On the Science of Changing Sex

Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria

Posted in Editorial, Female-to-Male, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on June 6, 2018

Kay BrownIs this a newly emerging etiology?

Unless you’ve been under a rock the past few years, you will have heard of what many are describing as a new phenomena affecting natal female teens, “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (ROGD) to join the old duopoly of “Early Onset” and “Late Onset” gender dysphoria seen in natal males.  The description of the putative phenomena is that gender TYPICAL and not at all previously gender dysphoric girls learn through the internet and perhaps from friends at school about transgender issues and then suddenly, because of ‘social contagion’, seemingly out of the blue, declare that they are trans.  There have been a number of speculative hypothesis regarding the putative phenomena which I will explore here.

One hypothesis with a lot of weight of evidence is that this is merely the outsider’s term for “Tucutes” / “TransTrender” / “TrendsGender” in which teenaged girls with no real gender dysphoria take on the social position of “transgender”, from identifying as a pre-transition transman to more recently as “non-binary”, a social position that doesn’t require one to actually have to socially, and certainly not medically, transition.  Without doubt, this is happening.  I first met such an individual in 1980.  Their numbers have grown in the intervening years.  But this phenomena, annoying as it may be for some gender dysphoric transmen, is not a major cause of concern to medical professionals in that they rarely seek medical intervention.

Some within the transcommunity have argued that these young people, including those labeled “Tucutes” are in fact the female equivalent of “Late Onset” natal males in that they are autoandrophilic.  This too certainly exists.  While some sexologists and therapists will deny that autoandrophilia exists, I know for a fact that it does, as I had a very close friend since high school who clearly experiences it.  Absolute proof of existence N=1.  We have more evidence than just my one anecdotal one from the years of reports on the sexuality of androphilic transmen.  Such individuals do experience gender dysphoria, but of a notably different character and developmental arc than autogynephilic transwomen.  But just as with autogynephilia, not everyone with autoandrophilia will develop extreme gender dysphoria and thus a range of accommodations occur.

Of course, there is another hypothesis coming from the gay and lesbian community in which they claim that these teens are simply gender atypical lesbians who have been falsely convinced by “Transgender Ideology” that they must be transgender.  At the heart of this is a misunderstanding or deliberate disinformation about the nature of transgender etiology and experience.  Either there are true transsexuals and true lesbians and they shouldn’t be confused… or there are only lesbians and transgender ideology gives them a false sense of gender dysphoria.  The evidence suggests that neither is wholly the case. Gynephilic natal female people exhibit a range of gender atypicality and gender dysphoria.  How they accommodate these within a given culture is variable.  However, when extreme gender atypicality and dysphoria are accommodated by social and medical transition, these are typically labeled “early onset” even if they transition in their 30’s.  If with changing attitudes more such individuals are seeking to address their gender dysphoria at an earlier age, we would expect to see just what we are seeing today.

The question is, are all of those who are labeled with ROGD actually either tucutes or autoandrophilic?  Are some actually gynephilic gender atypical and dysphoric natal females who were simply not recognized or acknowledged as such?  I’ve come to suspect that many may be.

Consider that pre-adolescent tomboys have always been given greater latitude than sissy boys.  In today’s climate of empowering girls to pursue sports and allowed to wear jeans and t-shirts… but just like boys, over scheduled and constantly under parental supervision, with little time for personal choices and expression, these girls may not have been acknowledged as being gender dysphoric… until the social pressures of adolescence to be heterosexual and feminine.

In recent interactions via social media that I’ve had with parents of teens who they claim have ROGD and further claim that means that they are “not really transgender” and they should NOT be encouraged, acknowledged, nor affirmed, I’ve had an extreme sense of deja vu.  What I sense is not that these teens are tucutes or ‘non-binaries’… as most of them have very laid back parents who allow their children to explore their place in the world, knowing that kids do that.  No, I sense both angry denial, genuine concern for their child’s welfare, combined with homo- and trans- phobia, saying “my child is not one of those people“.

Deja Vu

About that deja vu.  At this point I have to switch from academic exposition to personal anecdotal mode:

In very early ’75, at the age of 17, I had “come out” to my father about being transsexual (the word “transgender” did exist at the time, but it was reserved for heterosexual lifestyle cross-dressers = autogynephilic men and specifically excluded androphilic gender atypical MTF transkids).  The time and place had NOT been my choice, having been forced to do so by my mother.  (That’s a whole other story.  My parents were divorced and my mother had custody, as was usual back in the ’70s.)  He seemed calm and concerned, no anger or lamentation.  Instead, he suggested that we should seek professional advice and help.  I recognized an opening.

I had for some months been in contact with the Stanford University Gender Dysphoria Clinic.  I literally had in my possession, in my pocket, the contact information for them.  I gave it to my Dad who said that he would be contacting them.  I was astounded.  The clinic had told me that they would love to help me but that I had to have my parents make the arrangements.  But my mother had made it abundantly clear that she would never help me transition.  Now my Dad was opening the door for me!

I had several intake interviews with Dr. Norman Fisk, the man I would later learn had coined the term “gender dysphoria”.  At the time, I had no idea how influential and expert he was in the field.  He was just a guy who might be able to help me get medical help.  He asked about my sexuality.  I told him about the boy I had a crush on.  He asked me about my dreams for the future.  I told him about how I hoped to find a husband and adopt children.  I told him about my summer job as a nanny and of the two summers I volunteered teaching little kids to swim.  And sadly, I told him about how unhappy my parents were about my behavior and how I had been sent to therapists (who had been anything but affirming).

Then I had a joint interview with my mother and a week later another with my father.

During the interview, my father made it abundantly clear that he thought transsexuals were sick perverts.  Dr. Fisk assured my Dad that transsexuals were NOT mentally ill and that social and medical transition was the typical course of treatment.  My father then became very agitated, objecting, “My son is NOT transsexual.  I’ve never seen anything feminine about him.  This is just a phase!  It will blow over!”  Dr. Fisk knew better, having talked to me and more importantly talked to my mother.

My father focused on the fact that he and I had over the years gone fishing and hunting together (ignoring that during their courtship, so had he and my mother).  That we spent hours working together on projects (that he usually chose).  That I was a Boy Scout (ignoring that he had insisted I and my two brothers join since he had been a Scout as a boy… and the deeply mortifying incident in which I had been kicked out of the first Troop though I had done nothing objectively wrong in any sense… but none of the boys wanted the “faggot” around… and that the Scout Master declared to my Dad with a sneer that I was “not Eagle Scout material”… and that my Dad had to find another troop for me to join that accepted queers).  At the end of the interview, my Dad stormed out making homophobic references to Dr. Fisk to me in the parking lot.  (Dr. Fisk was straight, married, and had a son near my age.  I learned that they lived only blocks from my mother’s house.)

The interview with my mother the week before was quite different.  Far from being in denial, she was petulantly resentful that she had such a first-born child.  “I have known for years that he wanted to be a girl.  But I thought that was (morally) wrong.  He was very different than his brothers.  All their friends were boys.  His were always girls,” naming several of my friends over the years, but couldn’t remember my friend who had been my only guest on my tenth birthday.  “Marian,” I interjected for the only time during the whole interview.  “He was always very prissy.  He would walk clear around even the shallowest puddles.  When he was little, I would put him in clean clothes on Monday and on Friday they would still be clean.”  She confirmed that I had been sent to a therapist about my behavior when I was ten years old… and again when I was 15/16.  She came away under the impression that she had spelled out all of the things about me that needed to be fixed, that Dr. Fisk and the clinic would endeavor to make me a normal, healthy, masculine heterosexual man and had shared that impression with my father.

So, it was a shock to my Dad that Dr. Fisk was recommending to him that my family accept that I was never going to be a masculine straight man.  That I was going to transition.  And when my Dad objected, offered this bit of advice,

“Denial will not serve.  You will win a few battles but lose the war.”

At home my mother began sharing comments such as sweetly asking, dripping with obvious false concern, “What will your friends think of you when they find out?”

“They already know,” I replied honestly, having grown used to the twisting knife within her tone.

“I could understand it if you were petite like your sister (she was 5’2″ – I’m 5’7″, our brothers were closer to 6′).”

“That’s funny, Cassie (school friend) is 5’9″ and she has no problems,” I demurred.

“No man will ever love you,” she taunted.  I couldn’t answer back, it hurt too much, but I could feel my eyes smouldering with suppressed anger.

My father came over to see me and begged me not to transition, “You’ll be throwing away a chance for a career.  No one will hire you.”  I couldn’t answer him, having the same fears.  He also tried to shame me, telling me that I was embarrassing the family, that we all have our “cross to bear” and that I should think of my siblings and how they might be treated at school and by friends.  I replied that it was unfair that they should ask that I be extremely unhappy my entire life so that they could avoid some mild embarrassment.  In that same conversation he begged me to live as a closeted gay man, promising that the family would look the other way when I had boyfriends.  My thoughts on this were bitter, as that would put me in the same position as his gay brother, the one we weren’t allowed to meet or talk about.  He then tried to sweeten the deal by offering to pay for vacations in which I could dress up as a woman (!).

I lost my temper at that and loudly replied, “I am NOT a part-time woman!”

Conclusion

I hear that same combination of denial, anger, embarrassment, resentment, desperation, and socially & religiously motivated transphobia in those parents who now describe their teens as having ROGD. Which to them indicates that they are “not really transgender” and should not be allowed to socially transition nor allowed to use puberty blockers much less actual HRT.  These parents sound suspiciously like my parents.

Epilog

I think it worth describing how things went down after the events above, as a sincere warning.

Candice_Caltech

Kay Brown in college

I had already been in the process of social transition, presenting as a girl after school but continued to dress as a boy at school until graduation day.  But had already made arrangements for my high school records to be changed to my new name, female gender, and even to have it say that I attended girls P.E.  It became very apparent that my family, led by mother, was going to do everything they legally could to stop me from successfully transitioning.  Although I had been accepted at a four-year college, I was made to understand that I would not be supported if I continued to present as a girl, so was unable to attend.  I was kicked out of the house by mother and my father was not to take me in.  I started HRT right after I turned 18, forgoing food to buy them.  Using documents from the clinic, I was able to have my driver’s licence and social security ID changed to my new name and gender that summer.  I was given a meagre allowance for about a year with the proviso that I was NOT to show my face anywhere near home.  I attended community college part-time, as they were nearly free the next few years.  I became, in the modern vernacular, a housing and food insecure student.  It took me a few years, having no financial or social support or capital.  But I managed to climb back out of the hole that being effectively disowned had thrown me.  I established a career in Silicon Valley, first as a secretary at age 19, then working my way up.  At the age of 23, I had saved and borrowed enough for SRS.

After SRS, it was perhaps ‘barn doors’ and all… but slowly my folks then began to extend more social and financial capital to me… perhaps also in embarrassment when comparing how they had treated me compared to my siblings.  One had gone to Stanford as an undergraduate and was then attending Baylor Medical School while living in a condo provided by my mother’s family money.  Another was working as an engineer in Silicon Valley, living in a condo also provided by her money.  My sister was going to a small private college… oh… you get the picture.  I had earned a BS soon after SRS, on my own resources, combining credits from four different community colleges and all of my upper division credits earned entirely by examination.  I was then admitted to Stanford Graduate School.  At that point, my father began offering emotional and logistical support and a couple of years later, my mother’s family provided the down payment on a condo for me.

family

Kay, Jeff, Liz, & Reese

Over the years, my mother never really accepted me and we haven’t spoken in decades now, just as I haven’t spoken with any of my siblings.  Oh… and she was wrong.  One man does love me… and we’ve been married these past two decades and I did become an adoptive mom.

And my father was wrong.  My career took off.  I rose to executive rank and even founded and raised venture capital for a start-up which I sold to Samsung.  My father and I speak often… and he makes it clear that he loves and is proud of me.

So, if you are a parent of a transkid or a so called “ROGD” teen.  Please recall Dr. Fisk’s advice to my Dad.

“Denial will not serve.  You will win a few battles but lose the war.”

Further Reading:

Essay on TransTrenders & Tucutes

Essay on Androphilic Transmen being Autoandrophilic

Advice to Parents of Transkids

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