Alex Blaze

Zoe Brain's Trans 101, with science

Filed By Alex Blaze | December 17, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: intersex, ronald gold, trans 101, transgender, transsexual, Zoe Brain

We all know what happened last week, and part of the problem with what Ronald Gold said in his post on transgender people last week was that his thoughts are so common. I do hear them quite often, you know, when there isn't anyone who's transgender in the room. People who aren't really involved with queer activism would be surprised by how many people there are working in this thing we call the LGBT movement whose thoughts aren't too far from Gold's.

While it's easy to say that folks should educate themselves by finding books and websites and going through Trans 101 themselves, not everyone's going to do that work. In fact, the very people who ought to do that work are generally the ones who'll roll their eyes when you tell them "Telling me to explain my identity is an act of privilege!" No one wants to do it, no one should have to do it, but it needs to be done.

So I'll point you to Zoe Brain's blog, where she's broken down the science behind the T and continued the conversation with Ronald Gold (they emailed, and there's a Part II). Her Trans 101 is thorough and concrete, so it'd be a shame if it didn't reach a greater audience. Chapeau to her.

Those of you who should go look at it know who you are, and even if you don't need Trans 101, consider it your Trans 102 too. Go, lurk, read, and try to understand more in the privacy of your own home.

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I'm going to be blunt and somewhat direct.

I've pretty much pulled out of local efforts in politics because here, at least, those thoughts are spoken even when there is a trans person in the room, and after managing to piss off most folks for not tolerating such, it's just easier for me to not do so.

It's much easier to deal with in the social services side of things -- where everyone has exposure to the effects of the darker side of stuff, and is familiar with the pain and suffering that all of us feel and can see how it is not worse or greater, but absolutely equal, regardless of intersection.

Hence my focus on national politics and educational stuff. When I have a lesbian activist actively undermining my ability to even meet with a local legislator, I get the hint, and shift my focus accordingly.

What Zoe does is essential -- and she's very good at the constant, anywhere, any place, anytime effort that she does, and she doesn't get enough credit for it.

Much of my recent series of articles is based on the science she links and provides access to, taken as best I am able into a more colloquial and readable format.

But without her efforts, I might not have been able to do it.

"I've pretty much pulled out of local efforts in politics because here, at least, those thoughts are spoken even when there is a trans person in the room . . ."

That's a nice start. Let's keep the trend going.

Also, please consider the racism entailed in your equating "dark" with "bad".

That would be a no.

Indeed, you may have, by yourself, just given me reason enough to re-enter it.


Antonio wrote: "When I have a lesbian activist actively undermining my ability to even meet with a local legislator, I get the hint, and shift my focus accordingly."

Correct me if I'm wrong but my impression is you see lesbian (and by extension other gay) activists as bigoted towards trans people. I have a different take on this. Which I'll show by an example. Find just about any "name" trans activist and try to meet with a local legislator where you are expecting to get a word in edgewise. Most likely you'll find the same result. I.E. they'll actively undermine your ability to effectively participate. I found this out from experience in Atlanta a few months ago with some of our famous in their own minds trans activists.

Activists of all sorts are typically Ego Driven Personalities. As such the last thing they wish is to share the spotlight with anyone else. Particularly, as in your case, someone elegant enough in presentation to make them get less of an ego boost from the meeting.

Antonia (no o in the end, lol) would be me, of course, and no, I do not see them as generally any more *bigoted* than anyone else in the area.

Privileged, absolutely, and they do indeed make use of that privilege, and they are also often more resistant to learning about transfolk than straight folks are.

Put me in a room with a mix of straight and gay or lesbian folks, and more often than not, in my personal (and, therefore anecdotal) experience, the straight folks will get it faster and with less personal rancor.

Sue Lefkowitz | December 17, 2009 4:56 PM

Ron Gold is only guilty of writing what even transwomen think themselves. Flasback to 1974 and a bar is full of men dancing and looking to hook up. AIDS wasn't released yet to Middle America and Trans was only rich people like Rene Richards and Jan Morris. In this bar were basically 3 types of Gay guys. The business preppie in Izod and tan slacks, super straight guys trying to look like cowboys (pre Gay clone) and really effeminate types dressed like Jagger or Bowie preening in the mirror and hoping a stright type would take them home and tell them they looked like a woman in the dark. There was no internet or Susan's Place where sissy boys relized they might be something different. Let's stop dumping on Gold, because if any tranwoman over 40 is honest,she hoped she could live somehow as a man of somekind.

california panda | December 18, 2009 12:03 AM

I'm quite sure you believe most of the stuff in your comment. But my reality as a trans woman has been quite different than that. I never thought of myself as "deluded" and once I had my surgery I never considered myself a "mutilated". None of the other trans women I've met felt that way either. You might want to factor that into your viewpoint. I may have been shrill at times but hormone induced neo-puberty can do that. That's another part of the process some trans people don't seem to handle too well. Just like some non-trans teenagers don't. Gold isn't a pathogen, he's a symptom of a pathogenic response to a different form of experience than he's used to.

Unfortunately, rich people like Renee Richards tend to skip some essential steps in the transition process like RLT and Gender Therapy because they have the money to buy the fast track path through the system. This fast tracking can and often does result in some post operative regret and that can be used by our detractors to pose worst case scenarios that they then apply to the whole population of trans people to create their bogus horror stories. Trans women, especially those over 40, grew up in a time when separation from others like them were the norm. So they only had their own experiences and sense of self to rely on. Is it any wonder why so many of them failed to survive? It's only when you can see you are not alone and that there is a commonality of experience that you begin to realize that perhaps you aren't exactly a freak after all. That's when the idea that they don't have to live the lie of false social masculinity and maleness begins to take shape. That's when we begin to see there are other options. Other paths. Trans kids have a dual burden. They aren't socially emancipated so they can't act on their own behalf and they're also financially dependent on those who would likely enforce social heteronormativity. Project that onto a trans kid growing up in the 60's and 70's and you see the results of that in some of the grownups of today.

I never hoped I could live as somekind of man somehow. Nights beyond number I cried myself to sleep because I wasn't born female. Nights beyond number I prayed to a god who never answered that he would magically transform me so that in the morning I would be outwardly as I knew myself to be inwardly. And mornings without number I woke to the harsh reality that today wasn't that day. I eventually got my transformation. But it wasn't easy, it was a bittersweet victory, and it wasn't as early in my life as I would have liked. But it was a glorious day and I've never regretted it.

But then, this is just part of my story. I don't believe I'm alone in this tho.



I'm a transsexual woman over 40.

I *never* hoped to live as a man. Not once. If, at any time in my life, I were offered that metaphorical pill, I would have refused.

I hated it that much.

Secondly, in the spectrum of male born trans people, most of them haven't an issue with such a question.

Sue, I get what you mean. I came out as trans in in the mid-1980s in the EU (which was like late 1970s in the US). My environment was dominated by progressive people that thought like Mr Gold. I grew up to think the same way, and had a very hard time coming to terms with my gender/sexuality. I constantly wished that I might find a way to somehow live as a "masculine woman" or "androgyne", because that's what I was promised- that the progressive subculture of the time would be a place where I could be myself. But being really myself was more than that, and that was unacceptable for that subculture.

So I guess what you say is true for people who lived within that subculture, as I did (I'm trans *and* gay and come from a leftist household). But from what the others have said, it seems not true for those who did their own thing.

Patricia Harlow Patricia Harlow | December 17, 2009 5:32 PM

Amazing article. Well written. I strongly suggest anyone with the time or the care to take a read.

While I'm impressed by your willingness, Zoe, to explain all this to Mr Gold, I'm a bit irritated by the fact that we still need to *explain* transgender or transsexuality. The same holds true for the obsession of wanting to "explain" homosexuality btw. That is the one point where I agree with Mr Gold- I believe that even trying to explain is a defeat.

In the 19th century someone said that homosexuality is probably like left handedness, a natural and common variant of human nature- and that's good enough for me. When we are going into all that "gay brain" or "trans brain" stuff that usually means that we are under siege by people who either call us immoral, criminal or crazy.
(The problem with Mr Gold is that he fails to see that he does exactly the same- he calls Tg people delusional/crazy.)

I refuse to "prove" to a christian that I'm not immoral by claiming that I have some sort of "birth defect". Nor will I do the same when someone calls me crazy.
That defense strategy has been tried before - the first German gay/transgender movement was built on that. Since around 1900, gay scientist have claimed that homosexuals and transsexuals are born with a defect and therefore are neither criminals, nor crazy. At first, they won a lot by that strategy, even the first official passports for transsexuals, that allowed ts people to live in their chosen sex/gender.
But that strategy backfired when eugenics became more important in science all over the world since the 1920, and when the nazis took over the government in the mid-1930s.
What had been a strategical defense to get rid of the criminalisation of homosexuality and cross dressing, was turned into a good reason to get systematically rid of the illness- and the "sick" people.
That's why I'm wary of such "arguments". Because we don't need explanations or reasons why we should have human rights.

I agree that the real bigots are both a waste of time and not generally worth trying to reach.

Your comment:

I'm a bit irritated by the fact that we still need to *explain* transgender or transsexuality. The same holds true for the obsession of wanting to "explain" homosexuality btw. That is the one point where I agree with Mr Gold- I believe that even trying to explain is a defeat.

is what I want to address, however.

You, personally, do not *need* to keep explaining.

Someone does, however.

In the end, trying to gain forward progress without explaining why it is necessary simply isn't going to happen.

Privilege stops that, quite effectively, in part because of the very things you talked about.

So, now, once again, since we combating not merely a *person* or even a small group of people, but institutional forces that derive their power from those individuals in collective.

And the only way to do that is to use the power of information. To explain until a majority has heard and understands with a good foundation the stuff *we* already know.

Which, bluntly, would be a lot easier if those in power at the main political orgs would pull their heads out of their hind ends on trans stuff.

THen again, I advocate a different approach that rarely brings much support: *we* need to run for office. Constantly, in large numbers, at every single chance we get.

Because until we do, all we're doing is begging at the table.

So convinced of this am I, I'm going to do it.

And win or lose, I will make a difference.

Hey Antonia,
I think you got me a little wrong. Zoe's post is mostly about the assumed medical causes of TS, and I find it problematic to go that path, for the reasons I have stated.
I didn't mean that we should stop explaining to people why they should respect trans (or gay) folk. But the reason why they should do that is not that we have some sort of biological defect- the reason is because we are human beings, what we are harms no one, and it is a part of human nature all over the world.

I understand though, that with people who have a veiled bias against trans people, like Mr Gold's, that seems to be difficult. By veiled I mean- he believes himself to be politically progressive and tolerant. He is all for gender variance, as long as the lines of "biology" (or "reality", in his mind) are not overstepped. This boils down to the assumption that those who indeed overstep that boundary must be mentally unstable.
Zoe counters this psychological argument by changing the context to a biological one. The same thing has been done in the past by homosexuals who have argued that "animals do it too, you know" when confronted with the accusation of immorality. While this line of argument often works, it comes with its own set of problems.

We also should not forget that these are all political *strategies*.
But often they become the straw that we cling to when we get attacked by people who doubt our sanity and worth as human beings, which can naturally lead to self doubt. In the long term it is better to just insist on our human rights and focus on that instead of using a defensive strategy and playing by their rules (or being played).

When I was very young, I had all manner of attacks hurled at me. I was small and scrawny and I looked funny. I got called nigger and monkey, faggot and queer, wuss and pussy, wimp and sissy, freak and weirdo.

I was chased by three of the boys from my grade on average three times a week for the fun of it, beaten several times (although I did learn to both be very aware of my surroundings and to "ditch" rather well), taunted abused, tormented.

One day, I looked at someone who was chuckling at me and I said "what, the monkey freaking you out?"

I took their names and their insults and I grabbed hold of them hard and took them for my own.

I stood up to the bullies, and I would say when the new kids would be egged into calling me a name "and?".

I learned to never back down, to always get up, to take a hit and, yes, to give them back, as well.

And in each of those things, I took their power from them. I stole their hate and turned it into my badge of honor.

Six years, and as my class left that school, the remaining two of those bullies (one having died of leukemia in the time) became my friends.

Those lessons were early ones, and I still carry them with me today, and when people say things like I'm a bitch or a bully or mean or cruel or whatever -- I say let them.

Really. I will not let them have the power to claim me and my sense of myself. I will face them, directly, head on, and with all the force of my being and I will grin, sometimes ferally, when they say freak and weirdo and delusional and mutilated.

And I will look them in the eye and I will say "And?"

Because, in the end, all they are seeking is some sort of power over me. Some way of saying I am better than you. And they seek it to make themselves feel better.

They shall not do so by making me feel less well about myself.

Yes, I probably did read your post wrong, and for that I'm sorry.

But its not always strategy, not always a carefully planned method of defeating your foe.

Sometimes its just about knowing yourself better, even when you don't like what you see.

I'm a bit irritated by the fact that we still need to *explain* transgender or transsexuality.

So at X LGBT org (let's call them "The Power Team"), there's a new assistant field director hired. She's a cissexual butch lesbian, and every now and then she just gets irritated by all these transsexuals! So she'll email the rest of the people in the group, assuming no one is trans, with jokes about how some man in a dress wants her to talk to a politician about something, or about how those entitled trans folks should learn that the org was originally called "The Gay and Lesbian Power Team" for a reason. A transgender person will show up to volunteer with them and she'll be snotty, asking if it's best to bring up the bathroom issue in the general assembly when really all we want are equal rights.

Everyone else is uncomfortable, and maybe someone will say something. If someone does, they'll get a lecture about how it's just a trend, and soon we'll realize that we're working for our equality, not for some people to be called what they want. I mean, we're looking to marry who we want and access the rights that go with that. It's not like we're forcing people to call us 6'2" when we're actually 5'10" to help live out our gender binary-enforcing fantasy.

So then the Power Team starts getting opportunities to address transgender issues, but they don't. Everyone's already overworked, and guess what's not going to come first? No one really talks about it, but they don't really see the point. And they get criticized from time to time about not working on trans issues, everyone thinking that they've just forgotten the T in LGBT, not that they actually know about the T and are hostile.

Those are the people I'm writing to, the folks who think they have it figured out when they don't. To me, I agree, it's a basic issue of respect. But to others, it isn't, and just telling them it's a basic issue of respect isn't going to convince them.

"But to others, it isn't, and just telling them it's a basic issue of respect isn't going to convince them."

Strange, isn't it? ;-)

Yep, I know what you're talking about. I had the lovely experience to read an editorial by the boss of a big lesbian magazine over here, who is a butch, bdsm, queer dyke, and that was one of the grossest examples of transphobic drivel I ever set my hurting eyes on, including the suggestion that transmen are dykes who haven't met the dyke of their lives yet (??). They also published comments about the fat bums of ftm. Lovely indeed--

As you said, the biggest problem seems to be "the folks who think they have it figured out when they don't."

But I wonder if science talk will not alienate people who are all against biological sex bias (female brain, male brain etc)? won't it be better to show what exactly we have in common, our common histories and all that? that doesn't mean that I say stop what you do, Alex or Zoe! It's just some additional thoughts that I have on the issue.

Renee Thomas | December 17, 2009 6:55 PM


I wonder if you've looked into the research into molecular genetics that is being actively pursued by Dr. Bill Reiner at University of Oklahoma and Dr. Eric Vilain at UCLA. It is very interesting with respect to the mechanisms of sex chromosomal differentiation in utero – that would be before the development of hormone producing gonadal tissue. It’s significant, as you know, because the conventional wisdom had been that sex hormones drove the boat with respect to the sex differentiation of the developing fetus. New research is pointing to the interaction of over 50 sex-typed chromosomal pairs. The research suggests a much more complex and nuanced interaction between chromosomal material and sex hormone producing tissue.


Does all this research establish definitively the causal factors for the development of transgenderism? Certainly not, we both agree that much more additional research needs to be undertaken. Yet the current research is pointing in some interesting directions. This of course is to say nothing of the potential influence of estrogen mimicking compounds in the human food chain. For a very good treatment of that topic, see Deborah Rudacille’s The Riddle of Gender.

To those of you who are “freaked-out” by transpeople – sorry, that’s on you, can’t help you with that. All I can suggest is that you consider the possibility that the etiology of transgenderism and intersex are possibly influenced by neurodevelopmental phenomena in a small but statistically durable percentage of live births.

C’mon gang Zoe's doing the bulk of the work for you . . . get busy.

Thanks for the wonderful Christmas present!

There's some documents there I wasn't aware of.. Yummy URLs! Good stuff too... Sex differences in brain and behavior: hormones versus genes by Bockland and Vilain Adv Genet. 2007;59:245-66. for example.

You know, if the phrase "Geek Girl" hadn't already been invented, they'd have to make it to describe me. My niece is the same, we look like older and younger sisters.

Thanks for the kind things you've said about me too. That was thoughtful.

I've met so many wonderful people as the result of my transition, it's that rather than the whole biological m-to-f bit that I find most miraculous.

Thank you - for the URLs, for the support, and for being yourself.

A valid criticism. Not quite in the way you mean it though. You mistake my motives. They're not as worthy as you think.

Once the Rockets are Up
Who cares where they come down?
That's not my Department!
Said Wehrner Von Braun

I'm trying to get at the truth, not doing this in order to support some political ideal.

I've been unfairly criticised for trying to push some ideological line, "torturing the data until it confesses." A more valid criticism, one I acknowledge is true, is that I go where the evidence takes me, regardless of whether that's "good" or "bad" for the GLBT cause.

My advocacy I try to keep a separate issue. It's not that I don't care what effects my researches cause - it's just that my commitment to "calling em as I sees em" (I won't say "The Truth" as I change my opinions in accordance with the data) trumps that.

Reality wins in the end, you see. Best to come to some accommodation with it early on, rather than trying to suppress it just because it's an inconvenient truth. Epo se muove and all that.

I've found that my work has been more useful than not in supporting my advocacy. But even if it was counter-productive, as you think it may be, I'd still say the same things, and try to ameliorate any ill-effects using arguments about "justice" and "personal freedom".

Hey Zoe,
I think this might be a reply to what I wrote?
Ok, I get it, you're just a curious nerd girl ;-) and you happen to have some info that could make Mr Gold think twice.
Than I just adress my thoughts at those of us who are involved in politics.

Hi SOF - yes, my reply was intended for you.

And you have me pegged perfectly. I always was, and always will be, a "curious nerd girl". Even when I looked like a boy. Curious in both senses of the word, too.

Wouldn't you be too, if you had a one in a gazillion thing happen to you, your impossible dream come true when something medically inexplicable happens?

Now I'm able to be far more me than ever. A cliche, but true.

A friend of mine experienced a similar thing, only the other way around. She's a medical wonder too ;-) I say she because she still identifies as female despite the fact that she now passes as male. (I'm not talking disrespectful, that's exactly the way she describes herself).
I fully understand the need to make research about ourselves when something like that happens. I have some weird stuff in my medical history too.
My post was more about the general question what we base our politics on. But that's a different topic.
Btw did you see my question in your blog?

I'm trying to get at the truth, not doing this in order to support some political ideal.

I suspected as much. I've been known to go down that alley too: "I actually wouldn't prefer to be happy, being right is more important to me."

I got into an email discussion with someone about that this past week, asking us how the Ronald Gold post advanced "equality." (Actually, it was more like shouting at us that it didn't, and she was correct.) After a few emails back and forth, this person made it clear that she preferred saw equality as a more important goal than truth, almost saying as much in a single sentence (I don't know if she saw the connection). To paraphrase, she said the point of Bilerico should be to advance LGBT equality, not have conversations to have conversations. Personally, I think there's enough debate about what equality is, and whether it's even valuable, to have plenty of worthwhile conversations, and I'd prefer to work to host those instead of talking to people like they're sheep who already agree with us but just need something to read to pass the time and feel better about the ideology. Both are perfectly valid goals, but we've chosen our side.

Because I don't think that any vision of equality based on self-delusion or untruth is worth working for, but that's just me. It's hard to take the moral high ground, anyway, if you can't at least say that you tried to get your facts straight.

And, seriously, thanks for continuing the conversation. I found those posts on your site and was fascinated by the conversation, and I'm sure there are plenty of people who were wanting to ask something but didn't want to look stupid who'll find it informative.

Hi again,
I'm not promoting to keep facts from the public obviously. I'm only asking what we base our political arguments on, and why.
If this is just a conversation without political intentions, that's fine with me.

I'm not a scientist, though I have a dr. friend who is a biologist and has done her whole research on studies about sex/gender. from what she told me and from what I read myself, most things are not very clear about the biological roots of gender. for every study that proves one thing, there is another that proves the opposite. my take on that is that, as long as we don't know anything for certain, I'll just stay neutral. saying this might seem contraproductive with regards to the ongoing discussion. But then, it's just stating facts and we can't keep facts from the public, can we? ;-)

Seriously- don't get me wrong in all this heated discussion. I'm all for what you are doing here, Alex and Zoe, and I enjoy reading your posts.

Judas Peckerwood | December 17, 2009 8:52 PM

I hate to say it, but lack of education isn't the problem with many bigots. A lot of racists, sexists, homophobes, etc. KNOW that they are wrong. But they enjoy having somebody lower down on the ladder that they can piss on to make themselves feel superior. It's the same thing with most LGB anti-trans bigots I've run across.

california panda | December 17, 2009 8:59 PM

I say, "Good for her."

Personally, I'm tired of trying to explain or justify my existence to people who neither "get it" nor care to.

(NOTE: All subsequent questions are rhetorical and for thought exercise only.)

When was the last time a het individual was asked to explain his sexual orientation or gender identity? Or had to fight for bathroom access.

When was a lesbian or gay man asked to do the same?

When was a trans person asked to do the same?


As a het person, this morning.

To someone who asked if I was gay.

california panda | December 18, 2009 12:15 AM

Give 'em hell, girl!

I quite agree with ShipofFools.

How long has orientation/gender identity/gender expression been explained?

I'm less and less interested why or how I came to be, than how to be me now.

Regarding public policy, this may well be part of the program, but the heart of the program must be more specific; it is working with the agencies that provide needed services or creating them.

At least this is what I'm going to spend four days a week for four months doing.

I can completely sympathize with the viewpoint of why should people have to explain why they are transgender, gay, lesbian, bisexual or anything else. But I am a scientist too and I have seen where understanding and education can change a person's heart and mind. We never know what will reach any given individual. Did science persuade me to become a straight ally? No. My friends, whom I love, did. But I've used scientific facts on many news sites and conservative sites to confront people who are adamant that an LGBT "lifestyle is a choice". I do not view the biology as a birth defect. It's just variation in nature. Zoe is amazing. I always find her science to be sound, her thinking brilliant and her voice one of reason and compassion.

". . . part of the problem with what Ronald Gold said in his post on transgender people last week was that his thoughts are so common."

That is not a problem, it is a reason for hope.

Two other points: One, how is anyone supposed to know "what Ronald Gold said" since you and Browning decided to cave in to thuggish demands for censorship and removed his post?

Two, I hope that the same thugs who demanded censorship of Mr. Gold are also shocked and outraged at your insensitivity in using the term "LGBT". What about the intersexed? What about the queer and the questioning? What about the two-spirited and same-gender-loving? The proper term is LGBTQQATSSGL.

You are guilty of racist and sexist exclusion and I hope there is a firestorm of protest and a thorough discussion of the purity of your soul.

Hi Sara,

You can read much of it here via PDF:

as well as at several other locations around the web. Google is a good tool you might consider using.

I will note that your term left out the intersexed -- and that Zoe herself (the subject of the article) is intersex.

Lastly, I'd like to know why you say that Ron Gold's comments being so common is cause for hope.

Someone as sensitive to issue of race and sexism as yourself surely should be able to explain that while avoiding the complexities of supporting the sexism he espoused in so stating.

I shouldn't have to search around for an article that was posted here and that is being discussed on a daily basis here. The only reason I have to hunt for a pdf capture of "much" of this article on another site is because graceless, rude, self-righteous, arrogant thugs decided that the site owners should be hounded into censoring it. You "folk" would be right at home in the religious right.

Thank you for pointing out that I missed the "I" in the alphabet soup above. One letter closer to the ultimate goal, which is to include all 26 letters of the alphabet, before we move on to Sanskrit characters.

Finally, it is disturbing that you - a straight, white woman - has indulged in 2 racist comments in 2 days with no apology to the community here. I am fairly certain that if the much demonized Mr. Gold had referred to something bad as "dark" and had suggested that the Black civil rights movement was the product of white warmongering, we would be hearing plenty about it. I guess trans activists get a racism waiver on TBP. One more privilege for a white heterosexual who has the temerity to lecture lesbians on morality.

I shouldn't have to search around for an article that was posted here and that is being discussed on a daily basis here.
I agree.

Nor do you have to.

Just go to the URL the article you're commenting on links to, and you'll find the original, unabridged text of Mr Gold's post. Plus the preface that was added later.

You did do that first, didn't you? ;)

As I've said before, I wouldn't have removed Mr Gold's post. But now that Bilerico has given a link to an article containing it, I think they should get a pass on this one.

No, I actually read the portions available on on the PHB link. The link you provide is not promoted anywhere else on this site as far as I can see.

So if someone happens to come across your comment here, they can find it that way. Maybe someone can explain to me the fine points of PC morality that says that the Gold piece is so horrible, hurtful, and hateful that it can't be published here (even with a disclaimer that TBP doesn't support the opinions expressed), but it is perfectly fine to helpfully provide links to the same article.

Not being familiar with PC morality, I can't exactly address that (even under the assumption that you use PC as short for politically correct).

Mostly because politically correct is not what the problem with ROn GOld's article is.

The problem with Ron Gold's article is that it is not merely intensely disrespectful, it is unconscionably rude and enormously inaccurate to reduce trans to just two groups, and then say that one of those two groups is delusional and seeks to mutilate itself.

It goes beyond merely the views not reflecting the site ownership -- it runs counter to fact; he lied about an entire subset of the community this blog seeks to reach and did it in a manner that is the same as saying that all gay people are delusional -- they do not exist, their attraction to others of the same sex is perversion, and they are pathetic as a result.

As diverse and wide ranging as the topics at Bilerico are, even that went too far for the site as a whole, as it violated the very terms of service to which all of us are restricted (including contributors).

If you find that being called those things is not hurtful, not hateful, and not horrible, then you have a very, very different view of what it is to be gay or lesbian than most of the people who frequent this site.

And no -- most of them are not trans.

I hope this helps, and I'm glad that the link to PHB was of use to you.

The reason is because, as a woman who is African American, I'm a tad more attuned to the situation.

That you leaped to the conclusion I'm a white woman says a great deal to me. But, so you don't feel bad, I am also a white woman. And a Native American Woman. And, just as cool, my children are all Hispanic.

But thank you for the thought and courtesy of seeking to identify racism. It is greatly appreciated, even if a bit of a stretch in your attempts.

As for temerity, well, honi soi qui mal y pense.

Two other points: One, how is anyone supposed to know "what Ronald Gold said" since you and Browning decided to cave in to thuggish demands for censorship and removed his post?

Check out They have the same post up over there. You might have to search.

I question your sinerity on your other complaints, for some reason....

To those who ask what difference this makes:

In the US, a HUGE difference because proof (and thanks to Zoe and TS-Si) we know of well over 300 separate studies demonstrating the proof without a single study contradicting. The ADA exclusion for coverage of transsexuality is specific to "from non physical causes" meaning classic transsexuals are covered and there is even a legal opinion from the DOJ confirming this. See my piece here and on my website

Sandra Louise Sandra Louise | December 18, 2009 10:28 AM

My personal take is that like every other oppressed minority, it does not matter to the truly closed minded what documentation you show. They will continue to be bigoted.

Bigotry knows no bounds, and wants no information that would change their minds. The bigot views those who are different as evil. White vs non-white, Christian vs non-Christian, straight vs gay, trans vs genetic binary. There are instances in all case where hate has attempted to remove these differences from the group.

I feel that we must be wired that way. We can see some of that in herd behavior where strays or interlopers are driven out or killed.

I cannot respond to closed mined diatribe. I feel that no amount of facts will sway their opinion.

Mr Gold's piece struck me as some of the most closed minded, clichéd statements that I have ever seen. I would probably have been less incensed had it come from a conservative religious fundamentalist rather than one of our community.

While I was disappointed by it, and could not form any sort of coherent response, Zoe took it head on and actually seemed to get through to him.

I praise her for her effort, and thank Mr Gold for at least responding thoughtfully and not with vitriol.

I wish all such confrontations could be responded and accepted in this way.

Thank you again, Zoe, you are a better woman than I, Gunga-Din.


My personal take is that like every other oppressed minority, it does not matter to the truly closed minded what documentation you show. They will continue to be bigoted.

Agreed. But there are both types, the ignorant and the malicious. Actually, I should probably say that it's more like a fluid spectrum between the two polls, with most people eventually being reachable.

Time to ban Star Wars from Bilerico, after all, it dealt with "The Dark Side".

Thanks, Zoe, for your willingness to educate. It was very moving to read the exchange of emails and watch Ron Gold's mind and heart open up (along with my own). Too bad this amazing opportunity to learn more about transsexuality -- which, judging from the last few days here, most of us are in dire need of -- was banned from Bilerico.

As a big nerd myself (of the evolutionary biology kind) I greatly appreciate all the effort you put in. A part of me does not care about why I am trans because I should not have to explain my existence to other people. However, having your writing to refer to for those people who do want some sort of evidence-based debate is awesome. Seriously awesome.

I loathe psychology. I took one psych class and just hated it. I can't say that I'm that interested in human biology either.

So...transfolks really expect LGBs to read mountains of research papers in order to understand them? uh, you can't be serious. I'm doing it, and it feels like getting a tooth pulled. Not because I don't want to learn about trans issues, but frankly it's just not my area. You're expecting LGBs to have a certain level of education, time and intelligence. Many do, but surely you realize we're not all that privileged.

Well, I will hesitatingly say that I doubt Zoe expects others to do that, and I will say that I don't expect it.

WHich is why in my stuff I don't get into the nitty gritty details of all the research, I just spend the time explaining the concepts that are revealed to us in that research.

I daresay that Both Zoe and myself consider ourselves extraordinarily privileged and very lucky given our respective situations to still be able to do the work we love.

But part of what I'm somewhat sure we both strive to do is, first and foremost, make it accesible, and allow people who question us, and doubt us, to do the work for themselves.

Some people will, some people won't -- we generally don't think most people will, and hope that our often highly simplified and colloquial explanations will suffice.

In my case, its because I've written some of the most incredibly boring, ultra dry papers on the nature of 2nd century religious ritual and social magic in the occidental/oriental crossroads that I wouldn't wish on a living soul if I could help it -- the stuff is so dry and boring and has value to so few people that I'd rather have folks use sandpaper on their eyes.

Probably doesn't help I was trying really hard to be a guy at the time.

I am *sooo* glad that's over!


I seem to have misplaced your email address. Please send it to me at [email protected] and I will forward you the third DES paper I presented with Mickey back in 2005.