Archive for July, 2010

Our website: Maximizing the benefits

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

In this day and age, websites are considered an essential communications tool – for businesses, institutions and, especially, social/support groups.

They provide access to current information on the world around us and permit us to truly, objectively gauge our place in the world.

There are two kinds of web sites out there. One type is static, the other dynamic. Static sites do not promote interaction between the members of the organization maintaining the site. Static sites also tend to be updated less often than dynamic sites and, in fact, often contain outdated information which paints an inaccurate picture of the organization and what it is about.

Dynamic sites tend to stay much more current owing to the constant input of new information by the site administrators and constant feedback from site visitors via comments and contributions.

Banner and block ads may also be included on websites. They are mainly revenue producers, but they can serve a useful purpose in cross linking to other, complementary sites that may be of interest to the the members of the organization maintaining the site. Nevertheless, ads must be managed wisely and used sparingly – especially on non-commercial sites – so as not to overwhelm the content. We must never forget why the site was created in the first place!

GF has had a dynamic website from the outset and I intend to keep it dynamic – in every sense – so we can all reap the maximum benefits from it. Your webmistresses will continue to post current news and background articles about the group and about TG/TS issues in general. I invite all GF members, prospective members, family members, friends and allies to communicate with the site managers and each other via this invaluable online resource!

~ Judy

Gender-bending fish found in Alberta

Friday, July 30th, 2010

By Shannon Montgomery, The Canadian Press, July 30, 2010

(Emphasis applied by GF editor.)

CALGARY – Alberta researchers say gender-bending fish swimming in the province’s southern rivers raise serious questions about whether the water is safe for people to drink.

Two University of Calgary professors have been studying how a small species of minnow reacts to a wide variety of hormone-altering chemicals detected in several rivers.

They found sexual changes both in the wild populations of the fish and under controlled lab experiments with the same chemicals, said co-author Hamid Habibi.

He said while it’s not known whether the levels are high enough to hurt humans, there is a possible risk the chemicals could increase cancer rates or developmental abnormalities.

“We think there’s a health concern,” he said Thursday. “We’d like to be able to predict these things and reduce that kind of risk.”

In some locations, female fish accounted for as much as 90 per cent of the minnow population, far higher than the normal 55 to 60 per cent.

At many of the sites studied, male fish showed elevated levels of a protein normally high only in the blood of females. Other areas have produced male fish with female eggs in their testes.

Habibi and co-author Lee Jackson found a large variety of chemicals that affect hormones in the water. They include synthetic estrogens, such as [found in] the birth control pill and bisphenol A — a chemical used in making plastics — as well as agricultural byproducts.

The disturbances in fish populations were greater downstream from cities than upstream and were most notable around several major cattle feedlots.

One area of high concentration was interrupted by a normal region where the river is joined by several tributaries from Waterton National Park.

The researchers managed to replicate many of the changes in a lab environment by combining the chemicals in the same ratio as found in the river.

They also discovered that while a single chemical might affect a fish one way, the combined effect with another chemical might be much greater than expected.

In one case, two chemicals might each have a one-fold effect on a fish, while in combination the effect might be nine times bigger.

The potency of these chemicals improves significantly if they are present in a mixture. That is new information,” said Habibi.

“Which means some of the data used by Health Canada and EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States) may need to be revised, because they’re based on individual studies for those chemicals.”

Jackson said most wastewater treatment plants don’t get rid of many of the chemicals.

The researchers have partnered with the City of Calgary to begin work at a new treatment plant investigating how engineering can keep the chemicals from flowing back into the water.

He said it’s too early to tell whether the current levels in water might have anything to do with a rising trend of cancers that are under hormonal control, but he added that a possible link should be studied.

“I think we need to look at this a little more carefully and ask, what is the message the fish are telling us,” he said.

“If the fish are showing bent genders and people are drinking the same water… We need to try to evaluate that risk.”

Part of the research is to be published in the journal Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry.

(Repost, from Yahoo! Canada News.)

***

Discussion point:

If drinking southern Alberta water could produce a profound feminizing effect in humans, would you chance the possible cancer consequences to reap the benefits?

Thoughts on Facial Hair Removal

Friday, July 30th, 2010

So… My GP referred me to a dermatologist to look at a couple of red spots on my face. The dermatologist recommended I suspend IPL facial hair removal, which was apparently causing chronic inflammation. And the dermatologist, in turn, referred me to a clinical/medical electrologist.

During the seemingly interminable hours of my electro treatments, I’ve talked at length with the electrologist about facial hair removal for MtFs and learned a lot about the special challenges male beard hair presents to the hair removal practitioner.

Male beard hair does not respond to hormone therapy the same way that body hair does. Once established (at puberty) a male beard will remain as coarse and heavy and deeply rooted as it always was – even in the face of high doses of hormones – whereas, over time, body hair tends to become finer, softer and less dense on the arms and legs, and especially on the torso, where it may actually regress to a normal female peach fuzz. (Just keep shaving…)

Because male beard hair is generally so much coarser and more deeply rooted than body hair, it stands to reason that it will resist the usual hair removal techniques more tenaciously than natural (finer, less deeply rooted) female body and facial hair, which the conventional techniques were developed to deal with in the first place.

My electrologist asked what kind of facial hair removal treatments I had undergone before seeing her. I told her I had had a course of IPL laser blasts and that progress had been slowing recently. I admitted that  I had an exceptionally heavy beard and I recognized that exceptional measures would be required to beat it into submission.

She laughed.

First of all, she informed me, IPL is not a true laser. The acronym stands for ‘Intense Pulsed Light’. A true laser operates at a different light wavelength which penetrates the skin more deeply and delivers follicle searing energy more effectively than IPL equipment. While IPL might be a perfect solution for natural female body or facial hair, or TS body hair softened by hormone therapy, it cannot totally, permanently remove well-established male facial hair.

I was shocked to learn that, in fact, only one commonly-used ‘laser’ hair removal device, the LightSheer, is rated (by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) as capable of performing truly permanent hair removal. That’s largely because the LightSheer is a true laser, not an IPL device.

Alas, LightSheer practitioners are fewer and much farther between than IPL practitioners. That’s probably because the LightSheer system costs up to ten times more than a typical IPL machine, putting it financially out of reach for many salons and spas. As a consequence of its higher cost, LightSheer treatments often cost many times more than IPL treatments addressing the same hair locations on the body.

Another factor which older MtFs must confront is the presence of light grey or white hairs in their beards. While a mark of distinction in a middle-aged man, they present perhaps the toughest challenge to the older TS and her hair removal practitioner.

My electrologist (who, it turned out, is also a licensed Clinical Lasertrologist) notes that hairs must contain a certain minimum amount of dark pigmentation to respond favourably to either IPL or true laser treatments. We all know that dark colours absorb light energy much more efficiently than light colours. The sad truth is that no IPL or laser system available today can obliterate light grey or white hairs, on your face or anywhere else.

That’s why, says my electrologist with a wink and a grin, her specialty is unlikely to fade into obsolescense anytime soon — in spite of constant claims by IPL and laser practitioners that needle-based hair removal techniques are poised to go the way of the Dodo.

The moral of the story is, TSs (and especially we older gals with significant infestations of white hairs) need to monitor our hair removal progress closely and critically. When we no longer see any significant improvement from treatment to treatment on IPL or laser, it’s time to switch to electrolysis. My electrologist says shop around. Get sample treatments. Choose the practitioner who feels right for you and with whom you feel most comfortable. In general, she says, electrologists with clinical/medical accreditation, those with more experience and those who use a magnifying device to aim their needles will be more likely to achieve a better kill rate than the ‘operators’ you’ll find in most neighbourhood spas and salons. Bottom line: Higher kill rates mean fewer painful sessions to endure and less money you’ll need to shell out to clear your face of hated hair once and for all.

(Reposted, from a private blog.)

No skirt, no school ?

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Forcing Girls to wear Skirts

No, this is not a story of some crazy old aunt or dominatrix. It is about whats going on in some schools in Great Britain.

Many schools across the country insist on girls wearing skirts as part of a strict uniform code which they believe maintains good levels of discipline among their pupils.

Schools which force girls to wear skirts may be breaking the law  –  because the policy apparently discriminates against Transsexuals and the Transgendered.

In a 68-page report on the human rights of transsexuals, a national watchdog organization says that, “requiring pupils to wear gender-specific clothes is potentially unlawful.”

It says that research conducted for its report found that, “pupils born female with gender dysphoria experienced great discomfort.”

GenderFreedom is always on guard protecting gender-different people from gender inequality !

~ Judy

***

Discussion Point:

What is your position on the gender-appropriate attire in the schools issue?