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

Tagged with:

Comments Off on Straight Men Viewing Nudes Of Pre-Op Transsexuals

%d bloggers like this: