What is Gender and Who is Transgendered?

Dr. Carl W. Bushong, known as "Dr. B." to many, is the originator of a new style of long-distance transsexual and transgender services having helped hundreds fully transition. Since the early 1990's, his pioneering efforts broke the mold of the few remaining gatekeeper-style gender clinics by establishing the progressive Tampa Gender Identity Program which allowed access to a variety of transition services including hormone therapies, electrolysis and guidance to be readily available under one roof. Dr. B. continues to innovate by removing the need to travel great distances for many transition services such as guidance, hormone therapy, laboratory review and recommendation through his web site, doctorbushong.com.
When we speak of gender, in a context other than language, it is a recent concept in our culture, both lay and professional. It was not until 1955 that John Money, Ph.D. first used the term "gender" to discuss sexual roles, adding in 1966 the term "gender identity" while conducting his gender research at Johns Hopkins. In 1974, Dr. N.W. Fisk provided our now familiar diagnosis of Gender Dysphoria. Previously, one's sexual role was considered one of two discrete, non-overlapping congenital attributes—male or female determined by one's external genitals. These two mutually exclusive categories allowed for no variation. Of course, we acknowledged the cultural differences in sexual roles, but there still could be only two modes of expression - of being.
We then began to see one's gender as a continuum, a blending, analogous to a "gray scale." But, our distribution of gender was still bimodal, that is, most people are lumped at the two ends (see graphic) with only a minority in the middle. The great majority would be either male or female with all that implies.
But, my review of current research and experience with gender dysphoric, gay and traditional clients has led me to see gender not as a bimodal male or female dichotomy but as a matrix—a possible mix of male and female development within the same individual.

From research and observation, I have developed a list of five semi-independent attributes of gender, as a map to help you to understand this complex often hotly emotional issue of gender. Consider sexual identity/behavior (gender) springing from five semi-independent attributes:

  • Genetic Gender — Our chromosomal inheritance.
  • Physical Gender — Our primary and secondary sexual characteristics.
  • "Brain Gender" — Functional structure of the brain, along gender lines.
  • "Brain Sex" — Love/sex Patterns, How we relate to others on a social and interpersonal as well as sexual level. "Love Maps."
  • Gender Identity — Our subjective gender, our sexual Self-Map, how we feel ourselves to be: male or female.

It is my contention that it is possible for an individual to view oneself and function as male or female to varying degrees in each of the five sub-categories independent of the others.

From a few weeks after conception until two to three years of age, our brains develop gender in at least three independent dimensions which I have called "Brain Gender." [How the brain is wired along gender lines.] "Brain Sex" How we perceive sex, relationships and goals along male or female sets] and Gender Identity [how we perceive ourselves-male or female.]

Trans-Genes? -- Causes, and What Might Happen if Found Out?


 I think you are assuming that a particular "gene" makes us transgender, but that has never been shown (much less proven), although genes can and do make some intersex. 

Rather, there is some medical consideration that cross-hormone imbalance or mis-hormone flooding (including the lack of sufficient testosterone for MtFs and too much T for FtMs) sometimes occur during the third trimester of prenatal development (maybe things also go awry during the other developmental periods ...who knows). 

I spent quite a lot of time last year looking into the whole question of how "brain sex" and gender identity develop, and the conclusion I reached is that a lot of transgenderism has got to be an unintended consequence of giving hormonal medication to pregnant women. This certainly seems to be the case for a drug called diethylstilbestrol (DES) anyway. I'm sure that many of the people here who were born prior to 1971 would, if they're in a position to ask, find that their mothers were either prescribed DES during the pregnancy or took "pregnancy vitamins" (which often had DES added to them). Just 3mg of DES a day is enough to completely shut down testosterone production in adult men, and doctors were routinely giving pregnant women way more than that. 

The default developmental pathway is the female one and it's testosterone that drives male development. Interrupt testosterone production during the time the brain is undergoing it's sexually dimorphic development, and you'll end up with a person who has a male body but a brain that is either intersexed or completely female, depending on how long the hormone interruption lasts. It's mainly the brain that's at risk, because development of the reproductive organs takes place in a relatively short period of time during the early stages of the pregnancy, whereas there is sexually dimorphic brain development taking place throughout the second and third trimester.

Here's some public discussions I found regarding DES and transsexuality:


I don't think the problem is limited to DES either, in fact I'm pretty sure any hormonal medicine given to a pregnant woman in therapeutic doses carries a risk of disrupting the sexual development of her unborn child. 

There's a drug called hydroxyprogesterone caproate which is actually one of the hormones recommended in this forum for transitioning mtf transsexuals. If I remember correctly, the dose used as part of the hormone therapy for transitioning is 250mg every 2 weeks. Believe it or not, this exact same drug is also the treatment of choice for pregnant women who are thought to be at risk of premature birth, at a dose of between 250 and 500 mg per week! It's a longlived drug with a plasma half-life of about 10 days, giving it ample time to cross the placenta and interfere with testosterone production in an unborn male child. I've not tried hydroxyprogesterone caproate myself, but I'm fairly sure that if you gave an adult man 250 or 500 mg of it a week their testosterone production would be severely impacted. It's be interesting to know how many people here who were born after DES was discontinued in 1971, had mothers who were thought to be at risk of miscarriage or premature birth and given this treatment.


Dear Family and Friends: My Son Is Really My Daughter

My last post talked about "Going Stealth" about my transgender child's identity at school and in our community. Deciding whom to tell is a complicated, risk-filled and dynamic process. Dynamic because at different ages, the risks and rules change. Each phase of the decision-making process requires asking questions. Who needs to know and why? Is my child ready? Are we ready to expand our inner circle?

I often struggled with how to tell long-distance family members, hometown friends, college buddies and past co-workers that we have a transgender child. As time went on, every contact with our outer circle from "away" became more stressful. Each conversation started with how are the kids and when are you coming home for a visit? I was running out of excuses. Frankly, I was afraid to tell them, partly because I knew I might not like what I was going to hear and I thought I could never help them understand. Fear is a powerful force; it made me avoid things. Fear makes good people act poorly and some fears can close down the minds of the people you love and respect.

He tried to cut off his manhood with craft scissors

'He tried to cut off his manhood with craft scissors': The torment of transgender boy before finding peace as nine-year-old girl

When Danann Tyler was just two years old, he insisted he was a girl, and asked to wear dresses and grow his hair. His yoga instructor mother, Sarah, 39, and father Bill, 45, a police officer, struggled to explain his behaviour, and put it down to a phase. However two years later, Danann attempted to cut off his penis with a pair of scissors.

 'I found him in the playroom trying to cut off his penis with a pair of craft scissors,' the mother from Orange County, California, told Closer magazine. 'He was weirdly calm, saying, "I'm going to get rid of this". I felt sick.'

 Doctors said despite his young age, he needed to start living as a girl, son his parents made the decision to bring him up as their daughter, allowing him to grow his hair and wear girls clothes full time, even to school. Danann, who hasn't changed her name as it's unisex, is happy for the first time, and Mrs Tyler says she'll support Danann if she wants a full sex change operation at 15.

 She recalls picking Danann, then age two, up from a friend's house who has a little girl and found him wearing a Cinderella dress, mini high heels an pink painted nails. 'When I asked him take the clothes off, he started crying,' she said. 'He'd scream when I'd try to put him in boys clothes, and when I picked him up from nursery, I noticed he'd be playing in the miniature kitchen with the girls and didn't like trucks or action figures. I assumed it was a phase.'

 Danann began drawing pictures of himself as a girl, which were usually illustrated with an unhappy face, and by the time he was three, his tantrums worsened. 'He got really upset when I referred to him as a boy and kept asking me why he had a penis. He'd scream if I wanted to cut his hair. I occasionally let him wear pink T-shirts and necklaces under his clothes, but Bill wasn't happy. He's a man's man - and he didn't like his son looking girly.' 'It really disturbed me to see him so down,' she added. 'Bill was really freaked out.'

The Mother of a Transgender Child Speaks Out

Although audiences nationwide became acquainted with Sarah Tyler and her family following their appearance on Anderson Cooper's talk show, I got to know them in a completely different manner: at church. It was important that my partner and I, living in conservative Orange County, Calif., and being gay men with children, find a church family where every single person is welcome, which we found at Church of the Foothills. One of our pivotal moments as a congregation occurred when we learned that Danann Tyler would be transitioning from boy to girl, which prompted me to bring in a speaking panel from the Orange County Transgender Coalition to help educate our members.
As would be expected, having a child undergo such a transition caused numerous issues within the Tyler family, at school, in their community, and at work. Sarah Tyler graciously took time to share with me the journey her family has traveled, including not only the many challenges they've faced but the joyful child the transition eventually revealed.
Tell me about your pregnancy with Danann.
I was absolutely positive, when I was pregnant, that I was going to have a girl. I just knew it. But in all honesty I was rather hoping for a boy. You know, already having one, there were some benefits to having another, such as not having to buy any extra clothes, etc. Still, when they told me I was actually having a boy, I felt that they were wrong. The pregnancy with Danann felt entirely different than with James. With James I had no morning sickness, but with Danann I was sick for the first six months. I kept thinking the doctors had it wrong, but then, at delivery, they told me that I'd had a boy, and I was like, "Cool!"
What was Danann like as a baby?
I'll use the male pronoun, because pronouns for transgender people can be tricky, but when Danann was ahe, he was a really happy, calm baby. He was serene, loving, content. We called him our little Buddha.
When did you first notice that all was not as it seemed?
My husband and I took James on a trip when Danann was 2, and left Danann with a friend for the weekend who had a young girl. When I went to pick Danann up, he was standing there in a dress, with nails painted and everything, and just looked so happy, the happiest I'd ever seen him. I was sure my husband was going to freak out, so I asked Danann to change. He started crying and got very angry. And from that day on things were different.
Did that desire to "dress up" continue?
At preschool he would gravitate toward the frilly dresses and feminine things. But at the time he was attending a very conservative religious school, and they frowned on anything that didn't fit strict gender roles. I ended up moving him to a different daycare, which let him dress as he chose, and again he would choose the girly things to wear.
Up until that point, was "dressing up" the only sign that Danann might be transgender?
Around that same time, Danann began insisting, quite strongly, "I'm a girl." She began to want everything around her, from sippy cup to clothes to you-name-it, be pink. She'd take a sheet and fashion it into a dress. She'd put my tights on her head so that she'd have "long hair." I mean, that kid was so creative.
And this was all around the time she was 2 and 3?
Yes. And we talked to people about what we were experiencing, and everyone just said, "Oh, it's just a phase. Don't worry about it."
While all this was going on, did you ever wonder if your then-son might be gay?
Definitely, that crossed my mind. I have lots of gay friends, and I thought that could easily be what it was. Not to stereotype, but Danann had very feminine gestures. He thought like a girl, hung out with the girls, and really seemed, aside from anatomy, like a girl. "Gay" crossed my mind, but not "transgender." The big difference, though, was when Danann began insisting she was a girl. That's when things evolved, quickly.
What was your "aha! moment" with Danann?
One morning we were getting ready to go to church, and Danann said she didn't want to go. I asked why, and he said, "I don't think God is that great. He made a mistake when he made me," and pointed to his penis.
What a profound thing to come out of a 4-year-old's mouth!
Exactly. Who has that kind of self-awareness at that age?
What happened next?
Just a few weeks later I walked into the kitchen, and Danann had taken scissors and was getting ready to cut off his penis.

Gender Spectrum: Social Services

Many social service agencies unknowingly employ discriminatory practices based on personal biases or lack of understanding, rather than informed, evidence-based policies. We provide training to enable your agency to implement the best practices to facilitate positive change. We want to help you fulfill your mission in assisting youth and families by guiding program administrators and staff through the often confusing territory of gender variance in children in a supportive, non-judgmental manner. Our outstanding trainers skillfully work with diverse groups of people and adapt to the varying levels of understanding that may be present within your staff.
Resources for Social Services

Understanding Gender

What is Gender?

For many people, the terms “gender” and “sex” are interchangeable. This idea has become so common, particularly in western societies, that it is rarely questioned. Yet biological sex and gender are different; gender is not inherently connected to one’s physical anatomy. 

Sex is biological and includes physical attributes such as sex chromosomes, gonads, sex hormones, internal reproductive structures, and external genitalia. At birth, it is used to identify individuals as male or female.  Genderon the other hand is far more complicated. Along with one’s physical traits, it is the complex interrelationship between those traits and one’s internal sense of self as male, female, both or neither as well as one’s outward presentations and behaviors related to that perception.


Dr Oz Explores Transgender

Here are a number of video explorations of the transitioning experience by Dr Oz. http://www.doctoroz.com/search?q1=transgender
Tina and Brynne's children open up about what it's like to see their dad transition from a man to a woman. Hear more about their experience and how this change has impacted their family. Plus, meet another family who was almost ripped apart by this life-changing decision.

 Dr. Oz explores what it means to be transgendered in America. Meet a married man who made the decision to become woman. Dr Oz discusses Transgender Families.

Huge Trans resources

Laura's Trans resources http://www.lauras-playground.com/mtf.htm
Susan's Trans resources http://www.susans.org/
Dr. Oz - on Transgender  http://www.doctoroz.com/search?q1=transgender

What Does Transgender Mean? One Semi-Conservative Dad's Perspective

ARTICLE: I cannot explain what transgender means to me in a 1,000-word essay, but I can begin to open a dialogue and share a few stories that may help others understand what it means to raise a transgender child. There were many early struggles, and even more for my wife as I was trying to learn my way. But our struggles were small compared with those that both our children faced. I hope to share more than just the painful moments, but also the rewards of watching my beautiful daughter and her amazing brother grow. It is a heartfelt story that I hope will reach communities, schools, churches, political leaders, average families, and anyone who is willing to ask: what does transgender mean?

I answer questions about Nicole at ball games, at the hunting camp, and at the end of my driveway. The unique connections started occurring one father at a time, and they grew to include many others as our story unfolded in a more public way. I hope to help others learn more by sharing some of my most private thoughts. In person, it is easy to get my point across; my feelings, my pain, and my pride are easily recognized. I am not sure I can do the same thing with written words. I hope that by openly sharing some of my struggles, I can encourage people to ask more questions, begin to challenge their beliefs, and move toward accepting new ideas and change.
In the past my essays have been written under an assumed name. It seemed easier to share my deepest fears, feelings, and worries with total strangers -- total strangers who have provided our family with so much positive support. Your praise reminds me that we are on the right path.
I am no longer the stoic, detached dad, trying to maintain an image of control and confidence. I am more likely to show my emotions and tell you that I do not have all of the answers. When asked, I can only share lessons learned through my stories.
Most of the mistakes were made on my own. I have always provided unconditional love for my children, but providing consistent team support was not always the final outcome. That is no longer true.
My transgender daughter Nicole is my mentor. It's tough to put into words what a profound impact this small person has had in changing my core values, but since the young age of 5, she has unknowingly encouraged me to open my eyes and heart to new ideas. I've watched her experience severe emotional pain and physical frustration, but thanks to the support and guidance of our team, I've watched her become a happier, healthier, more confident child. And as she changed, I changed, too.

Americans increasingly supportive of transgender people

Here in San Diego, transgender bodybuilder Chris Tina Bruce, who writes the Trans Fit column for SDGLN, made history as the first transgender person to compete in a nationally sponsored bodybuilding competition. Chris Tina also become the first person to have ever competed in both gender categories in bodybuilding; she first competed as a male nearly 20 years ago, and last weekend competed as a female. 
...two new national surveys show that strong majorities of Americans favor rights and legal protections for transgender people and have a solid understanding of trans identity. The “Religion and Politics Tracking Surveys” were conducted in August and September by Public Religion Research Institute. The combined surveys are among the first independent studies of attitudes on transgender issues and Americans’ knowledge of transgender identity. 
"Three out of four Americans say Congress should pass employment nondiscrimination laws that protect transgender people," said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. "This strong support is also broad, persisting across party lines and the religious spectrum." About three-quarters (74%) of Americans favor Congress’ recent expansion of hate crimes legislation to protect transgender people.

Transgender Americans: A Handbook for Understanding

We hope that readers of Transgender Americans: A Handbook for Understanding will find it a useful overview of the issues facing transgender Americans in our society. This handbook aims to help readers become familiar with the range of issues faced by transgender Americans, from the complex process of getting an appropriate birth certificate, to family and parenting issues, to discrimination and hate violence. These issues are not theoretical — they affect real people who are an integral part of our American community.

We start by providing a picture: who transgender people are, how many are simply working to make a life and a living in the United States every day, and what the American people already understand and believe about their transgender neighbors and co-workers. Next, we discuss the numerous issues in which transgender people face discrimination and harassment: in finding and keeping jobs, locating housing and using public accommodations, staying safe in their homes and communities, obtaining critical health care, securing legal documents consistent with their gender identity, having their relationships respected and protected, raising their children, safely attending school and being treated fairly and humanely in the criminal justice system.

Resources for People with Transgender Family Members

Many people are affected when an individual comes out as transgender. In every aspect of life – be it at home, in the workplace or in the community – spouses or partners, children, family members, friends and coworkers of transgender people also struggle with the complexities of gender identity and gender transition. Issues such as non-discrimination policies and access to comprehensive healthcare are often as important for employees with transgender family members as they are to transgender employees themselves.