On the Science of Changing Sex

Exploring The Science of Transgender

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on July 16, 2018

Through Knowledge, Justice…

27867072_1811649452220144_4426664495691531655_nThis blog is on the science of transsexuality and transgender sexuality.  There are many myths and misunderstandings about transsexuality and transgender people.  Our scientific understanding of the transsexual phenomena has increased and dramatically improved over the past fifty years, yet much of what is available in popular literature is misinformation and disinformation.  Much of what the public, including transsexuals and transgender people themselves, believe about the etiology and epidemiology of transsexuality is based on wishful thinking on one hand and deliberate distortions on the other.  Worse, many cherry-pick among the scientific papers, choosing those that, in isolation, appear to support a given thesis.  Many transsexual and transgendered people have read misinformation and disinformation regarding the science, denying or decrying the science, often in emotionally inflammatory language (including vicious attacks on the characters of scientists and educators), that makes its rounds in the echo chamber of the web and social media.  Indeed, there are fora that will instantly ban any who discuss this science in any truthful way.  This blog is an attempt to correct this situation.

Learning an unpleasant truth is better than believing a comforting lie – Don’t let the “tribe” tell you what to think – Trust only evidence, not vehemence

All information found in this blog is supported by peer reviewed science and referenced (cited) in essay posts covering a given topic found on this site.  Many topics are interwoven with other topics, as they are interlocking issues.  Please explore the entire site for a full explanation of each topic.

One can find a bibliography for this blog if you wish to quickly find papers of interest.  You may wish to review the Glossary if a word is unfamiliar.

Remember as you read this site;  Transsexuals and transgendered people are good people, worthy of our respect, and even of our admiration.  Nothing in this material is meant to imply otherwise.  If you are a transsexual or transgendered person:  You have value as a human being.  You have the right to be respected, valued, and even celebrated as the gender to which you identify and aspire regardless of etiology.

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Why Transgender Folk Hate Scientists

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on September 18, 2018

27867072_1811649452220144_4426664495691531655_nBlanchard, Bailey, & Lawrence… just listing them evokes waves of antipathy in the transgender communities, especially among late transitioning transwomen.  Ask many of them and you will be told that these three are hateful transphobes… in spite of copious evidence to the contrary.  But why?

A recent paper (Hannikainen 2018) explores the issue of lay people conflating the results of science research with the scientist’s ideology.  The study showed that there is a tendency to ascribe motivation “to prove” an hypotheses rather than simply to test one.  Further, this tendency, this effect, was more pronounced if the results, the data, were disagreeable to the individual evaluating the scientist by his results.

As Voldesolo wrote,

“This is a dim and dangerous view of science, and one that no doubt contributes to the increasing politicization of the field. If results discordant with our preferred worldviews can be cast as the workings of an ideologue in a lab coat, then reactions to research will increasingly polarize. The possibility for empirical truths to accurately inform our views erodes, and a shared understanding of the means by which we discover truth is undermined. If we turn to the results of studies to determine our level of credence, as opposed to the methods by which those results were achieved, then science becomes a breeding ground for our biases as opposed to their antidote.”

Thus, many transwomen hate Blanchard, Bailey, and Lawrence not because of who they are or how they feel about transfolk (which is actually fairly positive and supportive) but on the unpleasant truths that they discovered and wrote about.

Let me state it plain and clear:  The truth is the truth no matter who researches or writes about it.  Further, seeking to demonize scientists who discover a truth that is unpleasant is both despicable and self-defeating because the truth will out.  Shooting the messenger will not change the truth.

Further Reading:

Essay on transactivists reactions to Anne Lawrence conducting research

Further External Reading:

The Danger of Judging Scientists By What They Discover

Reference:

Hannikainen, Ivar. 2018. “Ideology Between the Lines: Lay Inferences About Scientists’ Values and Motives.” PsyArXiv. July 1. doi:10.31234/osf.io/gyk26.

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Folklore Gender Tests

Posted in Autobiographical, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on September 17, 2018

Kay BrownGender “tests” found in fiction and folklore… Or… Nailed It !!

When I was in middle school, one of my classmates, a friendly acquaintance and I were standing in an interminably long slow line for some reason I’ve long ago forgotten.  Bored and reaching for something to amuse herself she challenged me to a “gender test” to see if I was a “boy or a girl”.  It consisted of three items.

The first item was to light a match.  From a book of matches I pulled one out, turned it so that the wider edge aligned with the striker strip so that when I pushed it along away from me it wouldn’t bend in my fingers.  “Oops!” my friend says… I “failed”.  According to this test, women light their matches in this fashion while men pull the flat of the match head along the striker toward their body.  The theory is that women are more careful to keep the flame away from their fingers and body than men.

The second was to ask the testee to look at her/his shoe soles, the bottoms of their feet, while standing.  I no longer remember if I “passed” or “failed” this item of the test.  But I remember that men are supposed to turn their legs and ankle in front, looking straight down.  Women are supposed to bend their knee so that their foot rises up behind them and look over their shoulder.  It may be because of the difference in dress standards for men and women (boys and girls) in that age?  Men are wearing trousers while women are wearing skirts.  It may look unseemly for women wearing knee-length skirts to bend forward, but lifting their leg backward with such skirts is not?

Fashion does impose limits on movement or convenience.  In Huckleberry Finn, our hero runs away and hides by impersonating a girl.  An old woman tests and catches him out by tossing a ball of yarn while his hands are full holding a skein.  He instinctively pulls his knees together to form a larger catching surface.  Gotcha!  A girl, used to long full skirts fashionable in the mid-19th Century would have spread her legs instead to let the skirt catch the ball.  But, consider asking a woman in that era to look at the bottom of her feet encumbered by such a skirt.  She isn’t as likely to bend her leg up behind her, only to catch on her long skirt.  More likely, she would have lifted her skirt slightly and bent her leg, hidden behind the skirt (and much like a curtsy), and turned the ankle to look straight down.

The third and final item was to “look at your nails”.  I naturally held my hands out in front of me, my fingers straight.  “Oops!” my friend says, “you failed the test!  You do things like a girl.  You need to be more careful.”  She looked at me as though to tell me more but I cut her off, changing the subject.

When men look at their nails, they near universally bend their fingers toward their palms.  Women are far more likely to hold their fingers straight, bending their wrists slightly backwards.  Although this may be reinforced by the fashion of long nails, in fact, this “hyperflexion” as its called is very common in girls and feminine boys from an early age, even when not looking at their nails.

Later, in high school, as I was in the early process of coming out and socially transitioning, I sat having a friendly chat with one of my female friends who suddenly grabbed by hands exclaiming that she would teach me how to groom my nails.  She explained in a happy rush that boys didn’t groom their cuticles or trim their nails properly, etc.  “You need to learn how to gently push back your cuticles like this…” then stopped dead as she actually saw, really looked, at my nails for the first time… and saw that my cuticles were perfectly groomed.  “I groom them in the bath, push them back after they soften in the water.”  Up to that moment, I honestly had never given it much thought.  Of course I kept my nails clean, neat, and very slightly longer than most boys but not to the point where it would set my mother off on one of her ugly transphobic harangues.  I had been doing so for years.  My nails looked much like my friend’s!  My friend had made the erroneous assumption that I didn’t have a clue about feminine grooming skills.

Within weeks of that conversation, the narrative was flipped.  I was doing her make-up, as well as several others of my friends, anytime they had “big dates”.  There is a very telling inside joke told in the trans community about transwomen.  “How can you tell the difference between an early transitioner (HSTS) and a late transitioner (AGP)?”…   “An early transitioner is happy to do her female friend’s make up for them as she does it better… while a late transitioner needs her wife do her make-up for her.”

Speaking of nails and autogynephiles.  On a social media forum, I was corresponding with several women who were discussing transgender issues.  Some were welcoming my explanations of autogynephilic behavior and motivations and the obvious differences between HSTS and AGP transwomen while one clearly transphobic woman hatefully rejected the two type taxonomy declaring we were all “deluded perverts”… and deliberately tried to push me off the forum insultingly telling me to “Go do your nails!”.  Sigh…

I flashed back to the memory of my friend from high school… and several others.

It reminded me of an anecdote in Amy Bloom’s essay “Conservative Men In Conservative Dresses” in which a woman related how she was expected to clean up the dishes after dinner while her husband applied polish to his nails to allow him to express his “inner femininity”.  That image says volumes.

That in turn lead to another memory…

I’m on a blind date with a man who knew he would be meeting a post-op transwoman and was open to the experience.  I was told that he was a trust-fund baby, etc., so I had dressed nice to meet him at a trendy cafe.  One look told me that I had been lied to.  This man was clearly NOCD (“not our class, dear”) as the saying goes.  He was slovenly dressed.  He was poorly educated and boorish.  His family may have left him some money but he clearly was an unemployed bum, an unemployable LOSER.  I tried to find a polite way of ducking out early but he seemed to be unable to take a hint.  Further, he was absolutely fascinated by me and kept asking questions.  I wanted to avoid making a scene so was being as polite and hushed voiced as I could.  I was trying to avoid making eye contact as a way of discouraging him so focused on his hands resting on the table as he leaned toward me.  There was something odd about his hands.  Not only were they not really clean, his nails were a tad bit too long, They were rough surfaced, the ridges clearly visible, the cuticles ragged, poorly groomed… but wait… was that clear nail polish on them.  Oh My God!  This man was a secret cross-dresser, an autogynephile!  As this realization was sinking in…  suddenly something I had said in answering his questions about myself set him off.  He became quite excited, his voice raised a bit as he asked several more questions, which concerned me lest others overhear.  Then in answering a question about my childhood he burst out very loudly, “You’re a TRUE TRANSSEXUAL!”.  People at other tables clearly heard and turned to look at me.  I was mortified and no longer felt the need to be polite so looked him in the eye and told him to lower his voice and that I was leaving.  He tried to apologize but I ducked out.

Whew!  Good riddance… only it wasn’t.  He found out where I lived, what my number was… and stalked me for months, sending me gifts, notes, calling me.  My roommates had to sheild me.  I finally told him that if he didn’t stop, I would turn to the law… and told him that he needed to get therapy to deal with his obsession.  I also made it very clear that I would never date a cross-dresser which finally got through to him that I would never be his girlfriend.

External Further Reading:

Amy Bloom, “Conservative Men In Conservative Dresses”

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To Survive on this Shore

Posted in Book Reviews by Kay Brown on August 30, 2018

Kay Brown 2010There is a new coffee table book out on older transfolk.  When I looked at the website for the book, I expected it to be loaded with nearly all older transitioners, autogynephilic transwomen.  And yes, they were there.  But very happily, there were young transitioners from decades ago, like me, who Survived on this Shore…

sub-buzz-6311-1535141013-9

 

“I’m a senior citizen. I made it to seventy and a lot of them won’t make it, they won’t make it at all. Because most of them die from drugs, from sexual disease or they’re murdered. They ask me questions like, ‘Well, Momma Gloria, how did you get through?’ I say, “I got through with love from my family and the grace of God.’ That’s how I got through. You have to have some stability and you have to have some kind of class, some charm about yourself. I never was in the closet. The only time I was in the closet was to go in there and pick out a dress and come out of the closet and put it on.” – Gloria

There are also an almost equal number of transmen.  One them is “Sky”… I knew an FTM named Sky way back when… hmmmm….

Book website:

https://www.tosurviveonthisshore.com

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Misplaced Moralizing

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on August 28, 2018

Kay BrownThe other day, a non-transwoman on a “gender critical” (which usually means “transgender belittle”) forum hatefully misinterpreted a passing remark in one of my essays about maintaining safety and privacy when dating as a teenaged MTF transkid.  She very nastily described stealth, passing, transwomen not telling their dates that they are trans as “rapey”.

No, “rapey” is…

a tall, above 6′, very strong-looking man in his early 30s following a 5’7″, 140lb, 19-year-old transwoman, in a mid-thigh length dress and light sweater, off the bus at night, following her only a few paces behind her duplicating each turn down deserted streets toward her apartment obviously looking for a dark corner.  That young transwoman, steeling her nerves, turns to confront the man hoping that a brave face will deter the attack she knows must be coming, saying “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Whose going to stop me?” he says haughtily, tilting his head up to show his disdain.  The transwoman, having confirmation that this man does indeed intend to rape her and seeing her opportunity for surprise, folds the fingers of her hand to form a sharp edge of her knuckles and strikes him in the throat, turns and flees as fast as she can for the final few yards for her apartment door, her hands shaking so badly that she drops her keys before finally getting the door open, slips into the apartment, slams, locks, and bolts the door!

“Rapey” is…

a coworker grabbing a 21 year old transwoman in the hallway at work as she comes out of the women’s room, dragging her kicking and screaming to the men’s room while repeating over and over “It will be alright,” in a sick twisted “calming” voice.  In the doorway to the men’s room he pulls up her calf-length skirt, pulls down her panties and grabs her… oops… pre-op genitalia which he hadn’t expected.  At that moment she shakes loose, bolts down the hallway, enters a room and locks the door behind her.  She waits for an hour before peeking out the door then runs full tilt for the parking lot and drives home still shaking.

Rape Culture…

is telling management about the attack, where upon, she is taken to a dimly lit room with only one chair to be interrogated by two men looming over her.  Her request that she speak to a woman is denied.  After scoffing at her account she is fired a few days later.

Rape is….

…having fallen asleep on the couch at a stranger’s apartment because your date doesn’t want to go home yet.  Rape is when the occupant of that apartment, now that she is alone there, her date leaving her still sleeping, wakes that 20 year old transwoman by forcefully ripping her clothes off, dragging & throwing her on his bed naked, and forcing his penis into her anus… all the while she is screaming at the top of her lungs for help which never comes as he keeps talking like he is making love to her.  She kicks and tries to bite him but he is far too big, strong, and holds her two wrists in one large and very strong hand.  She is sobbing when he is done… only he isn’t.  Still holding her wrists above her head, drags her to the shower where using soap washes her off, removing the ‘evidence’ of his crime.  She sobs, horrified and shamed all over again as he does so.  The soap gets onto her wrists which allows her to slip his grip and push away from him.  She runs to her clothes, dodging the man by jumping over his couch, and runs out the door in a state of mostly undress, and keeps running several blocks before stopping to dress herself.  She makes her way home on foot in the menacing dark, puts on her least attractive sleepwear, and stares unseeing at the wall huddled protectively to herself until dawn.

Rape Culture is…

knowing that she can’t go to the police to press charges because she knows what happens to women… how they get revictimized and retraumatized though the whole process… how their sexual history gets dragged out in court to make her look like a slut.  Take that public slut shaming defense tactic and imagine what the press coverage of the “alleged rape” of a 20 year old “boy” who looks and acts like an attractive girl would be like in 1977.

That’s “rapey”.

Rape is…

… an almost 21 year old transwoman feels the knife at her throat wielded by a stranger who forces her to perform oral sex on him… while hoping against hope that she will still be alive when he is finished… and hopes that he doesn’t find out that she is trans… cause that’s how transwomen end up as the headline reads “Man Found Dead In Dress”.

Yes, that’s definitely “rapey”.

That transwoman in each of these incidents was me!

So don’t you DARE presume to some higher moral ground to tell ME that accepting an invitation to share dinner, or go to the park, to bike riding, or to the beach… without outing oneself as trans to him is “rapey” !  Oh that poor man…he had a pleasant time with a woman he never knew was a transwoman.  How horrible!  He doesn’t know how very traumatized he isn’t!

Rape is immoral because it is traumatizing, degrading, and demeaning.  By conflating transwomen maintaining their privacy for either safety or self-esteem reasons until they are certain that they wish to share that medical history with a prospective romantic partner with rape they are not expressing valid moral reasoning but simple trans and homophobia.   It relies on the notion that for a straight man to be romantically involved with an androphilic transwoman, no matter how physically and behaviorially feminine, no matter how desirable a personality or moral character, he is demeaned by the experience.  He becomes less of a man, either homosexual, clueless, or both, a figure of ridicule, while the transwoman is to be despised as a liar and a cheat, as well as an effeminate (misogyny) homosexual (homophobia).  The meme disparages both parties, increasing the discrimination that androphilic tranwomen experience and the likelihood of being severely beaten and murdered by transphobic straight men who find themselves attracted to such transwomen (whether or not they knew beforehand).  This meme is deadly to androphilic transwomen (no hyperbole).

Further Reading:

Essay on transphobic jokes and memes that falsely portray transwomen as sexual predators

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Safety First

Posted in Editorial, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on August 7, 2018

female_scientistPersonal Safety: Women’s and Transgender Rights in Prison

In one of the episodes of Pose, Blanca, a very feminine pre-op transwoman is unjustly arrested and is held in a cell with a number of very scary looking men.  The scene is presented without any editorial comment as the visual tableau speaks for itself.

When I was just 18 years old, my friend Marcella, a 24 year-old pre-op Latina transwoman and I were talking about what happens when a pre-op transwoman is arrested and jailed.  I was concerned about it to the point of not just not committing any crimes, but of ensuring I never was in a position where I might be suspected of a crime.  Marcella thought I was silly, saying, “In jail the men are there for you honey!”  She shared her experience of having been arrested for drug possession and spending some time in county jail.  (She had a fondness for Quaaluudes.)  She related that she was very well treated by some of the men who protected her from harassment and violence.  Me?  No.  I still wouldn’t have been willing to prostitute myself in order to purchase that protection, the price would be too high.

Over the decades, I have taken in a number of transfolk and non-transfolk for varying periods of time.  I had rules.  One of them was no illegal activities or substances, period.  (The same rule that fictional Blanca had for her house in Pose.) A decade ago, that rule was broken by one of the young transwomen I allowed to stay in my house during her recovery from SRS.  She had hidden that she was a drug addict and had brought into my house drugs and paraphernalia.  Taking a spare key, she also stole my airplane and crashed in a hay-field while high!  She spent some time in jail, presumably in a women’s ward as she was then of course post-op.

This brings up the issue of where we place transfolk during incarceration.  Our rules should be based on safety for all concerned.  But they aren’t always.  I’ve already brought up the issue of placing clearly feminine pre-op transwomen in with men and how one either trades sexual favors for safety or risk sexual and/or violent assault.  But is that the only concern?

Sadly, transwomen are not homogenous as a population.  Most transwomen, both pre- and post-op in Northern European and English speaking countries are gynephilic and autogynephilic.  And a minority… a small minority… are prone to criminality and violence… including sexual assault against women and children.

In the Dhejne study following up a cohort of post-op transsexuals they found,

Male-to-females had a significantly increased risk for crime compared to female controls (aHR 6.6; 95% CI 4.1–10.8) but not compared to males (aHR 0.8; 95% CI 0.5–1.2). This indicates that they retained a male pattern regarding criminality. The same was true regarding violent crime. By contrast, female-to-males had higher crime rates than female controls (aHR 4.1; 95% CI 2.5–6.9) but did not differ from male controls. This indicates a shift to a male pattern regarding criminality and that sex reassignment is coupled to increased crime rate in female-to-males. The same was true regarding violent crime.

Note that transfolk, both MTF and FtM had nearly as many criminal convictions as men.  It’s interesting that men still exhibited more criminality as both MTF and FtM by a slight amount.  If I had to guess, I would hypothesis that this is because of the inhomogeneous taxonomic structure of the MTF community in Sweden where the study is from.  While most transwomen would be AGP and thus likely to have identically the same criminality as men in general, the minority of ‘early onset’ transwomen pulls the rate down by 20%.

There are very few studies that explore the issue of transfolk and the risks that some may pose to others in a prison setting.  However, there are some disturbing hints.

In the Canadian court case of Kavanagh, a transwoman in prison, the following excerpt may be found,

“Dr. Watson’s suggestion that pre-operative male to female transsexuals would pose little physical risk to female prisoners was addressed by several of CSC’s witnesses. Dr. Dickey, Dr. Hucker and Ms. Petersen all disagree with Dr. Watson’s statement that most male to female transsexual inmates are attracted to men: To the contrary, they say, the majority of transsexuals in federal prisons are actually attracted to women. It takes serious criminal activity to qualify a person for a federal prison sentence in Canada. According to Dr. Dickey and Ms. Petersen, homosexual transsexuals do not generally have the degree of aggressiveness or psychopathy necessary to get them into a Canadian federal prison. The transsexuals that Dr. Hucker has encountered in the correctional setting tend, he says, to be “more ambiguous” in their sexual orientation… Dr. Dickey, Dr. Hucker and Ms. Petersen all say that they would be very concerned about putting a pre-operative male to female heterosexual transsexual inmate in a women’s prison, given the risk that the inmate would prey on female prisoners.”

Then there is the concern that some transwomen may be a danger to children.  There have been several cases of transwomen in prison for sexual assault on, and even murder of, children.  There is even documentation of two pedophiles seeking to transition and receive medical interventions who admitted a belief that as women their interest in being around children would be more socially acceptable!

Denying it does not serve the transgender community.  Balancing safety and respect for human rights for all concerned should be the goal and recommended policy.  Thus, while this is just my personal opinion, I highly recommend the following policies concerning transwomen, incarceration, and access to “women’s spaces”.

First, when arrested but before conviction of any crime.  Transfolk should be kept separate from non-transfolk to ensure personal safety and to respect their dignity.  Someone not convicted of a crime should not be “punished” by being put at risk and of being disrespectfully treated.

Transfolk convicted of a crime should be evaluated on a case by case basis as to their placement to maximize safety for all concerned.  Transfolk’s sexual orientation, etiology (taxonomic diagnoses), and surgical status must be considered but no hard and fast rule applied.  Where there is no risk of violence or sexual predation, a transwoman may be placed in a female facility regardless of genital surgical status (e.g. ‘early onset’ – androphilic transwomen are not a risk to women, but are at very high risk from men).  Risk factors considered should include the prisoner’s history of violence, especially toward women.  A transwoman who has ever exhibited violent or sexual crimes (not including prostitution) should NEVER be housed in a women’s facility regardless of current surgical status.  That is to say, a rapist has forfeited the privilege and the prison system shouldn’t provide new victims to a predator.

References:

Dhejne, et al. “Long-Term Follow-Up of Transsexual Persons Undergoing Sex Reassignment Surgery: Cohort Study in Sweden” (2011) https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0016885

Kavanagh vs. Canada

Saunders, et al., “Gender reassignment: 5 years of referrals in Oxfordshire”
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/the-psychiatrist/article/gender-reassignment-5-years-of-referrals-in-oxfordshire/6B5F217162ABD9B3189F2EB82787034E/core-reader

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Common Correlations In HSTS Transwomen & Gay Men

Posted in Science Criticism by Kay Brown on July 2, 2018

female_scientistIn learning about correlations between various behaviors and characteristics between exclusively androphilic transwomen and gay men, we may learn things that point to etiological factors that effect both.  An interesting correlation is that both gay men and androphilic transwomen, both populations exhibit the now famous Fraternal Birth Order Effect (FBOE) in which they have more older brothers than straight men.  That is to say, that the more boys that a given mother gives birth to, the higher the chances of a boy being androphilic, either gay or trans.  The FBOE strongly supports a biological etiology for androphilia in males.

fobeBut the really interesting thing about this effect is that it is stronger for androphilic transwomen than it is for gay men.  This opens up some interesting avenues of research.  Does this effect also mean that there is a correlation within the gay male population between meansures of femininity and the FBOE?  What about other characteristics that are more common in androphilic transwomen than in gay men?

The picture of androphilic transwomen is that of early and notable gender atypical behavior, hypomasculine appearance (even before medical intervention) and near universal preference for anal receptive sexuality, “bottom” as its called in the modern Western gay community.  Many gay men are just the opposite, preferring to “top” other gay men.  So, is there are a correlation between prefered anal sex role and FBOE, childhood gender atypical behavior, or hypomasculine appearance?  Are tops more like straight men in less FBOE, less gender atypicality, and more masculine appearance?  Conversely, are bottoms more like transwomen?

In the Wienrich paper they found a correlation between childhood gender atypicality and a preference for being a bottom,

“The connections between childhood gender nonconformity (assessed by the Freund Feminine Gender Identity Scale, or FGI) and adult genitoerotic role (assessed by a sex history) were examined. … Although other workers have cautioned against assuming a priori that childhood gender role is inherently related to adult preferences for particular sexual acts, our data suggest that there is at least a statistical association between these two concepts. In particular, the FGI (and many of its factors and items) are significantly associated with preferences for receptive anal intercourse and, less clearly, with oral-anal contact — but not with oral-genital intercourse or insertive anal intercourse. … The data also suggest that in sex research involving homosexual men, the correct genitoerotic role distinction is not insertive vs. receptive behaviors, or even insertive vs. receptive anal intercourse, but receptive anal intercourse vs. all other behaviors.”

Thus, like transwomen, bottoms are more likely to have been gender atypical than tops.

In Moskowitz, they found that physical traits, relative masculinity, was correlated with sex role,

“We surveyed 429 men engaging in same-sex anal intercourse to investigate the degree to which anal penetrative self-identity was concordant with actual penetrative behavior. Additionally, the roles of masculinity and physical body traits (e.g., penis size, muscularity, height, hairiness, and weight) were tested as correlates of anal penetrative identity and identity-behavior concordance. … Generally, tops reported larger penises than bottoms. They also reported being comparatively more masculine than bottoms. … Our study suggests that the correlates of gay men’s sexual self-labels may depend on objective traits in addition to the subjective pleasure associated with receptive or insertive anal intercourse.”

Thus, bottoms were more physically hypomasculine, just like androphilic transwomen.

In the Wampold paper he explores the correlation between sex role and FBOE,

“Bottoms had a significantly greater mean number of older brothers than did Not-Bottoms. … Thus, late fraternal birth order was correlated with receptive anal-erotic behavior among MSM.”

Thus, we’ve come full circle.  There is evidence for a multivariate cluster of indicia in a subset of gay men that would appear to be very much like androphilic transwomen save for one behavior, social transition to being transwomen.  The question we then need ask, is this difference between tops and bottoms dimensional or taxonic.  It sure looks taxonic to me.  The next question is the difference between bottom gay men and androphilic transwomen dimensional or taxonic?  I’m betting it’s dimensional.

If this is the case, what makes the difference between bottom gay men and androphilic transwomen?  We have strong hints that it is cultural.  There are cultures where feminine androphilic males are granted greater latitude to express their native femininity and not be coerced into hiding in the closet, or attempting to pretend to be ‘straight acting – straight looking’ gay men like ours does.  Assuming this to be the case, as our Western society is becoming less transphobic and misogynist, we should see more young gender atypical androphilic males persisting and chosing social transition as transwomen.

Further Reading:

Essay on cross cultural expression of male androphilia

Essay on the Fraternal Birth Order Effect

References:

Blanchard, R., “Fraternal Birth Order, Family Size, and Male Homosexuality: Meta-Analysis of Studies Spanning 25 Years”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, (2017)
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-017-1007-4

Weinrich, et al., “Effects of recalled childhood gender nonconformity on adult genitoerotic role and AIDS exposure” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1992)
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01542256

Moskowitz, et al., “The Influence of Physical Body Traits and Masculinity on Anal Sex Roles in Gay and Bisexual Men”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, (2011)
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-011-9754-0

Wampold, C., “The Association Between Fraternal Birth Order and Anal-Erotic Roles of Men Who Have Sex with Men”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, (2018)
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-018-1237-0

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Pose: A Look at Transgender Realities

Posted in Autobiographical, Film Review by Kay Brown on June 30, 2018

Kay BrownMy husband and I have been watching a great new drama show on FX, POSE.  I don’t normally watch shows with a transgender theme.  They usually either misrepresent us, make fun of us, or we are the designated tragic losers.  But Pose is different.  As Janet Mock, one of the writers for the show and an important voice in how the show was developed and what issues it covers, said, the show “centers transwomen of color”.  Yes, it does that, and a whole lot more.  It also, by the simple statistical reality that transwomen of color in the US are far more likely to be exclusively androphilic early transitioners, the show centers “homosexual transsexuals” (HSTS).  I love the mix of black, puerto rican, and white transwomen in the show.  This being set in New York, that fits the local demographics.  (Here on the west coast, our mix also includes meso-american hispanic, Filipino, and chinese.)

I haven’t seen a single “late transitioner” being portrayed.  Even better, they don’t make the oft mistake of conflating the two types.  No, we see only one type, as they really are.

This essay is less a review than an educational exposition.  Because the show focuses on HSTS in a realistic way, in a way that I have never seen a TV show actually do before, it offers me an opportunity to connect the science, sociology, psychology, history, to a show that you can watch and connect the dots.

Not all of those dots are flattering.  In the very first episode we see Electra Abundance, a house mother of a collection of trans & gay youth, lead her crew on a caper to steal 18th Century court dress from a museum just so that they could outshine their competition at a Ball.  At least one of the crew, Angel, is a sex worker on the street.  In a later episode, we see a bisexual young man, one of House of Evangelista is a street drug dealer.  Yes, it was like real life, but it still hurts to see stereotypes of street kids, gay and trans alike, as petty criminals.  Electra and Angel have sugar daddies that help get them off the street.  On the other hand, we see Blanca, the mother of the House of Evangelista working a real job at a nail salon.  This too is very realistic.  Very few transwomen who end up on the margins of society when young ever climb very far on their own.

Speaking of throwaways, the show opens with heart wrenching scene of a gay teen being thrown out of his family by homophobic parents.  Blanca and Angel both relate ugly stories of being rejected by their families as kids.  (Been there, done that!)  The show gives us a glimpse of how transwomen form houses and in essence are the social workers that provide group homes for throw away queer kids.  They have been doing this for a very long time.

As the show is set in the late ’80s, there is an ever-present pall hanging over the characters, “the plague”, HIV/AIDS.  At the time, being HIV+ was literally a death sentence.  There is a powerful reminder that though thousands of people were dying, then President Reagan couldn’t even bring himself to mention it.  Homophobes literally saw it as ‘God’s Punishment’ on queer folk.  In the opening scene of the first episode, we meet Blanca as she learns that she is HIV+.  She is a strong woman and decides that knowing that she may get sick and die soon, she is determined to make the world a better place by creating her own house built on love and encouragement for her charges.  She hides that she is HIV+, but works to educate others on safer sex practices.  In another episode, we see AIDS patients in the hospital being treated as pariahs; in one case hospital staff refused to enter the room to deliver their meal.  In another vignette an older gay man cajoles three younger men to get tested at a clinic.  We see three of them joyful that they tested negative, but the older man is first devastated, then puts on a brave face to lie about his own HIV+ status.

Allow me to switch to a few personal anecdotes.  I’m 61 years old now… I lived through all of this.  We first began to suspect something was wrong with the first hints were a rash of young men getting a rare cancer.  I vividly reading a cartoon in the gay press, must have been 1980 (?) that read, “I’m glad I’m middle-aged… too young to get old man’s Karposi’s carcinoma and too old to get young man’s Karposi’s.”  I remember standing in line to see a movie at the Castro Theatre and recognizing Karposi’s lesions on a man’s face.  Then, gay men and HSTS transwomen started dying of lots of illnesses that shouldn’t have been killing them.  I remember talking to one of my childhood friends trying to explain all of this, including the various theories, some of them incredibly homophobic such as the notion that gay men were dying because of too much partying, drugs, and of course, sex.  But then it became more obvious that this was an infectious agent that was sexually transmitted.  The fear was palpable.

My own sex life took a very steep nose-dive.  I was then recently post-op, but I had been having unprotected sex with men as an exclusive bottom for years before that.  I had never even seen a condom.  Why should I?  It wasn’t like I was going to get pregnant, more’s the pity.  Sure, there were STDs… but antibiotics could take care if it.  I learned about and how to use a condom at a safer sex house party hosted by members of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance at Stanford.  Like the men in the show, I was too afraid to learn my HIV status when testing became available; but my good friend and sister transactivist, Joy Shaffer, M.D. then a medical resident working with HIV/AIDS patients in the hospital when many others refused, insisted.  Joy and her girlfriend Patricia went with me to the clinic.  They were obviously not in a high risk group, but got tested alongside me to offer encouragement.  I was negative.  I felt relief… but the fear was still there.  My sex life remained much more restrained for a good many years later, until I got married.

Public Service Advertisement:

Practice Safer Sex!  Keep and use condoms.  EVERY TIME!!  Learn about and take PrEP medications to reduce your chances of becoming HIV+.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled show.

Because this show has writers that are themselves early transitioners, we see some intimate details that aren’t usually portrayed.  For instance, we see in one episode that not only are HSTS obligate bottoms, but that they are also “avoidant”.  That is, that they would prefer not to have their pre-op genitalia touched during sex.  Just to make sure the audience understands that this is universal, both Electra and Angel have discussions with their sugar daddy boyfriends about it.  As Electra’s boyfriend puts it, “What?! You didn’t think I noticed you grimace when I touch you there?”  This detail, of course, is almost never discussed or portrayed elsewhere because most of those shows wish to portray young transwomen as sex toys for “chasers”.  In this same show, we learn that Electra’s and Angel’s boyfriends are both chasers, gynandromorphophilic.  That is, they both prefer pre-op transwomen and want to touch their lover’s pre-op genitalia.  Electra is faced with the prospect of losing her man if she has SRS, but decides to go ahead, for her own sake.  Angel, upon learning that her man is a chaser, is repulsed and loudly orders him to leave.

The writers seem to know their history.  In one of the episodes, we see Blanca angered by the blatant transphobia from the ‘straight looking – straight acting’ gay male crowd at a local bar.  She attempts to use civil rights style counter sit-in tactics to force the bar to accept her presence and to serve her.  But that bar uses bouncers and even the police to enforce their ‘no queens’ policy, deliberately insulting and misgendering her.  The gay men at the bar cheer as Blanca is arrested for no real reason.  I see this as a metaphor for the way that much of the larger gay and lesbian community mistreated the transcommunity from the early ’70s through the late ’90s.

The show is singularly refreshing and I look forward to viewing the rest of the season.

Further Reading:

Essay on correlation between non-white ethnicity and HSTS

Essay on HSTS being ‘avoidant’

Essay on gynandromorphophilia

Essay on historic transphobia in the gay and lesbian communities

External Further Reading

‘We’re More Than Capable’: Pose Stars Push Back on Cis Actors Playing Trans Roles by Maiysha Kai

Pose Writer Janet Mock on Making History with Trans Story Telling by Janet Mock

“When Are Trans Actors Allowed to Act?” by Hannah Giorgis in the Atlantic
The FX drama Pose is the rare example of a show that actually gives trans actors top billing—an effort made all the more urgent by a recent controversy that saw Scarlett Johansson cast as a transgender man.

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Detransitioners Are NOT The Enemy

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial by Kay Brown on June 21, 2018

Kay BrownTransgender folks should not fear detransitioners.

When I was 18 years old, on my own, effectively disowned by my family.  (I say effectively, as I was given a meagre allowance with the stipulation that I was NOT to come home or be seen by any of the family’s connections.)  I was fully socially transitioned and was just beginning HRT.  I had found a room to rent with kitchen and bathroom privileges.  The owner, a young divorced mom with a young daughter and her twenty something brother lived downstairs.  Two other women rented rooms upstairs.  Oh… and they often had boyfriends spend the night… so this wasn’t some female only space by any means.  In fact, I even had a date with the brother, went to a Jr. College dance together.  I couldn’t really afford the rent, so I did babysitting of the daughter in exchange to lower it to what I could afford.  I should mention that I couldn’t afford to eat either!  I went hungry for weeks at a time.  One of my high school friends found out about that and organized a food drive for me.  I ate a lot of strange stuff from cans for a while !  After several months of this… well, disaster struck.  I got read and outed.  No one in that house wanted a transsexual in the house, I was forced to leave.

So much for the theory that if people know an LGBT person, their hatred will be reduced… not in 1975 it didn’t.

So, I had to find a new place, fast… and I didn’t have enough money to rent my own space, no matter how humble.  I didn’t know a single transperson.  I had never met a transperson.  I was completely alone, no community, no mentors, no one I could turn to.

I was told about a place called the Alternative Community Center, where they had a bulletin board listing housing.  I hoped that I could find an LGBT friendly space.  I inquired at a goodly number of situations… While I found plenty of L friendly spaces, some G friendly spaces… there did NOT seem to be any T friendly spaces… In fact, in one mixed house I got quite the cold shoulder, openly hostile and vile comments.  But as I walked out, one of the straight men, ran after me and excitedly talked to me, actually trying to flirt with me, then admitted he was a closeted cross-dresser (i.e. a gynandrophilic autogynephile)… and while he clearly wanted to be my buddy, he also wouldn’t stick his neck out to support my joining the house-hold.  I was becoming depressed and disparate.  Then, my luck changed.

A very butch lesbian had a room available in a rented house near the beach.  She explained that it was temporary, it being winter, the off-season, so she had rented it dirt cheap.  I could have the room dirt cheap.  Her name was Curly Hummingbird.  She was totally cool with me being MTF trans.  I couldn’t believe my luck.

Living there was comforting and I felt more than welcome.  Curly even set me up with a man.  She loved sharing with me that all her lesbian friends had the hots for me.  She didn’t tell them I was trans.  She also made it VERY clear that she too found me attractive.

As time went on, we had many late night discussions.  It turned out that she was a detransitioner.  She had lived for three years passing as a man.  Yes, when gays, lesbians, and straights were all horribly transphobic when confronted by an actual transperson, a detransitioner was my savior.

After several months, winter turned to springtime weather and the house rent went up.  Curly was moving on and so must I.  I thought I had found a new savior, a mid-twenties, self-described “straight” transwoman I had met at the Stanford Clinic’s “Grooming Seminar Series”.  But she turned out to be a predator instead (as I wrote about years ago in another essay).  So, I learned that transwomen could be even worse than detransitioners.

But interestingly, at that “seminar”, Dr. Laub, Sr., the surgeon of the clinic made an announcement that one of the popular members of that little community of autogynephilic transwomen had decided to detransition AFTER having SRS.  This sent shock waves through most of the attendees, save for one twenty-something lesbian identified post-op who philosophized that “he” had found what he needed on his life’s journey and that no one should feel sad about the situation.

Thus, the earliest lessons I learned in the transcommunity… detransitioning was real.  It happened.  It was not tragic… and they were not my enemy.

Having said that, I will admit that there is one very loud asshat of a detransitioner who clearly is our enemy, Walt Heyer.  But notice that he seems to be the lone voice, beloved by the transphobic alt-right and Xtian Right alike.  He is the exception that proves the rule.

Finally, I want to point out that someone who begins social transition and/or HRT but backs away from that in a short period of time should perhaps not be considered a detransitioner?  After all, we used to have a consensus in the caregiving community that there should be a “Real Life Test” period sufficient to determine if such transition and medical interventions were the right thing for a given individual.  Perhaps we need to view such “detransitions” as not being detransitions so much as having conducted the medical / social / psychological tests and found that they were not right and count that as a win?

Oh, Curly, if you read this, please contact me?  It would be great to catch up after all of these years.

Further Reading:

Essay on Tranwoman as Predator

External Further Reading:

“I Wanted To Take My Body Off”: Detransitioned

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Shameful History of Reparitive Therapy of Transgender and Gay Children & Youth

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial by Kay Brown on June 11, 2018

Kay BrownThere is an ongoing ‘war of words’ concerning the best course of treatment for gender atypical & dysphoric youth.  Lately, as our society has learned to accept and even celebrate LGBT youth, there has been a reaction from religious and reactionary bigots who would wish to return to the days when parents and medical caregivers could treat gender atypicality as a serious psychiatric disorder that needed drastic interventions in and of itself, rather than a non-pathological variance found in all human societies.  So, perhaps its time to review the history of such interventions in the light of more recent scientific and humanitarian knowledge.

First, one must understand that historically, gender atypicality concerns were mostly focused on male children, sissies.  It was often assumed that ‘tomboys’ would outgrow it, but sissy boys would all too likely grow up to be homosexual or transsexual, both equally considered as disordered, criminal, and to be avoided at all costs.

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To understand the nature of a given intervention one must first understand the underlying assumptions about the etiology of gender atypicality, dysphoria, and sexual orientation that a given intervention was designed to address.  During the mid-20th Century several competing theories vied with each other but there was a common thread, that of a disturbance of nurture.  That is to say, that they rejected the role of biology and focused on the environment.  So, if the environment is broken, so will the child be.  From there, several theories emerge, first up, faulty family constellation, lack of “appropriate” role modeling, and the “Smother Mother”.

The faulty family constellation theory is from observations that many children grow up in so-called “broken homes”, where single mothers are raising children on her own, with no man in her life.  The theory is that a boy child simply has no male role model and thus learns only feminine behavior and identification.  But, this wasn’t true of all feminine boys.  So, another term was added, the “emotionally absent” father.  This was a man, who though physically present in the home, rejected his son and thus failed to mold the young boy’s behavior toward the “healthy” masculine norm.  Of course, a modern understanding would be that the boy’s femininity had been the cause of the rejection by a homophobic father, not the other way around.  Also, many masculine heterosexual boys had grown up in single mother households, so they had to add the term “vulnerable” to the description of the boys, that is to say, only those who were “vulnerable” to this absence developed into sissies.

The theory also holds that the mother in these families tends to ‘smother’ a boy, hold him close to her body for excessively long periods, ‘tie him to her apron strings’, etc., such that he can’t form a separate gender identity, or even any identity, of his own.

The intervention designed to ‘fix’ the faulty family constellation is to introduce a “healthy” masculine male role model to the boy and encourage identification and subsequent modeling upon that man.  Since it isn’t always practical to require a single mother to find a suitable husband willing to take on the task of ‘toughening up’ the sissy boy, the goal is to place the boy in therapy sessions with a suitable role modeling therapist.  For a pre-teen this would often mean “play therapy” with sex typed boys toys.  Ideally, there would also be family therapy where the boy’s father would be encouraged to take a greater role in the child’s upbringing and similar withdrawal of the mother’s involvement.  Playing with girl’s toys is to be actively denied, taking away beloved toys and dolls, often lampooned as “Drop the Barby” therapy.  Another aspect would be to restrict the boy from having female friends and require them to participate in single sex activities such as scouting, etc. where they are often exposed to peer disapproval and even bullying.  It sounds almost gentle and acceptable… but underneath, the message to the child is that they are not “ok”, that there is something wrong with them, that they are not lovable as they are, leading to reduced self-esteem and increased loneliness.

While we can all applaud the idea of family intervention to encourage more paternal involvement and bonding, the idea of decreased maternal involvement is simply not justified given that we now know that the faulty family constellation theory is just plain bogus.  Further, if a homophobic father can’t step up and bond with a feminine boy, that boy will need his mother’s acceptance all the more.  Further, placing the blame upon the mother for having “encouraged” the boy’s femininity in this manner is just plain evil.

{Personal Note:  At the age of ten, during the ’67-’68 school year, I was sent to such “play therapy” with Dr. Peters (you can’t make this stuff up), a tall bearded man in a large room filled with toys.  I don’t remember seeing any girl’s toys in the room, ever.  According to my parents, separately, since they divorced when I was a teen, I trust that they were both being candid with me, it had been the school psychologist who had insisted that I be refered to Dr. Peters and only Dr. Peters.  This would also explain why my teachers interfered with my female friendships and forced me to interact with boys in class, and there was nothing subtle about it.  —  What I find saddening about the episode is that in my case, the faulty family constellation theory is completely reversed.  My mother, though an amazingly capable and caring parent, was the one who became emotionally unavailable and rejecting.  It was my good fortune that my Dad was always a very warm, loving, caring, and devoted father to all four of his children… though, if we are all honest about it, I was likely his favorite.}

Another intervention that gained some currency in the mid to late 20th Century is, in effect, to place a child into a Skinner Box, that is to say, create a deliberate reward & punishment system, in therapy, in the home, and in the classroom, in which gender typical behavior is consistently recognized and rewarded, perhaps with tokens redeemable for desirable privileges, while gender atypical behavior is penalized.  This type of environment is often used in cases of extremely “disturbed”, aggressive, or violent children and teens where cooperative behavior is rewarded and aggression is penalized.  Here, the theory is that child is held to be “gender disturbed”, expanding the definition used for one class of children requiring extraordinarily harsh and controlling interventions to another.  There were a number of ‘therapist / researchers’ who have published and recommended such interventions using just this pathologizing language.

One of these, George Rekers, a self-hating closeted gay man, not content to label gender atypical boys “disturbed”, not satisfied with the stigmatizing term “effeminate” boy, coined the even more powerfully pathologizing and stigmatizing term “feminoid” in the manner of the racist stigmatizing of those with Down’s Syndrome as “mongoloid”.  One of Reker’s recommendations included abusively “spanking” (beating actually) young feminine boys when they committed some feminine behavioral infraction.  Interestingly, Rekers own research showed that such feminine boys were essentially like gender typical girls,

The amount of feminine play by the feminoid boys was found to be significantly greater than that of normal boys, but not significantly different from the predominantly feminine play patterns of the normal girls.”

Imagine putting a gender typical girl through this… yes, that’s the moral and psychological equivalent.  I can’t even begin to express how evil I find this so-called “therapy”.  And this is what some parents and pundits wish us to resume?

Special Note:

One of the most important and yet at the same time, distressing aspects of this shameful history is that these abusive interventions came out of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the late ’60s and ’70s.  At the very heart and center of this was Robert Stoller and Richard Green.  It was Dr. Green who gathered together these vulnerable gender atypical children to allow graduate students to conduct this shameful “research”.  Rekers, in his published paper on the “treatment” (read: torture) of Kirk Murphy (aka Kraig), thanks Dr. Green for providing him his victim.  Further, Dr. Green was personally involved in the research.  Knowing this has certainly lowered my esteem for Dr. Green who I had previously held in high regard.

External Reading:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Alan_Rekers

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/06/07/sissy.boy.experiment/index.html

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

References:

Rekers, G., Yates, C., “Sex-typed play in feminoid boys versus normal boys and girls”, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00917600

GEORGE A. REKERS AND 0. IVAR LovAAs, “BEHAVIORAL TREATMENT OF DEVIANT SEX-ROLE BEHAVIORS IN A MALE CHILD”, Journal of Applied Behaviorial Analysis (1974)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1311956/pdf/jaba00060-0003.pdf

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