THA BRAVADO

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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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6min741

The industry is a dirty place man. Not the Moonchild Sanelly gyrating her assets on stage, pleasing kinda-dirty. But I mean the witnessing of someone getting robbed in the streets of Joburg, in broad daylight, ice-cold kinda dirty.

That’s why having an experienced and genuine individual, who has your best interest at heart is a miracle in this entertainment industry. This Sunday, Dumza Maswana hosts his Celebrating African Song show, at the Joburg Theatre. Last year the Molo singer held a similar show at The Orbit Jazz Club, where he unleashed a teenage boy wonder in Vuyolomzi Solundwana. This year he’ll share the stage with 15 year-old Likhey Booi, who Maswana is mentoring.

A Young Star: Vuyolomzi Solundwana performing at the Orbit Jazz Club. Photo by Sip The Snapper

“I am very passionate about young talent. When I started in the industry I never had a person who was already in the industry to help me take my first steps. No one was willing to share their platform. I believe young artists need a mentor who can help them develop the inner and outer resources essential for staying true to the joy of creating,” says Maswana.

“Whether they ultimately become artists or not, the experience of working seriously with a mentor can be valuable. I always refer them to other artists or producers in the industry who can give them something different to what I can offer.”

Celebrating African Song had sold-out shows in the Eastern Cape in the past three months, at venues such as the East London Guild Theatre and the Port Elizabeth Opera House. “I was accompanied by my industry friends Ntsika, Max Hoba, and Eastern Cape based artists Ohayv Ahbir and the two that are also performing here in Joburg, Likhey Booi and Odwa Nokwali. I never expected such reception, love, energy, especially in PE, where the theatre was much bigger. I also did two nights at the National Arts Festival, and both nights were a success.”

Ntsika, Jessica Mbangeni and Mbu Soul are the other artists on the bill for this Sunday.

Maswana went to Canada at the Sing! Festival, travelling with the Mzansi Ensemble earlier this year.  While there Maswana says he “…had the opportunity of collaborating with a Canadian musician and producer Aaron Davis. I really hope I’ll do more with him, we had a very limited studio time- we only had three hours.”

A touch of Xhosa at the Orbit(From L-R): Jessica Mbangeni with Dumza Maswana enjoying their time on stage together. Photo by Sip The Snapper

The baritone and bass singer is raising funds for post-production of his live DVD on Click N Donate, which he says has cost him close to 400K. “It’s such a beautiful production. I pray for this campaign to be a success, also hoping for sponsorships. I’ve already spent close to R400K, the remaining amount is just a quarter. I really urge my supporters to show up and help,” says Maswana.

The money generated from Celebrating African Song shows isn’t plentiful to cover post-production costs of the DVD which was recorded a year ago . “In most cases the money I make from these shows is just enough to pay the band and petrol, literally. But whatever change we make will go to the DVD.” He plans to release the live DVD in November this year.

Should you want to donate to Maswana’s cause, click here.


Clement Gama07/26/2019
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2min530

YOU hear Bad Boy Records and instantly think New York. The mention of Death Row jogs one’s memory to Los Angeles, California.  But Kalawa Jazmee is synonymous with all townships in all of South Africa. In the 25 years of Nelson Mandela’s democratic South Africa, no record company has been the soundtrack to kasi life as Kalawa Jazmee.

The record company was found through a feud between two stables, Trompies Jazzmee Records and Kalawa Records. The former was co-owned by Spikiri, Mahoota, M’jokes and Bruce while the latter’s owners were Oskido, Don Laka and DJ Christos-who departed in 1995. The dispute was over ownership of Trompies hit song Sigiya Ngengoma.

They’ve gone on to churn out more hit songs as one independent company for more than two decades now, telling stories from the township while making us dance. They’ve introduced and developed a slew of artists like Busiswa, Alaska, Professor, DJ Zinhle, Dr Malinga, Heavy K, Tira, Big Nuz and so many more. It is fitting that this year’s Delicious Festival will honour Kalawa Jazmee’s 25th anniversary.

But if one were to have a Kalawa Jazmee All Stars, many would agree that these five make the starting five.

BONGO MAFFIN

BOOM SHAKA

MAIKIZOLO

B.O.P

TROMPIES

 

 


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10min951

“Well in many ways Sharpa was my heart you know… from as long as I can remember… we had a really special bond. Given the age difference between us, he often joked that he knew me before I knew me… and he was right … yeah our bond was special… I mean this is the same kat who gave me the chicken pox as a five months old baby because he simply couldn’t leave me alone. Ha! … in retrospect, I’d say that was one of the greatest acts of love because I never had to experience it as a child, when one is more conscious of what itch, irritation and pain is etcetera,” says Teboho Semela, Ben Sharpa’s younger sister.

Such is their connection as siblings, that Teboho tightly grips at every memory that ties her to her older brother. Today marks a year since the iconic figure died from complications with diabetes. “As a family, his passing has definitely left an unfathomable void, but you know, we’re pushing on.”

We often think that a person’s public persona, or what they choose to show us, is all that they are. When one looks at Sharpa’s life from the exterior, it’s easy to make assumptions about who he was- a nocturnal hard-ass emcee, which only listens to Jak Progresso, in a dungeon somewhere on the outskirts. But Kgotso ‘Ben Sharpa’ Semela was a multifaceted dude, who had passion for humanity.  “Sharpa may have come across as “hard” at times, especially in his music, but that guy was one the most loving guys you could ever know. It was just as he said ‘… imagine if you mix one-part hip hop, one-part love, one-part quantum mechanics and one-part God… then you’ll probably get close to what Ben Sharpa is about’…”

“I’ll let you in on a secret, that so called “hard” guy that brought us one of the most relevant records of our time Hegemony I will tell you that, before every single show we ever did together, no matter what or where, we would find a space, tune out the noise and hype, hold hands and pray together. Kgotso prayed, yo! … like a preacher … that man prayed. Through and through.

A SIBLING THANG: Teboho on the left with Sharpa on the right. Photo by Teboho
A SIBLING THANG: Teboho on the left with Sharpa on the right. Photo by Teboho

“… he was a true believer, in others, the raising of consciousness and quite simply, he was concerned for the human condition… he just believed… heck, he believed in me at times when I struggled to believe in myself… so to not have that… to not have that one person who truly got it, who got you… well… it’s the kind of hurt I really would not wish on anyone,” Teboho tells me.

That social side of Sharpa was evident last year after his passing, at his memorial service- a service which would be the envy of any Hip Hop show, in how Sharpa’s life was celebrated vicariously through Hip Hop. “Honestly, I always knew Kgotso was beloved but seeing it all in action was truly beautiful. Folk from all over the world reached out, stood in the gap, and quite simply showed up for Sharpa; and for this I could not be more grateful. On the whole, the Hip Hop community displayed such a sense of camaraderie in the wake of his passing that it is something that shall be forever etched in my mind.”

Ben Sharper’s sister, Teboho speaking at Sharpa’s memorial service. By Sip The Snapper

The tributes that came in were fully justified by the skill of the man and who he was, but the pity is that we gave him a floral garden when he couldn’t smell and appreciate it. “I wouldn’t be the upfront and reflective; chiselled by the sharpest knife in the drawer – Ben Sharpa – human I am if didn’t say that it is a damn shame that the magnitude of outright support for Kgotso in his passing, was not shown when he was alive to see it. Kgotso did not get the recognition he deserved, not fully. I genuinely believe that, but that said, it is done now and often the plight of many pioneers so more than anything else I perceive it as a call for us all to do better, be better. Look after our own, in life and in death.”

Sharpa was a classical violin player that was part of the youth orchestra, which is one of the things that connected her with Teboho who is also a violinist, singer and flautist- the two would often collaborate. So it makes sense that it’s his sister, making sure his name doesn’t wither with time. “So in line with what we consistently discussed – right up to the very last, I mean it was one of the various topics we touched on the last time I spoke to him before his passing – so in doing due diligence and honouring what I believe to be one the most eloquent rappers and beat makers of his time, this past year I’ve been quietly building the BSharpa Foundation.”

The genius emcee recorded a project before his premature passing, but Teboho is quite ambiguous about its release. “Chances are chances you know… so you all are just going to have to wait and see…  I will say this, it is phenomenal.”


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5min1500

After the birth of his twins, the release of his album and just pretty much living his life, Reason HD addressed that abrupt beef he and Flex Rabanyan had at the back-end of 2018.

The cringe-worthy conflict between the two spawned form Reason giving the young rapper advice on how to carry himself in the game. This after Flex whined on Twitter about a failed payola attempt on Metro FM. Reason’s older -brotherly words of wisdom were used as material for a diss track targeted at him, by Flex in For Whatever Reason.

The lukewarm track didn’t warrant fire emojis for its dopeness, but for its shock value. The 2017 Vuzu Hustle winner took personal jabs at Reason, talking about how the former Motif Records artist lives off his partner and babymama Loot Love because she seemingly makes more money than him due to Reason’s unsuccessful music career.

Patiently waiting for over six months without really addressing it, Reason timely responded to Flex two months after the young’n complained on social media about being broke and having to sell his car.

Talk is cheap, but I’ma cross between

The type of blacks who speak rationally

Fuck with me

Then I’ma have you hiding where you at for weeks

Actions speak louder than an empty pocket testing me

Actually why that wack nigga try to flex on me

Look at my chick, look at my crib

Look at the shit on my wrist

Look at the hits, look at the list

Then you go look at your shit

Like, where do you live

Where do you get, my nigga why is you big

Show me the bitch that’s trying to get under your dick

‘Cause nobody know who she is

Rappers are dying and all of you niggas are lying or beefing on your timeline

Just for the sake of signing you lie to yourself like you all in the lime light

But why try, when all of you fly by

Should figure that time flies

You did it for high fives to nice tries

But let’s get to the bye byes

Talk about having the last laugh.

Reason also took the opportunity to let everyone know that he’s put back the HD in his moniker, following the embarrassing confusion from that Black Panther film soundtrack which introduced TDE’s Reason to the globe. On the joint Seasons, Reason from the US is alongside Sjava which led to people assuming it was two South Africans on the song.



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