Opinion

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21min940

On 13 February 2014, Facebook’s collaboration with Press for Change and Gender Intelligence culminated in the drop down autocomplete menu of genders for users to choose from. The initial list constituted 58 genders but Facebook ultimately settled on 3 options; female, male and other (please specify.) The addition of the ‘other’ category was necessitated by the recognition of people who do not fit neatly into the gender binary. The ‘T’ in LGBTIQ represents the portion of the population which has an expressed gender identity which is incongruent with their natal sex. In America, this group represents 0.6% of the population which translates to 1.4 million people. Transgender people demonstrate the fluidity of gender as a social construct. After all, sex is determined by what is between one’s legs and gender reflects what lies between one’s ears.

The previous sentence is politically correct and it insinuates that gender and natal sex are independent of each other. Natal sex is said to be assigned by midwives and society at birth. Natal sex is not arbitrarily assigned by society, it is a biological reality which solidified by the 23rd  pair of XX and XY chromosomes imprinted in the nucleus of every single one of the 10 trillion cells that make up the human body.  The XX and XY chromosomes are functional outside the reproductive tract as discovered by MIT Professor, David Page.  The genetic differences between one male and one female are 15 times the differences between two males and two females. To deny the significant biological differences between the two sexes is to deny Darwinian evolution theory, genetic science and the common sense logic that human beings are sexually dimorphic. Nature loves variety and so there are outliers such as people with intersex conditions who, in the past have had their most pronounced features decide which of the sexes they will be assigned. The claim that sex is assigned is a pseudoscientific statement used by ill-informed ideologues and belongs in the same category as phrenology.

Unlike chromosomes and hormones, gender identity is not empirically measurable. The extent to which societal conditioning impacts gender identity cannot be denied as gender is performed.  It is absolutely disingenuous to assume that societal conditioning nullifies the biological differences between the sexes. Methods designed by child psychiatrist, Trond Diseth to determine the most appropriate sex for intersex infants  demonstrate the limitated influence of social norms on gender identity. An experiment on male and female monkeys on their preferences for typical male and female toys also proves it. Infants and primates cannot be indoctrinated to prefer one toy over another. How did we come to believe that biological sex and gender develop independently of each other? The distinction between sex and gender has its origins at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s and 1960s.

Clinical psychologist, John Money repurposed the word ‘gender’ to make it specific to human beings and pioneered gender fluidity theory. He believed that humans are born gender neutral and indoctrinated into assuming one of the two genders. To prove his hypothesis, he performed an experiment on identical twin boys, Brian and Bruce Reimer. Johns Hopkins was the mecca of clinical studies and treatment of people with intersex conditions, people exhibit delayed and precautious puberty as well as those with ambiguous genitalia. The Reimers sought help from Johns Hopkins because their sons had phimosis which is a condition that prevents the penis from retracting fully to facilitate urination. A circumcision was the simplest solution and was performed at seven months old. The physician used cauterization (burning) to remove the foreskin and ablated Bruce’s penis beyond surgical repair. Brian’s phimosis resolved itself naturally.

John Money advised the parents to raise Bruce as a female and so they renamed him Rebecca. Money convinced the parents that through conditioning, Bruce would assume the identity of a heterosexual female. Bruce was surgically castrated at 17 months and underwent genital reconstructive procedures at 21 months. A rudimentary vagina was created and an opening was made in the abdomen to enable him to pass urine. Oestrogen was administered during adolescence to promote the development of secondary sex traits like breasts. The twins offered the perfect sample for Money because they had identical DNA, were reared in the same environment and Brian was a control subject.

Money documented his annual psychological tests with the twins as part of his research on childhood sexual development and gender. The twins reported that Money would instruct them to perform genital inspections on each other, watch pornographic material and rehearse sexual positions. Money said these exercises were necessary for healthy childhood sexual exploration and would help Rebecca assume the identity of a heterosexual adult. After threatening to commit suicide in protest against attending another session with Money, Bruce’s father told him of his botched circumcision and subsequent procedures. Bruce immediately assumed the male identity at 14 years and opted for a double mastectomy and reconstruction surgery for a penis. He then changed his name to David. He married a woman and attempted suicide twice before he succeeded at age 38. Prior to his death, he participated in a follow up study by Milton Diamond and publicly disclosed his ordeal in the December 1997 issue of Rolling Stone magazine. Brian struggled with schizophrenia and died of an antidepressant overdose in June 2002.

The legacy of Money’s unethical and unscientific methods persists today in the sphere of transgender medicine. Children are increasingly being subjected to these experimental methods of treatment to address the dysphoria brought about by the incongruence of their sex and gender identity. There is no scientific consensus on the standardised diagnostic tools and treatment of transgender people. The cause of the gender dysphoria transgender people suffer with is a mystery and is a contentious issue in the medical community. Some experts believe that it is a neurological condition that places the wrong brain in the wrong body and thus the wrong hormones interact with the opposite gendered brain. Other experts believe that it is a mental illness characterised by a person’s persistent and consistent delusions. They believe that psychotherapy alone is necessary to treat it. Gender dysphoria was called ‘Gender Identity Disorder’ in the DSMIV and a technique called ‘watchful waiting’ was used to treat transgender children. Dr Paul McHugh closed Money’s operation in 1979, has over 125 peer reviewed articles and he is a proponent of watchful waiting. Dr Kenneth Zucker boasts a success rate of 80% for female patients and 98% for males using his methods. His study on this method of treating gender dysphoria is not peer-reviewed and thus does not loyally follow the scientific method of discovery. Proponents of altering the body to match the mind have no evidence to prove that cross gender hormones and sex reassignment surgery truly alleviate gender dysphoria. The suicide rate of transgender people is 20 times that of their comparable peers even after surgical interventions.

The common shortcomings of the studies that embolden people on both sides of the argument are major. They often have small sample sizes so assessment tools are not always validated. Secondly, there is considerable loss to follow up which compromises the studies. Thirdly, they lack concurrent control subjects or testing before and after surgery. Their tendency to be hypothesis generating instead of hypothesis testing is also worrisome. There is no standardized testing for gender dysphoria, all that is required is for an individual to self-diagnose. Part of the reason for this can be found in a study of 1400 brains through autopsy at Tel-Aviv University.

The researchers at Tel-Aviv analysed three features that correlate with sex. The features are patterns of brain activity, grey and white matter. The research showed that it is rare for a single brain to exhibit either masculine or feminine features exclusively. The male brain is larger than the female brain but the female brain has thicker cortexes which are associated with cognitive ability.

The main physical difference between male and female brains is the ration of grey to white mater. Women have 10 times more white matter than men and men have 6.5 times more grey matter than women. The grey and white matter studied is related to intelligence.  Another study used MRI techniques to examine the brains of 18 FtoM (Female to Male) transsexuals and 19 heterosexual female controls and 24 heterosexual male control subjects.  They discovered that the transsexual subjects (born female) had the same grey to white matter ratio as the gender they identified with (males.) This study was done on people who experienced gender dysphoria but opted not to transition using cross sex hormones and surgical interventions. The amount of testosterone in the bloodstream is also linked to how microstructures form in the brain. As a layman, it is incredibly difficult to reconcile the fact that there is no such thing as a gendered brain and that transgender people have the “wrong” gendered brain interacting with the wrong body’s hormones. Researchers also state that one cannot infer anything about innate skills, behaviours and the extent to which social engineering can be discounted when observing the brains of the sexes.

Behaviour alters the brain so there may be some credibility to the notion that gender dysphoric children tend to desist from transitioning if allowed to go through puberty naturally. Due to the loss to follow up in older transgender studies, desisters and detransitioners are not accounted for. Websites like sexchangeregret.com and organisations such as The Heritage Foundations do the work to assist detransitioners who believe that surgical interventions did more harm than good. The assumption that gender identity is innate is also challenged by twin studies which show that identical twins with identical DNA do not share a gender identity 72% of the time.

The use of puberty blockers was restricted to help those experiencing precautious puberty. Now, they are used to assist children with gender dysphoria even though they are not FDA approved for this use. Puberty blockers, when used in physiologically normal children, have negative effects. They reduce the growth rate in height, lead to low bone density, abnormal glucose tolerance, breast cancer and in some cases lead to more self-harming tendencies. They permanently sterilize children because they force the reproductive organs to atrophy. They are used to stop the sexual development at the onset of puberty and are followed up by cross-sex hormones. Gender reassignment surgery also does not alter the genetics of a transgender person’s natal sex.

The ethical issue of experimenting on children has not been addressed adequately. Puberty is a natural development state. It is stage three in Piaget’s model of cognitive development. Puberty’s main function is not only to make humans reproductively viable but also involves changes in the brain and psyche. Although the human brain reaches 95% of its full size by age six, it doesn’t stop developing until adulthood.

The prefrontal cortex which is responsible for higher order cognition, planning and decision making stops growing in the mid-twenties. The limbic system which is responsible for hormone regulation also develops during puberty. From a psychological perspective, teenagers try to balance their need to stand out with their need to belong to a social group. I would not trust many of the decisions I made as a teenager in as much as the government did not trust me to vote, drive or enter a legal contract. Teenage offenders are not expected to be sanctioned as severely as adult offenders for the same antisocial behaviours and crimes. This is because it is common knowledge that children do not have the ability to control their impulses as well as adults. Yet, through experimental science, children are expected to make life-long decisions on their fertility and gender-identity. There is nothing as transphobic as a society that has higher standards for weight loss products than for drugs that relate to the treatment of a group of people who are so marginalized.  Banned drugs like DES (DiEthylStilbestrol) are possibly linked to gender dysphoria and demonstrate the disastrous effects of shoddy medical research on human lives. The latest studies on puberty blockers for pubescent children indicate that instead of resolving the dysphoria, they increase mental health issues in children. It is abusive to tamper with a child’s natural biological development when there is no conclusive evidence that it is beneficial in the long term and where the full extent of the medical effects is unknown.

The transgender agenda should extend beyond discussing the unfair advantage transgender females have over cis-gender women and the issue of legislating the use of preferred gender pronouns at the expense of free speech.


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6min793

Mesut Ӧzil is a great player, very few can deliver a pass like the German. But he’s only an asset to the team going forward- trust me, I’m an Arsenal supporter who knows how painfully true that is.  The World Cup winner doesn’t toil with the rest of the boys when they need to win the ball back, rendering his services a luxury, at the expense of the Gunners.

This is similar to twanging that one would come across, when in the company of those who former President Jacob Zuma would label “smart blacks.” Hey, I’m not necessarily biased against people who have a nasally manner of articulation, because I have a bit of that too owing to where I went to school and even the Hip Hop culture I grew-up engrossed in. I just get annoyed when we as society begin to equate fluency in English, to intelligence.

I often find myself in spaces where conversations about a plethora of things are abound; from spirituality, sexual orientation, artistry, socio-economics and so forth. With these exchanges, various ideas and opinions come to the fore, which is all well and fine with me. But it’s the gang from multiracial schools who’d often show-off their well-spoken English, but essentially adding naught to the conversation. What makes the whole picture worse, is that more often than not, the other blacks would be so gobsmacked by the speaker’s eloquence, they’d be too intimidated to even rebuff what they just heard.

Go to any Higher Education institution around Gauteng, where you would find students who hail from Township schools and rural parts of the country being ostracised for not being as articulate in the English language. But these are the same students who are passing their courses-while the “good speakers” are stuck repeating classes.

This isn’t to suggest multiracial or Model C schools never produce top students, and that rural and kasi schools don’t flunk in university- but there’s a sense that we as young black people are polarized by how we speak this English.

But this isn’t unique to young black people. The older generation has been institutionalized to be intimidated by Caucasians, hence most black parents would take their kids to larney schools with a rightful hope for a better future for their kids, but these folks also do it to make sure their kids won’t be seen as inadequate for not being able to speak fluent English.  I remember my family’s expectation for me to speak isilungu, in my first years at Primary. I didn’t understand that. The same way I don’t comprehend the jubilation of a pre-school kid’s parents, at the sound of a five year old twanging.

It’s not wrong for the child to learn a new language, but it is, to give your child ideas that their comfortability with the English language makes them better black people. I’m pretty sure that most black parents wouldn’t show off their kids’ ease with Tsonga, if their bundle of joy was able to speak the Bantu language.

It is this sort of thinking that creates a sense of Afrophobia among black people- irrational fear towards black people or anything that is of African descent. Afrophobia infiltrates everything around us, be it music, business and even media. Remember the bridge that collapsed on the M1 highway/Grayston drive which led to the deaths of two people in 2015? I bet that had that construction site been overseen by an African company, more heads would’ve rolled, rapidly. But because Murray and Roberts Holdings is white-owned, the inquiry to what happened is only taking place now, three years later.

No one dare questions white supremacy, or simply anything white. Look at what happened with the Steinhoff saga.


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10min660

Previous Return of The Dreamers instalments had the make-up of a mixtape, the soppiness of a demo and were lethargic as those preseason warm-up matches in sport. But Revenge of The Dreamers III is purely a case of third luck’s a charm for J.Cole and the Dreamville squad.

The first ROTD was released in 2014 with the follow-up coming in 2015.  The projects left one with a sense that Dreamville was just testing the waters. But this current shit here slaps, quite hard.

I’m only realising this as I write, that we were actually conditioned to expect more than we got from the previous projects, by the marketing gimmick Dreamville pulled earlier this year. They publicly invited artists they wanted to have on this project, on social media. I ain’t an artist and I’m not even in the US nogal. But those invitations didn’t only leave one excited, but just wana be in there…even nje just to witness the sickness. I can bet you my speakers that a shit load of artists, in the US were green with envy.

“Cole was like ‘man we should make invitations’ and then I was just like damn that’s actually kinda genius. We literally got it out to people the day we got here, we were supposed to do it ahead of time and then that day, we just stared seeing people posting, posting, posting,” said Ibrahim ‘Ib’  Hamad, President and co-founder of Dreamville speaking in a the documentary Dreamville Presents: REVENGE.

The album featured 34 artists and 27 producers, this is out of the 343 individuals invited to record it in 10 days.

“That shit worked out crazy like, people hit my phone, everybody wana come and everybody’s welcome at the same time, you know what I mean,” said Cole. “For me it was like, literally a golden ticket typa situation.”

Months flew and the excitement fizzled, but somehow, sporadically reignited by a J.Cole verse on other artists’ joints in the months leading up to now.  But the eagerness for ROTD III came back to us quicker than Babes did to Mampintsha, after watching the enticing Dreamville Presents: REVENGE.

Sonically, ROTD III is refreshing…looking at where Dreamville comes from as a label. They were, and are largely still seen as one of the torch bearers of the Boom-Bap sound and that real rap shit. This album has various sounds, but each song never veers off what Dreamville seems to represents, realness.

It’s symbolic that Dreamville hosted a slew of artists, and even in the web of sounds, no one forgot that these dreamers are tryna pay revenge.  The stable has grown in sound and artistry…the songs uniquely represented the folks at Dreamville. The seemingly organic chemistry they had with the outside artists, isn’t unusual for Dreamville because the stable has an assortment of artists, who hail from different parts of the country.

The weed joint, 1993 produced by Elite is so Wu-Tang. I’ve been listening to Buddy’s music for a year or two now, and his energy on shit is always palpable. He doesn’t rap on this track, but serves his purpose on the song. The blunt is seen as the microphone, and vice-versa to which Buddy is the conductor. Cole and JID complemented each other well with their verses, coming correct.

JID is Dreamville’s poster boy and he further proved why on this project. Ladies, Ladies, Ladies produced by Kal Banx has JID musing over past lovers alongside the big bro from ATL T.I. It’s a smooth ditty, delivered in an attempted to sound hard, but both kats come out sounding dope cute.

I would’ve liked to see Cole, Ib and Top Dawg’s reaction soon as they heard LamboTruck. I saw Reason as just a decent kat before this joint, but his cadence and pen game was above par. So was Cozz…and they both sounded deliberately humorous. The two West Coast kats’ comfortability with each other reminded me of the chemistry between East coast’s Method Man & Redmad. LamboTruck also represents the kindship between Top Dawg Entertainment and Dreamville, far more than just the business.

Ari Lennox, Dreamville’s empress, owned her space on the project. Self Love featuring Bas and Baby Rose is one of those songs that would sit well on an Ari project. She got swallowed up though, by Ty Dolla $ign on Got Me– if that beat was America, Ty Dolla $ign would be the white race. Omen hasn’t shrugged off sounding like Cole, but the Friday Night Lights/ The Warm Up Cole- nice, but still on the come up. The track is produced by Mdbeat, Deputy and OZ.

Bas can be a bit sluggish when solo, on his own shit but Abbas Hamad rapped out of his skin on Down Bad, rapping with stable mates JID, EARTHGANG, J.Cole and 21 Savage’s cousin Young Nudy.

Sacrifices, Wells Fargo, Oh Wow…Swerve are other songs worth mentioning that give the album more body and gravitas to even dare call it an album. There are songs the alum could’ve done without, like Swivel and Sleep Deprived .

It’s natural to wonder what will happen to the songs we heard in the documentary, which were recorded in the 10 days but didn’t make the 18 track cut. And I suppose it’s also natural to sit there and think why they didn’t invite so-and-so…because of the vast possibilities and expectations that come with putting together such a project. So it is what it is.

But Dreamville gave dreamers hope with this one, without being melodramatic about it.


Idara Udom06/26/2019
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5min660

Imagine date night with lots of whisky then throw in the competitiveness of a Chopped episode, mix in the little culinary tips of a MasterChef class, and you’ve got the launch of Grant’s Triple Wood Whisky. Held in honour of Grant’s global whisky ambassador Danny Dyer’s first visit to Johannesburg, the event was also styled as a prototype for the “Triple Good Sessions”.

The evening started with a short cooking class by Master Chef G who explained how to smoke snoek like a pro at home. Did you know you should sprinkle your signature herb or spice on the wood chips rather than the fish? He also explained how to pair whisky with your meals at home, a handy tip considering that majority of Grant’s consumer base often drinks it at home. In the words of the Grant’s team “We are what you drink in the comfort of your home when you want to relax.”

Although the evening is a great date night idea, be warned. It is guaranteed to bring out the rivalry. Armed with aprons and chef hats, couples are split up into opposing teams and then the madness begins. You are presented with two mystery ingredient boxes, one and a half hours and you have to create three dishes! Luckily there are recipes to guide you, which you are also able to take home, but one unlucky group gets no recipes and has to wing it. Local flavours were the star of the menu with favourites like pork trotters, curry and even steamed dumplings making an appearance.

The whisky tasting happens while you are cooking, offering more time to savour the whiskies as you sip and cook. It also allows you to see how each whisky will pair with the dish you are preparing. In the midst of mishaps, laughter and jokes, the competitiveness quickly fades away. Instead, the evening becomes more like a dinner party where your friends chip in with the preparation. After cooking, a long table is set up and you get to taste the fruits of your labours. Overly spiced foods are teased but eaten with relish, and kitchen mishaps are recounted from each group.

Highlights of the evening include a wacky storytelling circle, which began with one mandate; your contribution has to be as insane and goofy as possible. The resulting story would have made an amazing ad for Grant’s or a really insane Netflix movie. Despite Grant’s established customer base however, they have turned their sights towards a new market. Taking the saying “whisky is best shared with people” very seriously, Grant’s is seeking to take the whisky out of home with curated fun date night events and the Triple Good Sessions. If the launch was anything to go by…we can’t wait.


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IT’s like being soul-crushingly stood-up last minute by the one you’ve been pursuing for a long while, and then jiki-jki you’re cringingly excited by a random call or text from your perpetrator, not long after being let down.

So that was it; how I felt after the announcement of this year’s AfroPunk Joburg line-up. A friend who had the flyer on his WhatsApp status was going crazy over GoldLink finally coming down south for a performance. SMH. After a closer look, I also saw the names of Solange Piaget Knowles and Micah Davis. SMFH.

The three of them; Solange, GoldLink and Masego abandoned their South African fans and left them hanging in the past few years. It was in the afternoon of December 2017 , Central African Time, when Beyoncé’s baby sister dropped the bombshell on Insta, stating health reasons for cancelling her performance at AfroPunk’s inaugural African event. “…however it is important to me for the people in South Africa, a place that has tremendous meaning to me and that has given me SO SO MUCH, to know why I won’t be performing at Afropunk this NYE. The past five months I have been quietly treating, and working through an Autonomic Disorder,” she wrote on social media.

AP organisers vehemently promised to have the dope-ass creative the following year, mara nex in twenty18. A part of me is like “Tsek!” after I saw her name on this year’s flyer while another leans on the proverb “better late than never”.

While Solange was specific about her condition, rap singer GoldLink just said he had a health issue, in a statement released by Rocking The Daises organisers. “Due to unforeseen personal health reasons, GoldLink will not be performing at this year’s Rocking The Daises and In the City festivals in Cape Town and Johannesburg. GoldLink is extremely disappointed that he won’t be playing to his South African fans this weekend but promises to return soon.” He is returning soon, sooner than Solange was promised to us.

AfroPunk2019 lineup
AfroPunk2019 lineup

Jamaican-born musician Masego had fans dissatisfied last year, when he was booked to headline the Flying Fish Flavour Odyssey together with rapper J.I.D but cancelled due to “unforeseen circumstances”. The Navajo singer was stranded at an airport, in another continent just a day before his performance. Like a decent human being, he apologised and made the promise to return. And he kept it. Masego performed earlier this month to throngs of his fans. I’m just not sure whether South Africans want to see more of the lanky dude,so soon.

AP better have a back-up plan should all three decide to take a rain check-the three have left scars on their Mzansi fans which will take some time to heal. “I have very hectic trust issues. This line-up is triggering me. The ghosts of all the money I threw away at Flying Fish, Rocking The Daisies and AfroPunk2018 is screaming at me right now,” said ManchaM on twitter.

This year’s line-up was released earlier than AP usually publishes their list of performers. It’s kinda too good to be true. Only time will tell if the said artists will perform at this year’s AP.



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