On the Science of Changing Sex

New World Order…

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on November 25, 2012

… at the New Women’s Conference.

androgynous faceIn the late ’90s,  a transactivist friend (the same friend with whom I had dinner in in the City just last year) cajoled me into attending the very last of the “New Womens’ Conference” events.  I was extremely reluctant to go for several reasons.  First, I had no emotional desire nor need to attend a gathering I knew would likely be comprised of only “older transitioners”, with whom I, save political interests, have nothing in common.  In addition, one of the suggested activities was to bring dildos and share a group masturbatory session together.  Fortunately, that was universally disapproved by all the rest of the conferees!  I went because of my friendship, and the fact that she worked on my interest in trans-history research, and my love of being witness to such historic events.

During one of the sessions, Dr. Anne Lawrence, gathering research material, asked a forced choice question, “Would you rather be very beautiful, but unable to pass; Or be plain but pass perfectly.”  Anne seemed very surprised at my very impassioned exposition on why I would chose passing.  “One needs to pass to have a normal life.  One does not need to be beautiful to find love.  Lots of plain women find loving husbands.”  Looking around the room at the rest of the transwomen gathered there, all of whom were lesbian identified, I found no nodding of agreement, only uncomfortable silence.  I don’t want to sound narcissistic… and you can confirm for yourself by viewing my photograph, that I both passed and am reasonably attractive… while the rest varied from ‘could pass at the grocery store’ to ‘couldn’t pass in the dark’.  I very much doubted if any of the others was living as “stealth” as I was.

This difference is generalizable to all transkids and AGP transwomen.  In my years of talking to other transkids, they universally would prefer to be 100% passable, even to being beautiful.  Most of them were passible.  Some were also beautiful.  The need to be passible, and to actually pass, to live as stealthily as one can, is likely to be so important, as to be a major factor in the “transition/don’t transition” decision making process for transkids.  Bailey, in his book, The Man Who Would Be Queen, commented on this process, noting that it was indicative of a rational decision process whereby transkids made go/no go choices on which direction would lead to the greatest social success. But for AGP transwomen, the ability to pass doesn’t seem to enter into their decisions in the slightest.

The definition of “passing” seems to me to be different for transkids and older transitioners as well.  “Passing” for a large number of AGPs seems to me to consist of the ability to go shopping or to a restaurant without receiving rude comments.  For the majority it does not seem to mean the ability to live in society for years, going to work, school, participating in civic affairs, visiting neighbors, all without any of them being aware, or even suspecting, of her transsexual status or history.  Yet, for most transkids, this is passing.  As one transkid wrote on her own blog, passing for her is going out into the street at three a.m. due to a fire in the apartment building, no make-up, no padding, in a overly large T-shirt, and the firemen calling her “Miss”.  Anything less is not “passing”.

Having stressed the importance of the ability to pass in MTF transkids, I now have to explain that not all transkids do this well.  One may view my video field guide and note that a couple of the transkids there don’t meet this standard.  Kiira, in several of our lengthy correspondences, noted that socio-economic status (SES) seemed to be correlated with passability.  She advanced the hypothesis that as SES increased, the requirement that one be able to truly pass increased.  She felt that transkids weighed their opportunities as girls against their opportunities as femmie gay boys.

As SES increases, the opportunities as femmie gay boys/men increase.   One can go to college, study the arts, get a job in fields where being gay is less of a problem, and might even be a benefit, etc.  While for low SES transkids, there are far fewer opportunities for them as femmie gay men… and many more opportunities and less social disapproval, and even the chance for a normal and fullfilling life, as a woman.  Further, in the lower classes, those individuals who are on the edge of being transkids vs. drag queen / femmie gay may be better off as a transkids.  Thus explaining why we find more “in-betweenies” as Kiira called them, on the street.  Kiira quiped that if one wanted to see a truly pure example of a transkid, one needed to look to the upper-middle-class.  (I should note, that I myself was raised as upper-middle-class, and after some difficulty in my early adult years, rose back to that level in my mid-20s.)

Thus, we see opposite effects of socio-economic status in transkids vs AGP populations in that higher SES means fewer transkids and more AGPs.

Although there is limited statistical and anecdotal published data to support the above hypothesis, no one has, to my knowledge, done a proper study to develop a path model for transkid decision making.  <Hint to grad students>  I look forward to such a study.

Further Reading:

Passibility differences between transsexual types

On Privilege and Entitlement in the Transgendered Communities

 

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Fraternal Birth Order Effect Applies to First Born Male Children Too

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on March 22, 2019

critical-thinkingA while back, I wrote an essay that showed that androphilic Male-To-Female transwomen had a greater Fraternal Birth Order Effect (FBOE) than gay men as populations.  This is evidence that gender atypical androphilic males are more likely to have a FBOE etiology than more gender typical androphilic males.  But I saw pushback from some in the transgender community that didn’t understand the science, didn’t understand that there could be, and is strong evidence that there are, other etiological factors that can cause gender atypical androphilia in males.  There was anecdotal comments about, and even a long list of, first born androphilic transwomen (at least one included me), as “proof” that the FBOE had nothing to do with androphilic transwomen’s etiology.

Sigh…

This reminds me of the type of argument that goes like this, “I had a large lunch today… so clearly there is no hunger problem in the world.”

But, in any event, we now have evidence that the underlying cause of the FBOE can and has operated in some first born androphilic males, including transwomen.  One of the chief hypothesis of the cause of the FBOE is the ‘Maternal Immune Response’ in which key proteins in male only development during a pregnancy enters the mother’s blood stream where the mother’s immune system creates antibodies to fight off a mistaken “infectious agent”… the male child.  This in turn passes back to the male fetus where it interferes with normal male sexually dimorphic brain development, leading to a feminized brain.  The FBOE effect would then come about because each male pregnancy increases the amount and strength of the immune response.  Each male pregnancy increases the chances of the next male pregnancy resulting in an androphilic gender atypical male child, including the chance of an androphilic MTF transkid.

f2.large_We now have what may be the ‘smoking gun’ and at the same time strong evidence that it may also operate in first born males, not just subsequent male children.  Testing for a specific antibody suspected to be the cause has shown that mothers of gay sons have more than those who have had only straight sons.  What’s more interesting, is that mothers of only first born gay sons and androphilic MTF transkids showed the same effect, as this graph shows, though not as strong as those mothers of gay sons who had older brothers… indicating a progressive effect leading to the progressive FBOE.

Let me state that again, the underlying cause of the FBOE can and does operate in some first borns !

So, Please.  No more bad logic regarding potential FBOE etiologies in androphilic transwomen?

Further Reading:

Essay on FBOE being a stronger effect in androphilic transwomen

Reference:

Bogeart, et al, “Male homosexuality and maternal immune responsivity to the Y-linked protein NLGN4Y” (2018)
https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1705895114

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Triumph for Whom?

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on March 1, 2015

CloudyIn a recent popular magazine article, intellectual essayist, Charlotte Allen wrote an extensive and deep exposition on the events of the past 15 years of the increase in visibility of the Transgender community.  Encouragingly, it was unflinching in its exploration of not only the pop-psychology, but also the REAL psychology and politics.  Of necessity, this also means that she explained about the two type taxonomy, Blanchard’s role in researching it, Bailey’s role in popularizing it… and of the disgraceful behavior of the autogynephilic transwomen who attempted to shout down those who, in their research, came to support the scientific recognition that “late transitioning” transwomen are on the same continuum as transvestites / cross-dressers.  Ms. Allen writes,

“Blanchard’s theory is that transgenders fall into two distinct categories whose sexual orientations, interests, choice of careers, and even, to a large extent, social class are violently different from each other. One of those categories he calls “homosexual” transgenders, whose sexual attraction, from childhood to death, is strictly toward members of their own genetic sex. Among males, they’re the extremely effeminate boys who identify as girls in early childhood, play with dolls and other girls’ toys, and shun the rough-and-tumble play typical of boys their age. Studies at Vanderbilt and the University of London have shown that 70 to 80 percent of those trans-children grow out of their trans-identity at puberty and become, simply, gay adolescents and, later, gay adult men. The 20 to 30 percent who do take formal steps toward transitioning, Blanchard believes, are a self-selected group who, thanks to their more delicate looks, can function fairly successfully as women. “They’re people who might be unsuccessful as men,” Blanchard said.  —  Homosexual transgender men transition early in adulthood, typically during their twenties, Blanchard observed. They account for the vast majority of transgenders in the non-Western world: from the “two-spirits” of indigenous North American tribes, to the fa’afafine of Samoa, to the kathoeys of Thailand who can easily fool Western sex tourists into misidentifying them as women. In those societies there is typically a recognized and thoroughly integrated social niche for men who identify and dress as women. The fa’afafine typically work as secretaries, nannies, and housekeepers​—​stereotypically female occupations. In that respect, they’re not unlike the flamboyant gay men of Western culture who carved out a recognized social niche for themselves in such occupations as hairdresser, dancer, makeup artist, interior decorator, couturier, and fashion consultant (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy). Boys and men in drag played women’s roles on stage from classical times to the 17th century, and they continue to be popular entertainers for both gays and heterosexuals to this day, as the demographics of the Kit Kat Lounge attest.  — By contrast, Blanchard discovered that the predominant form that trangenderism takes in the West today involves men who, as men, have never identified as homosexual in their erotic attractions, but rather as heterosexual, bisexual, or asexual. Those men, his research revealed, tended to make their transitions in their mid-to-late thirties, or even later​—​at least a full decade on average after the homosexual transgenders did. Furthermore, many of those men were married and fathers before they came out. The paradigm might be travel writer Jan Morris, now 88, who spent the first 46 years of her life as James Morris, the journalist who covered Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Mt. Everest and who fathered five children before undergoing transition surgery in 1972. And many in this heterosexual population​—​in contrast to the homosexual transgenders on the drag scene​—​worked in stereotypically hypermasculine professions: They’d been parachutists, Navy SEALs, engineers, policemen, firemen, and high school football coaches. The billionaire philanthropist James Pritzker, who became Jennifer Natalya Pritzker in 2013, in his early sixties, is a retired much-decorated U.S. Army lieutenant colonel with three children by his former wife. “They’ll say that they chose those professions in order to suppress their feelings as females,” Blanchard said. “But no one put a gun to their heads to choose those jobs.” Many late-transitioning transgenders (Jennifer Finney Boylan, for example) insist, contra Blanchard, that they were aware from early childhood that they were born into the wrong body—​but Blanchard thinks they aren’t being honest with themselves.”

Ms. Allen then goes on to explain how certain members of the autogynephilic tranwomen’s community took umbridge with Bailey’s attempt at popularizing Blanchard’s work,

The Man Who Would Be Queen inflamed transgender activists. It did have certain inflammatory aspects. There was the jacket photo of the man in high heels. Blanchard’s coinage “autogynephilia” (extensively used by Bailey in the book), with its connotations of fetishism, deviance, and mental disorder, has never sat well with transgenders. Bailey was even more adamant than Blanchard that autogynephilic transgenders often lied about their erotic fascination with cross-dressing. Furthermore, Bailey observed, drawing on his previous studies, that homosexual transgenders tended to come from lower socioeconomic classes than autogynephiles, and that they tended to have short time-horizons that often led them into streetwalking, shoplifting, and other petty crimes. “Prostitution is the single most common occupation,” Bailey wrote. His book also, perhaps inadvertently, included details about “Cher” that made her real identity quickly discoverable to those in the know: Anjelica Kieltyka, a Chicago transgender woman who, although disagreeing with Bailey about his characterization of her as autogynephilic, had made frequent guest appearances in his classes and had introduced him to other figures in the city’s transgender scene.  —  Bailey’s book caught the immediate​—​and hostile—​attention of Lynn Conway, now 77, a pioneer of computer-chip design during the 1970s, a longtime engineering professor at the University of Michigan, and a leading transgender activist who figured as one of Time’s “21 Transgender People Who Influenced American Culture” in its May 2014 cover story. Conway was close to Andrea James (both had been patients of Dr. Ousterhout and touted his facial-feminization techniques on their websites). James, best-known for counseling Felicity Huffman, the star of the film Transamerica (2005), on transgender voice and mannerisms, underwent transition surgery in 1996. She and Conway teamed up with Kieltyka, and with Deirdre McCloskey, to make sure that The Man Who Would Be Queen would not receive a respectable academic hearing. McCloskey’s participation in this enterprise seems odd. For one thing, her memoir, Crossing, describes her pre-transition self as having been “sexually aroused” as a young man by accounts of cross-dressing​—​a classic Blanchard-esque theme.”

She also notes that the science does not support the contention that “late transitioners” have female brains,

“The medical evidence for a mismatch between brains and bodies is ambiguous. The two studies cited most frequently by transgender activists, published in 1995 and 2000, examined the brains of a total of seven male-to-female transgenders and found that a region of the hypothalamus, an almond-shaped area of the brain that controls the release of hormones by the pituitary gland, was female-typical in those brains. But those studies have been criticized for not controlling for the estrogen​—​which affects the size of the hypothalamus​—​that most male-to-female transgenders take daily in order to maintain their feminine appearance.”

If I had any serious criticism of her essay, it would be in the way that she hews to the stereotype that transkids, “homosexual transsexuals”, are stereotyped as being prone to becoming petty criminals, prostitutes, and drag performers.  I also found her take on the recent improvements in medicine and law regarding the treatment of transchildren and teens to be unsympathetic.  She gives one the impression that too many gender variant pre-teens are being pushed into iatrogenic trauma via puberty blockers, etc.  While it may be true that autogynephiles may overvalue transition, most transkids and our caregivers are careful not to push children who are more likely to become gay and lesbian adults into wrong paths.

Note:  The magazine, The Weekly Standard, from which the above material was drawn is now defunct and the website no longer available.

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JK Rowling and the Transphobic Big Lie Machine

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on July 6, 2020

Kay BrownShe didn’t create these lies.  JK Rowling has gotten them from transphobic propaganda generated by various groups whose vitriol has swirled around the bowl for decades.  She has spent several years immersing herself in this poison.  But because of her fame and now the recent media kerfluffle, it is reaching new audiences.

A long time friend, a woman I’ve known for decades, a guest at my wedding, had never heard these lies before.  She was confused, as they didn’t match what she knew of my life, my personality, my… well… everything.  So she wrote a note to me via social media asking what it was all about.  What was Rowling ranting about?

Fortunately, I was in a position to send her links to several essays I’ve written over the years.  I was able to share with her that the culture war she was just now seeing had begun in the early 1970s, at the dawn of the modern Gay Rights Movement just after Stonewall.

For instance, Rowling has voiced the lie that transsexuals transition because of homophobia, that they want to escape the label “homosexual”.  I first encountered that lie in print in a history book written by a gay man in the ’70s, as he systematically ‘erased’ transfolk from our joint history by redefining transfolk as self-hating homosexuals.

The lie that transsexual medical services are a “new” form of “gay conversion therapy”, turning homosexual people into straight by changing their sex, was central to Janice Raymond’s hateful book, The Transsexual Empire, published in 1979.  We’ve seen this lie more recently morph into the false agit-prop story line that gays and lesbians are forced to undergo unwanted sex changes in Iran.

Rowling repeated the lie that has been used recently about the purported danger of allowing transwomen to use women’s bathrooms, falsely claiming that invites sexual assault.  She used her own history of abuse and assault to attempt to increase that fear and to garner sympathy.  Well… young transwomen are just as likely to be assaulted, both sexually and violently.

Rowling uses the classic defense of her bigotry by attempting to claim that she supports transfolk and even uses the classic lie, “…some of my best friends are {fill-in-the-blank}”, all the while spreading vicious, hurtful lies.

Rowling joining the ranks of the openly transphobic will re-energize them.  There will be a renewal of the culture war against transfolk, especially centered on transkids, as they are the easiest to speak over, drowning out their voices.  It is more important than ever that those who seek the truth over lies know how the propaganda works and what the truth is.  So, I am putting together here links to my own essays, both historical and recent.

The Big Lie Machine

Lying about other people is ancient, so ancient that a prohibition against it was included in the basic Ten Commandments of the Book of Genesis, “Thou shall not bear false witness.”  Generating and spreading false propaganda about other groups is just as old.  The people who do so professionally have studied the art and science of lying for thousands of years.  So, it should be no surprise that they’ve gotten pretty good at it.  One of the techniques is the Big Lie:  Tell a lie so outrageous that no one could believe that the teller could have made up such an outrageous lie, so it must be true.  Or if not fully true, then some part of it, or some lesser shade of it must be true.  It fits the informal logical fallacy that ‘the truth lies in the middle’ or ‘two sides to every story’.  So, the bigger the whopper, the more effective it is as propaganda.

But the middle ground between a lie and the truth is still a lie.  The compromise between injustice and justice is still injustice.  This is where transfolk find themselves.  (Oh don’t mistake me, there are several propaganda lies being pushed by subsets of transfolk… as this blog has covered extensively… they just aren’t the lies that the transphobes care about for the most part… or they weaponize those lies as well.)

Transfolk like me have spent decades debunking the worst to the silliest of these lies.  But one lie has been the bane for decades.

That one agit-prop lie is being pushed right now and has gained traction lately.  It too is an echo of an earlier one.  One can see it emblazoned on twitter feeds and other social media as a photo-icon or plain text: “Biological Reality”.  Like many powerful propaganda lies this one consists of a Motte & Bailey Fallacy combined with a Strawman Fallacy.

Let’s carefully unpack it, deconstruct it, and examine its history and current usage.

Back in the early 1950s, as the Western public first became aware of transsexuality, most notably through press coverage of Christine Jorgensen in the U.S. and Roberta Cowell in the U.K., many were quick to note that “there is no such thing as a sex change”, as though that proved something profoundly debunking.  Well, this is both a true and yet misleading statement.  It is true in that no surgery, then or now, can take a fertile individual of one sex and result in a fertile member of the other sex.  What is misleading is that the goal of surgery was never fertility, but palliative.  It is to allow individuals who suffer, and suffer greatly, from somatic gender dysphoria to inhabit a body that approximates that of the opposite sex to a close enough degree that it alleviates their dysphoria.  Although many transfolk would love to be fertile in their new gender, they are willing to accept this trade-off to enable a good enough life.  The short hand for this process was “sex change”.

Part of that good enough life is social acceptance as full members of the opposite sex.  Thus the need for documentation that agrees and enables that acceptance, lest it interfere with that good enough life at every turn.

But here is where those anti-trans propagandists enter the picture.  It is their primary goal, whether they admit it publicly or not, to deny that social acceptance, to make it as difficult as possible.  While individuals may have varying levels of animosity and animus, as a group, their goal is to make life difficult to impossible for transsexuals to reach that goal of social acceptance as full member of the opposite sex.  Their weapon of choice?  “Biological Reality”.

The Motte of “Biological Reality” is one that every reasonable person can agree with and can’t directly refute.  Transsexuals have a biological reality of having (for most of them) been fertile (or potentially fertile if allowed to go through an unwanted puberty) in one sex, but now living as the other socially.  The Bailey defenders scream “No such thing as a sex change” and “Biological Reality” (…but their chromosomes… !!!) by definition precludes social acceptance as the opposite sex.  And when critics point out that this is not strictly true, rush back to the Motte.

Why can’t the Bailey be defended?  Let’s look at some “biological reality”?

Consider individuals with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.  These are “biological males” with XY chromosomes, healthy testicles producing male hormones, etc.  But their bodies do not recognize nor respond to male hormones, so their bodies instead remain feminine.  That is their biological reality; They are biologically “male”.  Yet, if you were to meet one, you would read them as conventionally female.  They have completely feminine bodies and minds, personalities, from birth.  Most are exclusively androphilic (attracted to men).  They can have conventional heterosexual coitus with men.  It would be both nonsensical and cruel to deny them complete social acceptance as women, as fully “female”.  Biological reality be damned, these are women in every social sense that matters.  This is what is meant by SOCIAL GENDER.

Many people, far more than there are transfolk, no matter how that is defined, are born with Disorders of Sexual Development that preclude fertility, or even having conventional heterosexual coitus.  Yet, their “Biological Reality” is accommodated and they are socially accepted as men and women without garnering a hateful lobby to dispossess them of that acceptance.

When transfolk say, “transwomen are women” and “transmen are men”.  They (we) are speaking in this very same SOCIAL sense, as both aspirational and accomplished, both petitioning for and demanding as a human right, this basic recognition as both reasonable and kind, in the same sense that people with DSDs are accepted.

But, as transfolk do so, the anti-trans forces scream out from behind the Bailey walls, “NO!  Cause there’s no such thing as a sex change, Sex Not Gender (!), no exceptions, no acceptance!”

And when transfolk point out that is both cruel and hateful; That it is wrong to use “biological reality” as a polemic weapon and as a legal tool to deny us social acceptance, the anti-trans propagandists rush back to the Motte and say, “See how crazy and unreasonable these Trans Rights Activists (TRAs) are, pushing their evil, twisted ‘transgender ideology’?  They are ‘erasing’ women!  The want to deny women their rights!  They are denying Biological Reality !!!  We are only defending Biological Reality !!!  They are pushing to have us ‘canceled’, calling us ‘transphobic’ merely for defending Biological Reality.”

There it is, another Big Lie… the lie, the strawman, the Aunt Sally, that TRAs are crazy, irrational, and want to redefine the biological meaning of sex, that we don’t understand science.  They argue against an imaginary position that they literally put into our mouths.

No, they (we) are defending and depending upon the SOCIAL meaning of GENDER.  We ask only for reasonable and kind medical, social, and legal acceptance and assistance, to live our “good enough” life.

Further Reading:

Yet More Big Lies:  Transphobic Propaganda Targeting Parents of Transkids

Historic Transphobia in the Gay and Lesbian Community

Invisible Transgender People – Stolen History

Misplaced Moralizing: Transwomen & Sexual Assault

Further External Reading:

Examples of Transphobes using Rowlings public support include outspoken transphobe Helen Lewis at the Atlantic dissing “millennials” for supporting transfolk and being disappointed in Rowling, ruining their love for Harry Potter and the Wizarding World:  https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2020/07/why-millennial-harry-potter-fans-reject-jk-rowling/613870/

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Pose: A Look at Transgender Realities

Posted in Autobiographical, Film Review by Kay Brown on June 30, 2018

Kay BrownMy husband and I have been watching a great new drama show on FX, POSE.  I don’t normally watch shows with a transgender theme.  They usually either misrepresent us, make fun of us, or we are the designated tragic losers.  But Pose is different.  As Janet Mock, one of the writers for the show and an important voice in how the show was developed and what issues it covers, said, the show “centers transwomen of color”.  Yes, it does that, and a whole lot more.  It also, by the simple statistical reality that transwomen of color in the US are far more likely to be exclusively androphilic early transitioners, the show centers “homosexual transsexuals” (HSTS).  I love the mix of black, puerto rican, and white transwomen in the show.  This being set in New York, that fits the local demographics.  (Here on the west coast, our mix also includes meso-american hispanic, Filipino, and chinese.)

I haven’t seen a single “late transitioner” being portrayed.  Even better, they don’t make the oft mistake of conflating the two types.  No, we see only one type, as they really are.

This essay is less a review than an educational exposition.  Because the show focuses on HSTS in a realistic way, in a way that I have never seen a TV show actually do before, it offers me an opportunity to connect the science, sociology, psychology, history, to a show that you can watch and connect the dots.

Not all of those dots are flattering.  In the very first episode we see Electra Abundance, a house mother of a collection of trans & gay youth, lead her crew on a caper to steal 18th Century court dress from a museum just so that they could outshine their competition at a Ball.  At least one of the crew, Angel, is a sex worker on the street.  In a later episode, we see a bisexual young man, one of House of Evangelista is a street drug dealer.  Yes, it was like real life, but it still hurts to see stereotypes of street kids, gay and trans alike, as petty criminals.  Electra and Angel have sugar daddies that help get them off the street.  On the other hand, we see Blanca, the mother of the House of Evangelista working a real job at a nail salon.  This too is very realistic.  Very few transwomen who end up on the margins of society when young ever climb very far on their own.

Speaking of throwaways, the show opens with heart wrenching scene of a gay teen being thrown out of his family by homophobic parents.  Blanca and Angel both relate ugly stories of being rejected by their families as kids.  (Been there, done that!)  The show gives us a glimpse of how transwomen form houses and in essence are the social workers that provide group homes for throw away queer kids.  They have been doing this for a very long time.

As the show is set in the late ’80s, there is an ever-present pall hanging over the characters, “the plague”, HIV/AIDS.  At the time, being HIV+ was literally a death sentence.  There is a powerful reminder that though thousands of people were dying, then President Reagan couldn’t even bring himself to mention it.  Homophobes literally saw it as ‘God’s Punishment’ on queer folk.  In the opening scene of the first episode, we meet Blanca as she learns that she is HIV+.  She is a strong woman and decides that knowing that she may get sick and die soon, she is determined to make the world a better place by creating her own house built on love and encouragement for her charges.  She hides that she is HIV+, but works to educate others on safer sex practices.  In another episode, we see AIDS patients in the hospital being treated as pariahs; in one case hospital staff refused to enter the room to deliver their meal.  In another vignette an older gay man cajoles three younger men to get tested at a clinic.  We see three of them joyful that they tested negative, but the older man is first devastated, then puts on a brave face to lie about his own HIV+ status.

Allow me to switch to a few personal anecdotes.  I’m 61 years old now… I lived through all of this.  We first began to suspect something was wrong with the first hints were a rash of young men getting a rare cancer.  I vividly recall reading a cartoon in the gay press, must have been 1980 (?) that read, “I’m glad I’m middle-aged… too young to get old man’s Karposi’s carcinoma and too old to get young man’s Karposi’s.”  I remember standing in line to see a movie at the Castro Theatre and recognizing Karposi’s lesions on a man’s face.  Then, gay men and HSTS transwomen started dying of lots of illnesses that shouldn’t have been killing them.  I remember talking to one of my childhood friends trying to explain all of this, including the various theories, some of them incredibly homophobic such as the notion that gay men were dying because of too much partying, drugs, and of course, sex.  But then it became more obvious that this was an infectious agent that was sexually transmitted.  The fear was palpable.

My own sex life took a very steep nose-dive.  I was then recently post-op, but I had been having unprotected sex with men as an exclusive bottom for years before that.  I had never even seen a condom.  Why should I?  It wasn’t like I was going to get pregnant, more’s the pity.  Sure, there were STDs… but antibiotics could take care if it.  I learned about and how to use a condom at a safer sex house party hosted by members of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance at Stanford.  Like the men in the show, I was too afraid to learn my HIV status when testing became available; but my good friend and sister transactivist, Joy Shaffer, M.D. then a medical resident working with HIV/AIDS patients in the hospital when many others refused, insisted.  Joy and her girlfriend Patricia went with me to the clinic.  They were obviously not in a high risk group, but got tested alongside me to offer encouragement.  I was negative.  I felt relief… but the fear was still there.  My sex life remained much more restrained for a good many years later, until I got married.

Public Service Advertisement:

Practice Safer Sex!  Keep and use condoms.  EVERY TIME!!  Learn about and take PrEP medications to reduce your chances of becoming HIV+.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled show.

Because this show has writers that are themselves early transitioners, we see some intimate details that aren’t usually portrayed.  For instance, we see in one episode that not only are HSTS obligate bottoms, but that they are also “avoidant”.  That is, that they would prefer not to have their pre-op genitalia touched during sex.  Just to make sure the audience understands that this is universal, both Electra and Angel have discussions with their sugar daddy boyfriends about it.  As Electra’s boyfriend puts it, “What?! You didn’t think I noticed you grimace when I touch you there?”  This detail, of course, is almost never discussed or portrayed elsewhere because most of those shows wish to portray young transwomen as sex toys for “chasers”.  In this same show, we learn that Electra’s and Angel’s boyfriends are both chasers, gynandromorphophilic.  That is, they both prefer pre-op transwomen and want to touch their lover’s pre-op genitalia.  Electra is faced with the prospect of losing her man if she has SRS, but decides to go ahead, for her own sake.  Angel, upon learning that her man is a chaser, is repulsed and loudly orders him to leave.

The writers seem to know their history.  In one of the episodes, we see Blanca angered by the blatant transphobia from the ‘straight looking – straight acting’ gay male crowd at a local bar.  She attempts to use civil rights style counter sit-in tactics to force the bar to accept her presence and to serve her.  But that bar uses bouncers and even the police to enforce their ‘no queens’ policy, deliberately insulting and misgendering her.  The gay men at the bar cheer as Blanca is arrested for no real reason.  I see this as a metaphor for the way that much of the larger gay and lesbian community mistreated the transcommunity from the early ’70s through the late ’90s.

The show is singularly refreshing and I look forward to viewing the rest of the season.

Further Reading:

Essay on correlation between non-white ethnicity and HSTS

Essay on HSTS being ‘avoidant’

Essay on gynandromorphophilia

Essay on historic transphobia in the gay and lesbian communities

External Further Reading

‘We’re More Than Capable’: Pose Stars Push Back on Cis Actors Playing Trans Roles by Maiysha Kai

Pose Writer Janet Mock on Making History with Trans Story Telling by Janet Mock

“When Are Trans Actors Allowed to Act?” by Hannah Giorgis in the Atlantic
The FX drama Pose is the rare example of a show that actually gives trans actors top billing—an effort made all the more urgent by a recent controversy that saw Scarlett Johansson cast as a transgender man.

“POSE” IS A TESTAMENT TO THE SELFLESSNESS OF TRANS WOMEN by Dr. Jon Paul

Comments Off on Pose: A Look at Transgender Realities

Transphobic Propaganda Aimed at Parents of Transsexual Kids

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on June 9, 2018
Candice2

Kay Brown with her adopted daughter Liz

I’ve been interacting with parents of transkids for many years now.  What they go through is heart wrenching.  I’ve talked to both supportive and non-supportive parents.  I’ve talked to even more transfolk, both those who were transkids and those who were adult transitioners.  Each was impacted either positively or negatively by their parents attitudes… but none were hurt more than those transkids who had been emotionally abused or abandoned by their parents as teens.

TransSupportUntil the advent of ubiquitous social media, the main means of “trashing trannies” was mass media and churches.  But now, with social media, parents of transfolk are bombarded with conflicting messaging from all sides and can have difficulty knowing which information to trust.  Just as in politics, there is now a great deal of “fake news”, propaganda, misinformation, half-truths, even outright lies to be found online.  Some of it from people whose only interest is to hurt transfolk because of religious or socially formed trans- and homophobia.  Some of it is from transphobic parents of transkids themselves.  There are even websites and discussion fora created by these very same parents bringing together such like-minded folks to create a wave of disinformation, fear, uncertainty, and doubt in others so as to bolster their own decisions to deny their own children the respect, agency, and medical services they so clearly need.

In this post I will actively gather such propaganda and explore how it works and why it is wrong.  My goal is to help parents recognize when others are trying to manipulate their emotions to effect their decision-making.  This will be an ongoing effort so this essay will be updated whenever I see or remember an issue that needs to be addressed.

With popular celebrities like JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame now spreading much of these lies and disinformation, it is more important than ever to separate what is fact from what is fiction.

Everything I write here is not “my opinion” but facts based on peer reviewed science, often covered in other essays on this blog, with reference citations to the research.  For the sake of bevity and readability, I don’t cover the data and evidence here.  Interested readers may use the search function to find them, or may start by reading my FAQ, which has links to the most relevant essays.

If this essay seems overly long, blame the voluminous amount of such hateful propaganda that has been created and spread.

Quoting Transfolk Out of Context

This is so classic that it needs only to be mentioned in passing.

Bad History

One sure fire propaganda tool is to set out a revisionist history of the treatment of Gender Dysphoria.  Those who control the memory of the past, control understanding of the present.

One trick is to lie and say that the term ‘gender dysphoria’ is new and replaced the older (and presumably more accurate) Gender Identity Disorder for political reasons under pressure from “transgender rights activists”.  The real history is that “Gender Dysphoria”, a medical term coined by Dr. Norman Fisk at Stanford University in the early 1970s, was included in the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic name and was incorporated in the name of the professional organization, Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association formed in the late ’70s (more recently renamed World Professional Association for Transgender Health).

Greens bookAnother trick is to falsely claim that transsexuality / transgenderism was only about adult sexuality and that children were never part of the picture until very recently.  They sweep under the rug such books as Green’s 1974 Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults.  Children and teens, transkids, were being seen from the begining.  Teenagers were being seen and very quietly transitioning, either as run-aways, throw-aways, or for the lucky few, living at home with supportive family.  Sadly, its also true that some kids were treated abominably in futile efforts to “cure” them (more below).  Transkids, then called “primary” or “true” transsexuals, have always been with us, but they (we) were largely invisible, a despised underclass, criminalized by the law, pathologized by psychiatry, problematized by society, church, and family.

“Transgender Ideology”

The moment you read or hear someone use that term, the material that person is going to share is propaganda.  Those familiar with the culture war against gay rights and marriage equality will recognize its propaganda equivalent “Homosexual (or Gay) Agenda” .  Of course that agenda was social and legal equality.  “Transgender Ideology” is a search for social and legal recognition, and access to medical services, nothing more.  Any other claims are just disinformation.  Both of these terms are meant to invoke nebulous distrust of the motives and actions of the LGB & T communities.  For example, appending disparaging terms like “toxic”, ect.

We also see people making calumnious claims that transgender people are trying to “indoctrinate” kids into being transgender.  This is very much in keeping with the old anti-gay equivalent of “recruiting” young people into the “gay lifestyle”.  Sadly, such false claims are even being made by transphobic gays and lesbians (no group is too small or too oppressed that it can’t turn and do the same to an even smaller and weaker group).

When organizations support transsexual people, the propagandist claim that they have been “captured” by ‘transgender ideology’ a way of suggesting that they don’t have good reasons for their support.

However, when you read claims of “Transgender Ideology”, there is an ideology that may be at play… theirs!

Another loaded term in vogue is “industry”, as in “medical industry”, “transgender industry” or just “gender industry”.  The term falsely invokes the concept of a large and uncaring medical industrial complex out to make as much money out of poor hapless kids and their parents, destroying lives, rather than the deeply caring doctors and therapists that actually exist.

Another means of subtly invoking distrust of transfolk is to describe various elements of the quite disparate transgender communities as the “transgender lobby”, likening them to powerful business groups that gain disproportionate power through chummy relationships with lawmakers and regulators.  This is a classic trick whereby one falsely paints a marginalized group as secretly powerful.

In the same manner, every transperson who speaks out is labeled an ‘activist’ (often shortened to the acronym, “TRA”) with a smug undertone that ‘trans rights activist’ means a person with a not to be trusted self-serving “agenda”.

A very recent and subtle twist is to use the term “transgender movement”, as though the existence of transfolk itself was a “movement” or fad, rather than the correct term “transgender RIGHTS movement”.  Consider that the push for equality under the law for non-white people was not called the “Colored Movement”, but the “Civil Rights Movement”.

A popular term meant to subtly disempower transkids and transsexual adults is “gender confusion” to replace “gender dysphoria”.  It implies that transfolk are just “confused” and likely mentally challenged and should just “look in their pants!”.  When you see that term, you know that the speaker / author is no friend of transfolk.

The single most common term is to describe transfolk as being “mentally ill”, when in fact, gender dysphoria, though painful and real, in no way affects rational thought or decision making, at any age.

I recently saw a man post a whopper of a lie on a website telling parents that childhood gender dysphoria was an early sign of developing schizophrenia!

More recently, likely because of this very essay pointing out such disinformation and propaganda, some key anti-trans activists have been labeling efforts such as this blog as ” real propaganda”.  It’s a clever “Catch-22” style trap to silence transfolk.

One clever rhetorical trick is to create a false comparison by showing that their propaganda can’t be labeled “transphobic” because true / real ‘phobia is when people are physically abused, beaten, tortured, etc.  Transpeople aren’t being lynched or gay bashed (actually, we are…).  But they fail to acknowledge that dehumanizing language sets the stage for that treatment.  While working against one’s civil, legal, or human rights is just another tool of the bigot.  And in the case of transfolk, working to deny access to reasonable and affordable medical care is just as damaging and cruel.

Blaming the Internet and Other Transkids / Adult Transsexuals

A recent meme to question the validity of gender dysphoria in teenagers is the concept of “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (ROGD) in which being trans is described as a “social contagion” and a “craze”.  Gee… that’s just saying this is a “fad”… and like the old “phase” claim that transkids were discredited with in the past.  Of course, there is the problem that it has become trendy to claim a “trans” or “non-binary” identity, but these kids and young adults are NOT gender dysphoric.  I’ve written an entire essay on this.

The existence of these non-gender dysphoric teenagers and young adults falsely claiming a “trans’ or “non-binary” identity is easily weaponized to discredit the existence and sincere social and medical needs of transkids, especially as these non-gender-dysphoric teens and young people drop their claim to being “trans” to claim a new identity as “detransitioners”.  Detransitioning does exist.  It is usually found in adult transitioning autogynephilic males who later regret having attempted transition when they find it doesn’t actually help them.  However, detransitioning is extremely rare in actual gender dysphoric teenaged transkids and former transkids (transsexual adults who were gender dysphoric as children).

A classic trope is to falsely claim that transsexuals (or people in general) are telling kids that aren’t trans in any fashion that they are in fact transgender.  They may also use emotionally loaded, sexualized language like “seduced” into being trans. (See classic trope of gay and lesbian people “recruiting”, above.)  One way of making it (falsely) seem especially evil is to claim that the kids being targeted have some special problem, a vulnerability that can be exploited (e.g. claim that the “victims” are autistic, have “untreated trauma”, or have Borderline Personality Disorder), implying that these teens don’t have self agency.  Please note, transsexuals are the LAST people who want other people to be living in a gender that doesn’t suit them.

One of the ugliest strawman I’ve seen cast about is deliberately misconstruing the known high rate of depression and distress found in transkids who live in unsupportive environments is claiming that transkids ‘blackmail’ or ‘manipulate’ others by falsely threatening to commit suicide if they don’t “get their way”.  The claim may be further amplified by stating that transkids (or transsexual adults) teach other transkids to use this threat.  By making this claim, they paint transkids / adult transsexuals as manipulative monsters.  Of course, this is actually an indication of their own lack of empathy and of their virulent hate.  Shocking and impossible as this may seem, this claim really does make the rounds of social media.

The most libelous of the most extreme propaganda aimed at transsexual adults (former transkids & others) is that they are supporting access to affimring medical care for teenagers is a form of “grooming” so that those kids can be sex trafficed, a la PizzaGate.

Creating False Testimonials

One of the easiest ways that anti-trans propagandists can create a false testimonial is to claim a bogus hypothetical harm, “If this transgender ideology had been around when I was a child, I would have been wrongly diagnosed as transgender.”  This is typically claimed by a mildly gender-atypical woman, a “butch lesbian”, but sometimes claimed by a typical heterosexual woman that liked to do a few “boy” things when young.  Given that perhaps a third of women were somewhat “tomboyish”, quite a few such transphobic women can make this false claim.

These false hypotheticals have the unique advantage that they can’t be tested, challenged, or proven right or wrong.  So they just exist, creating doubt, which is the goal.

This false testimonial feeds off the hyperbolic misrepresentation that people are claiming that any child who shows any gender atypical interests, is labeled “transgender” and forced into a medicalization.  The typical description goes something like, “a boy who likes dolls is labeled a girl”.  No, they are not.  While transkids are gender atypical, merely showing some mild interest in cross-gender activities does NOT get one labeled transsexual, nor is any child or teen “forced” into social or medical transition.

Blaming Parents

An ugly, malicious, trope that has been around for years, especially from transphobic gays and lesbians, is that parents push their gender atypical, gay or lesbian, child or teen into falsely believing that they are transsexuals so that they won’t be labeled gay or lesbian.  The logic is twisted, but relies on the false notion that parents are more likely to be far more homophobic than transphobic.  Ironically, many transkids actually experience the opposite, that transphobic parents, as they wrestle with their grief upon learning their child is transsexual, plead with their child to “just” be a CLOSETED gay or lesbian so that they, and their family, won’t have to experience public embarrassment.

There is also the nasty lie that parents are abusing their children by “modifying their bodies”.  I’ve seen the lie that parents and doctors are prescribing such medications and conducting surgeries on pre-teens as young as three years old!  No, that is NOT happening.  No pre-teen is being given any medication (save possibly puberty blockers if they present with precocious puberty, which can and should be treated regardless of gender dysphoria).

Blaming Gender Clinics and Therapists

It has become fashionable to target specialized clinics that see gender atypical youth, especially in the UK, with false accusations.  One also sees comments that call into question the membership, leadership, ethics, and Standards Of Care recommendations of WPATH, the leading professional society for those providing care for gender dysphoric individuals, just because some (but not a majority) of the members are transsexuals themselves.  This is rather like dismissing the American Lung Society because some of its members survived lung cancer.

As some of these clinics have attracted new clients (not all of whom will persist), there is the hand-wringing over how rapidly the “epidemic” of gender issues has grown.  Let’s be real, going from zero to any number of clients is an infinitely large growth.  Most clinics treating transkids are fairly new.  Almost none are over twenty years old and most are less than ten.  Even those who are only only provided medical services to those who were over age 16 until more recently.  For example, the GIDS under the UK NHS didn’t start providing puberty blockers to carefully screened candidates until 2011.  If they have seen a large increase in younger clients since say, 2009, of course there has been an increase!  They weren’t offering actual services to those under age 16 until then!

We expect that an under served market should respond with high growth when services become newly available.

If zero to something sounds too obvious, the propagandists pick another, but still early date to start, say 2009, before puberty blockers were available, with the same seemingly startling growth.  A common figure tossed about takes the form of 4400% which sounds really high… until one remembers that 100% = 2 times = double.  So, 4400% growth is going from some really small number, say ten kids, when just opening such clinics, to 45 times that low starting number to make it only 450 kids (out of hundreds of thousands of kids in their multi-city/regional service area).  But “4400%” sounds soooo much bigger and alarming!  (Or climbing to 2,500 kids for all of the United Kingdom !!!)

The other way to make it sound really bad is to talk about how many children are REFERED to a clinic.  But a referral does not mean that they were DIAGNOSED as being gender dysphoric… and it certainly doesn’t mean that they are being tracked toward unnecessary medical treatment.

Another gambit is to point to transphobic medical providers who leave a given large institution because they have recently begun to provide services to transkids, as though it proved anything nefarious.  But transphobic attitudes have always been found in the medical community, at about 50% (which is about the same number in the general public).  Thus one expects to find such transphobic medical providers to jump ship as they find other employment and for propagandists to publicize it.

A more subtle propaganda gambit by anti-trans individuals and organizations is to describe themselves as merely concerned with “over medicalization” of gender variant youth.  That sounds so reasonable, until one understands that ANY medical intervention is considered “over” medicalization by them.

A corollary false claim is that many teens are being prescribed hormones with no “medical oversight”.  That would constitute medical malpractice and as such is not likely to be common as doctors are as a group unlikely to risk that.

One of the lies put out is that therapists and clinics aren’t providing full disclosure or “objective” advice.  What they really mean is that the therapists aren’t telling these kids and their parents what the transphobic people want them to tell them, including disinformation I discuss here.  The simple truth is that the Standard of Care for all patients, gender dysphoric or not, is informed consent, giving full information, by both ethical and legal requirements.  Claiming that these kids and their parents aren’t being given this information is slander and libel.

A recent tactic is to claim that such clinics and therapists “never tell a kid that they are not trans” as though that was somehow nefarious, falsely implying that they are encouraging / pushing gender atypical youth to be transsexual and also falsely implying that they know which kids are ‘true’ transsexuals (or implying that no one is actually gender dysphoric) and who isn’t.  The real truth doesn’t matter to them.  There is no external test.  No blood work, no magic words spoken in therapy.  Only the individual, as they consider their own feelings and real life options, can make this determination and ultimately their life direction.  No clinic or therapist, can from the outside, determine and say to anyone that they don’t experience gender dysphoria.

Finally, there is the perennial threat to file lawsuits claiming malpractice for prescribing “unnecessary” medications or performing surgery on minors as a ploy to frighten caregivers away from serving the legitimate needs of transsexual youth.  Consider this – how many such lawsuits have occured?  I’ve never heard of even one such – have you?  Certainly none that were successful.  IF there had been, it would have made the news and would feature prominently in transphobic propaganda.

(Update:  There is now exactly one legal case in Australia being touted by the transphobic press in which a woman is suing because she claims it is illegal to prescribe HRT to a teenager.  Bets on when the case is thrown out as specious given that birth control is also HRT?)

(Update Oct. 2020:  There is now a case in the UK which is trying to use the same argument that teenagers can’t give consent, ignoring previous law granting those 16 years and over full consent rights and that no one is prescribing blockers to those under age 16 w/o parental consent:

https://amp.theguardian.com/society/2020/oct/07/court-hears-children-cannot-consent-to-puberty-blockers

Note the use of many of the bogus arguments I list here.

Also note actual data on the so called “epidemic” of gender dysphoria, quoting from the article,

“Hyam told the court that referrals to GIDS had gone through a “twentyfold increase”, from 97 in 2009 to 2,590 in 2018, and that the percentage of natal females had increased during that time and made up 76% of cases.”

So, going from when the clinic was barely started to today?  And less than three thousand referrals in a nation of over 65 million people?  That’s not an “epidemic”.)

Creating Bogus Medical Societies

Doctors are not immune to bias and bigotry.  Research has shown roughly half of doctors and psychologists are biased against LGBT people.  So it would come as no surprise that a hateful minority ignore their professional duties to invest their time in creating alternative organizations specifically to create and spread false or misleading information about gender dysphoria.  Some are part of older organizations, such as the tiny American College of Pediatricians, who historically attacked gay rights, pushed abusive ‘therapies’ to “cure” homosexuality and with it, transsexuality in children and teens.  However, there is one very small band who specifically have targeted transsexuals and transkids, falsely and ironically naming themselves the Society for Evidence Based Gender Medicine whose members are notorious for spreading much of the anti-trans propaganda I list in this essay.

Blaming Schools & Eductors

Schools are often the worst place for transkids, gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth and indeed anyone not in the majority in a given community.  Bullying, most often by classmates, but all too often even by adults is a serious concern.  That concern has been addressed by anti-bullying campaigns that may include empathy building by teaching youth in the school to be aware of and respect LGBT peers.  But that has met with opposition from homophobic and transphobic parents and others.  They decry that “Gender Ideology” is being taught in the schools.  They demand that like sex education, it should be left to families, which in practice provide tacit approval for the continued bullying.

Another area of contention is access to gender appropriate bathrooms and changing facilities.  Propagandists have seized this issue, looking to inflame the public with false stories or just insinuations that “boys will claim to be trans to molest girls in the locker room”.  Or worse, that MTF transkids ARE just boys who want to ogle girls in the locker room.

Just to be VERY clear.  Gender dysphoric youth do NOT want to be seen naked by others of either sex.  That’s one of the key presenting symptoms of gender dysphoria in children and teens, extreme dislike and embarrassment of their sexed body.  (This may or may not be true in adult / older transitioners, who have a very different form of ‘gender dysphoria’.  See FAQ for more information.)

Therapy

EOFR3sFXkAEA8WW-2In the past, it was near universal for therapy of gender atypical children, most often male, to mean attempts to “fix” them so that they were no longer gender atypical, as that was seen as a disorder in and of itself.  It was also believed, falsely it turns out, that if they could get these boys to be gender typical in their behavior, they wouldn’t develop into transsexuals or gay men.  Therapies ranged from gentle “play” with a masculine role model to direct punishing and shaming children (up to and including corporal punishment; i.e. beatings) for atypicality on one hand and rewarding gender typicality on the other.  Both philosophies encouraged parents to remove any and all cross-gender toys and activities, to deny cross-gender friendships, and to shame children, especially boys, for such play.  Therapy for gender dysphoric teens was to “talk” them out of wanting to transition, usually by shaming them.  Today such therapy, along with therapy meant to “talk” gay & lesbians out of being homosexual, is recognized as being both ineffective and abusive.  Some states and countries have outlawed such practices.  Professional societies of therapists and physicians have declared them to be unethical.

{Personal note:  I was sent to play therapy as a ten-year old with Dr. Peters (you can’t make this stuff up) a tall bearded man as a role model.  While at home, my mother would jump down my throat if I so much as looked at a girl’s toy.  And at school, the teachers disrupted my friendships with girls and forced group activities with boys.  Of course, that didn’t work, so I was sent to talk therapy at 15/16, but knew enough not to talk about, nor answer his repeated questions about, neither my sexuality nor my gender behavior and identity so as to avoid any opportunity to shame me.  Thus, I know about these practices first hand.  Fortunately, in early 1975, at age 17, I was evaluated at the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic which recommended social and medical transition.}

The new form of “therapy” advocated by transphobes is to try to find and treat the “root cause” of their gender atypicality and dysphoria, usually under the misguided pseudo-Freudian notion that there must be some unresolved sexual trauma.  If they just had therapy to find this “root cause”, they could cure it.  But most gender atypical and dysphoric people have never had such a trauma, and most people who have had such trauma do not become atypical nor dysphoric.  There simply is no correlation, much less a causative connection.

Today, most caring therapists and other caregivers recognize that gender atypicality is not in and of itself a disorder.  They also recognize that most young mildly gender dysphoric children will desist on their own as they near adolescence, so there is no need for drastic measures either way.

However, extremely dysphoric children need outlets for their gender expression and that attempts to suppress or change their innate behavior is abusive and will only result in low self-esteem and shame.  They also know that such children need reassurance that they are loved by their parents.  If punished for gender atypicality and/or expressing the pain of dysphoria, the bond between parent and child is put at grave risk.  And yes, some therapists and their caring families recognize that some pre-adolescents and adolescents are better served by social transition.

This new kinder and gentler approach to gender atypicality and gender dysphoria has led to disinformation put out by those who wish that they could continue to offer abusive  reparitive / conversion ‘services’, falsely claiming that such therapies do work.  Some propagandists point to case history notes of reparitive therapists claim that their therapy is responsible for the ‘resolution’ of pre-adolescent gender dysphoria when in fact, they are falsely claiming credit for what is a natural process that would have happened without such abusive therapies.  Transphobic parents and members of the public also lament this situation and put out the lie that “affirming” therapists are “forcing” gender atypical children and teens to become transsexual.

The basic truth is simple… just as it is not possible to “fix” LGBT people, it is not possible to force them to be LGBT against their nature.  Saying otherwise is an outright lie.

Another tidbit of disinformation is claiming that therapists regularly “ok” teenagers to get hormones with only one visit.  In over four decades of experience and discussions with literally… oh I can’t even guess the number of transfolk of all ages I’ve met or corresponded with.  It would have to be the hundreds now, the fastest I’ve ever heard of for someone to get their “letter” approving HRT from a psych professional was five one hour sessions.  And when others hear of that low figure, they are incredulous because most adults were required to have at least several months of weekly sessions and most had more, some over a year or more.  There’s a reason why therapists and psychiatrists are called “gatekeepers”.  For minors, it might be faster to get onto puberty blockers if they are seen in longer more intense sessions with at least one second opinion since the clock is seen as “ticking”, but to switch from blockers, or for an older teen, one already past puberty?  That will take longer.

{Personal Note:  I was that teenager who had only five hours in 1975, a record even for the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic: three one hour sessions alone, one hour with my mother, and one hour with my father.  You may read about those interviews here.  And no, I have no real idea why I got my letter with so few visits, but if I had to guess, it was because I still had to wait until I was 18 because my parents refused permission… and that I had previously been in therapy that had been anything but “affirming”.  Interestingly, when I was 23 and had the funds for surgery, the surgeon, a private doc in Colorado, required two recent “letters” from psychiatrists.  I had six one hour sessions with one psychiatrist and one hour for the second opinion… this too was considered a record.  This one I did know why… emotional maturity, intelligence, and five solid years post social transition with a great work and education history.}

 Social Transition

transkids

Transkids after social transition

I see over and over claims that merely allowing a child to cross-dress or socially transition is a form of “child abuse” in and of itself.  I’ve even seen transphobes complaining that letting non-transkids know that transkids and transadults exist and should be accepted and respected, is a form of child abuse!  These claims are usually from the most virulently transphobic and homophobic members of the public.  However, there is a more subtle form of this parental shaming in that people claim that because many pre-teens who are gender atypical will not be gender dysphoric, that they are “forcing” their kids to be transgender.  This meme even floats in the gay and lesbian community claiming that parents do this because they are homophobic and would rather have a transgender child than a gay or lesbian one (!).  My own experience has indicated that homophobic parents are universally also transphobic, so the logic of this assertion is faulty and groundless.

Parents should be advised that many pre-teens who are gender atypical will in truth grow up to be gay or lesbian, but there is no magic bright line difference between transkids and LGB individuals.  That is to say, that from our current state of research, we can’t tell them apart… and indeed, there may be no etiological difference, that the difference may in fact be one of degree and not of kind.  We see cultural and life experience differences leading to differences in rates of gender dysphoria in different cultures and subcultures in what may be the same biological groups.  Given this, loving parents should be open to listening to the needs of their children as they grow up and be flexible in their hopes.

A recent meme making the rounds is that if a child is allowed to cross-dress as a pre-teen, to use a new name etc. they will have social and personal difficulty later when they desist from being gender dysphoric.  Some go as far as to say that this will cause them trauma, having spent years growing up presenting as the “wrong sex”.  But this only shows their own transphobic bias, valuing the lives and welfare of desisting children over persisting transkids.   Consider this from the viewpoint of persisting transkids, if having to grow up presenting as the “wrong sex” is traumatic and that transitioning is a social and personal difficulty at that later age, won’t these kids have had a similarly bad experience if they are not allowed to socially transition earlier?  Either both are true or neither is true.  Actually, the truth is that children who will desist later are still in pain now.  And desisting children detransitioning is no more traumatic than either type transitioning in the first place.  But the transphobic propagandists aren’t interested in nuance and dealing with things in such a way as to reduce pain for everyone on a day-to-day basis.  Remember this.  Their goal is not to help your child be happy and emotionally healthy.  They are only interested in frightening the parents of transkids into NOT allowing them to socially transition in the hope that denying them this at a young age will force them to not get puberty blockers, which will them force them to endure a puberty which will make it that much more difficult for them to transition successfully as adults, which will keep them from being “one of those people”.

A more subtle and insidious bit of propaganda is to point out that in speaking of the likely hood of a child desisting or persisting that a pre-adolescent social transition “predicts” persistence.  The sneaky part is, while there is a correlation between such a pre-adolescent social transition and persistence, the way that the word “predicts” is interpreted is one of causation rather than merely being a successful test of the level of gender dysphora that already exists and the natural affinity / social comfort that a child experiences post social transition.  That is to say, attempting social transition is a great diagnostic test that persistors will take to like a duckling takes to water, while desistors are likely to find social transition does not help them.

One of the ugly issues I’ve seen thrown around is that of impugning the motives and values of various researchers and clinicians, on both sides of the issue of pre-teen transition.  Most professionals have nothing but good intentions.  Each has nuanced views because this issue is not black and white.  But many insist that it should be black and white… and thus will smear those who don’t agree with their own position.

After the age of twelve, social transition is, or at least should be, a no-brainer.  If a teen was gender atypical and dysphoric as a preteen, their desire and need for social transition is one that they should decide for themselves.  In fact, attempting to socially transition is a great “test” since if it doesn’t help them, it will be an obvious fact.

Surgery

Perhaps the most common propaganda seen bandied about is the oldest.  In the mid-50s, as the public began to learn about transsexuality and its medical treatment, many were quick to note that “there is no such thing as a sex change”, as though that proved something profoundly debunking.  Well, this is both a true and yet misleading statement.  It is true in that no surgery, then or now, can take a fertile individual of one sex and result in a fertile member of the other sex.  What is misleading is that the goal of surgery was never fertility, but palliative.  It is to allow individuals who suffer, and suffer greatly, from somatic gender dysphoria to inhabit a body that approximates that of the opposite sex to a close enough degree that it alleviates their dysphoria.  Although many transfolk would love to be fertile in their new gender, they are willing to accept this trade-off to enable a good enough life.

A common ploy is to point out that surgeons are paid to perform these procedures and are “getting rich”, insinuating that they are evil and greedy.  I do hope those that say this never need a life saving operation so that they won’t have to pay an evil and greedy surgeon.

A very common ploy is to paint medical interventions as “destroying healthy bodies”, totally disregarding the emotional pain of gender dysphoria as worthy of medical treatment.  The underlying message that they are trying to implant is that there was no medical necessity, and thus it was monstrous to treat it.  But consider that nearly no one bats an eye when women have breast augmentation, rhinoplasty (cosmetic nose surgery), or even that there is no medical reason for the vast majority of male circumcisions (genital surgery) that baby boys are subjected to years before they can give informed consent.

Some people will point out that SRS sterilizes transfolk as though that were in and of itself medical malpractice, even incorrectly invoking the Hippocratic oath “to do no harm”.  This is a puzzling attitude since many medical issues are treated in such as way that also results in sterilization and no one calls that malpractice.  In fact, many healthy men and women chose voluntary permanent sterilization which is an accepted practice.  For young adults (even if under the age of 18) to knowingly make the trade-off of continuing to suffer somatic gender dysphoria vs. accepting voluntary sterilization is a personal choice for them and them alone to make.

The next bit of propaganda is to describe the result of surgery as ugly, monstrous, or diseased to invoke visceral disgust.  Mary Daly, an extremely transphobic author in the 1970’s described post-operative transsexuals as “Frankenstein’s Monsters”, invoking the image of people hacked together by rogue mad scientist doctors.  Other comments focus on and exaggerate the potential for surgical complications.  Very recently (in fact, just this past week), I’ve seen an outright lie repeated and amplified in social media in which the result of Male-To-Female transsexual surgery is an “open wound” which is easily “infected”, rather than a functional neo-vagina.  What loving parent would want their child to experience such iatrogenic trauma?

A more subtle bit of misleading disinformation is to combine the two memes above, to describe the result of MTF surgery as taking functional male genitalia and turning it into “dysfunctional male genitalia” in an attempt to invoke disgust on one hand and parental concern for their child’s future happiness on the other.  The lie depends upon parents not being familiar with the cosmetic nor functional results because, lets face it, that’s not something to be bragged about in public.  So, I will attempt here, while remaining within socially acceptable bounds, to answer that, given that I myself have such “dysfunctional male genitalia”…   Ummmm… well… I’m VERY happily married to a straight man… and neither of us is unhappy with the results…  ‘nough said.

Another reason these particular talking points work is that parents hang onto the false hope that their child will desist and be heterosexual.  While it is true that pre-teens who are gender atypical but not particularly dysphoric are more likely to desist than persist,  such boys will most likely grow up to be gay, the girls may or may not be lesbian, given that many tomboyish girls are mislabeled as gender atypical.  These tomboyish girls will most likely grow up to be straight.  However, those teens who had been gender atypical AND notably gender dysphoric as pre-teens will not likely desist after age twelve.  Besides, one doesn’t perform surgery on pre- or even early teens.  One is required to wait until the late teens at the earliest and by then, it’s pretty obvious that surgery is right for those who know the trade-offs… and rationally chose to exchange genitalia which they will never use for those that they will joyfully use.

Another bugbear thrown around is the specter of post-operative regret.  I won’t lie in turn; this is a real phenomena.  However, what is not often discussed in the parental fora is that the vast majority of those who later regret SRS are “late onset”.  (If you are not familiar with this term and its implications, please see my FAQ.)  These are usually males who have successfully lived as adult men, very often married to women, fathering children, etc.  They previously had extensive sexual experience as men, enjoying their ‘original equipment’.  In female individuals, gender dysphoria that first present in adolescence has been associated with later detransitioning and regret, but in fewer individuals and certainly far fewer than in the public imagination.  (I’m referring to actual gender dysphoric individuals, not those girls who falsely claim a ‘trans’ or ‘non-binary’ identity.)  Post operative regret is nearly absent from “early onset” transsexuals.  And those few who were regretful weren’t regretting the loss of their ‘original equipment’ but complained of the rare complications that may occur with any surgery.

For parents of Female-to-Male (FtM) teens and twenty-somethings, there is often fear that “top surgery” to remove/reduce unwanted breasts will be regretted as well.  This fear is especially potent in the mothers of FtM transkids because of the natural empathy one feels, of putting themselves into their child’s position and feeling angst at the thought of the loss of their own breasts.  Of course, this is putting their own shoes onto their child, instead of walking a bit in theirs.

There has been a recent blitz of disinformation and propaganda about FtM transmen chest binding being “harmful” with little to no clinical evidence.  But consider that this binding provides no more flattening / compression, and indeed often far less compression of the ribcage and internal organs, than many feminine fashion undergarments in recent history such as corsets, girdles, etc.  I’ve even seen binding being described as ‘barbaric’ and likened to Female Genital Mutilation.  Except, no one is forcing transmen to bind.  Also, transmen are likely not concerned with any alleged harm to breasts that they revile and expect to surgically remove.  Finally, I have to point out that no on seems to be upset about pre-op transwomen “tucking”, which would seemingly come closer to the description of “genital mutilation”.  This is likely because the anti-chest-binding lobby is mostly lesbian whose natural, if misapplied, sympathy is for female bodied gynephilic people (which most transmen are) and have very little sympathy, and often great antipathy, for transwomen.

Puberty Blockers

CoreyOne egregious lie that I’ve seen bandied about, even by physicians, is that puberty blockers cause permanent sterility, often with the misleading term “chemical castration”.  They do not.  In fact, that was the whole point of puberty blockers, to reversibly delay the onset of puberty and its effects to allow young teens some time to emotionally mature before making more permanent changes in the course of their sexual maturation.  Without such blockers, their bodies will make the decision for them… and this may be very much against their wishes (it certainly was against mine!).  Cessation of the blockers allows the natal puberty to resume, with no loss of fertility, unless other medical intervention is begun (such as cross-sex hormones).

Some commenters falsely assert that puberty blocking is dangerous and experimental, often going so far as to profess that doctors who prescribe it and parents who allow it should be imprisoned.  They fail to note that puberty blocking has become a standard of care for precocious puberty and that the medications used are FDA approved for blocking puberty.  Thus this is NOT “experimental” nor any more dangerous than many other medically indicated prescriptions.

The next level of insidious misinformation is to claim that such medication hasn’t been specifically “approved” for gender dysphoric kids.  This is a fantastic Catch-22 because no matter how long its been standard practice, it will NEVER be so listed by the FDA because to do so, the drug company would have to spend huge amounts of money to conduct the study, which they have no need nor incentive to do; Gender dysphoric transkids are a tiny minority and not worth a drug company’s notice.

For instance, a cancer drug that was studied and approved in colon cancer that is later discovered to treat skin cancer would not need to be specifically ‘approved’ for that use.  Doctors would simply prescribe it “off label”, a well established and legal practice, as long as it meets established standards of care in the profession.

Use of puberty blockers is an established and recommended practice in this field.

Then, I read a whopper on social media that one can’t use the safety and efficacy data from precocious puberty studies with transkids.  Wow!  Who knew that transkids respond to medications differently than non-gender dysphoric children?  Are they a different species?  Seriously, one has to take much of this kind of propaganda with a sense of humor.

One misleading claim I’ve seen on social media is that puberty blockers interfere with brain development.  This has not been found.  But it certainly sounds scary, which is the real intent of making the claim.

Another outrageous lie that I’ve seen recently is the assertion that Lupron (puberty blocker) directly causes suicide.  I guess if one is going to lie, one may as well make it a whopper.  Depression is unfortunately common and people who are prescribed Lupron as adults are often under severe stress due to their underlying illness, typically terminal cancer, leading to reports of depression.

To be clear, there is NO reported direct association between puberty blockers and depression / suicidal ideation in transkids.  However, if a child who is extremely gender atypical and dysphoric experiences negative social and familial attitudes, that may be an independent source of stress leading to depression.

A very recent bit of wild lie is to say that “thousands have died on Lupron” insinuating that it was the cause of their deaths.  The truth is that these adults died of prostate or other cancers and were taking Lupron as treatment to slow (not stop) the cancer.

I’ve also seen a rather strange assertion that having been on puberty blockers then switching to cross-hormone replacement therapy somehow leaves the child in a prepubescent state. In the sense that the child won’t experience the changes that would have occurred had they not been on blockers, namely for natal females breast development or for natal males, enlargement of the penis and testicles, voice deepening, beard growth, along with increased upper body strength, this assertion is true… and indeed is the desired effect.  So why the strange assertion that this is somehow a problem?  The meme is also sending the false message that somehow the child will remain forever looking like a prepubescent child, never to appear to be as a sexually mature adult.  The fact remains that cross-sex HRT will allow the child to mature with all of the cross-sex secondary sexual characteristics in a manner closely approximating that of the opposite sex which is, after all, the goal.

In a bid to create confusion and doubt, one recent meme I’ve seen, mixed in the the usual disinformation, is that taking puberty blockers will leave MTF transkids with a penis that is “too small” to form a proper ‘inversion’ neo-vagina.  This is of course an effort to convince parent to refuse blockers so that their child will suffer all the damaging effects of a masculinizing puberty and fail to pass successful later.  They don’t actually care if transgirls have big enough vaginas for comfortable sex as adults.  Just to be clear, decades of transkids who have had successful SRS surgeries, etc. after having been on HRT from a very early age put the lie to this absurd meme.  Not to be too indelicate, but the inverted skin is very easily stretched over time, from both dilation and from coitus (as I know very well from personal experience).  Another factor that this meme fails to take into account is that even if we could fabricate a blocker that allows genital growth while eliminating all other unwanted effects of a masculinizing puberty, the genital growth in and of itself will dramatically increase gender dysphoric trauma and should itself be avoided.

Perhaps the most bizarre bit of misinformation is that somehow, if an MTF transkid doesn’t go through the typical natal male puberty to sexually mature, they will never be able to experience sexual satisfaction.  While testosterone does cause human male brains to develop at puberty, estrogen and micronized progesterone, both part of HRT protocols, will do much the same.  In fact, though never published, there is very strong anecdotal evidence that MTF transkids experience very strong libido development on natural estrogen (E2) compared to other sources (e.g. premarin or estinyl-estradiol).  If you think about it for a moment, this makes sense… given that women have sexual drives as much as men do… and they never went through a male puberty!

It could be argued (and indeed I have so argued), that it would be better to switch from puberty blockers to HRT earlier than some clinicians insist upon waiting, so that the final results are better and so that the teens will appear to be maturing on the same schedule as their peers, for better social functioning.  There are also concerns about bone strength later in life which may be impacted by extended use of puberty blockers.  This is an argument for earlier HRT, NOT against the use of puberty blockers.

Moreover, I’ve seen a very clever bit of misdirection suggesting that MTF transkids, when they begin HRT bone density “fails to catch up” (oh dear!).  Fails to catch up with whom we should ask, but they don’t tell us that they don’t catch up with BOYS, who have larger bones.  These MTF transkids don’t want to “catch up” with boys, they want their bones to be female-like so that they can pass as typical girls, not big lumbering boys.

One of the most illogical arguments I’ve seen against the use of puberty blockers is twisting the statistics that most transkids who go on puberty blockers will persist and require HRT and perhaps surgery… as though being on puberty blockers caused them to persist (!).  This is a failure to note that desisters do so before puberty.  The fact that most persisters in puberty who go on blockers continue to be gender dysphoric is a non-causal correlation, in the same sense that taking antibiotics during infections does not mean that antibiotics caused the infection!  The fact is that persisters who are unable to obtain blockers or HRT at that age will also remain gender dysphoric and will seek out and obtain HRT at a later age (either on the street or legally when they reach majority as I did).  Refusing to provide blockers or HRT in puberty will not increase the rate of desistance but will increase the need for more medical / cosmetic interventions later on (e.g. mastectomy / electrolysis) and likely leave such an individual “funny looking” as an adult (e.g. wide hips on a transman, androgynous face and low pitched voice on a transwoman).

A recent lie I’ve seen is to talk about parents putting their children on puberty blockers as early as age eight (or even age six in one recent agit prop piece in the Federalist !!!) (age five in Breitbart – they keep pushing the age down)(Wow! Age three in another Breitbart piece).  Of course, this was a deliberate distortion of the truth that some children ARE placed on puberty blockers at age eight or nine.  But NOT because they are gender dysphoric, but because they have precocious puberty.  These children are on puberty blockers because entering a precocious puberty at age eight or nine is not good for their long term health, regardless of whether they are gender dysphoric or not, and most children placed on blockers at such a young age are NOT gender dysphoric.

One argument I’ve seen against the use of puberty blockers for MTF transkids is that they shouldn’t be started until she has stored sperm in a sperm bank for later use!  This one is a true head twister, as that would require a transgirl to undergo an unwanted, physically and emotionally devastating masculinizing puberty, by which time, blockers are metaphorically shutting the barn doors, too late to do their intended job.  The argument also completely misrepresents transgirls who will grow up to be transwomen.  Early onset MTF transkids are universally exclusively sexually and romantically attracted to straight men.  Storing sperm?  To what end?  So that they can use it to impregnate their future wives?!?!  That’s the definition of unclear on the concept.  Transgirls will grow up to marry men.  And if they and their husbands chose to build a family with the aid of a gestational surrogate, they will use their husband’s sperm.  (Can you imagine the damaging psychological issues raised by suggesting that one use a transwoman’s stored sperm, for both partners?)

Finally, I’ve seen comparisons of using puberty blockers by teens to NAZI medical experiments in concentration camps.  When such hyperbole is invoked, one knows it is propaganda.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

The most common bit of propaganda about hormones is that their use will be “life long” as though that was somehow an evil in its own right to be avoided at all costs (even including living a life of unhappy gender dysphoria and social awkwardness).

To make a personal digression, swallowing a few pills each day has never been a major issue for me these past four decades and some.  Far more impactful in my own life is the fact that I’ve been dependent upon asthma medication since I was five years old, medication which has far more harsh side effects (theophylline caused insomnia for years, rescue inhalers cause the heart to race and the lungs to itch uncomfortably, steroid inhalers increase the risk of fungus infection in the mouth and throat… and if the meds fail to control the asthma, a trip to the emergency room is needed or one could die, no joke) and far more expensive.

Those who have diabetes are similarly dependent ‘life long’ upon insulin, a life saving medication.

However, forgetting to take one’s hormones for a short period of time is NOT life threatening, nor even very uncomfortable.  A few weeks of not taking them, if one has not had their gonads removed, they will begin to produce steroids again.  If they have had their gonads removed, they may experience ‘hot flashes’.  While not comfortable, they are not life threatening.  The greatest danger is the potential risk for osteoporosis.  But this an increase in the risk, not a certainty.

A number of individuals point to HRT as being inherently dangerous, increasing the risk of blot clots, etc.  These risks are no greater than girls taking birth control pills and if one is seriously worried about it, one can simultaneously take baby aspirin as a blood thinner.  A recent study showed that estradiol, today’s preferred protocol, had NO increased risk of blood clots.

Another bit of propaganda is to grossly exaggerate the risk of breast cancer from estrogen.  However, with decades of HRT use by transsexuals, we have only seen a small handful of cases which were certainly NOT indicative of increased risk compared to natal females.  In fact, the risk seemed to be at about 30% lower than natal females.  But is higher than natal males who were not transgendered.  (Yes, men get breast cancer too.)

Interestingly, the risk of some cancers is significantly reduced in transsexuals due to surgery and HRT.  For example, top surgery reduces the risk of breast cancer prophylactically.  Radical hysterectomy (as part of ‘bottom surgery’) eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer and endometriosis.  For MTF folk, SRS eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate cancer, as does HRT itself.

As well as claiming risks of cancer, I’ve seen outright lies that HRT causes mental illness!

We’ve heard stories of young transmen being discouraged from taking testosterone because it “shortens” lives.  This is based on the statistical fact that men have lower life expectancies.  However, they fail to note that most of those deaths occur early in life, as male children are more likely to die than female.  Then, there is the increased death rate among young men due to violence and misadventure.  Finally, males carry only one X chromosome, so if there is a bad gene on it, they won’t have the extra copy to compensate.  Combined, all of these issues lead to men having a lower life expectancy, none of which are mediated by testosterone.

On the other hand, it is known that castrated males do live slightly longer.  So by this logic, all men should be medically castrated as teenagers!

Another gambit is to point to a couple studies that show that estrogen “causes cognitive deficits” in MTF transfolk, specifically reducing their mental rotational abilities, while also saying that testosterone reduces FTM transfolk’s verbal fluency.  The HORROR, HRT causes mental problems!  Actually, what they are measuring is the very tiny subtle differences already found in men and women in which men are very slightly better, on average, than women at mentally rotating three dimensional figures and women are very slightly better, on average, than men at verbal fluency.  These turn out to be influenced by hormones in the brain, so no surprise that they should influence transfolk on HRT.  But the effect is so small as to be almost impossible to detect in any one individual.

I think the silliest claim I’ve heard is that “Big Pharma” is pushing the diagnoses of gender dysphoria so that they can sell more hormones.  Given that gender dysphoria is extremely rare… but even if it is silly on the face of it, officials in the UK actually investigated that claim and debunked it.

Parents deserve accurate information, not propaganda and lies — from either side.

NOTE:  If you see anyone spreading these memes, please respond with a comment and a link to this post?  If you have seen other examples of false propaganda directed at the parents of transkids, please share them with me?   formertranskid@gmail.com

Further Reading:

Advice to Parents of Transkids

Shameful History of Reparative Therapy of Transgender and Gay Children & Youth

Further External Reading:

When Children Say That They Are Trans by Jessie Singal

Sacred Bodies: A rebuttal to Jessie Singal by Alex Burasch

“Young Trans Children Know Who They Are” by Ed Yong

Transphobic Parents Activists Target Journalists With MisInformation About Pediatritricans by Tara Haelle

Media’s ‘detransition’ narrative is fueling misconceptions, trans advocates say
They say the current narrative makes “transition regret” seem more common than it is and contributes to misconceptions about transgender people in general by Liam Knox

External Examples of Transphobic Propaganda:

https://www.kelseycoalition.org

https://www.lifesitenews.com/mobile/opinion/transgender-propaganda-hides-scary-truth-about-puberty-blockers

https://pjmedia.com/trending/medical-expert-doctors-are-actually-giving-trans-kids-a-disease-its-child-abuse/amp/

https://savejames.com

https://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/children-should-not-be-allowed-to-medically-change-their-genders-says-johns-hopkins-professor.html

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/10/02/fda-thousands-of-deaths-linked-to-puberty-blockers/amp/

https://www.ihmistenkirjo.net/blog/psychiatrist-gender-dysphoria-spreads-like-an-epidemic-online

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/10/11/camille-paglia-using-puberty-blockers-on-children-is-a-crime-against-humanity/amp/

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/10/the-origins-of-the-transgender-movement/amp/

https://nypost.com/2020/06/27/how-peer-contagion-plays-into-the-rise-of-teens-transitioning/amp/

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin/article/freedom-to-think-the-need-for-thorough-assessment-and-treatment-of-gender-dysphoric-children/F4B7F5CAFC0D0BE9FF3C7886BA6E904B

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/netflix-transgender-children-the-baby-sitters-club/amp/

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An Old Essay

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on May 19, 2018

TransGender Theory

{Note:  I wrote this essay twenty years ago for my TransHistory class website.  I believe it is useful to look back and see where we were and note how much more we have learned.}

To understand the history of transgender people, one must also understand how both transgendered people themselves, and non-transgendered people explained the presence of such apparent misfits in the otherwise neat binary sex/gender social fabric. One can understand how law, medicine, and society in general treated transgendered people only within the context in which the transgendered person fit into a theoretic framework. If transsexuals were a medical entity, one still needs to know if it is a psychiatrically pathological entity, or a developmentally intersexed entity. If the former, one would expect that “cures” would be attempted, if the latter, then compassionate, though not always welcome, medical treatments might be applied. The law could see the transgendered person as a civil identity question, a criminal pervert, or as a medical entity. The law’s treatment very much depends on the explanatory world view surrounding the transgendered in society.

Judeo-Christian-Moslem culture, drawing on a single verse in one old testament book, Deuteronomy 22-5, held that cross-dressing was an “abomination in the sight of the Lord”. Some biblical scholars hold that this line refers to a prohibition of the Hebrew people from participating in religious practices of the neighboring cultures, which included the followers of Cybele whose priestesses were post-operative male to female transsexuals. This single edict, surrounded by edicts that are seldom if ever followed today, save for the Ultra-Orthodox Jews, is sometimes quoted as sanctioning the worst transphobic treatment of transgendered people. Other old testament laws detail the status of “eunuchs”, males whose genitals have been surgically removed. Primarily these laws prescribe a second class status to the eunuch, since they are no longer “men”, they do not have male privileges, including the right to “testify” in court… since they no longer have the required equipment, testicles. (This is not a pun, but literally the origin of the words… one needed testicles to testify… and the old testament really does refer to the story, or testimony, of patriarchy.) Thus, built into Judeo-Christian-Moslem is the assumption that MTF transgendered people are untrustworthy abominations. This explains why Judeo-Christian-Moslem cultures have mistreated transgendered people while other cultures have either tolerated, or sometimes, venerated transgendered people, why Joan d’Arc was burned at the stake for wearing men’s vestments as well as armor, while the hijra of India have houses that have been in existence for hundreds of years.

Early in this century, as the United States population moved to the cities, transgender people, though extremely rare, started finding each other, just as they had in other city cultures in more populated countries as China and India. These gatherings of transgendered people were noted by their neighbors. These good people, educated in Christian values, complained to the civil authorities, who duly passed ordinances outlawing transgender expression, society, and existence. It was the cities who passed the laws against transgendered people. It must be noted that these laws were passed in the same climate and time that produced laws prohibiting citizens of African descent from owning property in the city limits, or of Catholics to operate schools. It should be noted that while the cities passed ordinances against transgendered people, the States were concerned with criminalizing homosexual conduct. City police, when they wanted to harass homosexuals, used the ordinances against the transgendered as more visible targets. Thus, the Stonewall riots of 1969, naturally began with the standard sweeping arrests of transgendered people. The ordinances began to be repealed in the 1970s. It is perhaps fitting that the first governmental bodies to atone for past discrimination by passing anti-discrimination measures in the 1990s should be the very cities that once had laws designed to expose them to criminal sanction.

Laws criminalizing homosexuality were also used to incarcerate or force medical treatment on the transgendered. In the name of eugenics, homosexual and transgendered people were sterilized against their wills. Later, when hormones became available, various medical treatments were devised. Some sought to reduce the libido by suppressing natural hormones, others sought to replace putatively low hormones. These actions were done under the theory of enlightened criminologists that many lawbreakers were rehabilitatable using modern medicine. It was rarely questioned in law enforcement that the law itself was in need of rehabilitation. But there were movements to do just that, lead by social reforming physicians such as Magnus Hirschfeld in Germany.

There were times, when the transgendered person came to the attention of the courts through the medical establishment, rather than the police, when compassionate justice prevailed. Until the mid to late century, the prevailing mechanism for transgendered people to gain protective legal status was to seek a change of sex status through correction of birth certificates or registry in the same manner as was done in cases of intersex, where physicians provide for a ‘second opinion’ as to a person’s sex later in life. The law literally saw transsexuals as a form of intersex and helpfully corrected sex designations when asked. It was not until the popular press created the myth of “sex change” that the law began to see transsexuals as separate from intersexed people. Only after this change in perception was it necessary for specific statutes needed to secure a mechanism for transsexuals to change birth certificates and identification cards. Even then it was done as an extension of the intersex theory, a reaffirmation, to counter the “sex change” paradigm.

At the turn of the century, the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity were conflated. One was either a normal man or woman, or one was an abnormal psychosexual invert. In some respects this concept is closer to the modern concept of the classic transsexual in that it was conceptualized as a person who both identified with and shared the same sexual object as a normal member of the opposite sex. Only through education by the homophile community and open-minded sexologists such as Evelyn Hooker and Alfred Kinsey was the homosexual person viewed as having a congruent gender identity, merely finding one’s own sex to be the chief object of amorous affections. This left the concept of gender identity separable from sexual attraction, opening the door to conceptualizing the categories of the lesbian identified male to female and the gay male identified female to male transsexual. Still, it took the work of FTM transman Lou Sullivan in the late ’70s, early ’80s, to get the medical establishment to recognize the distinction.

{Read my 2009 essay on how this perception of separability of gender identity and sexual orientation actually works against understanding transfolk:  The Invisible Transsexual}

There are three main currents of thought on the origin of gender identity in humans, Essentialism, Social Constructionism, and PsychoSocialism. In academic circles these differing theories are hotly debated. But in the lives of ordinary people, especially transgendered people, the model that is applied by the medical, educational, legal, and even parental authorities that transgendered people interact, as individuals and as a class, deeply influence the interaction and the outcomes.

PsychoSocial Theories

Though Sigmund Freud was from Austria originally, his work influenced North American thought to a greater degree than European. His thoughts on the developing sexual identity and sexuality of infants and children profoundly influenced how transgendered people would be viewed in North America. Freud felt that gender identity was mediated by the existence or absence of a penis, directly. In the case of the owner of a penis the discovery that not all humans have one occasions deep anxiety lest that delightful organ of pleasure might be removed. This “Castration Anxiety” led to a distancing of the owner of the penis from the caretaker who did not own one… presumably because that person might want to steal it. While simultaneously, the owner of the penis wishes to emulate the other caretaker who by good fortune still owns a penis. Thus the owner of a penis learns to be a boy. Meanwhile, the infant who does not own a penis discovers that there are individuals who do own one. This occasions extreme jealousy. This “Penis Envy” leads one to court, and compete for, the affections of the caretaker who owns this marvelous appendage, while simultaneously emulating the caretaker who does not own a penis, who demonstrates ways of successfully courting the affections of the owner of a penis. Thus the one who lacks a penis learns to be a girl.

The existence of transgendered people brought the theory a serious challenge. How to explain people who end up having the exact opposite reaction to the presence or absence of a penis? The first answer of any theorist to such a challenge is denial, “transgendered people are psychotic”, likening the transsexual to a delusional man who believes himself to be Napoleon. This glib answer sufficed for those who had never actually spoken at length with transgendered people. But the diagnosis of psychosis failed to hold up upon examination. The challenge remained.

For FTM transgendered people the failure to resolve “Penis Envy” was enough explanation. But MTF trangendered people were still a mystery. The psychoanalytic theorists response was to posit a family constellation involving an overly close mother, who kept her son wrapped up in her emotional world, and a distant or absent father. The son could not make the emotional and subsequent identity break with his mother. Perhaps we can call this theory “Castration Envy”? This seemed at first glance to hold up well, since such family histories were indeed present in MTF transgendered people. Except it didn’t explain all of the cases since many profoundly transsexual MTF individuals had extremely good relationships with their fathers. The theory further broke down when comparing the statistics with non transgendered people. The were many families with an absent or emotionally distant father, the vast majority of single mothers, whose sons did not show signs of being transgendered. Though it remained popular to blame mothers, especially single mothers for all sorts of society’s woes, transgenderism was not able to hold up as being caused by family dynamics when tested statistically.

Still the psychoanalytic model held for most of the 20th Century, in spite of repeated failures of psychoanalytic therapy to dissuade transgendered people to abandon their gender identity. It is probably responsible for the prevailing attitude that Gender Identity Disorder is a psychiatric illness as defined by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistic Manual.

Toward the middle of the 20th Century, as the psychoanalytic model for all mental illness began to be cast into doubt, a new model of gender identity came into vogue, “Imprinting”. One the chief proponents of the theory was John Money, Ph.D. Observing that intersex infants with the same physical features at birth who had been assigned to different sexes both seemed to adjust equally well, Money theorized that there was a critical period in the infant’s early life when the parents’ sexually dimorphic treatment imprinted upon the child a congruent gender identity. The notion of imprinting comes from observation that some animals imprint the image of a caretaker in infancy. The popular image is that of goslings first sight of a farmer’s child, who subsequently is followed around as “mother”. This lead to the standard procedure of early genital surgery for intersexed infants to unambiguously assign a sex, any sex, to child so that an unambiguous gender identity will be imprinted by parents and family who “know” the childs sex. It lead to a medical ethic of misinforming even the parents as to the intersexed nature of the child. It also resulted in sterilization of thousands of male children, who born with a phallus too small to be comfortably described as a penis were reassigned as female.

Transgender people were explained by the imprinting theory similarly to the psychoanalytic model, blaming the mother. Again, an overly emotionally close mother, and sometimes the father as well, coset and pamper a male child in a manner that the hapless male child gets the message that it is female. Sometimes it was noted that the feminine male child was “physically beautiful”, that is, like a pretty girl child, eliciting a response from adults in a manner that reinforces the mistaken identity as a female child. Similarly, a physically adventurous female child might elicit masculinizing responses.

Money’s hypothesis and recommendations lead directly to the tragedy and “experiment of opportunity” of John Theissen, a man whose penis was accidentally destroyed during circumcision. Mr. Thessien was later surgically reassigned as female. His parents then proceeded to raise him as their daughter, while his identical twin brother served as “control”. When the children we several years old the clinics declared that the reassigned child was accepting “her” gender as a girl. The case became known as that of John/Joan. Money published this case as proof of his hypothesis. Unfortunately, John Theissen as a teen refused to continue the program, insisting that he was a boy… he grew to be a man, obtained phalloplasty, married, and is raising three children from his wife’s prior relationships. It can be said that his is a case of surgically created transsexuality, as his personal gender identity was at odds with his sex assignment as an infant. Mr. Theissen’s story was published in Rolling Stone magazine in the mid ’90s after a scientific paper was published by Milton Diamond, a proponent of pre- and neonatal hormonal brain sex differentiation.

{Sadly, we later learned that “John”, actually David, committed suicide, a tragic end to an evil experiment conducted on an unwitting child.}

Social Constructionism:

As the Second Wave of Feminism grew in strength, criticism of discrimination against women led to a reaction to prescribed restrictive societal roles for the sexes. “Biology is not destiny” became a rallying cry. What started out as a criticism of socially constructed roles developed into a theory of gender which denied Essentialism in every form, stating instead that society took the biological differences of procreation, and instilled in them an artificial behavioral difference. The theory, thus expanded, denies that there is any natural basis for gender identity. Thus it denies to transgender people any rational cause… while at the same time, presenting no reason why not.

To some authors this meant that transgender people were free to express themselves in any manner they chose since all gender expression is as valid as any other. Only societal convention stands in the way of such freedom. Such conventions can be modified by the society as is deemed desirable. To some, all such restrictions are to be avoided, in a live and let live ethos.

Other authors, Janice Raymond and Germain Greer being notable examples, saw MTF transgender people as exploitive of women, aping the forms of femininity, supporting the artificial sexist forms that oppress women. It is interesting that in this regard they exhibit a hidden Essentialism, one that focusses on the genitalia as defining classes of human beings. They decried the restrictions on one class, while despising those of the other class when they break those very restrictions.

Still the existence of transgender people poses a challenge to the social constructionist theory. One must explain both why gender identity exists, how it is perpetuated, enforced, and why some rare individuals “chose” to express a gender identity at odds with societally prescribed gender expression norms.

Performance Theory has it that we are taught to Perform Gender, to act it out, in the same way that we learn to act out social roles like teacher, student, friendly store clerk, police officer, etc. One is said to “do gender” rather than “have a gender”. This is very similar in basics to the psychosocial theory of imprinting, save that there is no instinctual basis for having the ability to absorb a particular gender identity. We are taught a set of gender behaviors that become so ingrained as habit that we forget that we are merely acting them out.

Transgender people are explained by this as having been improperly instructed. Even among those inclined toward psychosocial models as one would expect physicians to be, one finds this theory in currency. It is the model used in justifying Behavioral Modification Therapy to treat Gender Identity Disorder in children. Under the assumption that even though gender identity is arbitrarily socially constructed and taught to children, one should not allow children to express gender behavior different from the norm. Some rationalize it on the basis of wanting the children to fit in, experience less rejection and bullying, a “blame the victim” mentality. Others are simply moralists that insist that God has ordained that we should all behave in a certain prescribed manner.

One Post-Modern philosophical theory, one that has a striking resemblance to the psychosocial theory that transgendered people are simply crazy, has it that transgendered people are suffering under a “false consciousness”. That they are not really experiencing a gender at all… but an alienation from their social and biological reality. This theory is perhaps the most transphobic of all theories in that it denies what is called in Post-Modern cant, “agency”, the characteristic of experiencing and expressing their existence and very real psychic pain.

Oppression Theory starts from the assumption that transgendered people are very much in command of their faculties and have made a rational decision to avoid societal restrictions on desires they experience. The usual script is that an ambitious woman noting that she is unable to succeed “in a man’s world”, dons mens clothes, assumes a fictitious identity as a man, in order to achieve career success. These “passing women” are the darlings of the feminist historian because they are revered as daring pioneers for women’s liberation, or they are held as examples, proof, of how horrible conditions were in some past epoch. To the feminist historian, modern FTM transsexuals are an embarrassing disproof of the theory. Similarly, Oppression theory is used to explain modern MTF transgendered people as being examples of internalized homophobia in gay men, too ashamed to live openly, and so have to “pretend” to be women in order to express their desire for same-sex relations. To such gay male chauvinists, the fact that half of transgendered people identify as lesbian or gay male after transition, are an equally embarrassing disproof of the theory.

Social Constructionist theories fail to note that ethnobiological studies of sexually dimorphic behavior in animals is not socially constructed for non-humans. Nor does it explain the cross cultural similarity and temporal stability of core gender identity throughout history around the world.

Essentialism:

Essentialism posits that men and woman are “made that way”. It is a deceptively self-evident fact that most everyone accepts since, for over 99% of the population, there is a clear-cut correlation between genital morphology and gender identity. It is easy to for the average person to ignore the disquieting cases of intersex that cast doubt on the simplistic assumption of binary sex assignment. The question of which sex an intersex person “really is” demonstrates the essentialist bias through much of Western Society for the past two centuries. Historically, Essentialism divided on which of two somatic characteristics was indicative of the “real sex” of an individual, genitalia or gonads. For most people the genitalia, the presence or absence of a penis was the overriding feature. As medical science grew more sophisticated in the 19th century, the gonads came to be the indicative feature. But early in the 20th Century the newly discovered chromosomes, specifically the presence or absence of the “Y” chromosome, became the newly crowned final arbiter of “real” sex. The faith in microscopic examination to “scientifically” determine one’s sex was unquestioned.

In 1968 the International Olympic Committee instituted chromosomal karyotyping for all female athletes. Any that did not have the required 46,XX chromosome karyotype were disqualified from competition, informed that, scientifically speaking, they were not women. The demonstrable fact that they had female genitalia, had lived as female all of their lives not knowing that they did not have the officially approved karyotype for women, did not enter into the unfeeling officials minds. Reductionist Essentialism had no room for intersexed people. They were counselled to fake an injury, slink away into silence to keep their shame of being “not female” from becoming known.

In 1970, the Corbet vs Corbet decision to nullify the marriage of a MTF transsexual to a non-transsexual man used karyotyping as the “scientific” marker for sex and gender that the law was henceforth to follow in the United Kingdom, throwing the legal status of transsexual and many intersexed people into limbo, neither male nor female.

Although essentialism has often been used as a philosophy to ‘prove’ that transsexuals and transgendered people do not have a valid claim to their identity, Essentialism still has explanatory power. If the locus of gender is found, not in the genitals or chromosomes, but elsewhere, transsexuals could be rationally described as “men trapped in women’s’ bodies” or “women trapped in mens’ bodies”. There are several loci that are, or have been proposed as the Essential Seat of Gender, but they come down to two main categories, “Brain Sex”, and “The Soul”.

Many religions have a concept of an essential self, separable from the body. In Judeo-Christian-Moslem belief systems one’s soul separates from the body after death. This soul retains the sense of self, including gender identity. Some religious thought includes the concept of the soul entering the body at some point in becoming a living being… and therefore must become, or always have been a gendered self. For religions that included the concept of reincarnation, the notion that a being always returns to the same-sex body suggested an explanation for transgendered identity. Once in a while, a soul finds itself in the wrong sexed body. This idea was openly discussed in newsletters published in the ’60s and ’70s by the Erickson Education Foundation, as this was the personal belief of Reed Erickson, the Foundations benefactor. The Church of latter-day Saints (Mormon) debated the issue of pre-born souls finding themselves in the wrong body with Kristi Independence Kelly in 1980 at her excommunication. The Church held that, though the pre-born souls did have a gender before birth, God did not make mistakes: “There is no such thing as a man in a woman’s body or a woman in a man’s body” was declared, ex-cathedra by the leader fo the Mormon faith. Apparently, intersexed people must have also intersexed souls?

Some non-Judeo-Christian-Moslem cultures held that transgendered people were indeed gendered souls in the wrong body. Some believed that this juxtaposition have the transgendered person a special status with the spirits of nature or the powers. In ancient times in the mediterranean culture, MTF transsexual women became priestesses, Galla, of the goddess, Cebele. The Hopi Nation held that a transgendered spirit, or katchina, sent visions to transgendered people. In India, the hijra, transgendered and intersexed people are both reviled and revered, given varying circumstances. Mystical Essentialism has played an important role in various cultures, including our own.

The early 20th Century european researchers and medical practitioners believed that gender and sexual behavior in general are the result of a sexually dimorphic brain. That is to say that the brain itself has a sex. This sex usually conforms with the chromosomal and the genital sex. However, just as there can be chromosomal and genital intersex conditions, the brain might also exhibit intersex morphology leading to behavior and that elusive personal experience, gender identity, at odds with either somatic or chromosomal sex. Magnus Hirschfeld, a leading early researcher described the entire spectrum of what today we would call Queer expression, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, as forms of “Sexual Intermediates”, or intersex. This was not a metaphor or a rationalization. Instead it was an earnest theory, based on careful observation and scientific generalization, understanding the then current lack of neurological science. Hirschfeld and his colleague, Harry Benjamin believed that as our understanding of the brain grew we would discover just where and how the brain was organized to produce sexual orientation and gender identity. For Hirschfeld, there was no major divide between non-conforming sexual orientation and gender identity, they were simply different forms that intersex could take. Thus for Hirschfeld, the late 20th century division between the concepts of gender identity and sexual orientation, the great political divide between the gay & lesbians and the transgender community would be meaningless. To Hirschfeld, we are all transgendered, gay and transsexual alike.

In the first decades of the century, experiments with cross sex gonadal implants in animals suggested that there was a connection between hormones and gender specific behavior. This lead to horrific experiments in humans during the NAZI era and beyond as hormones became available as a common pharmaceutical. Testosterone was administered to gay men and MTF transgendered people in an attempt to ‘cure’ them. The hormone treatments had no effect on the sexuality or gender identity of the experiments. No lasting harm was done to the gay men. But the supermasculinizing effects on the transgendered victims was severely traumatizing.

In the later decades of the century, neuroscientists found significant sexual dimorphism in microstructures in the brains of animals and humans. Experiments on rats indicated that hormone levels during a period in late gestation and early post-natal development to be critical to the development of these structures and subsequent behavior. Gorby was able to create what he described as a laboratory model of transsexuality in rats. He demonstrated this in both MTF and FTM cases. When he introduced them to each other, the FTM rats mounted the receptive MTF rats.

Using human children to explore gender identity and sexual orientation would be extremely unethical in the laboratory, but science often uses “experiments of opportunity”. Simon La Vey used autopsy material from straight and gay men who had died from aids to find that a small microstructure of the brain differed in the two populations, suggestive of a sexual orientation controlling microstructure. The same technique of using autopsy was performed by Swaab to discover a different structure associated with gender identity. Shaffer, in an as yet unpublished study, used MRI data from a large pool of controls, MTF and FTM transsexuals to demonstrate that the corpus collosum showed sexually dimorphic structures that, on a statistical basis, correlated with gender identity. Both Swaab’s and Shaffer’s work ruled out effects of hormones in adulthood.  {Note: We have since learned that this was simply not correct.  HRT was indeed the cause of these effects.}

The early data is tantalizing, and agrees with laboratory findings using animals. However, it is also known that experience can shape the brain. Lack of sensory stimulus and a chance to work out problems leads to dramatically less brain development in infantile rats. In humans there is a suggestion that early musical training affects the shape of the corpus callosum, building greater connectivity between the two hemispheres of the brain. These early experiences suggest that early gender experiences could also lead to sexual dimorphism in the human brain by a similar mechanism. This would agree with Dr. Money’s imprinting hypothesis… But would be at odds with Gorby’s work with rats, and the results of the case of “John/Joan”.

Science could very well demonstrate that the seat of sexual orientation and gender identity is located in the brain. How that arises developmentally is still open for further research.

Comments Off on An Old Essay

Bibliography

Posted in Science Criticism by Kay Brown on August 17, 2017

female_scientistThis is a selected bibliography of references from On the Science of Changing Sex.  Not all of the papers that I have referenced in my essays are here, only those that I feel are the most important for those who wish to come up to a minimal level of literacy on the science that conclusively tests the two type taxonomy hypothesis.  Be cautious of reading only the abstracts of papers behind paywalls.  The abstract may not completely or even accurately describe the data or its import in supporting or refuting a given hypothesis.  Links to essays that provide further analysis of the papers are provided.  You may also wish to read an annotated bibliography, that comments on many of the references also included here, written in 2004 by a young transwoman:

http://www.transkids.us/biblio.html

Incidence rate of Post-Transitioned Transsexual/Transgender:

Benjamin Cerf Harris, “Likely Transgender Individuals in U.S. Federal Administrative Records and the 2010 Census”
http://www.census.gov/srd/carra/15_03_Likely_Transgender_Individuals_in_ARs_and_2010Census.pdf

transmapThis study shows that there are only 90,000 transfolk who have socially transitioned in the United States out of 300 million people.  This is important because when the public hears “transgender” they think “post-transition”.  Yet, in recent surveys, 1.4 million people “identify” as “transgender”, which means that the public perception of who is “transgender” and who identifies as “transgender” is off by a factor of 15X:  The New Math

Lindsay Collin, Sari L. Reisner Vin Tangpricha, and Michael Goodman, “Prevalence of Transgender Depends on the “Case” Definition: A Systematic Review” (2016) Journal of Sexual Medicine
http://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.02.001

SocietySpeaking of incidence rates, there is a correlation between the percentage of the two types of transwomen transitioning and a culture’s level of individualism.  The “AngloSphere”, (e.g. United States, Canada, U.K. Australia, etc.) is one of the most individualist culture in the world and has the greatest percentage of gynephilic/autogynephilic transwomen.  Better the Second Time Around

Anne A. Lawrence (2010), “Societal Individualism Predicts Prevalence of Nonhomosexual Orientation in Male-to-Female Transsexualism”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/x556338354658m3w/

Anne A. Lawrence (2013), “More Evidence that Societal Individualism Predicts Prevalence of Nonhomosexual Orientation in Male-to-Female Transsexualism”
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-013-0083-3#page-1

Two Type Taxonomy

For an excellent overview on the taxonomy, objections, and critique of those objections one may start with Anne Lawrence:

Lawrence, A., “Autogynephilia and the Typology of Male-to-Female Transsexualism: Concepts and Controversies”, European Psychologist, 22, 39-54. (2017)
http://www.annelawrence.com/autogynephilia_&_MtF_typology.html

Norman Fisk, M.D. wrote this next paper that changed the way that the medical community treated Male-To-Female (MTF) transsexuality.  Previously, in recognition that there were in fact two types of transsexuals / transgender, one that was autogynephilic, in the same etiological taxon as transvestites and one that was exclusively androphilic and appeared to be in the same etiological taxon as feminine gay men, the clinicians attempted to “gate-keep” the autogynephilic type from receiving services, leading to extensive misrepresentations by the autogynephilic type that continues today.  This paper proposed that they should both be treated similarly under the new unitary diagnosis of “gender dysphoria”, not as a replacement for the taxonomy, but in recognition that both types were equally in need of palliative medical interventions:

Fisk, N., “Editorial: Gender dysphoria syndrome–the conceptualization that liberalizes indications for total gender reorientation and implies a broadly based multi-dimensional rehabilitative regimen.” (1974) Western Journal of Medicine
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1130142/

These next papers have data that supports the Two Type Taxonomy of MTF transsexual and transgender, most importantly, data showing a very strong correlation between sexual orientation and autogynephilia in which putatively exclusively androphilic transwomen report significantly less autogynephilia than non-androphilic transwomen.  They also show that age of social transition, childhood gender atypicality, physical appearance (passability), and brain structure & responses also correlate with the two types.  These studies collectively involve thousands of transwomen.

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

Clinical observations and systematic studies of autogynephilia. Blanchard, Ray. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy. Vol 17(4) Win 1991, 235-251.
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

Sex Reassignment : Predictors and Outcomes Of Treatment for Transsexuals / Yolanda Louise Susanne Smith – [S.l.] : [s.n.], 2002 – Tekst. – Proefschrift Universiteit Utrecht  https://dspace.library.uu.nl/bitstream/handle/1874/429/inhoud.htm?sequence=15

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

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/

Laube et al., “Sexual Behavior, Desire, and Psychosexual Experience in Gynephilic and Androphilic Trans Women: A Cross-Sectional Multicenter Study”
March 2020 Journal of Sexual Medicine
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339738869_Sexual_Behavior_Desire_and_Psychosexual_Experience_in_Gynephilic_and_Androphilic_Trans_Women_A_Cross-Sectional_Multicenter_Study

Sadr, M., Khorashad, B.S., Talaei, A. et al. “2D:4D Suggests a Role of Prenatal Testosterone in Gender Dysphoria” Archives of Sexual Behavior (2020)
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-020-01630-0

passingtransClinicians have long noted differences in physical appearance of the two types in which the exclusively androphilic transwomen were significantly better at passing.  In one study in Canada, differences in height and body size were noted, but a study in the Netherlands failed to replicate this effect.  But when they evaluated physical appearance there was a significant effect:  Searching High and Low,  A Passing Moment

Ray Blanchard, Robert Dickey, Corey L. Jones, “Comparison of Height and Weight in Homosexual Versus Nonhomosexual Male Gender Dysphorics” http://www.springerlink.com/content/w318411nq4q7387u/

Lawrence, A., “Male-to-female transsexual subtypes: Sexual arousal with cross-dressing and physical measurements”
http://akikos-planet.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/files/maletofemale_transsexual_subtypes_sexual_arousal_with_crossdressing_and_physical_measurements_319320.pdf

Yolanda L.S. Smith, Stephanie H.M. van Goozen, A.J. Kuiper, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, “Transsexual subtypes: Clinical and theoretical significance”
http://akikos-planet.cocolog-nifty.com/blog/files/psychiatry_research__transsexual_subtypes_clinical_and_theoretical_significance.pdf

Tim C. van de Grift, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, Thomas D. Steensma, Griet De Cuypere, Hertha Richter-Appelt, Ira R. H. Haraldsen, Rieky E. G. Dikmans, Susanne C. Cerwenka, , Baudewijntje P. C. Kreukels, “Body Satisfaction and Physical Appearance in Gender Dysphoria” Archives of Sexual Behavior
DOI: 10.1007/s10508-015-0614-1

Research into perceived shifts of sexual orientation in transsexuals has revealed an important feature of the life arcs of non-exclusively androphilic transwomen which causes confusion and ‘noise’ in some studies when the researchers aren’t careful to sort on their primary (original) sexual orientation.  Non-exclusively androphilic transwomen often report that their sexual orientation shifted from primarily gynephilic to bisexual or even “exclusively” androphilic during social transition or soon after SRS.  However, research strongly suggests that this in effect of interpersonal autogynephilic ideation:  How Should I Your True Love Know?

Daskalos CT., “Changes in the sexual orientation of six heterosexual male-to-female transsexuals.”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/pu44808u15q78k21/

Anne Lawrence, “Letter to the Editor” (in response to Daskalos)
http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1023%2FA%3A1018725518592

Matthias K. Auer, Johannes Fuss, Nina Hohne, Gunter K. Stalla, Caroline Sievers, “Transgender Transitioning and Change of Self-Reported Sexual Orientation”
http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchObject.action?uri=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0110016&representation=PDF

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

inah3

Research on Transsexual Brains shows very strong support for the two type taxonomy in that exclusively androphilic transwomen and exclusively gynephilic transmen show shifts in sexually dimorphic brain structures and responses toward the opposite sex (toward their gender identity) BEFORE Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) while non-exclusively-androphilic transwomen do not.  It’s important to know that HRT causes such shifts and thus studies with subjects on HRT do not offer insight into the etiology of either type.  Brain Sex

Guillamon, A et al., “A Review of the Status of Brain Structure Research in Transsexualism” Arch Sex Behav (2016). doi:10.1007/s10508-016-0768-5

Spizzirri, G., et al., “Grey and white matter volumes either in treatment-naïve or hormone-treated transgender women: a voxel-based morphometry study” Nature Scientific Reports (2018). DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-17563-z

Dörner G, Rohde W, Schott G, Schnabl C., “On the LH response to oestrogen and LH-RH in transsexual men.” Experimental Clinical Endrocrinology (1983)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6317420

Dörner G., “Neuroendocrine response to estrogen and brain differentiation in heterosexuals, homosexuals, and transsexuals.” Archives of Sexual Behavior (1988)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3282489?dopt=Abstract

Dörner G, Rohde W, Seidel K, Haas W, Schott GS.”On the evocability of a positive oestrogen feedback action on LH secretion in transsexual men and women.” Endokrinology (1976)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1244197

Ivanka Savic, Stefan Arver, “Sex Dimorphism of the Brain in Male-to-Female Transsexuals”
http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/04/05/cercor.bhr032

Lajos Simon, Lajos R. Kozák, Viktória Simon, Pál Czobor, Zsolt Unoka, Ádám Szabó, Gábor Csukly, “Regional Grey Matter Structure Differences between Transsexuals and Healthy Controls—A Voxel Based Morphometry Study”
10.1371/journal.pone.0083947

Eileen Luders, et al., “Increased Cortical Thickness in Male-to-Female Transsexualism”
Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, July 2011
http://dbm.neuro.uni-jena.de/pdf-files/Luders-JBBS11.pdf

Leire Zubiaurre-Elorza et al, “Cortical Thickness in Untreated Transsexuals”
Cerebral Cortex, August 2012
http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2012/08/30/cercor.bhs267.abstract

Hulshoff Pol, H. E., Cohen-Kettenis, P. T., Van Haren, N. E., Peper, J. S., Brans, R. G., Cahn, W., et al. (2006). “Changing your sex changes your brain: Influences of testosterone and estrogen on adult human brain structure.” European Journal of Endocrinology, 155(Suppl. 1), S107-S114.
http://eje-online.org/cgi/content/full/155/suppl_1/S107

Garcia-Falgueras A, Swaab DF. “A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity.” Brain. 2008
http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/131/12/3132

Sexual Dimorphism

Liu, et Al.,”Integrative structural, functional, and transcriptomic analyses of sex-biased brain organization in humans”, PNAS (2020)
https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1919091117

Autism

Clinicians have been noting that transfolk are more likely to be autistic than the general population, especially Female-to-Male (FtM) transmen.  Interestingly, there is a difference in the autism-like behaviors between exclusively androphilic transwomen and gynephilic transwomen in which androphilic are identical to women and gynephilic identical to men.  Autistic Sky

Jones, et Al, “Female-To-Male Transsexual People and Autistic Traits”, J. Autism Dev. Discord. DOI: 10.1007/s10803-011-1227-8

Pasterski, et al., “Traits of Autism Spectrum Disorders in Adults with Gender Dysphoria”, Archives of Sexual Behavior (2013)
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-013-0154-5

Shumer et al., “Evaluation of Asperger Syndrome in Youth Presenting to a Gender Dysphoria Clinic”, LGBT Health (2016)
https://doi.org/10.1089/lgbt.2015.0070

van der Meisen, et al., “Prevalence of the Wish to be the Opposite Gender in Adolescents and Adults with Autism Sprectrum Disorder”, Archives of Sexual Behavior (2018)
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-018-1218-3

“Avoidant Sexuality”

Several clinicians have noted that there is a difference between exclusively androphilic transwomen and gynephilic transwomen in their sexual interaction with others.  These papers explore the correlation between being “avoidant”, that is, avoid the use of their pre-op genitalia, and sexual orientation / age of gender dysphoria onset.  I Know What Boys Like

S. Cerwenka, et al., “Sexual Behavior of Gender Dysphoric Individuals Before Gender-Confirming Interventions: A European Multicenter Study” (2014)

“Clinical Patterns Among Male Transsexual Candidates with Erotic Interest in Males”
Frank Leavitt, Ph.D., Jack C. Berger, M.D.
http://www.springerlink.com/content/fp15j71n57474k1l/

There is one paper that attempted to statistically test whether the two type topology was in fact taxonic.  The paper had serious methodological problems due to failure to properly sort truly exclusively androphilic transwomen from those who were in fact originally gynephilic but had experienced a perceived shift in sexual orientation.  Autogynephilic and Even More Autogynephilic

Jaimie F. Veale, “Evidence Against a Typology: A Taxometric Analysis of the Sexuality of Male-to-Female Transsexuals” Archives Sexual Behavior
DOI 10.1007/s10508-014-0275-5

Anne A. Lawrence, “Veale’s (2014) Critique of Blanchard’s Typology Was Invalid” Archive Sexual Behavior
DOI 10.1007/s10508-014-0383-2

Exclusive Androphilic Tranwomen

fobePapers on the Fraternal Birth Order Effect in androphilic males, both conventional gay men and transwomen strongly support the two type taxonomy and potentially an effect that differentiates androphilic transwomen from masculine gay men.  Exclusively androphilic transwomen, as a population, have more older brothers than non-exclusively-androphilic (gynephilic) transwomen and men in the general population.  While gay men also show this same effect, it is NOT as strong as it is in androphilic transwomen.

Blanchard, R., “Fraternal Birth Order, Family Size, and Male Homosexuality: Meta-Analysis of Studies Spanning 25 Years”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, (2017),
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-017-1007-4

Blanchard, R., & Sheridan, P. M. (1992). “Sibship size, sibling sex ratio, birth order, and parental age in homosexual and nonhomosexual gender dysphorics.” Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 180, 40–47.

Blanchard, Bogaert, “Homosexuality in men and number of older brothers”
http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/abstract/153/1/27?ijkey=e186877631aa1c47de8fd859310668c21bcd25ef&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha

Anthony F. Bogaert, “Biological versus nonbiological older brothers and men’s sexual orientation”
http://www.pnas.org/content/103/28/10771.full

Green, R. (2000). “Birth order and ratio of brothers to sisters in transsexuals. Psychological Medicine”, 30, 789–795.

Blanchard, R., Zucker, K., Cohen-Kettenis, P., Gooren, L., & Bailey, J. (1996). “Birth order and sibling sex ratio in two samples of Dutch gender-dysphoric homosexual males.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 25, 495–514.

Poasa, K. H., Blanchard, R., Zucker, K. J. (2004). “Birth order in transgendered males from Polynesia: A quantitative study of Samoan fa’afafine.” Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 30, 13–23.

Cross cultural aspects of androphilic transgender behavior and identity:

Bailey, et al., “Sexual Orientation, Controversy, and Science”, Psychological Science in the Public Interest, doi: 10.1177/1529100616637616

Vanderlaan, et al., “Elevated Kin-Directed Altruism Emerges in Childhood and Is Linked to Feminine Gender Expression in Samoan Fa’afafine: A Retrospective Study” Archives of Sexual Behavior
DOI: 10.1007/s10508-016-0884-2

Vasey, P. et al., “What can the Samoan Fa’afafine Teach Us About the Western Concept of Gender Identity Disorder in Childhood?”, (2007) Perspectives on Biology and Medicine,  http://muse.jhu.edu/article/222247

Vasey, P. “The Evolution of Male Androphilia” Personal Website:  http://people.uleth.ca/~paul.vasey/PLV/Evolution_Androphilia.html

Petterson, L. “Male Bisexuality In Samoa” (2012) University of Lethbridge Thesis  https://www.uleth.ca/dspace/bitstream/handle/10133/3745/PETTERSON_LANNA_MSC2015_THESIS.pdf

Autogynephilia

mtimbAnne Lawrence, M.D. solicited material from autogynephilic transwomen and performed an analysis of its content.  Her book, ironically entitled Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies – Naratives of Autogynephilic Transsexualism is the result.  It is an absolute must read for anyone who sincerely wishes to understand how autogynephilia is experienced in non-exclusively-androphilic transwomen.  Book Review

Dr. Lawrence has published other papers on autogynephilia which are also must reads:

“Autogynephilia: A paraphilic model of gender identity disorder.” Lawrence A. Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy. 2004 Vol. 8 Numbers 1/2.  http://www.annelawrence.com/autogynephilia,_a_paraphilic_model_of_GID.pdf

“Becoming What We Love: Autogynephilic Transsexualism Conceptualized as an Expression of Romantic Love”, Lawrence A.  http://www.annelawrence.com/becoming_what_we_love.pdf

Papers on Autogynephilia in the general population:

Langstrom, et al., “Transvestic Fetishism in the General Population”  Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, (2011) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00926230590477934

Baur, E., et Al, “Paraphilic Sexual Interests & Sexually Coersive Behavior: A Population-Based Twin Study” Archives of Sexual Behavior:  DOI:10.1007/s10508-015-0674-2

Kevin J. Hsu, A. M. Rosenthal, J. Michael Bailey, “The Psychometric Structure of Items Assessing Autogynephilia”
Archives of Sexual Behavior, DOI 10.1007/s10508-014-0397-9

Papers on the correlation between autogynephilia and gynandromorphophilia:

K. J. Hsu, A. M. Rosenthal, D. I. Miller and J. M. Bailey, “Sexual Arousal Patterns of Autogynephilic Cross-dressing Men”
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/308036975_Sexual_Arousal_Patterns_of_Autogynephilic_Male_Cross-Dressers

K. J. Hsu, A. M. Rosenthal, D. I. Miller and J. M. Bailey, “Who are gynandromorphophilic men? Characterizing men with sexual interest in transgender women”
http://d-miller.github.io/assets/HsuEtAl2015.pdf

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

Anne A. Lawrence and J. Michael Bailey
Transsexual Groups in Veale et al. (2008) are “Autogynephilic” and “Even More Autogynephilic”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/u473w370g11vx758/

Jaimie F. Veale, David E. Clarke and Terri C. Lomax
Reply to Lawrence and Bailey (2008)
http://www.springerlink.com/content/cm2531l3m3148377/

Blanchard R, Collins PI., “Men with sexual interest in transvestites, transsexuals, and she-males”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8245926

Blanchard R., “The she-male phenomenon and the concept of partial autogynephilia”
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a789560133

Gender Dysphoria in Adolescence and Childhood

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

Vrouenraets, L. et al. “Perceptions of Sex, Gender, and Puberty Suppression: A Qualitative Analysis of Transgender Youth”
Archives of Sexual Behavior (2016). doi:10.1007/s10508-016-0764-9

Zucker KJ\, Wild J, Bradley SJ, Lowry CB., “Physical attractiveness of boys with gender identity disorder.” Archives of Sexual Behavior. 1993 Feb;22(1):23-36.
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01552910

Stephanie A. Mcdermid, Kenneth J. Zucker, Susan J. Bradley, Dianne M. Maing, “Effects of Physical Appearance on Masculine Trait Ratings of Boys and Girls with Gender Identity Disorder” Archives of Sexual Behavior
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A%3A1018650401386

Sari R. Fridell, Kenneth J. Zucker, Susan J. Bradley, Dianne M. Maing, “Physical attractiveness of girls with gender identity disorder” Archives of Sexual Behavior
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF02437905

Kristina R. Olson, Aidan C. Key, Nicholas R. Eaton, “Gender Cognition in Transgender Children”, Psychological Science

Thomas D. Steensma, Roeline Biemond, Fijgie de Boer and Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, “Desisting and persisting gender dysphoria after childhood: A qualitative follow-up study”
http://ccp.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/01/06/1359104510378303

Sarah M. Burke, Willeke M. Menks, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, Daniel T. Klink, Julie Bakker, “Click-Evoked Otoacoustic Emissions in Children and Adolescents with Gender Identity Disorder”  Archives of Sexual Behavior, DOI 10.1007/s10508-014-0278-2

Gülgöz, S., Glazier, J. J., Enright, E. A., Alonso, D. J., Durwood, L. J., Fast, A. A., Lowe, R., Ji, C., Heer, J., Martin, C. M., & Olson, K. R. (2019). Similarity in Transgender and Cisgender Children’s Gender Development. PNAS. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1909367116  Link to pdf

Olson, K.R., & Gülgöz, S. (2018). “Early Findings from the TransYouth Project: Gender Development in Transgender Children. Child Development Perspectives”, 12(2), 93-97.  Link to pdf

Singh D. et al., “A Follow-Up Study of Boys with Gender Identity Disorder”, Frontiers in Psychiatry, https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.632784

Androphilia and Autoandrophilia in Transmen and Women

While not as well researched as the correlation between autogynephilia and gynephilia in transwomen and men, there is some regarding non-gynephilic transmen.  Autoandrophilia occurs in 0.4% to 0.5% of women in the general population (compared to autogynephilia in 2.8% to 4.5% of men).   Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

S. Colton Meier, Seth T. Pardo, Christine Labuski, Julia Babcock, “Measures of Clinical Health among Female-to-Male Transgender Persons as a Function of Sexual Orientation”
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-012-0052-2

Walter Bockting, Autumn Benner and Eli Coleman, “Gay and Bisexual Identity Development Among Female-to-Male Transsexuals in North America: Emergence of a Transgender Sexuality”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/775x6m1p0j045313/

Eli Coleman, Walter O. Bockting, and Louis Gooren, “Homosexual and bisexual identity in sex-reassigned female-to-male transsexuals”
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01552911

Robert Diekey and Judith Stephens, “Female-to-male transsexualism, heterosexual type: Two cases”
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01541857

Dorothy Clare and Bryan Tully, “Transhomosexuality, or the Dissociation of Orientation and Sex Object Choice”
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01541679

Meredith L. Chivers and J. Michael Bailey, “Sexual Orientation of Female-to-Male Transsexuals: A Comparison of Homosexual and Nonhomosexual Types”
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A%3A1001915530479

Stefan Rowniak and Catherine Chesla, “Coming Out for a Third Time: Transmen, Sexual Orientation, and Identity”
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-012-0036-2

Robert J. Stoller, “Transvestism in Women”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/tj0lw18644n18g02/

Langstrom, et al., “Transvestic Fetishism in the General Population”  Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, (2011) http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00926230590477934

Baur, E., et Al, “Paraphilic Sexual Interests & Sexually Coersive Behavior: A Population-Based Twin Study” Archives of Sexual Behavior:  DOI:10.1007/s10508-015-0674-2

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Because Boys Must Be Boys…

Posted in Brain Sex, Editorial by Kay Brown on July 5, 2017

Teenage-brain…Its a Fact of Human Nature, and Girls Must Grow Up to Be Mothers!

Over the years that I’ve been writing this blog, I’ve deliberately avoided using the popular term “gender non-conforming”, using the term “gender atypical” instead.  It may have struck some of my readers as odd and idiosyncratic, given that so many others use the “GNC” term.  But, I have done so for several important reasons, some based on science, some on political-philosophical grounds.

The scientific reasons are easier to explain.  There is no “standard” to which behavior should “conform”.  There is only behavior, period.  However, if we look at, study in depth as scientists, a species we can say that there are behaviors that are far more commonly performed by them than other behaviors seen in other species.  These we can label as “typical” for that species.  If we see a behavior in a given individual of a species that is uncommon for that species, we may label it “atypical”; but we would never label it “non-conforming” since we can’t really say what standard that a given species should “conform” to.  Behaviors are selected by evolution depending upon whether they increase the reproductive ‘fitness’ of the individuals exhibiting them.  The same logic applies to sexes within a given species.  We may observe sexually dimorphic behaviors in a given species.  That is, we will label a behavior sexually dimorphic if we see that it is much more commonly performed in one sex than the other.  If we see an individual performing such a behavior that is uncommon in that given sex, we may label it “atypical” for that sex; but to label it “non-conforming”?  That’s smacks of invoking an outside agency which has the authority to define a standard for such behavior that the theory of natural selection does not provide.  Just as with non-human species, humans do not stand outside of nature.  There is no agency that defines for our species a standard by which to judge whether a given behavior does or does not “conform”.

The political reasons include my personal objection to the very notion that there should be such a “standard”.  But even deeper, is my objection to the post-modernist idea that there are no intrinsic sexually dimorphic behaviors in humans, that there are only socially constructed roles.  This notion would state that since all differences in behavior observed between the human sexes are socially constructed and maintained, there must be a socially defined standard to which we can conform or not.  Another idea that I object to is that of a divinely ordained standard that we must conform to, which has the same effect.  Thus, both of these ideas reduce any behavior that is seen in an individual that is uncommon in that person’s sex to an act of “gender non-conformity” either by accident or by will… but never by nature.  I find both the notion that we stand outside of nature to be scientifically preposterous and philosophically offensive.   Further, those who seek humane treatment for gender atypical individuals will find that they must contend with those who hold these ideas often falling back on unquestioned prejudices, the nature of which is determined by which value system through which they view such gender atypical individuals, post-modernist or religious.

Before going into details about the nature of the prejudices and what we must contend, let’s explore how we know that human beings do have sexually dimorphic behaviors that have both neural correlates and developmental pathways leading to them.  It’s important to differentiate between behaviors that are demonstrably sexually dimorphic because of neural correlates and those that are merely cultural role enactments and false gender stereotypes.  Thus, for purposes of this essay, I differentiate between a strong social construction hypothesis which says that all differences in behavior are purely from culture and a weak social construction hypothesis that says that some behaviors and gender roles are socially constructed around truly sexually dimorphic behaviors and gender role limitations built around cultural prejudice and false stereotypes.  It is the strong social construction hypothesis that I will show is not supported by the evidence.

In other pages of this blog, I’ve made reference to the single most sexually dimorphic behavior in humans: androphilia (sexual attraction to adult males).  In female humans, it is extremely common to be attracted to men.  Approximately 98% of women are attracted to men while only approximately 5-10% of men were attracted to men.  One could object to this being a ‘natural’ phenomena and say that social expectations have defined this.  But it would not fit the evidence that has been amassing that sexual orientation is neither “chosen” nor “taught”.  Further, why should humans be unique in the world?  Most mammalian species are sexually dimorphic in their sexual attractions.  (No, I’m not denying that same sex behavior occurs in non-human species… only saying it is not as common as other sex attraction.)  But, this isn’t the end of the story.

Sexual orientation in adults is presaged by gendered behavior as young children.  That is to say, that humans have sexually dimorphic behaviors as young children and that sexual orientation is highly correlated with those behaviors.  Children that grow up to be homosexual evince notable gender atypicality.  The key behaviors that are noted to be gender atypical in boys are avoidance of rough and tumble play, avoidance of physical aggression, preference for female playmates and play style, etc.  But here is where we start to see the issue of having to contend with those prejudices.  Some cultures attach serious negative stigma to gender atypicality while others do not.  Most of my readers will likely live in cultures that do and will recognize the ugly recriminations in the song, “Boys Will Be Boys”; “You bloody sissy, who said you could cry?” down to the call to an authority defining the standard to which a child must conform, “Doctor, Doctor, tell me where did we go wrong?”.

But we in our enlightened age know that the parents did nothing wrong… (yes, you may take that to be sarcasm).

In other essays on this blog, I’ve explored some of the science that shows that sexual orientation is correlated with childhood gender atypicality, the Fraternal Birth Order Effect, etc.  I’ve discussed possible etiological hypothesis.  I have in the past written about the disappointment with using the 2D:4D digit ratios as a means of exploring the possible effect of varying androgens as being correlated with sexual orientation.  But now, I want to share a really amazing bit of evidence that shows that perinatal exposure to androgens is likely to be responsible for masculinizing the human brain and its absence affecting early childhood gender atypicality, as Vicky Pasterski puts it,

By now, the majority of scientists studying the topic likely agree that homosexuality is definitely not a choice and probably not due to socioenvironmental factors. At the same time, there appear to be no physical indicators of disrupted fetal sexual differentiation in homosexual men that would fit with the basic premise of the hormone theory of sex development. However, it is possible that alterations in the androgen surge that occurs in the early postnatal period, also called mini-puberty, could have effects that are not immediately or physically obvious. Based on the finding that penile growth in the first three months of life correlates with a concomitant surge in serum testosterone levels considered the possibility that penile growth may act as a proxy for neonatal androgen exposure and that change measurements may be related to later neurobehavioral outcomes. In a longitudinal study of 81 typically developing boys, we found that the strength of the early postnatal androgen surge, from birth to approximately three months of age, predicted masculine behavior at 4 years old. By controlling for effects of prenatal androgen exposure using measurements of penile length and anogenital distance (AGD; sexually dimorphic and roughly twice as long in males compared to females) at birth, we showed that penile growth in the first three months of life, but not thereafter, accounted for significant variance in later sex-typed behavior. In the overall regression analysis, which controlled for various factors, penile length at birth was not related to sex-typed behavior. This suggests that disruption to male mini-puberty could have implications for future sex-related outcomes that are masked by a typical appearance at birth. Further, this provides support for the hypothesis that early (postnatal) hormone exposure influences aspects of sex-typed development in men, in a similar fashion to prenatal hormone exposure that is presumed to affect women.

1-s2-0-s0018506x15000033-gr1_lrgIn Pasterski’s research, she divided the boys into three groups (tertiles) based on their gendered behavior from the Pre-School Activities Inventory and mapped against the growth rate of their genitals in the first months after birth, which has been shown to correlate with androgen exposure.  (Though to be complete, it may also correlate with androgen receptor sensitivity, but for my purposes, that would have the same epistemic value.)  The results are dramatic, we see with no ambiguity that the rate of growth of genitalia is positively correlated with gender typical behavior.   That also means that the inverse is true.  Gender atypical behavior is inversely correlated with perinatal genital growth.

Had the strong social construction hypothesis of all gendered behavior been true, there would have been no correlation.  We can reject this hypothesis.  At best, we have a weak social construction hypothesis of gender roles around very real sexually dimorphic differences.  Those that lampoon this conclusion by calling it “Lady Brain” theory are just plain wrong.

It has been previously noted that gender atypically behaving children have differences in facial “attractiveness”.  This fits well with the above research as male children who have not had this intense “mini-puberty” would likely remain neotenous and thus feminine in appearance.  This likely also extends past adolescence to explain the rather dramatic differences in passability between androphilic transwomen and gynephilic transwomen.  Being gender atypical in brain organization, it would naturally lead to later androphilia, gender atypical motor skills (feminine walk and hand gestures), and gender atypical vocal production (feminine or “gay lisp”).

Given the religious (or related social views of gender) prejudice, one can easily see how children who exhibit these gender atypical behaviors are placed under tremendous pressure to “conform” to gender behavior standards that tend to skew to the gender typical, or even an exageration of typical behavior.  Children who meet this standard are prized and praised above other children.  That is to say, extreme gender typicality is valorized as well as held as the gender normitive standard and granted privilege over children who fail to meet this standard.

Here I opine, perhaps even hypothesize, that this pressure to conform to normative gender role standards has distorted what would be the natural course of development of gender atypical children and has led to the creation of the artificial gender normative role of Western Gay and Lesbian culture, especially the “Straight Looking / Straight Acting” Gay male standard to which otherwise gender atypical male children are required to adhere.  To the non-gay community members, the benefit of artificial standard was originally to force gay people to remain deep in the closet.  As the Western Gay Liberation movement gained ground, those who had tacitly accepted this standard began to subtly and not so subtly enforce it.

One would, at first glance, believe that those who hold the strong social construction hypothesis as true would then have no qualms about accepting gender atypical children and adults without reservation as breaking stereotypes.  But, as we can easily discern, they often do not, as demonstrated by the minority movement within the gay and lesbian (mostly lesbian) communities of being “gender critical”.  They philosophically approve of people being gender atypical… but only to a very specified point, accepting the gender normative roles that were established during the early Gay Liberation Movement.  The moment that an individual steps past that point, there will be those who will denounce them as hewing to the very stereotypes that they break, but in the opposite gendered sense, denying that underlying sexually dimorphic behavior as valid.  In some cases, public denouncements of the very existence of gender atypical males have been made (e.g. Jean O’Leary’s public denouncement of Silvia Rivera, and other early androphilic transactivists, as “mocking women” at the 1973 Stonewall commemoriation for wearing feminine clothing).  On the internet today, this same gender role proscription is made where androphilic transwomen are chastised in the ugliest terms, “just because you’re a gay man doesn’t mean that you can be excused for objectifying women (by looking and acting like one).”  Thus, we see that gender role policing based on accepting gender normative standards exists even in the modern LGB communities.

Further Reading:

Essay on motor movement in gender atypical males.

Essay on vocal production in gender atypical people.

Essay on passability differences between gynephilic vs. androphilic transsexuals.

Article on Gender Difference by Olivia Goldhill

References:

Pasterski, V., “Fetal Androgens and Human Sexual Orientation: Searching for the Elusive Link”, (2017) Archives of Sexual Behavior
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-017-1021-6

Pasterski, V., et al., “Postnatal penile growth concurrent with mini-puberty predicts later sex-typed play behavior: Evidence for neurobehavioral effects of the postnatal androgen surge in typically developing boys”, (2015) Hormones and Behavior
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0018506X15000033#f0005

Song Reference:

Boys Will Be Boys
(Leon Rosselson)

Boys will be boys, it’s a fact of human nature
And girls will grow up to be mothers

Look at little Peter, isn’t he a terror?
Shooting all the neighbors with his cowboy gun
Screaming like a jet plane, always throwing something
I just can’t control him. Trouble – he’s the one.

Ah but boys will be boys, it’s a fact of human nature
And girls will grow up to be mothers

Look at little Janie, Doesn’t she look pretty?
Playing with her dolly, proper little mum
Never getting dirty, never being naughty
Don’t punch your sister Peter, now look at what you’ve done

Ah but boys will be boys, it’s a fact of human nature
And girls will grow up to be mothers

What’s come over Janie, Janie’s turning nasty
Left hook to the body, right hook in the eye
Vicious little hussy, now Peter’s started bawling
What a bloody sissy, who said you could cry?

Because boys must be boys, it’s a fact of human nature
And girls must grow up to be mothers

Now things are topsy turvy. Janie wants a football
Peter just seems happy pushing prams along
Makes you feel so guilty. Kids are such a worry
Doctor, doctor, tell me, where did we go wrong?
Because boys must be boys, it’s a fact of human nature

 

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Fraternizing with the…

Posted in Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on June 18, 2017

critical-thinking… Allies  Or, The Fraternal Birth Order Effect: Early Onset Transwomen vs. Gay Men

In a very recently published meta-study conducted by Ray Blanchard further exploring the Fraternal Birth Order Effect (FBOE), in which he had earlier noted that androphilic males tend to have more older brothers than sisters, he deals with several concerns and new research questions.  First, there had been some concerns with how best to handle the potential effects of family size.  But what really interests me is that here, for the first time, he carefully considers the effect of transgender (feminine presentation / identity) vs. non-trans androphilic men (masculine presentation / identity i.e. conventional gay men).  The results are striking!

“The pooled Older Brothers Odds Ratio for the feminine groups was 1.85, and the value for the non-feminine groups was 1.27. The corresponding risk ratios were 1.52 and 1.19.  The differences between groups were highly significant.  To sum up the results so far in common language:  Feminine homosexual males have more older brothers than non-feminine homosexual males, and non-feminine homosexual males, in turn, have more older brothers than heterosexual males.”

These results weren’t just “statistically significant”, the effect was very great with the 95% Confidence Levels not even overlapping!

But we should introduce a note of caution here.  The feminine androphilic data was very heterogeneous as can be seen in this plot of the data.  This may be caused by the differences between cultures sampled from all over the world.  Some of this data is from Samoan Fa’afafine, some from Western gender dysphoria clinics in the US, UK, and Spain, some from non-Western cultures like Brazil and Korea.  Blanchard also noted this issue and suggested exploration of this might interest some future researcher as more data becomes available.  But in any case, we are shown some very intriguing data that strongly suggests that we may be seeing a difference in etiology between feminine and masculine androphilic males.

Blanchard discusses possible conclusions regarding this,

“A … possibility is that the neurodevelopmental pathway triggered by older brothers is inherently more feminizing than path ways triggered by other etiologic factors (e.g., ‘‘gay’’ genes or prenatal hormone exposure). Thus, a group of homosexual males selected for generalized femininity is likely to contain a higher proportion of individuals who acquired their sexual orientation via the older brother pathway. Other hypotheses, equally speculative, are also possible. … Blanchard and Bogaert (1996) proposed that the FBOE reflects the progressive immunization of some mothers to male-specific (i.e., Y-linked) antigens by each succeeding male fetus and the concomitantly increasing effects of anti-male antibodies on sexual differentiation of the brain in each succeeding male fetus. According to this maternal immune hypothesis, cells (or cell fragments) from male fetuses enter the maternal circulation during childbirth or perhaps earlier in pregnancy. These cells include substances that occur only on the surfaces of male cells, primarily male brain cells. The mother’s immune system recognizes these male-specific molecules as foreign and produces antibodies to them.  When the mother later becomes pregnant with another male fetus, her antibodies cross the placental barrier and enter the fetal brain. Once in the brain, these antibodies bind to male-specific molecules on the surface of neurons.  This prevents these neurons from ‘‘wiring-up’’ in the male-typical pattern, so that the individual will later be attracted to men rather than women.”

Something not discussed, indeed I’m not sure how it can even be explored – unless the curve in the data shown for the odds of an older brother per other sibling is evidence for the effect of first born males experiencing self-induced maternal immunity creating the same etiological pathway.  I would also expect that some first born males may have this etiology due to previous maternal miscarriages and abortions of male fetuses since they too would be expected to have Y-linked antigen challenges to the maternal immune system.

Still, and all, very exciting paper well worth reading.

Further Reading:

Essay showing that feminine gay men (“bottoms”) exhibit different FBOE than more masculine gay men (“tops”).

Essay on evidence that the FBOE etiology also applies to first born males.

Reference:

Blanchard, R., “Fraternal Birth Order, Family Size, and Male Homosexuality: Meta-Analysis of Studies Spanning 25 Years”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, (2017),
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-017-1007-4

 

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