Friday, 5 August 2011

Supreme Confidence...

... is what Sulastri or better known as Kak Su exudes.

It's in the way she walks, the way she carries her shoulders high, and when she greets you, she is so unassuming and her voice is so welcoming and warm. One can't help but be immediately taken in.

It also helped that she has a charming lilt to her voice. I wondered aloud if she was from Sabah (just like me). Turns out she's Sarawakian. Cool!

As we chatted, I discovered that she hadn't always been this confident about herself. She spoke about dark moments when she wondered if it were true, what everyone said. Was there something wrong with her? Why was her physical appearance so different from what she felt was her true self. Everyone told her she was confused. But she knew she wasn't. She knew exactly who she was.

But who could affirm what she knows, what she feels? Who could give her answers? She started reading articles about transgenders and scoured the internet. Then she came across information about a research conducted in Europe explaining the phenomenon of transgenders and this gave her the boost she needed.

I looked up the internet to find out for myself what kind of research has been done and I found  a wealth of information supporting what Kak Su and many others like her already know in their heart of hearts.

Among these are;

A paper written in 2004. The content of the paper, entitled Male-to-Female Transexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus, can be found on the Journal of Clinical Endrocrinology and Metabolism website.

This is the abstract from the paper;

"Transsexuals experience themselves as being of the opposite sex, despite having the biological characteristics of one sex. A crucial question resulting from a previous brain study in male-to-female transsexuals was whether the reported difference according to gender identity in the central part of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTc) was based on a neuronal difference in the BSTc itself or just a reflection of a difference in vasoactive intestinal polypeptide innervation from the amygdala, which was used as a marker. Therefore, we determined in 42 subjects the number of somatostatin-expressing neurons in the BSTc in relation to sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, and past or present hormonal status. Regardless of sexual orientation, men had almost twice as many somatostatin neurons as women (P < 0.006). The number of neurons in the BSTc of male-to-female transsexuals was similar to that of the females (P = 0.83). In contrast, the neuron number of a female-to-male transsexual was found to be in the male range. Hormone treatment or sex hormone level variations in adulthood did not seem to have influenced BSTc neuron numbers. The present findings of somatostatin neuronal sex differences in the BSTc and its sex reversal in the transsexual brain clearly support the paradigm that in transsexuals sexual differentiation of the brain and genitals may go into opposite directions and point to a neurobiological basis of gender identity disorder."

In other words, it essentially means that gender feelings are not "psychological", rather are more and more being proven to be "neurological" in nature.  (Basic TG/TS/IS information)

And this is supported by research done even more recently by researchers in UCLA who used  MRIs to "...determine that transsexualism is associated with distinct cerebral pattern, which supports the assumption that brain anatomy plays a role in gender identity."  (Luders, E., Sanchez, F. J., Toga, A. W., Narr, K. L., Hamilton, L. S., & Vilain, E. (2009). Regional gray matter variation in male-to-female transsexualism. Neuroimage, 46, 904-907.)

I also found very useful the homepage for the Gender Identity Research and Education Society.

So there you go.

Since having her intuition validated by hard cold scientific facts, and not some undefinable feeling, Kak Su no longer has any doubts about herself or rather let anyone tell her who she should or should not be. She has always known her true self. Science took long enough, but it is firmly and irrevocably confirming her status.

More importantly, what needs to be done now is to educate the general public and advocate for legal rights for the transgender community.

by louise

No comments:

Post a Comment