On the Science of Changing Sex

A Voice of Their Own

Posted in Transgender Youth, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on July 9, 2016

Or, What Do Transkids Think About Puberty Suppression?

transkids

Transkids after transition

In the media and especially in social media, we see lots of discussion regarding what is the appropriate standard of care for transkids.  Many adults seem to be horrified by the idea that kids should be treated at all.  Of course, anyone that thinks about it clearly will see that without puberty suppression, one is already making a decision to treat them with hormones, the ones that the body starts to make at puberty.  Thus, the justification for puberty suppression, under the notion that delaying it isn’t really making a hard and fast decision.

But what of transkids themselves?  What do they think about it all?  How about asking them?  Well, a recent paper does just that, as the paper describes them,

“They were between 13 and 18 years of age, with an average age of 16 years and 11 months, and a median age of 17 years and 4 months. All adolescents, except for one, were treated with puberty suppression. The mean age at which the adolescents started treatment with puberty suppression was 15 years and 10 months. The adolescent who was not treated with puberty suppression immediately started treatment with cross-sex hormones because she was above the age of 18 when treatment was indicated, which is in line with the Dutch protocol. Five adolescents were trans girls (natal boys with a female gender identity) and eight were trans boys (natal girls with a male gender identity).”

Note that puberty suppression was their only option until age 18, a state of affairs that I have argued, and will continue to argue, it both unnecessary and cruel, but better than nothing.  This protocol privileges desisters and indeed all non-gender-dysphoric teens in that an active or implicit decision to deliberately use endogenous hormones to masculinize or feminize (as the case may be) their bodies is socially sanctioned, actively encouraged even, but an active decision on the part of gender dysphoric teens is considered suspect and their ability to make such a decision is deemed problematic.  {Can nobody else see the double-standard?  Why, if this is all about not trusting teens to make this decision, are ALL teens not put on puberty blockers until they are adults?}  All evidence points to the age of 14 being an appropriate age to end, not begin, puberty suppression, to be replaced with conventional Hormone Replacement Therapy.  But concerns about transphobic public resistance prevents this evidence based medicine approach.

{On a personal note, I first learned about HRT at age 15, but my pediatrician recommended my mother send me to psychotherapy to “cure” me instead. I began actively requesting feminizing HRT from the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic at age 17 in 1974.  I was denied this.  I had to wait until I was legally of age and began HRT very soon after my 18th birthday in the summer of ’75.  In those days, puberty suppression was not available.  I deeply regret what that delay did to my singing voice.}

So what did these modern teens have to say?  Here’s a typical comment,

“I think it is hard to set an age requirement. On the one hand I think 12 years is a good age minimum, on the other hand I think that a transgender whose puberty started earlier should have the possibility to start treatment with puberty suppression before the age of 12.” (trans girl; age: 13)

You may wish to read the rest of what they had to say at the actual paper at the link below, as it is not behind a paywall, thankfully.

Further Reading:

Essay on evidence for best age to end puberty suppression based on age of desisting gender dysphoria

Essay by Alejandra Velasquez at the transkids.us website on treatment recommendations for MTF transkids. {Note:  Ms. Velasquez was ~20 when she wrote the essay in 2004}

Essay on Advice to Parents of Transkids

References:

Vrouenraets, L. et al. “Perceptions of Sex, Gender, and Puberty Suppression: A Qualitative Analysis of Transgender Youth”
Archives of Sexual Behavior (2016). doi:10.1007/s10508-016-0764-9

 


 

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.

Advertisements

Comments Off on A Voice of Their Own

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…

Child’s Play

Posted in Female-to-Male, Science Criticism, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on February 9, 2015

critical-thinkingFor years, critics of transkids’ identities have made claims that transkids are either “confused”, “delayed”, or “pretending”.  Many papers describing feminine boys from the 1960’s would describe them as being “talented mimics”, explicitely taking the position that men and women, boys and girls, do in fact have in-born differences in behavior, mannerisms, and motor-movements, but that these feminine boys were NOT exhibiting natural behavior, but were consciously, or “subconsciously”, observing girls and women, and learning to “mimic” these behaviors.  Of course, those of us who were such and grew up to transition, have long begged to differ!

Today, we have a published paper that demolishes these notions.  At the core of the paper is the ability to determine implicit associations between concepts.  If you are not familiar with this tool, it may be useful to review the Wiki page on Implicit Association Testing .  One of it strengths is that it cannot be “faked”.  It is impervious to Social Desirability Bias or other impression management distortions.  It is also impossible for someone to be “pretending”, as the cognitive load to evaluate the test set-up, determine the “right” answer, etc. would create an obvious delay in the test.  Further, if a child were “confused” as to the meaning of sex and gender, there would be an obvious anomalous signature in the test results.

ImplicitThe study involved 32 transkids, ages 5-12, 12 FtM, 20 MTF, who have already transitioned full time, with the full support of their families.  This would obviously include “early onset” transkids.  However, and this is critical, we know, or at least suspect, that some of these kids will “desist” being gender dysphoric before puberty, if they follow the trend already seen in other studies, most especially the Steensma study from the Netherlands.  Yet, for all of that, the results of the study show that these kids are completely consistent in their implicit gender identity and preferences as their opposite sex, non-trans, controls and siblings.  They are NOT pretending, nor confused.

The folks who conducted this recent study are continuing their work, looking at these kids as they grow up.  They are looking for additional transkids to join the study.

Study on Gender Nonconformity in Children

Hi from the TransYouth Project at the University of Washington! We are researchers interested in gender development in children and have a new research project we are currently recruiting families for. The project aims to better understand gender development in gender nonconforming and transgender children.  Our new study takes 30-60 minutes and includes children ages 3-12. We are running the study all over the U.S. and Canada so please let us know if you are interested and we can let you know when we’ll be in your area. We are hoping to recruit gender nonconforming children as well as their siblings (where applicable). All data collected as part of this study are confidential. Payment is $10 per parent and $10 plus a small toy per child. There is an optional longitudinal component that we can tell you more about as well if you are interested. To sign up for the study, please visit: http://www.transyouthproject.org. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me, Dr. Kristina Olson, via email (krolson@uw.edu) or phone (206-616-1371). Thanks for considering being a part of this research or telling someone who might be!

Reference:

Kristina R. Olson, Aidan C. Key, Nicholas R. Eaton, “Gender Cognition in Transgender Children“, Psychological Science

Thomas D. Steensma, Roeline Biemond, Fijgie de Boer and Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, “Desisting and persisting gender dysphoria after childhood: A qualitative follow-up study”
http://ccp.sagepub.com/content/early/2011/01/06/1359104510378303

 


 

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.

Tagged with: ,

Comments Off on Child’s Play

Are Your Ears Burning?

Posted in Female-to-Male, Science Criticism by Kay Brown on January 19, 2015

critical-thinkingIt has long been hypothesized that prenatal or perinatal hormone levels influence sexually dimorphic behavior in humans.  The evidence from studies of people with Disorders of Sexual Development and in numerous animals studies lends strong evidence that this is true.  So it would seem natural that we should ask if sexual orientation and gendered behavior in otherwise phenotypically normal individuals could also have been affected by hormones.  The ultimate study would be one that longitudinally follows a large cohort of individuals from conception to adulthood, taking extensive hormonal assays while evaluating gendered behavior and sexual orientation.  The problems of doing such a study for transsexuality is obvious… the cohort would have to be in the hundreds of thousands to ensure statistically significant numbers of transsexual individuals were included.

Thus, researchers are interested in finding sexually dimorphic markers that record historical hormone environments.  That is to say, something that is an organizational and not an activational effect, preferably one that becomes fixed at the same period in prenatal development as organizational effects in the brain.  It must be something that is observable at birth and remains stable long enough to allow us to use it to retrospectively determine ones hormonal environment after we have found our gender atypical population of interest.

I’ve already blogged about one such putative measure, the 2D:4D ratio, which is mildly sexually dimorphic, and in at least some population has a recognizably large enough effect size that we can hope that we can use it.  Sadly, the results have been contradictory so far.  But despair not, another such sexually dimorphic marker is available, though it requires specialized equipment to measure.

In individuals with normal, unimpaired hearing, a curious effect is found in which our inner ears respond to external sounds with sounds of their own, which is known to be mildly sexually dimorphic, as described in the abstract from a recent paper out of Europe, the first known to explore this effect as a potential probe of the role of androgens in gender dysphoria,

“Click-evoked otoacoustic emissions (CEOAEs) are echo-like sounds that are produced by the inner ear in response to click-stimuli. CEOAEs generally have a higher amplitude in women compared to men and neonates already show a similar sex difference in CEOAEs. Weaker responses in males are proposed to originate from elevated levels of testosterone during perinatal sexual differentiation.  Therefore, CEOAEs may be used as a retrospective indicator of someone’s perinatal androgen environment.”

coeaeBefore we get too excited about this marker, we need to look at the effect size, with is quite small at only d=0.30 in the left ear and was better in the right ear at d=0.60.  You may recall that this is of the same order as the 2D:4D finger length ratios at d=0.63.  This is large enough to be useful, but only if enough subjects are available to achieve significant statistical power.  Sadly, this lack of enough subjects seems to be the case in this study.  Too bad, because there is a hint at some exciting results in that looking at a group of gender atypical and gender dysphoric children and teens, the natal males seem to show a shift in the female-like direction, but oddly, the natal females do NOT,

“In the present study, we retrospectively investigated possible organizational effects of prenatal androgens on CEOAEs in relation to gender identity. We found that boyswith GID had sex-atypical (hypomasculinized) emissions. Their mean response amplitudes, though, were not significantly different from either the male or female controls. Thus, boys with GID had an intermediate position between the sexes in terms of CEOAE response amplitudes. By contrast, girls with GID showed emissions in the same range as female controls.  Consistent with several earlier studies, sex differences in emission strengths were observed in the control group, with girls having significantly stronger emission amplitudes than boys. Our finding that boys with GID showed stronger, more female-typical emissions compared to control boys suggests that boys with GID might have been exposed to relatively lower amounts of androgens during early development. The effect sizes for the comparison boys with GID versus control boys were similar to those for control girls versus control boys, supporting the notion of a hypomasculinized early sexual differentiation in boys with GID.  However, considering the lack of statistically significant differences between the control boys and the boys with GID and the relatively small sample size of subjects with GID, this conclusion may still be premature and our results therefore need to be interpreted with caution. Furthermore, our findings did not support the hypothesis of an increased exposure to androgens in girls with GID during prenatal development. Though speculative, this might reflect that GID in girls does not develop under the influence of prenatal androgens or at least not during the same critical time window as when androgens exert influences over OAEs.”

This result is surprising, in that previous studies involving gay men and women, researchers saw the opposite pattern, in that gay men showed no shift from control men, but lesbians showed a shift from the female to the male response.  The most exciting times in science are when you hear, “That’s strange!”  This is one of those times.  Several possibilities exist.  This result could just be spurious, with not enough subjects to have seen the real signal.  It could be that there is an additional activational effect that occurs as children mature, that causes a shift for both gay men and gay women toward the masculine response.  We may be seeing the effect of heterosexual “tomboys” swamping out the FtM signal.  Or, we could be witnessing the first hint that there is a difference between transkids, both MTF and FtM, and conventionally gay men and lesbian women.  Time and additional studies will tell.

References:

Sarah M. Burke, Willeke M. Menks, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, Daniel T. Klink, Julie Bakker, “Click-Evoked Otoacoustic Emissions in Children and Adolescents with Gender Identity Disorder”  Archives of Sexual Behavior, DOI 10.1007/s10508-014-0278-2

Dennis McFadden, Edward G. Pasanen, “Spontaneous otoacoustic emissions in heterosexuals, homosexuals, and bisexuals” Journal of the Acoustic Society of America, http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.426845

 


 

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.

Tagged with:

Comments Off on Are Your Ears Burning?

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).

Reference:

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

 


 

Fun Reading:

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

Comments Off on I Know What Boys Like…

Researching Parental Experiences of Transkids

Posted in Editorial, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on April 4, 2014

Here is an opportunity for the parents of transkids to give feedback to a researcher looking into their experiences,

“Researchers at Case Western Reserve University are currently conducting an online study of the experiences of families of gender variant, transgender, or otherwise non-cisgender kids ages 10-17. The study involves completing questionnaires online about your experiences with the process of your child disclosing their gender identity to you and/or the process of your child’s transition, as well as questions regarding your emotions, attitudes, and preferences for potential psychotherapy interventions for families of gender variant children. Your child will also complete several brief questionnaires about their emotions and experiences with disclosing their gender identity. To participate, you must be the parent or primary caregiver of a child or teen ages 10-17 who identifies as gender variant, transgender, or otherwise non-cisgender and you yourself must be at least 18 years of age. You will have the option of including your contact information in order to receive a $10 gift card, although providing your contact information is not necessary to participate in the study. The information gathered from this study may help us to better understand the needs of families of gender variant children and ultimately help us to design therapies to help families better cope with the changes associated with their child’s transition.”

Please participate if you qualify, as we need as many voices and as broad range of experiences as possible:

http://psychology.case.edu/research/fear_lab/lgbtq_participation.html
.
Tagged with:

Comments Off on Researching Parental Experiences of Transkids

Becoming Visible

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on March 19, 2014

VisibleIf you are a transkid or gender-non-conforming teen living in or near New York City, consider Becoming More Visible.  It’s time to talk about your lives… but only if you are comfortable doing so.  Seriously, if your goal is to live “stealth”, then this is not for you… and I totally support being stealth, truly I do.  It’s your life and your decision.

Tagged with:

Comments Off on Becoming Visible

Something worth supporting

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on January 8, 2014

CloudyThe Kickstarter campaign has ended and has reached our goal.  Thank you for your support of this very important film.

A new kickstarter funding effort is under way to fund a film on homeless transkids…  something worth supporting… and I’m putting my money where my mouth is… How about you?  Together, we can help our community.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/938077425/becoming-more-visible

This project has its own website as well.  Transkids teens are the most likely population to become and remain homeless of ANY single group.  Why?  Because we make our parents uncomfortable.  We make potential employers uncomfortable.  This is not a new problem… but it is a problem that should and can be solved.  But first, we need society to recognize transkids unique issues and vulnerability.  We need to increase the visibility of this “invisible” population of transgendered people.

Before we can solve a problem, we need to recognize that it is a problem.  Transkids comprise only a tiny fraction of teenagers, but a disproportionate percentage of homeless teens.  Transkids are extremely likely to be rejected by their natal families.  Over half of rejected transkids experience homelessness.  They are difficult to place with foster families, who are typically unprepared to help transkids, and often just as likely to reject them for the same reasons that their natal family did.  Group homes can be just as bad, as they expose transkids to daily belittling and bullying, both subtle and unsubtle.  Further, many group homes will insist that transkids dress and present themselves in their natal sex, disrespecting their gender expression.

This is your chance to be part of the solution.  This film will document the lives of real transkids, allowing them to express the issues they face, in their own voices.  But this film needs your support to reach the screen.  So pull out that credit card and pledge your support.

Also, please Share this on your facebook page and post on forums to help get the word out!

Tagged with:

Comments Off on Something worth supporting

One in Twelve

Posted in Editorial, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on August 27, 2013

Kay BrownOne in twelve transsexuals is murdered.  That was the ‘back of the envelope’ estimate that I made back about 15 years ago for my transhistory class that I taught at the Harvey Milk Institute.  As I had posted some of my notes and power point slides on a website for that purpose, it was picked up by many in the LGBT community, much to my amazement, to become one of those unquestioned internet memes, but it had morphed to one in twelve “transgendered”.  One in twelve “profoundly transsexual” MTF (NOT “transgendered” people) was my estimate of how many of us were murdered in our (shortened) lifetimes.  That math was based on two numbers available to me at that time.  First that the estimate of how many “profoundly transsexual” transwomen there were was one in 11,200 male births, from a study in the Netherlands; second that at the time I made the estimate, that approximately one “early / transitioning” transwoman was murdered a month in the United States.  Either number may have been wrong, or subject to change over time.  However, with those numbers I estimated that of the 260 million US residents in the late ‘90s, 11,600 would be such “profoundly transsexual”.  I defined “profoundly transsexual” as those born males living full time, or nearly so, as women socially since an early age.  This by definition excluded private cross-dressers and part-time transfolk, who would not be exposed to transphobic violence in their daily activities, and those who transitioned later in life, that is to say, that it excluded the majority of so called “transgendered” people.  If one “young transitioner” is murdered per month, and one can normally expect to have had a life-expectancy of 80 years, then the lifetime risk of being murdered is approximately one in twelve.  An actuarian may take issue with my simplistic treatment, but the math is basically sound.

But, as I have been at pains to explain here on this blog, there are two types of transwomen, Autogynephilic (AGP / “non-homosexual”) and transkids (exclusively androphilic transsexuals), which do not have the same risk profile.  As I shall explain further, it is transkids, (i.e. exclusively androphilic) transsexual women who bear the significantly greater risk.

(If you are not familiar with the two types, please read this FAQ and this essay describing the two very different populations:  A Clinical View)

Further, this issue is not an academic one for me.  In keeping with the feminist credo that “the personal is political”, I share with my reader that my own life has been touched with transphobic violence.  When I was a teenager, I suffered a number of attacks and beatings, directly due to my gender atypicality, perceived (correctly) sexual orientation toward men, and my transgender status.  One of the worse beatings I suffered was when I was 14 years old, when two older boys, who layed in wait along my path through a dark orchard just a block from my home, first taunted me, then beat, knocked me to the ground, and proceeded to kick me viciously, all the while yelling homophobic slurs.  Their exact words included,

“FAGGOT!” “PANSY!” “PANTYWAIST!” “YOU THINK YOU’RE A GIRL?” “YOU MAKE ME SICK!”.

Candice_Caltech

Kay Brown in college

Fast forward about five years, when I was 19, a good friend of mine, Tere, invited me to go with her to a beach party her crowd was throwing.  Tere was also my brother’s girlfriend, someone I had known for a number of years from high school.  Mind you, I had been out as both trans and into guys in high school, so a number of the kids at this party knew who and what I was.  Somehow, I stupidly didn’t think this might be a problem.  A couple hours into the party, after having had a good time talking with, and gently flirting with a number of cute young men, I was lured some distance from the party, where perhaps seven or eight young men surrounded me and started taunting me and laughing among themselves, “Are you a boy or a girl?”  “Hey, let’s pants it and see”…  At that point, I was terrified, knowing full well that after they had torn off my clothes to reveal my pre-op body, that I would be beaten and kicked by four times as many, older and stronger, young men than when I was 14.  To my everlasting relief Tere jumped into the middle of the boys at that point and yelled, “You leave her alone!”  In the sudden confusion of her interruption, Tere grabbed my arm and escorted me at a very fast walk to my car.  I have no doubt that had Tere not intervened, I would have been hospitalized, at best, or killed at worst.

In the news, only this past month, was the beating death of 21 year old Islan Nettles on a street of New York City, the beating death of 16 year old Duane Johnson and the severe beating and attempted rape of her roommate, Kiki, in a slum of Jamaica, and the video recorded beating of a young transwoman in a park in Russia.  The “one in twelve” number may not be exactly correct… but it certainly seems to me to be close.  The website, “Remembering our Dead” has long memorialized these murders, but it fails to note that most of these deaths are of transkids, not their older and far more numerous AGP “sisters”.  Note that most of these murders are perpetrated by younger men… and their victims are mostly young transwomen.

Perhaps a couple more random examples that have stuck in my mind, to illustrate my point? In 1978, the transkid community in Los Angeles was saddened and horrified to learn of the death and mutilation of a young transwoman whose body was found in a dumpster with her (silicone enhanced) breasts slashed.  It was understood that she was to be seeing a new beau that evening.  About a decade ago, a young transwomen was murdered at a party in the San Francisco East Bay Area by a group of young men, several of whom it was later learned, had had erotic encounters with her before they had learned of her pre-op status.

I used to be confused by the motives of the young men who perpetrated these horrible crimes.  But one late night drive in my car, I chanced to tune in a talk radio show in which the topic was transsexuals. Led by a ‘phobic shock jock, his callers revealed their anger and hatred of young transwomen, especially pre-op transkids, who had “fooled” them into dating them.  Listening carefully, I learned that their reactions were driven by a very special form of “homosexual panic”.  The classic “homosexual panic” is created in insecure straight men when a gay man shows romantic or erotic interest in them.  The thought that then goes through their mind is, “oh my god… a gay man thought I might be gay too!”  But, though the anger and hatred may be great, it isn’t nearly the threat to an insecure man that the certain knowledge that, in the case of a cute transwomen, they had without any doubt been romantically and erotically attracted to a male bodied person, “oh my god, I’m turned on by a guy!”  The violence that that realization evokes is explosive and unreasoning.  Add to it young men in groups, men who need to prove to themselves and their buddies that they aren’t “fags”… perhaps add some alcohol or other mild intoxicant, the result is one or more beaten and dead young transwoman.

Of course, none of the above has been corroborated by careful study.  So, to any researchers who may find my blog, I suggest the following protocol to test my hypothesis.  Present to two groups of young heterosexual men a photo of a very attractive young woman.  Ask them to write an essay on what a perfect first date with this woman might entail.  Half of the men you then inform that that the woman was “actually a boy who is hoping to “get a sex change” but is still pre-op”, the other half do nothing.  Then test both groups for implicit anger and animosity to transwomen and gay men, as well as their feelings about their own sexuality.  I’m betting that the group who is told that their “dream date” woman is a transsexual will exhibit a great deal more anger, transphobia, homophobia, and sexual orientation anxiety.

If I’m right, we can contrast this experience with transphobic discrimination experienced by older AGP transwomen.  Not to put too much of a fine point on it… ummm… lets be honest, fewer of them inspire as much erotic interest in younger men, the men most likely to perpetrate these crimes.  Fewer of them will date any man without that man knowing their full medical history, given the statistically known fact that few of them live “deep stealth” or successfully pass well enough.  All of this on top of the fact that most AGP transsexual women will have no interest in flirting with and dating any men.

Thus, although it is still a ‘back of the envelope’ calculation, when we subtract the number of older AGP transwomen, we can infer that one in twelve MTF transkids really is murdered, and their greatest risk exposure is when they are fairly young.  Given that more transkids are people of color than AGP, this risk is also falling disproportionately upon transwomen of color, as noted by Shelby Chestnut in Matthew Fleischer’s story on Islan Nettles,

“If nothing else, Chestnut hopes Nettles’ death will bring to light the tremendous violence faced by transgender women—particularly transgender women of color.  Seventy-two percent of anti-LGBT murders in America affected people of color and 53 percent of those were transgender women”, Chestnut said.  “The only way to end anti-LGBT violence is to keep talking about it and let the public know that incidents like the one that left Nettles dead are hardly uncommon, Chestnut said. Victims of hate violence also need to have the courage to come forward and tell their stories.  Reporting violence helps end violence,” says Chestnut. “Unless we know where violence is occurring, we can’t do outreach in the area. We can’t reach out to the general public know that anti-LGBT violence shouldn’t be tolerated.”

I would add that it’s time that the larger LGBT community recognize that there are two types of transwomen, and that our lives, as transkids, including our risks of transphobic violence, are quite different from the far larger autogynephilic “transgender” community.  We need to do several things to fix this continuing violence.  One, pass anti-discrimination laws so that young transwomen can work in decent jobs.  Two, pass higher minimum wage laws so that working people can support themselves.  Three, pass laws ending the use of the so called “gay panic” defense (as California already has).  Four, add transgender / gender expression to anti-hate crime laws.  Five, help educate law enforcement about who is really at risk and why (and stop pretending it is “all transgender people”.

(Addendum 10/4/2015:  In the past year, the number of MTF transkids being murdered reported in the media has increased.  But a disturbing new meme has also been circulating to the effect that these transkids are all “just prostitutes” and it has nothing to do with being “transgendered”.  This is disturbing on two fronts:  First is the obvious dehumanization and victim blaming; the second is the failure to understand that though some, but not all, of these victims had resorted to ‘survival sex’, the need to exchange sex for food and shelter is a direct consequence of being a transkid, disowned by one’s family at a young age, forced to live on the street with no skills or social capital.  Transkids are by no means the only young people to be so disadvantaged in this manner, but the percentage of transkids that find themselves is this situation is very high.)

Further Reading:

Demographic data on the number of transsexuals in the United States.  You may have read that there are almost one and a half million “transgender” people in the U.S.  This is only the number who “identify” with transgender people, the vast majority being heterosexual men who cross-dress in private.  The actual number who have transitioned is only 90,000, and even then, most are “late transitioning” / autogynephiles.

Essay on the large number of teenagers and young adults who falsely claim to be “transgender”

Clinical differences between MTF transkids and AGP MTF transgendered.

External Reading:

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

References:

http://news.yahoo.com/transgender-woman-dies-beating-front-nypd-precinct-201642369.html

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/08/11/jamaica-transgender-teen-murdered-by-mob/2639995/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/20/russian-transgender-woman-beaten_n_3779723.html

http://www.buzzfeed.com/dominicholden/evidence-contradicts-police-account-of-possible-anti-transge#.odGmvNbPp6

 


 

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.

Tagged with: , ,

Comments Off on One in Twelve

Going to the Chapel… ♫♫

Posted in Book Reviews, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on March 13, 2013

♫♫… and We’re Going to Get Married…♫♫ Greens book

Dr. Richard Green in his 1974 book on transsexuals, “Gender Identity Conflict in Children and Adults” wrote,

“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.”

Those very words, read when I was 17 years old, gave me hope that my dearest wish, to find and marry a straight man, hopefully to also adopt children, just might be possible, in spite of my own mother’s words of encouragement that “No man will ever love you, you know.”  Fortunately, Dr. Green was right, and my mother quite wrong.  Although there are few references, and almost no serious studies, that specifically look at the men who marry transwomen, either “early onset” or “late onset”, I believe from my own observations that most MTF transkids who marry, do find husbands who are straight and narrow (but not narrow minded), because gay men just aren’t interested in transkids. As by negative proof, Green describes a married couple in his book, a pre-op transwoman and a putatively, self-described, straight man.  In quoting this man, he describes the day he met his ladylove,

“The first time I ever remember was she was walking across the street, and one of the fellows I work with said, “Hey, that looks like a guy wearing capris.”

Thus, this man knew she was a transwoman from the very start, as she was just barely beginning to transition.  From the description given both by Dr. Green and by this man, it is clear that this transwoman was a classic transkid.  This transwoman, in the same section, lamented that she very much wanted SRS, but was getting serious resistance from her husband,

“My marriage is not doing so good.  It’s not good because my husband more and more has turned to — now he’s turned to more and more to homosexuality.  It’s something I’ve found very difficult to live with.  I could understand his turning to another woman, because of my position, but not another man.  It really tears me up.”

Thus, we see that this transwoman has married a gay man who used her as a stepping stone in coming out.  It seemed clear reading the book that this marriage would soon end, because when asked if she thought her husband was possibly against her transitioning she replied,

“Yes, I do, because were were closer before I started dressing as a woman regularly.  The point was when I got my breast  operation.  It was one thing I didn’t understand.  It meant so much for me to get this operation, and when I did get it, he was very cold for about two months afterwards.  He was very nasty to me. and he told me that as time goes by I’m getting more womanly and more adjusted and this is bugging him.”

Thus, he showed that MTF transkids’ husbands are by and large heterosexual, because gay men lose interest as we transition. Green interviews a number of other men who are either married or engaged to MTF transkids, who were all clearly straight.  Green was mostly right… but in some respects he missed a few nuances.  Back in the early 70’s he failed to differentiate between transkids and autogynephilic transwomen, and the nature of the men who married AGP transwomen.  But we still find hints.  In his book he writes about a candidate for surgery who detransitions when he falls in love with a post-op transsexual.  This individual is in fact gynephilic, and as a man who detransitioned, would be described as heterosexual, but he is also autogynephilic and gynandromorphophilic. While it is obvious why MTF transkids, who are, after all, genuinely androphilic would wish to find and marry heterosexual men.  It has always puzzled me as to why obviously autogynephilic, and just as obviously, truly gynephilic, transwomen would chose instead to marry men.  Further, just what motivates such men to marry these autogynephilic transwomen?  Lawrence, in her 2013 book speculates,

“… some of them go to great lengths to maintain a facade of “heterosexual normality.”  One can observe this phenomenon on a few internet web sites belonging to MtF transsexuals who fit the autogynephilic demographic (formerly married to women, male-typical occupational history, etc.) and have found men willing to marry them.  On their web sites, these transsexuals clearly convey their pride in their status as married women; sometimes they even display their wedding photographs…”

I can almost see this… but it doesn’t explain the men involved, nor why these transwomen are able to maintain such relationships.  Perhaps we saw a hint of who these men are, and what dynamic maintains the relationship in Green’s book, mutual gynandromorphophilia and autogynephilia?  Consider that Green’s detransitioned transgendered individual likely still experiences autogynephilic arousal to cross-dressing?  Could it be that such men who AGP transsexuals marry are themselves autogynephilic and gynandromorphophilic?

About twenty years ago, a young transwoman in her mid-20’s called me up because she wanted me to meet her new boyfriend.  This news very much surprised me because I had never gotten the impression that she was terribly interested in men.  She had, after all, been in the Navy, on board submarines, for months at a time, and never felt any desire toward her shipmates (me?  I would have gone nuts trying to keep my hands off of them!).   We discussed our conflicting schedules and finally agreed that the best time would also coincide with her support group meeting time.  So off I trudged to an AGP transgender support group meeting.  When I finally met my friend’s new boyfriend, all was made clear… her “boyfriend” was also her “girlfriend”… as he was a classic and typical cross-dresser, fully dressed in women’s clothes for this CD/TG/TS support group meeting. To the outside world, they were a heterosexual couple.  To TG ‘insiders’ it was known that they were a pre-op TS woman and a semi-closeted cross-dresser.

Some time ago, when I was still single, I was introduced to a man who sounded like a potential mate.  He took me to classical music concerts, romantic drives in the country in his sports car, cooked a fine meal… seemed ideal… yet I wasn’t attracted to him, though he was to me, strongly.  He broached the idea of marriage.  It couldn’t have been described as a proposal, likely because he “knew” I would turn him down,   because included in his reasons for why the match was perfect was the idea that we could share the same wardrobe, as we wore the same size 12 dresses.  Although this was personally repugnant, we know for a fact that many autogynephilic transwomen would find this to be ideal.

In the Daskalos paper purportedly about changes in sexual orientation after transition, we see two more examples of exactly such relationships.  In combination with autogynephilic pseudo-androphilia, this makes a potent brew of mutual sexual attraction.  Exactly how many AGP transwomen have found such a mutually agreeable relationship with a cross-dressing man is uncertain.  That such relationships exist is beyond doubt.  This would make for a very interesting research paper.

You may wish to read more from Green’s book here.

Further Reading:

Essay on men who are interested in pre-op transwomen

Essay on autogynephiles being sexually interested in pre-op transwomen

References:

Richard Green, M.D., 1974, “Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults“, Basic Books

Anne Lawrence, 2013,Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies, Springer

Daskalos CT., “Changes in the sexual orientation of six heterosexual male-to-female transsexuals.” http://www.springerlink.com/content/pu44808u15q78k21/

Anne Lawrence, “Letter to the Editor” (in response to Daskalos) http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A%3A1018725518592

 


 

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 Going to the Chapel… ♫♫