On the Science of Changing Sex

Coming of (r)age in Samoa…

Posted in Science Criticism, Transsexual Field Studies, Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on June 20, 2017

critical-thinkingOr, The Fa’afafine in Context

It seems to me that research focused on the fa’afafine of Samoa has become all the rage of late, at least for those interested in feminine androphilic males / “homosexual MTF transgender” folk.  The interest has at its heart, the hope that it represents a culture that is closer to what we might have had before large-scale civilizations began, one closer to what humans may have evolved within.

First, Samoan culture is very collectivist.  Although we don’t have a formal Hofstede Individualism Index value for Samoa, most commentators I can find all agree that it would be very low, perhaps lower than just about any other on the planet.  They do everything in groups, traditionally even living together under one roof without walls.  Family and extended family are everything.  Thus, if we were to predict the ratio of androphilic vs. non-androphilic transwomen based upon the relationship between the Hofstede Individualism Index and the percentage of non-androphilic transwomen found by Lawrence, we would expect almost no non-androphilic transwomen.  And indeed, one never sees them mentioned in connection with Samoa.

In Samoa, there is almost no stigma attached to being a feminine male.  Feminine male children are not bullied.  Fa’afafine adults are not discriminated against in employment.  There is little to no stigma attached to masculine men finding Fa’afafine sexually attractive.  This is not to say that there isn’t any problems for them.  Christian missionaries and Western colonization has brought homophobic laws and attitudes.  But because there is little to no stigma attached, androphilic males are free to express as much or as little femininity as they find in themselves with little incentive to attempt to suppress it as occurs in many other cultures.

However, before anyone lauds the Samoan culture as being the transgender (or gay) paradise, consider one other factoid.  I can’t find any reference to any fa’afafine who is in a long-term relationship with a lover.  I’ve never seen any reference to their families celebrating a marriage to a man.  The fa’afafine may be called “in the manner of a woman” (as the term loosely translates), but they aren’t given that social status.  They are granted a status as what many anthropologists would call a “third gender”.  But that gender is not seen as equal to women in status and marital desirability.

fafafineFa’afafine are universally androphilic and have sex with masculine men.  They don’t have sex with each other because they are attracted to masculinity which is not especially abundant in fa’afafine.  But those episodes with masculine men are typically “one night stands”.  I can’t believe that they wouldn’t choose to have long-term romance in a committed relationship.  Although not well publicized, and not nearly as common as we might like, such long term relationships do exist between masculine men and androphilic transwomen in Western cultures.  So I must conclude that it is the Samoan culture that in effect prohibits or discourages such relationships.  I would like to be proven wrong on this… I really would.

An educated reader will perhaps recognize my quip of a title from Margaret Mead’s 1928 book.  They may also know of how she was attacked by Derek Freeman.  Maybe I’m just biased by my friendship with Alice Dreger, since I don’t believe a word Freeman says… but the episode does offer a cautionary tale regarding the potential changes that Christian missionaries have already brought to Samoa.  I’ll leave it at that, since those who are better acquainted with the controversy will know what I mean.

One of the interesting aspects of androphilia in males is the question of evolution, to wit, if genetics play a role, and there is strong evidence it does, than why hasn’t it been selected out of the human population?  How can a trait that confers a significant reproductive disadvantage be maintained in the gene pool, should that allele(s) be under very high anti-selection pressure?  One hypothesis is the “Kin Selection” effect in which androphilic males are indirectly “fit”, reproductively successful, because they increase the resources available for their near relatives.  Paul Vasey has been testing this idea in both Western gay men and fa’afafine.  Interestingly, it doesn’t appear to be true among Western gay men, but does appear to be true among fa’afafine who exhibit strong materterally supportive behaviors toward the children of their siblings.  The speculation is that something about the suppression, the crushing, of the natural femininity of androphilic males in Western nations also suppresses this materteral behavior.  I would suggest that we also look at Western androphilic transwomen, being careful to sort by the quality of familial relationships.

Since the culture is presupposed to be closer to that of our pre-civilization ancestors, the question of who the fa’afafine are sexually attracting may offer other insights into the early evolutionary selection pressures on masculine men, specifically the notion of competition for mating opportunities between women and feminine androphilic males.  Lanna Petterson explored this in a study published as her thesis (also published in journals) in which she presented images of faces, men, women, and very plain emojis on a computer screen, asking her subjects to evaluate and report how sexually attractive they found them.  The images were limited only to the faces.  They were composites that had been digitally modified to enhance their sexual dimorphism.  (Frankly, of the two images she included in the appendix of her thesis, I personally found them disturbing, seeming to be slipping over a cliff into the uncanny valley below.  I can’t but help thinking that the results may have been influenced in part by this.)  Unknown to her subjects, the response time latency was also recorded by the computer.  Earlier studies have shown that people tend to linger over images that they find erotically rewarding.  From this data, she comes to the conclusion that the men who are having sex with fa’afafine are “bisexual”.

Sigh… Looking at the data, as well as what we know from other studies of men who seek out transwomen (chasers), I have to seriously question this conclusion.  First, very much like what androphilic transwomen experience in the West, 65% of the men had never had a sexual encounter with a man and 75% had not within the past year.  As Dr. Richard Green wrote about the men who dated Western androphilic transwomen,

“The men who fall in love with and perhaps marry women who are themselves former males, by and large, have known their partners only as women.  Their prior sexual experiences have been only with females.  They consider themselves heterosexual and their relationships heterosexual.  To varying degrees they are consciously and unconsciously aware of the biologic status of their partners, but it would be simplistic and would furthermore blur generally accepted definitions to call these men homosexual.  Rather they are men who respond to the considerable femininity of male-to-female transsexuals, ignoring the dissonant cues of masculinity.”

For many of the masculine Samoan men in Petterson’s study, I believe would fit this description as well.  Another portion of the men I believe would likely fall into the category of gynandromorphophilic (GAMP).  From a wonderful study by Hsu, we know that such men tend to be autogynephilic as well.  Although Samoan autogynephilic men are not likely to transition to presenting as women, that does not mean that they won’t seek out their prefered external sexual partners, women and feminine males, to wit fa’afafine.

From personal experience and hints from clinician and sexologist comments (e.g. Stoller and Bailey, separately), Western androphilic transwomen avoid gynandromorphophiles. One of the hallmarks of gynandromorphophiles is that they prefer pre-op and “functional”, that is, willing to allow these men to touch their penis, as Stoller remarked, “… she considered anyone who was not interested in her penis as normal…”

From reading between the lines of Petterson’s thesis, it appears that she made the assumption that sexual role “flexibility” denoted greater bisexuality.  I would argue just the opposite, that it is a signifier of potential gynandromorphophilia.  Also, I would predict that such men would have a different and “disturbed” response time when presented with faces to evaluate due to their underlying erotic target location error proneness.  While it is true that people tend to linger over images that they find erotically rewarding, they also tend to have trouble responding quickly to associations that reside further away from each other in their personal experience (e.g. implicit bias testing).  Indeed, this issue is shown in the data… that those who are willing to perform fellatio on fa’afafine had longer response latency, even to the crude emojis.

A minority of the masculine men having sex with fa’afafine are also only having sex with other masculine men, but not women.  This would suggest masculine presentation / identity exclusive androphilia, not bisexuality.  Not all fa’afafine present as extremely feminine as adults – some are fairly conventionally masculine, as average gay men would be in the West.  It would appear to me that not all androphilic males in Samoa developed an identity as fa’afafine as a child and that they are having sex with each other and to at least some of the fa’afafine, perhaps those who are less hypomasculine?

Although Petterson rejected the hypothesis that her masculine male subjects included both primarily androphilic and gynephilic subjects based on statistical tests of her response time data for normal distribution.  I believe that the effect of there being three different populations masked this fact.

Although Samoa and the fa’afafine culture seem so different than that of the West, I believe that the feminine androphilic subcultures in the West, that of feminine gay men, drag, and feminine androphilic transsexuals and our experiences very much parallel each other in important ways and future research will bear this out.

Further Reading:

Essay on relationship between Hofstede Individualism Index and non-androphilic MTF transsexual transitions

Essay on cultural influence on androphilic male presenation

Essay on Gynandromorphophilia


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

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It’s Just Not Fair!

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on June 4, 2017

female_scientist“Life just isn’t fair.”

That’s what I heard as a child and I learned deep down that it’s true.  Life just isn’t fair.

For years now, I’ve seen news articles, blog posts, and internet fora discussions around the issue of transfolk and of course intersex folk and athletics.  The word that keeps coming up, especially from those who oppose allowing them to participate in sports, is that it isn’t fair to women.  But as I hope to convince my reader, sports and athletics have never been about what’s fair.  And its not really about transfolk per se.

First, lets talk about “fair” and how life isn’t.  When I was nine years old, my mother, a serious jock herself, decided to enroll my brothers and I in competitive swimming.  We joined the Mountain View Dolphins coached by Mr. Tom Bottom.  If that sounds familiar, it’s because you may have read that Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were also on the Dolphins.  But I mostly hung out with Patti Jobs, also on the team.  I tried for months to get faster.  But no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t swim fast.  Heck, I couldn’t even keep up with the others during regular practice, much less a race!  Eventually, Coach Bottom told my mother that it was useless and I was asked to leave the team.  I never even entered an actual competition race.  I would never be an athlete.  My heart was in it, but my heart wasn’t.  Life just isn’t fair.

Yes, I know that sounds odd, but one has to understand, that my cardio-pulmonary system just couldn’t deliver.  I had severe exercise induced asthma and poor heart-lung capacity.  I also lacked overall muscle strength.  I was poor at every sport.  I was a short, skinny slip of a thing that couldn’t run, couldn’t throw, couldn’t bat.  At school, I knew instantly which team I would be on the moment that they started to pick teams, since I would be picked dead last, after all of the girls (though two of the girls were near the top of the pick list many weren’t good at sports either, but all were better than me).  No one wanted me on their team and they made it very obvious, derisively so.  Children can be cruel and some adults aren’t much better.  Life just isn’t fair.

To make it even more cruel, my three siblings as well as my mother were good athletes.  My father had been keen on sports as well, active until a heart condition forced him to cut back.  My memories of family dinner table conversations are dominated with discussions of times and scores for swimming, volleyball and softball (our mother), gymnastics (my sister), water polo, and diving.  While I sat silent, not participating, as I was just not an athlete.  Life just isn’t fair.

The younger of my two brothers was an elite athlete.  He was winning races since he was four years old.  Eventually, he would compete in the Universiade and if Carter hadn’t insisted that we boycott the Olympics in Moscow, he would have competed there as well.  That had been his burning ambition for years.  He even had the number ’80 in big characters on his bedroom wall growing up.  But… Life just isn’t fair.

handSo what was going on?  Perhaps my family just won the genetics lottery and I lost.  Or it may have been a more complicated story… and interestingly, there are hints that it might have a deep connection with why I am transsexual.  It turns out there is a very strong connection between cardio-pulmonary capacity, 2d:4d digit ratios, and athletic ability, all influenced by testosterone exposure in utero.  Those with high testosterone exposure in utero later develop larger and stronger hearts and lungs (as well as generally being stronger overall).  There is a statistical correlation between having a low 2d:4d ratio and athletic performance, especially for speed at running and swimming.

finger vs sexMy 2d:4d ratio is very high, 1.06 which is quite literally “off the chart”, so one would predict that I would be a very poor athlete.  While the verdict isn’t quite in yet, there is also tentative evidence that high 2d:4d ratios are correlated with male androphilia and gender atypicality, including being an MTF transkid.  Life just isn’t fair.

Regardless of whether the above is true, opponents of transfolk, especially of MTF transwomen, competing in athletic events and sports, are right about one key fact.  Men, on average, do have greater physical strength and cardio-pulmonary capacity ON AVERAGE.  That is to say, that both men and women, boys and girls, vary in their natural athleticism on Gaussian curves that largely overlap but are offset from one another.  I don’t have the data handy so I can’t list the effect sizes.  But my point is that because of this offset, the elite men will beat the elite women, nearly every time, unless something about being female is privileged in a given event (e.g. figure skating advantages shorter, lighter women with a lower center of mass).  One never hears complaints about transkids like me who lose at every event to all of the girls.  We only hear complaints about transkids and adults who win at the elite level.  And yes, statistically, we do expect that, especially for “late transitioners”, that at the elite level, transwomen will have the advantage of having a long history of higher testosterone exposure that begins to privilege males begining in utero.  While HRT and SRS will reduce current levels of androgens and result in decreased muscle mass, it will not erase the advantage of earlier exposure, most especially upon cardio-pulmonary capacity.  Life just isn’t fair.

Here is where I change the subject a bit and introduce a conjecture that I have long been exploring.  I can’t really call it an hypothesis, since I don’t really know how to test it.  I don’t believe that athletics and sports in general are about “fair” in the ethical sense because if it was, we wouldn’t be so freaked out about “doping”.  I know, you think that makes no sense, but bear with me.

First, consider professional sports.  At the deepest level, these are entertainment businesses, first and last.  One would think that anything that increased the entertainment value would be encouraged.  After all, action movies aren’t anything like real life, they are pure entertainment.  So why does the fact that Barry
Bonds using medical advances to improve his performance on the field bother his fans, and thus his employers?  This can’t be about “fairness” because the value of the entertainment is improved by his increase in the ability to hit home runs.  It can’t be about “fairness” because all of the other players could also have access to this technology which would further improve the entertainment value of their performances.  Yet, the public and thus the businesses collectively ban their use.  We actually do want Barry Bonds to have lots of testosterone fueled muscle.  But we want that testosterone to come from his testicles, not a test tube.

It always struck me as odd that in all sports and athletic events, the participants can use any and all crazy training and health regimes to improve their performance except for those that actually work.  We ban steroids.  We ban stimulants.  We ban blood oxygen carrying capacity enhancers.  Again, everyone could use them, so this isn’t about “fairness”.

No, something deeper is going on.  I believe that something is related to peacock feathers and deer antlers.  It is related to the deep-time evolutionary need to compete for mates and to evaluate the genetic fitness of potential mates.  We don’t want amazing athletic performance for its own sake.  We want the ability to stack rank potential mates on their genetically endowed performance.  In ancient times, the young people of a community would have had events which allowed comparisons with each other.  And it would be obvious who was the healthiest, who was most likely to sire or bear the healthiest and strongest children.  We evolved to have such contests and to observe such contests, to be rewarded for such participation and observation.  This explains why we don’t like ‘doping’ or transfolk and intersex folk winning these contests (again, no one complains about them losing).  On some deep level, we feel anger and disgust at anything that interferes with our ability to rate potential mates or allow others to so rate us, because our children will only carry 50% of our own genes, and we want those 50% to have the best genetic partners as we can find.  At this deep level, athletics is about having sex.

Since deep down, this is about sex, competing for mates, and evaluating mates, intersex and transsex people need not apply.  If this was truly about fairness, we would say, well… that MTF transkid did win the genetic lottery… if in an unusual path.   But because we know that she can’t actually bear children, we feel disgust, revulsion, and tell everyone “it isn’t fair”.

Life just isn’t fair… and we instinctively want our children to have the best chance at success.  We don’t want our athletics and sports to be truly “fair”… no we want them to be as cruel as possible… to weed out the weak and inferior and reward only the strong, healthy genetic stock who will give us strong healthy children and grandchildren.  Life just isn’t fair.

Life just isn’t fair.

But life can bring surprising twists.  Less than a decade after I was kicked off the Dolphins by Coach Bottom, I would again see him nearly every day.   Mr. Bottom taught history at my second high school, he coached that school’s swimming and water polo teams.  He was also one of my saviors, as he approached me during my Senior year with an opportunity I sorely needed.  I had been diagnosed as transsexual at the Stanford Clinic.  I was coming out to friends, classmates, and a select few of my teachers.  I was getting ready to refuse to participate in boys’ P.E., stealing up my strength to face down officialdom about being trans… when Coach Bottom offered to let me teach the one and only student who didn’t know how to swim, instead.  Coach Bottom knew that I spent summers teaching little kids to swim.  He knew I knew how to be a strong and fast swimmer… but that I just couldn’t swim fast myself.  So, I spent the last term of my highschool years, as a swimming instructor, a P.E. teacher in effect, with one student.  Life may not always be fair, but it can sometimes be, in the end.

Further Reading:

Essay on 2d:4d digit ratio

“Reading the Body: Finger Length Ratio Predicts Athletic Ability” by Martijn van Mensvoort

“As We Rightfully Applaud Yearwood, We Must Acknowledge Many Questions Remain” by Jeff Jacobs

“How Steve Jobs swimming failure became unlikely source of inspiration” by David Pierini


Deaner, et Al., “A Sex Difference in the Predisposition for Physical Competition: Males Play Sports Much More than Females Even in the Contemporary U.S” https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0049168

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Mommy, Where Do Autogynephiles Come From?

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on May 31, 2017

female_scientistOr, What Causes Erotic Target Location Errors?

Everyone who has an unusual quirk in their psyche asks one time or another what made them that way.  Most people in our modern society look to their past for psychogenic causal factors.  For example, people who are depressed look for events in their lives that were depressing.  This is likely the result of the pseudoscientific pontifications of psychoanalysts and their spiritual offspring, always trying to explain all behavior in psychodynamic terms.  As we shall see, these explanations don’t hold up when examined against the evidence.

Perhaps the most easily debunked hypothesis is that autogynephilia is caused by too much exposure to pornography.  Yes, I’ve seen this being seriously put forth.  It’s not totally a crazy idea in that autogynephiles often are interested in erotica, especially autogynephilic erotica.  But this is confusing cause and effect.  Interviews with a large number of autogynephilic men reveals that their autogynephilic ideation and interest began around puberty, before they had exposure to erotica or porn, and usually long before they had access to autogynephilically oriented erotica.  When they do find such erotica, their interest is rewarded be their previous experiences of cross-dressing or cross-dreaming associated sexual arousal and masturbation.

Interestingly, for both autogynephilic and autoandrophilic youth, certain genres of anime and manga offer a soft-core, romantic, erotica.  This too has been suggested as the source of their sexual interests.  One can well imagine coming across and finding such material interesting and rewarding viewing/reading before one becomes fully aware of one’s sexuality.  But again, it is the cause?  Would a young person with no underlying erotic target location error proneness find such material sexually arousing or romantically rewarding?  I sincerely doubt it.

We know, from direct observation and from parental report, that autogynephilic arousal can occur before puberty, before learning to read even.  Thus, exposure to material around puberty and subsequently seeking further material is likely to be a result, rather than a cause.

One of the most bizarre neo-freudian hypothesis that is fervently supported by a small minority of autogynephiles is that it is the result of “emasculinization trauma”.  In this model, sometime in a male child’s past, a little boy has his fragile masculine ‘feefees’ so badly hurt that he retreats to romantic and later sexualized fantasies of not only being female but being forced to be female or feminized.  This hypothesis seeks to explain both why they are autogynephilic, but also masochistic, combining the two.  It is true that “forced feminization” is a very common autogynephilic/masochistic fantasy.  However, the evidence for actual childhood trauma associated with autogynephilia is weak to non-existent.  Further, while it is well known that paraphilias tend to cluster, and that autogynephilia and masochism is one of the most well documented of such clustering, only 25% to 30% of autogynephiles also exhibit masochism, while the converse is also true, that only 30% of masochistic men are also autogynephilic.  But, for the rest?

Another problem with these psychogenic hypothesis is that they don’t explain the rather well known phenomena of familiar clustering of both autogynephilia and autoandrophilia wherein if we find one proband in a family, the odds of finding another are very high.  For example, consider the Wachowski family with two siblings that are both “late transitioners”.  Given that only 90,000 people out of over 300,000,000 people in the US transition, this would seem to be far above random chance, and it is.

Of course, the majority of autogynephilic transgender folk, from serious cross-dressers to post-op transwomen, reject the above hypothesis in favor of those they deem ‘gender affirming’.  There are a number of them ranging from the non-specific idea that somehow being gender dysphoric leads one to become autogynephilic in some unspecified mechanism to the odd notion that all women are autogynephilic, that autogynephila is just part of normal female sexuality.  Given that these obviously implausable hypothesis seem to be popular among autogynephiles themselves, when we see a minority of sexologists and transgender caregivers voice support for them, we naturally suspect that they may themselves be secretly autogynephilic.

Consider the notion put forth in the Nuttbrock study (which looking at the actual data otherwise fully supported the Two Type Taxonomy) that sexual arousal to cross-dressing is caused by finding cross-dressing to be “exotic”, invoking Daryl Bem’s “exotic becomes erotic” hypothesis.

Lawrence took exception to this misuse of Bem’s conception of the origin of sexual orientation that, “individuals can become erotically attracted to a class of individuals from whom they felt different during childhood’’.  I would take this a step further and point out that Bem’s idea is invalid on the face of it.  Same sex sexual orientation does indeed correlate with childhood gender atypicality, but is not caused by it.  Although not a valid scientific nor logical argument, I do find it noteworthy to explore Daryl Bem’s career of proposing equally bogus hypothesis including his ludicrous support for psychic phenomena and violating accepting scientific research norms.  In short, Bem is a pseudoscientific crank that has lead others to waste many thousands of research hours to debunk him.

But back to Nuttbrock, the idea that somehow an individual just happened to cross-dress one day and found it personally and/or culturally “exotic” leads to the obvious question… just how did this just happen?  How do pubescent boys accidently fall into their mother’s or sister’s underwear drawer and come out wearing some of them?  Seriously?  Of course, Nuttbrock is actually assuming that “late transitioners” cross-dress because their “female gender identity”.  But this also fails to match the evidence.  Recall that nearly 5% of men find the thought of wearing women’s clothing potentially sexually arousing, 2.8% have actually done so, and that 0.7% “identify” as “transgender”, these men are NOT accidentally or incidentally coming to wear these items.  Further, by these very numbers, we know that the vast majority of these transgender people are not gender dysphoric nor have female gender identities (yet), so it isn’t the case that they chose to wear these clothes as part of a sincere effort to pass as female (as is the case for androphilic transsexuals).  The well documented case histories of hundreds of both non-dysphoric cross-dressers and gender dysphoric “late transitioners” includes voluntary private cross-dressing, usually in lingerie, as teens, accompanied by sexual arousal and masturbation, while “early transitioners”/androphilic transwomen do not have histories of such autogynephilic behavior.  One would assume that for these androphilic transwomen, wearing women’s clothing would have been just as “exotic”.  The evidence clearly shows that autogynephilia causes gender dysphoria in a minority of these males, not the other way around.  Thus, Nuttbrock’s hypothesis fails to fit the evidence.

Putting oneself into the shoes of those who experience these phenomena, one could vaguely sense why these hypothesis might feel right given the specific nature of their experiences.  But those on the outside must rely on evidence, not experience.  The evidence does not support the hypothesis.

So if all of these ideas fail to explain or match the evidence, what does?  Truthfully?  We haven’t a clue.

We haven’t a clue.

Further Reading:

Essay on autogynephilic sexual arousal in childhood

Essay on autogynephilia causing “late transitioning” gender dysphoria

Essay on Nuttbrock Study and cross-dressing as “exotic”

“Follow up on Bem’s Psi Research” by Steve Novella

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Here Be Dragons

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on April 3, 2017

female_scientistOr, Confusing The Map For the Territory

There has been a long tradition within the transsexual and transgender communities of trying to argue away the key role that autogynephilia plays in the development of late onset gender dysphoria.  Some simply deny it’s existence.  But this has lately fallen out of favor in the more realistic segments of the late transitioning MTF community in recognition of how obviously prevalent it is.  Though not new, it has become au currant to insist that it is either a normal part of female sexuality or that it is a natural consequence, an after effect, of gender dysphoria.  Both efforts confuse the map for the territory.  Both efforts ignore the logical consequences of their assertions and how they fail to match the evidence, the data collected over the years, concerning the phenomena.

First, there is the wonderfully creative, if fallacious, redefinition of autogynephilia, the softening of the language, more than simple euphemism, of calling it “female embodiment fantasies”.  How delightfully it allows one to then state that, of course, women naturally see themselves as female embodied as they have sexual fantasies.  See, women are autogynephilic too.  Or, as some twist it around, “Blanchard is defining normal female sexuality as a paraphilia!”

But this is confusing the map for the territory.  The phenomena being described are not the same, though they are deliberately described using the same words.  Women are not sexually aroused by, nor become romantically enamored with, their femaleness (nor the thought of, contemplation of, their femaleness or femininity).  But that is what autogynephilia is… sexual arousal and/or romantic attachment to the contemplation of becoming or being female in and of itself.  Where women only incidentally see themselves as female, because they are female, in their erotic imaginings, the autogynephilic individual is specifically and deliberately seeing themselves as female/feminine as that is a key element to which they sexually and romantically respond.

Just because someone labels a portion of a map, “Here be dragons” doesn’t mean there are.

If autogynephilia were an effect of gender dysphoria and a female gender identity, we would predict several consequences from that effect to show up in the data.  We would expect that those who were the most gender dysphoric from an early age, those who are the most naturally feminine from an early age, those who transition the soonest, to report the most autogynephilia.

But this is not the case.  Early onset / early transitioners have the lowest reported autogynephilia.  We can see this in study after study.  In Lawrence (2005), those who self reported being exclusively androphilic only 18% reported experiencing “hundreds” of autogynephilic episodes of erotic cross-dressing compared to 52-58% of non-androphilic, which division also showed correlations with age of transition and self-reported childhood gender atypicality.  In Nuttbrock (2009), those who had begun Hormone Replacement Therapy as teenagers only 14% reported having any autogynephilic arousal to cross-dressing compared to 82% of the gynephilic subjects (of whom only one had started HRT as a teen).

Just because someone labels a portion of a map, “Here be dragons” doesn’t mean there are.

Further, if it is an effect of gender dysphoria and of a female gender identity, we would expect that only those who experience gender dysphoria and claim a female gender identity, to experience autogynephilia.  But this too is not the case.  Post-transition people (both MTF and FTM total) only make up one in four thousand people, yet studies have shown that 4.6% of men, that’s nearly five out of a hundred, experience autogynephilic arousal to cross-dressing.  That is to say, significantly less than one out of one hundred males who are autogynephilic develop gender dysphoria and a female gender identity.

Just because someone labels a portion of a map, “Here be dragons” doesn’t mean there are.

Can we please stop with the erroneous rationalizations?  It’s time to recognize not only the Two Types… but the underlying autogynephilic etiology of one of them.

Further Reading:

Essay on Statistical Reality of the Two Type Taxonomy using Lawrence 2005 study

Essay on Nuttbrock 2009 study

Essay on Autogynephilia in the general population

Essay on Census of Post-transition transgender population

Essay Showing Autogynephilic Causation of Late Transitioning MTF Transsexuality

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…She Loves Me.

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on November 16, 2016

female_scientistAre Autogynephiles also Gynandromorphophiles?

Are cross-dressers also tranny-chasers?  We had already seen a study that clearly demonstrated that transfans are more like straight men than like gay or bisexual men and that they are also at least somewhat autogynephilic.  But we have to ask, are all autogynephilic males also gynandromorphophilic?

In my personal experience, yes, both cross-dressers and “late transitioning” / “late onset” transwomen were in fact avid transfans.  I can’t tell you how often I saw that sexually admiring look from such transwomen, especially when I was decades younger than I am now.  There have also been a few who were hopelessly in love with me who sadly pined for what I could not return.  But that is all anecdotal; we need data.

Well, now we have that data.

In a recent paper following up on their earlier paper, Hsu, et Al., tested the sexual response of 27 known autogynephilic males, cross-dressers specifically recruited for this study, of whom 74.1% reported cross-dressing at least once a week, on average (M=5.26, SD=1.40). They also reported a high average degree of transvestic fetishism (M=4.11, SD=1.19). Consistent with their transvestic fetishism, these men reported a high average degree of autogynephilia (M=6.44, SD=2.47) on the 8-item, sum-scored Core Autogynephilia Scale, although two denied any autogynephilia on this measure despite reporting arousal from cross-dressing.

Using this same Core Autogynephilia Scale (0-8), the mean score of the gynandromorphilic (GAMP) subjects, recruited for their strong interest in transwomen (N=24), was 2.88 (SD=3.47) compared to the straight subjects (N=21) score of 0.35 (0.99) and that of the gay subjects (N=21) of only 0.06 (0.24).  Even more interesting is that when we further divide the GAMP groups into those who self-identify as “bisexual” and “heterosexual”, we see a difference between their autogynephilia scores of 5.20 (3.46) and 1.21 (2.42) respectively.  This is very much in keeping with other research that shows that autogynephilic (AGP) transwomen often exhibit “pseudo-bisexuality” (aka: pseudo-androphilia) in which their interpersonal autogynephilic sexual ideation includes fantasies of having sex with men, as women.  The data suggests that while most of the GAMP subjects were highly AGP, a few might be only mildly autogynephilic.

gampAgain, our question is are all autogynephiles also gynandromorphophiles?  From the data we can see that, why yes, yes they are.  Note that the relative sexual response, using a ‘peter-meter’ is identical between the GAMP and Autogynephilic (cross-dresser) groups.  Both groups show higher sexual response to gynandromorphs (GAM – pre-op feminized MTF transwomen) than to females.  Interestingly, the cross-dresser group has a lower response overall.  This is very much in keeping with earlier work from Blanchard that showed that autogynephilia competes with gynephilia.  In this case, we now have data that shows that it also competes with their co-existing (greater) gynandromorphophilia.

Also, thanks to Veale, who showed that gynandromorphophilia is common in autogynephilic transwomen, we have yet more evidence that AGP transwomen are in the same etiological taxon as non-gender-dysphoric cross-dressers, further supporting the Two Type Transsexual Taxonomy.

Further Reading:

Essay on Sexual Response of Gynandromorphophiles

Previous essay on personal experiences with TrannieHawks

Commentary on the mutual gynandrophmorphophilic relationships between autogynephiles in my essay on transsexual marriages.


K. J. Hsu, A. M. Rosenthal, D. I. Miller and J. M. Bailey, “Sexual Arousal Patterns of Autogynephilic Cross-dressing Men”

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”

Jaimie F. Veale, Dave E. Clarke and Terri C. Lomax, “Sexuality of Male-to-Female Transsexuals”

Anne A. Lawrence and J. Michael Bailey
Transsexual Groups in Veale et al. (2008) are “Autogynephilic” and “Even More Autogynephilic”

Jaimie F. Veale, David E. Clarke and Terri C. Lomax
Reply to Lawrence and Bailey (2008)

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Nature vs. Nurture

Posted in Science Criticism, Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on May 22, 2016

critical-thinkingGiven the ongoing “culture war” regarding sexual orientation, wherein some elements of society wish to portray homosexuality as “sinful”, “mental illness”, or both it is no surprise that the question of etiology of homosexuality, and indeed of any sexual orientation, has become a political, as well as scientific question.  Into this fray has come some of the best and brightest of the sexologists who are exploring the science.  I know that some transsexuals and transgendered folk won’t like to read the name of the lead author, but in science, it is not important who says something, but what the evidence says.  The lead author is J. Michael Bailey.  Yes, that Prof. Bailey.

Bailey is joined by Lisa Diamond, Paul Vassey, Marc Breedlove, Eric Vilain, and Mark Epprecht in a masterful compliation and exposition on the current science of sexual orientation.  The paper also covers evidence concerning androphilic MTF transgender people and covers some remarkable conjectures regarding the role of culture, nurture if you will, regarding the difference between MTF transkids and conventional gay men.  Fortunately, the paper is NOT behind a paywall, so my reader may follow the link provided in the reference section to read it for oneself, which I highly recommend.

The paper lays out powerful evidence that shows that indeed “nature” has a very strong role to play in the development of sexual orientation.  But as the authors point out, this does NOT mean that morally or politically such evidence, or indeed proof, has any bearing on how society should treat non-heterosexual people,

Ongoing political controversies around the world exemplify a long-standing and widespread preoccupation with the acceptability of homosexuality. Nonheterosexual people have seen dramatic surges both in their rights and in positive public opinion in many Western countries. In contrast, in much of Africa, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Oceania, and parts of Asia, homosexual behavior remains illegal and severely punishable, with some countries retaining the death penalty for it. Political controversies about sexual orientation have often overlapped with scientific controversies. That is, participants on both sides of the sociopolitical debates have tended to believe that scientific findings—and scientific truths—about sexual orientation matter a great deal in making political decisions. The most contentious scientific issues have concerned the causes of sexual orientation—that is, why are some people heterosexual, others bisexual, and others homosexual? The actual relevance of these issues to social, political, and ethical decisions is often poorly justified, however.  … No causal theory of sexual orientation has yet gained widespread support. The most scientifically plausible causal hypotheses are difficult to test. However, there is considerably more evidence supporting nonsocial causes of sexual orientation than social causes. This evidence includes the cross-culturally robust finding that adult homosexuality is strongly related to childhood gender nonconformity; moderate genetic influences demonstrated in well-sampled twin studies; the cross-culturally robust fraternal-birth-order effect on male sexual orientation; and the finding that when infant boys are surgically and socially “changed” into girls, their eventual sexual orientation is unchanged (i.e., they remain sexually attracted to females). In contrast, evidence for the most commonly hypothesized social causes of homosexuality—sexual recruitment by homosexual adults, patterns of disordered parenting, or the influence of homosexual parents—is generally weak in magnitude and distorted by numerous confounding factors.


Fa’afafine dancing

Setting aside the issues of policy and etiology, there are still some important issues regarding cultural factors influencing expression of androphilia in males because one of the models of why non-heterosexual orientations may persist is that of kin selection, in which the gender atypicality of androphilic males is evolutionarily selected for and maintained in the population because androphilic males help their near relatives raise their children, thereby increasing the chances of their own genes, shared with those close relatives, to perpetuate.  In this model, gender atypical androphilic males are in effect, an evolutionarily ‘fit’ alternative ‘morph’; far from being a “mistake of nature”, they are in a very real sense, a “third sex” involved in reproduction by proxy through childcare.

Consistent with the predictions of the Kin Selection Hypothesis (KSH), research conducted in Samoa on transgender androphilic males (fa’afafine) has repeatedly demonstrated that they show elevated avuncular (uncle-like) tendencies compared to Samoan women and gynephilic men. (This is measured via a 9-item scale measuring willingness to care for, and to give resources to, nieces and nephews. Furthermore, this finding does not appear to reflect a general tendency to help others, but a specific preference for kin. In contrast, research on cisgender androphilic males in Western populations and non-Western industrialized cultures has garnered virtually no support for the KSH. It is possible that elevated avuncularity is not expressed unless male androphilia takes on the transgender form. More research is needed to ascertain whether other populations of transgender male androphiles exhibit elevated kin-directed altruism or not.  …  Societies in which transgender male androphilia predominates exhibit a significantly greater presence of human ancestral sociocultural conditions compared to societies in which the cisgender form predominates. This suggests that the transgender form of male androphilia was likely the ancestral form. As such, transgender male androphilia likely represents the best model for testing evolutionary hypotheses, given that more derived forms of this trait may reflect recent cultural/historical influences that might obscure the outcome of evolutionary processes. Consequently, the most promising results from tests of both the KSH and SAGH are from studies of Samoan fa’afafine. The evidence would be much stronger if other populations of transgender androphilic males showed similar effects.

Let’s think about this a moment.  If the Western form, conventional gay men, don’t show an interest in their kin, is that because their homophobic siblings won’t let them, or because trying to be gender typical (straight acting) includes disavowing any interests in what would be considered womanly interest in young children?  I know its only anecdotal, but my reader may wish to check out my own history of a very strong interest in children.  Also note that my siblings have forbidden me from having anything to do with their children, due to extreme religious notions and transphobia.  (Note to researchers: Can we please use the more gender identity respectful term materteral if we are speaking of transgendered MTF folk here?)

Here is where things get really interesting.  The authors conjecture here that cultural factors influence the form that male androphilia takes depends upon the culture that androphilic males find themselves in,

Same-sex sexuality between adults typically takes one of two cross-culturally recurrent forms, which are related to gender-role enactment and gender identity. These two forms are cisgender and transgender male androphilia and female gynephilia.

Cisgender male androphiles and female gynephiles occupy the gender role typical of their sex and identify as “men” and “women,” respectively. This is the form of homosexuality that is nearly universal in the contemporary West. In contrast, transgender male androphiles and female gynephiles do not occupy the gender role typical of their sex. Not only do they behave in a highly gender-atypical manner, but they often identify, and are identified by others, as neither “men” nor “women,” but rather, as a member of some alternative gender category. Contemporary examples of transgender male androphiles include the kathoey of Thailand, the xanith of Oman, the muxes of Mexico, and the fa’afafine of Samoa. Some contemporary examples of transgender female gynephiles include the tombois of Sumatra and the mahu of Tahiti.

In some cultures, transgender male androphilia and female gynephilia are linked to particular institutionalized labor practices, which often involve specialized religious activities. This type of transgender male androphilia has been referred to as “profession defined”. For example, on the Indian subcontinent, transgender male androphiles known as hijra bestow blessings from Hindu gods and goddesses for luck and fertility at weddings and at the births of male babies. In Sulawesi, Indonesia, transgender androphilic males known as bissu are shamans who bless people for good health and successful journeys and who play important ritual roles in weddings. These institutionalized religious roles sometimes carry with them the expectation of asceticism, but often this ideal is not realized. In general, same-sex-attracted individuals self-select to fill these roles, probably because they are recognized as socially acceptable niches.

Third Gender

Young Hijra

Here I have to interject a note of caution, nay, derision.  There is a tendency for Western sociologists to romantasize the social status of transgender people.  For example, the hijra are NOT welcome guests at wedding and births.  They come uninvited.  I’ve had a number of occasions to speak at length, careful not to ‘out’ myself, with Hindu expat colleagues from India.  Universally, when speaking of hijra, the tone is one of revulsion and hatred.  The hijra are not revered co-religionists, but feared and dispised “vermin”.  The “blessings” being bestowed are the obverse of a coin, the reverse of which is the obviation of the threat that the children of the marriage or newborn will be “cursed”… the superstitious Hindus believe that the hijra have the power to curse the future childen of a bride or a newborn to become hijra, the lowest of the low, so they pay the unwelcome hijra “guests” money to ensure that they leave without cursing their children.  The hijra also beg on the streets, with the understood threat that if they are not given money, they will lift their skirts to the horror of the onlooking men, to show the scars of their very crude “castration” while being cursed.  From other lengthy conversations I’ve had with an Amercan transsexual who lived for a time among the hijra in India, I learned that many hijra suppliment their begging with prostitution.  Thus, the hijra have wrested for themselves a social position of begging and prostitution… a social position not too much different than poor street transkids in the Western nations.

But, to continue,

Cisgender male androphiles and female gynephiles behave in a relatively gender-typical manner when compared with their transgender counterparts. However, they are relatively gender-atypical when compared to gynephilic cisgender men and androphilic cisgender women. Thus, regardless of the form they take, male androphilia and female gynephilia are associated with gender-atypicality. However, the strength of this association varies with the manner in which same-sex sexuality is publicly expressed.

Both the cisgender and transgender forms of same-sex sexuality may occur within a given culture, but typically one or the other predominates. For example, the cisgender form tends to be much more common in many Western cultures. In contrast, the transgender form appears to be more common in many non-Western cultures. In places where the two forms coexist, their members often consider each other to be part of the same subculture. Margaret Mead observed a meeting in which an Omaha minquga (i.e., a transgender male androphile) and a Japanese homosexual man (i.e., a cisgender male androphile) who visited her field site in 1961 instantly recognized each other. Within an hour of the Japanese man’s arrival, the sole minquga in the tribe turned up and tried to make contact with him. Similarly, sociologist Fredrick Whitam noted that, in São Paulo, travesti (transgender male androphiles) are an especially conspicuous presence in gay clubs and are treated with a high degree of respect.

In contemporary Western cultures, cisgender male androphiles typically engage in sexual interactions with each other; the same is true of cisgender female gynephiles. That is, in the West, homosexual relationships are typically between two homosexual individuals. Such individuals comprise the Western gay and lesbian communities. This type of same-sex sexual relationship has been referred to as “egalitarian” and is characterized by partners who are not markedly different in age or gender-related characteristics. Within such relationships, partners tend not to adopt special social roles, and they treat each other as equals. In contrast, this pattern appears to be relatively uncommon in non-Western cultures and has emerged only recently in certain non-Western urban centers.

Although transgender male androphiles are same-sex attracted, they rarely, if ever, engage in sexual activity with each other; the same is true of transgender female gynephiles. Rather, these individuals engage in sexual activity with same-sex cisgender partners who self-identify, and are identified by others, as “men” or “women.” For example, in Samoa, very feminine natal males called fa’afafine (which means “in the manner of women”) have sex with masculine Samoan men. The fa’afafine would be aghast at the idea of having sex with one another.

Little research has focused on the cisgender sexual partners of same-sex-attracted transgender males and females. Blackwood noted that, in Sumatra, the cisgender female partners (femmes) of tombois “assert an uncomplicated attraction to men, [but] position themselves (if temporarily) under the label ‘lesbi’”—a derivative of “lesbian.” This suggests an episodic pattern of bisexual attraction on the part of femmes. In many cultures, same-sex sexual interactions between transgender and cisgender persons are not considered “homosexual” because they are understood to be hetero-gendered. In other words, if a cisgender androphilic male and a transgender androphilic male engage in sex, the former individual is often understood to be “the male partner” in the interaction, whereas the latter individual is often understood to be “the female partner.” Accordingly, the interaction is understood as male-female rather than male-male. The degree to which cisgender individuals who have sex with transgender persons of their same biological sex (i.e., men who have sex with female-appearing men and women who have sex with male-appearing women) are perceived as different from those whose sexual behavior is only with the other sex (i.e., conventional heterosexuals) remains an open question.

OK, there is one person who has conducted at least limited research on transgendered male androphiles and their non-trans male romantic partners, Dr. Richard Green.  As I explored in another essay, at least in the United States, they are conventionally heterosexual.  I can’t speak for the partners of fa’afafine in Samoa, but I got the impression from reading about them that they too find conventionally heterosexual partners.

For the sake of a thought experiment, let us conceed for the moment that the form that male androphilia takes depends on the culture that they find themselves.  (This will not be a popular notion among either Western Gay men nor autogynephiles who would otherwise wish to identify as androphilic transwomen.)  Let us further assume that the Kinship Selection Hypothesis is correct.  This would support not only the notion that androphilic males are a special morph, but that of neccessity, the transgender form is the evolutionarily selected form.  In which case, transkids are not “failed” or “self-hating” gay men… but Western Gay Men are “failed” / “femmiphobic” transkids” !!!  This also reads upon efforts to “help” gender atypical children to be “more gender fluid”, less gender atypical, less.. well… less likely to be transgender, is in fact an attempt to fight an evolutionarilty selected and natural role, and as such is a “crime against nature”.

I would be tempted to close this with “just say’n”, but I’ve always found that expression to be irratating.

Further Reading:

Essay on the male romantic partners of transwomen

Essay on evidence that MTF transkids and gay men have the same etiology


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

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Four Out of Five…

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on February 2, 2016

female_scientist… Gynephilic Transwomen Openly Acknowledge Autogynephilia

Or, Which Came First?  Chicken Or Egg?

Not too long ago, I got an email from a transwoman, and ‘older transitioner’ who acknowledged without reservation that there was a “correlation” between later transition / gynephilia (non-exclusive androphilic) transwomen and autogynephilia, while tacitly acknowleging that exclusively androphilic early transitioners do not.  This was great, but not too surprising, since four out of five such transwomen acknowledge experiencing autogynephilia either currently, or in the past.  But she asked, does it mean causation?  That is to say, is autogynephilia the prime mover in causing gynephilic (and bisexual / asexual) transwomen to become gender dysphoric and develop a ‘female identity’?

I would have thought it was obvious that it does, and that we don’t need to explicate why.  But, no, Sillyolme, nothing in science is self-evident.  One really does need to explore the question fairly, making the assumption, the null hypothesis, that it does not, then look to see if the evidence supports that null hypothesis.  Only if the data fails to support the null hypothesis should we state that it does.

Let’s start at the begining shall we?  First, does autogynephilia exist?  Yes, we need to ask this first, as it can’t be a cause of gender dysphoria if it doesn’t exist.  And, indeed, many ‘older transitioners’ insist that autogynephilia does not exist.  Well, that one is easily answered, because we have at least 100 years of sexologist observations of a minority of males who definately become sexually aroused when wearing women’s clothing and/or when thinking of themselves being or becoming female.  Consider this typical description of a teenaged male experiencing an autogynephilic episode from Richard Ekins book Male Femaling – A grounded theory approach to cross-dressing and sex-changing,

“… I was 13 when I stepped, quivering with excitement into a pair of French knickers belonging to my sister.  I ejaculated almost immediately… The feeling was glorious and yet quite alarming and I felt as though I was leaking urine. … Some three days after this first ‘event’ I got home from school to find my mother out.  I went upstairs to do my homework and through the half-opened door of my mother’s bedroom I saw, hanging over a chair, a pair of her pink directoire knickers, obviously discarded in a hurry as she changed before going out.  That soft gleaming bundle turned my whole body and senses into a jelly-like state of desire and longing.  I had to wear them, to try and see if I was all right.  Would it happen again?  My answer was there almost immediately in my swift gathering erection as I struggled out of my clothes.  …”

We can find hundreds of such examples, very often showing that this behavior is most noted in early adolescence, but continues into adulthood. In fact, we have an entire genre of erotic fiction and images (still and motion picture porn) dedicated to the tastes of autogynephilic adult male individuals.  These examples and the males that experience it are common enough that they also form organizations to join together to support each other emotionally and even politically.  So, no, we can’t say that autogynephilia does not exist.  The null hypothesis is easily proven wrong.  Autogynephilia in some males exists.

OK, now that we know that autogynephilia exists in some males, we can take a known group of autogynphilic males, conduct in depth interviews into just what sorts of things they erotically respond to that the majority non-autogynephilic males don’t.  From that we can construct trial psychometric inventories, test items (questions), for an autogynephilia scale, so that we can measure the degree of and autogynephilic factors (types) present in, autogynephilic males.  Then carefully test and validate it against known autogynephilic males and a set of control males.

However, some transwomen insist that autogynephilia can’t be the cause of their trans identity, because autogynephilia is common, perhaps near universal, in females.  Thus, that would demonstrate that autogynephilia is just part of normal female sexuality.

Does autogynephilia exist in females?  Now, remember, we START with the null hypthesis.  So, assuming it does NOT exist, can we find (credible) evidence that would disprove the null hypothesis?  First, how many sexologists have observed, documented, and remarked on autogynephilic sexual arousal in females?

Wow… I’m hearing an empty, hollow echo in that department.  Not one observation, study, or anything… oh wait, I hear some tiny voices outside the hall?  Could it be?  Why there ARE some folks saying that females do experience autogynephilia… but… what?  Oh, yeah… that… ALL of them are autogynephilic males who are claiming that their autogynephilia is the same as what women feel when they wear women’s clothing… after all, wearing “sexy” panties gets them all going, so it must get women going too?  Right?  Ummmm no.

Seriously, where in the many thousands of diaries, autobiographies, and now online social media blogs published, is there ANY (credible, not catphishing by an AGP male) female individual accounts of anything remotely like the autogynephilia so easily found in a minority of males?  Seriously?  Where are the copious accounts of how, when they were pre and early teens, that they became intensely sexually aroused upon trying on their big sister’s bra and panties?  Or looking in the mirror at their blossoming breasts and become intensely sexually aroused?  Or examining their genitals and finding them so arousing that that they masturbate while examining them… cause being female is just so sexy?  No?  Again that hollow echo.

phrenologyOh, but wait, I hear a rising chorus (of autogynephilic males) saying that a Dr. Charles Moser created an autogynphilic inventory for females and tested a group of women.  So we ask, as we must assume the null hypothesis, where did he find the known autogynephilic females to interview to create a valid test?  How did he validate it? What are the psychometric properties of the instrument?  What?  No?  He did none of that?  Well, then what did he do?  He carefully rewrote questions from an instrument intended for and validated only for males in a gender clinic setting?  Well, looking carefully at the rewrite, they don’t seem to have even a passing bearing on what autogynephilia would theoretically look like in women, or even in androphilic transsexuals. The questions were very carefully written to get positive answers from heterosexual females, as that was the intended (political) goal, to “prove” that straight women were also autogynphilic… but they have no meaning.  They don’t measure autogynephilia, they measure mostly anticipatory arousal before dates with men.  Well that was dissappointing.  One and only one demonstrably invalid study.  We still have no evidence to disprove the null hypothesis.  So, for now, we must accept that females do NOT experience autogynephilia.

OK, so now we know that autogynephilia exists in males, but there’s no (credible) evidence that it exists in females.  But are there really two types of MTF transsexual?  Does autogynephilia exist equally as much in exclusively androphilic transwomen?  Let’s assume the null hypothesis, that there is only one type, not two.  We can use the previously developed and validated, instruments to measure any putative autogynphilia in both exclusively androphilic and non-exclusively-androphilic transwomen and see if there is a difference.  Here, we have a number of studies done over the years, Buhrich (1977), Freund (1982), Blanchard (1985), Doorn (1994), Smith (2005),  Lawrence (2005), and Nuttbrock (2009).

female_scientistThese studies all clearly indicate a strong correlation with non-exclusively androphilic reporting a high, nearly universal, percentage of individuals acknowleging autogynephilic arousal, either currently, or in early adolescence, and a strong anti-correlation with exclusive androphilia.  Diving deeper, consider that in the largest and most recent of these studies by Nuttbrock (N=571), the grouping that had the highest percentage reporting sexual arousal to crossdressing was the gynephilic at 82%, while the group with the least non-exclusively androphilic was those who had begun Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) as teenagers, who had the lowest percentage reporting sexual arousal to cross-dressing at 14%.

To support the null hypothesis, there should have been no correlation with sexual orientation.  The null hypothesis is NOT supported, there is NOT one group, but two.  Futher, the null hypothesis regarding autogynphilia not being correlated with gynephilic/bisexual/asexual transwomen, and only these transwomen, is not supported.  Androphilic transwomen and natal female women do not experience autogynephilia.

But this only brings us back to where we started, with my correspondent fully conceding to the above.  But she still has a valid question, does this mean causation?  After all, we all know that correlation does not imply causation.  But here we need to bring up a point, actually, it doesn’t imply it… but causation does require correlation.  So, we have our first step toward answering the question.  With correlation, we may have causation.  But we need to explore further.

One of the most accepted methods of deducing whether there is a cause and effect relationship in medicine, including psychiatric epidemiology, is found in Bradford Hill’s Criteria.

The list of the criteria is as follows:

  1. Strength (effect size): A small association does not mean that there is not a causal effect, though the larger the association, the more likely that it is causal.
  2. Consistency (reproducibility): Consistent findings observed by different persons in different places with different samples strengthens the likelihood of an effect.
  3. Specificity: Causation is likely if there is a very specific population at a specific site and disease with no other likely explanation. The more specific an association between a factor and an effect is, the bigger the probability of a causal relationship.
  4. Temporality: The effect has to occur after the cause (and if there is an expected delay between the cause and expected effect, then the effect must occur after that delay).
  5. Biological gradient: Greater exposure (dosage or intensity of cause) should generally lead to greater incidence of the effect. However, in some cases, the mere presence of the factor can trigger the effect. In other cases, an inverse proportion is observed: greater exposure leads to lower incidence (as found in vitamin deficiencies).
  6. Plausibility: A plausible mechanism between cause and effect is helpful (but Hill noted that knowledge of the mechanism is limited by current knowledge).
  7. Coherence: Coherence between epidemiological and laboratory findings increases the likelihood of an effect. However, Hill noted that “… lack of such [laboratory] evidence cannot nullify the epidemiological effect on associations”.
  8. Experiment: “Occasionally it is possible to appeal to experimental evidence”.
  9. Analogy: The effect of similar factors may be considered.

Taking each in turn:

  1. Strength of the correlation is very high.  Four out of five gynephilic transwomen acknowlege experiencing, currently or in the past, autogynephilia.  Considering that autogynphilia is very rare in the general male population and non-existent in the female population, this correlation is very, very high.  But it gets even higher when considering the experimental results of phallometry of those cross-dressers experiencing gender dysphoria who claim that they did not experience sexual arousal to cross-dressing, did in fact demonstrate mild sexual arousal to cross-dressing narration (autogynephilic erotic fiction) compared to control males.
  2. Consistency of the correlation is easily shown by looking at the literature referenced above, in which study after study, over four decades, involving around a thousand transwomen, consistently shows the same data, even using different measures of sexual orientation and autogynephilia.
  3. Specificity is shown in that it is only non-exclusively-androphilic males who experience autogynephilia and that a subset of those males develop gender dysphoria.
  4. Temporality is demonstrated in that the majority of non-exclusively-androphilic males who become gender dysphoric and come to identify as women report autogynephilia in adolescence which seems to mellow even as their need to cross-dress and their gender dysphoria increases, reaching a threshold, a crisis point, most commonly in their mid-30’s.  As Prince (herself an autogynephile) and Doctor documented, “Among our subjects, 79% did not appear in public cross dressed prior to age 20; at that time, most of the subjects had already had several years of experience with cross dressing. The average number of years of practice with cross dressing prior to owning a full feminine outfit was 15. The average number of years of practice with cross dressing prior to adoption of a feminine name was 21. Again, we have factual evidence indicative of the considerable time required for the development of the cross-gender identity.”
  5. A gradient effect is easily found in autogynephilia in that men who have only very mild autogynephilia typically are content to cross-dress in private, never developing severe gender dysphoria or a female gender identity.  There are individuals with partial autogynephilia who only wish to have breasts, who are content with mildly feminizing HRT, cross-dressing in public only occasionally.  There are those who come to identify as “Bi-Gendered” or “Gender Fluid” who go back and forth.  And finally, there are those whose autogynephilic ideation was intensely focused on being completely female and develop intense and all consuming gender dysphoria who go on to live full time as women, obtain HRT, and SRS.  A number of studies have found that intensity and the specific nature of their autogynephilia correlates with these differential outcomes.  Further, these effects seem to indicate both a continuum and a progression (criterion #4).  There is another dosage effect that though subtle, is of high importance to the question of causation and the nature of autogynephilia itself found by Blanchard in “Nonmonotonic relation of autogynephilia and heterosexual attraction”, from the abstract, “the highest levels of autogynephilia were observed at intermediate rather than high levels of heterosexual interest; that is, the function relating these variables took the form of an inverted U. This finding supports the hypothesis that autogynephilia is a misdirected type of heterosexual impulse, which arises in association with normal heterosexuality but also competes with it”.  This non-monotonic relationship was questioned in the Nuttbrock study, as they hypothosized that autogynephilia was a classic conditioned sexual fetish that had arisen as a consequence of cross-dressing and gender dysphoria, and not the cause.  But Lawrence easily demonstrated that Nutbrook missed the relationship due to improper mathmatical treatment of the data… and thus the dosage relationship evidence remains valid.
  6. Plausability.  This is almost self-evident.  If one’s sexual ideation is exclusively autogynephilic, if each time such an individual sees herself as obligatorially female during sex, that would be strong drive towards gender dysphoria and an incentive to adopt a female gender identity, over time.
  7. Coherence with laboratory tests are found by looking at brain sex research which shows that non-exclusively-androphilic transwomen are different than exclusively androphilic transwomen AND females, as expected by the theory that autogynephilia is the cause, not the result, of gender dysphoria and a female gender identity.
  8. Experiments with animals are not possible as we have no animal models of autogynephilia.
  9. Analogy is found in the amazing similarity of autogynephilia and its effects are found in males with apotemnophilia, the sexual desire for limb amputation, and autopedophilia, the sexual desire to be a child.  In fact, a very high percentage of heterosexual apotemnophiliacs are also autogynephilic, experiencing an Erotic Target Location Error in which they wish to become female amputees.

So, we can see that we meet nearly all, saving only experimental evidence, to support the conclusion that autogynephilia is the cause, and not the result or merely a co-occuring factor, of gender dysporia and female gender identity in non-exclusively-androphilic transwomen.

Additional Reading:

Essay on the development of an Autogynphilia Instrument in Males

Essay on the Non-Validity of Moser’s “Autogynephilia in Women”

Essays on evidence to support the two type taxonomy of MTF transsexuality

Essay on the Origins of Cross-Gender Identity in Transsexuals

Essays on Brain Sex in Transsexuals

Essay on analogy between autogynphilia and apotemnophilia


Textbook of Psychiatric Epidemiology, 3rd Edition, Wiley Press

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A Novel Argument

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on January 1, 2015

Science vs nonsenseA new argument was presented to me just yesterday involving the well documented fact that among those who transitioned as teenagers, far fewer report having experienced autogynephilia.  What made the line of argument ironic was that the proponent had started out in absolute denial of any of the science and most especially of the the notion that autogynephilia existed in some transsexuals, “autogynephilia my ass!”  However as the debate developed, she presented a novel take on the Nuttbrock data that I presented, to wit that in that study, 82% of self-reported exclusive gynephiles reported sexual arousal to cross-dressing, while only 14% of those who had begun HRT as adolescents (defined in the Nuttbrock study as before one’s 20th birthday) reported such arousal.

Here’s where it gets interesting: In an effort to win ANY point she could, she took the position that I was twisting the data to suit my position… yet in so doing she had to take the position, for her arguments’ logic to work, that autogynephilia is a UNIVERSAL phenomena among MTF transsexuals.  I had to laugh privately, since this reversal of her position would obviate all of her previous positions and support some (but not all) of mine.  Interestingly, this argument of universal autogynephilia mirrors the argument proposed by another contingent of autogynephilic transwomen, that autogynephilia is also normal and expected in natal women.  I find it doubly ironic that there is such an extreme reaction to the two type taxonomy, but from two camps, those that deny any autogynephilia in transwomen, and those who insist that their autogynephilia is just part of being a woman, and thus, all transwomen must also be autogynephilic.

Her argument also starts with several assumptions that are not supported by the data, nor by community observation.  She assumed first that HRT in these teens meant “puberty blockers” and that such blockers would preclude an individual from experiencing any sexual arousal.  It wasn’t made explicit, but she may also have been making the false assumption that even traditional HRT precludes any sexual arousal.  (I’ve heard several “late transitioning” transwomen make this statement, likely due to their own personal experience, while real for these individuals, is neither universal nor inevitable.  From casual observation, it seems to occur more frequently in more senior transwomen than younger “late transitioning” transwomen.  And from personal conversations with a fair number of transkids, not one had experienced this phenomena.)

So, she explains the significant difference between these adolescents (of whom only one had identified as gynephilic and 7% as bisexual, with the remaining 93% identifying as exclusively androphilic) and the gynephilic (all but one of whom had begun HRT as adults or had never had HRT, and yes, that one individual is in both groups… I couldn’t back her out of the data), as the adolescents not experiencing sexual arousal to cross-dressing due to them not experiencing sexual arousal in general.

So, having convinced herself that she had won her point… she began to crow that I was the one who was not willing to look at reality!!!

Ummm…  Not so fast.

Hypothesis were meant to be tested.

I’ve already pointed out the canard that HRT stops sexual arousal in all transwomen.  If it did, would we be having sex as often as we do post HRT and SRS, especially transkids?  It simply isn’t true.  Second, it is extremely unlikely that these youngsters were all on puberty blockers (e.g. Lupron) as it is still a fairly rare protocol.  It is typically initiated by well meaning parents bringing their extremely gender dysphoric pre-adolescent children to specialists.  While I would wish that all parents were so willing to medically intervene and save their transkid from the damaging effects of endogenous hormones, it is still a rare parent who does so.  Most transkids have to fight to get medical help… and many never get parental support, either waiting until they are legally of age, running away early, or getting HRT “on the street” surreptitiously.

Although the Nuttbrock study did not give us the fine detail I would have liked regarding the exact ages which folks started HRT, we know that half of those who identified as androphilic and had started HRT did so before the age of 20.  That also means that half did NOT.  From other studies, we know that the age of 20 is the median and the mode, that most androphilic transwomen start HRT, not right at puberty, but nearer age 20, showing a Gaussian distribution centered on age 20, with the bulk having started HRT between the ages of 17 and 23 inclusive.  This is enough after puberty to have allowed them to experience that first flush of sexual awakening that accompanies the onset of puberty and adolescence.

We know from countless personal narritives of autogynephilia that those early years of adolescence are typically when sexual arousal to autogynephilic imagery, most especially to cross-dressing, stereotypically in women’s lingerie, is the most obvious and intense.  Thus, IF these youngsters who began HRT as teens were universally autogynephilic, they would have had ample time to experience it in all of its intensity, before begining HRT, even if, as was argued, HRT would preclude experiencing it!

Looking further at the Nuttbrock study, only 40% of the self identified exclusively androphilic population had started HRT before age 20.  If this argument that HRT in adolescence explains the reduced number reporting autogynephilic arousal to cross-dressing, we would expect that those who did NOT start HRT as an adolescent to report at the same rate as the other sexual orientations.  Of those who self-identified as androphilic, all of those, including adolescent onset HRT, adult onset HRT (40%), and not on HRT (20%), the combined population had 23% report autogynephilic arousal to cross-dressing.  A little algebra and a calculator will show that those who were NOT adolescent onset HRT were reporting at the rate of 29%, far lower than the 82% of gynephilic transwomen, and even lower than the bisexually identified transwomen who reported at 67%, and the asexual at 66%.

Thus, even if HRT did what my erstwhile debating partner claimed… the data STILL would NOT show that self-reported exclusive androphiles report less than half the incidence of autogynephilic arousal to cross-dressing.  We would instead expect the later onset HRT androphiles to report at rates that were at least similar to the bisexual population.

OH… and a note on why I keep using the term “self-reported”:  There is, unfortunately for our research purposes, a well documented phenomena of “late transitioning” transwomen misreporting their sexual orientation.  It is quite possible, even probable, that the 29% rate of adult onset HRT and no HRT, is from a number of such misreporting older transitioners.

Thus, I’ve outlined my theoretical and evidence based reasons why this novel hypothesis is not supported by the data.  Instead, the data supports the two type taxonomy for MTF transsexuality, namely “exclusively androphilic vs. autogynephilic”.

To those who understand the limitations and implications of sociological and psychological studies, I’m sure that the above explication of the data is sufficient.  I’m equally certain that to those who are in denial of this research and of the Fruend/Blanchard transsexual taxonomy, what I’ve outlined above will only back them further into their denial.

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I Know What Boys Like…

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on June 29, 2014

♫♫I know what guys want…
They want to touch me,
But I won’t let them.♫♫
-The Waitresses

androgynous faceA while back, I explored one of the very few studies that tested Stoller’s observation that “true” MTF transsexuals, which we now recognize as exclusively androphilic MTF transkids, are “avoidant”.  That is, that though they have intimate relations with their boyfriends before SRS, they refuse to use or allow contact with their pre-operative genitalia.  Stoller (and others) held that non-exclusive androphilic transwomen would not be “avoidant”, but would find pleasure in the use of their male genitals prior to SRS.  Now a new study explores this behavior.  But sadly, since it comes out of Europe, where they believe that age of onset of gender dysphoria, early or late, is the most important typology, the study failed to explicitly report avoidant behavior by sexual orientation.  However, I hypothesize that Stoller is correct, and that even though we don’t have explicit data in this new study, we will see a direct correlation with the percentage of exclusively androphilic transwomen in the two onset age categories and avoidant behavior.  Data is reported in the number of transwomen for each category except for that reported as percentage:

Sexual Orientation vs. Age of Onset
Onset                                                 Early         Late
Androphilic      N=                             54               20
Non-exclusively Androphilic         53               78
Percentage Androphilic:                51%            20%

Avoidant vs. Age of Onset
Onset                                                Early           Late
Avoidant           N=                            38                15
Pleasure                                             34                47
Percentage Avoidant:                     53%             24%

Note the essentially identical percentages of exclusively androphilic transwomen in each onset category and the percentages of avoidant behavior?  Thus the data supports the hypothesis perfectly.  This of course is not definitive, since we would really like to have seen the direct comparason, but if the numbers had been wildly different between them, it would have supported the null hypothesis.  The null hypothesis still cannot be ruled out… but seriously?  Seriously?

It has been my personal observation, from talking to MTFs, during my entire lifetime, that “avoidant” behavior is near universal in transkids, but very rare in “late transitioning” transwomen.  Such late transitioning transwomen have very often been sexually active with women, married to women, and have had children.  Obviously, the easiest way to have sired children is to have had vaginal intercourse (penile penetration).


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

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Etiological Conjectures, Part 3

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on February 14, 2013

androgynous faceAs I related in Part 1 and Part 2 of my discussion regarding etiological conjectures, there are still more questions than answers about how early onset gender atypicality and dysphoria develops.  However, there are some very intriguing clues from the biodemographics of transkids.  As I discussed in an earlier essay on how MTF transkids may be a subset population of the larger exclusively androphilic, gender atypical, but not gender dysphoric children who grow up to be conventional gay men, the biodemographics of MTF transkids seems to be very similar, if not identical, to that of at least some gay men.

Simply put, MTF transkids have more brothers than sisters, far more than one would expect comparing them to the general population.  They tend to have more older brothers than would be expected, showing that for each older brother, the likelihood that a given male would be an MTF transkid is increased by 40%.  Note that the absolute likelihood of being an MTF transkid is still very, very tiny, but the more older brothers that one’s mother had given birth to, the more likely this tiny chance is increased.  This effect is also found in conventional gay men, but only those who were feminine as children.

From this statistical anomaly, Blanchard suggested that at least some gay men and MTF transkids have an etiological cause that is effected by their mother’s prior pregnancy experiences.  His conjecture is that prior male pregnancies challenged their mother’s immune system such that they developed anti-bodies to “maleness” in some, as yet to be discovered, fashion.

I would offer a different conjecture.  It is fairly well established that placentas from each fetus a women bears releases cells that migrate to all parts of her body.  In effect, she becomes a genetic chimera, carrying the DNA of each of her children (including those who miscarried).  This means that she also carries cells in her body which are genetically “male”, that have a Y chromosome and have supposedly been epigenetically tagged as being “male” during gestastion, prior to escaping via the placenta and migrating into her own body.  I conjecture that the mother’s own epigenetic gene regulation mechanisms are invoked to bring these “male” cells in line with her female body.  If these mechanisms become especially strong, they may tag her own germ cell line prior to oogenesis with epigenetic tags that push the later born male children toward neurological femininity.

Perhaps someday, we will see which, if either, of us guessed right.


Sebastian E. E. Schagen, Henriette A. Delemarre-van de Waal, Ray Blanchard, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, (2012) “Sibling Sex Ratio and Birth Order in Early-Onset Gender Dysphoric Adolescents”

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”

Anthony F. Bogaert, “Biological versus nonbiological older brothers and men’s sexual orientation”

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.

Johannes Bohacek, Katharina Gapp, Bechara J. Saab, Isabelle M. Mansuy, “Transgenerational Epigenetic Effects on Brain Functions”

Miranda P. Dierselhuis, Els Goulmy, “We are all born as microchimera”

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