detailKlimt_-_Der_Hofschauspieler_josef_Lewinsky_als_Carlos_in_„Clavigo“ detailIt is a right pain, knowing that you’re queer, and that is a bad thing. It is worse, knowing that whatever distress you feel is because you are useless, that anyone with the slightest moral fibre would not be troubled for a moment. In this state, I kept that job in Oldham, despite recurrent worries of loss of funding. I left because local kids were repeatedly vandalising my car.

I went to Newport, where funding was removed within six months because my managers instructed me not to do what we were funded to do, but something else, and bullied me for trying to do what we were funded to do; then moved me to represent at employment tribunals, at which we were hopelessly incompetent: I worked for days on my first full hearing, worked late, and at the hearing the chairman frightened me so much that I forced the client to accept the barrister’s offer: he would not seek costs, if we withdrew now. Eventually I could not bear it any more, and walked out, the demands of my job and the demands of my fallacious self-respect- I needed to preserve my self-image- being too much for me.

Then I got another job, where I had little to do, and that bothered me- can’t get funding renewed if I am not working, and a woman I needed to refer clients to me took an extreme dislike to me. I did all I could for it, which was not enough. At the time I was appealing the Minute of Disunity from Quakers in South Wales. Again unemployed, I kept applying, travelling all over to many interviews, and never getting the offer. When my GP stopped my hormones suddenly, I went wildly emotional, and remained so despite starting taking them again. This year I have numbed my emotions, rather than achieving equilibrium, with television and solitaire and staring at my stats page as well as blogging. Last year I learned my father had lost £60,000 to fake investment scams. I thought he would learn from this, and my sister and his wife would protect him, but this year I found he had lost at least another £50,000, wiping his capital out.

So here I am, spending most of the time indoors. I am frightened of other people, never wanting to ask for something- amazed when my landlord told me his address- and frightened of the future.

This is not because I am bad. I just, well, am. The world, well, is. It is as it is, as the Facebook wisdom says,

and I am -Not- wrong.

B asked why the double negative. Because my sense of my own wrongness is so deep and pervasive and so able to appropriate circumstances as new evidence of its truth- such as the fact that it still exists, and I have not even been able to learn the obvious moral lesson that it is not true, yet.

Oh, this is hard work.


“In what way is being gay a Good thing?”

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cd/Gustav_Klimt_021.jpgDace’s eleven questions allowed me to be creative and say what I wanted to say, and joke a bit. I am glad of them. I chafe a bit around rules on tigging- reveal eleven things about me? Circumspice, this blog is all about me, I have revealed hundreds of things about me, quotidian, strange, shameful or admirable. And- I have a question, I want to know what those I tig think, and would be grateful for any answers.

Being queer sucks. You grow up among people who are not, and do not understand it- as I find opposite sex attraction (OSA) so completely weird, I have some sympathy with that- and you try to conform, then you have such trauma over Coming Out, then it is harder to find partners, you face discrimination, you may self-censor and not go certain places because you are frightened of adverse reactions, you may experience bullying or physical violence because of who you are.

Then you find a partner and make a life for yourself and it is OK, really. You have someone you love, but then, if you were straight you might have found someone. You have friends for whom your being gay is no more objectionable than being tall or short, but then, straight people have friends too.

In what way is being gay a blessing for you? Oh, and- if you want to be tigged, consider yourself tigged.

Klimt’s original has been destroyed.

Added: DC, who lives where consensual sexual acts are punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment, writes of how hard it is. Bullying has made him stand up for himself, and celebrate individuality over conformity. His piece is brave and beautiful.

Art Nouveau

Growing up in Scotland, I believed that Art Nouveau meant Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Glasgow loves him: ‘Wegians built the House for an Art Lover in the 1980s from designs submitted by him for a competition in 1901. I was delighted to play its piano. The Willow Tea Rooms is one of Glasgow’s major attractions, as they say, though I would also recommend the Burrell Collection and the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Only when I went to Manchester did I see Klimt reproductions, and researching this I find Art Nouveau was initially named Mucha style after Alphonse Mucha, after his poster for Gismonda appeared in 1895. I am glad to know of the great Scottish architect and designer, and when I learned of the European achievements, the new understanding enriched me. But then, England has no Art Nouveau greats of its own.