Sunday, 21 August 2016

Country doctors



I am sick and tired of country doctors !!!!

Let me explain; the expression “country doctor” has a darker meaning than many imagine.  Often in the past the people who went to practice in the country were the least academically able, the least medically competent or those who had to escape a scandal or some issue making then otherwise unfit (or almost unfit to practice).  Even the ITV show “Doc Martin” reflects this meaning as the protagonist runs away from a successful career as a top surgeon to a country practice once he develops an aversion to blood.
However no matter how third rate (or worse) they were regrettably compared to the average rural worker they were the fountain of all scientific knowledge and they often wielded their modicum of skill as a weapon to buy them status and power in the locality. A status and power they truly dud not deserve.  Along with their theological equivalent, the country parson (again often a third rater) and the local squire (an inherited post where the holder was often devoid of ability) they ruled as an unholy trinity.  Like most with limited or no talent they always sought to maintain conservatism because that was within their limited understanding and also served to shore up their power base.
Today things have largely changed urbanisation and the car mean that these old roles no longer have the unwarranted power or respect they once had and more significantly that the incompetent do not survive to qualify and find a sinecure to dominate and destroy. However the world is still full of country doctors and I fear Malta more than most. 
Go online to many fora and you will find country doctors spreading ill educated opinions based, at best, on out dated or discredited theory or science.  Here on the Island you cannot escape it when it comes to women’s rights especially in terms of MAP or Abortion, here too like many other parts of the world Trans rights are abused based on the discredited John Hopkins gender centre or the 200 strong American College of Pediatricians (ACP) .  These country doctors are  often like the originals reliant on the country parson whether it be the Fundamentalist Protestant (ACP) or Catholic (John Hopkins) unfortunately they now through the net have the opportunity to spread and share their incompetence and to decry all those who disagree with them.  Fortunately the squire is long gone in many pleases and they just rant and rail and use the power of words to condemn, harm and destroy
It is said that Henry II asked “who would rid me of this troublesome priest” and that led to the death of Thomas Becket, whilst I want no one to die I have to ask “who would rid me of these troublesome country doctors”

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

The Dangers of Russian Dolls




For reasons of safety and common bond we spend our lives in communities that often resemble Matryoshka (Russian Dolls) communities within communities; family, locality, work, race, gender, hobbies etc.  Growing up I guess I was part of at least a dozen; some the most personal were also the most misunderstood and ignored.  Today I fear little has changed I am still part of many communities, some dating back to childhood (indeed family is a community) but find that being Trans nestled with the LGBT Matryoshka often harmful
 
I find so often that people talk of LGBT ([possibly adding other letters or symbols) as if it is one monolith, one community but it is not.  In the last 10 days the well-loved British (and gay) actor Christopher Biggins openly claimed bisexuals were just gay people in denial and even the cause of the AIDS epidemic.  Until recently Stonewall, the leading UK LGB charity, excluded Trans people even though Trans people led the Stonewall riots which sparked the Gay rights movement 


Today people talk of the successes made by LGBT groups and cite issues that don’t fully concern the Trans movement.  Debates rage over the “sinfulness” of LGBT people and so often extremists from Protestant to Catholic cite the same 6 verses to prove LGBT sin none of which apply to Trans people but in their eyes we are “guilty by association”; our gender identity issues mean we must be “gay” too because, after all, we ARE LGBT(!!!!). They rarely if ever mention the single verse in scripture that talks of crossdressing, perhaps because they recognise a doctrine cannot be built on one verse or that the context makes it clear the reference is no longer relevant. 

Almost as bad are those who seek to defend LGB people from such fundamentalism but make the same error and include Trans in their debates about sexuality and sexual orientation when it is a separate issue and omit to make that clear confusing the issues to the detriment of all.


In 2009 a UK survey found that 48% of Trans people did not identify with the L, G or B community and that of the 52% who did between 10 -15% only did so “politically”, me included.  Like many Trans people I am straight and so not part of the LG or B movement. Yet the more we foster the myth that LGB and T are one the more Trans issues become hidden away within the fight for “gay” rights.  I have lost count of the times I have had to correct people who have talked about Trans people experiencing homophobia, we don’t we experience Transphobia or of the number of people who cannot see the difference between my sex, gender and gender identity (the former defined by my genitalia, the second by innate neurology and the latter by my own sense of personhood) and who treat gender and gender identity as one and the same when they are not.


I passionately believe in same sex marriage but for me it is far less important than having my gender reassignment treatment state funded, as the European Court of Human Rights has decreed, I am less concerned about Pride than about the Trans people forced into toilets where they will be abused.  Equally, as a woman I support a woman’s right to choose and to live life free from violence but I don’t often see women’s groups campaigning for my rights to hormones or surgery alongside these issues. Do these one way streets stretch the common bond; break down a sense of community?


You see so often being Trans is like being the smallest Matryoshka nestled away at the centre and by the time people get to us they are bored because the novelty has worn off, resources used up and there is no energy or will to stand with us.  


Are we therefore safe, second best or just ignored; do we really share a two way common bond and if not are we truly in community?

Sunday, 7 August 2016

How many Maltese does it take to change a lightbulb?



Ok so maybe I was a little na├»ve in thinking the combination of British bureaucratic efficiency (and don’t laugh compared to many it is highly efficient) and laid back Mediterranean attitudes could only be positive but no.  Cannot work out how or why it took 4 trips to various medical establishments (with one more to go) and seeing over a dozen people to get a prescription for my free meds.  It does though explain the low Maltese unemployment rate as, instead of linking up and using the computers they each have, you physically have to go from one person to another often in the same building sometimes on the next door desk and queue in between.  Madness to me but hey ho it’s an accepted cultural norm here sign and stamp and show to someone else who signs and stamps etc hours of wasted and unproductive time 


On that point I wonder what, if anything, the Maltese Trans groups are actually doing? Sure due to a court case Trans people can marry and, an improvement over the UK, can change gender legally with just an affidavit but treatment is not funded. This is contrary to various European Union protocols and European Court of Human Rights decisions stating it is a breach of human rights to not publicly fund gender reassignment treatment including hormones and surgery yet here nothing is done (http://www.lgbt-ep.eu/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/NOTE-20100601-PE425.621-Transgender-Persons-Rights-in-the-EU-Member-States.pdf).  Given that it took a legal challenge on the issue of MAP here to force the Maltese Government to fulfill its obligations to women then perhaps our NGOs (non government organisations) need to take similar action; I for one have put a complaint into the Equality Commission here and emailed the minister advising him of the breach and that I would hold the Government responsible for all costs 


Now some would call me a whining Brit which is not even half true; I am half Maltese for one.  But is wanting efficiency whining after all everyone benefits from it when not taken to extremes and is wanting your rights whining, I think not  



Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Frankie 1 fails again !



Ah well so Rome is at it again …. Denying science because it does not fit in with human opinion (even if wrapped up and called tradition) - apparently children are choosing their gender and Frankie's not happy 


Lets look at this properly something which Francis as an alleged scientist should have done



1.       No child chooses their gender or even their gender identity.  In November 2015 Boston University confirmed that current scientific consensus was that gender identity was innate and inherent and therefore no more of a choice than eye colour (http://www.bu.edu/news/2015/02/13/review-article-provides-evidence-on-the-biological-nature-of-gender-identity/) 


2.       Overwhelming psychiatric and psychological evidence points to the significant benefits of a child allowed to live according to its innate gender rather than its physical sex (http://www.apa.org/monitor/2013/04/transgender.aspx


3.       That no change in gender presentation is taken lightly and that any child rather than just “choosing” as Francis and others incorrectly describing is assessed in depth before any transition and that the process is viewed as part of a child’s medical and social development


Of course science may be wrong and some would of course shout “caution” but this omits three fundamentals.   

Firstly science could be wrong about a lot of things but we do not cry caution or prevent treatment on the majority of interventions just to be cautious and nor should we. 

Secondly nothing at this point is irreversible.  In the rare cases where child, as it develops, finds that its gender and sex are congruent after all it is wholly able to physically revert to its birth sex.  No cross sex hormones or surgery are involved until the child is an adult.   

Thirdly as most Trans adults (including myself) will affirm we are well aware of out gender dissonance at such a young age and though unable perhaps to fully describe it or express it we certainly suffer significantly from it


So again we have a situation where Francis, Rome and other fundamentalists are prepared to deny the scientific evidence and the best solution for an individual because it does not fit with their world view.  Let us not forget Christ never mentions gender variance and in the whole of Scripture even cross dressing is only mentioned once and that in Leviticus alongside the eating of seafood, mixing or fabrics and other cultural and historical laws long since dismissed as irrelevant even by (the apostle) Paul

Another reason to lose the constitutional chains that bind Malta to this religion and become a secular nation

Monday, 1 August 2016

What’s life got to do with it?



One of the things I find hard on this beautiful Island full of beautiful people is the debate which I thought had been won throughout western Europe and the US, a debate hinging on the concept that life begins at conception. 


Many quote the biological fact that at conception new DNA is formed and is thus a new life; yet 50% of that DNA is shared with a Banana so, if all life comes down to is the presence of DNA, is a banana half human? Over 99% of our DNA is shared with primates so biologically are they over 99% human based on their DNA? As we can see from at least these two articles scientific definitions of life are fraught with danger and possibly best avoided
 "There is no broadly accepted definition of 'life.' Suggested definitions face problems, often in the form of robust counter-examples. Here we use insights from philosophical investigations into language to argue that defining 'life' currently poses a dilemma …”

Cleland, Carol E.; Chyba, Christopher F., Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere, v. 32, Issue 4, p. 387-393 (2002).

Similarly Wired states that science cannot (alone) state when a baby’s life begins (http://www.wired.com/2015/10/science-cant-say-babys-life-begins) although perhaps it can say when the process begins
So if science cannot tell us can we rely on religion or philosophy (and here I will rest on the western approaches).  My approach though is fairly simple both philosophically and in terms of faith

Philosophically humanity is defined and differentiated from the rest of the cosmos not by DNA (after all so little is different from our ape cousins) but rather by sentience – viable awareness and cognition - after all we are Homo Sapiens (wise man) and can we be truly human is we do not have any capacity to be wise (or cognisant) even in a very limited capacity? I would suggest not

Similarly our faith (Jewish, Christian or Muslim) springs from the Adamic story.  Regardless of how we read it, literally or metaphorically, Adam or Humanity was created (its DNA in place?) but not alive until God breathed his breath / spirit / Ruach into Adam – modern Judaism based on ancient rabbinic approaches from before the time of Christ seem to suggest that viability is the key and that this fits in with the Adamic myth i.e. that Adam became viable / alive not at his creation but at the point of sentience or when Ruach entered him

Modern Judiasm takes the approach that “the easiest way to conceptualize a fetus in halacha is to imagine it as a full-fledged human being - but not quite. In most circumstances, the fetus is treated like any other "person." Generally, one may not deliberately harm a fetus, and sanctions are placed upon those that purposefully cause a woman to miscarry. However, when its life comes into direct conflict with an already born person, the autonomous person's life takes precedence.

It follows from this simple approach, that as a general rule, abortion in Judaism is permitted only if there is a direct threat to the life of the mother by carrying the fetus to term or through the act of childbirth. In such a circumstance, the baby is considered tantamount to a rodef, a pursuer after the mother with the intent to kill her. Nevertheless, as explained in the Mishna (Oholos 7:6), if it would be possible to save the mother by maiming the fetus, such as by amputating a limb, abortion would be forbidden. Despite the classification of the fetus as a persuer, once the baby's head has been delivered, the baby's life is considered equal to the mother's, and we may not choose one life over another, because it is considered as though they are both pursuing each other.

Judaism recognizes psychiatric as well as physical factors in evaluating the potential threat that the fetus poses to the mother. However, the danger posed by the fetus (whether physical or emotional) must be both probable and substantial to justify abortion. The degree of mental illness that must be present to justify termination of a pregnancy is not well established and therefore criteria for permitting abortion in such instances remains controversial.

“http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/abortion.html

From this I would suggest we find that even abortion, let alone the use of an emergency contraceptive, is permissible in Judaism because life from conception is not confirmed and even if it were is secondary to the autonomous mother and thus perhaps should be so in its daughter faiths
Where then does this leave us? I would say where we expected, without a clear cut answer and for me because of this lack of scientific, philosophical or religious clarity  means that the choice to take contraception, an abortive drug or even a full on abortion is not one that can be made for another even by the state through legislation