In this post, I will be using terms that will be as broad as possible to include everybody, even if they do not identify within that given category, for instance, MTF and FTM. Also, I am not trying to make you think that my way is the best and only way. There are possibly better and safer ways than the one I am going to describe to you.
I spend a lot of my time researching naturopathic alternatives to allopathic (conventional) medicine. Of course allopaths and non-allopaths try to outdo one another on the treatments that they think work best, but as we all know, the pharmaceutical industry is primarily interested in making better profits and improving functionality. As naturopaths, osteopaths, and chiropractors, we believe that the person is a lot more important than the drugs. We try to have a more holistic approach to finding the patient’s needs and wants. We also have naturopathic psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, etc that work along the same lines as allopaths, but they are more open-minded. Of course, there may be overlaps, but allopaths have set up strict rules for transpeople to complete their transition. That’s why there are some people who choose to modify certain parts of their characteristics while leaving others intact. For example, a transwoman may not necessarily feel that giving birth is important, or having PMS for that matter. They are just happy with their body shape. For others, however, it certainly makes a difference. I asked myself, why. I’ve been looking for ways for cisgender women to be more immune to cramps and morning sickness by using the proper hormones and nutrients to balance the systems in the body. A simple and natural analgesic like oxytocin can help relieve the cramping caused by the uterus during menarche, just like during labour. Our Western diet consists of foods that are filled with poison, because a lot of what we eat affects our babies as well, which then becomes a matter of epigenetics. This simply means above genetics. For those of you who aren’t familiar with genetics in general, think about the following concept. What we eat, that is to say, the animal meat we consume also has DNA and proteins, which gets in the way of ours. This could have impact on future gametes (a fertilised egg). Every human is equipped with a book of life, which contains two parts, each with twenty-three chapters. Each chapter contains a lot of stories. This illustrates the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes, one from each biological parent. However, not all the stories are being read in order. If they were, we would be a mess because not only would we be extremely healthy, but we would also be prone to contracting every virus and bacteria that was out there. Now, when we eat certain foods, we change the layout or structure of these stories in random chapters, which we call epigenetics. According to http://www.EvolutionOfMedicineSummit.com, the most ideal approach would be to optimise the stories of bliss (the good and healthy genes) and minimise the tragic (unhealthy) genes to treat chronic illnesses.
I’d like to discuss some methods that researchers are working on, one of which you can read more at the following URL: http://www.advocate.com/news/daily-news/2011/07/21/researchers-discover-sex-change-gene First of all, let’s talk about whether or not one is ready to transition. For several decades, the only way we could know for sure if someone really wanted to transition was if we got proof from a therapist. As a transhumanist (someone who supports the movement of human enhancement), I believe there is a better, more efficient manner to figure this out. By using things people have implored in science fiction, we can make this science fact. It’s called, augmented reality, which is similar to the Voik Kampff Empathy Test invented by Philip K. Dick. This uses not only psychological diagnoses, but also measures a person’s neuroendocrine system as they manipulate the images and language concepts, which would evoke various emotional responses. The neuroendocrine system refers to the array of hormones and neurotransmitters which are specifically devoted to the development of one’s personality, such as emotion and intellect. We can also use oneirology (study of dreams) to work out a simulation of a person living in the body of the opposite sex while they were sleeping. This type of dream-state would be used to tell us how good their problem-solving skills were by analysing what they did in that dream. I believe that these practices would ensure a better chance that a person would not regret their transition, and that this could replace the need for a lengthy real-life test.
Now, onto the methods researchers are using to improve sex reassignment therapy. For many years, people, mostly allopaths, have been working on regenerating parts of existing tissue, or using tissue from embryos which has become controversial. What has also become more controversial is modifying the genes of each cell, but without this modification, the cell would not be able to divide into the desired shape (mitosis). With current understanding and technology, we can take a patient’s tissue during a biopsy (for males, a small penile, scrotal, testicular, or prostate sample), using those cells, and look at the chromosomes. If you remember from your biology class, each cell in the human body is equipped with forty-six chromosomes—a pair of twenty-three from one of the parents, and another pair of twenty-three from the other parent. Biological females generally have XX-chromosomes while biological males generally have XY-chromosomes (named so because of the Y-shape), though some people may have an extra in some intersexed conditions. First comes the cell, then the organelle, the organ, the organ system, and finally, the organism. There are a lot of organ systems in the body, such as the skeletal, muscular, circulatory, respiratory, nervous, digestive, and endocrine system. All of these systems communicate with one another and work together to keep the organism living. This is done by all the thousands of genes that instruct the cells that die and divide to carry out these instructions. When we have a person who wants to change sexes, we can artificially introduce hormones to bring out secondary sex characteristics (males would have hair growth, deepening of the voice, more muscle development, etc). As a naturopath, we try to look at ways to get the body to produce its own set of hormones by using supplements.
One interesting phenomenon I recently came across in a speculative science novel was how chromosomes could be manipulated. It made me wonder if an X-chromosome was made up of two Y-chromosomes that have been fused together. Think about this for a minute. If you draw a Y, which would look like a line with two points on one end, and then the Y started growing until two more points came out of the other end of the line. The result that would look like this: four points with a line running through the middle. Now, what if we made this line smaller and smaller until all four points met. It would look like an X-chromosome. The question is, would it be as functional as the one that formed naturally? Would it be possible to take one of the X-chromosomes and make one pair of the two points to shrink and a line to grow in its place until it looked like a Y? All of this could be done with nanotechnology, and it would be a lot more difficult. Still, we should not give up hope.
Many researchers believe that if we could snip out a tiny bit of tissue from either sex party, we could find some way to change one of the sex chromosomes, and hope that those cells can divide into the new shape specified by the alleles that were changed. You must also remember that it will be nearly impossible to change every single sex chromosome in the human body, so researchers would have to come up with a virus or use nanobots, which I will discuss below, to change everything in the body. If not, researchers hope to use a 3-D printer and or a special mould for the cell to grow in. It is very hard to grow blood vessels right now because those vessels would need to be grown into the right shape and put in the right place at the time of insertion.
Researchers have had success with regenerating phalluses from rabbits, and the results were that they could use the new penis to reproduce. This brings hope to injured veterans and trans-identified males. As a quick note: We as naturopaths believe that many surgeries are unnecessary, and are instead used to rip you off. That’s why I believe that having SRS with an artificial organ is simply for cosmetic reasons, but it will hold no true function whatsoever. According to http://transhumanoid.wordpress.com/2014/04/12/real-vagina-grown-in-incubator/, not only could researchers grow vaginas, but they could also grow noses as well. This could be useful to just replace a new nose instead of spending a lot of effort to reduse a long nose.
In reference to the post on Advocate, scientists have located a gene that could have a potential to changing the target cells. In order for adult males to maintain their sex characteristics, a gene called DMRT1 is responsible to oversee the division of said cells. If this gene is removed or replaced with a female gene, the male cells would start dying out and they would be replaced by female ones. The same concept applies to females. If the Foxl2 gene is removed or replaced with the male gene, it would cause the female cells to change to male ones. This seems to affect the gonads such as the testes and ovaries, making it so that a person could stop taking hormones artificially. This breakthrough was definitely surprising, for many in the scientific community assumed that once two chromosomes were paired, that was it. This is no longer the case from what new research shows. Unfortunately, these genetically-modified cells won’t be able to produce egg or sperm. More research is needed. This will also give us a chance to know how animals and other species get their cability to change sexes.
Now, the other kind of study, which won’t be available until 2030 or so, would involve scientists who will be working on a new line of practice called nanoscience–nano meaning below the microscale and above the atomic scale. It is hoped that one day, we can inject these tiny little machines called nanobots or nanosubmarines into humans and use them to manipulate the person into just about anything you could imagine that you could do in this universe, such as microsurgeries. It could be possible to shrink bones to make a person smaller for people who wanted to be shorter, or make them grow for people who wanted to be taller. All of these decisions have to be made by the person alone, as it is no one else’s decision but theirs.
For MTF’s looking to augment their breasts or reduce fat without surgery such as liposuction and breast augmentation, several new lines of practices have broken through. The breast-augmentation procedure is actually not new, although the technology to use it is. This type of engineering is known as tissue expansion. According to http://www.mybrava.com, the Brava system allows one to expand their breasts, which would signal for further mitotic growth. This could be useful in areas of restorative surgery, such as creating folds for the female genitals. As for fat and cellulite reduction, cool-sculpting (cryolipolysis) was recently introduce. It works by using controlled-cooling and a suction cup to freeze fat cells underneath the skin. Those frozen fat cells would die out and be converted to waste that the body would excrete over a period of time.
Finally, cryogenics, which is to say, freezing the body in extremely cold temperatures for preservation). If for some reason you end up dying and current technology cannot save you, you could be frozen until your entire metabolism stopped without your body decomposing. I encourage you to look at Alcor Life Extensions http://www.alcor.org/ for further detail. Suffice it to say that as naturopaths, we think that brain transplants are a bit too extreme. If a person was in a terrible car accident or if they had terminal illness, the day would come when we would find the proper balance to increase growth factors to keep cells from dying due to lack of nutrients and or from being taken over by infected ones, like cancer. That’s why studying the evolution and the derivatives of infectious diseases are important. Some day, it would be possible to put humans into hibernation as well. Then of course, there is the possibility of cloning to start fresh.
One thing that disappoints me as a naturopathic advocate is that they don’t do as much research as conventional researchers do. I think that if we could be more flexible, we could change the world for the better. I hope you have found this post useful, and as always, comments are welcome.