Thursday, 30 November 2006
Monday, 27 November 2006
Now this from Nature :
How alike are you and me? About 99.5%
Nearly six years after the sequence of the human genome was sketched out, one might assume that researchers had worked out what all that DNA means. But a new investigation has left them wondering just how similar one person's genome is to another's.
Geneticists have generally assumed that your string of DNA 'letters' is 99.9% identical to that of your neighbour's, with differences in the odd individual letter. These differences make each person genetically unique — influencing everything from appearance and personality to susceptibility to disease.
But hold on, say the authors of a new study published in Nature1. They have identified surprisingly large chunks of the genome that can differ dramatically from one person to the next. "Everyone has a unique pattern," says one of the lead authors, Matthew Hurles at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK.
The differences in question - made up of stretches of DNA that span tens to hundreds of thousands of chemical letters — are called 'copy-number variants', or CNVs. Within a given stretch of DNA, one person may carry one copy of a DNA segment, another may have two, three or more. The region might be completely absent from a third person's genome. And sometimes the segments are shuffled up in different ways.
These variable regions received short shrift for many years. When the human genome sequence was pieced together, they were largely glossed over, because researchers were focused on finding one overarching reference sequence — and because the repetitive nature of the segments makes them hard to sequence. "It was swept under the rug," says Michael Wigler who is also mapping CNVs at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, New York.
They found nearly 1,500 such regions, taking up some 12% of the human genome. That doesn't mean that your DNA is 12% different from mine (or 88% similar), because any two people's DNA will differ at only a handful of these spots.
According to the team's back-of-the-envelope calculations, one person's DNA is probably 99.5% similar to their neighbour's. Or a bit less. "I've tried to do the calculation and it's very complicated," says Hurles. "It all depends on how you do the accounting."
The answer is also unclear because researchers think that there are many more variable blocks of sequence that are 10,000 or 1,000 letters long and were excluded from the current study. Because of limits with their methods, the new map mainly identified variable chunks larger than 50,000 letters long.
Many of these CNVs are thought to be important in our biology. The team found that 10% of human genes are spanned by these regions, meaning that they might be doubled, deleted or otherwise jumbled in a way that could help to determine whether and when we develop diseases.
You see, I belong to a mailing list that is particularly interested in Gender and Genetics, that calls attention to articles like this. Funny that... anyway, it's another data point, and yet another illustration of just how much we don't know!
Sunday, 26 November 2006
First, clean the area with hibitane antiseptic soap. Plump up the pillows, put a stainproof cover on the bed, and some absorbent sheeting over that. Get out the computer, good book, TV remote, or manuscript you'll be working on, or just decide to have a short nap.
Take the dilator, put on a rubber glove, put a condom on the dilator then a fair amount of surgical lubricant using the gloved hand. The stuff they use to put stomach tubes down throats is better than KY jelly, but don't stint on the stent.
Using a mirror to guide you into the area, smear some more lubricant on the neovaginal entrance. Now relax, straighten out the legs, and insert. If you meet resistance, stop, relax, continue. Keep on doing this until you've reached either your threshold of pain (it's like constipation), or the desired depth.
Now use a bottle or other object held between the legs to keep the pressure up, and the stent in place. Do something useful for the next 90-120 minutes. Sleep is good, if there's no pain.
OK, the timer goes off, and it's time to stop. Withdraw the stent, get appalled by the quantity of bloody goo that comes out at the same time, clean up the area using a tissue and go to the bathroom. Try not to leak on the carpet!
Now use a large syringe full of clean water to repeatedly douche till the water that comes out is clean. Follow up with a 10% betadene douche.
Finished yet? Nope.
Spend a while drying out the area, then use cotton swabs and neat betadine to wipe all stitches and visible wounds. Use burn cream on any necrotic tissue, scabs and so on.
THEN clean up the mess, and make preparations for doing it again in about 10 hours time.
Look, it's just a post-operative surgical procedure, similar in many ways to any treatment to avoid post-operative infection in any perianal region. After a few months, the mess will be less, the blood will go, I can use soap instead of antibacterial solution, and the whole thing will take 45 minutes a day not 4 hours. Maybe less as times goes by. Something you can do in the bath.
It would be easier if I had a boyfriend, then there's no need to dilate after a few months, but I'm not ready for even thinking about that concept yet.
Tomorrow I get an examination to see when I can move on to the next size up. You see the one in the picture is only 31mm in diameter, that's "medium" not "large".
Thinking about that, I am going to get myself a good cup of tea.
But you know what? I'm still so very happy that things feel right now. Not as right as they will do when things are healed, just far righter than they've felt since I eas 4 years old.
Thursday, 23 November 2006
Zen and the Art of Post-Operative Maintenance.
Only for those with an insatiable curiousity - or who are contemplating a similar journey. There's a lot more to it than might appear at first glance.
I think even Dr S was pleased - just over 20cm depth immediately post-op. He's actually getting better at this.
And for those not so curious - a picture of my hospital room, that I left on Wednesday. Note Laptop with Internet connection immediately next to bed.
You see, I'm on a number of support sites, and I know all too well how heartbreaking this time of year - and Christmas too - is for some.
It was the late nineties, and Thanksgiving dawned rainy and dismal, the water coming down throughout the day in waves that chilled to the very bone. My "home" was a red 1994 Corvette that I thought I had looked hot in, just six weeks before. I "lived" where it ran out of gas, 2/3 of the way under a freeway overpass in the Los Angeles area. I had no money, no home, no job, no family and no friends. Six weeks earlier I had run out of hormones and couldn't get to the one clinic that would give them to me for free, so I was going through horrendous menopausal symptoms. I hadn't eaten in two days. Everything I owned was wet, and I was chilled to the bone.
In the afternoon, I walked to a pay phone and put in a collect call to my parents, who lived in a house on a golf course that I had bought them. Prior to that, they had lived in a trailer, as did everyone else in my family but me. My mother answered the phone.
"Will you accept a collect call from D____ D_______?"
"Ma'am, will you accept a collect call from D____ D_______?"
More silence, though I could hear people in the background. My family members. Music. Clinking of glasses or dishes. Finally, "No," followed by the line going dead.
Her life got worse - a LOT worse - after that. But it then got better too, as happy an ending as you can ever imagine. Here's an example from just today.
I am feeling really sad today. I am missing out on my girls lives because of me being me. I can't stop loving my ex, and I feel like a horriable person because my eldest os miserable without us all being together.She's still forbidden to have contact with her family.
I feel at lost because my youngest is walking now and i did not get to see her walk. I am missimg so much. Next will be her first word.
So now I thank my whole family for not rejecting me, as so many others have. For continuing to love me as a daughter, a sister, an aunt, and a Zeddie rather than a son, a brother, an uncle and a Daddy. I thanks especially my partner, Carmen, for remaining my best and closest girlfriend, as I'll be hers.
I thank all of my friends from all parts of the world, whether they understand or not, for wishing me well. Just look at the comments on my blog to get a hint of the good wishes, and yes, Love in the Christian and Buddhist "Love thy neighbour" sense that I've received.
Why me? Why not other women in similar situations, some of whom have shown the most amazing courage, endurance, and fortitude? I don't know. TANJ I guess.
But I'll do what I can on support sites to help, because it's at times like these that I realise just how Thankful I should be, and how much I owe to the common weal.
And I've just had a Cherry Truffle Chocolate, made by Charles Layton Chocolates of Traverse City Michigan, and given to me by a friend who's also just had her surgery here.
Wednesday, 22 November 2006
Yesterday was the first day I could move about - with assistance - and see some of the other patients who I'd gotten to know. I also sampled a peculiar Scots Drink, Irn Bru, about which more later.
But walking around with vast quantities of surgical packing in your abdomen, and carrying a bag half full of urine friom the tubing is as unpleasant to describe as it is to experience, not to say undignified.
Today though was the Big Day. The day the catheter was removed - with the prospect of it having to be re-inserted if the urethral plumbing was too swollen. The day about 200 metres of packing was removed from my new improved anatomy. And the day of my first dilation.
I better explain that last part, and there's no particularly delicate way to do it. Until things have settled down,scar tissue stabilised, blood supplies re-connected etc the tendency for a neo-vagina is to close up. Natal women with vaginal dysgenesis or having had reconstruction after radical sugery have the same problem.
That means a um, rather phallic object must be inserted in the neovagina and pushed in as far as it will go until the discomfort is too intense, then held there for several hours every day, at least for the first few months.
Dr Suporn thought he could guarantee a depth of about 15 cm - 6 inches.
Well, at the first attempt - which always over-estimates by 2cm or so due to the swelling - it hit 8 inches. And I think it could have gone a bit further if I was willing to tolerate a bit more discomfort. It will eventually settle down to about 7, though 8 is possible with extra effort and more pain.
Anyway, should I end up being attracted to guys, as everyone seems to think that I will, including my partner, Carmen, it looks like I'll be physically capable of accomodating all but the very largest.
(Is it OK for me to Freak Out now? It is? Good)
But the best thing is that I'm lying back now, dilating, and still able to use my laptop, blog, and do research on my PhD, despite having fully 8 inches of perspex... well, dilating me. So the 4 hours a day I have to spend doing this can still be productive! As well as feeling kinda nice....oh heck, it's obvious I was born for this, my hindbrain set up for a female body in every respect.
And emotionally, intellectually, the whole gestalt adds up to a common-or-garden Geek Girl, just one whose sexuality has been mightily mixed up by having a boy body for so long. Now whether this will change (as everyone seems to think it will, and I'm finding that mildly irritating) or whether I'll remain happily asexual, I don't know.
Whatever, the future is, er, pregnant with possibilities now. And my respect for Dr Suporn's technique is even higher than it was. Yes, it's very invasive compared to all others, longer healing times, more discomfort. But the results are optimal.
Sunday, 19 November 2006
"Eat plenty of food" they told me. "You'll need the raw materials to heal". And lots of fruit, being bound up could cause things to tear, as well as being agonisingly painful.
So I did.
But it seems their advice was callibrated to a typical westerner without experience of hospitals and major surgery. So I ate not wisely but too well. 5 serves of fruit per day, and full meals even though I didn't feel hungry.
Well enough of that. I'll stick to 2 pieces of toast and a cup of tea for a while.
Dr Suporn removed the bandages and packing this morning, so I got my first look at the new anatomy. Swollen, bloody, stitches, and it will look worse before it looks better as the swelling really starts. But some good things : very little necrosis, the bulk of the skin grafts have taken, and the rest will heal in time. No sign of a fistula (opening between vagina and colon), always a danger and still a possibility.
Also...though most of the area is numb from post-operative shock, some bits aren't. The odds of an acceptable result were 90% plus, and with such little necrosis, I'm cautiously optimistic there.
The odds of a good, fully-functional and sensate result were maybe 40%, as the old configuration wasn't fully sensate. With sensation at this early stage, things are looking very good there too.
Friday, 17 November 2006
A Man stabbed a transsexual with shards from a broken vase after discovering her true gender during an intimate encounter, a Melbourne court heard today.Always tell before things get out of hand - so to speak. Deciding on when and if to tell is a fraught question, get it wrong and...well, if you're lucky you survive. But ethically you have to, before things go too far.
Clinton Dwayne McRae, 28, of Pakenham, today pleaded guilty in the Victorian County Court to intentionally seriously injuring the woman after going to bed with her last January.
McRae met a person he believed to be a woman at a Southbank club. They returned to the 41-year-old woman's city apartment where she stripped to her underwear and they got into bed together, the court heard.
As they started to become intimate she jumped out of the bed and told him she was transsexual, she told the court.
McRae then punched her several times, grabbed her hair and yelled: “You're a f---ing freak ... I'm going to kill you,” she told the court.So let's see, he causes her to beg for her life, causes her to flee in terror from her home, stabbed, bashed, and bleeding, puts her in hospital for four days and he's the victim, who will need trauma councelling?
“I begged for my life. I got down on my knees and asked for forgiveness,” she said.
She said she grabbed a ceramic vase which McRae took from her. He hit her on the head with it and stabbed her with a broken portion of the vase.
She said she escaped and hid outside her apartment and McRae then left.
In an interview with police, McRae said any “red-blooded male” would have been angry if faced with his situation.
“I am going to need mental counselling after what's happened.”
The woman spent four days in hospital and suffered lacerations to the chest, shoulder and torso, Crown prosecutor Gabriele Cannon told the court.
Thursday, 16 November 2006
Wednesday, 15 November 2006
I'm still irrationally afraid that something will happen to prevent this. It's clear now that this issue has been in the back of my mind since about 1972, and it's never gone away. It just semed so impossible that I dared not acknowledge that, or my life would have been intolerable. Even now, I daren't want this too much, in case there's a delay. Afterwards though, amidst the pain, discomfort and mess of the immediate post-operative period, yes, then maybe I can let myself feel what is inside me now.
See you on the flip side.
Tuesday, 14 November 2006
I'm sure it was just coincidence that this elephant (and companions) decided that the sidewalk restaurant we were dining at was good for some free food. OK, not true, even the elephants know a soft touch when they see one.
Falang Picture-takers were encouraged to pay 20 Baht (about 50c US) for a bag of food. The Elephant would tuck in, and ignore camera flashes and other distractions, and everyone, especially the elephant, would be happy.
Meanwhile, I'm checked in to the Aikchol Hospital here in Chonburi, high speed Internet just connected so I can post this, and I'll be under the knife in just over 18 hours time. Still to come, the check-up with the anaesthetist, and some cleaning-out of the digestive tract in about 8 hours.
Now that most of the events that could have prevented or delayed the op are over, I'm starting to let myself feel how important this is to me. Having a body I'm not ashamed of will be a new experience for me, you see. Like patting an elephant.
Thanks goodness I was never circumcised - or some creativity would have been needed.
Guven that I'm unlikely to ever have sex, I opted for an average depth, rather than one more useful for a well-endowed boyfriend. This means I can get away with no unsightly skin grafts. But I'm told 15cm should be doable, maybe more if I work at dilation a bit.
And that evening, while having dinner in a street bistro with a number of other patients and their partners, I got to feed and photograph an elephant. Pics tomorrow when I have a link capable of uploading jpeg files.
Monday, 13 November 2006
I also managed in the mad panic to leave my mobile phone at the security checkpoint, but also managed to retrieve it thanks to the excellent staff at Qantas and some passengers who were even later than I was.
The Internet connection I'm using now isn't letting me post photos - but I'll have some tomorrow. Wednesday is the big day, and now I'm here, I can finally let myself realise just how much this means to me. Well, almost. I'm waiting till Thursday for that, really. While there's the smallest chance something may delay or postpone surgery, I can't invest too much emotional capital in it.
Which rather says something about how much it means anyway, doesn't it? I'd thought I'd recovered all the repressed memories by now, but one just surfaced. Of when I was 14 years old, in 1972, and first heard of the possibility of SRS. And rejected it as impractical. But it was always in the back of my mind, it seems, quietly lurking. And now my sentence is nearly up, 3 days to go.
But a quote from Churchill is appropriate here:
"This is not the End. This is not even the Beginning of the End. But it is, perhaps, the End of the Beginning."Exactly so.
Saturday, 11 November 2006
Well, my plane does leave in 3 1/2 hours...
So I'd like to broadcast a general thanks now, and will send individual thanks when I have a little more time.
Special thanks to thsoe who have hit my tip jar to defray my $25,000 medical expenses (so far). Every little bit, even $5 helps, and some of the amounts were considerably more than that!
All the best to everyone, and there's a greater than 99% chance I'll be back blogging in due course. I might even manage a few posts from the hotel before surgery, with luck. Otherwise there'll be a 2-week delay or so.
My thanks once more, and best wishes to all my readers.
Friday, 10 November 2006
Thursday, 9 November 2006
Or just go to the main site, Aliens and UFOs Among Us for a most unusual viewpoint.
Or maybe not so unusual. From the Daily Mail :
UFO sightings and alien visitors tend to be solely the reserve of sci-fi movies.
So when a former MoD chief warns that the country could be attacked by extraterrestrials at any time, you may be forgiven for feeling a little alarmed.
During his time as head of the Ministry of Defence UFO project, Nick Pope was persuaded into believing that other lifeforms may visit Earth and, more specifically, Britain.
His concern is that "highly credible" sightings are simply dismissed.
And he complains that the project he once ran is now "virtually closed" down, leaving the country "wide open" to aliens.
Mr Pope decided to speak out about his worries after resigning from his post at the Directorate of Defence Security at the MoD this week.
"The consequences of getting this one wrong could be huge," he said.
Basically, he's saying that we should be sceptical rather than unthinkingly dismissive.
Make that "very, extremely, even fanatically sceptical" and I might agree. Unthinking dismissal is not a good strategy. Thinking dismissal is.
Naturally, unless the US Democrats ban the Orbital Mind Control Lasers they believe exist, we could use those on the Aliens to protect our precious bodily fluids. Now the Democrats have control of the US Senate and Congress, they may even pass this legislation.
Somehow... that doesn't make me feel safer though. Quite the contrary.
Neither does this article from the British Medical Journal.
>>Peers in the House of Lords last week debated the changes, which allow homoeopathic medicines to make medicinal claims. In September, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) introduced a scheme to regulate homoeopathic products in the United Kingdom,The Labour Minister of Health, Lord Warner disagreed using the following justification:
which allows manufacturers to specify the ailments that preparations can be used for.
These changes have led to an outcry from much of the scientific and medical world, says the Liberal Democrat Lord Taverne, who led the debate and called for the regulations to be annulled.
"This regulation was made explicitly for the benefit of the manufacturers of homoeopathic products," he said. "For the first time in the history of the regulation of medical products, it allows claim of efficacy to be made without scientific evidence. It is an abandonment of science and the evidence based approach.
"When homoeopathic substances have been tested scientifically, no evidence has been found that they work any more than as a placebo. It is the equivalent of witchcraft."
"Because homoeopathic products are different from conventional medicines, it is right, in our view, that they are regulated in a different way. They cannot demonstrate efficacy in the same way that conventional medicinal products are required to do to obtain a licence."In other words, they don't work, so no point trying to prove they do. All the regulations do is to require distilled water of the right kind to be used, rather than plain old ordinary distilled water, tap water, or something actually poisonous.
Wednesday, 8 November 2006
Neanderthals may have given the modern humans who replaced them a priceless gift -- a gene that helped them develop superior brains, U.S. researchers reported Tuesday.
And the only way they could have provided that gift would have been by interbreeding, the team at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the University of Chicago said.
Their study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, provides indirect evidence that modern Homo sapiens and so-called Neanderthals interbred at some point when they lived side by side in Europe.
"Finding evidence of mixing is not all that surprising. But our study demonstrates the possibility that interbreeding contributed advantageous variants into the human gene pool that subsequently spread," said Bruce Lahn, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute researcher at the University of Chicago who led the study.
Lahn's team found a brain gene that appears to have entered the human lineage about 1.1 million years ago, and that has a modern form, or allele, that appeared about 37,000 years ago -- right before Neanderthals became extinct.
They noted that this D allele is very common in Europe, where Neanderthals lived, and more rare in Africa, where they did not. Lahn said it is not yet clear what advantage the D allele gives the human brain.
"The D alleles may not even change brain size; they may only make the brain a bit more efficient if it indeed affects brain function," Lahn said.
But remember - Neanderthals are extinct. Sometimes being smarter is not enough.
Personally, I think we could use a bit more of the same though.
Tuesday, 7 November 2006
An LG KG245.
Now to get connected to the network, and test the Bluetooth connectivity to my laptop. I'll start with uploading a "Dr Who Theme" Ringtone. I've tested the Camera already - 640x480 super-high resolution - and as soon as I can will start posting some of the pictures.
OK, I'm Geeky. And in 8 days, finally, physically, completely and unambiguously a Geek Girl in every respect. 1/3 of a century after I first thought of the subject.
Oh yes, it's a phone too, with International Roaming and a capped rate.
Sunday, 5 November 2006
The experience of this dissonance between the sex appearance and the sense of being male or female is termed gender dysphoria. The diagnosis should not be taken as an indication of mental illness.
Appendix A Legal Rights of Transgendered People Section A.1
It should be noted that a Court of Appeal in Madrid ( Katia vs IMSALUD 2003) found that, as an Intersex condition, transsexualism should be treated on an equal basis as other "corrective" intersex surgery.
We're getting there.
Fully featured high end MP3
plays MP3, WMA, WAV and OGG Vorbis sound files
Use as a storage device for digital pictures, presentations and more
FM radio with a record function
Swiss Army knife incorporated in a metal body
Remote control with two earphone connections for parallel listening
Drag and Drop Multimedia Device means no special software just use Windows Explorer to drag and drop
The SWISSMEMORY TM USB Victorinox is a unique accessory, perfect gift or a business tool. The small all-rounder integrates numerous useful tools and is available in two versions: one with a stainless steel knife, scissors, a file and a screw driver and the other without these tools, to carry when travelling on planes (not a stock item). Both versions include a pressurized pen and a light function. 128mb, 256mb and 512mb have a red light. The 1GB and the new 2GB have white light function.
2.5" 60% Serrated locking blade
Nail file, nail cleaner
Adjustable pliers with wire crimper and cutter
Removable screwdriver bit adapter
2.5" Blade for Official World Scout Knife
Spring-loaded, locking needle-nose pliers with wire cutter
Removable screwdriver bit holder
Phillips head screwdriver bit 0
Phillips head screwdriver bit 1
Phillips head screwdriver bit 2
Flat head screwdriver bit 0.5mm x 3.5mm
Flat head screwdriver bit 0.6mm x 4.0mm
Flat head screwdriver bit 1.0mm x 6.5mm
Magnetized recessed bit holder
Double-cut wood saw with ruler (inch & cm)
Bike chain rivet setter, removable 5mm allen wrench, screwdriver for slotted and philips head screws
Removable tool for adjusting bike spokes, 10mm hexagonal key for nuts
Removable 4mm curved allen wrench with philips head screwdriver
Removable 10mm hexagonal key
Patented locking philips head screwdriver
2.4" Springless scissors with serrated, self-sharpening design
1.65" Clip point utility blade
Philips head screwdriver
2.5" Clip point blade
Golf club face cleaner
2.4" Round tip blade
Patented locking screwdriver, cap lifter, can opener
Golf shoe spike wrench
Golf divot repair tool
4mm allen wrench
Fine metal file with precision screwdriver
Double-cut wood saw
Cupped cigar cutter with double-honed edges
12/20-Guage choke tube tool
Watch caseback opening tool
Mineral crystal magnifier with precision screwdriver
Compass, straight edge, ruler (in./cm)
Fish scaler, hook disgorger, line guide
Shortix laboratory key
Micro tool holder
Micro tool adapter
Micro scraper - straight
Micro scraper - curved
Laser pointer with 300 ft. range
Metal saw, metal file
Micro tool holder
Philips head screwdriver 1.5mm
Fine fork for watch spring bars
Pin punch 1.2mm
Pin punch .8mm
Round needle file
Removable tool holder with expandable receptacle
Removable tool holder
Special self-centering screwdriver for gunsights
Flat philips head screwdriver
Mineral crystal magnifier, fork for watch spring bars, small ruler
Spring-loaded, locking flat nose-nose pliers with wire cutter
Removable screwdriver bit holder
Phillips head screwdriver bit 0
Phillips head screwdriver bit 1
Phillips head screwdriver bit 2
Flat head screwdriver bit 0.5mm x 3.5mm
Flat head screwdriver bit 0.6mm x 4.0mm
Flat head screwdriver bit 1.0mm x 6.5mm
Magnetized recessed bit holder
Tire tread gauge
Fiber optic tool holder
Patented locking screwdriver, cap lifter, wire stripper
Actual Size: 8.75. W x 3.25. L
Weight: 2lbs 11oz
Though the laser pointer's kinda cool.
Thursday, 2 November 2006
Until recently, it was the premiere site for people of the non-Moonbat persuasion. Alas, it has gone downhill, and not just because of the moderators intolerance of Transsexuals.
No, now contributors also have to disavow the Theory of Evolution. It has become an article of dogma, and no dissent will be tolerated. The site has sunk to being a distorted mirror-image of the Lunar Leftist site, Democratic Underground.
But fortunately, thanks to Rand Simberg of Transterrestrial Musings, I've now found that Conservatives who believe in this Science stuff have a new home: Darwin Central.
There's even a thread on Transsexuality and Intersex from a rationalist conservative perspective. Not "Reality-based", merely based on Reality.
Worth a visit.