The Blind Transgendered Seer

Tiresias of Thebes is a major character in Greek mythology, Homer’s Odyssey, and (perhaps most famously) in Sophocles’s plays, Oedipus Rex and Antigone. An old, blind seer, though he has lost the use of his eyes, in his mind’s eye he is able to see all kinds of things that most humans cannot, including the future.

Tiresias tells Oedipus, “You are the murderer you seek,” and Oedipus refuses to believe him. In Antigone, Tiresias tells Creon that he will bring disaster on Thebes. Creon also refuses to believe him.

Why does Tiresias possess such keen insight when most people—including the high and mighty—can’t even see themselves? For one thing, of all men and gods, Tiresias is the only one who has experienced what it’s like to be both a man and a woman.

One day, while walking in the woods, he came across two copulating snakes. For no apparent reason, he killed the female snake, and was consequently and instantly transformed into a woman.

Mythopedia presents a succinct account of this strange story:

Tiresias went on to live as a woman for some time (seven or eight years in most sources). One day, however, he again happened upon two copulating snakes. According to some sources, Tiresias was able to cancel out his earlier misstep by killing the male snake; in others, he simply killed both. Either way, Tiresias was transformed back into a man.

This remarkable experience left Tiresias uniquely well placed to resolve a dispute between Zeus and Hera. The king and queen of the gods apparently could not agree on whether the male or the female derived more pleasure from sex. So they asked Tiresias—who had lived as both a man and a woman—to resolve the matter once and for all. Tiresias’ response was widely circulated in the ancient world:

“Of ten parts [of sex] a man enjoys one only/ But a woman enjoys the full ten parts in her heart.”

Hera, apparently, found this response humiliating and punished Tiresias by striking him blind. But Zeus pitied Tiresias and compensated him by granting him the gift of divination—and, according to some sources, a life that spanned seven generations

What I find most remarkable about this story is that even the gods can’t know what it’s like to be the other sex. Tiresias is the ONLY being who has crossed this divide that is almost as mysterious as the divide between life and death.

Tiresias is surely one of the strangest characters in literature, and the enduring fascination with him is that he possessed knowledge that it impossible for the rest of humanity to acquire. None of us can ever truly know what it’s like to be the opposite sex. Endocrinologists (with their crude synthetic hormones) and surgeons (with their crude scalpels) are kidding themselves and their patients when they claim to have the power to “reassign” a person’s gender. Who do these doctors think they are?

The Unconstrained Vision

A few years ago my older brother told me a story he’d read (alas, he can no longer remember where) about an author who’d been part of the Resistance during the German occupation of France during World War II. Years later, he bumped into a comrade he’d not seen in the interim, and was surprised to see the man had become a Roman Catholic parish priest. They talked about his priestly occupation, which involved a great deal of listening to the men and women of the parish, and attending to their sorrows, frustrations, and sins.

“So what have you learned about people?” the writer asked the priest.

“That they are surprisingly unhappy, and that there are very few grown-ups in the world,” the priest replied.

I thought of this the other day as I was listening to an interview of the author and economist, Thomas Sowell, who spoke about what he described as two different visions—the “Constrained” and the “Unconstrained.”

Thomas Sowell

The “Constrained” vision sees that nature (including human nature) and the material world impose inherent limitations on our condition. The problems of the world are not entirely a result of someone or some group being at fault. Many things—like the unequal distribution of health, vigor, and ability—are an intrinsic part of life. Through hard work and sacrifice, we can improve our lot within these constraints, but we can’t abolish these constraints altogether.

The “Unconstrained” vision presupposes that the only reason why everyone doesn’t have everything they want is because they are deprived by corrupt institutions and selfish rulers.

It seems to me that the “Constrained” vision is that held by reasonable grownups. Growing up is learning to recognize that we can’t always have everything and be everything we want, but must always act within certain constraints. We must accept that we are mortal—that all of the technology and injections in the world cannot fulfill our fantasies of being invulnerable, younger, richer, better looking, immortal, or a different sex.

The “Unconstrained” vision strikes me as that instinctively held by children. A child who throws a tantrum when his mother doesn’t give him what he wants is unconsciously in the grip of it.

As I have remarked in earlier columns, I suspect our reliance on unconstrained debt to maintain our standard of living (instead of increasing productivity) is a primary cause of our epidemic of childishness. On top of this is the enormous security and convenience of modern life, which most of us now take for granted. It almost never occurs to us—when we open the tap for clean water, flip a switch for lights or heat or AC, or flush the toilet—that a huge amount of work and ingenuity went into creating and building this infrastructure.

Since the USA was founded, its people have done an extraordinary job of overcoming so many of the limitations imposed upon us by nature and our mortality, thereby creating the most secure, prosperous, and free country in history. Now we appear to be victims of the success our forefathers bequeathed to us. We want MORE, we want it NOW, we want the STATE to provide it, and when we don’t get EVERYTHING we want, we BLAME others for it instead of examining and improving ourselves.

Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Freedom Act (HB 81 and SB 177)

By Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH

Many people have told me they would not even think about COVID-19 vaccines if it weren’t for mandates. The vast majority of vaccine recipients have told me they took the shot for some reason other than a clinical benefit including employment, school, travel, or family desires.

The varied positions and responses to COVID-19 vaccination from public health agencies, states, colleges and universities, and employers are a tip-off that the risks of SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination are not viewed similarly from group to group.

The Republican Party of Texas has endorsed The Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Freedom Act (HB 81 and SB 177) by Rep. Brian Harrison and Sen. Mayes Middleton. The current language of these identical bills can be found here:

House version: Texas Legislature Online – 88(R) Text for HB 81

Senate Version: Texas Legislature Online – 88(R) Text for SB 177

So far in less than an hour, >96% of respondents support this concept in the form of legislation. Be sure to visit my Twitter feed and cast your vote:

VOTE HERE! Dr. McCullough Tweet on Texas COVID-19 Vaccine Freedom Act, April 1, 2023

Using legislative tools to ensure civil liberties including the right to bodily autonomy and medical decisions is critical to resolving the pandemic crisis. Please support this legislation in Texas and take up similar actions in your state, region, and country.

If you find “Courageous Discourse” enjoyable and useful to your endeavors, please subscribe as a paying or founder member to support our efforts in helping you engage in these discussions with family, friends, and your extended circles.

Avi Silverberg Sets New Women’s Bench Press Record

By JOHN LEAKE

Hats off to Avi Silverberg—Team Canada’s power lifting coach—for finding the courage to identify himself as a female in order to enter the Canadian women’s powerlifting division. To paraphrase George Gershwin’s 1926 American Songbook Classic, “Someone to Watch Over Me”:

Although he may not be
The girl some men think of as pretty
To my heart, she carries the key.

Call it a weakness for “strong women”—I just can’t resist Avi’s bold freshness in his approach to being feminine.

And my goodness, is he shattering the glass ceiling of Canadian women’s powerlifting. With ease he broke the previous bench press record, held by transgender athlete, Anne Andres, who won eight of the last nine competitions she entered.

Avi scarcely broke a sweat as he shattered the women’s record of 167.5 kilograms (369.3 pounds), set by Anne. To be sure, Anna admitted that her record in the women’s division wan’t very impressive. As she once remarked:

I mean, standard bench in powerlifting competitions for women. I literally don’t understand why it is so bad.

In the so-called “Men’s Division” of powerlifting, top competitors are now benching between 500 to 600 kilograms (between 1,130 and 1,150 pounds) but who’s counting!

Congratulations Avi, for elevating the Visibility of transgender athletes.

For more information about this momentous occasion in women’s competition sports, please see today’s report in the bodybuilding magazine, Fitness Volt.

Dutch Clinical Interest in Gender Dysphoria Skyrocketed in 2014

By Peter A. McCullough, MD, MPH

I am commonly asked by concerned parents about the relatively sudden interest in gender dysphoria and the desire to change from one gender to another. While this is a complex subject that will take many issues of Courageous Discourse to cover, I wanted to start with a simple trend from a bona fide research group in the Netherlands.

van der Loos et al, recently published data from a retrospective cohort of 1766 children and adolescents in the Amsterdam Cohort of Gender Dysphoria. The authors give a brief history of the field: “In the Netherlands, gender-affirming medical treatment was already available for transgender adults aged >18 years since 1972. Nevertheless, children and adolescents experiencing GD were devoid of treatment options until 1987, when psychologist Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis noticed an increasing number of transgender teenagers requesting medical intervention. After careful deliberation, gender affirming hormone (GAH) treatment was made available for thoroughly screened well-functioning young people between 16 and 18 years of age—after first-stage treatment with antiandrogens for assigned males at birth (AMAB) and progesterone for assigned females at birth (AFAB). Thenceforth, a modest number of adolescents were treated with GAH. Around the same time, pediatric endocrinologist Henriette A. Delemarre-van de Waal treated an adolescent diagnosed with GD with a gonadotropin-releasing hormone agonist (GnRHa) to halt puberty. After following the then current diagnostic protocol, she added GAH treatment a few years later. Internationally, this approach of diagnostic procedure and combined treatment of GnRHa and subsequent GAH came to be known as the Dutch Protocol. Few studies have assessed the prevalence of GD in children and adolescents. Based on the current literature, 1.3% to 2.7% of schoolchildren self-identify as transgender or gender nonconforming people. Nevertheless, ever since the implementation of the Dutch Protocol, a rise in the number of adolescents requesting this treatment has been seen. The protocol has become common practice in gender identity clinics throughout the Western world and has been incorporated into the Endocrine Society’s guideline for the medical treatment of GD from the earliest edition and into the standards of care by the World Professional Association for Transgender Health since 1998. However, the approach is not endorsed worldwide. For example, in Sweden the eligibility for treatment with puberty suppression in adolescents has recently been restricted.”

van der Loos MATC, Klink DT, Hannema SE, Bruinsma S, Steensma TD, Kreukels BPC, Cohen-Kettenis PT, de Vries ALC, den Heijer M, Wiepjes CM. Children and adolescents in the Amsterdam Cohort of Gender Dysphoria: trends in diagnostic- and treatment trajectories during the first 20 years of the Dutch Protocol. J Sex Med. 2023 Feb 27;20(3):398-409. doi: 10.1093/jsxmed/qdac029. PMID: 36763938.

Dutch law changed in 2014 to allow treatment of gender dysphoria without gonadectomy. This appeared to be an accelerant allowing more parents to bring young children (< 10 years) forward for puberty halting treatment in order to intentionally give gender influencing (female or male) hormonal therapy.

In summary, the relatively sudden interest in Dutch transgender medicine in occurred not because of a secular change in a psychiatric disease, but rather was driven by laws and clinical protocols with public interest that followed in changing from one gender to another and the program has been off to the races ever since.

If you find “Courageous Discourse” enjoyable and useful to your endeavors, please subscribe as a paying or founder member to support our efforts in helping you engage in these discussions with family, friends, and your extended circles.

van der Loos MATC, Klink DT, Hannema SE, Bruinsma S, Steensma TD, Kreukels BPC, Cohen-Kettenis PT, de Vries ALC, den Heijer M, Wiepjes CM. Children and adolescents in the Amsterdam Cohort of Gender Dysphoria: trends in diagnostic- and treatment trajectories during the first 20 years of the Dutch Protocol. J Sex Med. 2023 Feb 27;20(3):398-409. doi: 10.1093/jsxmed/qdac029. PMID: 36763938.

The Revelation of John

By JOHN LEAKE

In August of 2005, I chartered a 36-foot sailboat on the Aegean island of Kos—where the ancient Greek physician, Hippocrates was born—and sailed up to the island of Patmos. The final leg from Leros took me all day, and it was dusk as I arrived at the island’s marina. The next morning I wandered into town to get a coffee, and as I passed a news-stand, I saw the on the front page of the International Herald Tribune a photograph of a large swath of New Orleans under water. Hurricane Katrina had just made landfall, flooding the city.

Later that day I wandered up to a cave that was purportedly the home of John of Patmos when he lived on the island and had his nightmarish Revelation (Greek: Apocalypse) of the end of the world.

Most vivid and frightening is his vision of Four Horsemen who are unleashed on the earth. The first is mounted on a white horse, armed with a bow, and adorned with a crown. He apparently represents Pestilence. The second is mounted on a red horse and armed with a sword. He is thought to represent Civil War. The third, who apparently represents Famine, rides a black horse and carries a scale. Upon the fourth horse is mounted a pale and gaunt figure who represents Death.

Albrecht Duerer: Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

John of Patmos has traditionally been identified as one and the same as John the Apostle, but many scholars have noted that the former’s Greek contains many grammatical errors and odd word choices, while the latter’s Greek is flawless. To me, this suggests that we don’t know who John of Patmos was, which makes him all the more intriguing.

He was apparently exiled to Patmos by Roman authorities because he preached the Christian faith, which was proscribed and heavily persecuted under the reigns of Nero and his successors in the 1st century AD. Historians think he was sent packing to the desolate island under Domitian (81-96).

However, in John’s reflections on the depravity of Roman rule, he seems to have been thinking mostly about Nero, who ordered cruel and sadistic persecutions of the Christian congregation in Rome after the Great Fire of 64.

Tacitus and Suetonius claimed that Nero himself set fire to the city because he (an aesthete) found the old buildings shabby and he wanted an excuse to rebuild them. Tacitus went as far as claiming that Nero wanted to burn the entire city down in order to re-found it and name it Neropolis.

It’s tough to say if the accounts of Tacitus and Suetonius were based on solid evidence or anti-Nero propaganda, given that the Emperor was hated by many of his Roman contemporaries, including the influential writer, Pliny the Elder.

According to Tacitus, Nero blamed the catastrophe on the obscure sect of people living in the city. They were, he claimed, a superstitious bunch who committed abominations in their communion rite of eating of the body and drinking of the blood of their crucified man-god. To punish them for their alleged arson, he ordered them burned alive.

That John of Patmos was thinking about Nero finds support in verse 13:8, which reads:

Wisdom is needed here; one who understands can calculate the number of the beast, for it is a number that stands for a person. His number is six hundred and sixty-six.

The Greek name “Nero Caesar” translated into Hebrew is NRON QSRN, which adds up to six hundred and sixty-six.

John understood that the Roman imperial administration was immensely organized and powerful, with disciplined legions that could swiftly reach anywhere in the world and destroy any group of men who opposed their rule. However, as he saw it, this great earthly power was not guided by wisdom, truth, and goodness, but by an insatiable desire for aggrandizement and total domination of all people.

I have never known what to make of John, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about him and his strange Revelation.