Tuesday, June 19, 2012

oh, what a pity; she isn't a woman

     It started with an observation of a svelte woman; what a pity that she-he isn't really a woman... and I supposed I was the one who stuck the shovel into the dirt first. And I do say so rather begrudgingly - while I do enjoy a discussion, I rather detest delving into a topic that I have yet fleshed out properly in my head. Then again, ideal conditions are not a surety of life anyway, and I take what I could get. Thus, an impromptu discussion began.

     My two companions and I have two differing views on; against and for, respectively. Also, as I type this, it just occurred to me that we might have been touching different starting points. There's a difference between the umbrella term of transgenderism (that encompasses transvestites also) and transsexual persons. My starting point was the latter; a condition where their bodies do not match their gender and they seek to change their physical self to match that. But to keep it simple for now, let's just assume that that's what our discussion was based on.


AGAINST
There were a couple of points that they laid out. This here is very truncated obviously, but this is a digestion/filtration of the main points. While I would definitely miss out on some points or nuance, I hope what is here was what they meant (if not, let me know.)

1) There is a trigger and environmental influences. A young girl who grows up with four brothers may be more comfortable with talking to the male gender, or a victim of sexual abuse may be psychological affected to a point that they have a disorder.

2) Another way to see it is where God makes no mistakes. This was applied to the point above, but it could also be that, even if it is genetically, God makes no mistakes. People with gender disorder have existed since time immemorial, however, in dealing with it, the society now differs from our past.

     In the centuries up until recently, people learnt to deal with their disorders, whether as a self struggle or through science/doctors. For example, a child with autism would be placed in a specialised class; a science/education system is developed for them so that they could integrate with society the best they can. It's not the other way round where you expect the crowd to conform to the child's actions. Social norms were respected and they conform to it, and not likewise. Back to the transsexuals, they may participate in an alternative culture or where certain sexual kinks are sought for, but they do not push to legitimise it in the larger society.

     It's only in the recent decades where a culture of indulgence started to emerge - also dubbed the culture of 'empathy' where it is further enforced by the likes of Oprah Winfrey and other talk shows. A way to go about thinking it is a misbehaving child in school who has his parents support in their misbehaviour. Instead of scolding him for it for not adhering to the school rules, they took the side of the child, accusing the teacher/school of being unfair and mean. Instead of applying the methods to deal with it (like teaching your kid to have proper manners and to not disrupt his classmates), the child's behaviour is indulged.

Gender reassignment surgery wasn't a choice previously, and now it is. Choice as in, they have the option to go under the knife to be female/male.

3) How do you know that what we choose to allow is 'right'? Off the top of my head, I used the example of a black civil rights movement; where interracial marriage is illegal in the eyes of society during that time, but has since been overwritten. What makes us think that our societal choices now is the best thing to do? Racial and class uprisings is present throughout history (examples were given); it's a common theme in struggles and wars. However, there is no precedent for this.

4) Another thing was mentioned towards the end of the discussion. This is linked to the second point here, and the idea that no matter what my friends think, their views will be shunned in the future. 'The New World Order', said my friend, is coming into power.

      He is right. They would not be kind to my companions' views, and the 'New World Order' does seems to be in progress. However, what I understand are merely its distant children (consumerism and its effects). I've written very briefly before on brainwashing of the subconscious of a 'superior' culture. To save the trouble in searching for it, here's the relevant bit:

"... a bad command in English is both unconsciously and consciously looked down upon. Liberalism is often narrowly confined to speaking, acting and thinking like a conventional Westerner. It is not to say that all aspects of that should be destroyed in order to preserve our culture, for there are aspects of goodness. And yet, 'traditionalism' is often thought of as something that belongs to a bygone time, belonging to a museum while we adopt an 'international' culture whose language, mannerism and values are inherently Western."

      There is a push for countries to adopt that 'international' culture, lest they be branded as backwards. Largely, it has to do with the media. On the lower level, just think of the amount of American entertainment we're exposed to, and how much we're influenced by it. Humans learn from watching, and we do pick up some social cues from the series/movies we watch, or acceptable ideologies to adhere to. Maybe not a complete adoption, but if generations after generations take a sip, then the cup would be emptied.

      On a higher level... this I'm still trying to grasp beyond vague notions, and I have yet the time nor intellect to hold it fully yet. It's about how media is largely controlled by a handful of corporations, or from a certain group of people. Such corporations wield a lot of financial power, which means a lot of things. With funds, they are able to invest in other industries, which generates them more moolah. They could buy over other smaller media stations or their competition, hence reducing the variety of views in the world. Smaller surviving media companies ends up relying on their news feed on say, world news, because their limited funds don't allow them to send their own journalists oversea to investigate. They are able to fund advertisements and advertising campaigns to mould the mind of the masses to suit their purpose.

They can essentially filter what the masses receives as information, and dissent is within a framework that they allow. This means that they have the power to engineer our point of view, frame of mind and opinions, which in turn grants them power in their agenda.The New World Order will come to pass from the minds moulded by these controllers.
 
(Somehow this makes me think about going to a handphone shop in Lowyat. There are so many of them, say 100 stalls, but they belong to about 3 companies. They seem to offer a choice or a bargain, but it's a farce because while they may seem to offer different promotions and discounts, they would have a framework given to them by their company. So in this example, choice is an illusion.)

(Actually this whole point deserve a number of write-ups on its own.... it's truly a fascinating topic with so many branches, and I keep having to force myself back to topic and not be cheong-hei because sometimes they seem to be interlinked in different manners.)


FOR

While it's up to the person if they are willing to be with someone who used to be of the same sex, my stand is that people with genuine cases should be allowed to go under a sex reassignment surgery.

1)  While environmental influences definitely play a part in shaping us as a person, I do wonder if it would to an extent that our gender identity is affected. Note, I'm seeing this from a POV where the environment is relatively ordinary, and not from those who has suffered abuse as a child. Are our gender identities that easily rewired? Two things come to mind:

-    The idea that gender identities can be switched, if a child was still young and susceptible to pliability and rewiring of the brain: David Reiner who was brought up as a girl after a botched circumcision. He was castrated before the age of 1, wore dresses, encouraged in feminine activities and pumped with estrogen, but he never did felt right and suffered immensely for it. A decade or so later, he found out that he was actually a boy at birth, that he reverse that process and became a male again.

-    This isn't really a point, but one of the little divergence that my brain presents to me as a curious theory. The divide between the sexes have reaches far back into history; in this case, it's in regards to a Western society stemmed from Christian roots, where women were considered spiritually inferior. I wonder if it came to a point where it might have played a part in the curiosity and the attempt to prove that gender is simply a 'medieval' social construct that has no place in our 'scientific modern world'.  And thus, this gender inferiority may be debunked; essentially saying that there's nothing superior about one gender over the other, if it was a social construct. Admittedly, it's a weak link, but it's here because it was among the 'points' I tried to bring up... which I did so very badly. Hopefully, if my companions read this, she would be less 'What the F...?" at me.

     The touchstone for my points is that in genuine cases, they were born with it and it isn't something that they choose to have. Besides the social ramification they would face, gender reassignment surgery is a major change that removes parts of your organs/body and alter your physique for life, hence it is not be taken lightly of, whether for the individual or the doctor. This strikes out the bit that people 'decide' on this life-altering surgery based on a whim or a lust. It's not something that 'happens' when they hit adolescence or in the middle of adulthood, but is present throughout their life.


2) This point wasn't mentioned at that time. I thought of it, but knowing my fantastic impromptu skills and how I tend to misconstrue my own points when I'm caught unprepared, I opted out of it.

     Social norms were cited as a guard against indulging such folks in their gender identity disorder. If that was the point of contention, should gender reassignment surgery be tossed out of consideration completely? If hypothetically a boy is a mentally a female, and is attracted to the opposite sex if seen from his mental state, would that not fit the societal norm? It was said then, that such people exists. But always, only in an alternative society, where sexual perversions of men (who may be from the larger society) are satisfied. The larger society shuns them as they are not 'normal', and sometimes leaving them no choice but to seek seedy jobs.

    I hope that I didn't misconstrue the idea that when science was touted as a way to deal with disorders, this could be among the ways where medical advancement could help them to reintegrate them with the larger society. Admittedly, one could argue that no matter what, biologically that their body is still their old gender; the major sign is that they are unable to bear nor father children. Otherwise, in other areas of the body biologically, I honestly don't know to what extent it would resemble their reassigned gender.

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As a disclaimer, I do feel there's more shades to such a discussion. What I'm sure of is my limited knowledge of this field for now, that perhaps might irk those well-versed in it.  

Friday, June 15, 2012

injured wrist saga

This was quite a predicament.

There I was in a white sterile tube in a brightly lit room, with every pocket of movement of my left arm and wrist stilled by pads. It was a MRI procedure for the said limbs; this being the second try after a failed first round - my fingers had twitched as I accidentally dozed off. One must stay absolutely still or else it would be repeated, which isn't something to look forward to. Plus, the longer you are in there, the more delay you would present to the next person in line. I shifted my body to a more comfortable position before it begins, and made a firm resolution to stay awake throughout to concentrate on not-twitching. However, a nemesis to my plans was about to present itself.

... BEEEE-BOR-RA-TAK-TAK-TAKTAKTAKTAK and on it goes, the sound of the magnets firing up; highly reminisce of a 56k dial-up modem. It was repetitive, comforting and nostalgic, and my eyelids drooped in maddening fatigue...

And that's how I knew I was a 90's kid.


Rewind to two hours prior, I was newly decked out in a snazzy hospital gown, waiting for my turn at the Imaging Department. A doctor there approached me and informed me that she contacted my orthopedic doctor, who requested for an additional step before the MRI. It's something about injecting a dye into the problem area, so he could see whatever that is wrong better. I said, okay, sure. Then she informed me that it's a procedure and would hurt a little. I figured it wasn't a biggie. I could handle injections. I assumed that it's just a simple injection into the veins, but oh boy, was I wrong.

It was a procedure alright. First, they had my wrist under an X-ray machine, where they scanned it repeatedly, flipping it from flat to side to flat to side. A side monitor showed the X-ray of my wrist and they held a thin metal wire pointed at my wrist as a guide. There was an exact location where they needed to pinpoint, and it was interesting for me to see 3 doctors and one nurse pottering around me for this purpose. Finally, they drew a target with a marker and fired off the X-ray again to check its position. All good.

The next step both puzzled and alarmed me. She started slathering yellowish brown iodine over the area. And that wasn't just it. You know how in medical series, during say, a stomach surgery, they would lay a blue cloth over the patient's tummy with a gaping hole in the cloth exposing the incision point? Yea, that cloth with a hole was laid over my wrist. Wha... what is going on...?

And then they jammed a needle right between my palm and wrist joints.

Of course, I exaggerate. But for drama sake, I'm sticking to that wtf. Actually I made it sound like it was a one-shot kena, but it wasn't. They needed to shift the needle around a bit and push it in a wee bit more. All the while, my hand was X-Ray-ed continuously to see whether it's between a certain area in my joint. Being a rather morbid person, I was looking at the monitor throughout with great curiousity; I observed that I had a fat hand.

Eventually, my knees weakened like jelly; though, not so from the visuals. Pain is easily recognisable but gosh, the sensation I felt when the needle wriggled around in that area was absolutely new and weird. Nevertheless, I was in good hands and tried to suck it up. At least on the outside. My progression of questions and thoughts went something like this:

To the doctors: "Hmmm, there is a little pain."
Inward speech: I can take it I can take it! I shall be awesome!!

"Uhm, that's rather uncomfortable."  
WHAT WHAT, IS THAT NEEDLE HEADING BETWEEN MY JOINTS WTF

"Owww. Pain."  
WHAT ARE YOU DOINGGGGGGG T_T

"Owwww owww, okay, that is painful. Is it supposed to feel *that* uncomfortable?"
 ...I'm going to lose my hand, aren't I? ;_________;

Rather uncomfortable is an understatement wtf. Finally, 2ml-4ml of dye was pumped in, and I get to nurse my wrist and jelly legs in peace.

----------------------------------

MRI reveals the dye seeping into other areas of the joints, which proves the presence of damage. The doctor judged that it was a stretched ligament since I got that injury from climbing, and it might be what I suspected too - a Triangular Fibrocartilage Complex injury.

TFCC is a structure on the ulnar side of the wrist (the little finger side) that consists of ligaments and cartilages... it stabilises the bones in the wrists, acts like a shock absorber and generally helps with smooth movement. For now, I can't do certain movements like fully turning my wrist, or things like pushing a door open with my palm flat on it as I would feel some pain. There is definitely some loss in strength in that hand too. Was given this device during my physio where I quickly grasp it and it would record the pressure in kilograms. Right hand, 25kg; left hand, 19kg. Apparently, even if I'm right handed, the difference shouldn't be that big.

Otherwise, I'm remaining optimistic in that it will heal enough so I can go climbing again (*coughcough* :P). I know ligament injuries are notorious for its slow healing period, because there is no blood flow there. Same goes to cartilage. So patience is absolutely necessary in this.

It does suck. My new climbing buddies' enthusiasm and rapid improvement had me wanting to be a little more than a casual climber. They are freshies in this, but boy, did they got good fast! I geram I cannot climb now ;_____;. And after two years of climbing, I just got myself a harness; Black Diamond's Siren in Aruba Fire - that has so far only endured heavy molesting from me, and not actual usage. I was supposed to get new shoes too, because my old ones have holes already; probably from too much smearing and probably bad footwork. AND I had to cancel my plans to learn lead climbing at Batu Caves. Ish.

 So now, I still do join them in their weekly climb. Not to climb, but to shout betas from the bottom and tell them that my grandmother can climb better than that.
"You call that climbing? Really??" 
(Copyright to dreamstime.com)

I kid. I just hang around and watch people climb (which I find enjoyable, even more so if they climb well) and figure out the route problem in my head. Mental climbing can be pretty fun in its own way; I do get this little thrill in my muscles when navigating a route theoretically :D. Oh, I was pretty gutted few weeks back as the gym has finally changed a large number of routes on the walls. It's a very good thing, but there was this route that I've been working on prior to my injury. That route was very enjoyable but there's this one part where I couldn't get past. I was eager to retry that darn route once my wrist heals. Oh well :(.

Meanwhile my form of filling up time now is jogging... which I must be more diligent in. After losing some weight when I got back from India (bless their curries and how it didn't fatten me up though I ate in abundance <3), I have gotten rounder T_T.  Or, on some days like today, I forgo going to the climbing gym and catch up on my books. I've just finished one a couple days ago actually, which I'm struggling to understand its insights properly. This is probably a good thing... maybe an injury can sometimes be a blessing in disguise.


Sunday, June 03, 2012

the rhythm of awkward

    Fidgeting in my place on the floor, I checked the time repeatedly. The event was only running for an hour and a half, and some speakers in the circle shared beyond being short and sweet. I was in an impatient mood; my day hadn't been going well. Though I tried to suppress my restlessness (as it is rude and rather disrespectful), I honestly didn't care if I was thought to be in a bad mood or not in a socially accepted mood in public. It was one of those days.

Then I wondered the appropriateness of exiting the room. How should I get out as smoothly as I can? Even if I waited till the end of her experience-sharing to leave, it would be glaringly obvious. We were seated in an informal circle of about 20 people within the confines of a room; therefore, no chance of edging away slowly without being noticed. Plus, should I inform the person who invited me? That would be the polite thing to do, isn't it? She was the MC and seated just 5 people away. Though to get to her, I would have to cross in front of those 5 people.

I imagined how awkward it would make things. Then hour was almost up and the MCs are so near in heaving a sigh of a job well done. How would a person leaving the room affect them? I was reluctant to break their rhythm, like a child who presses a key on a piano where the pianist is in the middle of a piece. He had no business in that interruption, and same goes to me if I could help it.... but what if you do? If the moment the current speaker ends her speech, I stand up as discreetly as I can (breaking the circle), quietly grab my shoes and make my way out of there with the squeaky door.

    For a while after, I entertained the thought of what is awkwardness. Is it coined for people who made other people break their rhythm? Because it's not a nice feeling. Or automated actions of a waitress in a restaurant. Most people come in, sit at a table, have a look at the menu, order, eat, pay up and leave. Sure, there are some people who throw their flow off their tracks; fussy and demanding customers. But that's expected. It's still within the clockwork. What happens if a patron comes in breaking the unwritten flow of things? Instead of sitting down and ordering their food, they do so over the dessert counter. At their table, they decline the menu. When waiter brings the food, he finds that the patron is crying. Would that make him uncomfortable? Because there had been a breach of silent rhythm rules and certain emotions, like sex, ought to be behind doors. Not in public.

Back into the room, 2 speakers have gone by since, and the final speaker drones on with flowery words. I thought for a bit. Was it worth the effort to risk jarring the mundane flow of the room, making people feel awkward and uncomfortable? Nah, I decided. I'm too weary for that now. Then I relaxed my escape-eager limbs and soothed my impatience in that it will be over soon.