October 13, 2022

Do animals have genders? Are there transgender animals? A scientist find some clues among chimpanzees.


Some people are trying to reduce gender to biological sex, appealing to “common sense” or even “science”. This is one way of dismissing gender variance and transgender people. The fact is that gender is a common term used in animal studies.

To simplify: In biology biological sex in animals most often refers to gonads (sperm or eggs), while gender refers to either (1) their behavior and (2) different variants of a specific biological sex. 

(In some animals males and females (as defined by sperm/eggs) may come in different “morphs” or phenotypes. There may be two distinct types of males, for instance, with different body types. Let us leave that aside for now.)

Traditionally the difference between sex and gender has been explained as sex being “biological” and gender “cultural”.

Frans de Waal, one of the world’s leading primatologists, do not see it exactly this way. For him gender is the end result of an interplay between biology and culture. This is also the case for apes like chimpanzees and bonobos, and – as he sees – also humans.

This presentation is based on his new book  Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist, and some of his recent articles.


September 21, 2022

What "queer" means and why it is such a useful word

 


"Queer" is a great word that can be used to describe those who not belong to the heterosexual/non-transgender majority.

Sometimes, but just sometimes, the queer debate becomes so neurotic that it does more harm than good. The discussion about the term queer can serve as one example of this. We have become so afraid of offending anyone that we dismiss terms that can serve us well, because they were once used as slurs.

"Queer" originally meant strange or odd. In the US it became a slur used against everyone cisgender/heteronormative people saw as gay. 

Since the early 1990s, however, an increasing number of gender diverse and non-heterosexual people have been using it as an umbrella term for all kinds of variance in the realms of sexuality and gender. 

Is queer a slur?


How can you use a slur to describe a group of people that is constantly bullied, harassed and invalidated? The answer: Because we can. 

Transgender and nonbinary news curation in social media


We provide links to the latest transgender and queer news and resources through our social media channels on twitter, tumblr, Flipboard and Telegram.

Anyone who wants to keep track of the transgender and queer debate – whether this applies to culture, politics, health or models of understanding – is facing a serious challenge as to how to find relevant news and quality content.

Search engines like Google are becoming increasingly irrelevant in this respect, as few of us go beyond the first two pages of search results and because so much of the content delivered is produced by anti-trans and anti-queer activists.

This is why we need curators who can identify and share relevant content with those who want to know more about trans, nonbinary and queer issues.

Here's the problem: There is, to our knowledge, very few who provide such services. Reddit provides some input of this kind, but it is limited to the interests of those active there. Sites like Pink News, The Advocate, LGBTQ Nation, and Washington Blade provide a lot of useful information, but they are – for obvious reasons – focusing on their own content.

This is why we are providing transgender, nonbinary and queer news curation in several channels, the latest of which is our Transgender World Telegram channels.

Here are our our transgender and queer news sites and accounts:

Trans Express on twitter.
This is our most expansive and up to date news source. We post some five to ten links of relevant content every day.

Trans Express on tumblr.
On average we publish one new post presenting relevant transgender and queer content every day.

Transgender News on Flipboard
Here we present much of the same content as on twitter, but in a practical newspaper format.

Transgender World on Telegram
Telegram is our newest offering. We realized that there were no serious transgender news sources on this popular platform and decided to provide our own. This channel will present selected links from the sources mentioned above.

Photo: Alessandro Biascioli

July 6, 2022

Is it OK for a cis woman to refuse treatment from a transgender gynecologist?

Photo of transgender gynecologist Petra De Sutter from Open Dialogue.

Petra De Sutter is a gynecologist and politician, currently serving as the federal Deputy Prime Minister of Belgium. Would it be OK for a cis woman to ask for another female gynecologist, if Petra was the one assigned to her? 

Sometimes I get questions via tumblr over at my Trans-Express news blog. Some are genuine and well meant, while others are traps set by transphobes who aim at luring me into saying something they can use against trans people in general.

The following question might have been such a trap:
Do you believe that if a woman or girl requests a female gynaecologist, and the gyno is a pre-transition trans woman, the patient is transphobic for being uncomfortable or asking for a cis woman doctor? Genuine question.
There is, in fact, a good chance this questions was written by a British TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist). 

However, as I started thinking about the question I realized that this was an opportunity to say something more about the kind of bigotry we find in racism, homophobia and transphobia. So I wrote an answer.

Here it is:


Social conditioning

There are many levels of bigotry – being this racism, homophobia, transphobia or any other kind of aversion felt towards minority groups. The phobia can be conscious, deliberate and hateful, or it can be implicit and an indirect effect of cultural prejudices.

One of the ways society keep marginalized groups excluded is by conditioning its citizens to fear or loathe them. This is not only a mental process; it is an emotional form of conditioning.

Kids will, from a very young age, see that their parents and peers express distaste when meeting – or talking about – members of these groups.

The same adults will often use the same kind of expressions as when they talk about something diseased, rotten or corrupt. Kids pick up on these feelings. They develop the same emotional responses.

July 4, 2022

The DSM-5 updates its gender/transgender vocabulary in a positive way, but "autogynephilia" remains


The American psychiatric manual, the DSM-5 (now called DSM-5-TR) has revised the chapter on gender dysphoria. The main changes reflects a more on target and respectful language for describing gender variance. 

  • The term “desired gender” is now “experienced gender.“
  • The term “cross-sex medical procedure” is now “gender-affirming medical procedure.”
  • The term “natal male”/“natal female” is now “individual assigned male/female at birth.”

It seems to me that the doctors writing this chapter are both willing and able to have a constructive dialog with trans people.

I am not saying that the gender dysphoria  text is perfect. Why on earth they continue to use the term “disorders of sex development” for intersex people, given the history of “gender identity disorder”, is beyond me. They did at least include the term “differences of sex development” as an alternative.

You can read the revised introduction to the DSM-5-TR gender dysphoria chapter here. 

Autogynephilia remains

What they have failed to do is to remove the “autogynephilia” diagnosis from the paraphilia chapter. 

The inclusion of this pseudo-scientific term is extremely unfortunate, and reflects the influence of Ray Blanchard on the DSM-5 process. The term is actively used by anti-trans activists to invalidate trans women. Indeed, Blanchard himself is actively helping TERFs and right wing extremist spread their transphobic gospel.

June 25, 2022

Attack against queer pub leads to Pride being cancelled in Oslo, Norway


Tonight, shortly after 1 AM, a man attacked London Pub, a popular place for queer people in Oslo, with an automatic weapon. The police arrived quickly on the scene, and apprehended the man in collaboration with civilians at the scene.

Yesterday I posted an article on a new Norwegian survey shows increased public support for LGBTQ+ people, trans people included. Today we woke up to the news of what most likely is a terrorist attack against LGBTQA+ people. 

So, was I wrong about my rather positive view of Norwegian attitudes towards queer people? 

No, it this truly was a terrorist attack, which seems very likely, it is rather a sign of how some transphobes and homophobes try to pour petrol on the bigotry that does exist, gaining more support in the process. Ironically, this attack is more likely to increase the support for queer and trans people in Norway.

Here is what we know

This is what we know in the morning of June 25, given newspaper coverage and the Oslo Police press conference:

Tonight a 42 year old Norwegian citizen of Iranian origin attacked two pubs in the center of Oslo, Per på hjørnet and London Pub. London Pub is a queer watering hole. Per på hjørnet lies side by side with London Pub. The shooting took place outside these pubs.

The man fired into the crowd, killing two persons in the process.  Ten persons are seriously wounded, 11 less severely so.

The police appeared within minutes. In collaboration with private citizens at the scene, they stopped  further carnage, and – again in collaboration with civilians – they apprehended the suspect.

The police contacted Oslo Pride and recommended that today's Pride Parade should be cancelled, due to security reasons. The organizers of Pride Parade agreed. All Pride arrangements have been cancelled today.

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