On the Science of Changing Sex

Chelsea Manning is NOT the Hero…

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on January 13, 2018

Chelsea Manning is NOT the Hero of the transgender community.

Kay BrownNews today is that Chelsea Manning is running for Senator for Maryland.  I was shocked. Surely a convicted traitor could not run for such an office.  Well, imagine my surprise when I learned that our constitution does not prohibit felons from seeking federal office.

Manning is an embarrassment to our community.  Manning gives us all a black eye.  Manning knowingly put her fellow soldiers at extreme risk by turning spy for Wikileaks.  Many may attempt to portray her as a “whistle-blower” but that is a false picture.  She released far too many documents to have carefully considered the potential damage and danger for each one.  She did not point out specific wrong doings… she released documents en mass to our enemies.  She just said “fuck you” to her responsibilities and her oath to defend the United States and our constitution.

Wikileaks is NOT our friend.  Wikileaks has deep connections to Russia and other autocratic states that are not our allies.  Wikileaks is headed by a man who is hiding in an Ecuadorean embassy to avoid facing criminal charges of espionage and rape.  Wikileaks is very selective in what it leaks to the press and the world.  If it will hurt the United States… it get’s released.  If it will hurt certain candidates that the Russians don’t like, it get’s released.

Remember this as you think of Chelsea Manning.  She is NOT a hero.  She is (indirectly) a tool of the Russian state.

At a time when the transcommunity is struggling to prove to the nation that transfolk can serve honorably in the military, Manning is not a shining example.  If she really cared about the community, she would know she should take a low profile but instead…

Chelsea Manning portrays herself as a “transactivist”…

I don’t know about you.  But I’m sick to death of people who transition and within hours of doing so, declare that they are “transactivists”.  No, she is NOT.  She has done NOTHING to help transfolk.  She is not Shannon Minter.  She is NOT Joanna Michelle Clark.  She did NOT pound the streets fighting anti-LGBT laws.  She did NOT found, nor work for, organizations like the ACLU Transsexual Rights Committee.  Just because she is trans is no reason to hail her as a hero.

She is an embarrassing self promoter to whom I say,


Further Reading:

Essay on REAL heroic veterans turned transactivists


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The Silencing of the Transkids, Part 3

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on January 12, 2018

Or, Empathy Target Location Error

For a number of people, the plight of gender atypical and dysphoric children and teens is so alien to their understanding and experience that they quite literally can’t see the world from the point of view of transkids.  The ability to empathize, to place one’s self into the shoes of another, is of utmost importance in life.  Without it, we all would be sociopaths without a conscience, willing to allow untold suffering in others without making any effort to alleviate it.  But because many people can’t do that with transkids, they substitute an over-simplification of the Golden Rule… instead of treating others as those others would see us do, they treat transkids as they would like themselves to be treated.  That is to say, instead of walking a mile in transkids shoes, they put their own shoes onto transkids; And when they see them in their imaginations, stumble with their illfitting shoes as their parents and caregivers attempt to help alleviate their dysphoria and lead a fulfilling life, cry,

Child abuse!

Further Reading:

Advice to Parents of Transkids – a source of knowledge useful to gaining a true understanding and empathy for transkids.

Op-Ed by Dawn Foster

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The Silencing of The Transkids, Part 2

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on January 12, 2018

Or, My Tribe, Right Or Wrong

There is a behavior that is common in human societies of preferring those like themselves.  In modern cant we call this tendency ‘tribalism’.  This extends to liking and preferring that people become more like themselves and believing that their way of life is better than others.  This is the flip side of nearly all prejudice.  This tendency means that if an outgroup can’t become like the ingroup because of genetic / biological barriers like the color of one’s skin or one’s sex, then it leads to racism or sexism.  However, if the difference can be (or simply perceived to be) merely one of lifestyle or choice, then it can develop into an insistence that members of the outgroup must change their lifestyle or choices.  If the difference develops from within an ingroup to become a subgroup or to join an outgroup, these individuals are considered ‘traitors’ to the ingroup.

An example of this prejudice and it’s flip side is the need to convince others to either join in the ingroup (e.g. religious evangelism) or to punish those who leave the ingroup (e.g. death sentences for apostates).

Such is the experience of LGBT folk.

Homophobia is due in part to the anger and need to punish the ‘traitorous’ action of not being heterosexual, of becoming a member of a despised outgroup.  This is why families can be the source of the more virulent hate that LGBT folk can experience.

This feeling of being betrayed and of loathing of those who fail to join or remain in the ingroup is also part of transphobia, including by non-trans members of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual communities, in fact, especially by gay and lesbian people.

It is well-known now, and often uncomfortably recognized within the gay and lesbian community, that such gay and lesbians were quite gender atypical as children and many remain somewhat gender atypical as adults (excluding their gender atypical sexual orientation).  To some, this recognition and memory of their own childhood before they accommodated to the Western ideal of gender typical acting Gay and Lesbian identities, they look to the androphilic MTF and gynephilic FtM transkids and insist that they too accommodate to that same ideal, regardless of natural proclivities and desires.  After all… they did.  Quite literally, they see transkids in transition as traitors to the modern Western gay and lesbian identity, their tribe.  And their tribe is best.

To these gay and lesbian tribalists, transkids who persist and transition are either victims of an imagined “trangender ideology” or are perverse ‘sinners’ against the true faith of Western Gay and Lesbian lifestyle.  They are truly apostates whose voice must be silenced or devalued.  On the flip side, desisters are seen as having ‘seen the light of the true faith’ and are upheld as proof that gender atypical children can escape, while persisters have been led astray by, that evil “transgender ideology”.

If this seems like it is hyperbolic and specious, one only has to read the comments from many commentors, especially a certain subset of lesbians, that very specifically state that such “transgender ideology” has falsely convinced young gender atypical lesbians to believe that they must be transgender.  They also insist that feminine MTF transkids should be taught that it is OK to be a feminine man (never mind that modern Gay male culture is extremely femmiphobic and won’t be that happy to hear that).  That is to say, that this is seen as a cultural war between two tribal identities, two religious identities.

Another example of silencing or devalued is to portray the young transitioning transkids of Iran as doing so only to escape religious discrimination against gays and lesbians.  Such discrimination exists, but the number of such transsexuals transitioning is on the same order as those transitioning in Thailand and FAR fewer than the number of gay and lesbian people in the general population.  This false portrayal of “forced transition” is another example of tribalism using the spector of forced religious conversion coupled with the horror of unwanted body modification.  But the truth is that these young people’s lived experienced is denied and their voices silenced, replaced by their own.

It has always amazed and irritated me that others who don’t experience extreme gender dysphoria tend to tell persisters that it is all because of our false consciousness, patriarchy, and/or ‘transgender ideology’.  To folk who don’t like persisting transkids…

Desistence is real.  Persistence is real.  Listen to both.


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The Silencing of the Transkids

Posted in Editorial, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on January 6, 2018

Transkids after transition

The last few years has seen the issue of gender atypical and gender dysphoric children, often called ‘transkids’ come to the fore in the culture wars.  There are several sides that have argued various positions regarding their appropriate treatment and upbringing.  But what has largely been ignored in this recent series of largely uncivil… I can’t call them discussions… is the voices of transkids and former transkids, both persistors and desistors.  Yes, both have been silenced, their voices unwelcome… because on all sides of the great debate their voices undermine the real, but hidden, goals of the groups.

I will be writing a series of essays on this topic, in bite sized chunks.  This is the first.

First, I must lay out some background and assumptions.  First and foremost is that one cannot understand the current debate and how it has silenced actual transkids without understanding and accepting that there are two (and likely only two) etiologies for two completely separate “transgender spectrums”.  I’ve gone into great detail in my essays posted on this blog on this issue.  So, if you are unfamiliar, please read them.  You may start with my FAQ.  I also highly recommend reading the FAQ and essays found on the transkids.us website.  However, the Cliff Notes version is that most Male-To-Female transsexuals develop out of the autogynephilic cross-dressing population who do NOT experience or express gender atypicality as children or teens and only develop gender dysphoria as full adults.  They typically transition around age 30 and older.  It is these “older transitioners” who are doing most of the loud, angry, “transactivism” regarding transkids.  The reason that they do so was well articulated on the transkids.us website,

“… the most socially and economically advantaged sector of the transsexual population consisted of autogynephilic transsexuals and they found it psychologically and culturally advantageous to embrace an articulation of autogynephilia in terms of a concept of “gender identity” which maintained that one could have an internalized and hidden feminine “gender” while simultaneously living a seemingly normal social and sexual life as a man. Pragmatically, it was expedient to erase the distinctions between types of transsexuals. … given that the “transgender” community is controlled entirely by autogynephilic transsexuals who have a vested interest in this “gender identity.” model and the medical community of surgeons, endocrinologists, and gender therapists, is now tailor built around their needs, both are resistant to any acknowledgement of the {two type taxonomy} or the acknowledgement of homosexual transsexuality as a separate condition.  If {this} understanding of autogynephilia were accepted, it would undermine the “transgendered” community’s construction of gender identity which they view as a route to legitimacy and acceptance. If {transkids) were acknowledged {as a separate group} it would be even more damaging because it would reveal inconsistencies in autogynephilic {transwomen’s} personal narratives and the understanding of their own condition. Since their political and social identity is built around the notion that they were always really “female” because they “feel like women on the inside”, that transkids who present far more cross gender attributes pre-transition, and are more convincing as women post-transition, do not share their unique psychology, would undermine the credibility of the way they think about their own disorder.”

So, with this in mind, we can see that these older transitioning transwomen, who have no relation to transkids, seek to create the impression in the public mind that they would have been such transkids if only our society had been more accepting and willing to let them transition as children.  But this is a only wish fulfillment fantasy.  But understanding this, one can see why they so vehemently DEMAND that there is no such thing as a “desistor”.  There is one and only one kind of transsexual… and that transsexual always was and will forever remain a “woman inside” (or a “man inside” as the case requires).  There is no room for the messiness of real children.  There is certainly no room for acknowledging that their own identities as women didn’t fully develop until well into adulthood.  So, desistors are the worst… as they open the door to understanding that gender identities aren’t magically and forever fixed at birth.

Desistence is real.  Persistence is real.  Listen to both.

Further Reading:

“The Invisible Transsexual”

Transkids.us website

“Age of Innocence” Essay on the age of desistence of transkids.


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On Acceptance of Autogynephilia

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on December 12, 2017

Kay Brown 2010For over forty years, I’ve watched my friends in the transcommunity struggle with deep emotions regarding their sexuality and identity.  The sadest thing I’ve seen is that nearly all of the transwomen who were attracted to women struggle with a darker secret that they thought that they alone carried, one that was too terrible to discuss even with other transwomen.  I have watched for decades as this secret ate my friends up, darkened their lonely hours, stole into their thoughts when least expected.  That secret was that they were sexually aroused by cross-dressing and/or just dreaming that they were female.

I feel deeply for those who struggle with this secret.  One has spent years struggling with their identity, secretly wishing that they could live openly as women, but deeply ashamed and concerned that their sexuality, their, let’s just say it out loud, their autogyenphilia, means that they aren’t really… well…

So, they hid it, perhaps even lied about it to their therapist.  They hid it from even themselves.  Oh… if only those memories of being a teenager and finding those lovely panties, or a bra… slipping them on… feeling those delicious… oopsie… we can’t talk about that.

But we must.

And because we must, I have the most amazing thing to tell you… all of your transgender friends (late transitioners rarely have early transitioners as friends… at least not close friends)… all your friends are struggling with the same secret.  How do we know?  Because, when given a chance, in survey after survey, for decades, your friends and those like them quietly acknowledged that they were sexually aroused by cross-dressing, at least they did as teens… and a bit over half admit that they still do many years later.  Imagine that.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

So, knowing that all of the transwomen you know are also… go ahead… be brave… say the word out loud… autogynephilic!  Isn’t it time you and your friends talked about it?  Honestly talked about it.   (… and being honest about it also means not trying to lie to yourself or others… such as saying that non-transwomen also experience autogynephilia… they don’t).  Isn’t it time to face this secret, to own it, to use that self-knowledge to guide you toward a happier future?

Come out of your closets !!!

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Now This…

Posted in Book Reviews, Editorial by Kay Brown on September 23, 2017

All the Stars are Suns ebook completeI’ve been writing science fiction novel for the past couple years.  It is now available from Amazon in eBook format.

The glory days of Silicon Valley are long ago.  Even China is losing out to space based industry and research centers.  More and more people on Earth are losing interest in jobs and are relying on their Universal Basic Income as automation provides enough for all.  No one goes hungry or homeless but cracks are forming in the foundations of society.

Sincerity Espinoza didn’t go looking for trouble, it found her. All she wants out of life is the chance to go to the stars but she is caught in a web of misunderstandings, political & legal maneuvering, and the growing threat of terrorist plots by religious fanatics. She has a secret that if found out too soon could mean not only her own death but the ruin of the hope for humanity ever going to the stars. But even amidst momentous events, life is still about the small moments of love, laughter, and sadness.

Get your e-book signed by Seaby BrownThe story melds social, political, and tech trends into a realistic portrayal of advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI), robotics, cybernetics, aerospace engineering, genetics engineering, and neural interface technology that will become common place. In a world that has grown cynical about “progress”, The novel is a hopeful and optimistic look into our future.

And yes, while not the main protagonist, there is a transwoman in the story.

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Tech Bro’s and Silicon Valley’s Misogyny Problem

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on September 10, 2017

Kay Brown 2010A few weeks ago, I came across an essay that wondered aloud why it was that no prominent trans-activists had written about James Damore’s Google Memo (read: screed), insinuating that trans-activists were misogynists.  For a long time, I didn’t want to read the Damore missive, but I read what seemed like a rational take on it from a woman who spoke the kind of language of using science and not shying away from evidence that is unpopular or challenges received orthodoxy… which, is very much something that I strive to do.  So… I read Damore’s Google memo.

OMG! Does his misogyny and even racism leak like a sieve, especially in his footnotes and ending recommendations where the misogynist and racist dog whistles were the loudest. While he uses many science references that I happen to know quite well… he fails to note the effect sizes which he makes sound really big… but are in fact, so small that most psychologists believe that they can be best explained as artifactual based on stereotype threat, etc.  In one footnote he declares that “political correctness” is a “phenomena of the Left and a tool of authoritarians”.  In other words, having to be polite and respectful of others at work not like himself is felt to be an authoritarian oppression.  Wow!


But what REALLY got me, was that he referenced work that is outside of the mainstream (read: likely bullshit) that states that people’s stereotypes are actually quite accurate and reflect real differences between groups… and based on that, Google should stop its stereotype awareness training – You know, the training that helps people become aware when they are using a stereotype as a short-cut to decisions where they shouldn’t… as in our bias to see a resume with a female or culturally African-American name as less competent… a well documented phenomena.  (Because, hey everyone knows that women aren’t really interested in tech, right?  They just earned that tech or science degree cause it was the way to get easy grades, right?)  In other words, he spent a lot of time dissing feminist orthodoxy (sounding almost reasonable, but in fact not being so) then basically replaced it with a call to allowing hiring and promotion to be based on stereotypes… of which he contributed several.

Let’s talk about women, their psychology, and interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), shall we?  Above I posted a great graph that showed that women, once finally (somewhat) unshackled from sexist limits imposed on them at the university level began to take more STEM largely due to Title XII passage in 1972 making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sex in the United States.  But it took time to be enforced.  To know how bad it was, consider that until 1980, Harvard admitted five men for each woman, and only ended that discrimination when gender blind admissions were instituted.

Note that this graph sums up what happened to women in my own lifetime and experience.  When I was a child, very few women were admitted to STEM programs.  But I earned my BS in physics in 1982 and was admitted to Stanford Graduate School in the Materials Science Dept. right afterwards, during the most rapid expansion of women entering STEM.  Please understand, the field of materials science, and especially at Stanford, is where one learns about applied semiconductor physics and integrated circuit fabrication technology.  Stanford’s Materials Science department was Silicon Valley’s premiere place to learn this field, along with the Electrical Engineering and Physics departments.   Until that fall of ’82, Stanford’s Materials Science Dept. would only allow ONE token woman as a graduate student each year.  In the fall of ’82, it jumped to one in three students.  There had always been women interested and applying… they just weren’t being admitted.

But something ugly happened in computer science around 1984 to 1986.  Suddenly, as the demand for programmers dropped due to a recession in Silicon Valley and massive layoffs became the norm, women took the brunt of it.  But as later total student admissions skyrocketed and along with it their salaries upon graduation, the subject became the province of tech bros and the relative percentage of women admitted to those programs plummeted even as the absolute numbers of women in computer science remained stable or even continued to climb.  But, still the data clearly shows that women like being in STEM.  Women like subjects that require deep thought and logical thinking (e.g. law, that began climbing at the same rate as other STEM fields & reached nearly 50% law school participation within a single generation).  But if women perceive systemic bias, as happens in computer science / programming, they will choose another STEM major with less bias (as a close friend / fellow Stanford student did when confronted by ugly misogyny in the Physics dept., only to find a much more welcoming home in the Geophysics dept.  She is now a senior manager at the Lawrence Livermore Labs.)  Any discussion about women being unfit or disinterested in STEM fields is disproven by the data.  They just aren’t welcomed in computer science as Damore’s own words prove.  Damore’s vile attitude is quite representative of a sizable number of men in tech.


Damore made several insinuations common among misogynists and racists, namely that Google’s diversity efforts were anti-meritocratic, giving unwarranted opportunities and preferences to women and others, failing to note that Google was working to make hiring and promotion free of any bias, while simply encouraging women and minorities to apply and to seek out promotional opportunities.  He made comments that Google’s culture was antithetic to “conservatives”, but never quite defined what or who a “conservative” is.  If he is an example, and I do believe that he was in fact making himself the exemplar, then he is defining “conservative” as someone who holds a view that working toward a diverse workforce should not be one of society’s goals.  In fact, he explicitly stated that Google, as a company, was a “zero-sum” game, with an insinuation that working toward a diverse workforce inherently punished men like himself.  To that, I would say, “To those who are accustomed to privilege, equality is mistaken for oppression.”

Although he repeatedly stated that he was not bigoted… his very arguments and especially his ending recommendations belied that assertion.  His arguments regarding population level differences between men and women are in fact a strawman to the real issue at hand.  To wit, is there a bias against women in tech?  Does it affect the level of participation in tech, especially over time?  The answer is YES and HELL YES!  But Damore never addressed the evidence for bias against women in tech, especially in the computer sciences, of which there is plenty (e.g. identical resumes are evaluated differently depending on the perceived gender of the applicant, to the extreme detriment of women.)  Instead, he went off on the tangent of differential gendered desire to be a technologist… and on a non sequitur regarding whether boys or girls are the disadvantaged sex in primary education… that even if true, is meaningless to the issue of eliminating hiring and promotional bias inside of Google, which effort he recommended to be abandoned and replaced with a nebulous “psychological safety” concept that upon careful reading seemed to be premised upon his own feelings of being oppressed as a “conservative” man.  Again,  “To those who are accustomed to privilege, equality is mistaken for oppression.”

Recall that I am a Silicon Valley technologist and entrepreneur with over a forty-year career now.  I grew up in Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale and Los Altos).  Went to the same high school and at the same time, as Steve Jobs.  My first job was as a teenaged secretary at a high-tech company at the corner of Scott & Bowers, at the very heart of Silicon Valley, in 1976.  I worked my way up from there to be a founder and CEO.  I KNOW Silicon Valley.  I know tech.  I’ve seen the bias against women, those with disabilities,  ethnic, and sexual minorities first hand, sometimes up close and personal.  Heck, I’ve got over a hundred patents, a text-book chapter, and dozens of conference papers & journal articles… and a prestigious professional society award.  And yet, multiple times, my presence in tech and in tech management has been questioned by the likes of James Damore.

I’ve met with a goodly number of Google employees and executives, VP level and above…  up to and including Megan Smith and Sergey Brin.  I know that Google is making a sincere effort to eliminate bias in hiring and promotion.  Heck… they even offered me a position there (which as I was already CEO of my own start-up, I declined).  But this is an industry wide problem that no one company can solve on its own.

Oh… and I’m a very open-minded scientific “skeptic” when it comes to sexually dimorphic behavior, of which I have shown that there are many.  So I know the science.  I have managed many technologists, both men and women, from ‘baby techies’ to senior researchers that are far more talented than James Damore…  From all of that, I can personally tell you,

This shit of Damore’s stinks!

There, to the author that wondered where an essay from a trans-activist was… now you have one.

Further Reading:

Perceived Gender Bias Against Women Is Dominant Factor in College Major Choice

Woman Who Switched to Man’s Name on Resume Goes From 0 to 70 Percent Response Rate

No… you really don’t want to read this tripe… but if you must:


Fun Reading:

All the Stars are Suns ebook completeSincerity Espinoza didn’t go looking for trouble, it found her. All she wants out of life is the chance to go to the stars but she is caught in a web of misunderstandings, political & legal maneuvering, and the growing threat of terrorist plots by religious fanatics. She has a secret that if found out too soon could mean not only her own death but the ruin of the hope for humanity ever going to the stars. But even amidst momentous events, life is still about the small moments of love, laughter, and sadness.   Available as an ebook at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

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It was just a joke!

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on September 2, 2017

Kay Brown 2010I recently had a very unpleasant facebook “dialog” when an old colleague posted a “humorous” piece in which the second “joke” was making fun of the growing acceptance of transfolk, in this case, a transman, in college today, as an example of “political correctness run amok”.  I tried to point out how vile that joke was and why posting the link to it was not OK.  He and several other people dumped on me saying that “It was just a joke!”  Well – no, it’s not just a joke.  It is a means to denigrate and dehumanize transfolk.  It is an example of “disparagement humor”.

I’ve written about this before, when I tried to explain why Robin Williams was no hero to the transgender communities.  But I feel that we need to have a larger exploration of the phenomena and to catalog some of the types of jokes that target transfolk and place it into the larger context of disparagement humor theory.

A number of researchers are exploring the psychology and sociology of disparagement humor and its effects.  Thomas Ford is one such researcher who explains this phenomena,

“Disparagement humor is paradoxical: It simultaneously communicates two conflicting messages. One is an explicit hostile or prejudiced message. But delivered alongside is a second implicit message that “it doesn’t count as hostility or prejudice because I didn’t mean it — it’s just a joke.”

By disguising expressions of prejudice in a cloak of fun and frivolity, disparagement humor, like the jokes above, appears harmless and trivial. However, a large and growing body of psychology research suggests just the opposite – that disparagement humor can foster discrimination against targeted groups.”

It can be frustrating to explain why such jokes are both offensive and destructive to those who hold implicit negative evaluations of transpeople.  I have found that even people who can recognize ugly racism in jokes about minorities can fail, epically, to recognize its cognate in transphobic jokes.  To them, “it’s just a joke!”.  Disparagement humor, as Ford has shown, fosters further discrimination against the targeted groups in those that hear the jokes when they already harbor implicit bias against those groups,

“On the basis of these findings, one might conclude that disparagement humor targeting oppressed or disadvantaged groups is inherently destructive and thus should be censured. However, the real problem might not be with the humor itself but rather with an audience’s dismissive viewpoint that “a joke is just a joke,” even if disparaging. One study found that such a “cavalier humor belief” might indeed be responsible for some of the negative effects of disparagement humor. For prejudiced people, the belief that “a disparaging joke is just a joke” trivializes the mistreatment of historically oppressed social groups – including women, gay people, racial minorities and religious minorities – which further contributes to their prejudiced attitude.”

These jokes are meant to signal to other biased people that they are not alone in holding their biased views while at the same time hiding their malicious intent from those who do not currently hold such bias yet subtly stretching the social acceptability of such bias even in the minds of those who previously didn’t hold such bias.  As Hodson puts it,

“The appreciation of humor is arguably a fundamental aspect of social life. Yet passing jokes off as “just jokes” can have serious and negative intergroup consequences (e.g., discrimination; denial of rights). We review some recent findings concerning how group dominance motives are expressed in humor contexts through cavalier beliefs about humor. These beliefs legitimize and provide psychological cover to avoid the appearance of bias. We propose that humor and ridicule play a critical part of the delegitimization process, operating in tandem with processes such as dehumanization (representing others as animal-like and/or machine-like) and system justification (i.e., maintaining the status quo in terms of intergroup hierarchies). As such, humor plays a key role in the delegitimization of others that occurs in much of everyday life, such as in the workplace or schoolyard setting. Disparaging intergroup humor effectively rules social groups in as acceptable targets for devaluation, working in tandem with dehumanization processes that rule others out as targets worthy of protection.”

Thus, these “jokes” which aren’t really jokes, are sociopolitical statements of who may be targeted for dehuminization and discrimination and even signal how they may do so (e.g. Dave Chappelle telling his audience that disrespecting and misgendering transwomen is not only acceptable, but trans-allies suggesting that he and others respect transwomen is morally wrong, “Motherfucker!”).

Interestingly, I believe the number and frequency of transphobic jokes has dramatically increased over the past several decades.  Part of this may be increased awareness of the existence of transfolk.  But there is another explanation which paradoxically may be good news for transfolk as Ford explains,

In another study, my colleagues and I demonstrated that this prejudice-releasing effect of disparagement humor varies depending on the position in society occupied by the butt of the joke. Social groups are vulnerable to different degrees depending on their overall status.

Some groups occupy a unique social position of what social psychologists call “shifting acceptability.” For these groups, the overall culture is changing from considering prejudice and discrimination against them completely justified to considering them completely unjustified. But even as society as a whole becomes increasingly accepting of them, many individuals still harbor mixed feelings.

In this research, we can understand that these disparaging “jokes” represent a sort of culture war pushback on the growing acceptance of transfolk in our larger society.

So what kind of transphobic or should I say, “tranny trashing” jokes do we hear?  Interestingly, the jokes seem to take two forms, not surprisingly, based upon the two types of transsexuals, one “homosexual” and the other autogynephilic.

As a blatant and ugly example of humor targeting autogynephiles, one may start with the 1972 film, The Ruling Class in which during the opening scenes, we see very dry humor poking fun at Lord Gurney wearing a tutu (cross-dressing, but not a typical choice) while engaging in auto-erotic asphyxiation by hanging, all the while maintaining an air of upper-class distinction while his valet maintains an air of non-judgemental subservience as he aids his master to prepare for his masturbatory session (not shown).  His death due to mis-adventure during the act is meant to be “humorous”. Cue. Laugh. Track.

Analyzing the joke we see that it is meant to skewer the British upper-class, but it is done with the tacit understanding assumed to be shared with the audience that being an autogynephile and devotee of autoerotic asphyxiation (which are only loosely related, as one-third of those men found dead from similar misadventures, are at least partially cross-dressed, usually in lingerie, but the vast majority of autogynephiles are NOT into auto-asphyxiation) is a disreputable and dishonorable sexual behavior.

Other jokes about autogynephiles abound, especially in Britain, where the mere fact that a man is wearing female typical clothing is considered automatically funny.  The trope has a common name “man in a dress” (Cue Laugh Track).  This trope and the jokes surrounding it extend to post-transition transwomen who do not pass well, who become figures of ridicule and sniggering jokes in both media and in person.  This attitude comes from misogyny.  For a man to take on the attributes, even if only temporarily, of a woman is to degrade himself in the eyes of these misogynists, and by doing so, becomes worthy of being disparaged.  Proof?  A woman dressed as a man elicits no reciprocal humor.  For a woman to take on the attributes of a man is seen as attempting to raise her status in life.  Movies with men dressing as women are labeled comedies.  Movies with women dressing as men are labeled adventure/action.  (e.g. “Some Like It Hot” and “Sorority Boys” vs. “Mulan“)

(As an aside, this trope of women passing as men to raise their status is one of the reasons why historical examples of transmen are misappropriated by heterosexual and even lesbian feminists who disregard their transgender / gender dysphoric natures, misgendering them.)

Jokes about androphilic transwomen also abound.  But here the twist incorporates the fact that most androphilic transwomen typically pass unremarkably as women in their day-to-day lives.  So, the trope becomes that of the predatory homosexual man passing as a women to dupe innocent straight men into having gay sex with them.

A common trope is that the audience, and possibly other characters, in a story or film know that a lovely woman is “really a man” and laugh at the duped straight man.  Such a scene in shown at the ending of the 1988 Sherlock Holmes spoof, Without a Clue when our heroes Holmes and Watson knowingly and maliciously allow Inspector Lastrade, unknowingly to court a professional “female impersonator” (an historically common profession for androphilic transwomen before and during the early introduction of medical feminization treatment for transsexuality) and laugh behind his back at the ‘joke’.  This exact ‘joke’ has been repeatedly used in other films and TV sit-coms.  It relies on the notion that for a straight man to be romantically involved with an androphilic transwoman, no matter how physically and behaviorially feminine, no matter how desirable a personality or moral character, he is demeaned by the experience.  He becomes less of a man, either homosexual, clueless, or both, a figure of ridicule, while the transwoman is to be despised as a liar and a cheat, as well as an effeminate (misogyny) homosexual (homophobia).  The joke disparages both parties, increasing the discrimination that androphilic tranwomen experience and the likelihood of being severely beaten and murdered by transphobic straight men who find themselves attracted to such transwomen (whether or not they knew beforehand).  This “joke” is deadly to androphilic transwomen (no hyperbole).

Another common trope is that of the “confused” or “delusional” transgender… who doesn’t understand what sex they are.  This trope overlaps with transfolk stigmatized as mentally ill.  An example is a photo of a dog with the caption “Caitlyn Jenner’s cat”.   Another example was the reason for writing this essay, the ‘joke’ that parents helping their son move into his freshman year dorm room aren’t supposed to call his obviously female bodied transman roommie “her”.  This “joke” is essentially predicated on the belief that transfolk do not have any real medical or psychological reason for being gender dysphoric and should just, “look in your pants!”

Jokes about “Chicks with Dicks” trope is quite old.  I found a subtle example of it in a pre-WWII vintage limerick,

“Dame Catherine of Ashton on Lynches
Got it on with grooms and her wenches
She went down on the gents
And pronged the girl’s vents
With a “clitorus” reaching six inches”

In my essay on Robin Williams I observed how he uses a variant of this ‘joke’ when his character’s son discovers him urinating while standing in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire.  This entire film is one long “man in a dress” joke, punctuated by another very ugly and sinister false trope of the transgender as pedophile and rapist.  It is no coincidence that the movie included the bathroom discovery scene followed by his children’s horror, disgust, and fear for their safety.  This type of ‘joke’ about transwomen in women’s bathrooms has led directly to the so-called “transgender bathroom” bills in multiple states.

Transphobic jokes are not just jokes.  They are invitations to mistreat and discriminate against transfolk and as such are morally repugnant.  As Ford points out, sometime humor can be used to poke fun of such bias… but runs the risk of backfiring when viewed by biased individuals.  Subtly ironic satire of transphobic attitudes are not discerned by the transphobe…  So, at risk of such happening here, I share this wonderful comic strip.


Further Reading:

Essay on Robin Williams and his disparaging of transwomen as child care-givers.

Essay on the very high murder rate of young androphilic transwomen

“Psychology behind the unfunny consequences of jokes that denigrate – A joke isn’t just a joke.” by Thomas Ford

“Dave Chappelle Is Back—But His Transphobic Jokes Are No Laughing Matter” by Dan Avery

“Lil Duval Jokes He’d Kill a Sexual Partner If He Found Out She Was Transgender: ‘I Don’t Care, She’s Dying’” by Titiana Cirisano


Hodson, Gordon, Rush, Jonathan, MacInnis, Cara C., “A joke is just a joke (except when it isn’t): Cavalier humor beliefs facilitate the expression of group dominance motives.” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2010)

Hodson, Gordon, MacInnis, Cara C., “Derogating humor as a delegitimization strategy in intergroup contexts.” Translational Issues in Psychological Science (2016)

Fun Reading:


All the Stars are Suns ebook completeSincerity Espinoza didn’t go looking for trouble, it found her. All she wants out of life is the chance to go to the stars but she is caught in a web of misunderstandings, political & legal maneuvering, and the growing threat of terrorist plots by religious fanatics. She has a secret that if found out too soon could mean not only her own death but the ruin of the hope for humanity ever going to the stars. But even amidst momentous events, life is still about the small moments of love, laughter, and sadness.   Available as an ebook at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

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These Transsexuals Were the First Banned…

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on July 26, 2017

Kay Brown 2010… from the US Armed Forces.  Here’s what they did next.

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

I always interpreted this, our 2nd Amendment to our constitution to actually mean that the right to serve in the defence of our country, could not be “infringed”.   But clearly, bigotry and prejudice have prevailed over the centuries… as they did today when our current “Commander-in-Chief”, spouting more lies, but really serving the interests of bigots, re-instated the ugly and wholly unnecessary policy of excluding any and all transsexual and transgender people from military service “in any capacity”.  I believe whole-heartedly that this policy is unconstitutional on the face of it.

This policy has touched upon my own life and that of many other transfolk, both those I have known and admired, and those unknown, but still worthy of respect.

When I was in my mid-teens, my mother would leave brochures for the Navy around for my brother and I to find.  She tried very hard to get us both to join up.  I knew that was NOT for me, as I was trying desperately to transition as soon as I possibly could… and joining the Navy would not help in that effort.  Plus, hey, as an obviously gender atypical androphilic male, there was no way that I could pass as a straight man.  As it was, on my 18th birthday, my father came over to give me a combination birthday and high school graduation gift of a clock-radio, the only gift that I was given by anyone on this occasion.  He also informed me that I was no longer welcome to live in my mother’s house.  How brave of my mother to use my father to deliver the message.  I would not be welcome to stay at my father’s small apartment either… as it was too close to the family.  I would be given a small allowance if I remained away from the family from then on… to be a “remittance man”.  So, as I struggled to maintain myself, my brother soon joined the Navy to be trained as an avionics technician.

When I was 22 years old, in 1979, during a time of much stress, as I had been intermittently homeless and living in rather unsavory conditions at times, I was working as a very low paid electronics repair tech, a skill I had learned coming up the ranks from electronic assembler.  I had very skilled hands and could delicately remove and replace microelectronic components that most men could not.  One of our customers was an Air National Guard unit who didn’t have anyone who could fix the type of radios that I could.  One of their non-comms responsible for their electronics maintainance tried very hard to get me to sign-up.  As a pre-op transsexual, I knew that I could never do that as it was then well-known that the DOD policy was that no homosexuals nor transsexuals were allowed.  Being both androphilic and a pre-op, I would be considered doubly unqualified.  But I could REALLY have used the money and experience of serving.  (No soup for you!)

That year, I would meet two transwomen who had served in the military and both been discharged for being trans.


Dr. Joy Shaffer and Kay Brown in the mid-80s

The first was Joy Shaffer.  She had joined the Air Force as a teenager and served for something like 18 months as an avionics technician before events unfolded in which she admitted that she was trans.  She was administratively discharged, honorably, such that she was eligible for G.I. benefits which she used to earn a degree in biochemistry from CalTech, with honors, in only three years, transitioning there as a student.  When I met her a few months after her graduation, she was working as a research assistant for a scientist working to understand the biochemistry and epigenetics of osteoarthritis.  She was a named author on several peer reviewed papers including one in Cell.

clar05aThe other was Joanna Michelle Clark.  Joanna had been in the Navy, served aboard P-3 Orion subchasers, rose to Chief Petty Officer, thus our favorite nickname for her, “Chief”.  She, like so many other ‘late transitioners’ had been married.  But, as her gender dysphoria grew, she divorced, left the Navy, honorably, with no reference to being transsexual, and began transition.  She sought treatment at the Stanford Clinic in the early ’70s.  (She has some amusing stories about her own interviews with Dr. Fisk.)  Afterwards, she was recruited into the Army National Guard.  She had fully disclosed her earlier identity, medical status, and experience in the Navy.  As there were no policies concerning transsexuals at the time, she was inducted.  Ah… but folks at the Pentagon finally noticed her existence about a year and a half later.  They changed the policy and then booted her, dishonorably, for having violated the new policy!  She fought back but managed only to get her discharge changed to honorable, as she had never lied about her medical status at any point and it was the DOD who had changed their policies… and attempted to apply an illegal ex-post-facto charge against her.

This experience radicalized Joanna to become a true activist.  One of the first things she did afterwords was convince and work with Willie Brown to change California law to allow transsexuals to change their ID, including their driver licence, before SRS.

ACLUIn 1980, Joanna Clark, Joy Shaffer, and several other transsexuals, including myself, founded the ACLU Transsexual Rights Committee, with Joanna as the Committee Chair.  The committee worked on a number of initiatives including the issue of access to medical care which was under serious threat at both governmental and private insurance providers.  (Our nemesis, author of The Transsexual Empire, Janice Raymond was one of the culture warriors on the other side, writing transphobic whitepapers arguing against coverage for transition medical services.)  A key argument against medical coverage for SRS was that it was “experimental”.  I had insurance through my employer that should have covered my SRS, which I had gone deeply in debt (relative to my meager income at the time) to pay for.  But my carrier refused reimbursement based on “experimental”  I and an FtM transman who had been also refused reimbursement using this same “experimental” clause agreed to contest this rejection.  The committee put together a case for class action suit with ACLU backing and myself and the brave transman as key plaintiff.  But the insurance company stymied us by paying our claims and admitting that our surgeries were no longer “experimental”.  I thought we had won!  No, we got snuckered, the insurance companies started writing specific exclusionary language into all future policies.  We calculated that the cost of doing that exceeded the costs of coverage.  This was done out of bigotry, not rational business, just as the exclusion of LGBT people in the military is one of bigotry.

Joy went on to earn a medical degree at Stanford Medical School, became board certified in internal medicine, later to found a large private LGBT friendly medical practice in San Jose (“Silicon Valley”).  As well as having the largest transgender private practice in the world, Joy served on the front lines against the HIV/AIDS epidemic taking on patients when others wouldn’t.  When anti-retro-viral drugs started saving lives, she celebrated telling me, “We are fucking curing AIDS!”

Joanna, deeply moved by the growing death toll of the early AIDS epidemic went on to a new mission in HIV/AIDS education.  Violating copy right law, systematically pulled scientific and medical papers from behind paywalls and placed them on first a BBS then later a website, to disseminate lifesaving information on HIV/AIDS, work that she continues to this day.

Had the DOD not changed their policy so as to boot Joanna and Joy, both the transgender/transsexual and gay communities would have lost the services of some of our greatest champions and heroes.  Some good has come out of evil bigotry.

So, back to today’s announcement.  How many transsexuals, you know, the ones that actually “change sex” and need medical intervention are there in the U.S. armed services?  Forget those silly numbers that have been thrown around.  Using proper statistics of how many transfolk have actually transitioned in the U.S., the total is only 90,000 out of close to 300 million residents; with only 2 million Americans in uniform, that means only 600 transsexuals.  That’s it.  600.  Wow, that’s going to cost… far less than they already spend on little blue pills for men who can’t get it up.  And the DOD knows it.

For a short while, we thought that just maybe, this ban would be lifted completely… as the DOD was allowing transfolk to continue to serve with honor for the past two years.  But now that looks to have been false hope.

Given the ongoing story about this ban, it is important that this history be known.  Please share it widely.  (Note to media:  Please do quote from this material as desired.)

Further Reading:

Wikipedia Page on Joanna M. Clark

Essay on the true number of transitioned transfolk in the U.S.

Scientific American: Cost of Medical Care for Transgender Service Members Would Be Minimal, Studies Show.

Fun Reading:


All the Stars are Suns ebook completeSincerity Espinoza didn’t go looking for trouble, it found her. All she wants out of life is the chance to go to the stars but she is caught in a web of misunderstandings, political & legal maneuvering, and the growing threat of terrorist plots by religious fanatics. She has a secret that if found out too soon could mean not only her own death but the ruin of the hope for humanity ever going to the stars. But even amidst momentous events, life is still about the small moments of love, laughter, and sadness.   Available as an ebook at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

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I’ve Done My Research…

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on July 18, 2017

20106662_827148660781856_9051171404874056968_nOr… Bringing a Plastic Picnic Knife to a Gunfight

If one were to trust the discussions on various internet fora, and even occasionally a direct email, one would think everyone in the trans* community was an expert on trans* sexuality and experience.  One would think that they all have read the science papers and have considered the evidence.  One would be very wrong.

One transwoman told me on a forum (my own facebook page of all things) that she had read all of Blanchard’s papers and knew that they were all bogus.  I then mentioned another paper by Freund… whereupon she jumped down my throat about how stupid I was to use psychoanalytic arguments.  Oopies… “Gee,” says I, “I thought you said that you had read of all Blanchard’s papers.  If so, you would know that I was referring to Blanchard’s early mentor and collaborator, co-author of his early papers on trans*, Kurt Freund, NOT Sigmund Freud!”  I had caught this individual in a flat out lie.  She had never actually read Blanchard’s, or anybody else’s, papers on the science.  No, she was regurgitating what she had read about Blanchard, from authors who had written about Blanchard after having read about Blanchard from other authors who had written about Blanchard, etc., many suggesting that Blanchard and his cronies are in a conspiracy to defame transwomen.  (Hint:  No, they are not.)

Of course, it is not just Blanchard’s papers that need to be read and understood if one is to understand the hypothesis and evidence involved.  One also must read the papers that followed up on Blanchard’s papers.  And one must also read the papers that preceded his, of which Blanchard was following up upon (for example, Freund’s).  There are literally hundreds of papers that one must read and understand, deeply understand.  It helps if one has a very strong background in psychology, biology, and neurology.  (Did I mention that I have a degree in psychology, strong minor in biology, as well as the degree in physics?)

Oh, for certain there are a few who have actually read the papers… but mostly in an attempt to refute, rather than understand.   Many, perhaps most, don’t actually read the papers, but just skim the abstracts.  This is understandable since many of these papers are behind paywalls.  But this is not a useful means of understanding the evidence, since many of the abstracts were written with the intention of ‘spinning’ the evidence, either into something more exciting than the data actually supports, or attempting to downplay what it actually supports.  From this, a number of trans* commenters have created a mountain of misrepresentations of the papers.

For example, that most risible of “papers” that purported to demonstrate the existence of autogynephilia in non-trans women put out by Moser, if you trust the abstract, one gets a completely different conclusion than what one gets when one reads the actual paper with an understanding of how such science should be conducted, and know that in this case, it wasn’t.

But another example I was confronted with by email just recently, was a part-time cross-dresser angrily contesting my use of the Nuttbrock study as further evidence that supported the two type taxonomy of MTF transgender.  Unwinding the misconceptions that he had, it became clear that he based his contention that Nuttbrock did not support the two type taxonomy on the title and abstract of the paper.  He had never actually read the paper, nor had bothered to follow the links I provide to essays I wrote that quote and organize the DATA from the Nuttbrock study.  The data I had because I wrote to Nuttbrock asking pretty please for a copy of the paper and was graciously provided one.

inah3Another problem is trusting the authors of papers when they cite other papers to correctly interpret what those cited paper’s data actually support (or refute).  For example, I keep seeing papers (and transwomen on internet fora) citing Swaab’s earlier papers on transsexual brain studies as though they supported the brain sex hypothesis for gynephilic transwomen, when in fact, they do not.  (As a reminder, all of the subjects had been on HRT for years and we now know that HRT causes shifts in brain structure.)  To spot these errors, one has to understand the entire corpus of published papers and carefully, and yes, skeptically, construct a picture of what the collective evidence does and does not support.

Unless one has done that, coming at the so-called “Blanchardists” ( including myself ) saying that you have done your research… well, that’s just bringing a plastic picnic knife to a gunfight.

Further Reading:

Essay on Moser’s purported study on autogynephilic in women

Essay on Swaab’s BSTc and INAH3 papers

Essay on Nuttbrock study

Bibliography:  A non-exhaustive list of research papers that comprise a bare minimum study list On the Science of Changing Sex

Fun Reading:


All the Stars are Suns ebook completeSincerity Espinoza didn’t go looking for trouble, it found her. All she wants out of life is the chance to go to the stars but she is caught in a web of misunderstandings, political & legal maneuvering, and the growing threat of terrorist plots by religious fanatics. She has a secret that if found out too soon could mean not only her own death but the ruin of the hope for humanity ever going to the stars. But even amidst momentous events, life is still about the small moments of love, laughter, and sadness.   Available as an ebook at Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

Comments Off on I’ve Done My Research…