On the Science of Changing Sex

Common Correlations In HSTS Transwomen & Gay Men

Posted in Science Criticism by Kay Brown on July 2, 2018

female_scientistIn learning about correlations between various behaviors and characteristics between exclusively androphilic transwomen and gay men, we may learn things that point to etiological factors that effect both.  An interesting correlation is that both gay men and androphilic transwomen, both populations exhibit the now famous Fraternal Birth Order Effect (FBOE) in which they have more older brothers than straight men.  That is to say, that the more boys that a given mother gives birth to, the higher the chances of a boy being androphilic, either gay or trans.  The FBOE strongly supports a biological etiology for androphilia in males.

fobeBut the really interesting thing about this effect is that it is stronger for androphilic transwomen than it is for gay men.  This opens up some interesting avenues of research.  Does this effect also mean that there is a correlation within the gay male population between meansures of femininity and the FBOE?  What about other characteristics that are more common in androphilic transwomen than in gay men?

The picture of androphilic transwomen is that of early and notable gender atypical behavior, hypomasculine appearance (even before medical intervention) and near universal preference for anal receptive sexuality, “bottom” as its called in the modern Western gay community.  Many gay men are just the opposite, preferring to “top” other gay men.  So, is there are a correlation between prefered anal sex role and FBOE, childhood gender atypical behavior, or hypomasculine appearance?  Are tops more like straight men in less FBOE, less gender atypicality, and more masculine appearance?  Conversely, are bottoms more like transwomen?

In the Wienrich paper they found a correlation between childhood gender atypicality and a preference for being a bottom,

“The connections between childhood gender nonconformity (assessed by the Freund Feminine Gender Identity Scale, or FGI) and adult genitoerotic role (assessed by a sex history) were examined. … Although other workers have cautioned against assuming a priori that childhood gender role is inherently related to adult preferences for particular sexual acts, our data suggest that there is at least a statistical association between these two concepts. In particular, the FGI (and many of its factors and items) are significantly associated with preferences for receptive anal intercourse and, less clearly, with oral-anal contact — but not with oral-genital intercourse or insertive anal intercourse. … The data also suggest that in sex research involving homosexual men, the correct genitoerotic role distinction is not insertive vs. receptive behaviors, or even insertive vs. receptive anal intercourse, but receptive anal intercourse vs. all other behaviors.”

Thus, like transwomen, bottoms are more likely to have been gender atypical than tops.

In Moskowitz, they found that physical traits, relative masculinity, was correlated with sex role,

“We surveyed 429 men engaging in same-sex anal intercourse to investigate the degree to which anal penetrative self-identity was concordant with actual penetrative behavior. Additionally, the roles of masculinity and physical body traits (e.g., penis size, muscularity, height, hairiness, and weight) were tested as correlates of anal penetrative identity and identity-behavior concordance. … Generally, tops reported larger penises than bottoms. They also reported being comparatively more masculine than bottoms. … Our study suggests that the correlates of gay men’s sexual self-labels may depend on objective traits in addition to the subjective pleasure associated with receptive or insertive anal intercourse.”

Thus, bottoms were more physically hypomasculine, just like androphilic transwomen.

In the Wampold paper he explores the correlation between sex role and FBOE,

“Bottoms had a significantly greater mean number of older brothers than did Not-Bottoms. … Thus, late fraternal birth order was correlated with receptive anal-erotic behavior among MSM.”

Thus, we’ve come full circle.  There is evidence for a multivariate cluster of indicia in a subset of gay men that would appear to be very much like androphilic transwomen save for one behavior, social transition to being transwomen.  The question we then need ask, is this difference between tops and bottoms dimensional or taxonic.  It sure looks taxonic to me.  The next question is the difference between bottom gay men and androphilic transwomen dimensional or taxonic?  I’m betting it’s dimensional.

If this is the case, what makes the difference between bottom gay men and androphilic transwomen?  We have strong hints that it is cultural.  There are cultures where feminine androphilic males are granted greater latitude to express their native femininity and not be coerced into hiding in the closet, or attempting to pretend to be ‘straight acting – straight looking’ gay men like ours does.  Assuming this to be the case, as our Western society is becoming less transphobic and misogynist, we should see more young gender atypical androphilic males persisting and chosing social transition as transwomen.

Further Reading:

Essay on cross cultural expression of male androphilia

Essay on the Fraternal Birth Order Effect

References:

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

Weinrich, et al., “Effects of recalled childhood gender nonconformity on adult genitoerotic role and AIDS exposure” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1992)
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01542256

Moskowitz, et al., “The Influence of Physical Body Traits and Masculinity on Anal Sex Roles in Gay and Bisexual Men”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, (2011)
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-011-9754-0

Wampold, C., “The Association Between Fraternal Birth Order and Anal-Erotic Roles of Men Who Have Sex with Men”, Archives of Sexual Behavior, (2018)
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-018-1237-0

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Pose: A Look at Transgender Realities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Public Service Advertisement:

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

Now, back to our regularly scheduled show.

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

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

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

Further Reading:

Essay on correlation between non-white ethnicity and HSTS

Essay on HSTS being ‘avoidant’

Essay on gynandromorphophilia

Essay on historic transphobia in the gay and lesbian communities

External Further Reading

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

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

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

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Fraternizing with the…

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

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

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

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

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

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

Blanchard discusses possible conclusions regarding this,

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

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

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

Further Reading:

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

Reference:

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

 


 

Fun Reading:

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

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Raising Children is a Sacred Trust…

Posted in Editorial, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on December 8, 2015

Kay BrownParental Attitudes Towards Transgender Children

Every now and then, I check the stats on this site.  I am gratified by the growing number of readers over the past six years.  I also check the search strings that are used to find this site.  I am happy that parents of transkids find my site and this much needed information.  But I am usually saddened by the search strings.  These are the most common, in order of frequency:

“How to cope with transgender children”

“How to deal with a transgender child”

“How to manage a transgender kid”

“My child is transgender”

Do you see the problem?  The terms ‘cope’, ‘deal’, and ‘manage’ indicate that these parents see their child as a dissappointent, a burden, a problem.  One ‘copes’ with emotional loss and dissappointment.  One ‘deals’ with a burden.  One ‘manages’ a problem.

I’ve known dozens of other transkids (and former transkids / adults who were transkids).  Nearly every one of them spoke of how their parents had been dissappointed by them.  Even those whose parents eventually came to support them went through a period where their parents tried to deny that they were transkids.  Many were disowned by their parents.

But every now and then, but not nearly as often as I would like, I see this search string:

“How to help a transgender child”

Today, among several like the first three, I saw this gem:

“How to protect a transgender child”

Several years ago, my husband and I hosted a lovely young couple and their two children.  Their children were around three years old, fraternal twins.  One was ‘all boy’.  He wore his favorite T-shirt sporting an image of a bulldozer that read, “I like dirt”.  The other child was a sweet natured, feminine girl wearing a yellow flowered sundress.  She gave us an impromptu ballet recital in our front parlor.  Can you see where this is going?  That sweet mannered girl is male.

This young couple loved and celebrated their children.  Both of them.  They told me that they didn’t like attending support groups for parents of gender atypical / transgender children because the other parents saw their children as dissappointments, problem children, burdens.  The other parents would spend most of the time trying to convince everyone, including themselves, that they had done everything they could to cope, deal, and manage their children.  They were apolegetic about their child’s behavior and even of their own eventual acceptance of their child’s atypicality, having done everything they could to prevent it.

Which brings me back to the search string that I never see, but would dearly love to:

“How to celebrate my transgender child”

(Addendum 2/4/2016:  Banner Day!  Today someone used this search string, “loving your transgender child”)

(3/26/2016:  UGLY DAY!  Today someone used this search string, “things to say to comfort parents of a transgender”, as though having a trans-child were a terrible tragedy.

 


 

Fun Reading:

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

Comments Off on Raising Children is a Sacred Trust…