Quantcast

«

»

Sep 29 2012

Lady pills: Talking about HRT in a sexist society

I’m usually very private about my medical history, but many of you have been with me for the duration of my whole “project”, and I just see this as another chapter of our journey together. I started hormone replacement therapy a little while ago, which means a lot more estrogen, and a lot less testosterone. And plenty of people have asked me: What’s it like? This curiosity is completely natural – I wanted to know, too! – and I would love to tell them about it. This is something the vast majority of people will never experience, and there’s a lot for all of us to learn from it. The problem is that there are so many issues that can get in the way of discussing this and distort it into something completely divorced from reality.

Talking about how it feels seems like it should be the simplest thing in the world. Unfortunately, it’s far more complex than you might expect. First, I haven’t been on HRT long enough to experience any physical effects, aside from softer and clearer skin. It’s not magic – most of this won’t happen in a week, or a month, or maybe even a year. At this stage, almost all of the effects are mental. And paying attention to what’s going on in your mind is hard enough already, whether you’re transitioning or not. Trying to pick out what might be due to your shifting hormones is a whole other level of difficulty, and it’s really easy to fall prey to the placebo effect. Sure, maybe I’m in a ridiculously good mood because of estrogen, but that could just be the elation of finally getting started. Did I cry at a movie on the Oxygen channel because of hormones, or was the movie just that good? I can’t tell, because there’s no way to blind this sort of thing, and having a sample size of one certainly doesn’t help.

I’ve also relied on those around me to point out any differences they’ve seen in me, such as being somewhat more expressive. If these changes are real, I might not always notice them. We don’t “have” brains, we are brains. And likewise, we don’t just have hormones – we’re made of hormones. It’s not easy to examine a phenomenon within yourself as though it were distinct from yourself, because it really is a part of you. Of course, the people around me aren’t blinded either, and they might also be highly attuned to any apparent differences, and inclined to attribute them to hormones. And we might also only notice what seems to be new, while failing to look for things that haven’t changed. People pay more attention to the times you cry than the times you don’t.

But figuring out what’s actually changing is only half of the problem. Talking to other people about it presents a whole new array of difficulties. We live in an incredibly gendered world, where so many behaviors are classified as inherently male or female. Even when those behaviors are obviously and unavoidably shared by both sexes, we still find ways to create artificial distinctions of gender. Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that women are naturally drawn to the kitchen, but when men grill up some steaks with their friends, that’s a “manly” thing to do. And when dolls are dressed in G.I. Joe outfits, it suddenly stops being so “girly” to play with them.

Because certain behaviors are seen as being male or female in themselves, people look for ways to connect this to male and female biology. And that’s where hormones come in. When I describe how I feel now that I’m switching from testosterone to estrogen, it’s disturbingly easy to fall into the trap of talking about it in a way that’s based on the common mentality of “men do this, women do that”. And even if I do my best to avoid that, everyone who’s listening will still be inclined to view this in terms of common stereotypes about men and women – whether they know it or not. This is the result of all of us spending our entire lives in a society that conditions us to think that men and women have a fundamentally different existence.

Just look at how the Nashua Telegraph described one woman’s transition:

Cynthia, now 48, has developed a new love for chocolate and ice cream – possibly a side effect of the hormones. And a half-hour isn’t enough time to get ready anymore.

Yes, because women spend all day eating Dove bars and taking forever to do their hair. “Men, eh eh eh eh, women, doo doo doo doo!” No. That’s not how the world works, and if we continue to believe this, we’ve got a problem.

Even just saying that I now feel more in touch with my emotions comes with an absurd amount of gendered baggage. Not only will I be more inclined to attribute this to HRT because of everything I’ve heard throughout my life about the supposed essential natures of men and women, but those who hear it will take it as yet more evidence of “Ah, yes, women are emotional creatures tossed about on the winds of their feelings, but men are cold and rational!”

If I didn’t make a conscious effort to think more deeply about this, I might not have realized that what I’m actually sensing is a greater control over my feelings – an ability to see them more clearly, observe their features, and not be as unduly influenced by them as I used to be. If I hadn’t been able to put aside those crude stereotypes about men and women, I wouldn’t have been able to communicate all of that nuance to everyone who wants to know what this is like. So, is this a “male” or a “female” phenomenon? If I’m a man, a greater grasp of emotions might mean I’m diplomatic, understanding, and good at handling conflict. If I’m a woman, it makes me “sensitive”.

Likewise, if I were to point out that I now find it much easier and less stressful to deal with cooking, cleaning house, and taking care of the kids, most people wouldn’t be able to avoid seeing this as further evidence that women are somehow optimized for domestic life and men are just naturally lousy at household duties, as illustrated by every commercial ever. These beliefs are so pervasive and occluding that it would be easy to stop at that shallow observation and ignore the fact that this just happens to be what I spend all day doing, and maybe it only feels easier because everything feels easier for me now. Is it male or female to be happy? If I’m a man, it makes me a stronghold of enduring optimism. If I’m a woman, it makes me “perky”.

This is why talking about HRT is such a minefield. Switching from male to female hormones provides an ideal example that people can grab hold of and plunder for anything they can use to reinforce their ideas about the attitudes, behaviors and abilities to which men and women are “naturally” predisposed. Transitioning is about many things, but it’s not about going from one stereotype to another. Hormones don’t do that, because no one is that one-dimensional, trans or not. It doesn’t do us any good to pretend that this reflects reality. The darker side of the assumption that a certain set of behaviors and preferences define manhood and womanhood is the belief that the absence of these features makes someone less of a man or a woman. When cis people don’t fit into this model, people use these standards to strip them of their worth. And when trans people don’t meet these standards, we’re stripped of our genders. This isn’t helping anyone.

Perhaps because of the implication that manhood and womanhood are inherently different modes of existence, I’ve been asked whether I feel “like a new person”. I feel different, but that doesn’t make me an entirely different person. It’s really not that stark of a division. This isn’t like being injected with Borg nanoprobes that start whispering inside your head. It’s not like turning into someone else. You’ll still be yourself. This isn’t a cure-all, it won’t make you superhuman, and it won’t destroy who you are, either. It might just help you feel better, and if it does, then this could be what works for you. The grass is the same color as it is over there – I’m just seeing it a little differently now. And I’ll let you know if anything changes.

49 comments

5 pings

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    kathleenarends

    Thanks for the food for thought, Zinnia. This is just as impressively rational but more insightful than usual.

  2. 2
    JA

    I haven’t even started HRT and I’m going through what you’ve described. So unless I’m some sort of breakthrough in natural transgenderism, I’m pretty confident that the constant feeling of elation is more due to the new found motivation and fulfillment rather than estrogen.

    Is it normal to experience this kind of “Trans High”? I admit that it does feel kinda weird, even if in a good way. And I did start realizing that I was acting kinda “perky”… My brain has been on a squee-a-thon since I came to terms that this is the route I need to take.

  3. 3
    Rogi Riverstone

    This is a VERY exciting piece of writing! Best wishes and congrats on your insights re: gender! Can’t wait for more! woot!

  4. 4
    brenda

    If one imagines your personality as having colors then HRT for trans women is like going from bright vivid colors to softer pastels.

    There will be changes, how could there not be? The brain is chemistry and you’re adding chemicals to it.

    1. 4.1
      No Light

      Are you trans?

      1. brenda

        That’s a bit personal isn’t it? Why?

        1. No Light

          Because you’re making declarative statements about trans brains on HRT, and also making some pretty bizarre gendered assumptions, you know, like ladybrains being in pretty pastels.

          Even if you’re trans and you feel like your brain turned into a something resembling an ice cream parlour, that doesn’t mean you can extrapolate that to anyone but yourself. If you’re cis, and talking about trans women’s feelings and experiences in pronouncements about what will happen, then why? It’s gross.

          1. brenda

            Generally, I don’t socialize on the internet.

            So… what you’re saying is that the validity of anything I say depends on whether or not I belong to your tribe? Is that right? Yeah… that’s not how this stuff works.

            1) I don’t accept critical theory or 3rd wave feminism or post modernism or other intellectual *fads* people believe in these days. If something is true it’s true for everyone everywhere.

            2) Chill the frack out. Color is just a metaphor that seems appropriate. Women are different than men. One way of talking about those differences is by using color to stand for those differences.

            3) “Because you’re making declarative statements about trans brains on HRT” Do you listen to yourself? Everyone has the right to make declarative statement of matters of fact. The effects of chemicals on brains is not your exclusive property. Do you dispute my claim that chemicals affect your brain? Wowzers.

            4) “if you’re cis, and talking about trans women’s feelings” I feel *absolutely* confident talking about what happens to the brains of trans women when one puts chemicals into the bloodstream. Everyone can do that and it doesn’t matter diddly squat if they are cis or trans or aliens from Sirius B.

            Turn your question around. If I am trans what *exclusive* right do I have to make declarative statements about trans folk? NONE! Why? Because my personal subject opinion based on my experiences says nothing about the objective fact of the matter. Generalizing from one’s own subjective experience is a logical fallacy and just bad thinking all around.

            Taking hormones will change how you think. How could they not?

          2. No Light

            Oh I’ve just realised you’re that Brenda. The one who threatened to have Daniel Fincke fired for “trafficking in blood libel” on his blog, because someone mentioned Metzitzah c’peh in a discussion about circumcision.

            Yeaaah. So you used a lot of words to say “I’m cis, and despite having no experience I get to say what trans women experience ‘cos of my privilege”.

          3. brenda

            “The one who threatened to have Daniel Fincke fired for “trafficking in blood libel” on his blog, because someone mentioned Metzitzah c’peh in a discussion about circumcision.”

            No, the antisemitic part was where that commentor said that Jews strap infants to a board, perform circumcision without anesthetics and then suck on the infants penis with their mouths to remove the blood.

            And yes, that really is incendiary antisemitic hate speech analogous to the medieval blood libel and probably something a third rate assistant philosophy prof shouldn’t allow on his blog.

            Problem: The New Atheist crowd, like the Tea Party, has created an epistemically closed, hermetically sealed environment for itself. When that happens such groups become more and more detached from reality, insular and xenophobic.

            I criticize you. You become suspicious that I do not belong to your tribe and for you if I am not of your tribe I have no right to criticize and what I say can’t possibly be true anyway. So I get ignored or banned and your epistemic closure is maintained. Keep it up. Ride that boat anchor all the way to the bottom of the ocean.

            Solution: More speech. More critics. No censorship. You *need* to experience the pain of being very very wrong about something you thought was really important. Maybe then you wouldn’t make such hideous disasters as putting up a billboard that says “Slaves Obey Your Masters” and then being gob smacked at the predictable blowback you receive.

            So… do you still contest that chemicals will change how brains function?

          4. No Light

            Brenda, you are an absolute liar.

            I’ll c&p the original conversation here. Zinnia- I’m happy to email the original notification to you if you want, because knowing the depths to which Brenda frequently stoops, she’ll claim it’s faked.

            So, here we go:

            ________________
            This follows an argument where Brenda claimed that all circumcision was morally right, that anyone angry that they were circ’ed is whining, and that being left intact is unhygienic. In Brenda-world all cutting is done. under a general anaesthetic so it’s ok.

            Commenter #1 asked the following, given that religious Jews don’t use anaesthetic during. brit milah:

            “So you expect Jews to alter their tradition of circumcision sans anesthesia, performed by a mohel with no formal medical training, who sucks the blood out with his mouth after the procedure?“

            [Brenda replied]

            Do they also mix the blood in with flour to make their matzo balls? Sounds close to an antisemitic blood libel to me.

            Commenter #1 replied:

            The reason why it sounds like blood libel to you, Brenda, is that you’re laughably ignorant of the practice you are defending. Read what the antisemitic pamphlet known as Wikipedia says

            Brenda was banned after she addressed this to Dan Fincke:
            (I’ve redacted the names)

            I wonder what Daniel’s superiors or co-workers would think if they knew that his blog traffics in such filth?
            What do you think S***** R********* would say Daniel? Or your Dept. chair K******* W******? Maybe they should know.

          5. No Light

            So in short, she’s cis but feels entitled to tell trans people what happens to their bodies, she’s a woman who lectures men on how great it is that they were circ’ed, and someone who talks over Jewish commenters who (shock! horror!) bring up Brit milah in a discussion about circumcision.

            When someone calls her out on her misunderstanding of basic biology, or her ignorance of the very traditions she’s claiming to defend, she threatens the blog owner.

            She has such a profound sense of entitlement that she believes she has the right to expound on topics she has zero personal experience of.

            When this involves trying to talk over marginalised people in an attempt to define their experiences, like I said, that’s gross. Only a shoteh would act like that after repeated messages that it’s not ok to do that, and at least one banning.

  5. 5
    Natasha

    I’ve been on HRT for a little over two years so the physical changes have accumulated. I have boobs now as well as my skin being softer and my body hair finer. As for emotion’s I wouldn’t say their substantially different but I do seem to experience them more fully then before. This is especially noticeable in that I can cry now, the sadness that triggers this is the sane as I’ve experienced before but now I can cry where before the full expression was frustratingly blocked.

    A lot of peoples reaction to that statement is going to be ‘women are more emotional’. Which is dead wrong, I’ll restate, I’m no more emotional then before HRT I just experience them differently.

    The physical changes can take 4 to 6 years to run their course, this is a full second puberty trans people experience.

  6. 6
    The Nerd

    “I now find it much easier and less stressful to deal with cooking, cleaning house, and taking care of the kids”

    It is funny that if a woman says this after starting HRT, we attribute it to gender, but if I say this after finally getting enough sleep, nobody even blinks.

  7. 7
    Michael Brew

    So you’re saying you haven’t gained the ability to read people’s minds or bend animals to your will? Because I was led to understand that those were exactly the kind of superhuman powers estrogen gave people.

    1. 7.1
      No Light

      It’s the boobs that do all of. that. Give her time!

  8. 8
    almulhida

    Honestly, after being on HRT for a while, I’ve noticed zero cognitive changes.

  9. 9
    lamaria

    Great post, thank you for being so open.

  10. 10
    Quine

    ZJ, I saw this over on Dan Fincke’s blog and just wanted to say I think it is an excellent and well thought out, piece. Thank you.

  11. 11
    Kaguya

    I’m fortunate enough to have surrounded myself with cool people who don’t say anything silly or sexist when I, say, cry at the videos I took while visiting the Kennedy Space Center. At most there was one guy who thinks I’m weird but the rest just accept my reasons to love rockets so much.

  12. 12
    yankonamac

    Interesting read. I’m sure you’ve discussed this with your doctor and family, but my experience of already having plenty of estrogen in my blood then going on birth control was a much less happy experience than it sounds like you’re enjoying. While everyone is different and our brains all react differently to hormones, I’d support your idea that the clarity you’re feeling is more related to relief from stress than any hormonal changes. When I was on extra estrogen I was completely detached from myself, often dizzy with no appetite, and devoid of control over my emotions or thoughts–but I was also unable to sleep in my noisy neighbourhood in NYC, dealing with incompetent student loan agencies, preparing to move to England and terrified of the prospect of moving in with my (now) spouse after four years on opposite sides of the Atlantic. Sure, resuming control over my brain’s reins corresponded nicely with being off lady-pills for a few months, but it also corresponded neatly with the resolution of the financial, travel and immigration issues, moving into a quiet street, and realizing that we could get along living in the same house. Maybe the lady-pills helped. Maybe they made it worse. I have no real way of knowing.

    Point is, if you skipped over the bulk of that, stress is a far faster-acting and overwhelming brain-scrambler than most other chemicals, and when things calm down the mind becomes a far more pleasant place to inhabit.

  13. 13
    Natalie Reed

    I agree with all of this… but… I think we ALSO do ourselves a disservice to not acknowledge those things that clearly ARE affected. And we do indeed have a larger sample size than one. Certain things, like increased olfactory and tactile sensitivity, more crying, more responsiveness to touch, changes in sexual sensation and response, the general feeling of “rightness” experienced by trans women on E in contrast to the malaise and feeling of “wrongness” experienced by cis men on it, etc. etc. Those things are very common, to the point of being near-universally reported. I don’t think it’s fair to assume that all reported changes are byproducts of placebo effect or gendered culture. The trouble, however, is that we can’t make any definitive conclusions. That doesn’t stop us, though, from being willing to advance tentative guesses, hypotheses, to speak of probable truths.

  14. 14
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Hormones, powerful stuff.
    I mean, it would be more than naive to think that they affect (to use the language of dualism for a moment) our bodies but not out brains.
    My cis-experience with birth-control pills wasn’t that overwhelming either. Yeah, they prevented pregnancies really well, but they also reduced my sex-drive into the “what’s supposed to be so good about this” zone.
    And then there was the thyroid condition that went undetected for a long time. Holy shit, my problems didn’t disappear suddenly when I went on hormones but damn there was some strength again to deal with them.

    And thank you for that insightful post concerning the gender stereotypes and crap surrounding all of this.

  15. 15
    anonymous123€)487652

    “but those who hear it will take it as yet more evidence of “Ah, yes, women are emotional creatures tossed about on the winds of their feelings, but men are cold and rational!””

    In other words, that women are better people than men. If such a difference does exist (and I’m not saying it does), well, then women are better people than men. Empathy in particular has serious moral implications. Which is why, you know, people who lack it completely are often serial killers.

  16. 16
    Kes

    I would be intensely interested to know if HRT did have an impact on food preferences and tastes. It’s long been a pet theory of mine that personal food tastes, like a preference for salty or spicy, relates to each human body’s individual needs. My entire paternal line prefers food much saltier than most other people for instance. I would be really curious if those sort of preferences shift with different hormones.

    1. 16.1
      Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

      Different pet theory: Your entire paternal line cooks much saltier than the rest of us. You get used to a certan level of salt. My dad used to word in an office with a cook who used lots of salt. At the weekends he would complain that food at home was not salty enough. When he stopped working there it went back to normal.
      From personal observation, although certain foods are “gendered”, there don’t seem to be any actual divide. So, although guys might shy away from a pink cupcake, they don’t seem opposed to an equally sweet non-pink one.

    2. 16.2
      Natalie Reed

      In my case, my cravings and food preferences absolutely changed around the time I began HRT.

      Most noticeably, most of my life I’d been a “salty snack” kind of person, with a distinct preference for savory kinds of things and not much interest in desserts and stuff at all. On HRT, I began developing a significant sweet tooth, and a much stronger taste for things like chocolate, cake, ice cream, candy bars, etc.

      But whether or not that was an estrogen thing, or a general change in metabolism and body needs associated with the physiological changes brought about by HRT and transition, or if it was resultant from physiological changes associated with OTHER things going on with my body at the time (I’d relatively recently kicked a serious heroin habit, which led me to lose a whole lot of weight, which I’ve since been unable to regain, indicating a long-term change in metabolism), or if it was purely psychological… that’s pretty much impossible to determine.

      I think that’s the main point of Zinnia’s post, though: of course hormones affect our brains as well as our bodies. And of course they’re especially likely to affect the sort of “middle-ground” between brains and bodies (like sensory perceptions, emotions, sexuality, metabolism and food cravings) in addition to our physiology, as our brains have to adapt to a changing body. BUT because there’s this ENORMOUS amount of psychological and cultural baggage attached to sex & gender in our culture, and gender largely IS a psycho-social phenomenon about figuring out how to understand and express ourselves in relation to sex (bodies) and sexuality (desires) through the cultural “language” available, it’s simply way too difficult and complex to sort what is a DIRECT, unmediated consequence of hormonal changes, what is a psychological response to adapting one’s gender and sense of self in relation to gender, and what is somewhere in between or a combination of both… and what might be something else entirely.

      So… tl;dr… yes, hormones almost certainly do affect brains, behaviour, tastes, etc. But the psychological, social and cultural complexities surrounding gender make it nearly impossible to say anything definitive about how.

      1. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        No argument there.
        I noticed how my appetite and such changed massively after treating a thyroid condition and taking Thyroxin.
        I just don’t think that there’s some rule that says estrogen = sweet tooth, testosterone = salty.
        Major changes in our complete bodies should be expected to have effects on all parts of ourselves.

  17. 17
    anna

    I had almost immediate changes in my emotions and thinking when I started on hormones (Been on them for a bit over a year now) I had severe anxiety issues which almost instantly vanished. I also was able to focus on tasks much better and my marks in school and my completion rates increased dramatically. I did find that I was crying more but that seem to replace the anxiety and was much more managable for me. Generally I felt right in a way I hadn’t prior to hormones, from my own mental perspective.

  18. 18
    Zinnia Jones

    No, the antisemitic part was where that commentor said that Jews strap infants to a board, perform circumcision without anesthetics and then suck on the infants penis with their mouths to remove the blood.

    Okay, hold on here. Brenda, it seems like they actually did cite a source showing that this is indeed a real practice that takes place. If so, what is saying “that really is incendiary antisemitic hate speech analogous to the medieval blood libel” supposed to count for? Does it alter the fact of the matter? Because I don’t see how that’s supposed to be a response to what appears to be a truthful statement.

    1. 18.1
      brenda

      “Okay, hold on here. Brenda, it seems like they actually did cite a source showing that this is indeed a real practice that takes place.”

      There are a minority of members of group XYZ who engage in the horrible practice of ABC therefore this tells us something about the entire group XYZ.

      That is the essence of bigotry. That is what I object to. Why is that difficult to understand? Are you really so blind, so socially crippled that you think an obscure practice abandoned in the 18th century tells you ANYTHING about the Jewish religion?

      Rabbinic statements about medicine and health have long been regarded as non-binding when modern medical science contradicts them. In the case of brit milah, there are modern antiseptic and antibiotic techniques- all used as part of the brit milah today- which definitely accomplish the intended purpose of metzitzah

      What the fuck is wrong with you? (that’s a 3rd person plural you)

      Second point: It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter that “Slaves obey your masters” is indeed in the Bible or that there are ancient Jewish practices we today find abhorrent. Some things are not ok to say because other people have feelings and we should treat others with respect. Or… if you do say them, you should be fully prepared to face the consequences.

      “I don’t see how that’s supposed to be a response to what appears to be a truthful statement.”

      Life isn’t a series of truth tables. Context matters. Social norms matter. In THIS CASE the context was that the antisemitic slur of this obscure practice was used to smear all Jews.

      ——————

      So… you see how this balloons out of control. All I said was, and I quote:

      “There will be changes, how could there not be? The brain is chemistry and you’re adding chemicals to it.”

      But then I refused to give the proper gang sign I guess. Do you deny any of that? How could that possibly be controversial? It can’t be, that’s not what’s going on. What is going on is that a self appointed hall monitor has decided to rough me up.

      You need to break the seal.

      1. Zinnia Jones

        Are you really so blind, so socially crippled that you think an obscure practice abandoned in the 18th century tells you ANYTHING about the Jewish religion?

        No, just those who engage in this particular practice as part of their understanding of the Jewish religion. Also, this appears to have still been carried out as recently as the 2000s, and may have transmitted herpes to several infants. If you’re trying to say only a small group practices this, fine. That still doesn’t make it libelous to say that this practice is real – it’s not possible to libel a group by saying that this group does something which this group, in fact, does. Nor is it really any great offense that someone would dare to point out that this practice exists. It’s not some malicious fabrication that was imagined out of whole cloth.

        1. brenda

          “That still doesn’t make it libelous to say that this practice is real – it’s not possible to libel a group by saying that this group does something which this group, in fact, does.”

          But that isn’t what was said. It was “Jews are horrible because they perform circumcision by strapping infants to a board, cutting without anesthetics and sucking off the blood with their mouths.” THAT is an antisemitic sear because it takes a practice abandoned 200 years ago and only practiced today by an extremist minority and using that to smear all Jews.

          Do you have ANY evidence that this is practiced even by modern Hassidic Jews? I bet it isn’t. I bet it is done by a minority of a minority. I’d bet even Hassidic Jews in the US practice the method described in the linked wiki page. A sterile glass tube and wiping away the blood. But to say that this is what it means to be a Jew, that you MUST condone this practice or as a Christian you MUST condone slavery because you think the Bible or Torah says so is antisemitic, anti religious hate speech.

          But don’t believe me. Do you know any Jews? Talk to them. Tell them you reject Judaism because of this. See what happens. No? Of course you’d never do that. But you should talk to others. People who are not you. People who do not believe as you do (so.. not reform Jews, orthodox Jews. Not progressive Christians, Evangelicals). Find out what their beliefs really are and not what some group edited wikipedia page says.

          Pop the bubble you live in. Because if you don’t you’ll just rot.

          Do you or do you not believe that adding a steroid to your bloodstream might affect your mood?

          Do you believe women (or transfolk) have “alternative modes of knowing” not accessible by others i.e. that truth is relative or situational? (What the disagreement several comments above is about.)

          1. Zinnia Jones

            Do you have ANY evidence that this is practiced even by modern Hassidic Jews? I bet it isn’t. I bet it is done by a minority of a minority. I’d bet even Hassidic Jews in the US practice the method described in the linked wiki page. A sterile glass tube and wiping away the blood.

            Even as of last month, some in New York City’s orthodox Jewish community were protesting a rule that merely would have required the parents to sign a consent form before oral suction circumcision is performed. If you want to argue that this is a minority of a minority, alright. If you want to say this is not some necessary or integral component of being Jewish, again, true enough. If you want to argue that any mention of this real practice which actually is performed is somehow a kind of “blood libel” (and didn’t that historically have to do with false allegations about the use of the blood of *Christian* children?), well, that really won’t do.

          2. No Light

            “Jews are horrible because they perform circumcision by strapping infants to a board, cutting without anesthetics and sucking off the blood with their mouths.”

            Liar. That was never said. I posted the unedited conversation above. It’s there in black and white, you are lying.

            It is not a dead practice, it is widely practised on a daily basis in Hassidic and Haredi communities in the US and Europe, and in Hassidic, Haredi and Hardal/Dati Leumiand Modern Orthodox Jews in Israel. Daily.

            Children are dying and suffering irreparable brain damage. after contracting genital herpes during Metzitzah b’peh. New York is in the midst of introducing legislation to deal with it.

            Unfortunately mohelim already banned from doing MBP carry right on doing it, and won’t be stopped. The parents of the latest dead baby refused to help the police by identifying the mohel. It’s ok though, the police won’t do anything, and why? Because shotim like you cry “Anti-Semites!!” any time a Jewish person is accused of a crime.

            I bet you wouldn’t be defending Muslims for sucking the blood from a baby’s mutilated penis.

            Geh kak in yam.

          3. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

            Well on his latest visit to Germany discussiong circumsision and regulation chief Rabbi Metzger insisted that Jews had to follow Jewish Law:

            Ein Junge muss acht Tage nach der Geburt von einem ausgewiesenen Beschneider auf natürliche Weise beschnitten werden.

            Das umfasst auch das Verbot einer lokalen oder totalen Betäubung des Neugeborenen.

            A boy has to be circumcised 8 days after birth by a certified mohel in “natural manner”. This includes a ban on local and complete anaesthetics

            Süddeutsche Zeitung
            That’s the official stance of the highest officially recognized Jewish Rabbi: No pain relief.

  19. 19
    todd bstevens

    Has anyone else heard about the espradril/premarin shortage? We are worried that R (my fiancee) might not be able to get girl pills at all. We have two months supply and are really hoping they get a new production facility online soon.

    1. 19.1
      Natalie Reed

      Premarin is a rather inefficient, outdated, and not-great-for-humans pill anyway. If I remember correctly, it uses naturally produced non-human estrogens rather than synthesized human estrogens. Any reason why she doesn’t want to simply switch to estradiol?

      1. todd bstevens

        I think we might have the last three bottles of espradril in Oklahoma. R works for a drugstore and had to call around. Forgive me calling it estradol :).

        What I am hearing is there is a shortage not just affecting trans women but cis women doing HRT. We are worried.

        I agree with you about the sweet tooth, though. I didnt know R before she was on pills, and she is allergic to chocolate, but get the girl a pint of vanillia ice cream and I am suddenly the best guy in the world. If we add banannas, well… we are affianced.

        1. todd bstevens

          Yeah I do know I reversed the correct and incorrect names of said medication, and estradol is in pills not bottles, but hope you get the gist, to wit: limitation on availability of pills = worry.

          I want to eventually build a three month rotating reserve of pills for our emergency planning. These pills arent insulin, but close.

  20. 20
    brenda

    Well… apparently this far off topic discussion is ok

    No Light said

    “Liar. That was never said. I posted the unedited conversation above. It’s there in black and white, you are lying.”

    Thank you for posting the original comment as it supports my claim that it was antisemetic because it smears all Jews with the practices of a minority of Jews.

    “Brenda claimed that all circumcision was morally right”

    FALSE. I argued in opposition to those claiming all circumcision is immoral. That there might be a minority of unsafe or medically unsound practices is obviously a separate question distinct from the more general one. No Light is guilty of a major logical fallacy of drawing a sweeping generalization. From the fact that some who practice XYZ do so in an unsafe manner it does NOT follow that XYZ is unsafe. No Light saw that I argued in favor of circumcision in general and drew the invalid inference that some particular instances refute the general case.

    That doesn’t even pass the laugh test of first year logic.

    “that being left intact is unhygienic”

    It is a FACT as recently reported in the NY Times that circumcision has hygienic benefits. Which is of course NOT the same as saying being uncircumcised is unhygienic. No Light appears to have great difficulty understanding basic logic.

    “In Brenda-world all cutting is done. under a general anaesthetic[sic] so it’s ok.”

    In my world I think and reason logically. Therefore I reject claims that are made by reasoning irrationally by seeking to justify positions held for purely emotional reasons. You are fallaciously reasoning from the particular to the universal by saying that some particular people practice circumcision in unsafe ways and that therefore *all* circumcision is immoral. This fallacy is so obvious and so basic that I am forced to conclude No Light’s continued insistence on maintaining it must be for emotional reasons.

    The original comment in dispute:
    “So you expect Jews to alter their tradition of circumcision sans anesthesia, performed by a mohel with no formal medical training, who sucks the blood out with his mouth after the procedure?”

    I rest my case. This clearly smears ALL Jews with the practices of a few ultra orthodox Jews. I see I was wrong to guess that no Jews in the US practice circumcision in this objectionable manner but the quote says “Jews” and does not differentiate the ultra orthodox from the rest of Judaism.

    That is in fact is how prejudice and bigotry work. You make sweeping generalizations from particular instances and attach them to the whole. I am sure that some Jews are greedy money lenders or that some blacks are gangsters and pimps but these individual particular facts do not tell us anything about all Jews or all blacks.

    “Children are dying and suffering irreparable brain damage. after contracting genital herpes during Metzitzah b’peh. New York is in the midst of introducing legislation to deal with it.”

    Thats great. I support circumcision being practiced in a medically safe and sound manner. In my logical and rational bubble how one practices circumcision has nothing to do with whether or not circumcision is immoral or has hygienic benefits.

    Even if ALL circumcision as practiced on planet Earth was done in this objectionable way it still WOULD NOT FOLLOW that circumcision is immoral. Your inability to even understand this logical, rational conclusion says a great deal about how strongly held beliefs can result in thought distortions.

    “shotim like you cry “Anti-Semites!!” any time a Jewish person is accused of a crime.”

    Antisemitism is not when someone accuses a Jew of committing a crime. Antisemitism is when someone claims that a crime or objectionable practice committed by one Jew or a minority of Jews says something about all Jews or Judaism in general. The original comment clearly did not distinguish ultra orthodox Jews from all Jews and is therefore an instance of antisemitism.

  21. 21
    brenda

    Reply to Zinnia:

    “If you want to argue that any mention of this real practice which actually is performed is somehow a kind of “blood libel” (and didn’t that historically have to do with false allegations about the use of the blood of *Christian* children?), well, that really won’t do.”

    Fortunately for me I never made that argument. Since No Light was kind enough to dig up the original comment it should be clear be now that what I objected to was that commentor’s use of “Jew” to refer to all Jews when it obviously applies only to the ultra orthodox who practice this.

    Do you know why many foods use red or red-orange in their packaging? It’s because it is a stimulating color that subconsciously reminds us of blood. It “excites” the passions and imagination. When a reference to blood is made in the course of an antisemitic smear I think that drawing the analogy to blood libel is justified. The intent is to excite and incite the emotions. We know that intense emotions “short circuit” our ability to think rationally. The mind’s eye “sees red” and in combination with the xenophobia, the othering of Jews, and appealing to tribal identity, which is what prejudice is all about, it can have a very dangerous and powerful effect.

    The Nazi’s systematically murdered 12 million people. Six million of whom were Jews. They did this by othering Jews, gays, gypsies, and the mentally handicapped. This wasn’t done by a bunch of thugs or hicks or “red-necks”. This was done by one of the most highly educated and sophisticated cultures in history. They were able to get away with it for the same reason Uri Geller was able perform his con right in front of the scientists trying to debunk him. There is a certain guilelessness that the highly intellectual or cultured have.

    Deep down we are still on the African Savannah after all and it is possible to bypass learning and education and appeal directly to the smiling alligator-in-the-swamp in all of us.

    1. 21.1
      No Light

      Last reply to Brenda the liar.

      You did not say circumcision had “hygienic benefits”, you said:

      Infant children who are circumcised at birth under anesthesia[1] and proper medical supervision do not suffer at the time or later in life [2] and reap the benefit of greater hygiene. I’ll concede that there may or may not be a loss of sensitivity, I guess I don’t really know but most of my partners seemed to believe it benefited them. They also appreciated not having to pay constant attention to keeping themselves clean and free from infections

      Lots of declaratives there, and proof that your knowledge of routine infant circumcision is comparable to your knowledge of female anatomy (women and girls do not have a prepuce or a glans, as per your claims), trans brains and bodies, and Judaism.

      [1] Anaesthesia isn’t used on neonates unless it’s a life or death situation. In the US they get a quick jab of lidocaine or a smear of lidocaine gel applied locally, then the clamp is placed on. with the metal clamp the doctor crushes the prepuce and then slices the “excess” off.

      With the plastic clamp it takes several days for the prepuce to be crushed, and to die off. The ring eventually falls off (at home) once the necrotic tissue detaches.

      [2] There are many complications of RIC. Keloid scarring, painful erection, urethral blockage &c.

      WRT Brit milah – why do you keep insisting that it’s a “tiny minority” of Jews? I mean, chasr v’sholom you should listen, but here goes nothing.

      Haredim use Metzitzah b’peh during brissim. There are roughly 700,000 haredim in Israel alone, and approximately 1.5 million worldwide, out of a total of 15 million Jews.

      They represent 9% of the population of Israel. They account for 16% of British Jewry (including secular) and 75% of British Jewish births per year. At the beginning of the New Year (two weeks ago) in Israel, more than a third of new school starters were Haredi children.

      Growth is approx. 7% year on year. Not. quite the tiny little minority you keep crowing about,eh?

      In addition to the haredim there are non-Haredi Hassidim who use MBP ( Chabad Lubavitch is now insisting on it, thanks to the scandal over the deaths in New York and New Jersey), and many Yeshivish and Hungarian sects, Dati Leumi (in Israel) and it’s a growing trend among the Modern Orthodox too.

      The legislation in New York merely amounts to giving parents a sheet detailing tim risks of MBP. That’s it. Despite it being illegal and harmful, the authorities are afraid of being labelled anti-Semites, like the last time they investigated it. When Haredim agree with something they bloc vote, when they disagree they riot.

      They’re aided by people like you who have an apparent hair-trigger for calling “Anti-Semite! Blood libel!! It’s their culture!”

      That’s why the catastrophic epidemic of child-rape in Haredi and Hassidic enclaves in the US, UK, Australia, Israel and Continental Europe carries on unchecked. Lives are being destroyed because officials are being urged to turn a blind eye out of fear (of the ADL), and claims that all communities be respected and left to deal with problems in their own way out of a misguided and backward sense of cultural relativity. Just like the RCC before them, they’re counting on people like you saying “We mustn’t interfere with their beliefs” and acting as proxy attack dogs for them.

      And do not talk to me about the holocaust. It’s the reason my family is decimated, and people abusing it to deflect criticism of the apartheid in Israel or the disgusting behaviours of Haredim and Hassidim (the MBP and child abuse are the tip of an enormous iceberg containing racism, denying children an education, and widespread fraud) will get short shrift from me every time.

      It’s especially galling if you’re one of those people who are completely ignorant of the fact that many who died were tragically abandoned to their fates by their own Rebbeim (such as the late Satmar Rebbe Joel Teitelbaum), who fled to the UK, US and Israel taking books and silverware instead of their followers, after stating that anyone who fled was in league with the “Evil Zionists” who they blamed for causing the holocaust.

      Their followers today, even the ones in Israel, denounce Zionism and claim that their fellow Jews caused the Shoah. One infamous group (Neturai Karta) even supports Hamas.

      I’m ashamed of the dynasty that spawned me, because it is wholly corrupt. IMHO anyone defending or associating with any of the clans, sects or dynasties is supporting and defending what goes on inside them and the twisted views they represent, the same as with the RCC and FLDS.

      One final thing, with huge apologies to the lovely Zinnia for the derail that’s happened, I have no dog in the circumcision fight, and the classic misogynist put-downs about being “too emotional” are just laughable. The only fight I’m in is the one that insists on bodily autonomy for every human being, as well as reproductive freedom, and the right to freely express gender and sexuality.

      Unnecessarily altering anybody’s genitals (or any other body part) is immoral, no matter who does it. Forcing people to gestate and give birth is immoral, as is denying or punishing the expression of gender and sexuality.

      Things I detest which are not immoral but are indicative of power-tripping and abuse of privilege, are:

      cisstraight people taking over GLBT people about GLBT issues.

      White people talking over POC about racism.

      Men talking over women about their right. to choose, or about sexism.

      People from a dominant or colonising culture talking over marginalised or native peoples about issues within their culture.

      Neurotypical and able-bodied people talking over, and. deciding what’s best for, people who are non-NT or with physical or mental illnesses or disabilities.

      Oh, and moral relativism. If it’s wrong it’s wrong, full stop.

      So Brenda, if that makes me “emotional” or “illogical”, then IDGAF, and you can just Spock off, and take your privilege and accusations with you.

      1. No Light

        “Relativity” should read “relativism”.

        Autocorrect be damned.

      2. Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

        They also appreciated not having to pay constant attention to keeping themselves clean and free from infections

        I would find a guy who thinks it’s too much trouble to keep himself clean really, really yucky. Probably the same guys who use deodorant that lasts for 96hrs instead of taking a shower every once in a while.
        Here’s the deal: If you can’t be bothered to spend 30 seconds washing the damn thing, I really can’t be bothered to touch, lick, suck or fuck the damn thing.

        1. yep yep

          “I would find a guy who thinks it’s too much trouble to keep himself clean really, really yucky. Probably the same guys who use deodorant that lasts for 96hrs instead of taking a shower every once in a while.
          Here’s the deal: If you can’t be bothered to spend 30 seconds washing the damn thing, I really can’t be bothered to touch, lick, suck or fuck the damn thing.”

          Totally agree. Females get smeg too… Under their foreskin (the clit hood… Yeah its technically foreskin). That’s why I wash my vulva thoroughly every day. I would not expect or want a guy to have to go through licking me if I had gone more than 12 hours of not having wiped my vulva down. So I guess females should just get circumcised too… Cause ya know… Its just too much trouble for us to care about our hygiene, right? I carry wipes in my purse with me everywhere, because even after only having taken a shower a couple hours earlier, I still prefer to clean my damn clit before encouraging someone to lick it. Its NOT too much trouble to expect a male to pull back his foreskin and clean it. I do not see hygiene as an excuse for mutilating a child who in the future may grow up to be a very cleanly individual. Do we just have such low expectations of men that we’ve given up holding them to any sort of hygienic standard? Seems pretty sexist to me. And I’m not even an MRA. Circumcision is just plain wrong. There is no rational argument in defense of it. Should my ears have been cut off at birth because I might fail to clean the wax out of them as an adult? Pretty faulty logic. The end.

  22. 22
    Erica Fake

    nice post you got here! It took my attention and read the article without noticing it! hahaha anyways, it would be better if you would be guided on your weight loss plan with an expert.The fat loss factor creator – Dr Charles

  23. 23
    googlebot

    Magnificent goods from you, man. I have understand
    your stuff previous to and you are just too excellent.
    I actually like what you have acquired here, really like what you
    are stating and the way in which you say it. You make it
    enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it smart.
    I cant wait to read far more from you. This is actually a wonderful site.

  24. 24
    how to make your dick bigger

    It’s remarkable designed for me to have a website, which is valuable in favor of my know-how. thanks admin

  1. 25
    ZJ Sifts the Effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy from the Effects of Sexism

    [...] interpretive pitfalls she has to navigate in the video below:ZJ has a transcript of this video at her terrific blog at Freethought Blogs.In the spring, I posted a video of actual sexual reassignment surgery and at [...]

  2. 26
    Not “him”, just me: Gendering the past | Zinnia Jones

    [...] I’ve been on HRT for about a month now, and so far it’s been awesome enough that I’ll probably continue for the foreseeable future. While some people have claimed that its effects shouldn’t be noticeable for quite some time, the physical changes alone are already obvious, which leads me to believe that the mental effects could be just as real. Even if some part of it is only placebo, I can honestly say I haven’t felt this calm, happy, confident, in control and well-integrated in years – if ever. And though I’m not sure what physiological or neurological basis there might be for the common trans metaphor of “running on the right fuel” (and I’d be interested to learn more about this), it seems accurate enough in my case. [...]

  3. 27
    Friday Links (23-Nov-12) -- a Nadder!

    [...] Jones on talking about Hormone Replacement Therapy in a world that’s both sexist and clueless about what people go [...]

  4. 28
    Do you have a gender identity? Want to find out? » Zinnia Jones

    [...] scale of days. The self-reporting of their subjective experiences would obviously be compromised by a lack of blinding and other biases, but no more severely than the self-reported experiences of trans women on HRT. Without a [...]

  5. 29
    Friday Links (23-Nov-12) | Fail Blue Dot

    […] Jones on talking about Hormone Replacement Therapy in a world that’s both sexist and clueless about what people go […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite="" class=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>