Czech gender-bending family puzzles sex experts

Jan 30, 2011 by Jan Flemr

Dominik's tiny, hairy hands disappear in the manly, silky-smooth grasp of his girlfriend as she reaches across the table in a tender gesture affirming their gender-bending love.

Before they started dating two years ago, Dominik Sejda, 45, and Andrea Kajzarova, 32, both underwent sex changes, one of just a handful of similar couples in the Czech Republic.

But a boy named Radim, whom Dominik gave birth to 25 years ago, makes their family even more special -- he is now becoming a woman named Viktoria.

"I think there has only been one case of a (transsexual) parent and child on record" worldwide, says Czech sexologist Petr Weiss.

"We don't know why transsexuality occurs. But we maintain there are certainly inherent dispositions, though we don't know whether they are genetic," he told AFP.

Dominik and Andrea, who both hail from the north-eastern Czech Republic and work as ambulance assistants in Prague hospitals, met on a transgender website at a time when Andrea was in the neutral phase of gender change.

"She had a man's genitals when we met, but she had a neutral name and looked rather like a woman," Dominik, formerly Ilona Tomeckova, told AFP as he sipped a beer in a Prague pub.

Dominik, who left his family 20 years ago, learnt he could become a man only after the 1989 demise of communism in the former Czechoslovakia.

"During communism, it was taboo. Everyone told me I was either a or a lunatic who will end up in an asylum," he said.

"Then my doctor told me my kid can't have two fathers, so I found my ex-husband a lover, left everything behind, spent two years crying for my son and moved to Prague to start the switch. I got hormones within a year," he added.

The openness he found in the Czech capital was like a breath of fresh air after life in the provincial eastern city of Ostrava.

"People in Prague are more tolerant, they are used to transvestites and various shows. The city is full of lesbians and gays," said Andrea, who earned her master's degree in economics as a man named Tomas Kajzar.

A former bodybuilder, now studying to become a registered nurse, Andrea started her gender switch six years ago.

"I got the hormones when I was 26, but my problem was that I never believed I could become a genuine woman, because I was too masculine," says Andrea, who is completely feminine except for her large hands.

"My family never learnt to live with it. They are religious and take this as a sin," she says with a trace of regret in her voice.

Dominik has no regrets over the costly and painful switch.

"Why? It was a relief. I have no regrets at all, not even about having a child, because I know I won't be able to have children now," he said.

After meeting Andrea, Dominik decided to resume contact with the family he had left behind, only to find out his son was turning into a girl.

"She looks like a woman, she has the hips and all," Dominik says about Radim as he becomes Viktoria.

"But she doesn't yet have a clear idea about her role or sexuality -- if she's after boys or girls. She thinks she's lesbian but I don't know," Dominik adds.

Interviewed by public broadcaster Czech Television last year, Radim believes his need to switch gender is a matter of genetics.

"I found a sexologist in May, she sent me to different checks, including genetics. My diagnosis was always 'transsexual'," he said.

Sexologist Hana Fifkova agrees that transsexuality is most likely genetic.

A January article on Britain's New Scientist website said many studies on identifying transsexual people are focusing on brain matter, but worldwide research is so far inconclusive. Doctors are keen to find concrete physical evidence potentially "to make a case for delaying puberty to improve the success of a sex change later," it said.

Dominik, meanwhile, believes his "cultivated and effeminate" father would have changed his gender had it been possible under communism.

His grandchild may bring yet more clues.

"I have learnt I have a granddaughter, or maybe a (future) grandson. Simply, my daughter -- as a boy -- fathered a baby with a woman," said Dominik.

"They took her to kindergarten and when the girl was offered a skirt, she said she wanted trousers instead. This is exactly what I did 40 years ago!"

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User comments : 29

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gwrede
2.2 / 5 (10) Jan 30, 2011
While I accept people changing their gender, getting married, having children, and all, I must admit I was disgusted and had to skip reading this article. Still, best wishes and good luck to these guys.
frajo
3.5 / 5 (11) Jan 30, 2011
I must admit I was disgusted
I can't understand how this could be disgusting.
JennieKermode
4.7 / 5 (13) Jan 30, 2011
It's a shame that people feel disgust over what is basically just a collection of cosmetic procedures and a change in lifestyle. We make far too much fuss about the shape of bits of cloth that people choose to wrap themselves in and the arrangement of syllables with which they choose to be addressed. But good luck to those to recognise the irrationality of this prejudice and strive to take a rational, civilised approach nonetheless.

Regarding the issues of genetics, there is also significant evidence suggesting that trends in gene expression, not just inheritance, may be a factor in transgender conditions; these and other factors, including the effect of hormones on developing structures in the body and/or brain, mean that we shouldn't expect a simple, neat explanation. It's important that transgender people are respected for who they are, not simply treated as a collection of symptoms.
geokstr
1.2 / 5 (18) Jan 30, 2011
But a boy named Radim, whom Dominik gave birth to 25 years ago, makes their family even more special -- he is now becoming a woman named Viktoria.

No wonder homo sapiens sapiens is devolving. We now not only allow, but spend millions in treasure, to ensure that individuals with bizarre genes that would be selected out of the gene pool by evolution to instead reproduce and weaken it further.
ubavontuba
3.3 / 5 (16) Jan 30, 2011
No wonder homo sapiens sapiens is devolving. We now not only allow, but spend millions in treasure, to ensure that individuals with bizarre genes that would be selected out of the gene pool by evolution to instead reproduce and weaken it further.
This just serves to show how ignorant you are. Seriously. These are some of the strongest and bravest people. Think about it. Think about the turmoil they've had to endure.
Jayofalltrades
5 / 5 (12) Jan 30, 2011
No wonder homo sapiens is devolving. We now not only allow, but spend millions in treasure, to ensure that individuals with bizarre genes that would be selected out of the gene pool by evolution to instead reproduce and weaken it further.

Well, if you want to take this approach, then lets discuss cancer, diabetes, herpes, HIV/aids, Lou Gehrig's, Lupus, etc.
paulthebassguy
2.3 / 5 (6) Jan 30, 2011
What I find funny is that society determines that if a man wants to become a woman all he needs to do is have cosmetic changes to his genitals, plus a few hormone treatments and then dress/act like a woman then BAM - he is a woman.

He still has the Y chromosome in his genes, he will never have a womb or be able to get pregnant which are fundamental characteristics of a female. The same thing applies vice versa - a woman will never be able to have a Y chromosome or functioning testes & produce sperm.

IMHO there is no such thing as a sex change - only becoming weird and mutilating your genitals.
Decimatus
1 / 5 (5) Jan 31, 2011
IMHO there is no such thing as a sex change - only becoming weird and mutilating your genitals.


I pretty much agree here.

All in all, I find it highly disgusting.

How can society protect children from their parents? We either allow weirdoes to raise and distort kids in ways that most would consider child abuse, or we try and get the government to step in and "protect" the kids? Where does that stop.

We are in a loose loose situation. Either you can't protect the children, or by protecting them you go to far and hurt society in the long run.

Perhaps we won't have a choice. Eventually the government will have a say in whether you get to have children or not. 7 billion and counting.
frajo
5 / 5 (6) Jan 31, 2011
if a man wants to become a woman all he needs to do is have cosmetic changes to his genitals, plus a few hormone treatments and then dress/act like a woman
Why don't you just ask someone who feels like he/she has got the wrong body? Why don't you for one moment have the empathy that this could be a horrible situation? If you don't understand something you should listen and ask and try to learn but not disparage the unknown.
then BAM - he is a woman.
Which shows that you don't understand. No, she was a woman before, but unfortunately had the wrong body.
He still has the Y chromosome in his genes, he will never have a womb or be able to get pregnant which are fundamental characteristics of a female.
You are wrong; it's not fundamental. As humans, we are not defined solely by our body; we have feelings, we have behavior, we have empathy, we have an inner identity which is not always represented by our outer appearance.
frajo
4.4 / 5 (7) Jan 31, 2011
All in all, I find it highly disgusting.
The only disgusting thing here is the obscenity to publicly display your lack of empathy.
JennieKermode
5 / 5 (6) Feb 01, 2011
How can you be sure that any particular man has a Y chromosome? Have you checked? A significant percentage of people don't have the combination of sex characteristics (chromosomes, gonads, hormone levels, external genitalia, etc.) that you might expect. This substantiates the argument that we should identify people based on what they are able to tell us about their subjective experience, not on the appearance of their bodies.

How do you know what sex you are? The chances are that you simply accept what you've always been told. What you have been told was almost certainly based on a two minute assessment by the doctor supervising your birth. No complex tests will have been involved in that, just a quick visual impression. If you feel perfectly comfortable with that sex, then even though it's possible that the reality is more complicated, there's no reason to argue. If you don't feel comfortable, why should you be forced to endure living your life on somebody else's terms?
JennieKermode
5 / 5 (6) Feb 01, 2011
In addendum, many women whose sex is never disputed do not have wombs. Many women can never get pregnant. Many men don't produce sperm. Does that make them less valuable as human beings? It's not usual to think so.

If you read this article properly, you'll see that Mr Sejda separated from his family when he changed his social gender, so there is no reason to assume that his circumstances influenced his daughter's later decision to transition. The article itself notes that there is very little evidence of transsexualism running in families. It is therefore not only politically dubious but also scientifically invalid to assume that the transsexualism of parents influences the gender identity of children. There is no evidence that children suffer from having transsexual parents except where they become targets for external prejudice, and that problem lies with society - specifically, with people like some of you here.
ZoeBrain
5 / 5 (2) Feb 01, 2011
He still has the Y chromosome in his genes, he will never have a womb or be able to get pregnant which are fundamental characteristics of a female. The same thing applies vice versa - a woman will never be able to have a Y chromosome or functioning testes & produce sperm.


*Sigh* So much ignorance, so little time.

PATIENTS: A 46,XY mother who developed as a normal woman underwent spontaneous puberty, reached menarche, menstruated regularly, experienced two unassisted pregnancies, and gave birth to a 46,XY daughter with complete gonadal dysgenesis. -- J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jan;93(1):182-9.


I'm one of the few biological females who has fathered a child (though obviously that took technical help). We're rare - but not unknown.
paulthebassguy
3 / 5 (3) Feb 02, 2011
*Sigh* So much ignorance, so little time.


I don't like being ignorant - please explain what I am missing. I do understand that people might 'feel' like the opposite sex, or that their physical body doesn't match their inner identity (as frajo puts it), and I do have sympathy for these people because it must be awful.

I still have the opinion though that a person's gender is what they are born with, in a physical sense. It's unfortunate when their mind/feelings don't match, but in this case I believe that's something wrong with their mental state instead of their physical state.
frajo
5 / 5 (6) Feb 02, 2011
I still have the opinion though that a person's gender is what they are born with, in a physical sense. It's unfortunate when their mind/feelings don't match, but in this case I believe that's something wrong with their mental state instead of their physical state.
But you know that there are XXY cases, hermaphrodites, bodies which are not easily definable within the conventional gender stereotypes?
Apart from those cases - yes, you could say the body is right and the brain is wrong. But it should be up to the owner of body and brain to decide about his/her identity.
And although there's much gossip about brainwashing procedures - in these cases it doesn't really work. Otherwise environmental pressure would never allow anybody to reach at the conclusion to change gender.

To be precise: There are lots of people who don't feel well with their stereotype gender roles but behave in intermediate ways. In fact, most of us. It's a Gaussian distribution instead of a binary question.
JennieKermode
5 / 5 (6) Feb 02, 2011
I think part of the problem here goes back to the old notion of the ghost in the machine. We tend to think of the brain as somehow inhabiting the body yet not a real part of it, and more malleable. Science tells us otherwise. The brain is _part_ of the body and there are aspects of it which cannot be restructured after birth. There is increasing evidence that gender identity, at least in some cases, is one of these areas. So we're not talking about people developing odd notions about their identity - we're talking about different aspects of the body sending different signals about that identity.

When this happens, it makes sense to focus on what can be changed - physical appearance - to make a person comfortable. We usually like to tell each other that beauty is only skin deep, that it's personality that counts, etc. - so why can't we accept people's own experienced gender identity on this basis?
JennieKermode
5 / 5 (6) Feb 02, 2011
To go back to the notion of 'bad genes' referenced earlier, I'd just like to note that this illustrates a misunderstanding of genetics and the mechanics of inheritance. Aside from the lack of evidence for a genetic cause of transsexualism, it's naive and arrogant to think that we should be trying to 'weed out' genes. Evolution does a very good job of that by itself. Genetic variation within a population is generally a very good thing as it enables that population to adapt more effectively to changing environmental pressures.

The mechanics of neonatal development in humans are highly complex and allow several ways for males or females to develop. This complexity is almost certainly a component cause in many cases of transsexualism. It's a really good thing because it means, for instance, that we could easily evolve to shift the ratio of males to females if we needed to. We should celebrate our diversity as indicative of great survival potential.
ubavontuba
3.4 / 5 (10) Feb 03, 2011
I still have the opinion though that a person's gender is what they are born with, in a physical sense. It's unfortunate when their mind/feelings don't match, but in this case I believe that's something wrong with their mental state instead of their physical state.
You're confusing objective reproductive chacteristics with subjective gender identification. They aren't necessarily the same thing.

Sex:
1. a. The property or quality by which organisms are classified as female or male on the basis of their reproductive organs and functions.

Gender:
2. Sexual identity, especially in relation to society or culture.

Source: http:/www.thefreedictionary.com
ZoeBrain
5 / 5 (4) Feb 04, 2011
I don't like being ignorant - please explain what I am missing. ...I still have the opinion though that a person's gender is what they are born with, in a physical sense.
Right-ish.

See
"A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality" by Zhou et al Nature (1995) 378:68–70.
"Our study is the first to show a female brain structure in genetically male transsexuals..."

That basically says it all. Transsexuality is an Intersex condition, caused by having the anatomy of a woman in some of the body, the anatomy of a man in the rest.

When the brain is anatomically female, so's the person, regardless of the rest - which may be male, female, or somewhere in between in Intersex cases.

The condition(s) that cause this take effect before birth, at around 26 weeks in fact, according to autopsies of miscarried children.
barakn
5 / 5 (5) Feb 05, 2011
No wonder homo sapiens sapiens is devolving. We now not only allow, but spend millions in treasure, to ensure that individuals with bizarre genes that would be selected out of the gene pool by evolution to instead reproduce and weaken it further. -geokastr

What an ignorant and misinformed view of population genetics. You assume these genes will have a deleterious affect on the population without offering any proof. No species has ever been threatened by having a large, genetically diverse population. In fact quite the reverse is true. You should be worried as your own species, Sus scrofa domesticus, is highly inbred.
nuge
1 / 5 (2) Feb 06, 2011
I'm going to get hounded down for this, but...I've wondered for some time why it has been deemed so important that we all strive to accept these people who had obviously refused to accept themselves in the first place.
ubavontuba
2 / 5 (7) Feb 06, 2011
I'm going to get hounded down for this, but...I've wondered for some time why it has been deemed so important that we all strive to accept these people who had obviously refused to accept themselves in the first place.
Because it's the right thing to do.
nuge
1 / 5 (1) Feb 07, 2011
Okay, maybe I phrased that the wrong way. I meant why is there so much emphasis that we understand and actively encourage this behaviour of altering one's sexual organs, when in all other areas of human identity individuals are instead encouraged to accept themselves for who and what they are? For instance, people who try to alter their racial appearance by bleaching their skin, or people who try to alter their cosmetic appearance with plastic surgery such as liposuction, are generally discouraged. They are encouraged to drop their desire to change and instead embrace themselves for the way they are.
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (2) Feb 07, 2011
Okay, maybe I phrased that the wrong way. I meant why is there so much emphasis that we understand and actively encourage this behaviour of altering one's sexual organs, when in all other areas of human identity individuals are instead encouraged to accept themselves for who and what they are? For instance, people who try to alter their racial appearance by bleaching their skin, or people who try to alter their cosmetic appearance with plastic surgery such as liposuction, are generally discouraged. They are encouraged to drop their desire to change and instead embrace themselves for the way they are.
Well, as popular as plastic surgery is these days, I don't know that's necessarily true.

Body image is a problem for a lot of people, and a lot of people take steps to make corrections. Everything from fashion and grooming choices to tattoos, piercings, and surgery.

I don't see this as being substantively different. It's simply, "all of the above" (so to speak).
frajo
4 / 5 (5) Feb 07, 2011
I've wondered for some time why it has been deemed so important that we all strive to accept these people who had obviously refused to accept themselves in the first place.
It's the notion of "themselves" which is key here.
Is your "self" defined by your body? Many people think so and fall prey to the business of plastic surgery.
Or is the "self" defined by your mind? By your never ceasing longing to be able to behave like the "other" gender without embarrassment?
It's a fallacy to define one's self by one's body only. Emotions (psyche) and ratio (nous) are as important as the body (soma) to define one's whole self.
nuge
3.7 / 5 (3) Feb 07, 2011
It's the notion of "themselves" which is key here.
Is your "self" defined by your body? Many people think so and fall prey to the business of plastic surgery.
Or is the "self" defined by your mind? By your never ceasing longing to be able to behave like the "other" gender without embarrassment?
It's a fallacy to define one's self by one's body only. Emotions (psyche) and ratio (nous) are as important as the body (soma) to define one's whole self.


Okay, fair point. Thanks.
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (16) Feb 09, 2011
mind? By your never ceasing longing to be able to behave like the "other" gender without embarrassment?
You seem privy to the lyrical philo fallacy that the 'mind' can operate separate from the body, which it cannot. Emotions and the other thing (nous?) originate with the composition and structure of the body. A 'never ceasing longing' can originate from a hormonal imbalance, or from a pathological fixation, among other things. This 'longing' to be female could be corrected and totally alleviated, perhaps, with hormone treatments which make the person wholly male in keeping with the equipment they were born with. Where would the psyche/nous be then?

We are the sum total of our structure and chemistry which is determined by our genes and our environment and their interaction over the course of our lives. There is no metaphysical, no soul, no 'free will', no nothing like that crap whatsoever.
nuge
1 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2011
We are the sum total of our structure and chemistry which is determined by our genes and our environment and their interaction over the course of our lives. There is no metaphysical, no soul, no 'free will', no nothing like that crap whatsoever.


Interesting talk coming from a guy named "TheGhostofOtto1923".
TheGhostofOtto1923
4 / 5 (16) Feb 09, 2011
We are the sum total of our structure and chemistry which is determined by our genes and our environment and their interaction over the course of our lives. There is no metaphysical, no soul, no 'free will', no nothing like that crap whatsoever.


Interesting talk coming from a guy named "TheGhostofOtto1923".
Resurrection is only possible with virtual people.

Hey Frajo. Science has discovered your 'nous' thingy. Dingsbums. Is NOTHING sacred??? (nope.)
http
://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-scientists-tangle-neurons-aggression.html