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Gallantry in Action

From The Scrapbook

Dec 5, 2011, Vol. 17, No. 12 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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A friend of The Scrapbook forwards an email from the United Nations offices within the Green Zone in Baghdad:

Message from the 

Staff Welfare Committee

We regret to inform you that the UNdercover Bar will be closed on Tuesday 22 and Thursday 24 November due to stock shortages. The bar will reopen on Tuesday 29 November. The Riverside Bar, also affected by stock shortages, will reopen in the new year. [emphasis added]

As you know, the UNdercover Bar is staffed by volunteers. We’re always looking for new volunteers, and encourage you to sign up for bartending shifts in December! .  .  . 

Many thanks !

Needless to say, panic has set in. Our correspondent also shared some commentary from a U.N. acquaintance:

The Iraqis closed the only booze shop in the [Green Zone] because [U.N. personnel] didn’t have proper papers. This was maybe two months ago but people were well enough stocked that it was a dwindle situation. And it’s dwindled, as you can see. .  .  . Feet are in the air. Drinking corked wine is not frowned upon. All of a sudden, everybody has a long-lost friend at the U.S. embassy, and they’re going over there and loading up at the PX.

It’s reassuring to know that in times of crisis, you can always count on Americans to lend a helping hand, and that, in extremis, there are limits to anti-Americanism at the U.N.

The Way We Live Now (Harvard Edition)

The Harvard Crimson reports the university’s health plan will henceforth cover “lower gender reassignment surgery”:

Lower surgery, also known as bottom surgery, alters an individual’s genitals to match his or her transitioning gender identity. 

“I know Harvard students who have made the decision to take steps to have surgeries to reassign their gender,” said QSA [Queer Students and Allies] Co-Chair Samuel J. Bakkila ’11-’12. “I know it’s always a difficult decision for anyone to make, and I think that it’s great that the University is now supporting steps to have [individuals’] outward gender reflect their inward gender.”

Last year, Harvard modified its health care plan to include coverage of top surgery, which includes breast construction and mastectomies, for “individuals struggling with serious gender identity issues,” according to a statement issued by University Health Services. This change took effect on Aug. 1, 2010.

In 2010, the University decided not to include lower surgery in its health plan, though Blue Cross Blue Shield had outlined Harvard’s new health policy to include the operation. At the time, the University cited a lack of local qualified health care providers for individuals transitioning from one gender to another.

The celebratory coverage does not explore why there might be a shortage of surgeons. A hint can be found in a 2004 essay in First Things by Paul McHugh, then the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University. Johns Hopkins was once a center of sex-change operations but closed its clinic after rigorous followup studies showed poor outcomes for patients. As McHugh explained:

We in the Johns Hopkins Psychiatry Department eventually concluded that human sexual identity is mostly built into our constitution by the genes we inherit and the embryogenesis we undergo. Male hormones sexualize the brain and the mind. Sexual dysphoria—a sense of disquiet in one’s sexual role—naturally occurs amongst those rare males who are raised as females in an effort to correct an infantile genital structural problem. A seemingly similar disquiet can be socially induced in apparently constitutionally normal males, in association with (and presumably prompted by) serious behavioral aberrations, amongst which are conflicted homosexual orientations and the remarkable male deviation now called autogynephilia.

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