Sunday, 28 July 2013

All Men Are Rapists, And That's All We Are

It's a hard truth to face.  In the absence of access to women's experience, i err on the side of caution and choose the most extreme position in order to compensate for my lack of knowledge, so that's me.  I am a rapist and nothing else.

But how?  I have to take that on faith.  I am aware that rape is about power and therefore that the fact that my sexual desires for others are almost non-existent is irrelevant.  Also, taking this on faith, it might be thought that i should escape my gender in order to assuage for my essence as a rapist, but that's also a form of rape, according to Janice Raymond.

Hence today's video:

Click to tweet: .  Thoughts about homophobia and transphobia.

So, as i say in the video, the appropriate response to what i have to assume is so, is suicide, it seems to me.  This is, however, odd, because my suicide might serve as an example to my daughter and would lead to an absent parent, so i can't see that it would help.

The problem is, of course, that women have no duty to explain that statement, so i have no right to ask them to, and i'm left with an unresolvable mystery.  I really wish someone would though.

However, turn this round.  My approach to my gender dysphoria is that being male is an incurable disease, but in an ideal world i would be happily male, but how can i be happily male if i'm essentially a rapist?  I feel very negative about the fact that i feel negative about being male and it expresses itself in various ways, including sympathy with Janice Raymond's views.  Incidentally, whereas she has been accused of "transphobia", i remember her book as being remarkably sympathetic and positive, particularly the afterword.  But, what if i were gay and felt as negative about my sexual orientation as i now feel about being male?  It seems to me that that would make me homophobic.  I would probably feel the Westboro Baptist Church had got it about right.  From my current heterosexually-oriented asexual perspective, i am opposed to my own homophobia.  However, take that slight leaning towards heterosexuality away and make me gay, and it would become part of my self-hatred.  Doesn't sound good, does it?

The other aspect of this is whether transphobia exists.  It's impossible for reverse sexism to exist.  Someone might have a fear of, aha, i know, school, but there's no such thing as "school phobia" because that's a rational response to the institution of school.  Of course, the word "phobia" has a slightly different meaning here, but opposition to gender reassignment is not necessarily transphobia for various reasons.  However, making that kind of statement would be crossing a line, because it's judgemental.  So i can think what i like about transphobia being impossible, but still have no business imposing that view on anyone else.  So it's "no uterus, no opinion" all over again.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

No uterus, no opinion

I agree with this.  However, i agree with the spirit not the letter, because there are very occasionally abdominal pregnancies and these have even occurred without there being any uterus at all, and some people have, well, let's say, surprisingly turned out to have a uterus.  These people are not entitled to an opinion either because they and everyone else have assumed themselves not to be in possession of one, and that's part of the point, but not all of it.

The real point is a little bit harder to state in detail although the soundbite is good.  I think of it as follows, and this is itself sloppy:  if you are not female, you have no right to an opinion on reproductive rights.  Some people argue that this does not apply because we have all been born.  That's not actually so, come to think of it, but that's not something upon which i can dilate appropriately.  These people are of course wrong.

The problem, of course, is:  what does female mean? People who are sterile don't generally realise they are at first, and therefore are accustomed to putting themselves in the position of the potentiality for one of the alternatives for parenthood available to us as humans.  Most of them are not likely to take the third option seriously because they would be widely considered to be psychotic if they did, and of course i'm not going there myself either.

Focus, focus, focus!

A woman is an adult human who has been predominantly viewed as female through her formative years.  A man is an adult human who has been predominantly viewed as male through his formative years.  Although there are intersex states, most of these in fact fall into one or other of these categories beyond the control of the person who has them.  There are no other options in this culture although there are sometimes options in other cultures in this respect, e.g. berdache.  However, as Anglo-Saxons we are unable to avail ourselves of these options without being offensively racist and appropriating inappropriately, so don't do it!

Merely having endometrial tissue does not count as having a uterus, particularly if it's scattered over a wide area in little bits and has never actually proliferated.  That's true anatomically as well as politically.  However, i would also observe that perhaps some people do in fact have no uterus but both endometrial tissue and opinions on abortion, even if they choose to keep them quiet and have no right to them, and that such people might hint that that is in fact the case.  However, such people should probably leave stupid game-playing behind.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

So How Does This Work Then?

A number of things about this (of course):

  • There's a piece of bluish-looking fluff on the right of the picture, so now we know how it happens.
  • I haven't shaved it very well, have i?  I'll try again tomorrow.
  • It looks a bit like an eye.
And so on.

To be honest, it is actually really interesting!  Oh dear.

Enough of this.  So, whereas yesterday's video showed me chickening out of taking a blood sample, i was able to get some white cells together a few minutes later and look at them, and, well, there were the "drumsticks".  Now i could get hung up on wondering whether they were really there, whether i should trust my own judgement, whether i was seeing what i wanted to see or whatever but honestly, i tried my hardest to be neutral and calm about it and honestly, that is almost certainly what i saw.

Should i bother to explain this?  OK.

Biologically female human cells, of course, have a pair of X chromosomes.  However, one of the pair is inactivated in each cell, although sometimes it's the mother's and sometimes the father's.  The cells then replicate and cluster together in little patches consisting of cells with matching active X chromosomes.  Therefore women and girls are mosaics of regions of tissue, except where that tissue is liquid such as blood or lymph, which have either one or the other X chromosome active and the other inactive.  On the other hand, their blood is a mixture of the two because it's liquid and, whereas it may have originated from a mosaic of bone marrow, the cells and corpuscles are mixed together.  The reason one is inactivated is that two active X chromosomes are lethal:  two sets of genes of the kind on the X chromosome produce too much of their proteins to produce a viable cell.  The other X chromosome becomes a Barr body, which can be seen through a light microscope.  It's particularly visible on the white cells known as neutrophils, where it forms a "drumstick" on the nucleus.  Since i haven't found a public domain picture, here's a drawing:

I looked at my neutrophils yesterday and some of them have Barr bodies.  Therefore, those ones are from a female cell line.  One from a male cell line might look like this:

In other words, no drumstick because it needs its only X chromosome.  Same applies to Turner's people, who have one X chromosome and nothing else (apart from all the non-sex chromosomes).  So, in other words, my body contains female cell lines as well as male ones.

This could be trivial.  For instance, presumably a lot of mothers with sons have male cell lines from their boy children, which allegedly causes autoimmune disease (and the daughters, naturally).  I shall now gloss over the thing i'm not going to say.

Right, so suppose for some reason having these XX cell lines makes a difference to me.  They were dead easy to find, incidentally - took me about ten seconds to spot one, so there must be a lot of them.  Hmm, occurs to me now there's a lot i can't say.  Anyway, given that, how the heck am i supposed to intuit that there's something up?  Why would that mean that it's more natural to me to do culturally-determined feminine things than culturally-determined masculine things?  That makes no sense to me.  My brain is presumably in any case masculinised by masses of testosterone even if every cell in it is XX, so it seems not to be connected to that.  However, i do have a weird suggestion (of course):

This reminds me of two things:  organ transplants and somatoparaphrenia.  In a sense, i have possibly had a brain transplant, but in utero, so there are no experiences or personality traits as such carried over because it just is my brain, which had all the experiences i would've had anyway, but transplant organs allegedly, and probably combined with a lot of projection and rationalisation, carry over the personality traits of the donor.  Well, in this case the donor is "someone" i choose to call Amanda, who was never born, so what am i doing?  Living her life for her?  I suppose i might be doing that in a psychoanalytical sort of way, so it needn't be literally supernatural.  Then again, maybe she's living my life.  Maybe she's typing these words, or rather, making my hands type these words.

Which brings me to somatoparaphrenia.  This is something i can very, very slightly relate to as, though it's not important, the left side of my body feels very slightly more like mine than the right even though i'm right-handed, but i wouldn't want to over-emphasise it.  Somatoparaphrenia is the belief that parts of your body don't belong to you.  Apparently most people don't feel that.  The interesting thing about somatoparaphrenia is that it's not psychiatric but neurological but seems to be caused by brain damage.  That may be a subtle distinction.  My point, though, is that maybe there's a discrepancy of some kind between the brain and the rest of the body which is manifested in a similar way, because most gender dysphoric people do report that their entire body doesn't belong to them.  Male gender dysphorics also fail to experience a phantom penis.  I am now tempted to provide you with Too Much Information.

Click to tweet: . This is purely and simply a video about giving up smoking, done as an interview between me and Sarada about how she gave up tobacco.

Monday, 22 July 2013


This could've been better:

Click to tweet: . In which i fail to take a blood sample because i'm a wuss, but salvage the video anyway, i hope. If you want to take a blood film, you need a drop of dilute citric acid in salt solution, two microscope slides and some blood. Take a drop of blood and place it in the drop of solution, which is anticoagulant because it mops up calcium ions, on the slide, then scrape the edge of the other slide across and place a coverslip on top. It should then be possible to observe it under a microscope.

There are three main types of cells in blood: red blood corpuscles or erythrocytes, white blood cells or leucocytes, and platelets. Red blood corpuscles carry oxygen and carbon dioxide and either take it up or give it up, and are not actually cells - their insides do not contain the likes of nuclei. White blood corpuscles defend the body against perceived threats. Platelets are partly responsible for blood clotting and are fragments of cells called megacaryocytes.

This video didn't go according to plan, but i'm trying to salvage something from it.

I was of course looking for Barr bodies.  Later on, i finally managed to get a sample and may have found them.  This brings up a different issue than the actual question of the bodies themselves, which is:  how do you know when you're seeing patterns where there are none?  However, since this is piling uncertainty on top of uncertainty, i'm just going to decide that they're there, because i saw small things sticking out of much larger irregular nuclei, but not all of them, and i could go on vacillating about whether that's what they were or not, but for the sake of my sanity i'm just going to jump to an opinion and say i saw them.

So, i finally told Sarada.  I won't say more than that except that it went well.  It also means i can now start talking to other people about it and won't get caught in the same kind of awkward situations i have been, but in whole new awkward situations, which will at least make a change.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

"Transgender" And The Mid-Life Crisis

OK, i know i'm going on and on about this and i will do other stuff, but here's me doing that again:

Click to tweet: . To some extent, this entire process is a fixation, so i won't be posting this on Facebook. I definitely need to get out of myself more and look outward, but part of reaching that point is to do this.

There was literally no video yesterday for the first time since theintrostealer went to college, mainly because i was tired. Whereas i normally make religious videos for Sundays, i decided to talk about this instead. The reason i started making YouTube videos was to prevent the empty nest syndrome from developing. I think i'm trying to continue a nurturing role with the children having become more independent and having the college take over their formal education. After a few months, i decided to make the April Fool fake pregnancy video and in order to do that, i decided to take female hormonal herbs and fill my belly with air. Ironically, the hormones themselves have reduced my motivation for making the videos, which might also explain the gap). What i found, however, was that when i started to take the hormonal herbs, it was like some amazing revelation, like when i put glasses on for the first time and realised what i'd been missing, because it didn't feel like i was taking a drug at all but more like filling a need i'd always had. I have in fact used phytoestrogens before, but they've always been weak or negative herbs (herbs which work as a whole even though each constituent has no apparent relevant action). There is also a clear parallel between an "empty" belly (i.e. one full of air rather than a foetus) and the empty nest.

So, what i think has happened is that my mid-life crisis is to do with gender. I have basically decided to reject my masculinity, which is helped along by the testosterone decline ("andropause"), so instead of buying a sports car or having masses of affairs, for me it's an opportunity to become more feminine.

There is, incidentally, something i'm avoiding talking about in all this, but i can't do that without upsetting people, so i don't.

Yeah, that last point right now is an unscratchable itch.  I really, really should take a blood sample but the microscopes are - well, somewhere.  The one i have is   Anyway, along the lines of the less testosterone action the better, surely that means the andropause is a good thing?  There's presumably a decline in oestrogen action too, but from my perspective it seems to mean it'll get slightly better as i get older, and this has never occurred to me before.

I wonder, though, if this idea would appeal to men in general.  Rather than there being a crisis of masculinity as such, there's a crisis of youth.  As men age, they back out of masculinity and become more hormonally feminised, so they no longer have a crisis on their hands.

I actually skipped a video yesterday for the first time since i started doing this.  I'm also procrastinating on the cell video to some extent because i want it to be good, and the Turing Test is also on the to-do list.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Why I Am Not My Brain

The mind-body problem is probably the most important issue in the philosophy of mind.  It attempts to account for the existence of consciousness and dates back centuries or millenia.  In its time, it's taken the form of psychophysical dualism - the idea that the soul is of one substance and the body another, which introduces the problem of how they would interact - behaviourism - the idea that mental states are nothing but what can be observed by others in principle - functionalism - the subject of an upcoming video but basically the idea that we are networks of computer-like components - and anomalous monism - the idea that there is a physical state for every state of mind but that there is no law-like relationship between them.  There are a number of other attempts to solve the mind-body problem, including one which has been popular for the duration of the industrial era, namely physicalism.

I have no intention of criticising physicalism here, although it's not what i believe for complicated and irrelevant reasons, but every intention of criticising the commonly-stated adage used to sum it up:  "I am my brain".  I think that's from Thomas Nagel, incidentally.  Well, I am not my brain at all, and here's an explanation why.

My brain is clearly vital to my self-awareness and self-identity, though less so to my awareness and identity.  The reason i say that is that my brain is a lump of neurones interacting with each other via neurotransmitters and action potentials, supported by the 90% of non-neuronal cells making it up and so forth, but although there is a blood-brain barrier, the "border" of the brain which is fairly firmly policed, there are plenty of other cells in the nervous system.  If i was my brain, where does my brain end?  Is it at the medulla oblongata?  Does it include the whole of the spinal cord?  Am i less than my whole brain?  Why not include the autonomic nervous system, responsible for fear, panic and calm?  Why is it more important that depression is related to serotonin levels than oxygen supply, blood glucose levels and via those, insulin levels, and the like?  Why is adrenalin secreted by a neurone part of me but not adrenalin secreted by my adrenal medulla?  Why are the steroid hormones related to my sex drive not also part of my identity?

Before i move on to the next bit, here's a thought experiment, explored in the past by Robert A Heinlein in 'I Will Fear No Evil'.  A man has his brain transplanted successfully into the body of his literally brain-dead female secretary and the resultant person becomes attracted to men.  I think this is entirely feasible, although i'm not sure about the idea of sex hormones doing it because - well, ich muss schweigen.  However, clearly a brain transplanted into a person with the bowels of mercy, or maybe just nervous diarrhoea (and let's face it, who wouldn't have nervous diarrhoea at the prospect of a brain transplant?), would involve the formation of a new identity inside and out.

And out:  We are not our bodies any more than we're our brains, not because physicalism isn't true but because we are social beings perceived to be various things by other people and we can't escape that.  This brings me to my main point.  It has now been borne in upon me that for whatever reason, most of the cells in my brain are XX rather than XY and that its structure and size are accordingly more like a typically female brain than a male one, but it's sitting there in a male head with a male endocrine environment with a load of people perceiving the body it's in, including itself as it happens, as male, so it really is male.

Just thought it was a neat illustration of why "I am my brain" is completely wrong.

Monday, 15 July 2013


Another Greek title.  Anyway, let's get this out of the way:

Click to tweet: . I've postponed today's planned video, which was going to be on cells, because we're boycotting Facebook today. I'll say something about that below.

No infringement of intellectual property is intended in this post and all trademarks remain the property of their respective owners.

In the meantime, the reason i'm boycotting FB is their continued banning of breastfeeding pics. This would be less hypocritical were it not for the fact that plenty of erotic pictures of breasts appear on Facebook without being challenged. Clearly breasts have more than one function, considered biologically, since it's true that they are very likely to be perceived as secondary sexual characteristics and therefore fetishised sexually, but it still makes sense to see their primary biological function as the production of milk for children. As such, this should be encouraged because of its immune system, bonding and nutritional functions, and the idea of breasts as sexual needs to be reduced. In fact, i strongly suspect that breasts are fetishised precisely because of the deprecation of breastfeeding.

The problem with boycotting, of course, is that it looks like a pointless gesture, and also hypocritical because of course, as of tomorrow i'll be going back to Facebook. This suggests that i care enough to boycott it for one day but not enough to achieve a difference by boycotting it until the problem is resolved. The answer to this is that i'm boycotting Facebook in order to express my opposition, not because i expect them to change, and that expression is an emotional thing and nothing to do with achieving a concrete result. I am under no illusions that they will ever listen or respond, and i'm making a big enough effort elsewhere by trying to get myself to lactate, which in the long run would make a bigger difference than Facebook changing that policy and in any case ultimately lead to that changing anyway.

Anyway, cells tomorrow!

So no, i haven't made the cells video yet because i realised there was no point until i got back onto FB, so instead here's a video about why i'm not on Facebook today.  In fact there might have been some point because it's possible i could've generated some interest elsewhere but i wouldn't hold my breath and if i can manage that by posting it there as well, it's better to combine the two.

It occurred to me yesterday that there was in fact a way in which someone could have two physical sexes which could apply to me but almost certainly doesn't:  chimerism.  No, not one of these:

(Image will be removed on request and is from here), nor one of these, taken by Linda Snook:

but one of these:

I've alluded to this before.

In genetics, a chimera is an individual organism containing material from two or more separate cell lines.  The diagram above indicates that during pregnancy, cells from the foetus enter the mother's body and vice versa.  Many people are in fact chimeras for various reasons.  Firstly, the mother's cells may enter the foetus, a situation which potentially applies to everyone alive today, so anyone can be, and possibly even is, a chimera (why am i writing this?  Ah, who cares, i am!).  Secondly, as illustrated above, the foetal cells can colonise the mother's body, which is potentially a good thing but may provoke autoimmune disease because they're foreign cells.  Thirdly, a missing twin situation may develop as a result of one embryo being absorbed by another.  Finally, and this is what i currently suspect although it's quite convoluted, there's a more complicated scenario where foetal cells enter the mother, the mother becomes pregnant again and a few of those foetal cells end up in the next foetus.  I think this might particularly be the case with something like a miscarriage or careless abortion because from the perspective of the genome of a miscarried embryo, recolonising a foetus maximises the probability of replication.  All this is of course way down the road from my initial thoughts.

So, it occurs to me that it is in fact possible for someone to be a chimera of both female and male tissues.  This happens sometimes, for instance there's a case of a child with a testicle on one side and a fallopian tube and ovary on the other side.  There are also people with eyes like this:

(guess who this is incidentally).  This woman is a chimera (snigger!  No, no, she's fine, she's just histologically interesting).  There is a hypothesis that some gender dysphoric people might be chimeras, and in fact this is a way in which there could be a biological basis for the situation although it depends rather heavily on evolutionary psychology in my opinion.

One of the interesting things about this is that it can be corroborated, theoretically, maybe even by myself.  If it was completely pervasive, or the right bits were affected, it would show up in a blood sample.  Female human cells have only one active X chromosome.  The other(s) become(s) a "Barr body", which is a small, shrivelled version of the X chromosome near the centromere.  These can be seen under a sufficiently powerful light microscope.  If a blood sample were taken, mixed with citric acid to prevent coagulation (which depends on calcium ions which would form calcium citrate in such a situation), centrifuged to separate the white cells and the white cells were then examined, a male chimera with female cells might be detectable, depending on the type of chimerism.  In other words, he would have partly female blood.  However, only corroboration is possible because if the bone marrow wasn't affected he would just have male blood, and the significant thing, supposedly, is the brain.  However, a male with a female brain would rarely or never get headaches because his brain would be smaller, and i'm thinking (presumably incorrectly because it doesn't work that way hormonally) that he would also have a patchy beard.

However, i do realise that i'm just looking for clues here and probably seeing patterns which aren't there.  Also, this is very biologically deterministic.

Tomorrow, cells (in a different way).

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Ifesto

Hephaestus, also known as Ifestos apparently, was crippled for trying to save his mother from being raped by Zeus.  This is a bit similar, but i can't really talk about that.  Here's another myth for you all, or is it?

In honour of the dead baby whom i carry inside my body and the only surviving part of that potential person, a dead baby whose sex is unknown but which would presumably show up in a tissue sample, which however will probably never be taken, i present this ifesto:

On (13774) (decimal), i made this video:

This proved to be so popular that i decided to start a whole channel devoted to it, starting with this video:

This was when i started taking gynaecological herbs this time (i've done it before for various lengths of time) and i proceeded to experiment until i got to ones which didn't make me hurl, and were strongly phytoestrogenic.  I haven't done a pregnancy vlog in quite a while now, partly because the drive to doing them seems to be undermined by the herbs themselves, which is interesting.

Anyway, this is how it started.  Once i got onto Trifolium pratense, well, how shall i put it, it felt like i'd found the thing i never knew i was missing all my life.  I mean it.  It was like putting glasses on after not being able to see properly.  Clearly, it could be psychosomatic or placebo, or more like a drug addiction, such as to caffeine, than a vitamin, and it could all be in my head.  Hence this "ifesto".

It's not clear what's happening, but at that point something changed psychologically for me.  I would say that regardless of the reasons for this change, there has been one, for whatever reason, and i need to draw a line under my old personality, though i am of course the same person, and work out what the features of the new one are, or could be.  I am also saying that this is in no way how i think women generally feel or behave, just how i do, and it may change.  Also, it's probably a load of positives at the moment, but that's how i feel.

I seem to be more aware of dominance struggles, or rather i perceive them (maybe they're imaginary), and more profoundly affected by them, feeling a need to retreat.  Less obsessive, less compulsive, less driven, less depressive (!), less aggressive, more emotionally open, profoundly interested in people and their interactions, and "switched over" from the ostensible content of conflict to the dynamics of the content itself, more prepared to listen, calmer, more contented.  However, definitely still male.

Whereas all this may be in my imagination, or rather, the result of a merely symbolic ritual, at the same time that list of characteristics seems something worth encouraging in myself, so i decide to define myself in this way, along with all the other things i still am.

That's what i mean by the "ifesto", and yes, navel-gazing aplenty is rife here, but this is a second adolescence, and that's what adolescents do, isn't it?

I realise this isn't a massive long thing, but it needs to be quite open and vague to work.  Two things that surprised me:

  • The dominance thing is definitely there and i never would've guessed that existed before, but i can feel it really strongly.  That suggests that this is a real pharmacodynamic psychological change of a somewhat disturbing nature.  It's a real eye-opener.
  • The really powerful feeling that this stuff is what i've been missing all this time, and in spite of my scepticism and construction of gender dysphoria as being anti-feminist, there really does seem to be something there.  I have no idea what to make of that right now.
One more thing:  women don't just get oestrogen, and the imbalance that may have resulted from this means i'm constantly going in just one direction, whereas if there really are these influences on perception, emotion and cognition as i see them, they presumably get another side half of the time or something, and it might be a good idea to introduce Vitex (which i've also taken before, as an anaphrodisiac, and needs to be timed to the right point in a possibly non-existent menstrual cycle - i say "possibly" because i don't think it's totally inevitable that i haven't got some kind of cycle there.

So there you go, a blog entry with a difference, but presumably not one which is different enough to evoke anyone actually reading it.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Dead Babies

I have a horrible tendency to be callous about dead babies because there are so many of them in my personal life and i can't really talk about why without hurting people more, so i don't and then i freak people out when i come across as uncaring.  This issue has come up a lot.  The thing is, my past is typical of a person from before the twentieth century or outside the developed world because of this, but that doesn't give me any special status.  It just means that the death of children is a background to my whole life, and i need to be discreet about these things but can't always manage it.

So here's today's video, which refers obliquely to these particular skeletons in the cupboard:

Click to tweet: .  This is about two things, which is bad news of course, but both are connected with organ donation.  The first issue is the recent change in policy to an opt-out system and the added incentive of the willingness to donate bumping one up in the transplant list.  The problem with this is not so much unfairness, although i do think it is unfair, as providing an incentive based on self-interest to donate organs.  When this is done with blood, it leads to a reduction in quality of the blood supply.  I'm not sure how this would play out with organ donation, but am suspicious that it will have some kind of negative effect.

The other issue is the question of memory and personality traits being carried in organs.  This is where things slide off into insanity, but basically, it's claimed by some people that personality traits can be manifested by the recipients of organs.  Some of this is clearly explicable by transference in a psychodynamic sense but not the example i mention concerning the corneal transplant, which is also time-reversed.  However, there could be some explanation if it turns out some of the autonomic system has also been transferred - thrill-seeking behaviour or anxiety for instance.  

Another phenomenon which is currently occupying my mind is the transference of foetal material to the maternal brain and other parts of the body.  I seem to remember that this is two-way, so the next baby will contain cells from elder siblings.  If such siblings turn out to have died, or in fact never to have been born, the only surviving parts of their body will be in the surviving siblings, and that's really quite freaky, particularly in the light of the idea of personality transfer.  At this point i should probably stop talking!

OK, that sounds nuts, doesn't it?  I'm going to explain myself more clearly now, i hope.

Firstly, for whatever reason, transplant recipients sometimes report memories and acquire personality traits which seem to be from their dead donors.  Most of the time this can be made sense of in terms of either the recipient's imagination or perhaps the influence of the physiological functions of the organs such as the relative lability of the autonomic nervous system, but sometimes less explicable things happen.

So that's fact number 1.  Here's fact number 2 (ringing any bells that?):  maternal bodies contain cells from the foetuses they've carried.  Also, this is less clear in my mind and may just be wishful thinking.  I think some cells from older foetuses cross over into later foetal bodies.  Moreover, the maternal brain is "colonised" by foetal brain cells.  Put all this together and imagine this scenario.  A female foetus does not reach full term and dies.  Some of its cells have entered the mother's body.  That mother then goes on to conceive another child who does survive, and cells from that female foetus, perhaps brain cells, occupy that male foetus's brain, and also other organs.  That foetus survives to become a baby boy and grows up, but he finds himself wishing he was female.

I'm not saying anything else about that publicly.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013


OK, well i did this:

and then i did this:

Click to tweet: . In a previous video ( ), i described the reasons why, although i see myself as gender dysphoric, i don't see myself as a woman trapped in a man's body. It has recently occurred to me that there's another way of looking at it which, while not being exactly that, more closely describes how i see the problem. Before i describe this exactly, i want to say that i'm not going into the psychodynamic factors in my feelings, although that may come up at a later date.

Another aspect of this is that of judgementalism. I am not judging anyone else who does see themselves as a person of one sex trapped in the body of another, or anyone for being male and happy in that gender. I too would like to be happy being male and have tried to get to that for many years. However, since i'm now in my mid-forties and cannot for the life of me reach this point, i think it's time to give up.

So, the way i see things is: being male is, for me, an illness, a bit similar to a skin disease or a vitamin deficiency. From the hormonal perspective, vitamin D is a steroid hormone which also occurs in the diet. If your body isn't given sufficient exposure to sunlight and you don't eat foods high in vitamin D either, you will acquire a vitamin deficiency such as rickets or osteomalacia. Taking that a bit further, if your adrenals don't produce enough corticosteroids, foods high in similar substances, such as licorice, can be used to top them up.

Moreover, illnesses are socially defined. Someone might have what they see as a disfiguring birthmark on their face which would adversely affect their self-esteem and the way others perceive them while having no direct impact on their physical health. There are of course other skin conditions which have more profound effects on people's physical health as well. Furthermore, there is a strong social element of another kind in disease. Coeliacs would not exist in cultures which don't eat wheat and alcoholics in societies free of alcohol would possibly have another problem but wouldn't be alcoholics.

Therefore i maintain that rather than being a woman in a man's body, for me actually being male is a disease for me, and also an incurable one which can, however, be managed in various ways. I would like to be integrated with my body but since i've started taking the phytoestrogen, it feels like i've started to add the missing ingredient, like i've been missing a nutrient all these years and have finally found it. Nor is this just about physical appearance. The psychological influence of excess testosterone is also significant, i think. All this could of course be placebo, but even then i feel i've taken some control of the situation.

So, what i'm saying is that to me, it's an illness, and an incurable one, but i can manage it by taking oestrogen in the same way as i manage my poor eyesight by wearing glasses.

In the past few days, i've been provoking a little disapproval in the comments.  I consider this to be a good sign because it means i'm stirring up strong feelings rather than indifference.  There is also the usual failure to appreciate the significance of what herbalism is, but also a more salient point, viz:  i appear to be pushing myself away from equilibrium rather than towards it, which is how i interpret the reference to what i'm doing as being "not natural".  This is what Vanilla Rose warned me about, i think:  that this process is actually bad publicity for herbalism rather than good in some people's views.  The concept of nature needs to be analysed, as it happens, so i'll do that tomorrow.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Consult A Qualified Surreptician

I'm very used to having to sneak around and having to keep stuff secret because of who i am.  However, it's probably unnecessary because most of what most people do is ignored, possibly because we're all so wrapped up in ourselves.  Nonetheless i haven't posted the following video to Facebook at all, at least for now:

Click to tweet: .  I hesitated to upload this but here it is.  I'm working on lactation and am finally getting some help with it from other people - yay!  In the process of doing this, i'm taking oestrogen and have also now started using galactogogue herbs.  Anyway, this has led to some slight breast development, so i decided to see if i could fill a small bra.  I chose a T-shirt bra because of its adjustability.  It was also rather nerve-wracking to attempt this because i was afraid of being perceived as the wrong kind of pervert.  I have a couple of paraphilias but they don't include women's underwear, which strikes me as really creepy.

I may in fact have worn this inside out, but this is the first time i've ever worn a bra so it's understandable.  I found that the left cup was easy to fill - that's more or less entirely filled with my much larger left breast - but the right didn't quite make it.

The next stage, which i'm hoping to get help with, is to borrow a breast pump and try to stimulate the let-down reflex.

I really, fervently hope that my La Leche League contact comes up with the goods on the last point.  Otherwise i may be scuppered.  I can easily see her forgetting or something.  Here's hoping, anyway.

The weird thing about this is that although my mind is absolutely stuffed with paraphilias, bras are not one of them and i felt really, horribly self-conscious about buying one.  Forgive me, people who are into them sexually - you have nothing to be ashamed of, it's just one of those things and probably a very common one i should imagine - but i find the idea of bra fetishism about as creepy as you're likely to find my own paraphilias.  I'm really sorry.  Anyway, i eventually plucked up the courage and bought one, and so far the views are going up pretty fast (looks...five after less than an hour, plus another sub, though that may be unrelated of course).  That also means i'll have to follow it up, so once again, please, Isabel, remember the breast pump!

The next video, which will be made today, will be on the philosophy and theology of resurrection.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Wee Sma' Oors

The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men/Gang aft agley, and last night was no exception since as i expected, my plan of putting a video thegither in the aforesaid wee sma' oors was derailed by the fact that i slept through.  Consequently the video only got made at about 6:30 am, which is at least really early.  Here it is:

Click to tweet: .  I don't suffer from insomnia:  I enjoy it.  Lack of sleep is a problem for a lot of people which should, as usual, be addressed with conservative measures before getting out the "big guns" like sedative herbs.  The room should be painted with calming colours, face away from the Sun, not be used for purposes other than sleep, and there should be a regular night time routine.  It should also be borne in mind that before the industrial revolution it was considered normal to have two sleep sessions with a wakeful period in between them, so sleeping through may not even be natural.

Herbally, the classic remedies include hops (which are a really bad idea for the reasons i mention in the video), valerian, passionflower, chamomile, Jamaican dogwood and others.  It's always possible to get someone to sleep using herbs because in sufficient doses some of them would cause comas!  However, mere sleep is not enough.  Quality is also important.  One classic mix involves St John's wort combined with two herbal sedatives.  It also helps to make up a herbal preparation in advance so that one need disturb oneself as little as possible and so that one is aware of the psychological crutch available if one needs it, which may in itself help sleep.

I was really hoping i'd sleep badly before this video, but i didn't!  Isn't that just typical?

It was still good to get it out of the way, although i should really rise to the occasion.  It being first thing in the morning, i managed to miss out a whole load of stuff, such as caffeine and relaxation advice.  This also suffers from the problem of not knowing how much people already know or don't yet know, so for all i know this is general knowledge but i can't tell as usual, so i've just said it all anyway.  I can't work out how other people can tell when things are generally known or not.

Today, i plan to write a kind of personal manifesto because i'm getting to the point where weird stuff is going on and i want to provide some grounding for it to avoid going mad, frankly.  I think i'm either discovering new stuff about myself and shifting my perspective or rewriting my life, and this should probably involve quiet contemplation somewhere.
Turing tomorrow?  Mibbe.  In the meantime, here is some fenugreek and fennel tea:

Thursday, 4 July 2013


Douglas Engelbart has died so:

Click to tweet: . All trademarks are the property of their respective owners - no infringement intended. Douglas Engelbart, the inventor of the computer mouse, has just died. He invented the mouse in about 1960, and nobody remembers where the name comes from. At the time, the mouse consisted of a box with two cogwheels at right angles to each other. Its precursor, the trackball, which is effectively an upside down mouse, was invented by the USAF in 1952 and is not patented because it's a military secret.

It took quite a long time to catch on. At the time, many computers used punchcards or teletypes as interfaces and even cursors were rare. During the 1960s, graphical displays were often interfaced with using "light pens", which wait for the flash on the phosphor of the display screen to detect their position and therefore only work on cathode ray tubes. Later, with the invention of the 6845 cathode ray tube controller chip, which is the ancestor of the modern PC graphics card, an interface was possible with microcomputers and light pens, but the problem with them is the "gorilla arm effect" - fatigue at having to hold the arm up all the time. This could obviously be dealt with by placing the display at an angle like a writing desk. Modern touch screens are similar.

The Xerox Alto pioneered the use of the WIMP interface - Windows, Icons, Mouse and Pull-down menus - later renamed the GUI - Graphical User Interface. This was copied by Apple in the Lisa computer and later the Macintosh, and Microsoft adopted the mouse for use with the Word word processor, and later for Windows itself.

A computer mouse should usually be placed on the left side of the keyboard unless your use of the computer involves a lot of number work, because otherwise it's likely that the user will subconsciously lean over to the right. This applies whether or not you're left-handed. I personally find mice annoying as pointing devices because they feel like drawing with a boulder, and prefer various other options such as digitising tablets, styluses or cursor keys, and i've even used game controllers on occasion. As a piece of engineering though, i like mice because the ball version is easily understood - it consists of two rollers with cogwheels interrupting a light source with a photocell on the other side which blinks on and off, although i don't know how it works out which direction it's going in. That kind of device is simple and could even be home made.

The mouse nowadays seems to be in decline because of the likes of touchscreens and Kinect-style camera interfaces.

Once again, the Turing test video seems to be receding into the distance, because tomorrow will now probably be on insomnia.

In other news, i am going to go for lactation.  I've got someone to help me.  Yay!

Wednesday, 3 July 2013


At a certain person's possibly jocular behest, i have begotten the following televisual feast of delights:

Click to tweet: .  Solipsism is the belief that one is the only person who exists, not due to a disaster or something, but because there is no other consciousness at all other than one's own.  You won't find anyone advocating it because anyone who seriously believes it probably wouldn't bother!  Someone once wrote to Bertrand Russell to say that she was a solipsist but couldn't convince anyone else that it was true.  There's also a wonderful incident in the Iain M Banks book 'Against A Dark Background' where someone is kidnapped by a gang of solipsists.

It comes in two varieties:  the belief that the material world is entirely imaginary, and the belief that the material world is real but that I alone am conscious, everyone else being a robot, a zombie or whatever.  There could also be said to a third variety in the Cartesian-style method of doubt, where solipsism is assumed as a way of starting to fill in the rest of what one can be sure about, which Descartes unfortunately does via the ontological argument.

It might at first be thought that solipsism collapses completely because of analogy - other people behave as I do and I have a mind, therefore they are conscious too.  However, this fails because any of us only has a single example of a conscious mind, which is not even enough to base an inductive argument on.

Solipsism is also one extreme of scepticism whose other end is behaviourism - the doctrine that mental states "just are" behaviour and that there is no internal private world inaccessible to others.  Both of these positions look about equally absurd to me, but there may be some mileage in looking at the life of the mind as open, as with empathy.  A feminist argument against solipsism is that women can feel at one with others and men can't, but this seems like a position which can't be tested to me although i have some interest in the idea that some people may have that kind of access.  This also brings up the issue of the autistic spectrum - Asperger's and autism itself - which however, i feel is more to do with salience than theory of mind as such.  Another approach is that there are simply no minds, or that all minds are one.

Jean-Paul Sartre, like continental philosophers generally, sees the very idea of the problem of other minds as a kind of scandal which ignores our authentic experience of being an object in the mind of another due to shame.  He expresses this in his concept of 'The Look'.  Other continental philosophers are also likely to "extrude thoughts from the mind" and see consciousness as dependent upon community, relationships or language or other system of signs, and therefore the problem of other minds is likely to look like a pseudo-problem to them.

Finally, belief in other minds can be seen as a theory which is the best working explanation of the situation as we see it.  We can't prove or even corroborate it, but it's a good working model of reality.

Interestingly, most people seem to opt for the "life could be a dream" version of solipsism.  That is, they don't actually believe in it, but the one they think of is the one where the world seems to be imaginary, not the one where all other beings are zombies and the world may as well be as it's perceived otherwise.  I only realised this today.  I find the other one more interesting.  There's also a kind of fake solipsism where everybody else is dead for some reason, as in 'Red Dwarf', or perhaps 'The Quiet Earth' (which can be downloaded here!  Wow!)  In fact, 'Dave Colling, Space Cade' or whatever it's called, would seem to be more feasible as 'Red Dwarf' at least has the Cat, but 'Dave Collins' has aliens, so neither are really solipsistic.  'I Am Legend' (the book - i haven't seen the film) and zombie movies presumably are also quasi-solipsistic or at least the threat exists there.

I might be able to make the Turing video tomorrow.  Wait and see.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


Yep, still stuck.  Mika's in my head, so is Suzanne Vega, but i've lost track of what songs i've used:

Click to tweet: . I have of course been taking an oestrogen (estrogen) for the past two or three months. Here's a report on my experiences.

First of all, it's impossible for me to disentangle the placebo, psychosomatic and pharmacological aspects of what's going on. Those are three different things. To explain: placebo effects could involve actual physical changes, triggered for instance by an increase in the secretion of endogenous oestrogens. The psychosomatic effects might be more connected with the perception of what's going on. Finally, by pharmacological effects i mean the kind of thing which would happen if i was taking them without being aware of taking anything, placebo or not.

There are a few obvious actions of oestrogen which i won't bother to go into, but if you want to take a look at the breast video, it's here: . Leaving all that aside, there are many effects, but they include fat deposition, water retention, blood clot formation, an anti-depressant action (which surprises me), and it's also anti-inflammatory and counteracts OCD. The last i can believe, because i've felt much less driven since i started on it, and also euphoric, though not all the time, which would be a concern. Colours have seemed brighter too. In connection with the lack of drive, i feel slightly physically weaker although that may be more of a question of having a kind of "brake" on my physical activities than actually being weaker, and more tempted to hide from conflict. Regarding conflict itself, i find myself becoming more aware of the interactions between people rather than just the content of their discussions or arguments, and also of a whole world of interaction between people which i often strain to notice. In other words, i've become less "Aspie", which is a puzzle since there are clearly Asperger's women.

Given all that though, suppose all this is in fact in my mind. If that's so, i suppose what i'm doing is channelling my anima, which may be stereotypical, so what i'm doing in fact is behaving like my own sexist stereotype of the typical woman. Is there even a single female identity anyway? Also, if it really is making a difference, is that to do with the oestrogenic effects itself or other things?

What i mean by this is that of course i'm taking Trifolium pratense, a herbal remedy high in the phytoestrogen trifoliol, rather than oestrogen as such. Trifoliol is substantially similar to the endogenous human oestrogens but Trifolium pratense is more than just a phytoestrogen. There are quite a lot of oestrogenic herbs. Salvia officinalis - sage - i've used at a pinch in the past few weeks when i've run out of red clover, but am reluctant to do so because it dries up milk and my plan is to trigger lactation. Cimicifuga racemosa, if it is oestrogenic at all, i found emetic, made me irritable and the therapeutic index was pretty low. Humulus lupulus i wouldn't touch with a barge pole because it's depressant, and isoflavones in soya seem pretty dodgy. Xenoestrogens are even worse.

Tags: trans, transsexual, transition, oestrogen, estrogen, emotion, breasts, endometrium, hormones, hrt, ocd, herbalism, phytoestrogens, trifolium, red clover, salvia, sage, cimicifuga, cohosh, black cohosh, change, conflict, empathy, perception, gender, dysphoria, euphoria, vlog, experiences, hops, humulus, water retention, xenoestrogens, depression, feelings, asperger, aspergers, ocd, asd, neurotypical, sexism, anima, stereotype, stereotyping, placebo, psychosomatic, pharmacology, effects, cancer, carcinogen, action, identity, gender identity, sex

(The clicktotweet, which incidentally never seems to be used, is there in the real description).

So yes, at about the time i would be perimenopausal, i'm going for this.  Not entirely sensible, you might think, but i feel alive!  Not sure if it's actually the Trifolium of course.  It might just be that i've finally decided to fight back against a body which is doing stuff i hate.  I don't like not being integrated in this way - it's very unhealthy - but it hasn't gone away for decades.  Even if the rebellion is purely symbolic, it's something.

It's a bit like caffeine though.  Caffeine makes me feel good but is clearly not healthy.  I presume i am doing something to myself here which is inadvisable, but at the same time it feels like what i've been missing for my whole life.

OK, let's just blog normally for once:  how do i feel about this?

This is something i'm strongly tempted to apply to the whole transgender phenomenon, but i know that would be very judgemental and unfair, so i'll restrict it to myself, which is the Christian thing to do (!).  There are a number of ways in which i think indulging my gender dysphoria is quite negative.
  • It's self-centred and not about making the world a better place.  I shouldn't be so focussed on my own problems that i neglect everything else.  It's a self-indulgent voyage into my own ego.
  • There's a lack of integrity with my own body.  Every diploid cell in my body has a Y chromosome and my phenotype is male, so i just am male.  I may have struggled unsuccessfully with coming to terms with that fact, but i should learn to accept myself, and as it happens, i am also disgustingly healthy.  Why do i pretend this is a problem?
  • It's invasive of female territory and reflects a failure to understand the true nature of patriarchy.  A person is of a particular gender due to the history of how they've been perceived predominantly by society.  I may occasionally pass, usually unintentionally, but that's not enough to make me female.  I just am not female.  There's no glass ceiling, no perception of the risk of rape, no constant risk of violence, no physical health problems caused by a patriarchal society where men hog all the resources.  None of that.  I will also never menstruate, never get pregnant and so on.  The same is of course true of many women and in that sense it doesn't form part of their identity, but the perceived potential exists.  I see trans in my life as reflecting a desire to invade and possess the feminine, and it's really crap of me to do that.
But, it feels so right to do this.  I wish i could make sense of that.

Monday, 1 July 2013


I could probably think of a title, but something needs to be done about all that, so that's what you're getting instead.  In the meantime:

Click to tweet: .  Homoeostasis or homeostasis is where a system maintains itself in a stable state, an important concept in cybernetics as well as biology.  Two simple examples of homeostatic mechanisms, both of which work by feedback, are a thermostat (as developed by Andrew Ure) and a governor on a steam engine.  A bimetallic strip thermostat carries a current which is interrupted when the strip warms and therefore expands at different rates, bending the strip away, whereas a governor opens and closes according to the pressure of the steam passing through it, maintaining a constant pressure inside a boiler.

When someone stands, they are attempting to maintain balance in a similar way.  This balance extends in other ways to the internal environment.  For instance, water is mediated by the concentration of body fluids leading to the production of anti-diuretic hormone by the pituitary, which increases the absorption of water by the kidneys until the level is up again.  Thirst also increases.  If kidneys are damaged or the pituitary doesn't secrete enough ADH (vasopressin), fluid will be rapidly lost to the body in a process known as diabetes insipidus, which can easily be fatal.

Temperature control is somewhat related to the osmoregulation mentioned above.  Here, there is a combination of behavioural and plain physiological processes.  Heat leads to sweating, vasodilation of peripheral blood vessels allowing excess heat to radiate and the removal of clothing.  Cold reduces sweating, induces shivering, vasoconstricts peripheral blood vessels intermittently and induces people to behave in such a way as to increase their temperature.  These can fail, leading to hypothermia, frostbite and Raynaud's syndrome on the one hand and heatstroke on the other.

Health is very often a stable state and illness an unstable one.  Therefore, healing is about shifting someone from that unstable state back into a state which is self-sustaining.

This is two things (at least).  One is that it's on the AQA IGCSE Biology syllabus, although of course rather few people are likely to be following it right now.  The other is that it links to the whole "herbalism as cybernetics" thing i keep meaning to cover.  It sounds a bit weird to make that equation, and of course as an equation it's far more bedeutungsvoll (if that's a word) than it is sinvoll, but it's there in spades.

Incidentally, it's very irritating having a 16:9 ratio to deal with all the time.  You have to get really far from the camera for your whole body to be visible and framing's a real struggle.

Tomorrow will be a toss-up between phytoestrogens and the Turing test.  Actually, no it won't:  it'll be about the former - a personal account.