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Old 15th November 2012, 01:01 PM   #1
crestfallensidekick
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Where does the skeptical community stand on transsexualism?

So, I've always considered myself an advocate for the transsexual community- it was a topic I was fixated with long before I became an active skeptic, and I've always gotten very defensive when people say that they're just "freaks" or "delusional." I think that cases of physical hermaphroditism and assorted chromosomal abnormalities (Klinefelter's Syndrome, Turner Syndrome) attest to the fact that physical sex isn't always as simple as "male/female," and thus the notion of one being physically male and mentally female (or vice versa) doesn't seem so farfetched to me.

But basically, because it's a topic I'm fairly passionate about, I feel like I sometimes argue it out of a sense of emotivism rather than logic. I'm just curious to see what the JREF community thinks about this phenomenon, since such topics on message boards not expressly devoted to critical thinking tend to devolve into flame wars.
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Old 15th November 2012, 01:11 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by crestfallensidekick View Post
So, I've always considered myself an advocate for the transsexual community- it was a topic I was fixated with long before I became an active skeptic, and I've always gotten very defensive when people say that they're just "freaks" or "delusional." I think that cases of physical hermaphroditism and assorted chromosomal abnormalities (Klinefelter's Syndrome, Turner Syndrome) attest to the fact that physical sex isn't always as simple as "male/female," and thus the notion of one being physically male and mentally female (or vice versa) doesn't seem so farfetched to me.

But basically, because it's a topic I'm fairly passionate about, I feel like I sometimes argue it out of a sense of emotivism rather than logic. I'm just curious to see what the JREF community thinks about this phenomenon, since such topics on message boards not expressly devoted to critical thinking tend to devolve into flame wars.
I can't really get my head around it and have no idea what it means to say you are mentally female or male but if they aren't hurting anyone then I have no reason to object to anyone's way of life so live and let live.
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Old 15th November 2012, 01:18 PM   #3
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Erm, I think you might want to flag this to be moved to a community section. There isn't much of a sceptical or paranormal aspect here.

As it happens I think members of the GLBT community are as normal as anybody else and how somebody self identifies in terms of gender or sexuality are fairly small concerns when it comes to the important stuff. Or what I would consider important. I think all the concerns, fears, conflicting feelings and issues with coming out, taking the plunge, etc, comes from how the person feels the wider community may judge them, and reasonable concerns of how their kith and kin my feel, rather than a connection to any other phenomona.

During a recent leadership development course at work the ex-army tutor made a big point about how in Iraq (or some other posting) he found out a member of his squad was an occassional crossdresser. This was apparently meant to be a massive revelation that would completely alter the way his best friends at work thought about him. I was blown away that so few people had the "so what?" attitude I felt. If the guys were meant to be his mates, and to know him better than his family, then that is a bond that should not be bothered by anything he does in his private time.
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Old 15th November 2012, 01:22 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Tomtomkent View Post
Erm, I think you might want to flag this to be moved to a community section. There isn't much of a sceptical or paranormal aspect here.
I know it's not paranormal, but I thought it was reasonably related to skepticism. I'll flag it if further advised.
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Old 15th November 2012, 01:22 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by crestfallensidekick View Post
I know it's not paranormal, but I thought it was reasonably related to skepticism. I'll flag it if further advised.
I'd suggest Social Issues, but that's just me
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Old 15th November 2012, 01:31 PM   #6
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And in fact we have had this discussion in social issues many times, while I am now a very confortable hetero male, I have a high identity with females. In fact I thought I was female in a male body, until I had my first real girlfriend.

I still have many feminine traits.
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Old 15th November 2012, 01:35 PM   #7
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I agree, a move to Social Issues is in order.

As to the question, I don't think the "Skeptical Community" has any one position on the issue. My own can be summed up: None of my business.
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Old 15th November 2012, 01:58 PM   #8
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I am in the Don't Care/None Of My Business camp. However, I am also in the Anti-Abuse/Hates Bullies camp.
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Old 15th November 2012, 02:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by RenaissanceBiker View Post
I am in the Don't Care/None Of My Business camp. However, I am also in the Anti-Abuse/Hates Bullies camp.
Agree.
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Old 15th November 2012, 05:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
But basically, because it's a topic I'm fairly passionate about...
Why ?
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Old 15th November 2012, 05:54 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by Skeptical Greg View Post
Why ?
I can't answer for the OP, but I can give my reasons. In a broad sense, I think gender roles are overall harmful to our society and personal freedom within it.

In a very specific sense, trans people are subject to much discrimination, ranging from social shunning, to employment issues, to being outright killed.
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Old 16th November 2012, 02:15 AM   #12
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Reminds me of "my girlfriend said she doesn't believe in sex before marriage, so I showed her some pictures"

Now seriously, I don't see what there is to be sceptical about. I'm pretty sure that some people dress up like the opposite gender. I've occasionally done it myself, way back. I'm not sure what extra evidence would one need about it existing
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Old 16th November 2012, 04:45 AM   #13
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I guess I am a member of the skeptic community, although I don't really have this self-identity. Certainly others see me as such. I am a PhD candidate in educational psychology. I don't really have much opinion about transsexualism. Do I believe it might not really exist? Or might be some sort of political creation? Not for a second. There's nothing to "be skeptical" about. It's like asking for the skeptic opinion about Pepsi versus Coke.

And that is my professional opinion.
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Old 16th November 2012, 05:07 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by RenaissanceBiker View Post
I am in the Don't Care/None Of My Business camp. However, I am also in the Anti-Abuse/Hates Bullies camp.

This.
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Old 16th November 2012, 05:49 AM   #15
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I have always wondered about all this lumping together of gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender people together in some mythical, monolithic "GBLT community".

Is there even a "gay community", where all gay men speak with one voice. It would certainly sound idiotic to talk about "the straight community" - in fact, it would sound awfully similar to "this community of good, God-fearin', torch-wavin' folks" - the kind that would just love to swoop on any "gay community" and show its citizens its own conception of their God's narrow concept of morality.
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Old 16th November 2012, 06:17 AM   #16
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I think it's an engineering problem.
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:28 AM   #17
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Hardware?
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Old 16th November 2012, 08:55 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by One Tenth View Post
I can't answer for the OP, but I can give my reasons. In a broad sense, I think gender roles are overall harmful to our society and personal freedom within it.

In a very specific sense, trans people are subject to much discrimination, ranging from social shunning, to employment issues, to being outright killed.
Yes, but ' passionate ' ?

It sounds so dramatic..

Where I added the strike-through in your comments, you can insert any maligned segment of society.
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Old 16th November 2012, 09:00 AM   #19
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Same stance they have on any other topic; Varies from person to person.

It's not like transexualism is a new form of woo woo.
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Old 16th November 2012, 11:13 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Big Al View Post
I have always wondered about all this lumping together of gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender people together in some mythical, monolithic "GBLT community".

Is there even a "gay community", where all gay men speak with one voice. It would certainly sound idiotic to talk about "the straight community" - in fact, it would sound awfully similar to "this community of good, God-fearin', torch-wavin' folks" - the kind that would just love to swoop on any "gay community" and show its citizens its own conception of their God's narrow concept of morality.
Just because you have trouble with these terms doesn't mean others do. In fact, the term 'straight community' is widely used. It gets 90,900 hits on Google, including
Forgiveness and the gay community
Ellen DeGeneres to Straight Community: "We Need Your Help Now"

But then no one else seems to have trouble with the idea, including the Hispanic community, the black community, even the white male community.

You're talking like a Republican, and look what happened to them last week...a little out of touch with reality.
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I've seen it here and in several other places that there is no Illuminati. That doesn't even make sense. There's a Wikipedia entry that talks about it. I'm not saying that everything on Wikipedia is true, but if you read it, it's just really clear how the Illuminati controls the world.

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Old 16th November 2012, 11:18 AM   #21
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Quote:
You're talking like a Republican...


Paint a lot with that broad brush ?
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Old 16th November 2012, 11:25 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Skeptical Greg View Post

Paint a lot with that broad brush ?
I do. But I figure with the all the great Republican reflections on the election that are going around this week, it's an apt way to describe this sort of foot-in-mouth disorder. Even if it offends people, the meaning is clearly understandable.
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I've seen it here and in several other places that there is no Illuminati. That doesn't even make sense. There's a Wikipedia entry that talks about it. I'm not saying that everything on Wikipedia is true, but if you read it, it's just really clear how the Illuminati controls the world.
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Old 16th November 2012, 11:59 AM   #23
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As a libertarian, government should keep their damned hands off things. Thus that you were born this or that way becomes academic, and is not needed as legal rationale to be free of government control.

As a skeptic, there's ample evidence people are happier pursuing their own ends in this area. I see no evidence of an inordinate number of people who follow this path who turm up sorry years down the road.

And even if there were, that would just be an issue to consider in these decisions, and not something for government to get involved with.
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Old 16th November 2012, 01:06 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Scott Sommers View Post
....Even if it offends people, the meaning is clearly understandable.
That sounds like an excerpt from some kind of bigot's manifesto ..


Sorry if I offended anyone. I hope my meaning was understandable..
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Old 16th November 2012, 02:52 PM   #25
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as a straight person, I am apathetic to the issue as it doesn't impact me one tiny bit. Don't care what an adult wants to do as long as it doesn't harm anybody else.

However, I don't like being told how "brave" transgender people are though. Making a decision to go into a burning building to save a puppy is brave. Running TOWARDS the sound of gunfire is brave. Making a decision to have a surgery isn't what I'd call "brave" .
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Old 16th November 2012, 03:50 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Skeptical Greg View Post
That sounds like an excerpt from some kind of bigot's manifesto ..


Sorry if I offended anyone. I hope my meaning was understandable..
I agree. I happen to vote Rep some of the time and the meaning is not 'clearly understandable' to me.
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Old 16th November 2012, 04:30 PM   #27
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Mental health issue best treated by helping people transition and treating them humanely throughout the process. Doesn't harm anyone else and for someone whose mental health is seriously harmed by the body they're in, better to help them change it.
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:16 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Skeptical Greg View Post
Where I added the strike-through in your comments, you can insert any maligned segment of society.
True, but I honestly can't think of any other blameless minority in western civilization that is as heavily discriminated against.
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Old 16th November 2012, 07:33 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by One Tenth View Post
True, but I honestly can't think of any other blameless minority in western civilization that is as heavily discriminated against.
How about women? Freed slaves who were, by some, considered sub-human after the Civil War were allowed the vote LONG before women. Women still take a back seat in many ways, and in this particular thread, it seems that some believe EVERY person who has EVER voted Rep for anything must be stupid and exactly like ever other person who has ever voted Rep at any time?

So, women, Republicans, and how about children who have no say in custody battles?

I live in a heavily populated area and can safely say that no-one here really cares about transexualism one way or another. It simply does not affect our daily lives.
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Old 16th November 2012, 08:33 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by StankApe View Post
as a straight person, I am apathetic to the issue as it doesn't impact me one tiny bit. Don't care what an adult wants to do as long as it doesn't harm anybody else.

However, I don't like being told how "brave" transgender people are though. Making a decision to go into a burning building to save a puppy is brave. Running TOWARDS the sound of gunfire is brave. Making a decision to have a surgery isn't what I'd call "brave" .
Ditto.

I think I understand the homosexual in a mans body transgender variant, however I don't really understand the straight variant. eg. Male who is attracted to females but feels like he should be a female lesbian.
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Old 17th November 2012, 02:05 AM   #31
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Can't understand how that works either, especially since MRI scans do show that gays and lesbians are wired as the opposite gender, but I'm not aware how someone can be wired as a straight guy who thinks he's a lesbian. So he's... err... wired like a woman who's wired like a man?

BUT that makes no difference in the end. If some guy likes wearing a dress, he doesn't need my permission or anyone else's permission to do so.

Basically I'm not a wiccan, but it seems to me like they have it right with the, 1"as long as it harms no one, do what you will." And I think it pretty much sums it up about transsexuals. I can't imagine anyone being actively harmed by the fact that some guy wears a dress or some girl wears pants. (Delusions of entitlement to tell them what to wear don't count as being harmed by them.)
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Old 17th November 2012, 06:45 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by calibos View Post
I think I understand the homosexual in a mans body transgender variant, however I don't really understand the straight variant. eg. Male who is attracted to females but feels like he should be a female lesbian.
Wait, isn't that backwards?

Homosexual transgendered person (before surgery)=woman in a man's body who is a lesbian.

Straight transgendered person (before surgery)=woman in a man's body who is straight.

On the main thread topic... While sexual desire is the main part of identifying as gay or straight, it's my understanding that sexual desire is typically only a small part of the transgendered experience, no more or less so than it is for non-transgendered people. A male-to-female transgendered person would still want a female body to make her everyday life in society easier, even if she had little or no sexual desire, just as a person with disfiguring scars would still want plastic surgery to make acceptance in society easier, even if she wasn't looking for a romantic partner.

Hopefully anyone who's actually been through the experience will correct me if I'm wrong.

But I do think there's a link between opinions about transsexualism and skepticism. An attitude of Let them do what they want; it doesn't bother me, can carry with it the implication that it's just a preference, like Let people get cosmetic surgery if they want; it doesn't bother me, rather than a "real" medical condition.

I doubt anyone would have the attitude, Let people with cancer get treated if they want; it doesn't bother me. It implies that the condition is just a preference or a choice, rather than a real medical condition. Research is obviously ongoing about the condition, but folks really can come down on the side of "yes the gender of the brain can, objectively, be different from the gender of the body," or "no, that's just what they claim."
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Old 17th November 2012, 07:08 AM   #33
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I think it's simply a symptom of the process of evolution.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0716201127.htm

I'm not sure about transsexualism being a new phenomenon as there isn't much reported history of it being present until modern times but that might be related to societal influences ( death if you espouse what is considered heresy). But if the theory is valid, and that is questionable, then it might explain some of what you see today on the continuum for hetero/homo. The only ancient incident that immediately comes to mind for me that might be related was the Egyptian Pharaoh, Akunanton, who looked both male/female yet was supposedly able to produce children.
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Old 17th November 2012, 07:12 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Jodie View Post
I think it's simply a symptom of the process of evolution.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases...0716201127.htm

I'm not sure about transsexualism being a new phenomenon as there isn't much reported history of it being present until modern times but that might be related to societal influences ( death if you espouse what is considered heresy). But if the theory is valid, and that is questionable, then it might explain some of what you see today on the continuum for hetero/homo. The only ancient incident that immediately comes to mind for me that might be related was the Egyptian Pharaoh, Akunanton, who looked both male/female yet was supposedly able to produce children.
The Akhenaten example is treacherous at best, as the accuracy of those depictions is up for anyone's guess. There might be some artistic style/school at work that overemphasized or roundabout invented some of those traits.
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Old 17th November 2012, 07:15 AM   #35
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You are absolutely correct, from what I gather he insisted that he be depicted that way in his statuary... I wondered if this was evidence of transsexualism because he identified with feminine traits?
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Old 17th November 2012, 09:01 AM   #36
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You mean like this?


I'm pretty sure no known disease makes a guy look like a woman down to losing the penis

Well, probably in Akhenaten's case he did just like being represented as a woman, but yeah, you have to wonder.

Especially since it's accompanied by turning Nefertiti into a man, sorta. She's increasingly represented with male trappings, like the battle crown of Egypt, making her the supreme commander of the Egyptian army. Those two were pretty much reversing the roles as they went along. And there is some circumstantial evidence that actually Nefertiti was the driving force all along, as after she disappears without any mention of death or illness -- although strangely, immediately a "male" courtier takes her place, and it's a "male" with feminine epithets and titles... did Nefertiti just go fully male there?`-- Akhenaten pretty much just retreats completely into his religion.

Though I still wonder whether he actually was a woman. He only got the throne when the last male heir of Egypt died. IF Akhenaten was actually a girl, at that point the alternative was to either end up with an intermediate period and a civil war, like twice before in such circumstances, or more likely have a foreign king inherit the throne of Egypt for having married the olderst the daughters of the late Pharaoh. Both alternatives would have been incredibly unpalatable to Egyptians, especially the nobles and priesthood. Especially after the national trauma of being ruled by the Hyksos, which was not that far ago.

Would they turn a daughter into a son to avoid such a national crisis? I don't know. It's not inconceivable, at least.

And there was the relatively recent precedent of Hatshepsut who took male titles and had herself represented with a beard. And a few others. So Egyptians were no strangers to the idea, even if they seem to have generally disliked it.

Of course, the big fly in that ointment is that Akhenaten did have kids with his wives. Then again, I'd assume that when national interests are at stake, surely some vizier or courtier could help with that
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Old 17th November 2012, 09:36 AM   #37
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It makes you wonder, his parents kept Akenanton out of public view for most of his/her childhood. It will remain speculative until they complete genetic testing on his family members and locate his body. The Pharaohs did have this habit of marrying their sisters and cousins so it wouldn't surprise me if Akenanton didn't turn out to be ancient history's most notable version of a "hot tranny mess".
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Old 17th November 2012, 11:15 AM   #38
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There are also large statues of him that look disfigured from straight on, but when people looked up at them they looked perfectly normal. And Akhesenpaaten and Tutankaten at first were depicted with 'banana heads' but other statues and artwork when Akenaten and Neffertiti were gone showed them looking perfectly normal. So there could be lots of speculation about nothing. I have read some of the books and it does seem that for Akenaten it could have gone either way with Marfan's or whoever wrote the book's hypothesis, but yet it could all be a mistake. I doubt we'll ever know for certain unless intact bodies are found.
Also, lots of princes and princesses were not necessarily left out of public view on purpose, but if they weren't expected to be seen prominently as adults simply lived most of the times in the palace. Akenaten was pretty far down the line of succession, so it could be that he simply did not appear much.
Still, I, like all of you, wonder!
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Old 23rd November 2012, 11:27 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Pup View Post
Research is obviously ongoing about the condition, but folks really can come down on the side of "yes the gender of the brain can, objectively, be different from the gender of the body," or "no, that's just what they claim."
And, in fact, there are a very large group of people, including many on this board, who claim exactly that, that transsexualism/transgenderism is not only a choice, it's a choice with an underlying agenda (eg, to be able to ogle women in private places like locker rooms). In fact, even many who accept that homosexuality is genetic still argue that being TG/TS is a choice.

It doesn't help that TG/TS people are very frequently confused with cross-dressers and drag queens; the former having absolutely no relation whatsoever, and the latter being only marginally related.

It's something of a hot button for me as well, being that I am TG.

Originally Posted by Jodie View Post
I'm not sure about transsexualism being a new phenomenon as there isn't much reported history of it being present until modern times but that might be related to societal influences ( death if you espouse what is considered heresy).
I'm not sure that's true. A lot of mythology has examples of gods or other beings changing their sexes, or doing things that are typically reserved for the opposite sex, or simply not having a defined sex. There are plenty of examples of people in various cultures who identify with a gender other than their birth sex. Many First Nations tribes have traditions of "Two-Spirit" people who do not fit into a binary view of gender; and South Pacific islanders have similar traditions. India has the hijra tradition, ancient Greece had multiple gender variants, even pre-Islamic Arab society had non-binary gender traditions. Documentation of such traditions goes back to the earliest preserved writings of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Indic cultures; and most polytheistic mythologies have an androgynous, transgender or hermaphroditic god (some having several). Buddhist tradition recognizes four distinct gender catagories. There's even a Judeo-Christian tradition that Adam was created as an androgyne or hermaphrodite prior to be separated into male and female with the creation of Eve.

Treatment of "third-gender" people has also varied widely throughout history, from undifferentiated treatment, to "second-class citizen" or "untouchable" status, to outright ostracism and murder. Most commonly, they're relegated to a particular caste or role outside the primary culture (often due to fear or mistrust); frequently in a priestly/shamanic position, or other role with special religious/spiritual significance. In cultures where treatment is less differentiated, people with third-gender status tend to have roles that are copies or variants of female roles, or entirely distinct from typical male and female roles. Most cultures with third-genders also differentiated between these and homosexuals; and where homosexuality was stigmatized or taboo, third-genders often weren't, third-gender sexuality being considered separate and distinct from homosexuality.

The problem with interpreting historical representations of non-binary genders, particularly among non-literate peoples, is separating out Western influence and prejudices.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 01:03 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by calibos View Post
I think I understand the homosexual in a mans body transgender variant, however I don't really understand the straight variant. eg. Male who is attracted to females but feels like he should be a female lesbian.
Seems to me that you understand neither. What you fail to understand is that sexual orientation and gender identity are unrelated and mostly independent concepts. Suppose you're God and have a group of biological males. You make most of them attracted to females and a few attracted to other males. Now suppose that randomly some of them "get it in their heads" that they should have been females. You'll end up with most M2F transgenders identifying as lesbian; that seems to me to be reasonably close to reality.

Originally Posted by HansMustermann View Post
Can't understand how that works either, especially since MRI scans do show that gays and lesbians are wired as the opposite gender
Evidence?
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