On the Science of Changing Sex

Where Are All These “Detransitioners” Coming From?

Posted in Editorial, Female-to-Male, Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on June 1, 2021

Perhaps, as we begin Pride Month, we should talk about both the psychology and the politics of non-gender dysphoric / non-gender atypical people , mostly teenaged girls and young women, claiming a “trans” and especially now days, a “non-binary” identity.  It must be hard on lonely straight folks seeing LGBT Pride celebrations and wishing that they too could be part of something larger than themselves, where they can be accepted and feel ‘loved’ by so many others, all at once.  Who wouldn’t want to be part of that?  Oh, and add into the mix the frisson of being a rebel, joining a cause, resisting homophobia and transphobia?  It’s every teen’s dream; They aren’t just some dissaffected youth, they are special and have a right to be angry with the world.

But, here’s the rub.  If they claim to be lesbian, they can’t be with the cute guys w/o looking silly.  If they claim to be bisexual and aren’t… well then they might have to fend off girls, and that might be akward, though it might be easier than claiming to be lesbian.  If they claim to be “trans”… well… you don’t have to like girls to be “trans” right?  Lot’s of transmen are into men, right?  Then the awkward issue of people pointing out that they aren’t actually gender dysphoric nor all that masculine.  One might get labeled (correctly) as being “tucute” to be FtM transman.  No problem, just wear unisex clothes and chest bind on occasion at LGB and especially T events and support groups.

But wait, there’s this new category of “trans” where one doesn’t have to actually be “trans”; one can claim to be “non-binary”.  One can still date boys and still dress as femininely as one wishes, when one wishes; because to be non-binary doesn’t require one to be butch in any way.

So, we get more and more feminine girls and young women “coming out” as “trans” and  “non-binary” to be one with the LGBT community.  Some LGBT, in an effort to be accepting and inclusive, openly accept and even celebrate these non-LGBT people as though they were.  After all, they aren’t hurting us, and the more that come to the political fight, the better, right?

Except, there is a danger for the transsexual community lurking just underneath.  What happens when these young women tire of LARPing as “trans” and “non-binary”?  Some will quietly stop.  But some will connect with “ex-trans” types, just like “ex-gay”, and claim a new identity, in another community that love bombs them, offering a new group identity that supports and assauges their loneliness: “desister” or “de-transitioner” (even if they never actually transitioned).  We are already seeing this coming about.

And as they become “detrans”, they become the darlings of transphobic political efforts, weaponized as “proof” that “transgender ideology” is “seducing” girls into believing that they are trans.

But actual transsexuals are NOT the villains here.  It is the young people who falsely claim these identities that are.

Consider that a recent claim was made that there are 13,000 “detranstioners” on a single subreddit. How can that be when we know from solid data that there are only ~100,000 actual transitioners in the United States, and that detrans post-op regret is rare at less than 0.015%. That’s around one in 10,000 post-op people. So where did these 13,000 people come from? Simple, only a tiny handful were ever trans to begin with. The rest were those described above, falsely claiming to be “trans” or “non-binary”, now falsely claiming to be “detrans”.

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Transsexual Post-Op Regret Is Rare

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on May 19, 2021

If one were to trust the propaganda against transsexual medical interventions you would believe that post-op regret is common and a serious problem that can only be fixed by “morally mandating it out of existence” by outlawing transsexual surgeries. But the truth is quite the opposite. We have yet another study by Narayan, et al., that shows that post-op regret is less than 0.3% and only slightly less than half of that was actual “gender identity” related. So the true post-op “de-trans” type regret is less than 0.15%.

In a meta-analysis of previous studies, Bustos, et al., found that pooling 7928 transsexual people who had surgeries of various kinds over several decades, only 77 had any, ANY, regrets which is less than 1%. Of those that had “major regrets”, the type we are actually concerned with, there were only 34, which is only 0.4%, essentially the same figure as that obtained by Narayan. Bustos did not have sufficient data on de-transitions after surgery.

This is actually quite low and speaks to the usefulness of our present diagnostic protocols (gatekeeping). While transphobic critics of transsexual medicine falsely claim that surgery is provided far too easily and often, the data says otherwise.

References:

Narayan, S., et al., “Guiding the conversion – Types of regret after gender-affirming surgery and their etiologies”, Annals of Translational Medicine (2021) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8105823/

Bustos, et al., “Regret after Gender-affirmation Surgery: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Prevalence”, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Global Open (2021) https://doi.org/10.1097%2FGOX.0000000000003477

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American Psychiatric Association Supports The Two Type Transsexual Taxonomy

Posted in Confirming Two Type Taxonomy, Editorial by Kay Brown on February 6, 2021

Very frequently, I and others are challenged with claims that the two type taxonomy of transsexuality had been “debunked”.  When I show that that isn’t true, my interlocutors said something to the effect that, “Well, I’ll go with the American Psychiatric Association (APA) over your fringe science.”  They were assuming that the APA had “debunked”, or otherwise disavowed, the taxonomy.  Nothing could be further from the truth as we explore what APA documents show; most critically, how the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Revision Five (DSM-5) explains and supports the taxonomy and describes the two types.

But first, we need to explore a bit of nomenclature and its history.  Over the decades, the two types have been given different labels:

Homosexual         Non-Homosexual / Autogynephilic or Autoandrophilic
nuclear                  non-nuclear / marginal
core                        non-core / marginal
Ego-syntonic         Ego-dystonic
Androphilic           Gynephilic (for MTF only, the reverse is used for FtM)
True-                        Pseudo-
Primary                   Secondary
Group One              Group Three (Anne Vitale 2001) (For MTF only, “Group Two” for FtM)
Early Onset            Late Onset
Young                      Older  Transitioner
Early                        Late Transitioner
Transkid                 Adult

Most people who have recently learned of the taxonomy ascribe it to just one researcher, Dr. Ray Blanchard.  While he was a prolific publisher of studies of the taxonomy, he did NOT discover or create it.  He did, however, coin one of the terms used to describe one of the types, “autogynephilic” (AGP) to fully and correctly articulate their nature and the role of autogynephilia in the etiology of their gender dysphoria.  He contrasted this type with the description of the sexuality of the other type, using the then common convention of describing transsexuals’ sexual orientation based on their natal (biological / “assigned at birth”) sex, as “homosexual transsexual” (HSTS).

So, when exploring APA documents, we need to keep in mind that for MTF transsexuals, “homosexual” = “early onset” and “autogynephilic” = “late onset”.

Thus HSTS/AGP = early onset / late onset taxonomy.

I know that some will object and falsely claim that this is not the equivalent taxonomy or theory.  But we have examples of scientific papers where they are used interchangeably.  And more importantly, in the DSM-5 itself, the description and explication of the two types make it very clear that they are the same taxons and theory.  There can be no honest quibbles.  The DSM-5 fully documents, describes, and supports as our best current scientific understanding, the two type taxonomy and theory.

First, the DSM-5 defines (and thus acknowledges the existence of) autogynephilia in its glossary of technical terms on page 818,

autogynephilia Sexual arousal of a natal male associated with the idea or image of being a woman.”

This definition is literally the same as Blanchard articulated.  One cannot say the APA has “debunked” the existence of autogynephilia when they helpfully define it for use by their members and the public.

But let us continue.  One of the key points of the two type taxonomy is that autogynephilia is often expressed as sexual arousal to cross-dressing, and though not always, it can be progressive and lead to gender dysphoria.  The DSM-5 describes this very phenomena in its description of ‘transvestic disorder’ on pages 703-4,

“Transvestic disorder in men is often accompanied by autogynephilia (i.e., a male’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman).  Autogynephilic fantasies and behaviors may focus on the idea of exhibiting female physiological functions (e.g., lactation, menstruation), engaging in stereotypically feminine behavior (e.g., knitting), or possessing female anatomy (e.g., breasts). … Some cases of transvestic disorder progress to gender dysphoria. The males in these cases, who may be indistinguishable from others with transvestic disorder in adolescence or early childhood, gradually develop desires to remain in the female role for longer periods and to feminize their anatomy.”

One could not get a more clear description of the progression of autogynephilic cross-dressing to gender dysphoric transwoman.

The DSM fully describes and supports the two type taxonomy of gender dysphoria as can be found starting on page 455,

“In both adolescent and adult natal males, there are two broad trajectories for development of gender dysphoria: early onset and late onset. Early-onset gender dysphoria starts in childhood and continues into adolescence and adulthood; or, there is an intermittent period in which the gender dysphoria desists and these individuals self-identify as gay or homosexual, followed by recurrence of gender dysphoria. Late-onset gender dysphoria occurs around puberty or much later in life. Some of these individuals report having had a desire to be of the other gender in childhood that was not expressed verbally to others. Others do not recall any signs of childhood gender dysphoria. For adolescent males with late-onset gender dysphoria, parents often report surprise because they did not see signs of gender dysphoria in childhood.  Adolescent and adult natal males with early-onset gender dysphoria are almost always sexually attracted to men (androphilic). Adolescents and adults with late-onset gender dysphoria frequently engage in transvestic behavior with sexual excitement. The majority of these individuals are gynephilic or sexually attracted to other posttransition natal males with late-onset gender dysphoria. A substantial percentage of adult males with late-onset gender dysphoria cohabit with or are married to natal females. After gender transition, many self-identify as lesbian. Among adult natal males with gender dysphoria, the early-onset group seeks out clinical care for hormone treatment and reassignment surgery at an earlier age than does the late-onset group. The late-onset group may have more fluctuations in the degree of gender dysphoria and be more ambivalent about and less likely satisfied after gender reassignment surgery.  In both adolescent and adult natal females, the most common course is the early-onset form of gender dysphoria. The late-onset form is much less common in natal females compared with natal males. As in natal males with gender dysphoria, there may have been a period in which the gender dysphoria desisted and these individuals self-identified as lesbian; however, with recurrence of gender dysphoria, clinical consultation is sought, often with the desire for hormone treatment and reassignment surgery. Parents of natal adolescent females with the late-onset form also report surprise, as no signs of childhood gender dysphoria were evident.”

Note the full concurrance with the description of “early onset” gender dysphoria begining in childhood, persisting into adulthood and their sexual orientation as being “homosexual” with respect to their natal sex.  Note the description of “late onset’ as having the opposite sexual orientation as “early onset”, and then in natal males, “transvestic behavior” (an expression of autogynephilia) as a precursor to their gender dysphoria.  One could not get a more definitive proof of the APA’s acknowledgement and support for the two type taxonomy as the actual text from the DSM-5.

Further Reading:

Minority Report: APA Transgender Taskforce

Reference:
DSM-5

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On The Science of Changing Sex: The Book

Posted in Book Reviews by Kay Brown on November 30, 2020

New Release !

Ten years in the making, well researched, pulling together peer reviewed science and personal experiences, On The Science of Changing Sex explains the deeper, less known, aspects of transsexuality and transgenderism. Sure to spark controversy, it delves deeply into the hidden world and secrets, often suppressed, the public doesn’t hear about. This book is NOT the typical “born in the wrong body” transgender story. Reading it, you will discover that there is more than one kind of “transgender”. You will learn the deep connection between transkids and gender atypical gays and lesbians and the shameful history of efforts to “cure” them. You will also learn about the way that cross-dressing men develop into autogynephilic transwomen. Kay also explores the new fad of teens and young people falsely claiming “trans” and “non-binary” identities to join the “cool kids club”.  Kay Brown, herself a transsexual who was diagnosed as a teenager in the 1970s, while in high school, has spent a lifetime working to better the lives of transsexuals including co-founding the ACLU Transsexual Rights committee in 1980 among other notable achievements.

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Rainbow’ End

Posted in Book Reviews, Editorial, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on November 26, 2020

I’ve published a book that I hope you will help me publicize, spread the word, by posting on your social media, Rainbow’s End: A Parent’s Guide To Understanding Transsexual Children and Teens.

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Second Novel Coming Out Soon

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on October 31, 2020
All the Stars are Suns ebook complete

In late ’17, I published a SciFi novel, All The Stars Are Suns using the pen name “Seaby Brown”, the first of many I hope, as my second novel will be available this coming Thanksgiving and I’m already writing my third.

And yes, while not the main protagonist, there is a transwoman in the first story.  And no, she is not a reflection of me or my life.  The plot hinges on future advances in understanding the neuro-physiology, the organization and operation, of brains, etc., taking advantage of my interest in biology and neurology.  It is set a couple hundred years into our future.  It is a story of hope for the future against dark regressive politics and intrigue.  But seriously, check it out!  You may learn more about the novel and order it from Amazon here.

RAVEN'S ROOK EBOOK 2

My second novel, Raven’s Rook will come out on Thanksgiving, the fall of ’20.  You may pre-order it from Amazon here.  It is the sequel to the first, set several thousand years into the future.  It’s a ‘coming of age’ story, of both individuals and a culture set on a far away terraformed colony.

I’m already writing my third, Skyview Keep.  It too is set in the same universe several thousand years further than the second.  No planned publishing date for it as yet.  And yes, there is yet another planned beyond it, a grand sweep of future history.


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The Silent Transsexual

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on September 14, 2020

Even as transsexual kids are being acknowledged and finding greater support in their communities, from their parents, and from more enlightened medical care givers, their voices are being shouted down by an ever growing chorus of people who are NOT transsexual.

I speak of course to the unfortunate social circumstance of having been subsumed in a larger identity of “transgender”.

The term “transgender” was originally coined in the ’60s by Dr. “Virginia” Prince, a heterosexual married lifestyle crossdressing man, an autogynephile who neither desired nor sought medical interventions to change his body. He coined the term to describe himself, and to differentiate himself, from transsexuals. Yes, the term originally EXCLUDED transsexuals. He was infamous for berating transsexuals in both public and private, in print and in one’s face. He also coined the term to differentiate himself from secretive crossdressers, commonly called transvestites, autogynephiles who only occasionally crossdressed, often only partially in women’s lingerie, for sexual gratification and emotional comfort.

But, over the decades, the term was expanded, first to include transvestites, then in the early ’90s, it began to be used to cover “late onset” transsexuals, who had followed a transvestite, to transgenderist (the term used then), to transsexual, career arc. In a way, it made sense that such “late onset” transsexuals could and should be covered by such an umbrella term, given their histories. But sadly, because of the conflation of the two types, this also dragged “early onset” transsexuals under the umbrella, unwillingly and to their detriment, conflating and confusing them with heterosexual transvestites!

But sometime in the last ten to fifteen years, a new phenomena grew. People who were neither “early onset” nor “late onset”… indeed not even gender dysphoric, began to see that transsexuals were fighting for our social, legal, civil rights. We became, in some socially liberal circles, “cool”. And because we’re “cool”, many who felt like “outsiders” took on the superficial trappings and identity of being “trans”, even though they were in no sense gender dysphoric, nor even gender atypical.

But, among those who weren’t gender dysphoric nor gender atypical were large numbers of female bodied young people who wanted also to join the “cool kids club”. And as they did so, they diluted the voices of actual transsexual transmen. These transmen began to openly question why these non-transsexual, non-gender dysphoric, non-gender atypical, very often heterosexual girls, should claim to be like them. Thus began a war of words and of ugly epithets as actual transsexuals began to be pushed away from the ‘cool kids lunch table’ by self-identified ‘transgender’ and ‘non-binary’ people, vilified with such terms as “trans-medicalist” (“transmed”) and “truscum”, falsely accused of “believing that they are better than us”. If transsexuals dare to point out that we are very different from those who aren’t the least bit gender dysphoric nor gender atypical, and insist upon continued use of the most accurate label of available to us, “transsexual”, we are shouted down and derisively called, “the trans police”, “gatekeepers”, literally appropriating and flipping the original meaning of “gatekeeping” doctors denying medical transition services to transsexuals. They even accuse us of being “transphobic”. Think about this for moment. This is non-trans people calling actual transsexuals, “transphobic” for being transsexuals.

The viciousness and anger expressed by those who use these terms to decribe transsexuals, especially those transsexuals who point out that gender dysphoria is part and parcel to what defines them as transsexuals, is very telling.

But this wasn’t the end. Now we have entered a new phase where actual transsexual people are being silenced and marginalized by this ever expanding “transgender” community evidenced in the past couple years by the stunningly counter intuitive development in which they are now claiming that the very term that started it all, “transsexual” is “outdated” and even a pejoritive!

That term is NOT a pejoritive to actual transsexuals!!!!

The goal of those who are “transgender” who make this astounding claim is clear: To silence, to “erase” transsexuals.

Remember, very few people are transsexual, a tiny minority. But in recent surveys, 3% to 6% of teens and twenty-somethings are claiming to be “transgender” or more recently “non-binary”. That’s more than those who are actually gay or lesbian. Thus, the voices of actual transsexuals can be easily drowned out.

If our voices can be shouted down by claiming that there is no difference between those who merely self-proclaim their identity as “trans” and actual transsexuals, then they can lay claim to all the “coolness” and social acceptance that transsexuals have worked so hard over decades to earn.

Addendum 24 December 2020: Lest you think my complaint specious, last night, on twitter, I was “questioned” by one person and attacked by two others, for using the term “transsexual” to describe myself and those like me. The one who questioned me was a gay man who was under the impression that “transsexual” was indeed a pejoritive. The other two were also non-transsexual people, one a non-transwoman who also believed it was pejoritive, and the other was unclear. But that third person also jumped down my throat for using the term “transkid” without a space and the “-ed” suffix in “transgendered”. (How many will now be dinged for using the terms, “transwoman”, “transman”, “transboy”, “transgirl”) For decades, both terms were in use, but the last few years, language policing is being used to identify those who don’t use the “correct” forms; forms that shift with each season; forms which control how the various populations that are mistakenly pushed under the “transgender umbrella” are to be defined and made invisible or silenced. Again, defining that the term “transsexual” is verboten is the same as saying that recognition of transsexuals as a unique condition and especially the knowledge that there are two populations lumped under even that singular term, is also verboten. Ask yourself; who benefits from this language policing and how?

Addendum 9 February 2021: It’s getting worse. I continue to see, and to hear from other transsexuals, that we being told that we should not use the term “transsexual”. I’ve noticed a pattern. I’m more likely to get this insistence from a non-trans “ally”. This is amazing. Non-trans (or “cis-” if you like the term) folks telling transsexuals that the word is outdated and offensive!

Folks, I was a proud co-founding member of the ACLU TRANSSEXUAL Rights Committee in 1980. In the early to mid-90s I was the co-chair of the Ad Hoc Committee of TRANSSEXUALS to recognize Alan Hart (an activist group lobbying the Oregon State legislature while simultaneously dealing with a transphobic gay and lesbian political lobbying group that was falsely claiming that an historic transsexual was a self-hating lesbian who felt forced to live as a man due to homophobia, all the while this transphobic organization had been actively throwing transsexuals under the bus, politically). In my wardrobe is a “letter jacket” given to me by the TRANSSEXUAL Menace group in the mid ’90s. I wrote articles for the TRANSSEXUAL News Telegraph (TNT) magazine in the ’90s. I taught a class on TRANSSEXUAL & Transgender History at the Harvey Milk Institute in 1999-2001. I’ve been writing this blog on the science of TRANSSEXUALITY and transgenderism for past eleven years. Are we supposed to abandon our own personal and cultural history because a group of non-trans folk have recently gotten a bee in their bonnet that “transsexual” is a bad word? Its as though being an actual transsexual has somehow become a bad thing. Thus, we are called “truscum” when we insist upon being recognized for who and what we are. We will not be silent. We will not be erased.

Addendum 4 June 2021: I’ve noted a new pattern. If shown this essay many non-trans ‘allies’ then back off, but only to the extent of condescendingly saying “I support your right to identify as transsexual” as though I needed their permission. But recognizing my right to my natural “identity” makes the general silencing & erasure still OK? It doesn’t.

Addendum 11 April 2022: On a website produced earlier this month by Yale, they literally described the term “transsexual” as being both outmoded and insulting. A number of transsexuals wrote to the woman responsible to correct this misapprehension. But in a way, it’s not her fault. Non-transsexuals were lying to her, tell her it was. She corrected the website. — At the same time, someone on Wikipedia proposed to eliminate references and usage of the term “transsexual”. This looks to be a continued and concerted effort to erase transsexuals by eliminating and/or redefining the term as unacceptable, to the detriment of transsexual people, to privilege non-transsexuals as per my explication above.

As a transsexual, I will NOT be silenced.

Further Reading:

Lost In The Crowd

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Sex Chromosomes Expression Associated With Brain Sex?

Posted in Brain Sex by Kay Brown on July 27, 2020

Teenage-brainThere has been a long term assumption that sexually dimorphic brain features developed solely from hormonal difference, both organizational and activational.  Some have long suspected that at least some of the sexually dimorphic features were from differential expression of the sex chromosomes themselves.  An association between such features and differential expression has now been found in a recent study.

There is a great essay at Wired that I would recommend you read before continuing to read my essay here.  (Link)

A few comments are warranted here.

First, the hormonal hypothesis is not negated, only modified.  There remain several possibilities, first that the hormonal influence simply triggers which genes are expressed in the brain at and that it is only coincidental that some are on the sex chromosomes; second, that hormonal influence works independently from the sex chromosome expression control.  Of course, it could even be some combination of the two (and my bet is on this third possibility).  Remember, many of the genes differentially expressed are NOT on the sex chromosomes, and even those on the X chromosome, available to both sexes, are differentially expressed.

Please note:  Genes on the X chromosome are NOT all automatically expressed in women nor are they automatically repressed in men.  Further, not all of the genes found on the X chromosome relate to sexually dimorphic development (e.g. color vision receptor).

Second, we don’t know what the FUNCTIONAL differences the sex chromosomes mediate vs. the autosomal chromosomes.  We don’t know how different the behaviors would really be with such differential expression.  These difference could be related not to behaviors but to immune responses for example.  When one is confronted with ignorance, it is important to recognize it and not make conclusions that the data doesn’t support.

Third, a reminder that these differences can NOT be directly associated with important cognitive mechanisms, else females would be at an extreme disadvantage not able to express genes that lie only on the Y chromosome.  We know this because men and women have shown only tiny differences in cognitive performance of specific tasks and that general cognitive ability (IQ – g factor) do not differ between the sexes.  (Male chauvinists be damned!)

Fourth, speculating on what effect this might have on gender atypicality and the degree to which such atypical individuals may resemble the opposite sex in brain sexual dimorphism is inescapable.  Most of it will likely be found wrong later.

One can imagine certain transphobic groups using this material to show that gender atypical transsexuals (HSTS) aren’t “really” a man or a woman… cause… “biology” (essentialism based on karyotype).  But that is not the germain issue as we KNOW that other mechanisms are also involved.

Further Reading:

Essay on hormonal effects on sexually dimorphic brain development

Essay on gene control of sexually dimorphic behaviors

Further External Reading:

Wired Article

Reference:

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

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Transkids Transition Because They ARE Transkids!

Posted in Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on July 8, 2020

female_scientistA classic lie that anti-trans propagandists try to push is that transkids who socially transition are being pushed into it.  The roughly ten thousand of us who were such kids in the United States (yes, that’s how few of us there are) know better.

A paper that came out last year demonstrates the reality.  It’s not behind a paywall, so you can read it for yourself, but here’s the money quote,

“Children from our longitudinal cohort who would later transition were highly similar to transgender children (children who had already socially transitioned) and to control children of the gender to which they would eventually transition. Gender-nonconforming children who would not go on to transition were different from these groups. These results suggest that (a) social transitions may be predictable from gender identification and preferences and (b) gender identification and preferences may not meaningfully differ before and after social transitions.”

What this basically demonstrates is that transkids really are just that.  That one CAN tell the difference between persistors and desistors and that social transition follows gender identity, not the other way around as anti-trans propagandists argue.

Further Reading:

Difference between Desistors and Persistors

Reference:

Rae, et al., “Predicting Early-Childhood Gender Transitions”, Psychological Science, 2019
https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797619830649

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JK Rowling and the Transphobic Big Lie Machine

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on July 6, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Big Lie Machine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Reading:

Yet More Big Lies:  Transphobic Propaganda Targeting Parents of Transkids

Historic Transphobia in the Gay and Lesbian Community

Invisible Transgender People – Stolen History

Misplaced Moralizing: Transwomen & Sexual Assault

Further External Reading:

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

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