One Gene Away

I’m not going to try to re-phrase this article about how ovaries/testicles are determined by a single gene. Better you read it from the source:

As embryos, our gonads aren’t specific to either gender. Their default course is a female one, but they can be diverted through the action of a gene called SRY that sits on the Y chromosome. SRY activates another gene called Sox9, which sets off a chain reaction of flicked genetic switches. The result is that premature gonads develop into testes. Without SRY or Sox9, you get ovaries instead.

But Henriette Uhlenhaut from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory has found that this story is woefully incomplete. Maleness isn’t just forced onto developing gonads by the actions of SRY – it’s permanently kept at bay by another gene called FOXL2.

Uhlenhaut developed a strain of genetically engineered mice, whose copies of FOXL2 could be deleted with the drug tamoxifen. When she did this, she found that the females’ ovaries turned into testes within just three weeks. The change was a thorough one; the altered organs were testes right down to the structure of their cells and their portfolio of active genes. They developed testosterone-secreting Leydig cells, which pumped out as much of the hormone as their counterparts in XY mice. They only fell short of actually producing sperm.

Uhlenhaut found that FOXL2 and SOX9 are mutually exclusive – when one is active, the other is silent and vice versa. The two genes are at opposite ends of a tug-of-war, with sex as the prize. FOXL2 sticks to a stretch of DNA called TESCO, which controls the activity of Sox9. By sticking to TESCO, FOXL2 keeps Sox9 turned off in the adult ovary. Without its repressive hand, Sox9 switches on and sets about its gender-bending antics.


Uhlenhaut’s work isn’t just of academic interest. It could also help to treat disorders of sexual development. It could also change how gender reassignment therapies are done, paving the way for gene therapies rather than multiple painful surgeries.

Emphasis mine. That is such a goddamned cool idea.

Two Tune Tuesday: Luciana Souza

I got to see & hear Luciana Souza this past Friday night at Lawrence, and she really blew me away. Like most gringas, my intro to this kind of music was “The Girl from Ipanema” — I’ve got a few versions of it, including that lovely disco one that was on Red Hot + Rio a million years ago — but I’d forgotten how sensual and melancholy a samba can be.

There’s very little good available on either YouTube or of hers, so instead I’ve put up this promo clip from her most recent CD:

And here’s a link to some samples from the CD. Since I can’t stand translated music – I’d rather have no idea what the lyrics are about, or read them – so I’d recommend checking out the “Adeus America & Eu Quero Un Samba.” & here’s Amazon’s mp3 samples, for more.

New Round of Trans Characters

Bored to Death, the HBO comedy, is adding a transgender character, but that should’nt be too surprising since one of the characters is based on Jonathan Ames.

A Canadian show called Degrassi – which first aired in the 80s but has returned in recent years –introduced an FTM spectrum character this past summer. (Warning: the clip on that website is triggery.)

If anyone wants to review these, or let me know about others I may have missed, please do!

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves Call for Interns

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is looking for interns for the positions listed below. The deadline for submission of applications is December 1, 2010.

Internships begin December 15, 2010. Their end date depends on the particular position. The survey and chapter interns will likely complete their work by the end of the Spring. The website and publicity interns will continue on through the book’s publication, tentatively next Fall.

Undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to apply. The book’s editors are willing to work with your school to obtain credit for your internship.  Unfortunately we do not have funds at this time to provide payment to interns. All interns will be recognized by name in the final book.
Continue readingTrans Bodies, Trans Selves Call for Interns”

“…the best they can hope for in life.”

Oh, wow. An Administrator at UW – Eau Claire was invited to a Queer Film Festival (the Eau Queer Film Festival) which was put together by students. Sometimes people really should just say no. Instead, he wrote back that he thinks gays and lesbians are people, BUT:

“However, I decry attempts to legitimize their addictions and compulsions. These, our fellow humans, deserve our best efforts to help them recover their lives. We only hurt them further when we choose to pretend that these walking wounded are OK the way they are, that their present injuries are the best they can hope for in life.”

The real kicker for me is that I know this guy doesn’t mean any harm. I think he probably thinks he’s being considerate and respectful, and worse still, sympathetic. I’m entirely serious.

Some people just implode when given even the smallest chance.

Link Between Trans & PCOS?

Paula Puffer, speaks with Walter Futterweit, MD, PCOS Pavilion Editorial Advisor

Audio Link *requires RealPlayer – free download

Barbara Nesbitt: “Hi, this is Barbara Nesbitt, and I am at the PCOS Conference in San Diego. I would like Paula Puffer, who is the web-mistress of the PCOS Support website and also the Coordinator of PCOS Pavilion, to say hello, and she’s going to do an interview.”

Paula Puffer: “Hello, this is kind of a spur of the moment thing so I really don’t have any set questions but I’m sitting here with Walter Futterweit who is with the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. In some of my work as PCO Support web-master, I’ve had the privilege of putting up Dr. Futterweit’s articles on our bibliography of professional journal articles, and one of the things that I found quite interesting is that he has done research with women who want to become men and PCOS and how the changes with the hormones and stuff have affected them and affected their ovaries.”

Dr. Walter Futterweit: “This is quite a diversion to talk about this subject at this momentous meeting here in San Diego. I must say that a lot of this work is still ongoing, and as a member of the Harry Benjamin Foundation, which is a group of specialists interested in gender patients and the treatment prior to and post-sex reversal surgery, I’ve had occasion to study at least eighty women who were desirous of becoming men. During that time, we found that 27% had features of polycystic ovary prior to treatment with male hormone and after the treatment with testosterone, 75%-80% had enlarged polycystic ovaries which were exactly identical to those found in women with polycystic ovary syndrome. So this is quite a significant percentage and makes us think again of other potential pathological or physiological derangements that may occur not just in terms of altering the mindset of genetic females but what it is that also may be a factor in the causation of PCOS.”

Continue reading “Link Between Trans & PCOS?”

Not Only the Lonely

I thought, with the holidays coming up, that this little song and video might assuage a lot of lonely:

I know it did mine.

Trans Guy Plays Ball

A trans man is playing on a women’s basketball team:

But Monday was anything but ordinary because it was the day the world would learn about the decision Allums had embarked on one year earlier: to come out as a transgender man playing on a women’s basketball team.

He noted that he was biologically identical to any other female, but said, “I just would prefer for people to call me a he.”

“I decided to do it because I was uncomfortable not being able to be myself,” Allums, 21, said in a telephone interview Monday, hours after an article about his experience was published on the Web site “Just having to hear the words ‘she’ and ‘her,’ it was really starting to bother me.”

NCLR (National Center for Lesbian Rights) has a piece about the Trans Student Athlete Guide, as does the NCAA (National College Athletic Association).

The Guide itself can be found in .pdf format on the NCLR’s site.

For those of you who know anything about sports, and/or are trans yourselves, I’d love to hear your take on this report.

Alameda County Elects Trans Judge

Check this out:

OAKLAND — Alameda County has become home to the first transgender trial judge in the country as Victoria Kolakowski won the race to fill an empty seat on the county’s Superior Court bench.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting results, Kolakowski held 50.2 percent of the vote against Deputy District Attorney John Creighton, who had 48.7 percent.

The race gave voters a distinct choice between a candidate with unquestionable experience and one who would have brought a new level of diversity to a bench populated by prosecutors and men.

Creighton was the candidate with experience with more than 25 years arguing cases in front of juries as a county prosecutor.

More here

Feeling Blue & Seeing Red, LGBTQs?

Kevin Lembo of CT won for Comptroller of CT.
The openly gay mayor of Providence, RI, just became a US congressman.
An African American man who is gay won a seat on the NC House.
Barney Frank got re-elected.
& Lexington, Kentucky, elected a gay mayor.

All of that & more, here.

Vote Today

But only vote if you’re voting for Dems!

Dems, Go Vote Tomorrow

Because it was the Democrats who:

  • Signed the Matthew Shepard Hate Act that expanded federal hate crime protection to categories of sexual orientation and gender
  • mentioned transgender Americans in a nationally-broadcast speech

My sources were many, but I used the lists provided by Best of the Blogs and The Context. This blog, with 100 of the current president’s accomplishments, links to articles about them if you want to read more.

Now go vote.