On the Science of Changing Sex

Say That Again Please?

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on May 10, 2017

cropped-prof_candiceIt normally takes me weeks to write an essay once I’ve found a paper (or three) that seemed worthy of being used as the focus.  But today, I ran into disturbing paper that hits very close to home.  I’m hard of hearing.  I’ve been hard of hearing all of my life, but I’ve been wearing hearing aids since my very early 30’s, mostly because that was when Kaiser finally saw fit to give me my first a really basic analog device.  IT was a revelation; wow, so many birds chirping out in the garden!  I couldn’t hear them before.  Today, I wear some really nifty high tech digital hearing aids with BlueTooth remote control in both ears.  And yeah, I paid for them myself… and worth every penny.

Just this week a new paper came out that suggests the HRT for menopause is correlated with increased risk of hearing loss.  I don’t have access to the full paper and I haven’t figured out who is the corresponding author yet.  But given that transwomen use HRT in higher doses and for longer periods of time, it may be important to look into this issue.

From the abstract,

Objective: Menopause may be a risk factor for hearing loss, and postmenopausal hormone therapy (HT) has been proposed to slow hearing decline; however, there are no large prospective studies. We prospectively examined the independent relations between menopause and postmenopausal HT and risk of self-reported hearing loss.  …  Conclusions: Older age at menopause and longer duration of postmenopausal HT are associated with higher risk of hearing loss.

Reference:

Curhan, et al., “Menopause and Postmenopausal Hormone Therapy and Hearing Loss” Menopause  (May 2017)  http://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/publishahead/Menopause_and_postmenopausal_hormone_therapy_and.97786.aspx

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Testosterone Poisoning Real?

Posted in Female-to-Male by Kay Brown on April 30, 2017

critical-thinkingHow T Makes Men Dysrational

Back in the early ’90s when I was staying home from work because of some bug, I recall watching daytime reruns of really dumb shows. I chanced upon a silly sitcom for ‘tweens where one of the plot elements was a math problem which was supposed to be challenging for the middle school students. It was a classic dual rate problem: How long it would take two boys washing cars if they did the next car together instead of separately.  As I was bored, I set up and solved the simple (to me) algebra problem during the next commercial break. I looked forward to seeing that I was correct.  As the show progressed, the kids were becoming more and more agitated that no one could solve it, not even the stereotypical “brain” of the class.  Only the stereotypical airhead girl (obnoxious portrayals) seemed to be immune.  At the climax of the show, no one has solved it, but the airhead… who states, “It can’t be solved.”  “Right!” the math teacher concurs.  WTF!?!?!  I think.  The “brain’s” head explodes.

I was dumbfounded.  I checked my work.  No, I could easily solve it.  No, it didn’t take a genius.  It was a very straight forward bit of algebra any first year high school algebra student could solve.   How could the writers, producers, stage crew, and actors not know this?  What the &^%$#@! were they doing telling their young audience; that it couldn’t be solved?

This episode (pun intended) stuck in my mind.  I couldn’t understand it until I learned of the phenomena of Dysrationalia, researched by Keith Stanovich.  It was a revelation.  But I never thought this topic would find it’s way to my blog here, not being related to trans issues (save perhaps as one possible explanation for the irrational denial of the two type taxonomy).  But, here it is…

High testosterone levels increase dysrationality.  Seriously.

In a recent study, healthy men were randomly given T gel or placebo gel to apply to their skin.  Hours later, their plasma T levels had doubled.  They then took on a series of cognitive tests buried within them were three “trick questions” that measure “Cognitive Reflection”, a subset of the Stanovich’s original seven dysrationality questions.  These three questions, mathematical in nature, are extremely easy, deceptively easy, in that unless one slows down and thinks, one will all to easily try to use irrational mental shortcuts that get the wrong answers.  The key to being rational is that another part of the brain double checks one’s thinking to spot this and says to one’s self, “hey, hold on, that type of thinking is flawed.”

The results were dramatic.  Those who had been given T got 20% more wrong answers than those given the placebo.  The difference was quite robust ( Cohen’s d=0.41 ).  High T levels seem to reduce the ability of the brain to spot irrational thinking processes.

This has implications for transmen as they begin and continue hormone replacement therapy (HRT) using testosterone, as transient high levels of T occur.  Transmen should be counseled on this phenomena and given cognitive tools to compensate.

Researchers should also look at the effects of androgen suppression in transwomen.  Does this effect go in reverse?  Does low T make one less prone to cognitive reflection errors?

Further Reading:

Rational and Irrational Thought: The Thinking That IQ Tests Miss

Reference:

Nave, Gideon and Nadler, Amos and Zava, David and Camerer, Colin (2017) Single dose testosterone administration impairs cognitive reflection in men. Psychological Science . ISSN 0956-7976 .   http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20170428-091020875

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SAGE Lies

Posted in Book Reviews by Kay Brown on April 24, 2017

Book Review: The SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies

When I was a young teen in the early ’70s, I scoured our home library (larger than most middle-class households) for anything that could help me with my horrible feelings that we now label “gender dysphoria”.  We had a number of college psychology, biology, human anatomy texts, and one medical encyclopedia.  I found exactly one reference of interest, but it declaimed, “There is no such thing as a ‘sex change’.”  That’s it, one line reference in the negative.  Of course, it was both a true statement and a lie of omission.  It failed to explain that there was medical help, if only superficial.  But superficial or not, hormones and SRS were good enough to make my life worth living.  But before I found much better, and truthful, references at our local public library, that one reference left me despairing and despondent for my future.

As I’ve researched our collective  LGBT history and science (especially when I was teaching my class on Transhistory through the Harvey Milk Institute), and of course, through my decades of LGB – and especially – T activism, I’ve read and collected many books and references.  So one could imagine my delight in finding the SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies.  But that was very short lived.

The first thing I do when I look at such purportedly comprehensive works is to see how they treat transsexual and transgender subjects.  In this case.  OMG!  What a &^%$#@! mess!  It is more than simply disappointing.  It is deja vu.  Consider the section on “Controversies”, the only section that deals with the central nature of transgender etiology,

Autogynephilia  –  The term autogynephilia was first used in 1989 by Ray Blanchard, a sexologist, to describe a purported class of transgender women.  Classifications of transgender women prior to this time tended to divide this group into those who were sexually and romantically interested in men as “homosexual transsexuals” and those who were sexually and romantically interested in women were classified as “heterosexual fetishistic transvestites.”  Critiques of these classifications noted that the “homosexual” and “heterosexual labels were applied incorrectly, failing to recognize the gender identities of transwomen themselves.  –  These classifications also reflected mainstream stigma around transgender identity as they resigned many transgender women to little more than sexual fetishists.  The autogynephilia label only intensified this view of some transgender women as sexual fetishists.  The theory of autogynephilia asserted that many of the trans women classified into the “heterosexual fetishistic transvestites” category were primarily attracted not to women but to the idea of themselves as women.  In this way, autogynephilia was proposed as a type of primary sexual-identity category for transgender women.  Subsequent research has found little empirical basis for such a classification, and many researchers have criticized the classification as transphobic.  –  One particular critique of this classification system concerns its failure to recognize the way in which all sexual attraction depends on one’s own gender identity.  For example, a critical component of both homosexual and heterosexual attraction among many cisgender men involves an erotic charge around one’s own manliness or manhood.  To assume that such attachments to (and sexual desire motivated through) one’s own gender identity and expression, in relatation to another’s, exists only among transgender women, is misguided.  Despite a relative lack of empirical support for the diagnoses of autogynephilia among transgender women, some segments of the radical feminist community endorse this diagnostic category in their own writing as well.  …  The most outspoken critiques of the theory of autogynephilia ahve emerged from self-identified transfeminist academics (e.g. Julia Serano and Talia Mae Bettcher), who have highlighted not only the lack of empirical support for these theories but also the underlying biases and assumption revealed in the very foundations of the theory itself.”

I highlighted three phrases as they demonstrate a rhetorical trick, repeat a lie three times and people will tend to believe it.  Yes, I bolded the text because these are bald faced lies.  The material claims that there is no empirical evidence for autogynephilia in transwomen.  But we have numerous studies that put the lie to these statements, some of which were conducted by transwomen ourselves.  To make this assertion is academic misconduct of the worst sort.

Because I know that most readers will only read this one page, I feel I need to point out that we have such empirical evidence in abundance, both prior and subsequent to Blanchard coining the term “autogynephilia” to replace the earlier terms “fetishistic femmiphilia” and “fetishistic transvestism”.  Science depends upon repeatability, and these results regarding sexual orientation and autogynephilia have been replicated by Buhrich (1978), Freund (1982), Blanchard (1985, 1987, 1988, 1989), Doorn (1994), Smith (2005),  Lawrence (2005), Veale (2008), and Nuttbrock (2009), in separate studies spanning four decades, collectively involving over a thousand transsexuals to date.  In fact, this is one of the most repeated and reconfirmed scientific finding regarding transsexuality.  The largest study, Nuttbrock et al. found that fully 82% of gynephilic transwomen acknowledge being autogynephilic, specifically, being sexually aroused by wearing women’s clothing.  I have essays on this blog that extensively survey and discuss these papers and their abundant empirical evidence supporting the “assertion” that many transwomen are autogynephilic.   Let me say this again in another way, we have empirical study after study after study that shows that the vast majority of gynephilic (attracted to women) transwomen fully admit to being autogynephilic.  How much more plain empirical evidence do we need, proof using phallometry to measure the amount of sexual arousal?  We have that too!

The section also includes misleading statements regarding the nature of autogynephilia, trying to confuse the issue with non-autogynephilic sexuality.  With deceptive cleverness this writer has substituted the usual “women are autogynephilic too” meme by referencing men instead.  But here too, we see that they use the classic rhetorical trick of confusing the map for the territory.  Here, they suggest that non-transmen, both homosexual and heterosexual, experience autoandrophilia.  But in fact, this deliberately conflates, or rather confuses, pride or even vanity in one’s masculinity with sexual arousal to one’s own maleness.  This can only be done because the casual reader doesn’t know the exact nature of autogynephilia and autoandrophilia.  These men are not getting turned on by simply being men.  They are not being turned on by simply wearing men’s clothing, although autogynephiles do exactly that.  (As I pointed out, the vast majority fully admit to sexual arousal to wearing women’s clothing.)

So, we’ve caught them out in a outright lie, in misleading statements meant to confuse the issue, but what about lies of omission?  Oh yes, this they have done as well, in that they totally fail to include any mention of transsexual and transgender scientists and writers who support the two type taxonomy and the role that autogynephilia plays in the etiology of one of the types.  Where in all of this encyclopedia is Dr. Anne Lawrence?

Actually, they do reference her.  But in safety, only mentioning her letter regarding the need for better transgender medical care.  But where are her papers, book chapters, and even a book discussing the nature and role of autogynephilia in transwomen’s lives?  How can they simply make such an important transwoman’s work on the subject disappear and call this work “encyclopedic”?

(This is especially ironic in that Lawrence has written material, currently in press, entitled, “Gender dysphoria: Overview; Gender dysphoria: Diagnosis; Gender dysphoria: Treatment; Sex reassignment surgery. In A. Wenzel (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of abnormal and clinical psychology)

There is one other lie of omission… where in this “encyclopedia” is the voice of the exclusively androphilic and known to be non-autogynephilic transwomen?  By printing this disinformation the editors of this work have given voice to only one of the two types of transsexual, and only the minority that are in denial of their autogynephilic nature at that, completely silencing the other.  For an academic work that purports to give voice to the LGBTQ communities, this is a very serious cultural and political offense.

Finally, not content with outright lies, misleading comments, and lies of omission, they top it off with calumny, “underlying biases and assumption revealed in the very foundations of the theory itself.”  That is to say, that this supposed academic work tops it off with character assassination of those of us, scientists and transsexual activists, who recognize the abundant (and socially obvious) empirical evidence for the theory, by implying that we are “transphobic” and “biased”.

I cannot condemn this work in any greater terms, knowing how deeply distorting it is of an area in which I have some knowledge.  It leads me to distrust any areas where I may not have the in-depth knowledge to recognize any other lies it may contain.

I have to wonder, is deep disgust, how many transfolk are going to read this material in despair.  As M. Taylor Saotome-Westlake, an autogynephilic and gender dysphoric (but not yet transitioned) individual wrote in reference to his own experience,

“A brief note on why all this matters. Independently of whether the two-type taxonomy is in fact taxonic, there are obvious political incentives to dismiss the explanatory value of autogynephilia, because it could be construed as invalidating trans women. I get that.

But here’s the thing: you can’t mislead the general public without thereby also misleading the next generation of trans-spectrum people. So when a mildly gender-dysphoric boy spends ten years assuming that his gender problems can’t possibly be in the same taxon as actual trans women, because the autogynephilia tag seems to fit him perfectly and everyone seems to think that the “Blanchard-Bailey theory of autogynephilia” is “clearly untrue”, he might feel a little bit betrayed when it turns out that it’s not clearly untrue and that the transgender community at large has been systematically lying to him, or, worse, is so systematically delusional that they might as well have been lying.”

For more information:

READ MY WHOLE BLOG !!!

List of publications by Anne A. Lawrence, M.D.

Book Review: Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies Narratives of Autogynephilic Transsexualism by Anne A. Lawrence

Website written by exclusively androphilic / non-autogynephilic transsexuals about the negative social, political, and medical impact of autogynephilic transsexual denialism

References:

https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/the-sage-encyclopedia-of-lgbtq-studies/book244331%20

Two clinically discrete syndromes of transsexualism. Buhrich N, McConaghy N. British Journal of Psychiatry. 1978 Jul;133:73-6.  Abstract online

Two types of cross-gender identity. Freund K, Steiner BW, Chan S. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 1982 Feb;11(1):49-63.  Abstract online

Typology of male-to-female transsexualism. Blanchard, Ray. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Vol 14(3) Jun 1985, 247-261.  Abstract online

Heterosexual and homosexual gender dysphoria. Blanchard, Ray; Clemmensen, Leonard H; Steiner, Betty W. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Vol 16(2) Apr 1987, 139-152.  Abstract online

Nonhomosexual gender dysphoria. Blanchard, Ray. Journal of Sex Research. Vol 24 1988, 188-193.  Abstract online

The concept of autogynephilia and the typology of male gender dysphoria. Blanchard, Ray. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease. Vol 177(10) Oct 1989, 616-623.  Abstract online

Nonmonotonic relation of autogynephilia and heterosexual attraction. Blanchard R. J Abnorm Psychol. 1992 May;101(2):271-6.  Abstract online

Varieties of autogynephilia and their relationship to gender dysphoria. Blanchard R. Arch Sex Behav. 1993 Jun;22(3):241-51.  Abstract online

C. D. Doorn, J. Poortinga and A. M. Verschoor, “Cross-gender identity in transvestites and male transsexuals” http://www.springerlink.com/content/u63p723776v57m11/

Transsexual subtypes : Clinical and theoretical significance Smith Yolanda L. S.; Van Goozen Stephanie H. M.; Kuiper A. J.; Cohen-Kettenis Peggy T.; Psychiatry research (Psychiatry res.) 2005, vol. 137, no3, pp. 151-160  Abstract online

Anne A. Lawrence, “Sexuality Before and After Male-to-Female Sex Reassignment Surgery” 2005  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-005-1793-y

Jaimie F. Veale, Dave E. Clarke and Terri C. Lomax, “Sexuality of Male-to-Female Transsexuals”  http://www.springerlink.com/content/bp2235t8261q23u3/

A Further Assessment of Blanchard’s Typology of Homosexual versus Non-Homosexual or Autogynephilic Gender Dysphoria, Nuttbrock, et al. Archives of Sexual Behavior
http://www.springerlink.com/content/b48tkl425217331j/

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Getting Lost in the Crowd

Posted in Editorial, Science Criticism, Transgender Youth, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on April 16, 2017

Kay Brown

Or, How the Big Tent Transgender Movement Distorts Science and Holds Back Civil Rights for Transsexuals

In the early ’90s, Beth Elliott, using her nom de plume Mustang Sally, wrote an essay entitled, “The Incredible Shrinking Identity” in which she decried the social effects of subsuming transsexual people into the larger umbrella of “transgender”, which with each passing year seemed to be growing at its margins to include more and more people who just a few years before, would never have been considered to be in the same grouping.  Of course, she was mostly talking about cross-dressers, autogynephilic men, who as we know, are in fact in the same etiological taxon as autogynephilic MTF transsexuals.  In the ’90s, it was possible to ignore this complaint as being specious on the social level, given already rampant socially unwanted and scientifically unwarranted lumping of autogynephilic and exclusively androphilic MTF transwomen.

But what started as merely political embarrassement (for AGP transwomen) has now become a serious scientific and civil rights issue as the term “transgender” has now been stretched to the point where it has little meaning as to actual sexual, social, or gendered behavior.  It is no longer enough for scientists to differentiate between autogynephilic/late onset vs. androphilic/early onset MTF transwomen… nor even between autoandrophilic vs. androphilic FtM transmen… now we must differentiate between an ever growing host of self-defined “other” gender categories and underlying behaviors, identities that are lumped under “transgender” to the point of making the term meaningless to sexologists and social scientists alike.

Flashback, 1980:  Hanging out in the L.A. transsexual community, as it gained a political self awareness, was a teenager; let’s call her “Lee”.  Lee would tell anyone who asked that she was “transsexual”… yet caused great confusion to all who met her.  She was natal female, short even for a woman, pleasantly plump, and decidedly feminine in both appearance and manner.  She was in no sense gender atypical.  And during the time that I knew her, over 18 months, she never made any attempt to present as a man, nor even as butch.  She was always on the femmy side of androgenous to the point of being decidedly “cute” as she hung out, mostly with younger MTF transwomen whom she seemed to admire.  Had she been hanging out in this same manner in the gay male scene, they would have likely labeled her a “Fag Hag”.  The transsexual community, while leery of non-trans males who would have acted this way, affectionately accepted Lee’s non-threatening presence, while secretly rolling their eyes when she declared that she was “FtM”.

Thinking back on Lee, I’m fairly certain that she never transitioned and I’m willing to place fairly high odds that she married and had kids, probably now has grandchildren, none of which have any idea that she once hung out in the trans-scene.  At the time, we had no label for her.  Today, on the internet, the FtM transsexual community does have a label that would have applied, “tucute”, as in “Too Cute” to be trans.  If you visit the FtM pages on Tumbler, you are sure to run into a few… and will also note that they in turn, grumble about the negative feedback they get from “Truscum” (androphilic FtM) for not accepting that they too are just as “trans”, even if they are in no sense gender atypical or gender dysphoric.

Recent Events:  A couple years ago, via her facebook page, a very socially liberal, rather prominent (and wealthy) venture capitalist in my professional circle proudly announced that her teenaged child was “transgender”.  I’ve been living “mostly stealth” in that most of my professional contacts do not know of my medical history (yes, I “pass”).  But in a move to be supportive and perhaps even help her with the emotional issues that almost always come with a child’s transition I came out to her.  BAD MOVE!  Nope, upon learning more about her child, it became very clear that her daughter had always been very gender typical as a girl, was not the least bit gender dysphoric, and had no intention of legally, socially, nor medically transitioning.  No, she just wanted to be recognized as “transgender” and have everyone around her use gender neutral pronouns (cause she is so special, she deserves it).

There is another name for this behavior, “TransTrender”, as in it is now “trendy” to be transgender.    Back in my college years, hanging around Stanford University, I would often hear complaints from actual gynephilic women, real lesbians, about the phenomena of primarily androphilic women taking social positions as “Political Lesbians” and “Lesbians Until Graduation”.  The “transgender” community now has the same phenomena.  It seems to have become “cool” in some comfortably well off, very socially liberal teenaged and young adult circles to be associated with the LGB and now T community, as though being associated with a marginalized group made up for their obvious social privilege.

One could well imagine the growing resentment felt by those of us who have experienced familial rejection, social disapprobation, economic deprivation, and psychic pain from a lifetime of gender atypicality and dysphoria towards those who misappropriate an identity from the protective cocoon of indulgent family, liberal universities, and the anonymity of the internet.

If these issues had stayed on the pages of tumbler and facebook, it wouldn’t be a problem for science or those seeking better civil rights for transitioning transfolk.  But it hasn’t.

Consider a recent paper published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence in which the authors very laudably explore the issues of safety and bathroom access for “transgender” youth.  Ah… you are probably anticipating some of the problems that this might entail and you would be right.  But let’s explore each of them carefully.

The authors cite the now popular William’s estimate of 0.7% of the population in the US as “transgendered”.  The problem with that study is the number who identify as “transgendered” because William’s did not apply any operational definition beyond asking if they were “transgendered”. Yet we know that only 0.03% of the U.S. population has actually socially transitioned, according to US Census study that cross-correlated with name/sex status changes to Social Security cards (arguably the absolute best estimate we will ever get to the number of individuals who actually transitioned).  This means that less than 5% of those who identify as “transgender” ever transition.  Thus, by definition, more than 95% of those who identify as “transgender” never transition, that in fact, they aren’t all that gender dysphoric.  So who are they?  Well, given that 80 to 90% of MTF transsexuals are autogynephilic and that 4.6% of men in the general population are autogynephilic, while only 0.5% of women are autoandrophilic, we can surmise that the vast bulk of those who identify as “transgender” adults are autogynephilic males, otherwise gender typical heterosexual men who cross-dress in the privacy of their homes and perhaps occasionally have a “girls’ night out” with other cross-dressers.

We know that autogynephilic males are gender typical growing up.  They are also gynephilic.  These are, save for their secret cross-dressing and sexual fantasies of being or becoming female, typical, average, run of the mill straight men.  Thus, autogynephilic males who have not transitioned are not socially visible.  Further, we know that the median and average ages of transition for autogynephilic transsexuals (the moment that they become socially visible) is 35 and 40 respectively.  In fact, in the Nuttbrook study, which surveyed 571 transgender women, only one gynephilic (and presumably autogynephilic) individual had begun transition before age 20 and of those who had begun transition before age 20, only 7% said that they were bisexual (of which a number of them are likely to be autogynephilic, as we know from other studies).

Now, compare that to the number of early onset / androphilic transwomen who transition before age 20… that number is half.  HALF.  Further, we know from study after study that such transwomen are very notably gender atypical, as well as gender dysphoric.  THESE are the kids who will be the most socially visible as youth, NOT autogynephilic “transgender”.  On the FtM side, the Autoandrophilic population similarly transition later as adults, not teens.  It will be the rare, very rare (remember, only 0.03% of the total US population transition) exclusively gynephilic, gender dysphoric kids that will be socially visible as youth, not the TuCutes and the TransTrenders.  These are the kids who are socially and personally vulnerable as youth, not the vastly larger number of individuals who will identify as “transgender”.

How badly off are the numbers?  In the Wernick study they found 86 individuals who self-identified as transgendered out of 935 students.  Seriously, 9%?  NINE &^%$#@ percent?!?  That’s more than ten times the number of adults who self-identify and three hundred times the number who actually transition.  That’s on the same order as are found to be gay or lesbian.  Are all of the LGB kids claiming to be “transgendered”???  Or is this representative of all of the secretly cross-dressing and cross-dreaming boys plus the TuCutes and the TransTrenders, all balled into one?  Because, if the schools were statistically representative of the population as a whole, with only a thousand or so students, we could only expect a one in three chance of finding an actual transsexual among them, most likely an autogynephile who will transition as an adult and only one in fifteen chance of finding a transkid.

The design of this study was flawed from inception, as the numbers surveyed were never enough to find any statistically valid number of transkids, while using self report of being “transgendered” without a valid operational definition lead only to a measure of the trendiness of the label in the teenaged population.

So we see, that truly gender atypical and gender dysphoric individuals will be a very small percentage of youth who will self-identify as “transgender”.  These are the kids who social scientists and policy makers should be concerned with, not those who have yet to transition or never will.  These are the kids who, while finding more and more visibility in the press as they transition, are the ones who are getting lost in the crowd in social science studies and policy making because of the failure to apply appropriate operational definitions.

(Addendum 5/5/2017:  To reinforce my point that one needs to have an operational definition of “transgender”, we can see in another recent study (Sumia 2017) using the GIDYQ-A that only 1.3% of teenagers had any “potentially clinically significant gender dysphoria”.  Interestingly of the natal female teens, only 0.5% compared to 2.2% of the natal males had indicated such potential dysphoria.  Note that this is indeed potential, not clinically significant distress.  These numbers tally better with the hypothesis that most of these boys are autogynephilic and will likely live as secret cross-dressers.)

Further Reading:

Essay on US Census Estimate of Post-Transition Population

Essay on the Ratio of Gynephilic vs. Androphilic MTF Transsexuals

Essay on the Nature of Autogynephilia

References:

Wernick, et Al, “Gender Identity Disparities in Bathroom Safety and Wellbeing in High School Students”, Journal of Youth and Adolescence
DOI: 10.1007/s10964-017-0652-1

Sumia et Al, “Current and recalled childhood gender identity in community youth in comparison to referred adolescents seeking sex reassignment”, Journal of Adolescence
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140197117300155

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Here Be Dragons

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on April 3, 2017

female_scientistOr, Confusing The Map For the Territory

There has been a long tradition within the transsexual and transgender communities of trying to argue away the key role that autogynephilia plays in the development of late onset gender dysphoria.  Some simply deny it’s existence.  But this has lately fallen out of favor in the more realistic segments of the late transitioning MTF community in recognition of how obviously prevalent it is.  Though not new, it has become au currant to insist that it is either a normal part of female sexuality or that it is a natural consequence, an after effect, of gender dysphoria.  Both efforts confuse the map for the territory.  Both efforts ignore the logical consequences of their assertions and how they fail to match the evidence, the data collected over the years, concerning the phenomena.

First, there is the wonderfully creative, if fallacious, redefinition of autogynephilia, the softening of the language, more than simple euphemism, of calling it “female embodiment fantasies”.  How delightfully it allows one to then state that, of course, women naturally see themselves as female embodied as they have sexual fantasies.  See, women are autogynephilic too.  Or, as some twist it around, “Blanchard is defining normal female sexuality as a paraphilia!”

But this is confusing the map for the territory.  The phenomena being described are not the same, though they are deliberately described using the same words.  Women are not sexually aroused by, nor become romantically enamored with, their femaleness (nor the thought of, contemplation of, their femaleness or femininity).  But that is what autogynephilia is… sexual arousal and/or romantic attachment to the contemplation of becoming or being female in and of itself.  Where women only incidentally see themselves as female, because they are female, in their erotic imaginings, the autogynephilic individual is specifically and deliberately seeing themselves as female/feminine as that is a key element to which they sexually and romantically respond.

Just because someone labels a portion of a map, “Here be dragons” doesn’t mean there are.

If autogynephilia were an effect of gender dysphoria and a female gender identity, we would predict several consequences from that effect to show up in the data.  We would expect that those who were the most gender dysphoric from an early age, those who are the most naturally feminine from an early age, those who transition the soonest, to report the most autogynephilia.

But this is not the case.  Early onset / early transitioners have the lowest reported autogynephilia.  We can see this in study after study.  In Lawrence (2005), those who self reported being exclusively androphilic only 18% reported experiencing “hundreds” of autogynephilic episodes of erotic cross-dressing compared to 52-58% of non-androphilic, which division also showed correlations with age of transition and self-reported childhood gender atypicality.  In Nuttbrock (2009), those who had begun Hormone Replacement Therapy as teenagers only 14% reported having any autogynephilic arousal to cross-dressing compared to 82% of the gynephilic subjects (of whom only one had started HRT as a teen).

Just because someone labels a portion of a map, “Here be dragons” doesn’t mean there are.

Further, if it is an effect of gender dysphoria and of a female gender identity, we would expect that only those who experience gender dysphoria and claim a female gender identity, to experience autogynephilia.  But this too is not the case.  Post-transition people (both MTF and FTM total) only make up one in four thousand people, yet studies have shown that 4.6% of men, that’s nearly five out of a hundred, experience autogynephilic arousal to cross-dressing.  That is to say, significantly less than one out of one hundred males who are autogynephilic develop gender dysphoria and a female gender identity.

Just because someone labels a portion of a map, “Here be dragons” doesn’t mean there are.

Can we please stop with the erroneous rationalizations?  It’s time to recognize not only the Two Types… but the underlying autogynephilic etiology of one of them.

Further Reading:

Essay on Statistical Reality of the Two Type Taxonomy using Lawrence 2005 study

Essay on Nuttbrock 2009 study

Essay on Autogynephilia in the general population

Essay on Census of Post-transition transgender population

Essay Showing Autogynephilic Causation of Late Transitioning MTF Transsexuality

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Mars and Venus in Conjunction…

Posted in Brain Sex by Kay Brown on March 30, 2017

Teenage-brainOr, Yes, We CAN Tell Men and Women Apart By Their Personalities

In my last post, we looked at the idea that though the brain is comprised of many areas that individually are only mildly sexually dimorphic the pattern of which adds up to a very sexually dimorphic brain mosaic.  It reminded me of an earlier study in which they found that personality traits were also only mildly sexually dimorphic when examined individually, but the overall personality, the matrix of traits, was also very sexually dimorphic.  That is to say, that men and women, on average, do have different personalities, but no one trait is all that different.

Given that brains and minds are intimately linked, that minds are the function of brains, the fact that both brain mosaic and personality are both individually only mildly sexually dimorphic, but collectively very dimorphic should not surprise us.

The idea that men and women have different personalities has been widely accepted for millenia, but recently has been seriously questioned by feminists and some social scientists and psychologists, most notably Prof. Janet S. Hyde.  But even she, in propounding the “Gender Similarity Hypothesis” did find obviously sexually dimorphic behaviors in humans, as Guidice, et Al remarked,

“Specifically, Hyde found consistently “large” (d between .66 and .99) or “very large” (d≥1.00) sex differences in only some motor behaviors and some aspects of sexuality; “moderate” differences (d between .35 and .65) in aggression”

“…some aspects of sexuality…” Yeah!  Duh!  As in sexual orientation, the single largest sexually dimorphic difference between men and women, also motor behaviors that are highly correlated with sexual orientation.  Finally, aggression; yes, men are more aggressive than women by nature.  But what of the more subtle areas of personality?

In this study, the authors chose to use a very well established personality inventory, the 16PF which underlie the more well known Big Five factor personality inventory.

First, we need to discuss the matter of looking at individual aspects of personality as single variables then averaging this difference between the sexes as the authors pointed out,

“The problem with this approach is that it fails to provide an accurate estimate of overall sex differences; in fact, average effect sizes grossly underestimate the true extent to which the sexes differ. When two groups differ on more than one variable, many comparatively small differences may add up to a large overall effect; in addition, the pattern of correlations between variables can substantially affect the end result. As a simple illustrative example, consider two fictional towns, Lowtown and Hightown. The distance between the two towns can be measured on three (orthogonal) dimensions: longitude, latitude, and altitude. Hightown is 3,000 feet higher than Lowtown, and they are located 3 miles apart in the north-south direction and 3 miles apart in the east-west direction. What is the overall distance between Hightown and Lowtown? The average of the three measures is 2.2 miles, but it is easy to see that this is the wrong answer. The actual distance is the Euclidean distance, i.e., 4.3 miles – almost twice the “average” value. The same reasoning applies to between-group differences in multidimensional constructs such as personality. When groups differ along many variables at once, the overall between-group difference is not accurately represented by the average of univariate effect sizes; in order to properly aggregate differences across variables while keeping correlation patterns into account, it is necessary to compute a multivariate effect size. The Mahalanobis distance D is the natural metric for such comparisons. Mahalanobis’ D is the multivariate generalization of Cohen’s d, and has the same substantive meaning. Specifically, D represents the standardized difference between two groups along the discriminant axis; for example, D = 1.00 means that the two group centroids are one standard deviation apart on the discriminant axis.”

Using Mahalonobis’ D allows us to see the real difference in personalities of men and women taking into account the global pattern of personality traits, rather than one at a time.  From this the authors found,

“We found a global effect size D = 2.71, corresponding to an overlap of only 10% between the male and female distributions. Even excluding the factor showing the largest univariate ES, the global effect size was D = 1.71 (24% overlap). These are extremely large differences by psychological standards.  The idea that there are only minor differences between the personality profiles of males and females should be rejected as based on inadequate methodology.”

‘Gee willikers Mr. Wilson’… that 10% overlap sounds awfully familiar – Oh yeah, that’s similar to that found for the global pattern of the sexually dimorphic mosaic of the brain.  And just as I suggested that this might represent the effect of the non-heterosexual population, I again hypothesize that we might see a larger effect size if all known LGBT folk were excluded from the study subjects.  If so, that would further support my hypothesis that humans don’t have sexually dimorphic brains so much as having androphilic vs. gynephilic ones.

Further Reading:

Essay on Sexually Dimorphic Brain Mosaic

Essay on Sexually Dimorphic Motor Behaviors

Reference:

Guidice, et Al, “The Distance Between Mars and Venus: Measuring Global Sex Differences In Personality”
http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0029265

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Pink and Blue…

Posted in Brain Sex by Kay Brown on February 26, 2017

Teenage-brain… Brains

Or, Yes, We Now CAN Tell The Sex of a Person By Imaging Their Brain

Before recent developments in neuroimaging, I would have said that there was no way that we could determine the sex / gender of a person looking only at their brain.  In fact, I DID say exactly that.  But now, I don’t believe that that is an accurate statement, at least not wholely accurate, because a recent paper/letter has shown that with increased resolution and computer power we can determine the sex of a person that a particular brain resides in just from an analysis of the 3D image of their brains to 93% accuracy.  The mere fact that this can be done shows that the human brain is in fact highly sexually dimorphic, because if we were to simply guess, we would only be right 50% of the time.

The number, 93%, sounded suspiciously familiar to me.  That’s about the number of people who are not LGBT in the population.  Given that we also know that LGB people are likely to have sexually dimorphic features that as a population, are shifted towards that of the opposite sex, I’m proposing an hypothesis and a prediction.  If this analysis were redone excluding all known LGBT people, that the mathematical regression would result in greater predictive strength.  It would not reach 100% because there would still be those who due to social desirability bias would fail to disclose their sexual orientation and thus still be included in the heterosexual study group.  Increasing the accuracy in that instance will add evidence to a quip that I have made before, that humans don’t have male and female brains so much as androphilic and gynephilic brains.

There’s an important point that is missed by people with discussing the issue of whether the human brain is sexually dimorphic or not; The size and shape of any specific feature of the brain is to an extent only a very crude estimate of the number of neurons and the connection density of that region.  It does not tell us the functional differences, if any, that that difference represents.  As Cordelia Fine has pointed out, these differences, though they clearly exist, does not tell us what, if any, the differences may be in men’s and women’s minds.  Only additional research will help us determine these.

But still, anyone who still says that it is not possible to determine the sex of a human brain hasn’t been keeping up with the science.

(Addendum 3/4/2017:  I did a bit of calculation and found much to my amazement, that to “guess” the sex of the brain to 93% accuracy means that the effect size (Cohen’s d) would, if it were a single dimorphic feature, be a whopping 3.0 !!!!  That’s an over the top value.  Thus, as we get better imaging tools to see the fine details, we are learning that the human brain, in terms of multivariate statistics of multiple measurements at all points of the brain, is in fact extremely sexually dimorphic.  The problem is that no one area is all that dimorphic, but in aggregate, they are quite dimorphic.  That is to say, if one area is slightly dimorphic, giving a small statistical clue as to the sex of the individual, and a second area is also slightly dimorphic, giving a small clue as the sex of the individual, the two can be used together to give a medium sized clue to increase the accuracy… and with many many areas, each additively pointing towards one sex or the other, the accuracy gets quite good.)

Further Reading:

Book Review: Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine

Reference:

Chekrouda, et al., “Patterns in the human brain mosaic discriminate
males from females”  http://www.pnas.org/content/113/14/E1968.full.pdf

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Once Again, With Feeling…

Posted in Confirming Two Type Taxonomy by Kay Brown on February 4, 2017

critical-thinkingOr, How Do We REALLY Know That There Are Two Types of Transwomen?

One would think that with years of both clinical and scientific evidence to support the Two Type Taxonomy of MTF transexuality, we would no longer have need of essays that explain how we know this to be true, but no… sillyolme, nothing is so obvious as to be truly self-evident.  So, once again, it’s time to write a clear, concise, yet also complete explication of how we know that there are two and only two types of transwomen.

First, we need to know a bit about epidemiological research into etiology.   In medical science we often recognize that a given medical entity exists because of its pattern of symptoms that collectively we call a syndrome.  After recognizing a syndrome, science then attempts to determine an etiology, if it can.   Here it is important to recognize that the existence of a given symptom in itself does not define a syndrome.  Consider fever as a symptom.  Today, after much research, we know that it is caused by our immune system attempting to fight off an infection.  But that infection may be from any of literally millions of different entities, from eukaryotic parasites, bacteria, to viruses.  One would not say that just because two individuals both have fevers, or that a given medicine helps reduce both individual’s fevers, that they have the same etiology.  Yet, when it comes to transsexuals, this seems to be the assumption by both transexuals and the public at large.  As I will show, this is just not the case.

We also need to know a bit about statistics, most critically, about the concept of “effect size” and what it means.  Effect size is a measure of how different two populations are from one another when comparing their mean (average) and their variance (how much spread in a given measure exists within a given population).  If two populations have the same average, they have by definition an effect size between them of exactly zero, no matter the variance within the populations.  But even if they do not have the same average, if the variance in each is so large that it dwarfs the difference in average, it has a small and not very important effect size.  But if two populations have a difference in their average and no overlap in their variance, than there is a large effect size.  We calculate the effect size using a standard formula called “Cohen’s d”.

Why is this important?  Because to determine if there are in fact two (and only two) types, we must show that the Null Hypothesis, the assumption that there is only one type, is wrong by demonstrating that we consistently find that there is a large enough effect size in a number of measures that consistently cluster together.  In science we never “prove” an hypothesis… we only disprove one.  If the null hypothesis holds, there should be no such effect sizes.  So, in this essay, I’m going to review some of the evidence, demonstrating that there are respectable effect sizes and that they consistently cluster together.  Here’s the key, we DON’T have to show that that there are characteristics that give 100% vs. 0%… only that there ARE differences, respectfully large effect sizes, in order to disprove the null hypothesis.

Further Reading on Effect Size

Having prefaced our discussion, let’s describe our hypothetical two types, as described by experienced clinicians:

One group  is exclusively attracted to men, transitions quite young, passed as girls/women with relative ease, were noted to be feminine (sissy boys) by parents and teachers as children, preferred female playmates, avoided rough’n’tumble play, and were unlikely to report finding wearing women’s clothing to be sexually arousing.

The other grouping was sexually attracted to women (as evidenced by extensive sexual experience with women, marriage, and siring children) but may identify as bisexual or asexual, transitioned later in life, rarely passed successfully as women, were considered to have been typical boys (“boyish”) by their parents and teachers, and were very likely to report finding wearing women’s clothes to be, or once had been, sexually arousing.

But what is the evidence and how large are the effect sizes?

Let’s look at some data.  In a study by Lawrence, conducted in 2005 among those who had had SRS by Toby Meltzer, she has three groups, those who had always been exclusively into men (androphilic), those who had always been exclusively into women (gynephilic), and those who claimed that their sexuality has switched from women to men (bisexual).

 

Attraction before SRS/Attraction after SRS: F/M F/F M/M
Participant characteristic (n = 30) (n = 50) (n = 17)
Mean age at SRS (SD) 45 (8.4) 44 (9.1) 34 (9.2)
Mean age at living full-time in female role (SD) 42 (11.3) 42 (9.6) 28 (8.8)
Very or somewhat feminine as a child, in own opinion 41% 45% 76%
Very or somewhat feminine as a child, in others’ probable opinion 21% 24% 76%
Autogynephilic arousal hundred of times or more before SRS 52% 58% 18%

 

So, let’s look at the effect size ages of SRS and of social transition.  When we compare those who had been consistently gynephilic to those who would best be described as bisexual (having claimed sexual attraction to both men and women) we see that Cohen’s d for age of SRS is only 0.11, so tiny as to be essentially zero.  For age of social transition Cohen’s d is 0.0000 = zero.  Thus, we would have to say, for this characteristic and these two populations the null hypothesis is not disproven.  Again, this does not mean that the null hypothesis is proven… only that it is not disproven.  Gynephilic and bisexual transwomen could be the same underlying etiology… or not.

Oh… but let’s look at the androphilic group compared to these other two groups, shall we?  Comparing age of SRS between the bisexual and androphilic Cohen’s d = 1.25, a very large effect size.  Comparing their ages of social transition Cohen’s d = 1.48, also a very large difference.  Finally, looking at the ages of SRS and ages of social transition between the gynephilic and androphilic groups Cohen’s d = 1.09 and 1.44 respectively.  This very powerfully disproves the null hypothesis.  Sexual orientation is definitely important and supports the two type hypothesis.

Lest you think this result is from only one study, consider the even larger Nuttbrock study in which we see that of those who have started HRT, fully one half of the androphilic had done so before they turned age 20, while only one gynephilic individual had done so.

Our description of the two types also mentioned other characteristics, such as gender atypicality and autogynephilia.  Now here, we have a small problem in that we don’t have measures that have a continuous value nor a variance.  These were bivalued.  However, interestingly, because people don’t always answer perfectly, we can use the number of people who answer a given way as a pseudo continuous measure of the real continuous value.  That is to say, if only a small number say yes to a question, it’s likely that the real value is very small.  If a large number answer yes to a question, it’s likely that the real value is very large.  So, let’s look at the values for self image and likely impression to others of being gender atypical.  Oh look, consistent with our earlier conclusion that the gynephilic and bisexual groups were in fact not really different groups, their answers are very similar at 41% vs. 45% and 21% vs. 24%.  These are so close, that we might as well agree that they are identical.  And once again, we see that the androphilic group scores are quite different at 76%.  So, consistent with our earlier conclusion, the null hypothesis that there is only one group is very much disproven.

Before we leave Lawrence’s study, lets look at the issue of autogynephilia.  Again, we have a bivalued question whether one had experienced hundreds (or more) episodes of autogynephilic arousal to wearing women’s clothing.  As before, we see that the gynephilic and bisexual groups are very similar at 52% vs. 58%, while the androphilic group had only 18%.  So, once again, consistent with our earlier conclusion, the null hypothesis that there is only one group is very very much disproven.

Again, lest you think this result is restricted to only this study, we have seen this replicated by Buhrich (1977), Freund (1982), Blanchard (1985), Doorn (1994), Smith (2005), and Nuttbrock (2009), in separate studies spanning four decades, collectively involving over a thousand transsexuals to date.  In fact, this is one of the most repeated and reconfirmed scientific finding regarding transsexuality.

passingtrans

Another characteristic difference mentioned about the two types was passability.  Fortunately, we have a clinical study from the Netherlands which showed a robust effect size d = 0.7 difference between androphilic and non-androphilic transwomen.  The graph above shows the data.  The higher the score, the more ‘readable’ (less passable) the individual.  From the graph, we see that the most passable non-androphilic (gynephilic and bisexual) is just average for the androphilic population.

When we add in the growing evidence that there is a distinct difference between the brains of androphilic vs. gynephilic & bisexual, the null hypothesis that there is only one type is not just merely dead, but most sincerely dead.

Further Reading:

Essay on Lawrence Study

Essays on Evidence Supporting the Two Type Taxonomy

Essays on Brain Sex

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Did you hear the one about…

Posted in Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on January 29, 2017

female_scientistOr, Silly Objections

I’ve read and heard so many beyond silly objections to the Two Type Taxonomy of transgender etiology that I thought I would start memorializing them.  This will be an ongoing post, with updates occurring as I feel like writing, so I won’t be dating the addenda as is my usual custom.  I will be adding more as I hear or remember more such silliness.  Of course, many of these objections have been thoroughly addressed and laid to rest here in my over one hundred essays to date.  Consider finding them on your own as an easter egg hunt by searching / reading all of my blog essays.

Or, better yet, randomly assign them to squares on a card then each time you see one of these objections mark your card, and be sure to invite your friends to play Silly Objections Bingo!

“Autogynephilia can’t be the reason late transitioners transition because HRT would reduce their libido and they would lose interest in transition.”

“Autogynephilia is just an effect of gender dysphoria.”

“Autogynephilia is just an effect of being transgender and attracted to women while living in a male body.”

“Early transitioners don’t have autogynephilia because they got to transition before their gender dysphoria got so bad like mine did.”

“Early transitioners didn’t express autogynephilia because they started HRT (or puberty blockers) before they developed erections.”

“No one would turn their life upside down for a sexual fetish!”

“Autogynephilia only occurs in cross-dressers, not transsexuals.”

“Autogynephilia doesn’t exist; fetishistic cross-dressers are literally getting off on the clothes themselves.”

“Women are autogynephilic too! It’s just normal female sexuality.”

“Autogynephilia is not a thing. Flat out. Period!”

“Straight (androphilic) transwomen are autogynephilic too!”

“There can’t be two types because sexual orientation and gender identity aren’t related.”

“Straight (androphilic) transwomen just transition earlier because they need to to date men.”

“There’s a part of the brain that proves that (all) transsexuals have female brains.”

“The existence of intersex people proves that transsexuals are ‘real’.”

“I would have transitioned as a teenager too if I had known I could.”

“I would have transitioned early but society wouldn’t let me.”

“All transsexuals are the same.  Some just transition at different times.”

“I was feminine when I was young too but hid it from everyone.”

“I have known I was transgender since I was seven years old… so I can’t be autogynephilic.”

“This theory is wrong because my narrative doesn’t fit your description of either type.”

“Blanchard, Bailey, Lawrence, and everybody else that support this are just transphobic.”

“They (supporters of the two type taxonomy) are just confusing correlation with causation.”

“You can’t use Bradford Hill’s criteria, that’s only for epidemiology, not psychology (ignoring that it is used for research into the causes of sexual orientation).

“That theory is so out of date.”

“Autogynephilia? Blanchard just made that up.”

“There’s no proof.  It’s only a theory.  That data has never been replicated (ignoring the half-dozen referenced peer reviewed papers with data from hundreds of subjects).”

“That essay is just anecdotal (ignoring the half-dozen referenced peer reviewed papers with data from hundreds of subjects).”

“That theory is pseudo-science.”

“Blanchard is calling older transitioners that don’t report arousal to cross-dressing lairs.  That’s unscientific!”

“That theory has been debunked by scientists (without citation).”

“Oh that stuff, that was so ’90s, but there was never any empirical evidence.”

“That paper is fake, Dr. Meltzer is a friend of the community; he would never have given Lawrence access to his patients.”

“Well, I won’t accept it until there is research by someone other than… (fill in the blank, perhaps with Lawrence, Bailey, Cantor, Smith, Nuttbrock, or anybody else who has already done papers that show evidentiary support for the two type taxonomy)”

“Well, I won’t accept it until that paper is peer reviewed by someone other than… (fill in the blank, perhaps with Lawrence, Bailey, Cantor, or anybody else who has already done papers that show evidentiary support for the two type taxonomy)”

“She (me) didn’t cite any references in her FAQ (ignoring the copious citations in the over 100 essays in this blog).”

“Well, I won’t accept it until I see… (impossibly difficult data to get).”

“We shouldn’t do the science because it will hurt the community!”

“This sh!t is just made up to divide the community.”

“Nobody who is transsexual accepts this theory (…ahem…).”

“We shouldn’t talk about this openly until we have won all of our political goals.”

“You only support that because you want people to think you are one of the ‘good kind’ of transsexual.”

“This is just ‘True Transsexual’ bull shit!”

“You just hate older transitioners!”

“You have an agenda!!”

“This theory completely ignores the existence of transmen!”

“This theory doesn’t explain all of the other non-binary gender identities (ahem… actually it does).”

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Who Knows Best?

Posted in Film Review, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on January 14, 2017

Video Review:  Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best?

I just finished viewing BBC Two’s documentary on the contraversy about whether the “affirming” model is best for gender dysphoric, potential transkids.  It is well worth viewing.  It covers the full ground while (mostly) being sensitive to the transcommunity.

But sadly, it fails in several key respects.  One, it completely fails to mention that transkids are nothing like adult transitioners.  At times we catch B roll scenes of adult transsexuals, which one instantly recognizes as autogynephiles.  So this failure to distingish the two may lead naive viewers to mistakenly equate the two.

Also unhelpful, the documentary interviews one person who frankly had no idea what she was talking about regarding sexual dimorphism of the human brain. While correctly saying that one couldn’t simply look at a brain and say whether it came from a man or a woman, she fails to mention that we can see statistical trends.  But worse, she flat out states that brains only become ‘gendered’ by living in a gendered society, completely ignoring research that shows the correlation with sexual dimorphism of the brain and sexual orientation.

The areas that the documentary does cover well is the well known phenomena of desisting of gender dysphoria in most gender atypical young children by the time that they are twelve or so.  They interview a girl who had been extremely dysphoric as a younger child who desisted at puberty.  As I’ve discussed in a previous essay, 80% of such dysphoric children do desist.  The video also mentioned that most of the desisting boys will grow up to be conventional gay men and not transgender.  However, the video introduces a straw man, lumping all “transgender activists” together as saying that we all wish to sweep this inconvenient fact under the rug.  Fortunately, though it was not well show-cased, this was (partially) shown to be untrue as they interviewed an FtM transman / activist / gender therapist who acknowledged this in passing, though he also contradicted himself and made an outright lie in stating “If someone says that they are transgendered, than chances are that they are transgendered”.  We know that this is simply untrue for pre-pubescent children.

The documentary interviews both Ray Blanchard and Kenneth Zucker.  I felt Dr. Blanchard was well spoken and articulate.  But frankly, and this truly surprised me, I came away feeling far less sympathy for Dr. Zucker than before.  Perhaps the editors are partly responsible, in that they used some odd frame editing at times, perhaps they chose the quotes where Zucker was the least sympathetic?  But Dr. Zucker seemed to lack all empathy for these kids and never once affirmed that transition was a viable option that should be considered for persistors.  Further, one got the opinion that Dr. Zucker was taking credit for his treatment having lead to desisting outcomes, that from his attitude while speaking, he would consider a better one than persisting.  (As a persister myself, having been “treated” with just the type of play therapy and later direct talk therapy that he outlines, I find that attitude offensive.  For the record, I firmly hold that neither outcome is better than the other.)  He even insinuated that parents who are ‘affirming’, who helped their children transition, are homophobic, refering to a remark, that may likely be apochraphal, supposedly a quote from a parent, “Well… at least they’re not gay.”  (Most parents who are homophobic are even more virulently transphobic; like my father who begged me not transition, promissing that he would look the other way when I had boyfriends over – just like he did with his gay brother.)  What really was disturbing was his strong attempts to pathologize all gender atypical and dysphoric children as suffering from a wide range of mental illnesses, which was echoed by one of his former colleagues, specifically arguing against the oft noted concerns regarding reaction to stigma (that is, Zucker and his former colleage questioned the conventional wisdom that transkids are depressed and anxious because they are teased, bullied, and considered a dissappointment and embarrassment to family and peers).  Frankly, I was dismayed.

The real heros of the documentary are the transkids who were interviewed.  One’s heartstrings were tugged, as one would expect, but these kids also told their stories with brutal effect.

All in all… a must see.

If you are in the UK, you may watch the video here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b088kxbw

Further Reading:

Essay on Desisting and Persisting Gender Dysphoria in Gender Atypical Children

Advice to Parents of Transkids

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