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18 May 2021

A review of Goiar's The Original Harry Benjamin Syndrome Book

See also:

Charlotte Goiar (1972 - ) HBS activist.

A short history of (Harry) Benjamin Syndrome.

Rose White’s Harry Benjamin Syndrome Review – a review.



  • Charlotte Goiar. The Original Harry Benjamin Syndrome Book. Self published, 2021.

Charlotte Goiar (1972 - ) was raised in Vigo in Galicia, Spain. She was diagnosed by the school psychologist as a trans child at age 7, and from age 16 was on hormonal therapy from the Vigo hospital - the first such patient to be so treated in Vigo. However she met much derision at school from both students and teachers and was unable to complete high school. Since 1991 she has been in psychiatric treatment, and living on welfare. In the early 2000s Goiar proposed the concept of Síndrome de Harry Benjamin (Harry Benjamin Syndrome). She set up www.shb-info.org in 2005. Various HBS websites - some run by other people - ran until 2011. Goiar was still pre-op at this stage. She underwent several years of litigation against Galacian Health Service, until finally in 2015 at age 42 she had completion surgery in Barcelona. She has of course set an important legal precedent for transsexuals in Spain.


Her new book opens with:

A Note to the Reader

The information contained herein has been silenced, obscured and censored by the LGBTQ lobby and allied political groups in power for three decades now. Those few who have tried to expose it have been ridiculed and threatened by these powerful lobbyists. For this reason, the reader is warned that the scientific & social evidence presented here can deeply overturn old beliefs held for a long period of time, which have been publicly promoted by that lobby which does not represent at all the group of patients. (p8)

On p12 Goiar lays out her position:

Today, the term 'transsexualism' is outmoded in its' ability to properly describe the condition.

Research now documents the fact that a neurogenetic basis (neurological, hormonal and genetic/DNA factors) undergird the existence of HBS. The old psychological construct known as “transsexualism” is now passé. Thus, those with HBS are the objective sex of their sex of stated identification.

Recent studies tell us that neurogenetic sex, rather than anatomical genital structures, determines more precisely the actual sex of an individual. Therefore, someone born with HBS is already a member of the "opposite" sex. This overturns the term “transsexualism” because there is no change of sex. Rather, one only does corrective surgery on reproductive structures.

Someone with HBS is already a member of their stated sex biologically, as their neurogenetic sex is of the identified sex by the brain, genetics, prenatal hormones and DNA structures, rather than the external genitalia. Simply put, their neurological sex is opposed to that of their genitals at birth, and they are in need of medical rehabilitation to fix this mismatch.

Therefore, we see that HBS is actually an intersex (Disorder of Sex Development) condition, and the old idea of “transsexualism” becomes outdated. The idea of a neutral and physiological neurological, genetic, hormonal and DNA basis for the conundrum replaces the obsolete idea that “transsexualism” was a psychological disorder.

 

Is HBS a synonym for transsexualism, a sub type thereof or a quite different condition?


Goiar equivocates.

As did her colleague Rose White in her 2010 book, Harry Benjamin Syndrome Review, Goiar is given to taking a quote from another writer about transsexualism and simply substituting “HBS” or “Harry Benjamin Syndrome” where the original said “transsexualism”. Convention says that if you do something like this you should put the substitution in [editorial brackets] to make it clear what you have done. Neither White nor Goiar does so. This of course is dishonest. However it does imply that “HBS” is simply a synonym for ‘transsexualism”.

The most outrageous instance is on p27 where we find:

“Over 70 years of medical research regarding Harry Benjamin Syndrome specify that there is NO evidence whatsoever that any psychological or environmental factors cause Harry Benjamin Syndrome. All of the medical research done to date indicates conclusively that physiological (neurological, genetic, DNA) factors are the sole cause of Harry Benjamin Syndrome.”

Goiar then attaches over 25 doctor and professor names including Richard Green, Zoe Playdon, Russell Reid etc as if they had actually signed such a statement. Whatever this document is or was originally, googling does not bring it up. The closest is an iPetition signed by a few people who are not famous doctors. Perhaps the original said - of course - ‘transsexualism’ not ‘Harry Benjamin Syndrome’ and 60 not 70 years. Laura Amato complained about this deception back in 2007.

In fact Goiar did put out a pamphlet in 2007 that contains the quote and supposed signatures and saying ‘60 years’. This was in many ways an early draft of the current book. In 2009 she wrote a Knol (a short-lived Google publishing feature) in which she specifically claimed that HBS was Benjamin’s Type VI. This of course created a problem in that Benjamin had specified that a Type VI would be exclusively Androphilic, but most trans women who did identify as HBS - far from being Androphilic - had gone through a period of being a husband and father.

In 2009 Goiar revised her estimate of the frequency of HBS and estimated that it is: “an extremely rare condition [1:100,000]”. I pointed out that therefore HBS are only a fraction of 1% of transsexuals. In a pamphlet put out in 2012 she made it clear that the 99%+ of trans persons are not HBS:

“Transsexualism (TS), Gender Identity Disorder (GID), or Gender Dysphoria is a mental condition that consists of the desire to live and to receive acceptance as a member of the opposite sex. Do not confuse this with HBS, as it is not medical. Feelings of malaise or discord with one’s anatomical sex and desires to obtain surgical or hormonal treatment to modify the body to agree with the desired sex usually accompany it (ICD-10 F64.0/ DSM-IV-TR).”

Thus HBS is supposedly something different from Transsexuality.

However in this new book, this is not clarified. When discussing Harry Benjamin, and when discussing medical treatment Goiar is certainly discussing transsexuality in general. The other 99%+ are invisible in this book (unless they/we are to be assumed under the term ‘transgender’).


Is HBS a DSD?


Goiar several times proclaims: “Harry Benjamin Syndrome is a disorder of sex development (DSD)”. She has from the start regarded HBS as an Intersex condition.

Intersex conditions are differentiated from transsexual in that:

  1. intersex conditions can be detected at birth if the doctors look and do the tests.
  2. most intersex activism -- as opposed to trans activists who campaign to make HRT and completion surgery available -- has been directed at getting doctors to not change children until they are old enough to consent, and to establish that many intersex conditions are not necessarily pathological,

There has been a push, mainly from the trans side, to establish Transsexuality and perhaps Transgender also as a type of Intersex. To some extent this is a matter of definition. However simple courtesy says that it is the Intersex activists, not the trans activists, who will continue to decide whether or not trans comes under the Intersex umbrella.

Goiar is sort of arguing that HBS is - or will be soon - detectable in the womb or at birth. See the discussion below.

DSD (disorder of sex development) is a term introduced in the so-called 2006 Consensus statement on management of intersex disorders. The Consensus was produced by medical professionals without input from Intersex activists except for Cheryl Chase/Bo Laurent. While there was a pretence that DSD is to replace the term ‘hermaphrodite’ rather than ‘intersex’, this has not been the case. The term DSD has been taken into use by medical professionals, but rejected by almost all the Intersex organizations. The major objection is the use of the word ‘disorders’ which implies and does lead to pathologization.

As Goiar is seeking for HBS to be considered a form of Intersex, embracing the DSD terminology may not be the best way to go about it.


Is HBS=HSTS?


The Freund-Blanchard-Bailey-Brown theoretical model uses the confusing term Homosexual Transsexual (HSTS) for heterosexual trans women. An HSTS is usually a trans kid telling her parents that she is really a girl from a young age, and who transitions as soon as possible. HSTS is contrasted to ‘autogynephiles’; much HBS commentary also used the term ‘autogynephiles’ for the other, non-HBS transssexuals - although Goiar dies not do so in this book.

So is HBS=HSTS? Many commentators see them as very similar. However HBS and HSTS are two solitudes both not communicating with the other.

Goiar still continues this non-communication.


David Reimer


There is chapter titled John Money, but actually mainly about his patient, the unfortunate David Reimer. Why are HBS persons concerned with Reimer? Reimer was a cis boy, reassigned to female after a bad circumcision that became a penectomy. The reassignment did not take and he grew up to be a heterosexual cis man.

What the Reimer story demonstrates is that it is very difficult to transsex a cis boy. It tells us nothing at all about transvestites, transgenders, transsexuals or HBSers. 

However see below where Goiar actually assumes that HBS was induced into an unfortunate boy who was transsexed in Auschwitz. As Goiar maintains that HBS is genetically determined, why would she think that was even possible? Has she properly thought through her own position?


Arnold Lowman, transgenderist


“Lowman also coined the term 'Transgenderist' and 'Transgenderism' and helped popularize the term 'Transgender' ". (p63)

What can I say? I have previously explained that this is completely wrong, as has Cristan Williams. The claim that Virginia Prince (dead name: Arnold Lowman) coined the term is a disinformation meme that has been definitely refuted but keeps being revived by writers who really want this non-fact to be true.

Virginia Prince was introduced to the term by Ariadne Kane around 1978, and used it in a few articles 1978-9. As she had done with 'transvestite' Prince took an existing word and attempted to restrict it to mean only her own type. It was mainly Leslie Feinberg who wrongly claimed that she had coined it.

Prince could not be transgender because she was transgender-phobic. Almost all types of transgender were prohibited from her groups. Even after Feinberg and IFGE falsely used her name in proclaiming the transgender umbrella, Prince continued to write mean-spirited articles complaining about the umbrellas.


Contemporary History of Harry Benjamin Syndrome


The book includes what Goiar calls a “Contemporary History of Harry Benjamin Syndrome”, but is really a very selective history of transsexualism. She starts as she did when her website was up with Lili Elbe. Surely Lili, a long-time transvestite who in middle-age progressed to surgery is of the 99% of transsexuals who are not HBS, and also - if we are to believe her unreliable autobiography - a person with Multiple Personality Disorder like Walt Heyer.   Surely Dorchen Richter or Toni Ebel would be much better candidates?

“1943 Germany Nazi doctors induce artificial Harry Benjamin Syndrome by hormonal treatment of prisoners. There are two cases very well documented, one in the concentration camp of Auschwitz and Marie-Andrée Schwidenhammer in the camp of Natzweiler-Struthof. Miss Schwidenhammer, now deceased, founded the Association of the Hormonal Patients (AHP) in order to to be able to help the victims of such practices.”(p64)

Really! HBS can be artificiality induced? Is she actually saying that if Schwidenhammer had not been experimented on in a Nazi concentration camp, she would not have become transsexual, and would not have organised to help others? Actually Schwidenhammer helped all trans persons, not just concentration camp victims.

What is most noticeable is the lack of any history of the HBS movement. Its founding in 2005; Goiar’s encounter with Diane Kearny, their split; the initial enthusiasm for the term as it was adopted by such as Laura Amato, Suzan Cooke and TS-Si, the leaving of those and many others within two years because of the disparagements, the homophobia, the transgender phobia; the closing down of the HBS web sites in 2010-11 - as a movement it lasted barely six years.

There is no word of Rose White’s 2010 book, Harry Benjamin Syndrome Review, the only previous book on HBS, which Goiar did endorse when it was published.

There is no word of the HBS pre-cursors, not even the most notable example of Margaret O’Hartigan, and there is no word about the “Classic TS” movement which flourished at about the same time.

Several HBS persons have achieved things well worth noting. Cathryn Platine founded the Maetreum of Cybele Magna Mater in Catskill in upstate New York, wrote a book on transsexual priestesses in the ancient world and organised relief efforts for LGBT victims of hurricane Katrina.  Yasmene Jabar set up the web sites Cafe Trans Arabi and the International Transsexual Sisterhood, the first to help trans women in the middle east, and then expanded to help trans women wherever they are. In 2005 she was involved in the Trans Eastern Conference (TEC) in Istanbul. Alejandra Portatadino worked with LGBT groups and sex workers and was recognized by the Buenos Aires Legislature as one of 20 Argentinian women who ‘broke traditional moulds’. Margaret O’Hartigan received a Spirit of Pride award for ““tireless advocacy for the trans community”. Joanne Proctor worked with OII. Rachel Hosham appealed to the European Court of Human Rights for the right to a corrected birth certificate and did valuable research on the Ewan Forbes case and its impact on Corbett v Corbett.

None of these are mentioned.


Is there a biological signifier?


Most of the world’s population lived under authoritarian governments that would be delighted if the next generation of HBS/transsexual/transgender/queer persons could be identified in the womb and thereby eliminated by compulsory abortions. The number of persons with Down’s syndrome is already significantly down with voluntary abortions alone.

Every now and then there is a supposed breakthrough and a biological signifier is announced. HY-Antigen in 1979, BSTc in 1995. However they are not replicated by other scientists and/or they do not lead to any useful research, and they are forgotten.

While Goiar claims that HBS is congenital, she actually writes “Unlike other intersex conditions, the clinical manifestations of this syndrome are not evident at birth, it becomes evident later … Most diagnoses of HBS occur when the individual is between 15 to 35 years of age”. This despite it resulting from pre-natal events.

So what diagnostic methods does she propose:

--- the pheromone/chemical scent test to determine the true sex of an individual. This test consists of having the patient smell variations of chemical compounds and pheromones in which the neurological response of the brain elicits a sexually dimorphic response to each scent.

--- variations in the length of certain segments of DNA where the genetic code "stutters". That is, a few "letters" of the code repeat themselves in the same order many times. (However this approach suggests that such stutters may be the sites of most common genetic mutations and if one does lead to HBS, it has not been identified.)

Some other suggestions are also pursued, and the word ‘may’ is used a lot. Some of the ideas are certainly worthy of further research, but the total of ideas does not support the conclusion that HBS is different from transsexuality nor that it can be identified in the womb, at birth nor in teenage.

Given what Goiar has to offer, we don’t need to worry about the next generation being aborted.


Conclusion


Some of the more untenable positions of HBS have been left out of this book. Goiar has either accepted advice or has reconsidered.

However it does retain other quirks. Also much of what she writes here, she has published before.

It is a much better book that Rose White’s in 2010, even better written despite Goiar being Spanish.

If you want to read a book advocating HBS, this would be the one.

An interesting exercise would be to read this and Kay Brown’s On the Science of Changing Sex, 2020, at the same time and compare the two. Brown’s book advocates for the Blanchard HSTS theory.

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