On the Science of Changing Sex

Oh Brother Where Art Thou?

Posted in Autobiographical, Confirming Two Type Taxonomy, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on December 17, 2011

female_scientistThe consanguinity of both homosexuality and autogynephilia appears to be very high.  So one would not be surprised to find that the consanguinity of transsexuality would also be very high.  That is to say, that transsexuality runs in families.  But not the same families.

I have to wonder about my own family.

I always wondered why I never met my paternal uncle, until the day, when I was 16 years old, he showed up at our doorstep, unannounced, with his boyfriend/partner.  My father desperately, but quietly, tried to shuttle my three siblings and I to our respective bedrooms, but I obstinately refused to understand my father’s not so subtle hint.  My uncle gave me a present that day of a beautiful butterfly mounted as though still alive, in a plastic cube.  I never saw him again.  But I asked my grandmother about him when I was 22.  I simply asked if he had ever married.  “He’s not gay!” was her vehement reply.  “That wasn’t what I asked, but now I know, thanks.”

I also wondered about one of my brothers.  One brother was very, very obviously straight.  He was always mooning after some girl or other in high school.  But, our younger brother?  The tall, handsome blond, star athlete?  No girlfriends, not even a hint of one.  When our mother suggested that an appointment with a girl was a “date”, he testily replied, “Its not a date, Mother!  She’s just a friend.”  But, as a kid, he used to dress up in mock drag and imitate drag comedians, especially Flip Wilson, “My boyfriend’s name is Killer!”, said in grating falseto.  I used to cringe and want to hide when he did that.  When he was a ‘tween’, he had a poster of the teen-girls heart-throb of the day, Bobby Sherman, on his door.  On one particular occasion, when I was 17 and he was 15, we were driving down a back road behind Stanford University, past a known gay cruising spot, when up ahead we saw a handsome young man with cut-off jeans and his shirt off, bare chested, thumbing a ride.  My brother nonchalantly rolled down the passenger side window, stuck out his head as we passed by the obviously gay young man and called out teasingly, “Sorry guy.  Not cute enough!”  Many of my gay friends over the years said that their gaydar went off when ever he was around… but… perhaps after seeing how our family and most of our social set disowned me as a teenager, he slammed the closet door so shut that even he didn’t recognize it?  He’s now married with two children, a very successful cardiologist and hospital administrator.

There have been lots of reports of transsexuals having transsexual or transvestite siblings, fathers, or sons.  The press just eats up these stories.  But what of the clinical experience?

From Green’s paper on the subject:

Familial cases of gender identity disorder were reviewed by Freund (1985)
and categorized as concordant or discordant for sexual orientation. No instances of
a mixed heterosexual and homosexual pattern in the same family were found. The
interpretation was that the two groups of gender-identity disorder have different
etiologies. In the 10 family series reported here, only Case Five contains a mixed
heterosexual/homosexual family pair.

Green’s ten cases came from a pool of only 1,500.  This would suggest that one in one hundred fifty transsexuals has a transsexual or transvestite sibling, but not of the other type?  Is this random chance?  Not likely.

References:

Richard Green, M.D., “Family Cooccurrence of “Gender Dysphoria”:Ten Sibling or Parent–Child Pairs”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/p11646013q03m755/

Esther Go´mez-Gil et al. “Familiality of Gender Identity Disorder in Non-Twin Siblings”
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-009-9524-4

Robert J. Stoller and Howard J. Baker, “Two male transsexuals in one family”
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01541006

 

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All The Wrong Moves

Posted in Autobiographical, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on September 24, 2010

female_scientistBack in mid-90’s, an out of town transactivist, a transwoman who had transitioned in mid-life, asked if she could visit at my home, as she was passing through. I agreed and had her over for lunch. She arrived wearing a respectably skirted suit. She passed fairly well. Nothing about her looks or manner would have told most people that she was a transsexual. However, my nine year old adopted daughter, Liz, insisted on using masculine pronouns. I was deeply embarrassed, mortified. I tried to correct her, but she angrily replied, “But he’s a man!”, with that look on her face that clearly said she thought I must be either blind or crazy. I’ve been told by many AGP transsexuals that it can be very difficult to pass around pre-pubescent children, who always seem to read them instantly.

On another occasion, late at night, I got a call from a very distraught nineteen year old, pre-transition, pre-HRT, transkid that I knew as Stacey. She had had a fight with her folks and they had locked her out of the house. I’m sure you can guess what the fight had been about. For me, it was deja vu, having had the same one with my folks when I was seventeen. I drove out to her place and took her home. She was wearing a polo shirt and pressed slacks, boy’s shoes. I put her to bed in our spare room. The next morning, Stacey had awoken early, gotten dressed in those same boy’s clothes, and went downstairs to scrounge a breakfast. My daughter had gone downstairs before I had gotten dressed. She saw Stacey for a moment and, startled by a stranger in her house, ran back to me. She asked breathlessly, “Who’s the girl in the kitchen?” I calmly replied, “Her name is Stacey…”  My daughter rejoined Stacey and consistently, unreservedly, saw her as a girl, as they happily chatted together.

Candice2

Kay Brown with her adopted daughter Liz

So, my daughter saw a post-op AGP transwoman as a man, and a pre-transition, pre-hormone therapy transkid as a girl!

What was it about this polished older transwoman that led my daughter to attribute maleness to her in spite of her obviously female attire and appearance? What was it about Stacey that led my daughter to attribute femaleness to her in spite of her obviously male attire? What was it about me during my first weeks of high school that a strange boy should turn to another and ask in genuine confusion, “Is that a boy or a girl?” To which, the second boy simply shrugged.

The answer is likely sex-typed motor behaviors. Children are very aware of opposite sex typed motor behaviors starting at the age of five. That’s also the age which many of the adult sex-typed motor behaviors begin to develop. This process continues into adolescence in a progression from sitting styles, to walking, to standing, to book carry. The female sex-typed book carry style, in which one uses the crook of one’s arm and hip to support the weight is the last to develop.

Both children and adults can imitate some of the opposite sex type motor behaviors, but interestingly, not all. This is of extreme importance to passing, or rather the phenomena of being read or clocked as transsexual. It is widely understood that before transition, MTF “older transitioners” do not perform very many of the female sex typed behaviors naturally. But during the transition process, quickly learn to self-monitor and perform them. However, given that they can’t be continuously monitoring their behavior 24/7, they are likely to relax when they feel in safer environments. But even when fully self-monitoring, as I feel certain my lunch guest was that day, she can’t perform those female sex typed behaviors which most adult males can’t perform. Some of these sex typed motor behaviors are so visible that I personally have been able to accurately clock an AGP from the back, at up to 150 yards away!

On the other hand, transkids perform many of these female typed motor behaviors naturally. As children, before transition, they may try to monitor and suppress these very behaviors that the AGP transsexuals later have to learn to perform. Like the AGP, but in the reversed gendered sense, there are certain behaviors that they can’t control, can’t keep from performing, likely due to their feminized cerebellum. Thus, in high risk situations, such as in front of potentially aggressive boys at school, they may be taken for homosexual or even for girls. This can have negative consequences, even if overt violence is avoided. Gender atypical behavior causes most people to feel uncomfortable. This can lead to ostracism or lack of social cooperation. Thus, transkids suffer from lower grades, fewer social and job opportunities, and lower social status. After transition, these very same behaviors no longer need be monitored, so for transkids, transition is both easier and actually increases their opportunties and status.

But, for the poor AGP transsexual woman, transition often reverses her social status and opportunities, often in subtle ways that she can’t quite pin-point the cause. As one such transsexual put it to me years ago, “… before it was all smiles, now its all frowns (from strangers)”.  The problem is… even smiling is different in men and women.

Epilogue:  A year or so after the events I described above, my lovely daughter was rummaging in my things when she chanced across some photographs of me as a child, “Mommie, why are you dressed like a boy in these pictures?”

References:

{A quick note: Yes, I’m aware that two of these authors are very trans-un-friendly. I just hold my nose when reading them.}

David H. Barlow, Joyce R. Mills, W. Stewart Agras and Debra L. Steinman, “Comparison of sex-typed motor behavior in male-to-female transsexuals and women”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/q16048t50522t3j3/

Steven C. Hayes; Rosemary O. Nelson; David L. Steele; Marie E. Meeler; David H. Barlow, “The Development of the Display and Knowledge of Sex Related Motor Behavior in Children”
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a904727308

Steven C. Hayes, Rosemery O. Nelson, David L. Steele, Marie E. Meeler and David H. Barlow, “Instructional control of sex-related motor behavior in extremely masculine or feminine adults”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/t85uj573j0q52jr8/

George A. Rekers, Shasta Mead Morey, “Sex-Typed Body Movements as a Function of Severity of Gender Disturbance in Boys”
http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~db=all~content=a904728558

Steven C. Hayes and Susan R. Leonard, “Sex-related motor behavior: Effects on social impressions and social cooperation”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/v8705466923jl670/

Rita Rachkowski and Kevin E. O’Grady, “Client gender and sex-typed nonverbal behavior: Impact on impression formation”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/n25u6hxu1051247m/

Ugail, H. et al. “Is gender encoded in the smile? A computational framework for the analysis of the smile driven dynamic face for gender recognition”
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00371-018-1494-x

 

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Do as I say, not as I do…

Posted in Autobiographical, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on February 20, 2010

…or in this case, believe what I say, not what I do.

rubensjupitercallisto

The God Jupiter pretending to be the Goddess Diana to seduce / rape Callisto

One of the constant complaints of those who disagree with the two type taxonomy is that sexologists ignore their narratives, which would “prove” their theories wrong.  Of course they do… because they aren’t interested in their narratives, but in what they actually do!

What is of academic interest to researchers, becomes a matter of the ability to navigate a difficult social landscape, with the occasional land-mine, for the feminine androphilic transsexual.  If I may share with you a personally painful episode in my own life?

One day, back in ’76, when I was but eighteen years old, my roommate, Stella, also eighteen years old, and I were hosting our friends Jennifer, nineteen years old, and Marcella, twenty-four years old.  Our place was a tiny, cramped, poorly furnished studio apartment, hot in the summer, cold in the winter.  The four of us were very poor and still pre-op.  As Jennifer was a beautician, she was helping the others remove unwanted facial hair by waxing, while the three of them good humoredly bitched and complained in envy that I did not need to deal with such,  (I never grew a beard).  None of us could afford electrolysis yet, of course.  As we talked about our boyfriends, sex, and such… Jennifer abruptly exclaimed in a horrified tone, “Did you know that Karen is really bisexual?”

I knew in that instant what was coming next… Jennifer then told of how Karen had tried to seduce her in a very inappropriate manner!  I flashed back a few months…

Candice_Caltech

Kay Brown in college

The household I had been temporarily sheltered in, with several older women, all lesbian ( save for one who we would today recognize as a “noho transman” / transmasculine who had bound his breasts to live as a man for several years but had detransitioned, who joshed me, occasionally trying to flirt with me, knowing I was only into men) was disbanding.  I needed a new place and I didn’t have much income, being dependent on a very meager remittance from my family.  The remittance came with the proviso that I was to stay far enough away from them such that I wouldn’t accidentally be seen by my family’s social connections, so as not to embarrass them.  This meant that I couldn’t seek to live with any of my high school friends.

Karen, a twenty-five year old recently post-op transsexual I had met at the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic only days before eagerly sought me as her roommate.  She had a nice, but very small, apartment and her own car.  She consistently represented herself as a straight woman, looking for Mr. Right.  I felt safe enough accepting her invitation.  Living with her was OK at first, but I noticed that she was insanely jealous of my boyfriends.  At first I thought that that was the result of her not having any… So I hosted several parties, inviting available young men, straight, but open minded.  But… she ignored efforts at flirtations from cute guys… and flatly rebuffed several date invitations by these men.  This seemed odd and confusing.  Then, one very early weekend morning, while I was still in bed, Karen tried to seduce me, insisting on having sex with me or she would throw me out… which is exactly what she did when I very strenuously refused her!  Karen became irrationally angry and verbally abusive.  Further, while yelling at me, she balled both of her (rather large) fists and threatened me with them.  I feared for my safety.  I was out on the street that very morning!

In tears and very distraught, I had to beg my mother for assistance, since I was flat broke with no where to go.  She was very annoyed, but found and paid for first and last month’s rent of the small studio mentioned earlier.  I had been corresponding with Stella, since being given her contact information by the Stanford program, when I asked them if there was “anyone else like me?”  Stella moved from her parents home in a small town to become my roommate a couple weeks later, sharing expenses.  So, I guess it all worked out “OK”, but…

I listened to Jennifer’s story of being embarrassed by Karen, then recounted my own story, beginning “She isn’t bisexual”, which horrified my listeners even further.  I admitted I didn’t understand how this could happen… and we all began to discuss about the “older transsexuals” and how odd they seemed to be.  It was the much more world-wise Marcella who explained it all, “They are all TVs that need a bigger fix!”  We discussed it further and pieced Karen’s story together.  She had transitioned recently, starting HRT and had SRS only six months later at a clinic in the mid-west, near where her folks lived.  Her folks had paid for it in cash.  That clinic was known for only performing SRS on “true transsexuals”, which meant that Karen had to lie about being interested in men, hiding her real interest in women.  But, somehow, that medical lie had become a social lie… or maybe more accurately, a part of her established personal narrative, her self-image.  However, that was not her actual sexuality.  She was totally uninterested in men, focusing on women, or more likely those males who looked and acted like women, namely feminine androphilic transsexuals.  In the next few years that I saw her around in the community, she deliberately sought out the society of the feminine androphilic TS, while continuing to represent herself as straight (androphilic).  Whether she was ever successful in her efforts to find an HSTS lover, I can’t say.

So, there we were, three young transies (as we called ourselves back then) learning from our older and wiser mentor.  Marcella taught us how to survive, how to date straight boys who didn’t know we were TS without them discovering that we were pre-op; which straight night-clubs would let us in without carding us; and most importantly, giving us a working understanding of how autogynephilia operated, though we didn’t use that word, since that wasn’t even coined until a decade later.  We learned how to differentiate AGP TS and “our kind”… because this wasn’t a matter of academic interest, it was potentially a matter of survival… but certainly one of social neccessity.  We learned how to spot an AGP TS by the way she walked, talked, held her body, what interests she had… and most especially, to trust our gut, which was invariably right.  If we felt that we were talking to a girl, she was like us… if we were getting mixed signals… she was AGP.

In recounting the above story, I know that I am risking offending many.  This is not my intention.  But this is the simple truth.

Further Reading:

Essay on Gynadromorphophilia (specific attraction to transwomen)

Essay on Gynandromorphilia and Autogynephilia / CrossDreaming

Essay on “Misplaced Moralizing” by gender critical’ individuals and the true meaning of “rapey”

 

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