Wednesday, October 22, 2008

A brief warning to little people

Commentary and opinion of Curtis E. Hinkle, Intersex activist

I noticed recently that Alice Dreger is planning on focusing on little people. Warning: beware.

Alice Dreger caused great damage to the intersex movement and let me give just a small example of how she threw oil on the fire.

While campaigning against early genital surgery, she became a staunch defender of Anne Lawrence who wrote the following journal article.

Lawrence, A. A. (2006). Clinical and theoretical parallels between desire for limb amputation and gender identity disorder. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 35, 263-278. Full text:

How can someone be opposed to surgery on children on the one hand and approve of surgery for people with a limb amputation fetish on the other hand? How can one deal with real gender identity issues in children who are surgically assigned to a sex without consent and at the same time maintain that the reason that people would want to change their gender assignment as an adult is a limb amputation fetish? Conflating these two issues is so repulsive to many intersex people that it only further drove wedges between marginalized communities – the intersex and trans movement – communities which actually have a lot in common if one does not include limb amputation fetishes as the motivation for rejecting one’s original gender assignment.

Then when she gave the following speech at the Kinsey Institute entitled “Parsing Intersex: No matter how you slice it”, many of us realized just how long she must have been palling around with Anne Lawrence.

So, little people, beware.

You may wish to read the following article by Alice Dreger:
Lavish Dwarf Entertainment

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Alice Dreger's unethical treatment of the intersex movement

By Curtis E. Hinkle

Background information

The intersex community has been severely duped and manipulated. The reason there was practically NO intersex participation in this DSD scandal that has been ongoing for quite a while now was because they most likely did not want any participation from people who might figure out what was going on and who was involved.

1) J Michael Bailey is a central figure in the Network on Psychosexual Differentiation at Penn State which resurrected the Disorder terminology in a psychosexual context. He spoke on different occasions at their meetings specifically on intersex and helped formulate their mission which includes the following:

“Develop or refine animal paradigms that model and help to explain the genetic, neuroendocrine, and social processes underlying both normal sex-typed behaviors and pathological behaviors observed in individuals with intersex conditions or gender-atypical behavior.”

2) Dreger and Chase then went about popularizing this terminology of disorders to the medical community outside the "psychology" and "psychiatric" community. We were told that medical doctors preferred the term "disorder". Well, they "prefer" it because that is what Dreger and Chase actually sold to them by publishing articles specifically on the reasons medical doctors should change to the term "disorder" as the preferred terminology long before most of us got wind of what they were doing.

3) Then Network members at Penn State and Northwestern "researchers" where Dreger and Bailey are located get all this funding that conflates the two issues - disorders of sex and disorders of psychosexual development.

4) Bailey is in BOTH groups and a CLOSE associate of Dreger and someone she has been defending. (Please note: I wrote "someone she has been defending", not that she was defending his ideas. However, she does defend a lot of his ideas also, many of which are quite repulsive to some intersex people - like surgical sex fetishes which is what Anne Lawrence appears to some of us to be into.)

Alice Dreger: Disorders of Sex Development, the history

Alice Dreger recently announced that she is resigning from the Consortium on the Management of Disorders of Sex Development (“The DSD Consortium”), and is trying to distance herself from the pathologizing terminology being used by that Consortium – as if she never had anything to do with it.

In a letter dated September 15, 2006 and addressed to "Dear handbook contributor", Dreger said:

"I am writing to let you know that I am resigning from the DSD Consortium and to make a few suggestions about avenues that might be pursued to further the work we did together. . ."

". . . Work on ways to ensure that the language of "disorders of sex development" does not result in negative experiences for people with DSDs and their families (Even while this language has allowed productive dialog, we have already seen that some affected individuals find this language to be stigmatizing and unnecessarily pathologizing). . ." – Alice Dreger

However, Ms. Dreger cannot rewrite history and escape her record as a major champion of the use of "disorders of sex development" (DSD) as the umbrella term for intersex variations.

Dreger is the editor-in-chief of the new ISNA handbooks which heavily promote that terminology, and it was to the contributors to those handbooks that she sent her recent letter:

Dreger is even credited by ISNA as being the prime mover who brought those handbooks forward:

“Perhaps most importantly, Alice acted as project manager and editor-in-chief for the DSD Consortium’s clinical guidelines and parents’ handbook. These groundbreaking consensus documents would not have happened without her extraordinary talents and efforts. She is continuing her work as Project Coordinator for the DSD Consortium.” – ISNA Website

Furthermore, Dreger’s job title at Northwestern University includes that very terminology:

Alice Dreger . . . serves as the project coordinator for publications of the Consortium on the Management of Disorders of Sex Development.

Perhaps most significantly, Dreger, as a new hire at Northwestern University, was the principal author of a journal article that began the Consortium’s process of popularizing their terminology as a replacement for intersex, both within and outside the medical community:

“Changing the Nomenclature/Taxonomy for Intersex: A Scientific and Clinical Rationale”, Alice Dreger et al, Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology & Metabolism, 18. (729-733 (2005).

Dreger’s disorders paper promotes the use of the old-time medical phrase “disorders of sexual differentiation" (later changed to “development”) – using the straw man of “hermaphroditism” as if it were the word being replaced (instead of intersex being the word they wanted to replace):

In conclusion, we suggest the language of ‘hermaphroditism’ and ‘pseudohermaphroditism’ be abandoned. One possible alternative . . . is to use instead . . . the umbrella term “disorders of sexual differentiation”. Such an approach would have the salutary effects of improving patient and physician understanding and reducing the biases that are inherent in the use of the current language of ‘hermaphroditism’. – Dreger et al.

That old medical terminology had been adopted in 2003 in the mission statement of "The Network on Psychosexual Differentiation". It was that NICHD group of researchers, funded by NIH, who are behind the Northwestern/Penn State DSD Consortium that had hired Dreger:

As lead author of the “disorders paper” and as a spokesperson for the Consortium, Dreger became a staunch defender of that terminology, even as the early backlash developed (although using somewhat obscure logic in her defenses), as seen in a March 2006 ISNA blog entry:

We realize, of course, that any terminology including the word “disorder” can be construed as pejorative. We’d also like to emphasize that we use the abbreviated form of DSD whenever possible. Explaining why this is important, Alice Dreger writes, “we find that, when accompanied by an explanation of what we mean, DSD isn’t terribly stigmatizing. And an important point: the acronym DSD is very useful—and thus, the acronym should be favored over the spelled-out term— because as an abbreviation we don’t focus on ‘disorder’.” We explain what we mean, and then use the term “DSDs.” Thus, we recognize that this is not a perfect term, but we hope ISNA’s supporters and allies will understand that it’s helping us enact real change in medical care. – ISNA Website

Note: That entry has recently been removed from the ISNA blog page.

To counter the escalating backlash, Dreger and ISNA ramped up their efforts to promote the terminology on behalf of the DSD Consortium during 2006 – including helping with widespread dissemination of a so-called “medical consensus statement” published on May 4, 2006 and again in August 2006. However, contrary to all appearances, that “consensus” involved many medical DSD supporters but had almost no intersex representation.

“Consensus statement on management of intersex disorders”, by I A Hughes, et al; Archives of Disease in Childhood ac98319 Module 2 5/4/06:

“Summary of Consensus Statement on Intersex Disorders and Their Management”, Christopher P. Houk, et al; PEDIATRICS Vol. 118 No. 2 August 2006, pp. 753-757

“DSDs and the Chicago Consensus Meeting/Statement”, AISSG-UK

The terminology was then positioned for major national exposure, in a glowing article about Cheryl Chase in the New York Times on September 24, 2006:
"What if It’s (Sort of) a Boy and (Sort of) a Girl?"

However, those efforts have clearly failed, because of the huge backlash that has developed in the intersex community against such terminology – and as prominent researchers such as Prof. Milton Diamond made eloquent pleas for the use of less pathologizing language:

“Variations of Sex Development Instead of Disorders of Sex Development”,
Milton Diamond, ADC-Online, 27 July 2006.

Just one month before she announced her resignation, and now under obvious pressure, Dreger posted an entry in her blog entitled “My Identity/Politics”, in which she said:

“Do I sometimes take crap from people in identity rights movements (like the intersex rights movement) for being a supposed interloper? Sure, sometimes. But most people figure out that it’s a good thing to have someone capable helping out.” – Alice Dreger, 14 August 2006

By then many intersex people were asking themselves: “With friends like that, who needs enemies?”

And now, in the midst of an unstoppable backlash, Dreger has suddenly announced that she is resigning from the DSD Consortium – and goes on to criticize others for using the very terminology she has so widely promoted.

Here we have yet another interloper (her own word) who intrudes into the lives of intersex people and does great harm against us, without getting to know us in large numbers and consulting us, and without giving us a real voice through her writings. Then, when the going gets rough and the harm she’d been doing is exposed, she is now simply walking away - leaving it to others to clean up the mess she created.

For follow-up: Click here

Monday, September 15, 2008

Let's not be ambiguous

By Curtis E. Hinkle

We in OII do not wish to get involved in a debate over terminology with Alice Dreger and we hope we have not been ambiguous about this. Yes, we don't agree with the new terminology but that is not how we in OII wish to have this debate framed. It is about much more than terminology and by focusing only on the "name" that is being used for "intersex", we trivialise the debate. We, therefore, want to be clear and unambiguous about why we are in such fundamental disagreement with Alice Dreger and why we disapprove of what she has done to the intersex community.

We are concerned about the following and it has little to do with terminology.

This is what Alice Dreger has done:

1- DSD is now a genetic defect. (Intersex was not and she encouraged the medical community to replace intersex with DSD because it is more "precise". Yes, it is and we are the targets of that precision.

2- More and more DSD's will become detectable in utero and screened out of the population because the genetic name (based on the cause) will make this possible.

3) She is defending a eugenics proponent. Download his homosexual eugenics paper here.

4) DSD makes it totally legal and ethical to perform all types of normalisation procedures on children because legally a DISORDER can be treated without consent of the child - it is a genetic disorder and disability now, thanks to Alice Dreger.

If Dreger were using the word "intersex"to refer to the items above, we would oppose the term "intersex" in that case.

Alice Dreger seems more concerned about pro-choice rights than our rights. This unfortunately can result in not just the choice to have a baby but the choice of which babies are worth having at all based on genetic defects. This is eugenics and not just the right to choose because some groups as more valuable than other groups and modern methods are used to screen them out of the population. We in OII are going to resist this. We look forward to a real debate and to real freedom of speech. Would it not be reasonable to let intersex people speak about these issues instead of a woman who is not intersex, Alice Dreger, who is more interested in abortion rights than our rights?

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dreger and DSD - The redefining of intersex as a genetic birth defect

The Bailey/Dreger Team
by Curtis E. Hinkle

Alice Dreger seems more concerned about pro-choice rights than intersex rights. Conflating the right of a woman to choose with intersex as a genetic birth defect can result in not just the choice to have a baby but the choice of which babies are worth having at all. This can eventually become a form of
eugenics because some groups are considered as more valuable than other groups and modern methods are used to screen them out of the population. We in OII are going to resist this. We look forward to a real debate and to real freedom of speech. Would it not be reasonable to let intersex people speak about these issues instead of a woman who is not intersex, Alice Dreger, who is more interested in abortion rights than our rights?

To briefly understand Dreger's close association with DSD as a birth defect:

There are three main figures involved. Dreger is central to each. They are: Dr. Eric Vilain, J Michael Bailey and Dreger herself. Vilain is in the Penn State group (Network on Psychosexual Differentiation) and a board member of ISNA (the Intersex Society of North America). Bailey is in the Penn State group with Vilain and at Northwestern University with Alice Dreger. Dreger is very closely connected with ISNA and Northwestern University where Bailey is and has devoted a large part of her recent career in defending Bailey.

Bailey works and has worked very closely with Dr. Eric Vilain who just recently in a June Scientific American article took credit for coming up with the term "Disorders of Sexual Development" (His choice of words).

He states very clearly what the focus is on:

"Ultimately individuals who are intersex will each have their diagnosis with a GENETIC name."

From the Scientific American article:
Q. "At a recent international meeting to discuss management of people with genital and gonadal abnormalities, you successfully pushed for a change in nomenclature. Instead of using terms such as "hermaphrodite" or even "intersex," you recommended that the field use specific diagnoses under the term, "disorders of sex development." Why did you and other geneticists feel a nomenclature change was necessary?

A. For the past 15 to 16 years now, there really has been an explosion in the genetic knowledge of sex determination. And the question being, how can we translate this genetic knowledge into clinical practice? So we said maybe we should have a fresh approach to this.

The initial agenda was to have a nomenclature that was robust but flexible enough to incorporate new genetic knowledge. Then we realized there were other problems that were in fact not really genetic, but that genetics could actually answer them. Ultimately individuals who are intersex will each have their diagnosis with a genetic name. It's not going to be some big, all-encompassing category, like "male hermaphrodites." And that's much more scientific, it's much more individualized, if you will. It's much more medical.

Bailey was one of the original presenters when this terminology was first ressurected at the Penn State group which is researching psychosexual differentiation in intersex and gender variant people. The whole disorder concept with Eric Vilain and Bailey and others was resurrected in this network funded by the NICHD. This group which is funded by United States taxpayers has now made most all of their documents password protected.

1) J Michael Bailey is a central figure in the Network on Psychosexual Differentiation at Penn State which resurrected the Disorder terminology in a psychosexual context. He spoke on different occasions at their meetings specifically on intersex and helped formulate their mission which includes the following:

"Develop or refine animal paradigms that model and help to explain the genetic, neuroendocrine, and social processes underlying both normal sex-typed behaviors and pathological behaviors observed in individuals with intersex conditions or gender-atypical behavior."
Right now CAH and XXY and other intersex variations are on brith defect registries and they are there precisely because the genetic screening can find them. The Consensus statement makes it very clear that the intent of the new DSD model is to determine the GENETIC origins of all these conditions just as Vilain has stated clearly in his recent interview with the Scientific American. The DSD Guidelines and Consensus Statement are firmly planted in the genetic and eugenic model of intersex as a birth defect.

Advances in identification of molecular genetic causes of abnormal sex with heightened awareness of ethical issues and patient advocacy concerns necessitate a reexamination of nomenclature.1 Terms such as "intersex," "pseudohermaphroditism," "hermaphroditism," "sex reversal," and gender-based diagnostic labels are particularly controversial. These terms are perceived as potentially pejorative by patients and can be confusing to practitioners and parents alike. We propose the term "disorders of sex development" (DSD), as defined by congenital conditions in which development of chromosomal, gonadal, or anatomic sex is atypical. The proposed changes in terminology are summarized in Table 1. A modern lexicon is needed to integrate progress in MOLECULAR GENETIC aspects of sex development. Because outcome data in individuals with DSD are limited, it is essential to use precision when applying definitions and diagnostic labels.3,4 It is also appropriate to use terminology that is sensitive to the concerns of patients. The ideal nomenclature should be sufficiently flexible to incorporate new information yet robust enough to maintain a consistent framework. Terms should be descriptive and reflect GENETIC ETIOLOGY when available and accommodate the spectrum of phenotypic variation. Clinicians and scientists must value the nomenclature's use, and it must be understandable to patients and their families. An example of how the proposed nomenclature could be applied in a classification of DSD is shown in Table 2.

Consensus Statement on Management of Intersex Disorders
PEDIATRICS Volume 118, Number 2, August 2006

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Fact Checking Alice Dreger

A fact check to the fact checker
by Curtis E. Hinkle

Response to:
(Italics are quotes from Alice Dreger's blog)

Well, I see Alice Dreger is up to her usual: distorting the facts and creating a smokescreen so that those with power who are not being held accountable for their unethical behavior appear to be justified in further victimizing marginalized communities. As usual, she is telling us what to do and being deceptive as she talks down to us – vintage Dreger – while deflecting the attention away from those who are harming people and making it look like those harmed are the real problem.

I’ve been watching the same sort of thing happen over the debate regarding Zucker and the DSM. Lots of errors about basic facts.

She should know about errors about basic facts. Her recent article in defense of J. Michael Bailey was full of errors. Click here

Some of these errors have been noted in an open letter from Marshall Forstein, M.D., of Harvard Medical School. Forstein pointed out that in his letter that, contrary to claims made in petitions and frantic emails, “sexual orientation is NOT even an issue for the DSM committee to consider.”

Once again. This appears accurate but it is not factually correct to accuse those of us who are discussing SEXUAL ORIENTATION as having our facts wrong. We are discussing sexual orientation, and she understands why because she wrote an article about this same topic herself defending J. Michael Bailey, because the people named to the DSM committee are discussing homosexuality. That is the issue and it is deceptive to put this on her blog and mischaracterize why we are discussing sexual orientation. The problem is not with the intersex or trans community. It is with Blanchard, Zucker, and Dreger. They have been writing papers and elaborating theories which conflate sexual orientation with transsexuality. So, let’s be accurate and check our facts, Alice Dreger. We are talking about this because they, the proposed members of the DSM committee write many articles about homosexuality and see it as one of only two causes of transsexuality.

And the DSM “is a guide to diagnosis and NOT to treatment.”

Once again, we know that. It is inaccurate to act as if we do not. The fact that one or two people might not know that is not necessarily the case for most of us. Why didn’t Dreger write to the people who don’t know this if she really wants to help out instead of making all of us look like uniformed troublemakers? Well, she has an agenda – to protect Zucker, Blanchard and Bailey. That’s why.

The tone of Forstein’s letter reminded me of my own tone as I lectured my well-meaning neighbors on my porch yesterday. Basically: “Geez, people! You don’t have the most basic facts right! How do you expect to gain and keep allies if you can’t get the facts straight?!”

Once again, she paints all of us with one stroke (pretending that she is addressing her neighbors but this is not written to her neighbors, is it?). This is outright propaganda. Many of us are quite informed, articulate people capable of exposing the facts. She would be well advised to get informed and stop generalizing about a whole community.

The errors Forstein chronicled are important, but arguably not as important as the erroneous claims that Zucker does “conversion therapy,” i.e., that he tries to change children’s sexual orientation from gay to straight, and that he thinks a patient turning out to be transsexual represents a “bad outcome.”

Fact check. I thought that Alice Dreger had read J. Michael Bailey’s book. In his “Queen” book, Bailey wrote:

“….Zucker believes that most boys who play with girls’ things often enough to earn a diagnosis of GID would become girls if they could. Failure to intervene increases the chances of transsexualism in adulthood, which Zucker considers a bad outcome.” (Page 31 in book)

“Zucker thinks that an important goal of treatment is to help the children accept their birth sex and to avoid becoming transsexual. His experience has convinced him that if a boy with GID becomes an adolescent with GID, the chances that he will become an adult with GID and seek a sex change are much higher. And he thinks the kind of therapy he practices helps reduce this risk” (Page 30 in book)

“…Zucker’s therapy seems kinder and more consistent, and thus more likely to be effective. Zucker believes that it is, although he is the first to ackowledge that no scientific studies currently support the effectiveness of what he does.” (Page 34 in book).

Now. One final fact check. Here is why Zucker and Blanchard are talking about homosexuality. Let’s get that fact straight. And therefore we who are opposed to their being part of the DSM committee are discussing this same topic because:

The DSM is concerned with diagnoses, not treatments per se. We know that, Alice Dreger. However, that is why people that are ideologically motivated with very little, if any, empirical data to support their theories (and Bailey himself admitted that) should not be placed in charge of the definitions or diagnoses. Here is the problem. Drucker will have input into the DIAGNOSES, not the treatments but the treatments are not the issue for Zucker and many of these people that have been influenced by him. In my opinion, they want NO TREATMENTS. I am convinced that the motivation is to tie the hands of those who would desire to provide treatments and they might be able to do that by controlling the definitions, i.e. the diagnoses. In other words, if the members of this committee, some of which I know have been influenced by the views of Zucker which are that gender identity, as opposed to gender role, is extremely malleable, even more malleable than sexual orientation, then reassignment may eventually become almost impossible, if not outright impossible in the years to come.

The theory that Blanchard et al. are expounding has two key elements which will have enormous impact on redefining transsexuality in such a way that

1) it is NOT really a GENDER identity disorder at all and
2) with ONLY TWO categories possible for all people with "gender confusion" which appears to be the word that is becoming more and more common.

Now, if GID is not about gender but SEX, and there are only two diagnoses, one of which is based on HOMOSEXUALITY, what treatments can be ethically justified by therapists if homosexuality is NOT also reintroduced as a TREATABLE disorder? If you include autogynephilia, then you have to include homosexuality because the theory that Blanchard and others are propagating posits that there must also be "trans" people motivated by homosexual orientation (and ONLY those two categories). This erases intersex and trans experience and the essential definitions that we often use to give meaning to our own sense of being – our own definitions of ourselves and if we are not allowed to define ourselves within the system to the best of our ability, then I don't see anyway to improve our well-being within that system – only further marginalization and stigma.

If Zucker is treating homosexuality in childhood and he admits that these boys grow up to be homosexuals and according to Bailey he is treating them in the hopes of preventing transsexuality, then why not treat homosexuality in adulthood to prevent transsexuality? That is why we are discussing this issue.

Professionals? It is time to act – PROFESSIONALLY

Writing to a whole community instead of addressing the people whose behavior Alice Dreger and others associated with her are denouncing is not professional. When I write about Dreger, for example, I don't generalize and characterize her behavior, writings and ideology as characteristic of the whole intersex community. Why does she include me and thousands of others who have nothing to do with the non-factual allegations she is writing about?

This is political spin. This is part of the ongoing assault against the intersex and trans communities. I and hundreds of others in the IS and Trans communities have NEVER written anything similar to this deceptive blog entry by Alice Dreger.

The documentation about Alice Dreger that I have published is based on verifiable sources, not generalizations, not innuendo, not rumors, which is more characteristic of her writings lately.

I have not claimed anything to be true about these people that I cannot back up with reliable sources. It would be advisable that she and other "experts" defending Zucker and Blanchard make the same effort when speaking about us in generalized terms. Don't include me in those generalizations without informed opinions that are reality-based, not agenda-driven spin. It is very offensive to include my work in these generalizations about the trans and intersex communities.

I would never write a blog that gave the impression that all mental health professionals were acting the same way as Zucker, Dreger and Blanchard are because I know otherwise.

What advice like this does is discredit all the well researched articles that many of us in the trans and intersex communities have written about this topic.

It is time that some of the professionals act responsibly (notably those in charge of the APA and those who are enabling Zucker and Blanchard) and inform themselves and stop giving advice until they do know the facts. It is time to demand accountability of those who provide care and who speak as ethicists about our care. The professionals in this debate have much more responsibility. Part of being a professional is that one takes the time to inform oneself of the facts. Many of us have. These factual articles are published. Read them.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Chatty Cathy Approach to Intersex Activism

by Curtis E. Hinkle

When I was a child, my sister had a doll that was rather popular for a while. It was called “Chatty Cathy.” This particular doll interested me because it could talk. However, you had to pull a string on her back to start the conversation. Pulling strings to get someone to talk who otherwise was just a dummy who really had nothing to say made a lot of sense to me. It meant that people who had almost nothing to say except a limited repertoire of stupid and often illogical ideas would speak about those ideas at the moment and in the context which was most beneficial to the person pulling the string. Their freedom of speech was not really taken from them because you could rationalize that really what you were doing was spurring debate, initiating dialog and encouraging them to express themselves.

If only the DSD activists and specialists could be more like Chatty Cathy! Well, in a sense they are. One big difference. Unethical and tyrannical methods have been used to suppress OII’s freedom of speech. Tracing it to the exact individuals involved is still a challenge. We can only trace it to the place of origin and ISP’s. It has been going on for a long time now. But the Chatty Cathy Syndrome has still been rather effective. Yes, they indeed do suffer from CCS.

Since its beginning, OII and many people with OII and its website have been systematically defamed, hacked, and blacklisted while DSD activists publish tomes and have articles published in the New York Times and other national media outlets about their freedom of speech being seriously threatened. But those of us in OII cannot even get a short letter to the editor published. So, whose freedom of speech is really in peril?

Instead of simply giving up out of frustration and giving in to their abuse of power, I felt there was one approach that should be consistently and methodically developed and used against them – “helping” them say what they really mean in front of the whole world because it was clear that what they really had to say had to be exposed so that those affected could have real discussions about their control over intersex and trans issues.

This method involved huge risks because they have the power, the degrees and academic authority. By intentionally provoking them with sarcasm, histrionic analyses and carefully chosen tropes (such as eugenics, among others), they have been making one political mistake after another and more people are starting to see what their real message is. Yes, it probably did appear (and still does appear to many people) that OII is radical, angry and irrational. That is a risk that was worth taking because the other solutions would have never been effective because it meant accepting the victimization, the suppression of our right to speak.

I started this technique many years ago in an online support group that Dreger was monitoring even though she never posted. I had noticed that once she started controlling the content on ISNA’s blog many years ago that intersex issues were slowly disappearing from the site. I wrote a post entitled, “It’s about gender, stupid”. The post was not directed to anyone in particular. It was just a general discussion about how gender, especially gender norms, often have disastrous consequences on the everyday lives of intersex people. Not long after that post, maybe a week later, this is what appeared on the home page of ISNA’s website.
“Intersex is not about gender.”

I started checking around to find out who wrote that and it appears it was Alice Dreger herself. I also found out that she was writing almost all the content on ISNA’s site for a long time. If you notice, now that she is not with ISNA, the site has published almost nothing new.

There is NOT one mention that I can find on ISNA’s website about the Christiane Völling case in Germany. That case is probably one of the most important anti-surgery cases litigated. How could ISNA not be interested in this case? With their huge medical staff, why would they not offer open and positive support? The way the case has been handled, I fear that it might not succeed in the end. But the situation could have been different had there been more open discussion about this by those who are on the medical board of ISNA. Not a word anywhere that I can find.

Instead of speaking about such an important topic, what has Alice been doing? She has been publishing one blog entry after another on her personal blog in response to OII’s criticisms. She has been writing tomes denouncing the “feminine essence narrative” and actively defending Bailey, Lawrence and Triea. These people have nothing of scientific value to defend. There simply is no science behind what they are publishing. It is political spin and gender policing.

Why the silence about Christiane Völling’s case in Germany?

Her lawsuit is an anti-surgery case that was widely publicized in Europe with articles appearing in many languages throughout the world. There was almost nothing in English except what I translated.The reason for the silence among English-speaking experts is very simple. This is about a "feminine essence narrative." Christiane Völling was assigned MALE and her female reproductive anatomy was removed without her consent. She has proof of this and presented it in court. She won, but the surgeon is now appealing and the letters from the court still address her as "Herr Völling".Christiane knows that she is a woman despite her assignment as male. That is the reason there is NO support from Dreger and other DSD activists of this intersex woman who has been subjected to a life of suffering.

I have so many people to thank for having helped OII, some who are not directly associated with OII but who have been open to real discussion of intersex issues. I feel very positive about the future because real science based on data from the real world, not the narcissistic rants of political correctness or bigotry (which often form marriages of convenience), will ultimately prevail.

So, if you find that some of OII’s articles are “over the top” at times, remember that we have had no other way to get our message out but by provoking the people who are suppressing our freedom of speech to show their true intentions.

Therefore, in conclusion, I would like to stress OII has been a champion of DSD activism in the sense that we have been actively involved in “Defending the Speech of Dummies”.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Alice Dreger: The violent gender police of intersex and trans identities

by Curtis E. Hinkle
It is obvious from reading Alice Dreger's recent articles both in the Johns Hopkins publication she edited and her article in defense of J Michael Bailey that she is working to undermine what she calls the "feminine essence narrative". In other words, she is against using gender identity as a valid construct for explaining why transsexuals reject their assigned sex.

However, this same "ethicist" insists on using this same gender identity construct as a justification for violently erasing intersex children's own identities and rightful place in society.

In the DSD Guidelines which she authored, she writes: "And when we talk about a person's "gender identity," we are talking about that person's inner feeling of being a boy, girl, man, or woman." She also writes: "And, when we do use the phrase "he or she," we do not mean to suggest that your child does not have a clear gender."

If an intersex child has a clear gender identity and many do, how could that possibly be any different from a “feminine or masculine essence narrative”? If someone is not “clearly” male or female as in the case of an intersexed child, then is it not illogical to assume that their gender identity can be clear without it also being a “narrative” of what that child essentially FEELS?

She insists that intersexed children must be assigned a GENDER identity (a sex often cannot be assigned because the sex is not categorizable as clearly male or female) and she further insists that this is to be done as early as possible without any input from the child. In essence, Alice Dreger is in favor of imposing a “feminine essence narrative” on many intersex children without any essential input from the children themselves.

However, in the case of transsexuals, she has closely aligned herself with a school of thought which debunks the very idea of a “feminine essence narrative” and which theorizes that the reasons that motivate transsexuals to reject their sex assignment are not based on their gender identity or “feminine essence narrative” but for sexual reasons.

This is the violent and very dangerous logic of Alice Dreger who is not being ethical in her medical views about gender identity.

If an adult states that they know what their identity is, then they can be labeled as liars because that is exactly what the Bailey transsexual taxonomy states: that most MTF transsexuals are lying about their motivations for rejecting their sex assignment and that the real reasons are sexual orientation issues and paraphilias and NOT their "feminine essence narrative" or "gender identity".

However, these same specialists are insisting that a person who cannot speak for themselves (intersexed infants) should have a "gender identity" or "feminine essence narrative" imposed on them (in other cases a "masculine essence narrative".)

This is unethical. It is violent and sanctioning this hoax only further mutilates the whole intersex movement and renders it obsolete and irrelevant.

This abusive gender policing is both unethical and dangerous.

The following are quotes of Alice Dreger’s recent writings. The first are from her statements about intersex children from the DSD Guidelines followed by statements about transsexuals from her article in defense of J. Michael Bailey.

“After we have back the information we are collecting, we will talk with you more specifically about choosing a gender assignment. We suggest you choose the gender assignment your baby is most likely to identify with as your baby grows up and becomes his or her own person. We can’t guarantee we’ll get it right.”
DSD Guidelines

“Thus, initial gender assignment (boy or girl) is made by the parents after the parents have been fully informed about the results of tests and what is known about gender identity development in patients with similar conditions. Because the parents will be the primary care givers for the child, and because they are the legal decision-makers for the child, it is critical that their sense of the situation be taken seriously and that they actively participate in the initial gender assignment.”
DSD Guidelines

“On rare occasions, a child with a DSD may approach puberty without having clearly expressed a gender identity. Consider, for example, a child with histologically normal testes, 46,XY, and partial virilization who is being raised as a girl but who is approaching puberty without a clearly expressed gender identity.”
DSD Guidelines

“The truth is, even though scientists have attempted to find out why people end up with the gender identities and sexual orientations they do, the origins of gender identity and sexual orientation remain somewhat of a mystery for all of us.”
DSD Guidelines

“TMWWBQ’s title and cover explicitly contrasted with those books on transgenderism which adhered to the “woman trapped in a man’s body” narrative of transgender identity, or what I will call hereafter the “feminine essence” narrative.
Dreger, Alice. “The Controversy Surrounding The Man Who Would Be Queen: A Case History of the Politics of Science, Identity, and Sex in the Internet Age”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, in press. © 2007
Page 14

Interestingly, a close reading of Bailey’s book reveals the author’s persistent skepticism about many scientists’ and clinicians’ conception of gender identity, and an especially strong skepticism about the idea of an innate gender identity: “‘Gender identity’ [in the psychological literature] refers to the subjective internal feeling that one is male or female” (p. 22). But, Bailey insists, “most of us rarely, if ever, think about our gender identities” (p. 22).
Dreger, Alice. “The Controversy Surrounding The Man Who Would Be Queen: A Case History of the Politics of Science, Identity, and Sex in the Internet Age”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, in press. © 2007
Page 15

“Ultimately Bailey concludes that “scientists have not fully appreciated how complicated a trait gender identity likely is, or how little we know about it. One expert told me, bluntly: ‘Gender identity is defined as “the inner sense of oneself as male or female.” What the hell does that mean?’” (p. 50) It makes more sense to him that children naturally exhibit “feminine” and “masculine” behaviors and interests, and that those are then categorized as feminine and masculine in such a way that children get the idea that they count as girlish or boyish.”
Dreger, Alice. “The Controversy Surrounding The Man Who Would Be Queen: A Case History of the Politics of Science, Identity, and Sex in the Internet Age”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, in press. © 2007
Page 15

“So his doubt about the commonly held concept of a core gender identity is one reason Bailey remains dubious about claims by transsexuals that they change sex because they have always had a core gender identity that conflicted with their anatomical sex.”
Dreger, Alice. “The Controversy Surrounding The Man Who Would Be Queen: A Case History of the Politics of Science, Identity, and Sex in the Internet Age”. Archives of Sexual Behavior, in press. © 2007
Page 15