On the Science of Changing Sex

Straight Men Viewing Nudes Of Pre-Op Transsexuals

Posted in Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on February 23, 2023

In a very recently published paper by a graduate student in Vasey’s team, Heatlie added to our knowledge that straight men can and do find pre-op transsexuals sexually arousing to a small degree when viewing static images. This adds support for Hsu’s earlier work. The paper is available online so I highly recommend reading it. However, I do have some comments about it to share.

The study used pupillary dilation response while viewing to measure arousal and compared that to subjective responses while viewing nudes of four different stimuli sets, men, women, and two types of gynenadromorphs (GAM).

Heatlie used two “types” of gynadromorphic stimuli, one “with breasts” and one “without breasts”. Surprise surprise, straight men found those with breasts more arousing. Sadly, we do not have examples of the stimuli. This is a serious deficit in evaluating the paper in that we don’t really know just how “feminine” those without breasts are. Those with breasts most likely have been on feminizing Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) for some time, even if they had elected to have breast implants. We simply do not know whether those “w/o breasts” have had any HRT. Thus, these stimuli subjects may look rather phenotypically male in other respects, not just genitally. They may just look like normal boys in the nude!

Note that the straight subject’s pupils actually contracted upon seeing the nude men, indicating that they found these images aversive. But the GAMs with no breasts were not aversive, but not very arousing either. A bit of a side comment here: The paper said the difference was “not significant”. This is NOT a measure of the meaning or size of the difference, but rather a comment on the statistical strength of the evidence, the measurement being somewhat noisy and the number of subjects being measured rather limited (N=65).

Some of the comments in the paper suggest that the authors do not understand the difference between control men and “chasers”, men who specifically seek out gynandromorphs, even though they cite Hsu’s work on this very subject, “Many men who seek out gynandromorphs as sexual partners cite the femininity of such individuals as being a key motivator (e.g., Kulick,1997Mitsuhashi, 2006Operario et al., 2008Reback & Larkins, 2006Rosenthal et al., 2017). Some studies have characterized the femininity of gynandromorphs as more accentuated than the average cisgender female (Gerico, 2015Operario et al., 2008Reback and Larkins, 2006). These findings could be viewed as at odds with our results, given that participants were more sexually aroused to cisgender females than to gynandromorphs, with or without breasts.” They fail to note that most (perhaps all) such men are also autogynephilic, experiencing a paraphilic interest, not a conventional interest, in gynandromorphs.

The study also used nude static stimuli, which the authors recognize may not capture the salient factors that conventionally heterosexual men may find attractive that overcomes their aversion to gynandromorphs, their genitalia, “Consequently, our nude stimuli may have failed to capture many of the qualities (e.g., clothing, voice, and body movements) that communicate femininity, or accentuated femininity, and elicit sexual interest from gynephilic males in naturalistic contexts. Conversely, given that our stimuli were nude, the obvious presence of gynandromorphs’ penises may have negatively influenced participants’ subjective ratings of sexual arousal and their pupil dilation.” My response is “No shit, Sherlock”

Further, there is a classic behavior in such gynandromorphic individuals being “avoidant”, disliking letting their partners touch or view their genitalia. This widely shared behavior reduces straight men’s aversion. The use of nude photos of gynandromorphs unnaturally circumvents this, distorting the data.

The paper makes a claim that I just can NOT agree with, “These data are consistent with the conclusion that the capacity for some, albeit low level of sexual interest in gynandromorphs is an invariant capacity of male gynephiles, even in cultures such as Canada where sexual interactions between gynandromorphs and gynephilic men are relatively rare…” These interactions are only “rare” because GAMs, pre-op androphilic MTF transsexuals are rare. If they had surveyed such they would learn that we have no trouble finding straight men who find us sexually desirable.

Update 2/23/2023: The lead author responded:

Hi Candice, thank you very much for your thoughtful essay. I had some thoughts as I read it: 1.The feminine males were characterized as such on the basis of having traditionally feminine hairstyles, make up, and poses. However, we do address the limitations inherent to this approach in our limitations section. Because we will likely be reusing this stimulus set for another study (in order to triangulate our findings using another measure), I am unable to share the images online. 2.Participants’ pupils did not constrict in response to images of males. Pupil change was standardized (i.e., converted to z-scores), and negative values simply suggest that most measurements fell below the mean. The difference between cisgender males and gynandromorphs without breasts was both non-significant and small (d = .37). In general, psychologically relevant stimuli do not elicit constriction. 3.I feel it is important to note that when we say that sexual interactions between gynandromorphs and heterosexual men are relatively rare, we are simply referring to the prevalence of such relationships. As compared to many other cultures such interactions are reported less frequently by Canadian men. We are not making a statement about the attractiveness of gynandromorphs.

Further Reading:

Essay on attraction to gynandromorphs

Essay on pre-op MTF transsexuals being “avoidant”


Heatlie, L, et al, “Heterosexual men’s pupillary responses to stimuli depicting cisgender males, cisgender females, and gynandromorphs”, Biological Psychology (2023), https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2023.108518

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Is The “Non-Binary” Fad Ready To Fade?

Posted in Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on February 14, 2023

Social fads tend to have rapid rises and rapid fades. They begin with just a few people, early adopters, then grow exponentially when highly influential celebrities or “trend-setters” adopt it. They begin to fade when the novelty factors no longer operate and the celebrities and trend-setters abandon it. One of the factors that begins the fade phase of the fad is when a growing number of people point out how silly or nonsensical the fad is.

Such may be what is happening with non-gender dysphoric / gender typical / straight people, mostly teenaged girls and young women claiming to be “trans” and/or “non-binary”.

This concept probably originated in the autogynephilic male cross-dressing (i.e. transvestite) community. Decades ago, they would often describe their cross-dressing as “exploring their feminine side”. There was an organization called the Society for the Second Self, often simply called “Tri-Ess” for short. Many such men would sometimes describe themselves as “Bi-Gendered” in a direct reference to the term “Bi-Sexual”, having both a male and female gender and expression.

But sometime in the early 2010’s, a number of women started claiming first to be “trans” when they clearly were not, to be “cool”. Why? Hard to sort out the beginnings of any social fad, but I strongly suspect it had to do with the unfortunate practice of Hollywood using non-trans actors to portray transsexuals.

The use of non-trans folk as transsexuals has the unfortunate effect of misleading people about the nature and expression of transsexuality. It was bad enough when young transitioning, naturally feminine, exclusively androphilic, Male-To-Female transsexuals were represented in film and television by masculine straight men, trying to act “feminine / gay”, giving the distinct impression of such transsexuals as being more like overly dramatic drag queens. But when young, feminine heterosexual women are cast as Female-To-Male transsexuals, especially if the actor is popular and admired, portrays transmen as “cool”, as was happening in some shows and movies (e.g. Hillary Swank), it misleads teenaged girls to falsely believe that they too could be “cool” and trans.

But then, actual transmen pushed back, pointing out that claiming to be transsexual when they were clearly not gender dysphoric (the definition of “transsexual”) was “uncool”. These young women likely picked up and modified the original “Bi-Gender” concept, making a reference to “asexual” to be “agender” and then “non-binary”. The value of claiming to be “non-binary” was that one didn’t need to be gender dysphoric, nor even gender atypical. It was the perfect way to claim to be “trans” without actually being “trans” anything.

Sometime in the 2010’s, the fad took off when such celebrities as Demi Lovato declared herself to “non-binary”. Here was a very feminine, heterosexual woman, who could be emulated by teenaged girls and young women, without the cognitive dissonance of knowing that they were NOT actually “trans”.

Looking at some data in a relatively small study by Katiala-Heino, et al, comparing 2012-13 scores to 2017,

“The aim of this study was to explore whether there has been an increase in prevalence and changes in sex ratio in feelings of gender dysphoria (GD) in an adolescent population in Northern Europe, and to study the impact of invalid responding on this topic. We replicated an earlier survey among junior high school students in Tampere, Finland. All first and second year students, aged 16–18, in the participating schools were invited to respond to an anonymous classroom survey on gender experience during the 2012–2013 school year and in the spring and autumn terms of 2017. Gender identity/GD was measured using the GIDYQ-A. A total of 318 male and 401 female youth participated in 2012–2013, and 326 male and 701 female youth in 2017. In the earlier survey, the GIDYQ-A scores, both among males and females, were strongly skewed toward a cis-gender experience with very narrow interquartile ranges. Of males, 2.2%, and of females, 0.5% nevertheless reported possibly clinically significant GD. The 2017 GIDYQ-A distribution was similarly skewed. The proportion of those reporting potentially clinically significant GD was 3.6% among males and 2.3% among females. Validity screening proved to have a considerable impact on conclusions. GD seems to have increased in prevalence in the adolescent population.”

The authors noted that testing for dishonesty was highly correlated with positive answers to GD questions, especially among males. But note that the number of girls claiming to be “trans” jumped nearly five fold, from 0.5% to 2.3%, from 2012 to 2017.

This caused the exponential growth of the fad though “social contagion”. Such ridiculously high percentage of teenagers and young people, mostly female, claimed to be “trans” and “non-binary” (the two were very often lumped together as “gender diverse”) in polls that soon headlines with claims that transfolk were common in young people. It also lead to the false notion that there was an epidemic of actual gender dysphoria, because of the use of superficial trappings of FtM transsexuals to become known as “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria”. This became weaponized in the current culture and legislative war against transkids and their medical care.

To be sure, the number of female teenagers referred to therapists and clinics because they claimed to be “trans” increased, but the numbers were not really out of line with the small number historically expected based on the number of adult transmen transitioning in past. Though, it was obvious that some of the increase was caused by non-gender dysphoric girls mistakenly referred to the clinics.

As I said, fads eventually fade. When will this one fade? Could it be that it already is? Demi Lovato went back to “she/her” pronouns last year, indicative of the “influencer” effect fading.

Consider that in Turbin, et al, they used a very large poll from two different years. They found 2.4% (similar to the 2.3% from Finland that same year) and 1.6% respectively. If the numbers can be trusted, the drop over the two year period from 2017 to 2019 of 50% would indicate that the fad is fading. Another researcher with extreme numbers, Kidd, found in her survey that it had dropped from 10% a few years ago to 7% in 2022, a 30% drop, also indicating that the fad is fading. What of the numbers being referred to clinics?

Our favorite Netherlands clinic recently published a paper on 20 years of treating transkids. This is a graph from that paper showing the number referred to the clinic each year.

Note that the number of those older than ten years old (pre-teens and teens) peaked in 2017 and then dramatically dropped (nearly 45%) in 2018. We don’t have more recent data, but this does agree with the other data points we have.

It looks like the fad may have peaked in 2017. I shall be keeping an eye on this to see if the apparent fade continues.

Further Reading:


Butterfly Effect

Lost In The Crowd

Falsely Claiming To Be “Trans” is Cool, (NOT!)

ROGD Redux

External Reading:

Wikipedia Entry on Fads


Katiala-Heino, R., et al, “Gender dysphoria in adolescent population: A 5-year replication study” Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry (2019)

Turbin, et al., “Sex Assigned at Birth Ratio Among Transgender and Gender Diverse Adolescents In The United States”, Pediatrics (2022), https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2022-056567

Kidd, K. et al., “The Prevalence of Gender-Diverse Youth in a Rural Appalachian Region”, JAMA Pediatrics (2022), DOI:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2022.2768

van der Loos, et al., “Children and adolescents in the Amsterdam Cohort of Gender Dysphoria: trends in diagnostic- and treatment trajectories during the first 20 years of the Dutch Protocol”, The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2023;, qdac029, https://doi.org/10.1093/jsxmed/qdac029

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Is Ehlers–Danlos Syndrome Really Associated With Gender Dysphoria?

Posted in Female-to-Male, Transgender Youth, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on February 12, 2023

A couple years ago, I got an email from someone who felt that I was failing in my exploration of the science by not writing about how Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome causes one to be transgender. I was confused. I had never seen any paper to suggest such a connection. Plus, something about the way this correspondent wrote about it set off several red flags of someone seeking confirmation and affirmation, not information.

Now there is a paper that purports to provide evidence of a connection. But how and why this should be so opens up more questions than answers as I will explain.

First, one must understand that Ehlers-Danlos is one of those syndromes that is both rare and not easy to diagnose. It has been associated with several genetic variants that deal with connective tissue development. The syndrome is defined as causing very loose, “mobile” joints. Something most people call “double jointed”. It’s also said to cause “stretchy” “smooth” skin. Doesn’t sound very bad until one learns that this hypermobility is associated with disabling, even crippling, dislocations of hip and other joints.

But why should a connective tissue problem cause gender dysphoria?

In Jones, et al, he reports that among his TEENAGED patients, 17% reported gender dysphoria. Had this been published in the 1970s, I would have been astounded and would be strongly urging further research into the connection. But this was published in December of 2022. This suggests a far simpler explanation: teenagers falsely claiming to be “trans” and “non-binary”.

We already know that in some other studies up to 10% of teenagers making such a claim. Add to that number the idea of being diagnosed with a rare genetic variant and a social network of teens with said variant, all feeling “special” and told that there is an association with being “trans”, we get a perfect storm for a classic fad. A super majority of 89% of these patients claiming to be “trans” and “non-binary” were female, which fits the recent trend of “tucutes”.

But the ultimate suspicious hint that this is a social imitation phenomena among teens is this statement from the researchers, “To date, there have been no reports of prevalence of TGD youth in pediatric patients with EDS.”

But now we need to look at other data, from the other direction. We must never be blinded by confirmation bias or cherry picking. What of those who are adults receiving medical transition services? Here we find another paper, published in 2022, that reported that of over a thousand patients being treated for gender dysphoria, 2.6% had a diagnoses of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, which is ~136 times more than is found in the general population. Further, 67% of them were female.

So we are left with a conundrum. How is it that a connective tissue syndrome is associated with gender dysphoria?


Jones JT, Black WR, Moser CN, Rush ET, Malloy Walton L. Gender dysphoria in adolescents with Ehlers–Danlos syndrome. SAGE Open Medicine. 2022;10. doi:10.1177/20503121221146074

Najafian, A.; Cylinder I.; Jedrzejewski B.; Sineath C.; Sikora Z.; Martin LH.; Dugi D.; Dy GW.; Berli JU. Ehlers-Danlos syndrome: prevalence and outcomes in gender affirming surgery – a single institution experience. Plast. Aesthet. Res. 20229, 35. http://dx.doi.org/10.20517/2347-9264.2021.89

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