Monday, October 25, 2010

Gender - is it really in the genes?

A recent "Mystery Diagnosis" program which featured a woman who did not mature, female-wise, throws some doubts on the idea of gender being in the genes as is often claimed by trans-gendered folks. A doctor consulted on her lack of female development, recommended surgery, saying her ovaries were non functional and had a high risk of being a factor in cancer later on. She was quickly taken into the hospital and the offending ovaries were removed or at least that's what she was told.

Before her surgery, she had developed looking more male than female with the exception of the bodily hair which she did not have. After surgery, she was given large amounts of estrogen and told she would have to stay on this for life but, as an adult, unsatisfied with the diagnosis, she began to dig and finally asked for her hospital records (which they gave her a hard time about releasing, first claiming she had never had surgery there). When a doctor in California examined her records, he found that she had been lied to. She had never had her ovaries removed because she never developed ovaries. Apparently, her "gonads" were non functional... the gonads secrete what is needed to either develop ovaries and a feminine shape or not. They had removed the gonads (the part about them being a prevalent spot for cancer was true). They probably had not told her because of the fear of throwing her in a position of considering "gender reassignment" but apparently, the reason she had not developed ovaries was because she, unlike females, had a "Y" chromosome!

What was surprising is despite being physically somewhat "masculine", she, after finding out she had a "Y" chromosome did NOT seek gender reassignment. She was attracted to men and found a mate who was crazy about her - they adopted 2 kids and have been married at least 18 years (the oldest kid is 18 and was adopted as a very young kid).

The interesting thing is she's totally happy as a woman and if gender reassignment would be understandable in anyone, it would be someone who is genetically, basically a man and yet, apparently this woman on the show had never even considered that - it seems totally off her radar screen.

One study, touted as the largest study on the issue, stated that one gene had been found which was a bit "longer" in females than males and "might cause" "feminisation" of the brain. This study was only of 112 male to female gender reassignment cases however, and is far from conclusively proving that there is anything genetically involved.

The Discovery Health "Mystery Diagnosis" case throws serious doubt into the need for "gender reassignment" in anyone - something, even knowing several "gender reassigned" folks, I have wondered about for years. None of the "gender reassigned" people I've known were really, truly the gender they claimed to be and in more closely interviewing several of them, it seemed the problem was more "inferiority complex" or bad memories from the past (one gender reassigned male to female had been an officer in Vietnam, ordered to blow up entire villages) or simply feeling that they more "belonged" to the female (or male) gender due to their interests, for example like one artist I knew or their sensitivity. For one transgendered male to female, I matched all her stories of childhood female likes with my boy likes - I was a tom boy, loving guns, using dolls to merely to be hostages in boy games and even not particularly desiring to be female when I grew up. I have to date, always hated make up (feels yucky on the skin so I have never worn it) and dresses (hamper movement and are not as comfortable as pants). I wear my hair very short and find that much more convenient than the alternative. And yet, I loved being a mother and love being a grandmother and am very attracted to males, particularly my good looking husband of 44 years duration.

So often we are basing gender on their likes (like boy toys or girl toys etc) and clothing or makeup or long hair, rather than deeper things, forgetting that in other societies it may be the men who wear dresses or makeup. It may be that gender is much deeper than even what we are genetically, like possibly, in the so called "soul" or "spirit".

Friday, October 22, 2010

If God wanted us to use artificial birth control ....

I keep wondering this - if God wanted us to use artificial birth control, why hasn't He helped us invent something which is both safe and effective? The family planning method which is safe and effective is "periodic abstinence" or "Billings Ovulation". And ironically, this is the method the Catholic Church recommends. You only have to abstain 5-7 days a month and the rest of the time, have a good time whenever you want. So why are 85% of Catholic Women using artificial birth control?

Natural Family Planning is one of the best kept secrets perhaps because no one makes a buck from it.

With the latest news of the study which found a significantly higher risk of both lung cancer and breast cancer in women taking pharmaceutical estrogen and progestin, perhaps Catholic women will have a change of heart.

I have personally observed young women on this medication to have severely crippling strokes and another friend on the medication who developed uterine cancer - she ended up dying in her early 60's with pancreatic cancer.

The Health Read News blog tells about the latest risks found in low dose birth control.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Book Review - Not Like Me by Eric Michael Bryant

Note: a copy of this book was provided me free of charge by the publisher for reviewing purposes.

Eric Michael Bryant, author of "NOT LIKE ME", is a young guy who introduces himself by way of stating that he's white and bald but lives in a part of town where most of his neighbors are either African American or Hispanic. And he's also a youth minister. Pretty soon in the book one discovers his passions - for conversion and for reaching out to groups of people he feels Christians often ignore. And while this is certainly commendable, i.e. We should not require our friends to have to agree with us in order for us to love them, it isn't necessarily what Jesus had in mind when He told us we should love unconditionally. Conversion as the result of reaching out to others, is a condition.

That being said, the book offers some good suggestions including, befriending folks who are different, bringing over treats for new neighbors and inviting new people to outings, probably things we all knew about but still, a reminder every so often is good.

Where the book runs into problems is toward the end where Bryant extends his search for diversity among the attendees of a church, in a bit questionable direction.

He describes a dark woman as attending a church where she was pleased to find a warm friendly reception, until they discovered that she is an abortionist. Suddenly church members' attitudes toward her cooled as they attempted to share with her why abortion is so wrong. Needless to say, she left the church rather than abandoning her lucrative profession. Eric Bryant appears to disagree with the attitude of the members toward abortion and maintains that had the church looked past her gruesome field of work and tolerated her totally, she might have converted.

I disagree here. While we are asked to love the sinner, not telling her about such a serious sin would have not taken her spiritual welfare into consideration. The Catholic Church calls "admonishing the sinner", a spiritual act of mercy. Thus the folks in the church who let the abortionist know how the church and God looks at abortion, did her a greater kindness than those who would have remained silent.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Edmund Burke:

"All that is needed for evil to prevail is for good men to keep silent!"

Bryant's conclusion about abortion was that people shouldn't complain about it but rather adopt an unwanted child. Adoption is a good idea but I cannot see how this will end abortion. It sounds good though and more importantly, allows those who are "pro choice" to be comfortable (and possibly attend his church, bringing their bucks along?). I feel it's very wrong for a Christian to be any kind of tolerant toward something as intrinsically evil as abortion.

Bryant took a similar non-position on immigration - he pointed out that we had imported thousands of these people to labor for us (for very low wages) thus boosting our economy (true) but then also stated that "thousands of immigrants" had stolen Americans identities in order to work here. I've heard this accusation from the media but find it hard to believe that the rather un-techy immigrants from Mexico would bother stealing an identity in order to do manual labor for low pay. Bryant left the reader questioning just what his position on immigration was.

A chapter entitled "the Mosque next door" held promise of perhaps counteracting the anti Muslim sentiment prevalent now, however I found that whereas Eric Bryant seemed tolerant of "alternate lifestyles" and s/s marriage, and even tolerant of abortion, he seemed less willing to respect other spiritual paths like that of the Muslims. Ironic was that Muslims who enjoyed his young ministry events, were likely as intent on converting him as he was intent on making them Christians!

Bryant got in his complaints about liturgy also, toward the end of "Not Like Me". He writes,

"religion does not work because religion is humanity's attempt to earn God's favor" (page 224)


"Jesus message was very different. He taught that the practice of "religion" cannot be the answer." (page 222)

He also points out that he feels that,

"We cannot do enough good to come to God on our own merits" (ibid)

He is of forgetting the following rather clear part of the Bible:

James 2:18ff "Indeed someone might say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works."

This is a common omission on the part of many believers in the "Salvation by Faith alone" theory.

My issues withstanding, I did find "Not Like Me" to be well written and organized in a unique manner. Bryant often uses his own experiences and family anecdotes to illustrate his points which I found charming. At the end of every chapter, he includes comments from other Christian writers which bring a different prospective to the chapter's discussion.

That is, if you don't mind the contradictions and theological errors, you might find "Not Like Me" an interesting read.

About the author:

Eric Bryant serves as an elder, speaker and navigator with the leadership team at Mosaic ( in Los Angeles, a church known for its creativity and diversity. He is part of the core teams for the Mosaic Alliance ( and The Origins Project ( Bryant completed his Doctorate of Ministry in Entrepreneurial Leadership with Bethel Seminary. He lives with his wife, Debbie, and two children, Caleb and Trevi, in the middle of Los Angeles County.

You can find Eric and share your break through ideas at