Lynn Conway's Trans News updates Being Suppressed by Ken Zucker. Alleged libel by Conway brings lawsuit threat.
    By Hontas Farmer | February 6th 2009 05:19 AM | 15 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    I have gotten useful information from Dr. Conway's website for many years.  The first most useful information I found was that yes a transsexual woman had been a scientist/engineer.  Recently the most useful information on her website has been her "trans news updates".  One piece of information I got there lead me here when it referenced the article "Transsexual Smokescreen: Ignoring Science In “The Man Who Would Be Queen”   This is what got me started here on Science blogging, which has proven to be a powerful platform for the dissemination of scientific information which may be of use to the general public  my thanks to those to make this work every day.   Bravo. 

    One of the things she has done lately however is have an extensive header which high lites stories which Dr. Conway finds particularly important. 

    Lately much of that has been related to the activities of one Ken Zucker.   The latest line from Dr. Conway on Zucker is.....

    A Special News Report by Lynn Conway: "The Trans News Updates: The webpage
    Zucker attempted to suppress"

    "We are posting this report to alert our news-feed readers
    about this situation – and to seek readers' support in maintaining Lynn's
    internet access and freedom of speech against what is clearly an attempt to
    suppress and infringe upon them. . . You do not need to write letters or
    make demands. You should instead exercise your own right of free speech to
    widely propagate
    this news report and
    the Jacobsen letter. By simply spreading the news of Zucker's attempt to
    suppress Lynn's freedom of speech, you can expose Zucker for what he is –
    and let history be his judge."

    Here is the news item she want's disseminated.  She requested that it be disseminated and here I quote it in it's entirety verbatim.  It is interesting that she places a copyright notice on something that she ask to be disseminated.  Her request would seem to me to be a waiver of any copyrights.  My unvarnished opinion to follow. ...

    Lynn Conway's Trans News Updates:

    The webpage Zucker attempted to suppress

    A News Report by
    Lynn Conway

    Copyright © Lynn Conway 2009. All rights reserved

    first posted 2-03-09 [V 2-03-09] 



    Zucker attempts to disrupt and suppress Lynn Conway's trans news-feed

    Note the deviousness of the falsifications in theJacobsen letter

    Consider the timing and context of the attack

    What could have motivated Zucker's attack on Lynn's freedom of speech?

    Defending Lynn's freedom of speech




    attempts to disrupt and suppress Lynn Conway's trans news-feed:


    As part of her University of Michigan
    website [1] Lynn Conway maintains a
    news-feed [2] that provides ongoing access to news items of interest to the
    transgender community.  Each day Lynn receives and posts links to the latest
    news, often including brief quotes from the articles to alert readers to their


    On January 30, 2009 Lynn
    received an e-letter [3] from Peter M. Jacobsen, an attorney representing

    Dr. Ken Zucker
    of the “Centre
    for Addiction and Mental Health
    ” (CAMH, aka The Clarke Institute) at
    University of Toronto. The letter was also apparently sent to the University of
    Michigan's Information Technology User Advocate, in an attempt to disrupt
    Lynn's postings on the internet and defame Lynn amongst her colleagues and senior University officials as they heard about it.


    The Jacobsen letter

    is posted at this link
    and more. It threatens Lynn with a lawsuit for libel by
    claiming that:


    “Your website contains very serious false and defamatory allegations of criminal conduct and sexual abuse by Dr. Zucker. These allegations clearly exceed the limits of free speech and public discourse . . . Please be advised that we have also notified the IT User Advocate at the  University of Michigan of this defamatory posting. . . Please confirm receipt of  this libel notice immediately and advise us immediately of what steps you have  taken to have this defamatory material removed from your website” – Peter M. Jacobsen, representing CAMH and


    Jacobsen inserted the following entry from Lynn's news-feed into his letter as 'evidence' to support Zucker's accusations of libel:

    01-17-09:  Organisation Internationale des Intersexués (OII):
    "The self-proclaimed experts on intersex: Zucker and Lawrence", by Curtis Hinkle

    "I am sure that many intersex people were aware that the APA had brought out a booklet on intersex. However, I am not sure that many  understand how problematic it is to many intersex people to see some of the  following names associated with this booklet: Margaret Schneider, Walter O. Bockting, Randall D. Ehrbar, Anne A. Lawrence, Katherine Louise Rachlin and

    Kenneth J. Zucker
    . At first glance, the booklet seems apparently harmless. However, that is what's so clever about it. It's a way for the Clarke/Northwestern clique to get their nose under the (intersex) tent and then later "come on in"."


    As you can see, there are no "allegations of criminal conduct and sexual abuse by Dr. Zucker" in that news-feed entry, nor will you find any such allegations anywhere in Lynn's website.


    On reading Jacobsen's letter most people cannot imagine that it could contain such a bold falsification, even though it is right there in front of their eyes. Therefore, the first and lingering impression is that Lynn must have made those allegations – even though she did not.


    We are posting this report to alert our readers and seek their support in maintaining Lynn's freedom of speech against this blatant attempt to
    suppress and infringe upon it.

    Note the deviousness of the falsifications in the
    Jacobsen letter:


    After boldly claiming that the allegations against Zucker are located within Lynn's news-feed (which they are not), Jacobsen does a quick shuffle of the deck. He now says that the presumed allegations are actually contained in
    another website that Lynn simply links to
    – i.e.

    a page in the website of Organisation Intersex International (OII)


    In doing so, Jacobsen claims that cross-website linkage is legally equated with
    website-inclusion, but Canadian case law says otherwise:

    Crookes v Wikimedia


    However, even that point is moot, because not even that secondarily-linked webpage in OII's website makes the allegations against Zucker that
    Jacobsen alleges. Instead it simply reports the fact that such allegations had
    been previously received by OII personnel from a third party and had been turned over to Canadian authorities.


    As readers struggle to follow Jacobsen's tangled egal 'logic'
    and as they click on links from site to site trying to figure out what it all means
    they can easily loose focus and simply assume that Jacobsen must know what he's talking about.

    This is a well-known effect of "the big lie": The bigger the lie, the more likely it is to be believed.


    What could have motivated Zucker's attack on Lynn's freedom of speech?


    Why would Jacobsen make these false accusations? Could Zucker be
    angered that Lynn's site contains investigative reports [6] and links to media articles that are unflattering to Zucker and CAMH – reports such as those on U. S. National Public Radio [7] and in the  Torontoist [8] that have widely exposed Dr. Zucker as operating a trans-reparative clinic for ‘curing’ gender variant children?
    If so, they should note that Lynn's news-feed  links to many articles by or about Dr. Zucker and his colleagues that are  extremely unflattering to transgender people. It also links to articles published by groups such as NARTH [8] and Focus on the Family [9] that are supportive of Dr. Zucker’s teachings. By doing so, Lynn's news-feed links to both sides of the story and helps generate
    healthy debate.


    Then too, OII Founder Mr. Curtis Hinkle reports that OII has not received similar threats of lawsuits, even though the OII page in question (an open letter to the President of WPATH) [4] has been posted on the internet or eight months and is widely known about in Zucker’s professional circles. These facts suggest that Zucker is more  interested in suppressing Lynn's website than in addressing the underlying complaint asserted in Jacobsen’s letter. But there is more:


    Consider the timing and context of the attack


    The timing of Zucker’s action is also suspect coming on the eve of an important workshop at the IFGE conference [11]. Zucker is aware that the presentations at that workshop will be posted on my website and will question his selection to lead revisions of the gender identity section [12] of the psychiatric code-book of mental illness (the 'DSM') [13]. Zucker's selection for that role is the elephant in the room. That psychiatric code-book currently pathologizes all transgender people as being mentally-ill for life, just as it did to gay and lesbian people in the past – and Zucker appears determined to retain that stance in spite of growing evidence to the contrary (more) and social pressure to depathologize gender variance [14].


    For more on the psychiatric and social context that led to the current diagnostic nomenclature in the DSM, see Gender Madness in American Psychiatry, Essays from the Struggle for Dignity, by Kelley Winters, Ph.D. [15]. Dr. Winter's book provides deep insights into the many issues and challenges faced by the trans-community on the eve of publication of the DSM-V, and exposes the reasons for and nature of the community's confrontation with Zucker. 


    Zucker’s colleague and close confidant Alice  Dreger went to great lengths to suppress a similar panel at the National Women’s Studies Association conference last June, but failed in that attempt after graduate student Joelle Ruby Ryan stood up to Dreger's attack on Joelle's academic career. My report on those events [16] has since gained wide notice, much to Dreger’s and Zucker’s consternation.

    And as many news-feed readers may recall, as editor in chief of the Archives of Sexual Behavior (ASB) Zucker previously stooped so low as to exploit his power-position to subvert that journal into a propaganda tool [17] to support his ASB colleagues against widespread complaints and internet blogging by the transgender community. In the process Zucker was exposed as conducting his own personal vendetta against Andrea James and Lynn Conway, two women who've been effective in exposing his reparatist treatment of gender variant children (more). 


    Zucker’s series of actions suggest that he is now motivated to suppress Lynn's right of free speech (and especially Lynn's ability to publish on the internet) by any means possible, in order to minimize his exposure as a trans-reparatist and suppress the escalating questioning of his selection to lead the DSM revisions.


    Defending Lynn's freedom of speech:


    In the face of this threat, Lynn's seeks your assistance in protecting her Constitutional rights and ensuring her full and open access to the internet
    so that her website and others like it remain freely available in service of our
    You do not need to write letters or make demands. You should instead exercise your own right of free speech to widely propagate this news report and the Jacobsen letter, as evidence of Zucker's attack.


    By informing people of Zucker's attempt to suppress Lynn's freedom of speech, you can expose him for what he is and let history be his judge. You only
    get to keep your Constitutional rights if you fully exercise them.





    [1] Lynn Conway’s homepage, Lynn Conway,


    [2] “Trans News Updates”, Lynn Conway,


    [3] “CAMH re: Ken Zucker and Lynn Conway”, File No. 300566, Peter M. Jacobsen, Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Canada January 27, 2009.


    [4] “Open Letter to President of WPATH from OII”, Sophia Siedlberg, OII-UK and
    Curtis E. HinkleFounder, Organisation Intersex International, May 28, 2008.


    [5] IN THE SUPREME COURT OF BRITISH COLUMBIA, Citation: Crookes v. Wikimedia Foundation Inc., 2008 BCSC 1424 Date: 20081027 Docket: S072729 Registry: Vancouver.


    [6] “Drop the Barbie: Ken Zucker's reparatist treatment of gender-variant children”, A report by Lynn Conway,, April 5, 2007.


    [7] “Two Families Grapple with Sons' Gender Preferences - Psychologists Take Radically Different Approaches in Therapy”,  Alix Spiegel, All Things Considered, National Public Radio, May 7. 2008.

    [8] “But For Today I Am A Boy”, Marc Lostracco, The Torontoist, May 9, 2008.


    [9] “How Should Clinicians Deal With GID In  Children? Psychologist Kenneth J. Zucker explains the current research on children and adolescents who develop a Gender Identity Disorder”, Frank York,  National Association for Research&Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), September 23, 2004.  

    [10] “Answering Parents' Questions on Gender  Confusion in Children”, Glenn T. Stanton, Focus on the Family, January, 2009.

    [11] “Disordered” No More: Challenging  Transphobia in Psychology, Academia and Society”, by Joelle Ruby Ryan (chair), Julia Serano, Ph.D. and Kelley Winters, Ph.D., IFGE Worshop, The 23rd Annual Conference of the International Foundation for Gender Education, Alexandria, VA, February 4-8, 2009.


    [12] “DSM-V review of Sexuality&Gender to be headed by Zucker&Blanchard”,, May 19, 2008.

    [13] DSM-IV-TR: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition - Text Revision, American Psychiatric Association, 2000.

    [14] “Psychiatrists Revise the Book of Human Troubles”, Benedict Carey, New York Times, Dec. 17, 2008


    [15] Gender Madness in American Psychiatry, Essays from the Struggle for Dignity,
    Kelley Winters, Ph.D., BookSurge Publishing, 2009.


    [16] “Joelle Ruby Ryan chairs NWSA panel on  resisting transphobia in academia: The event Alice Dreger failed to stop”, A Report by Lynn Conway,, June 27, 2008.


    [17] "Science Subverted: How a scientific journal became a propaganda tool in the "science war" against the social emergence of transgender women", A report by
    Lynn Conway,, August 21, 2007.

    I agree wtih Dr. Cownay that what Zuckers lawyer claims in that letter looks specious.  He specifically hi lites  that she provided a link to someone elses website, and quoted a representative/eye catching statement therefrom.  In my humble non-legal opinion don't see how that can be libel on the part of Conway.  If anyone should get sued for that it ought to be the website she linked to.  Fundamentally if one can be held legally responsible for the contents at the other end of a mere link then the whole world wide web will dissolve.

    On the other hand, attached to the PDF of the lawyers letter, there is the image of the header of her transnews updates that I mentioned.  Then and now it says, at the very top, the following which may well be the real meat and substance of this lawyers complaint.

    updates on the Zucker-Dreger attacks on trans critics:
      In July '07,
    Ken Zucker
    , editor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior (ASB),
    subverted that journal as a propaganda rag
    in defense of editorial board members
    Bailey, Blanchard and Lawrence (BBL).  He did this by
    announcing and pre-publishing Alice Dreger's one-sided history of the Bailey book investigation.  Zucker promoted Dreger's hit-piece as if it were an independent scholarly work, devoting the entire June '08 ASB to Dreger's defense of Bailey.   Ardent Bailey supporter Ben Carey
    followed with a New York Times article on 8-21-07 in which Dreger portrayed Bailey as a great scientist under siege for 'telling the truth'.

    Calling the journal "Archives of Sexual Behavior" a propoganda rag.  :-\  Websters dictionary defines propoganda as ...

    1. capitalized : a congregation of the Roman curia having jurisdiction over missionary territories and related institutions

    2.  the spreading of ideas, information, or rumor for the purpose of helping or injuring an institution, a cause, or a person

    3.  ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one's cause or to damage an opposing cause; also : a public action having such an effect.

    I invite my readers to look at Archives of sexual behavior and the definition of propoganda and judge for themselves.   My honest opinion is I don't see how she will be able to legally justify that statement.   On one hand she could say that Zuckers publication of Dreger's paper was an act of spreading propoganda against the people who criticized Bailey herself included. I am not 100% sure but if she can testify that she truly truly belived that Zucker was propogandizing by that publication she may have a case.  On the other hand Zucker or his lawyer  can say well, I called for open comments which anyone could participate in, She could have published a commentary as long as she wanted.  They can say Dreger claims to have tried to reach Conway for comment.  They can point out that Conway had these opportunities, she did not take them, therefore this was not propoganda.   Because then she would have known better.  A judge or jury will have to elucidate just what those facts are.  I cannot and I will not.  But in my humble opinion this is not a clear cut case one way or the other.

    My advice to both sides is to hire a lawyer.  Conway should hire a lawyer, not change her website right now (because that could look like some kind of an admission of guilt) and stop writing about this.   Continue on with the trans news  just leave Zucker alone until the conclusion of the legal maneuvers. Let her lawyer do the talking.  Zucker ought to hire a lawyer capable of finding a statement that has a prayer of being considered libel in court. Such as the one above could be, If that is no one can be called to testify that what Zucker has done really constitutes spreading propaganda.  Truth is the best defense to a libel or slander allegation.  If the truth is on Dr. Conway's side she will win out in the end. If not, well,  :-/  She will be out of pocket to Zucker.

    What does all of this have to do with science?  This isn't some kind of transgender blog?

    Some readers may ask this.  The answer is that this story is about many things,  It's about the subjects of a field of social science research holding the scientist accountable, it is about academic freeedom and the freeedom of scientist to say what their research says is true, it's about a fundamental question of social science and psychology.  The fundamental question being "Are the subjects of an area of social science research ultimately more expert on the matter than the scientist, or are they too close to the phenomena (in this case transsexuals are the phenomenon itself) to make a valueable contribution to it's understanding?  For the social sciences these are deeply important questions. 

    Times like this I am glad I am a physicist.  We can burtally slam particles into each other and they will never complain. 

    (I totaly expect some criticism for posting this and my comments on it.  The M.O. of Dr Conway and her cohorts as of late has been to respond with a palpable animosity, to anyone  who questions them even a little bit.  All quoted items needed to be edited for formatting.  No content was changed.)



    Hmmm...  Why are my articles related to Ronaldo?  Could this have something to do with it? lol!

    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    If the keyword search is confused by what the article is about it starts doing its own thing - either that or there are too many keywords put in manually.  If you have no keywords in related articles pick one or maybe two.  If you have 10, narrow it down to one or two and it will be more accurate.  Though if our keyword search were that  perceptive, it would be fantastic.

    Poor Ronaldo.  Of course he didn't know they were transvestites.   That's always the official story.
    Lol.  Yeah that sure is the official word.

    Thanks for the advice about the keywords :-)
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    I don't get it. Do you think of yourself as a man or as a woman?

    As a 7 year old transsexual puts it in her youtube video "a girl brain in a boy body".... Well I know it's not that simple. 

    What I and I think other transsexuals have is a male brain, which due to various events during pregnancy, becomes feminized to some degree or the other.

    What I think of myself is informed by my cultural heritage.  I am part native american, and from that tradition I have two spirits that of a male and a female.  I practice Islam, I fast, I pray, the whole bit.  In that tradition people like me are called mukhnathin, males who walk, talk, think, act, and look like women. 

    Taken together you get an idea of how I think of myself.  From my cultural background I see gender differently, than most westerners.  I see myself as a anatomical  male, who in terms of the way I think, act, look, speak, feel emotions, is more like a female.  To the degree that I have adopted a female identity for most of my life. 
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    I like Dr. Conway very much (excluding her methods regarding you-know-what-controversy) and I detest Zucker.
    The pure idea that my parents could have given me, as a little innocent kid, into reperative therapy a ala Zucker gives me a very bad feeling in my stomach and induces nightmares.
    I know that such a therapy would have produced a lot more unnecessary pain in my life.
    Fortunately I never had to go through stuff like that, having had quite nice and understanding parents. I am quite happy to have turned out to be the individual that I am today and I am feeling very comfortable with both my biological sex and my gender identity.
    I predict that in a few decades more and more "Zucker boys" will come out and report the pain that they felt due to Zucker´s methods and the problems that they have caused in the cause of their lives, just as the research subjects of Dr. Money came out a few decades later.

    You are totally right that the claims of Zucker´s lawyer don´t seem to have much foundation and I am almost fully on Dr. Conway´s side, in this case.
    What disturbs me, though, is the language that she uses and has used for some time already. Her use of the word "propaganda" is one example that you have mentioned.
    In general, Dr. Conway´s style of writing gives in a lot to a sensationalism which surprises me in connection to a scientist of her standing.

    Another example would be the way she talks about the "Clarke/Northwestern clique", as if the scholars involved were some cult destined to infiltrate the world in the name of evil.
    Yes, there are a couple of scholars whose theories and research methods have some connection to each other.
    But they certainly don´t form a homogenous conspiracy against transwomen.

    It´s wrong to treat Lawrence, Blanchard, Bailey, Dreger and Zucker like one person with the same evil intention. As I wrote, I detest Zucker and his theories and methods. But there is a lot that I would support in Blanchard´s work, much that I like in Lawrence´s writings, and some that I would support and somce that I would criticize in Bailey´s work. Dreger, to me, has without doubt offered many important contributions to both gender studies and intersex activism. They are not the same to me.

    "The fundamental question being "Are the subjects of an area of social science research ultimately more expert on the matter than the scientist, or are they too close to the phenomena (in this case transsexuals are the phenomenon itself) to make a valueable contribution to it's understanding? For the social sciences these are deeply important questions. "

    In social sciences there has been much discussion about the relevance of emic and etic positions. Etic meaning the position of an observer, emic the position of someone involved.
    The outcome of that discussion is, as I would sum it up, that there is worth and importance in both positions. Both positions have advantages and disadvantages. Both positions are able to see important issues that the other tends to overlook.
    They are both needed to come to a good judgement regarding a certain topic.
    Most social scientists will agree on that although some give more weight to the emic position and some to the etic position.

    To get the best out of both positions, members from both sides need to seriously talk and seriously discuss things in an open atmosphere.
    This is precisely what is not happening in this context here.
    Both sides are just screaming at each other and don´t take each other seriously.
    I am waiting for the day when they will start aknowledging the value of the respective other position but it looks as if it will still take some time till that day.

    LOL, Ronaldo. His story tells a lot about how Brazil´s society has been changing over the last decades, including Brazilian ideas on gender and sexuality. The former Brazilian football ( icon Pele was always quite open about him having had his first sexual experiences with a bicha (queen).
    He was not as apologetic as Ronaldo back then.

    Wow I learned something there " emic and etic".  The way things are done on Wikipedia it seems only the Etic position is ever counted.  That's my experinece with social science there.  (that an intro sociology in college). 

    I am sure you and I are not the only ones who are not 100% comfortable with the way Dr. Conway expresses herself on her webpage.  But it is her right, here in the USA, to write what she wrote.   The question is was Dreger's article in ASB strictly propoganda?  A courth will have to decide.

    IMHO I don't think that she would win on that.  I mean, if that issue was propoganda then Zucker would have never published all of those critical commentaries.


    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Ok but are you a man or a woman?

    If you can only understand a strict western style gender binary then in that way of thinking I would say I am a woman.

    But you must understand that I don't subscribe to the gender binary that is prevalent in the west.  To borrow from a title of a book, I am neither a man nor a woman.  I am something else.  I have the body of a man, even after my eventual SRS I will still have some male sexual anatomy (A "sex change" always leaves the prostate gland for example).  But in many many ways I have the mind of a woman.  Understand?
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    "What I and I think other transsexuals have is a male brain, which due to various events during pregnancy, becomes feminized to some degree or the other."

    But brains don't start off "male". Sexual dimorphism can be measured more accurately by degree of divergence from the putative original state. Women have their own path that does not have a dependency on the other, male, path. Even putting it that way is probably overstating the case... it is probably better to say the physical environment of the organism in its developmental stages can produce a variety of configurations in the adult form. The view that one or another forms is preferred is something driven into us by our culture.

    Because the overwhelming majority of human organisms fall so closely about the two axes we observe every day (men and women), we don't tend to be this general in our language. We classify common phenomena according to observations of the gross form. But it is misleading to try to arrive at a measurement by comparing 2 end states to each other. Women tend to be more "neotenous" in that their development as measured by observations about their secondary sex characteristics is closer to the putative base form. Men tend to diverge slightly more from this base form in their own direction down the 'other' pathway. The view that all people are on a scale of [male<->deficient male] is a bit harsh, don't you think?

    And gender theory really isn't very useful when trying to make your way through the world. That's sort of the nature of theories, being theoretical and all. What matters is how you feel about yourself. I'm just wondering.... can you call yourself a woman and feel at peace with that? What is a woman, to you?

    "The fundamental question being "Are the subjects of an area of social science research ultimately more expert on the matter than the scientist, or are they too close to the phenomena..."

    This assumes that scientists are without biases of their own to begin with, and that the subjects are somehow in "need" of study even though their credentials as experts in the field of "themselves" have not been established. It's an artificially adversarial situation brought on by the combative nature of the scientific community lately. Grant funding is a bitch, ain't it? I think the default position that scientists start from a neutral standpoint (while the "subjects" don't) is setting up a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Scientists do not have a monopoly on the neutral standpoint; their work must be vetted after the fact to establish how close to the gold standard of neutrality they actually get.

    To your last comment. 

    The same thing can apply to the subjects of the research.  The difference between the subjects and the researcher is this.  While we can reasonably expect a researcher to have some distance from the phenomena under study, we cannot assume the same of the subjects since usually they are the phenomenon.

    Suppose we were talking not about transsexuals but say about people who like to tatoo themselves allot.  The people who tatto up their whole bodies feel it is deeply due to their identity, it is a part of them.  Should they be the only ones to write about their lifestyle?  Would the point of view of a relatively neutral researcher be totally invalid because they may have some bias?

    Taking this back to transsexuals.  The commentor above stated that the best way to approach these things in social science is from both perspectives.  Those of the studied and the studier.  Both are important. 

    As for the notion that  transsexuality or anything else should not be researched.  I find that to be a very anti scientific view.  Why study anything if your logic held? I can't subscribe to that since studying things that some people think should not be studied is what I do (I study quantum gravity, which takes me into both particle physics, and cosmology... Things that young earth creationist would rather we not study.) 

    As for how our brains start out....  You are partially right.  It all starts out made of the same stuff.  However our DNA dictates how it will devlope. If you have a Y chromosome you have a brain that was to have devloped as a male brain IF something did not happend to interrrupt that devlopement.  Thus creating a male brain modified with some female features. 

    There is a difference.  See this result witch debunks the much ballyhooed result of Zhou.

     "Changing your sex changes your brain: influences of testosterone and estrogen on adult human brain structure"   by Hilleke E Hulshoff Pol, Peggy T Cohen-Kettenis1, Neeltje E M Van Haren, Jiska S Peper, Rachel G H Brans, Wiepke Cahn, Hugo G Schnack, Louis J G Gooren2 and René S Kahn

    The findings suggest that treatment of MFs with estrogens and anti-androgens decreases the male brain size towards female proportions, whereas treatment of FMs with androgens (not substantially affecting circulating estrogen levels) increases the female brain size towards male proportions. The magnitude of this change (i.e. 31 ml over a 4-month period) is striking, since it signifies a decrease in brain volume, which is at least ten times the average decrease of around 2.5 ml per year in healthy adults (16). Moreover, please note that consistent with the findings in the young adult control subjects of the present study, the longitudinal brain volume changes in young adults are normally small as compared with the older adults (17). The changes in total brain and hypothalamus volumes following cross-sex hormone treatment in the transsexuals were mirrored by changes in their third and lateral ventricle volumes, i.e. treatment with estrogens and anti-androgens in MFs increased third and lateral ventricle volumes, whereas treatment with androgens decreased the third and lateral ventricle volumes in FMs. This suggests that the total brain volume changes are at least in part due to changes in medial brain structures surrounding these ventricles (including, but not limited to, the hypothalamus, which lies in close proximity to the third ventricle). Considering that the effects were not specific for gray (neurons, glia) or white (myelinated axonal fibers) matter suggests that both alterations in nerve cells as well as in axonal fibers may be implicated in the anatomical brain changes following cross-sex hormone treatment in humans. It is not surprising that the influences of sex hormones on the brain were not limited to the hypothalamus, but were also expressed as changes in total brain size. Estrogen and androgen receptor mRNA containing neurons are not limited to the hypothalamus, but are distributed throughout the adult human brain. (emphasis added)

    So you see direct observation of the brains MtF and FtM transsexuals reveals a number of things. 

    The brains as cat scanned were NOT totally 100% female in MtF's or vice versa in ftM's prior to hormone treatment.
    The brains changed to become more like the sex of the hormones that were administered.  Not only in terms of size but of structure and function. 

    If one couples those two things with the fact that as Simon LeVay and others have found the brains of homosexual males are different from those of straight males and more like those of straight females it's almost a no brainer that transsexuals with different sexual backgrounds will behave and think somewhat differently from eachother and differently from natal males and females.


    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    For someone who doesn't buy into the gender binary, you like to use words like 100% female and male just a tad, eh? :)

    "However our DNA dictates how it will devlope. If you have a Y chromosome you have a brain that was to have devloped as a male brain IF something did not happend to interrrupt that devlopement. Thus creating a male brain modified with some female features."

    If it is interrupted, how then is it "male"? If genetics can be described as potential, and that potential never manifested, it would seem to give undue preference to events that never happened over the physical specimen as actually observed in labeling it as "male". Is it useful to label an organ based on something it isn't, rather than what it is? This strikes me as culturally biased, as this society places inordinate weight on "god's intent" and describes variations as "defects". It is also typical of medical sexism, which describes women in terms of partial (or defective) manhood.

    Do you have the link to the abstract of that paper? It would be interesting to compare their conclusions to Zhou and Swaab. There are many more papers that just these however, as neurology seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. In particular I'd like to see how they exclude the brain(s) of those who were not administered hormones.

    On the topic of studying human subjects, I feel a certain amount of trepidation- especially minority groups. I question WHY a person is so interested in studying the minority; often the minority isn't asking for it. And I question the need to study any minority whatsoever. It is especially important to scrutinize the social scientist who may have influence over that minority's status, because lives could be at stake depending on the outcome.

    Mainly though, I was just curious why you don't embrace the term woman. It seems you fit all the criteria, but you never seem to say "I am a woman" in your writing.

    Here is what you wanted Saghani.  For convenience I'll give you the whole abstract.  Where I can I like to provide links to full text.  The address to the article is provided you'll have to copy+ paste it.

    Changing your sex changes your brain: influences of testosterone and estrogen on adult human brain structure
    Hilleke E Hulshoff Pol, Peggy T Cohen-Kettenis1, Neeltje E M Van Haren, Jiska S Peper, Rachel G H Brans, Wiepke Cahn, Hugo G Schnack, Louis J G Gooren2 and René S Kahn

    (Correspondence should be addressed to H E Hulshoff Pol; Email: h.e.hulshoff at


    Objective: Sex hormones are not only involved in the formation of reproductive organs, but also induce sexually-dimorphic brain development and organization. Cross-sex hormone administration to transsexuals provides a unique possibility to study the effects of sex steroids on brain morphology in young adulthood.

    Methods: Magnetic resonance brain images were made prior to, and during, cross-sex hormone treatment to study the influence of anti-androgen + estrogen treatment on brain morphology in eight young adult male-to-female transsexual human subjects and of androgen treatment in six female-to-male transsexuals.

    Results: Compared with controls, anti-androgen + estrogen treatment decreased brain volumes of male-to-female subjects towards female proportions, while androgen treatment in female-to-male subjects increased total brain and hypothalamus volumes towards male proportions.

    Conclusions: The findings suggest that, throughout life, gonadal hormones remain essential for maintaining aspects of sex-specific differences in the human brain.

    So basically any study done on the brains of post operative, or even post hormonal transsexuals cannot be taken as indicative of prenatal effects.   Then consider the following study done on homosexual males.

    A Difference in Hypothalmic Structure Between Heterosexual and Homosexual Men
    Simon LeVay

    The anterior hypothalmus of the brain participates in the regulation of male-typical sexual behavior. The volumes of four cell groups in this region [interstitial nuclei of the anterior hypothalmus (INAH) 1, 2, 3, and 4] were measured in postmortem tissue from three subject groups: women, men who were presumed to be heterosexual, and homosexual men. No differences were found between the groups in the volumes of INAH 1, 2, or 4. As has been reported previously, INAH 3 was more than twice as large in the heterosexual men as in the women. It was also, however, more than twice as large in the heterosexual men as in the homosexual men. This finding indicates that INAH is dimorphic with sexual orientation, at least in men, and suggests that sexual orientation has a biological substrate.

    Taken together those two results would indicated that transsexuals have brains that start out at male proportions then are altered by hormones to reach female proportions. Not just in overall volume either. The volume of the hypothalamus was measured by these non destructive means and found to have changed due to hormone treatment. Schwab measured neuron number, it is not unreasonable that unless neuron's would shrink dramatically that the number of neurons changed. This evidence is merely suggestive but not a true observation that neuron number decreased. On balance these two pieces of data could support a Blancahrdian conclusion of two types of transsexual. One type starts out with a brain that we know is partially feminized before anything is done, the other starts out with a brain that is not. That holds until more recent data is considered.  Such as the following.

    Brain response to putative pheromones in homosexual men

    1. Ivanka Savic*,†,‡,2. Hans Berglund§, and3. Per Lindström*


    The testosterone derivative 4,16-androstadien-3-one (AND) and the estrogen-like steroid estra-1,3,5(10),16-tetraen-3-ol (EST) are candidate compounds for human pheromones. AND is detected primarily in male sweat, whereas EST has been found in female urine. In a previous positron emission tomography study, we found that smelling AND and EST activated regions covering sexually dimorphic nuclei of the anterior hypothalamus, and that this activation was differentiated with respect to sex and compound. In the present study, the pattern of activation induced by AND and EST was compared among homosexual men, heterosexual men, and heterosexual women. In contrast to heterosexual men, and in congruence with heterosexual women, homosexual men displayed hypothalamic activation in response to AND. Maximal activation was observed in the medial preoptic area/anterior hypothalamus, which, according to animal studies, is highly involved in sexual behavior. As opposed to putative pheromones, common odors were processed similarly in all three groups of subjects and engaged only the olfactory brain (amygdala, piriform, orbitofrontal, and insular cortex). These findings show that our brain reacts differently to the two putative pheromones compared with common odors, and suggest a link between sexual orientation and hypothalamic neuronal processes.

    AND IMPORTANTLY something I wrote to the team that did the research above and suggested that they do. (Though this could have been underway when I emailed them).

    Male-to-Female Transsexuals Show Sex-Atypical Hypothalamus Activation When Smelling Odorous Steroids.
    H. Berglund1, P. Lindström2, C. Dhejne-Helmy3 and I. Savic2

    Address correspondence to Ivanka Savic, Email: ivanka.savic-berglund at

    One working hypothesis behind transsexuality is that the normal sex differentiation of certain hypothalamic networks is altered. We tested this hypothesis by investigating the pattern of cerebral activation in 12 nonhomosexual male-to-female transsexuals (MFTRs) when smelling 4,16-androstadien-3-one (AND) and estra-1,3,5(10),16-tetraen-3-ol (EST). These steroids are reported to activate the hypothalamic networks in a sex-differentiated way. Like in female controls the hypothalamus in MFTRs activated with AND, whereas smelling of EST engaged the amygdala and piriform cortex. Male controls, on the other hand, activated the hypothalamus with EST. However, when restricting the volume of interest to the hypothalamus activation was detected in MFTR also with EST, and explorative conjunctional analysis revealed that MFTR shared a hypothalamic cluster with women when smelling AND, and with men when smelling EST. Because the EST effect was limited, MFTR differed significantly only from male controls, and only for EST-AIR and EST-AND. These data suggest a pattern of activation away from the biological sex, occupying an intermediate position with predominantly female-like features. Because our MFTRs were nonhomosexual, the results are unlikely to be an effect of sexual practice. Instead, the data implicate that transsexuality may be associated with sex-atypical physiological responses in specific hypothalamic circuits, possibly as a consequence of a variant neuronal differentiation.

    Looking at all of this data there are a few key conclusions.

    Homosexual and heterosexual males brains differ in that a part, the INAH, in homosexual males is of proportions similar to those of a heterosexual female.

    non-homosexual transsexuals process the androgenic pheromone in a way that is the same as or simmilar to that of heterosexual females, which is also inline with the results of a study done on homosexual women. In other words they processed the pheromone just the same way lesbians did. The same as all other women.

    One can infer from the data that homosexual transsexuals (used by me to mean attracted to men) have BOTH the inah difference, and the difference that makes a transsexual a transsexual. However it would be nice if Savic et al could do this same study with homosexual transsexuals. It seems in the case that the lack of any homosexual transsexuals was due to their not finding any who reported being sexually active and either exclusively (kinsey 6) or predominantly (kinsey 5) homosexual.  Though I would really like to see what results a study like this would get about homosexual transsexuals. 

    This to me makes allot of sense. The observations made by people like Blanchard cannot be denied. There are palpable differences between transsexuals of homosexual history, and transsexuals of heterosexual history. I have never been comfortable with the notion that those difference are in one case due to paraphllic perversion. If they are instead due primarily to what Savic called "cerebral programming" that would make much more sense to me. I recently reviewed a book on my blog and laid into it for its focus on Autogynephilia and giving the same spiel we have heard before yet again. I really wish someone besides me would point out what I just have. Because when you are like me. A transsexual who would have to rate at least 5.9 on the kinsey scale. (two or three hundred sexual experiences with men and just two with women, what'd ya call that?)  Relatively young and non-white, the ears of the powers that be in the transsexual community close. What I have provided here is what Julia Serano once called an alternative to Blanchard's theory of Autogynephilia. The well is just so poisoned no one will listen.  If you are like me and say anything less than resoundingly negative about the whole field of sexology you will be personally attacked in numerous ways.

    I don't refer to myself as a woman in these writings on science blogging because either A. I am writing about things other than myself and my sex/gender is really totally irrelevant, or B.) I am writing about transsexuality and I am not ashamed of calling myself a transsexual woman in those context.  C.) I see gender differently than the majority in this society it is a spectrum on which I am just in the middle of the side opposite to what my genitals say I should be.
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.
    Just to put my money where my mouth is about the freedom to link to whatever you want on the Internet without fear of lawsuit.  I will not sue Dr. Conway for linking to this.  What I will do is sue the owners of the website who published it for a number of reasons.  For violating my copyrights to my photo's.  For lible, and for slander. First things first.  

    "Hontas Farmer File:Background information and links to evidence Rebuttal."
    Science advances as much by mistakes as by plans.