BRAIN SEX

Diane Pritchatt diane at bnclib.demon.co.uk
Mon Sep 8 03:34:47 EST 1997


In article <01bcba92$10f03320$a4ab41ce at default>, Scott
<sfelder at nortexinfo.net> writes
>Thank you for your reply, Diane.
>I have found this book, "Brain Sex", to be a fascinating read.
>The book was originally published in England so it's not well known here in
>the states.
>
>I have to admit that this book has convinced me there are innate
>differences between the male and female brain at birth. When friends
>challenge me and say something like "You mean you don't think that the
>differences are due to our socialization or how you are raised"? I usually
>respond with these questions: "How many women have you heard during your
>lifetime with  stuttering speech? If there are *no* innate differences, how
>is society socializing some males to stutter or have slurred speech? Why
>are  these speech problems almost nonexistent in females? Do you think that
>homosexuality is a *choice* or something someone is  *born* with?" They
>usually respond with "they are born with this preference." Then my reply is
>"If there are no differences at birth, why do male homosexuals out number
>female homosexual by something like 4 or 5 to one."
>
>On September 3 here in the U.S. ABC's nation wide program "PRIMETIME LIVE" 
>had a topic about babies born with ambiguous genitalia (the doctors at
>first sight could not tell the sex of the children). Diane Sawyer asked
>"are the doctors playing god?" Many times in the past when a baby was born
>with this defect, the specialist recommended reconstructive surgery to the
>parents. Even if the baby is genetically a boy with XY genes, many times
>the child is given a physical sex change to a female because the surgery is
>simpler to do (less complications, I assume. The show didn't point this
>out). It was just assumed that you could raise the child to be female and
>she would adjust psychologically. After all the popular belief is the
>gender in our brains is due to socialization and parenting, isn't it?  
>
>    The show profiled two cases. One was a toddler who is genetically a
>male but changed to a female and is now being raised as a girl. They showed
>her playing in a room with some toys. The researcher (I believe a
>neurologist, I don't recall) said that she was doing typical boy play. She
>was playing with the army men and hadn't taken any notice to the dolls.
>Something else I noticed, but wasn't mentioned, was that the blocks she was
>playing with were stacked to a near toppling hight. In their book, Moir and
>Jessel reported that boys usually stack their blocks to those hights while
>girls make long low structures with their blocks (coincidence? maybe, maybe
>not).
>
>The other case goes back to the 1970's. A set of genetic twins were born,
>one a normal boy the other with ambiguous genitalia. It was decided to
>change the one with the ambiguity into a female and raise her as a girl. No
>one knew this girl was a genetic twin to the other. This case became a
>great opportunity for sociology and psychology to study weather gender in
>the brain is socialized or innate (and for social engineers to prove gender
>behavior is strictly socialized). So there were follow-up social studies
>reported in journals on these twins to see how they were developing as they
>aged. But as Sawyer reported the studies seemed to fade away and the case
>was forgotten. PRIMETIME tracked down this twin who is know an adult and
>interviewed him ( notice is said "him"). He described himself as never
>feeling right about who he was. That when he was 9 years old he had what he
>described as a nervous breakdown. He found himself huddled and trembling
>corner of his room . He knew things weren't right about himself. When he
>was 14 he himself declared that he was not a "girl", that he was a "boy".
>He quit taking the female hormones he was being given and change his
>appearance. He has sense undergone what he described as "several painful
>reconstructive surgeries". He is now married to a woman and has adopted
>children ( he can't father children due to the surgery after birth).
>
>As he said in the interview what gave *them* the right to do this
>experiment on him and, that their experiment "was a complete failure", ?
>
>PRIMETIME said they were going to do more follow-ups on this subject in the
>weeks ahead.
>
>Like I asked before, if these differences between the male and female brain
>are real, why does the public pretend, socially, that they don't exist?
>What benefit is it to us? Is it equality? As Moir and Jessel beg the
>question: "equality in regards to what?" You're not talking about
>perpetuating sexism or glass ceilings. You're talking about admitting
>biology. About admitting "truth". 
>
>A lot of times when you bring this subject up, you feel like you get an
>idea what it may have been like for Galileo trying to convince the church
>that the Earth actually orbits the Sun
>
>Scott
>
Oh Scott, I find this really awful.  I have known that the problem of
ambiguous genitalia existed, but with so many other things going on,
never though about it in depth.

The fact that we now have ways of determining genetic make up of
individuals should surely help doctors to make better decisions, I hope.
But the subject must be aired enough to make sure that the public know
and want things to be done right in the future.

I expect in many cases the doctors had a tough time deciding what to do
in the past - especially if there were no real precedents.  They might
have had to think about the parents, and also the children, because
leaving them in an 'abnormal' state could in itself have been
psychologically damaging, I imagine.  When these children met others of
their own age, they would be wondering why they were different, and
children are very cruel, and will reject anyone who seems 'different' to
them.  (I think nearly all of us have been the subject of a bully at
some time in our life).
-- 
Diane Pritchatt



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