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, including aspects of sexual orientation.  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 people have read misinformation and disinformation regarding the science, denying, decrying, and even weaponizing 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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Latest Trans Taxonomy Study

Posted in Confirming Two Type Taxonomy by Kay Brown on January 21, 2019

critical-thinkingWondering if the latest science studies have proven Blanchard was wrong?  Surely by now they are finding Bailey was barking up the wrong tree?  That Lawrence has been debunked?

A study published just days ago, this year, 2019 looked to test the validity of the two type taxonomy by examining forty (N=40) transwomen before and after SRS at a clinic in Germany.  European researchers have for years preferred to classify the two types as “early” vs. “late” onset of gender dysphoria.  Most have used the age of puberty as the separation line under the (false) assumption that autogynephilic sexuality does not occur in pre-adolescents.  However in this study, they chose to use the age of legal majority, 18 years old, as the dividing line.

Given that many acknowledged autogynephiles state that their first experiences with erotic cross-dressing began in adolescence, this choice of age would seem to be misplaced.  However, in using statistics, any dividing line used to cut a single population into two that shows a significant difference between two groups is useful.

Consider a dividing line that is totally random and unlikely to have any correlation with putative differences between two populations (e.g. odd or even date of birth).  If that divisor is meaningless, even if there are two different populations, that random divisor will fail to sort them and the two populations will not appear to be different when measured.  They will have the same percentages of each population.  If however, even a poor divisor that has some, albeit, imperfect correlation, the two populations will be somewhat sorted and may show statistically strong differences when measured.  That difference is enough to show that there are in fact two different populations in the larger pool.  This is what Zavlin, et Al. have found.

I would not say that this study is perfect, given that we know that the age of onset of gender dysphoria is often misreported, and the authors fully acknowledge this.  Further, the authors didn’t even attempt to collect data on autogynephilia… and chose not to analyse their data using sexual orientation as the independent variable which has been repeatedly found to provide a stronger statistical signal.  Yet, in spite of these severe weaknesses and missed opportunities, their conclusion was still,

“Our study strengthens the theory that there are 2 distinct age-related subgroups within the MtF transgender population undergoing GAS.”

Specifically, the study, in agreement with earlier studies, found that “early onset” transwomen we more likely to be exclusively androphilic than “late onset” and to transition at a significantly younger age.  There are also very distinctive bimodal distributions in the self-reported age of onset and of age of obtaining surgery, strongly indicative of the two type taxonomy.  This finding is in agreement with an earlier study that also found a bimodal distribution of obtaining surgery.

gr1

What I found the most interesting, in agreement with my own experience and in talking to other transwomen, is that while the “late onset” group found psychotherapy to be nearly universally useful, “early onset” transwomen did not.  Interestingly, if we compare the data carefully, it supports the notion that androphilic transwomen did not find psychotherapy useful.   I’ve commented in other essays that psychotherapists mistakenly apply what is useful for autogynephiles to androphilic transwomen to negative effect (e.g. advising a highly gender atypical androphilic transkid to seek out opportunities to privately express her “feminine side” makes no sense, risibly so…).  Here we seem to have data confirming my anecdotal observations.

Further Reading:

Essay on Age of Onset vs. Sexual Orientation

Reference:

Zavlin, D. et Al., “Age-Related Differences for Male-to-Female Transgender Patients Undergoing Gender-Affirming Surgery”, Journal of Pediatric Surgery (2019)
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.esxm.2018.11.005

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Stolen History II

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on December 21, 2018

Kay Brown 2010In an essay I wrote nearly two decades, I wrote how transhistory is stolen from us, how especially the history of transmen is erased, usurped, and misgendered to support Oppression Theory, misrepresenting our lives and identities instead of respecting them.  Well… just this month, the New York Times has stolen a piece of our history again.  But in the spirit of internet meme corrections, “There I fixed it for you…”  I offer this edited version of Charley Parkhurst’s Obit in the Times as it should have been,

Overlooked No More: Charley Parkhurst, Gold Rush And Transgender Legend

A swashbuckling, one-eyed stagecoach driver lived his life as a man. After his death, the revelation that he was transgender provoked widespread astonishment.

Since 1851, obituaries in The New York Times have been dominated by white men. With Overlooked, we’re adding the stories of remarkable people whose deaths went unreported in The Times.

By Tim Arango (corrected by Kay Brown)

Charley Parkhurst was a legendary driver of six-horse stagecoaches during California’s Gold Rush — the “best whip in California,” by one account.

The job was treacherous and not for the faint of heart — pulling cargos of gold over tight mountain passes and open desert, at constant peril from rattlesnakes and desperadoes — but Parkhurst had the makeup for it: “short and stocky,” a whiskey drinker, cigar smoker and tobacco chewer who wore a black eyepatch after being kicked in the left eye by a horse.

And there was one other attribute, this one carefully hidden from the outside world. When Parkhurst died in 1879 at age 67, near Watsonville, Calif., of cancer of the tongue, a doctor discovered that the famous stagecoach driver was biologically female. Charley, it turned out, had chosen to masculinize his dead name Charlotte.

“The discoveries of the successful concealment for protracted periods of the female sex under the disguise of the masculine are not infrequent, but the case of Charley Parkhurst may fairly claim to rank as by all odds the most astonishing of them all,” The San Francisco Call wrote not long after his death, in an article that was reprinted in The New York Times under the transphobic headline “Thirty Years in Disguise.”

Charlotte Darkey Parkhurst was born in 1812 in New Hampshire. Abandoned by his parents, he was consigned to an orphanage, from which historians believe he ran away wearing boys’ clothes. He wound up in Worcester, Mass., where he got a job cleaning horse stables. He also found a mentor, Ebenezer Balch, who taught him how to handle horses.

“The story goes that while in the poor house he discovered that boys have a great advantage over girls in the battle of life, and he desired to become a boy,” The Providence Journal in Rhode Island wrote respectfully of his identity as a man in an article after his death, as reporters on both coasts tried to piece together his life.

After working as a stagecoach driver on the East Coast for several years, Parkhurst journeyed west, like so many Americans seeking fortune and reinvention in California. He traveled by ship to Panama, traversed a short overland route, and then boarded another ship to San Francisco, where he arrived in 1850 or 1851.

In California, he quickly became known for his ability to move passengers and gold safely over important routes between gold-mining outposts and major towns like San Francisco or Sacramento. “Only a rare breed of men (and women),” wrote the historian Ed Sams in his 2014 book “The Real Mountain Charley,” “could be depended upon to ignore the gold fever of the 1850s and hold down a steady job of grueling travel over narrow one-way dirt roads that swerved around mountain curves, plummeting into deep canyons and often forded swollen, icy streams.”

Parkhurst wore “long-fingered, beaded gloves,” Sams wrote, supposedly to hide his “feminine” hands. He was considered one of the safest stagecoach drivers — not a daredevil, like so many of his contemporaries — and had a special rapport with the horses. He drove for Wells Fargo, at least once moving a large cargo of gold across the country.

A 1969 article about Parkhurst in the Travel section of The New York Times evoked some of the perils he faced: “Indians and grizzly bears also were a major menace. The state lines of California in the post-Gold Rush period were certainly no place for a lady, and nobody ever accused Charley of being one.”

“The only feminine trait her acquaintances could recall,” the article added, “was her fondness for children.”

Once he was kicked in the eye by a horse, which was perhaps startled by a rattlesnake; that earned him the nickname “One-Eyed Charley,” for the black patch he wore over his left eye.

Parkhurst’s story has long been shrouded in myth and thinly sourced anecdotes. (A well-worn tale has him killing a famous bandit known as Sugarfoot after he held up his stagecoach on the route between Mariposa and Stockton.)

In “Charley’s Choice,” a 2008 work of historical fiction, the writer Fern J. Hill imagines that as a child, Parkhurst told a friend of his dreams of driving a stagecoach. When the friend replied, “You can’t, you’re a girl,” young Charley decided then and there to live as a man.

And in another novel, “The Whip,” by Karen Kondazian (2012), Parkhurst is cast as a straight woman who wanted her freedom, thus being a perfect example of stolen history. “I would have done that,” Ms. Kondazian said in a telephone interview.  “I would have probably put on men’s clothes, to be free like a man.”  She added: “You can kind of use her in any way you want, because we don’t have the total facts about her.” thus indicating that she has no respect for transgender history in the face of obvious facts of his life.

Some historians say that had Parkhurst lived today, he might well have identified as gay or transgender. “Being gay at that time was seen as negative,” said Mark Jarrett, a textbook publisher who included Parkhurst in a new book intended to comply with a California law requiring social studies curriculums to recognize the historical role of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

“It was illegal, it was a crime,” he said, “so people didn’t go around professing what their real identities were. They were hidden identities.”

In the late 1860s, with the growing popularity of railroads, stagecoach driving became a dying profession. Parkhurst retired and opened a saloon for a time, and also worked as a lumberjack in Northern California.  After he died, The Santa Cruz Sentinel wrote, “Her accumulations were regular and her wealth considerable at the time of her death, which took place in a lonely cabin, with no one near and her secret her own.”

Parkhurst could claim one other distinction: An 1867 registry in Santa Cruz County lists a Charles Darkey Parkhurst from New Hampshire as having registered to vote — more than 50 years before the 19th Amendment gave women the franchise nation wide. While there is no evidence he voted in the 1868 presidential election, his gravestone in Watsonville, misgendering him and stealing our history is etched with these words: “The First Woman to Vote in the U.S.” (The claim is known to be wrong as women held the franchise in New Jersey until they lost that right in 1807.)

Even in the 19th century, however, there was admiration for Parkhurst’s successful transition and stealth life, if not actually understanding the nature of transgender experience and identity,

“The only people who have occasion to be disturbed by the career of Charley Parkhurst are the gentlemen who have so much to say about ‘woman’s sphere’ and ‘the weaker vessel,’ ” The Providence Journal wrote. “It is beyond question that one of the soberest, pleasantest, most expert drivers in this State, and one of the most celebrated of the world-famed California drivers was a woman. And is it not true that a woman has done what a woman can do?”

Original Obit:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/05/obituaries/charley-parkhurst-overlooked.html

Further Reading:

Stolen History

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Review: “Romanoffs” Ends in Shameful, Hateful, Transphobic Trope

Posted in Editorial, Film Review by Kay Brown on November 24, 2018

Shame on you Mathew Wiener, and your entire crew!

Spoiler Alert!

The webcast video series Romanoffs ended its eight episode first season finale the other day with a tired, over used transphobic trope of the dysfunctional, murderous transsexual.  Gee… like nobody has ever done that one before!

The series is predicated on showcasing ever more dysfunctional “Romanoffs”.  So, in the season finale, we surely would be seeing the single most ‘effed-up’ human being of all… and what is the most ‘effed-up’ type of person in the mind of the show runners?  Why, a transsexual of course!

In a series of flashbacks that relate the tale that an older woman, Candice, tells to her chance met seat neighbor on a train, we see a back story of a transsexual Romanoff who turns out to be Candice herself.  (The fact that my legal name is Candice and I’m transsexual of about the same age was spooky and disturbing.  OMG!!!  Am I a cliche?)  In the flashbacks, we see how her step-mother, and possibly her father in collusion, murdered her mother and attempted to murder Candice when she was a child.  We see her father’s hateful rejection.  We see Candice’s love affair with a bisexual man end when her lover choses to marry a woman instead of staying with Candice.  Given that this episode is one long series of tired cliches and tropes, we have to have a suicide attempt.  Finally, it turns out that this wasn’t a chance meeting on the train, but carefully arranged and timed so that she could murder her half-brother and recover a Romanoff family heirloom set of earrings that belonged to Candice’s mother, and by right, to her and not to her non-Romanoff step-mother.

In terms of karmic revenge, there was no need to write the episode ending with Candice killing her innocent half-brother by poison on the train to avenge herself against her step-mother.  Simply drugging him would have been enough to allow her to recover her earrings from his luggage.  No, the murder was to cap the episode with the transphobic trope of the evil, mentally ill, transsexual murderer.

Shame on you Mathew Wiener, and your entire crew!

Shame !!!  Shame !!!  Shame !!!!!

Further Reading:

It’s Just a Joke!

Transphobic Film “Humor”

Further External Reading:

https://www.bitchmedia.org/post/end-of-gender-transsexual-killer-strikes-again-sevigny-transphobia

View story at Medium.com

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Butterfly Effect

Posted in Film Review by Kay Brown on October 28, 2018

butterflyThere’s a new television show, Butterfly, a three-part mini-series on ITV in the UK written by Tony Marchant who had previously written different for girls.  Where different for girls is about an androphilic transwoman in her twenties and the complicated romance she has with an old friend from her school days, Butterfly is about an eleven year old transgirl.  Sadly, Butterfly is not available in the US at this time.  (Don’t ask me how I’ve been able to watch it here in the States… just accept that I can.)

While the writing is excellent for both, the casting is execrable; both have ‘transface’ of the worst sort.  In different, a straight man plays an androphilic transwoman and comes across as a straight man playing the stereotype of an androphilic transwoman.  In Butterfly, a gender typical boy plays the part of a gender atypical and dysphoric MTF transkid and comes across as a gender typical boy playing the part of a transgirl.  Quite frankly, the subtle mannerisms and motor movements are wrong, wrong WRONG!  And the non-subtle mannerisms feel forced.  Different for girls would have been better if an actual androphilic transwoman, and there were plenty available, played the part, but ‘transface’ was the order of the day, according to the producers at the time, so that the audience was constantly reminded that this was a transwoman… because an actual young androphilic transwoman would have been too much like a non-transwoman, in both looks and mannerisms.  Finding and casting an actual transgirl would not have been likely, but Butterfly would have been better if an eleven year old girl had been cast as the transgirl, then the mannerisms would have felt right and natural.  Because of the miscasting, it left unfulfilled the opportunity for an even deeper, intuitive, understanding of the essence of being a transkid.

Mr. Marchant must have researched what transkids are actually like and the issues they face at that age because just minutes into the show I had to hit pause.  I needed a break… as too many of the issues recalling childhood memories hit home in too quick a succession to be emotionally processed and released.  One sees the denial and wishful thinking on the part of Maxine’s parents regarding her gender atypicality and dysphoria, convinced that puberty will soon put an end to it.  Then, when she comes home from the first day at a new school, we find that she has avoided using the bathroom all day.  Wow, did Marchant learn of this from talking to the parents of transkids?  Or did he read my Advice to Parents essay where I previously wrote about this very issue?  It may seem trivial to non-transkids… but using a public restroom before social transition is… I don’t have the words in common with non-transkids that can express it… but humiliating and terrifying admixed comes closest.  Because transkids won’t use what is to them the ‘wrong’ restroom and are forbidden to use the ‘right’ one… they will refuse to visit any until home which may, and all to often does, cause ‘accidents’.

Although in denial, Maxine’s mother allows Maxine to own and wear feminine clothing, jewelry, and make-up in the privacy of her bedroom, but insists that “Max” present as a gender typical boy in public.  This too is something I’ve written about in my advice essay… as destructive to transkids self-esteem and mental health, as children can’t truly control, turn on and off at will, their gender atypicality, and attempting to deny being gender atypical is soul sucking fatiguing.  Placing such a burden on a child is just plain cruel and abusive… something will give… and in Maxine’s case, it does.

In one scene, Maxine’s father asks her about what she wants to grow up to be.  There follows a painful pause where she clearly has to suppress what she was really wanting to say to come up with an acceptable gender typical ambition which wouldn’t upset her father, “You know… an astronaut.”  This shows that transkids have to be hypervigilant under these conditions, living under constant stress and pressure to dissimulate.  In a pair of flashbacks, we see what happens when Maxine fails to live up to her father’s expectations for gender atypicality.  In one instance he strikes her across the face because she is dressed in a pink top and skirt, listening to music and dancing in a ‘feminine’ manner.  In another, Maxine tries to share her growing discomfort with her genitalia, wishing it would “fall off” and her father recoils in horror, anger, disgust, and denial.

Although he treats her with disdain and denial, and only seeks to “fix” her, Maxine desperately wants her father’s love and respect.  Yet, she can’t go on trying to pretend that she isn’t gender dysphoric and begs her family to help her transition in the final scene in the first part.

In the next episode we see Maxine parents trying to come to grips with what being a transkid means and what gatekeeping hoops they will have to jump to obtain help for Maxine.  Mum grows more sympathetic faster than Maxine’s father, who tries to both protect her from ‘phobic bullies and at the same time continue to push her to grow up to be a gay man instead of a transwoman.  Given the multiple stressors on Maxine and the re-opening rift between her parents, the gatekeepers push for denying medical intervention for Maxine calling their decision “Waitful Watching”… a policy that is correctly perceived as devastating as Maxine will soon experience an unwanted masculinizing puberty the effects of which are irreversible.

In the third and final episode Maxine’s mother attempts to end run around the extremely restrictive UK medical system by going to the US where she believes they have a more enlightened attitude.  This only brings on more trouble… as one can imagine.

The rift between parents widens and in fairytale fashion closes such that a happy ending of a united family that supports Maxine in her social transition and introduction of puberty blockers.

The Story Not Told

TransSupportBut lets talk about the rest of the transkids… in real life, most transkids do NOT get such help.  Most don’t have supportive parents.  Our society grants parental rights that allow them to make medical and other decisions for their children.  Parents are the first, and most often least sympathetic, “gate keepers”.  This means that transphobic bias against medical intervention is common.  Further, many parents are emotionally and even physically abusive to their gender atypical children, both gay and trans.  This leads to runaway and throwaway youth who end up on the street, turning to survival sex and high risk behaviors.

Even if teens are not pushed out onto the streets, the transphobic attitudes often lead to estrangement to one or both parents as their child nears or passes the age of majority… parents who then vociferously complain on “gender critical” fora falsely claiming “transgender ideology” poisoned their child’s mind and ruined the relationship.  If only their child had listened to them and just been normal.

Many of these parents then complain and accuse medical caregivers of “fast-tracking” their now legally of age young adult children into medical interventions that they “shouldn’t”.

 

Further Reading

Advice to Parents of Transkids

Further External Reading

https://amp.theguardian.com/society/2018/nov/03/tavistock-centre-gender-identity-clinic-accused-fast-tracking-young-adults

The Girl Controversey Explained

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Transsexuals As Political Pawns

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on October 25, 2018

Kay BrownTranssexuals are being threatened by the usual suspects.   The current US Federal Administration is looking to ex-post-facto revoke our post transition legal identities, often directly over-riding our state identification and re-issued birth certificates.  To do this, they would also regulatorily, with no legislative authority, be ignoring tens of thousands of court ordered documentation changes.  Thus, they may huff and puff all they want, but until they get a national law that can pass “strict scrutiny”, this will have no effect on our actual legal status and identification markers.

What the Administration is really suggesting doing is to officially withdraw all Federal agency support to fight against discrimination of transfolk, just as they already have de facto.  This would mean that the Administration, and by extension, the GOP, is declaring to their hateful, deplorable, base that they are delivering on their promise to “Make America Great Again”… back to the days when transfolk, especially transkids in school are once again fair game for bullies and their ‘phobic schoolmaster enablers.

Fortunately, the States still have the right to protect us, as some have.  Thank goodness I live in California.  Sadly, many live in states where they offer no protections.  This is where we as transactivists need to put our efforts in the near future.

There is only ONE Federal department which can, if the Administration chooses to use it, hurt our legal status and identification documents, the State Department which issues passports.  Interestingly, it was the State Department which was the FIRST governmental agency to grant identification recognizing our post-transition status in 1953 when it issued a new passport to Christine Jorgensen so that she could return home.  Since then, post-op transfolk needed only to provide documentation attesting to that fact to get their new or re-issued passport in their new name and sex, good for the standard ten years.  Some time later, the policy was updated to allow transfolk in transition to get a new passport good for two years.

Having the ability to get a passport meant being able to show ID that matched one’s current social status even if their home state wouldn’t provide new ID.  It was literally a life saver for many… as it meant being able show it to employers and even law enforcement.  (Recall that many cities still had so-called “anti-impersonation” laws used to criminalize and harass transgender citizens until the ’80s.)

If this Administration attempts to change State Department policy that has been in effect for 65 years now with no problems… well… then we will see just what happens when pawns fight back.  They think we are weak, an easy political target.  This is a long game… a game of chess…

Remember what can happen when a pawn reaches the last rank:

Pawn Promoted to Queen, CheckMate !!!

 

Reference:

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Kenneth Zucker Vindicated

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on October 11, 2018

phrenologyCAMH has issued a public apology for publishing false and defamatory statements about Dr. Zucker and his methods in treating transkids.  (I’ll hold my breath waiting for our community to do the same….)  As part of the vindication, CAMH is paying over half a million dollars as reparations and legal costs.

 

External Reading:

https://www.camh.ca/en/camh-news-and-stories/camh-apology

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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 shield 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…

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“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 Autobiographical, Editorial by Kay Brown on August 28, 2018

Kay BrownOr…  #MeToo & #WhyIDidntReport

The 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 man inviting a 20-year-old transwoman who had just moved into the low rent flat a couple doors down to watch some TV during a quiet summer saturday afternoon.  In the middle of a program, without saying a word, he unzips his pants, pulls out his penis and proceeds to masturbate.  Without saying a word, she leaves the room to return to her own room and locks the door.

“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, on her way home from her job as a secretary, following her only a few paces behind her duplicating each turn down deserted streets toward her suburban 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.  He follows this by fondling and attempting to masturbate her pre-op genitalia with soap lathered hands.  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…

… a 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 how androphilic transwomen are at high risk of transphobic violence from straight men.

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

Essay on gynandromorphophilic transsexual attempting to coerce androphilic transwomen to have sex, including this author.

Further External Reading

What is ‘second rape’ and what can we do about it?

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