On the Science of Changing Sex

Falsely Claiming To Be “Trans” Is “Cool” (NOT!)

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on August 4, 2022

Yet another paper making the mistake of interpreting teenagers ticking the box that says “I am trans” as actually being trans. When that happens, the rest of the data is nearly worthless, as in found in the just published paper by Turbin, et al. I’ve pointed out that this use of self-ID in online surveys, especially for teenagers is bogus. This shows only how popular it is, how “cool” it is, to say that one is “trans” or “non-binary”, NOT how many are actually gender atypical and gender dysphoric.

First, we know, from much more careful studies using better operational definitions such as getting a diagnoses as gender dysphoric, or from US Census and Social Security Administration records showing how many changed their name/sex so as to actually live as the opposite sex, that the incidence rate of gender dysphoria is on the order of ~6 per 100,000 people. That figure would also include “late onset” transsexuals who would not have shown up in studies of gender dysphoria in teenagers. Thus, if a study had been valid, we would expect that significantly fewer than six out of one hundred thousand surveyed would be clinically gender dysphoric.

But Turbin’s paper relies on surveys conducted in 2017 and 2019 with only ~92K and ~105K teens. Thus, we would only expect less than a single handful of clinically gender dysphoric teens. Such a broad community survey is not a good means to identify gender dysphoric teens in sufficient numbers to provide any useful insights.

But that didn’t deter Turbin. Since the survey has an inadequate (read: useless and silly) self-ID question, far more (false positives) were included as “trans”, etc. How badly off are numbers? They found 2.4% and 1.6% respectively. This is about one hundred times the number we expect to find. This is on the order of the incidence rate of exclusive homosexuality, NOT gender dysphoria. Could it be that these teens are conflating and confusing the two constructs? Superficially, this would make sense, given that homosexuality is highly correlated with mild gender atypicality. Or perhaps other issues are present?

One of the explanations for this large number of teenagers claiming to be trans or non-binary is a putative phenomena, Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) in which large numbers of teens become gender dysphoric due to “social contagion”. However, there are a number of problems with this explanation. First, it has the poor evidentiary support. Second, for ROGD to exist as such, the teens would have to actually BE gender dysphoric. So far, that doesn’t hold up. While there has been an increase in the number of children and teens being referred to clinics, as those clinics have finally begun offering serviced that gender dysphoric teens actually need and want, those numbers are closer to the tiny handful that we would expect, not from a putative epidemic of ROGD. In other words, there is a disconnect between the number self-proclaiming to be “trans”/”non-binary” and the number seeking medical services for clinical gender dysphoria.

At this point, I would like to share personal experiences and observations that may shed light on this situation. I volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate and had previously been a foster/adoptive mom. Since I am transsexual, I was paired with two “transgender” teens, one FTM, the other MTF. It was instantly obvious that the CASA program, his caseworkers, etc. had no clue and had mistaken a flamboyantly queenie gay boy who occasionally performed in drag as “trans”. He was not in the least bit gender dysphoric, and would actually become angry when misidentified as such. The other teenager was indeed a classic FTM transsexual, a typical transman. At 17, if you met him, you would instantly read him as a typical boy, into skateboarding and deeply in love with his straight girlfriend. In seeking resources for him, I recommended that he attend a drop-in group for LGBT kids. I had heard that it was very trans-friendly. He refused to return, but wouldn’t, or more accurately, couldn’t explain why wouldn’t go back. — Later, I had occasion to understand why from personal observation. Only one of the teens was actually an FTM transsexual. A large majority of the teens attending the meetings were not LGBT, but mostly feminine heterosexual girls who were very obviously falsely claiming to be “trans” or “non-binary”, demanding that everyone use “they/them” or even more odd made-up pronouns. There were a few gay boys also doing this, but they were clearly doing it to fit into the gang, to be cool. They made my CASA youth uncomfortable, uneasy, and feeling unwelcome. He was in truth what they were falsely claiming to be and the obvious contrast was disconcerting for all. Frankly, these teens made ME feel uneasy and unwelcome for the same reason. This was a novel experience after decades of working as an activist and community organizer in the transsexual community.

If the putative ROGD phenomena was actually comprised primarily of these girls, it would go a long ways explain it. This phenomena has existed in very small numbers for decades (I met one such in 1980) but exploded in numbers during the mid ’10s. Turbin in mistakenly according these large numbers of teens self-identifying as “trans” / “non-binary” as being so, tried to argue that these surveys proved that it was not a “social contagion”. I argue just the opposite, that it proves that such false self-identification IS a social contagion in the sense that it reinforced a latent desire by some teens, of both sexes, to do so to be “cool”. And if anything, if the numbers can be trusted, the drop over the two year period from 2017 to 2019 of 50% would indicate that the fad is fading.

Addendum 8/10/2022:

No sooner had I posted this essay up pops another news item talking about yet another study where the authors now claim that “trans” / “non-binary” / “gender diverse” teenagers are under counted. The number quoted? Seven percent! Worse, having found this new study, I learn that the primary author, Kidd, had an earlier study that said the number was ten percent! These numbers hark back to the earlier Wernick (2017) study had found nine percent. As I pointed out in previous essays, these numbers all come from the error of asking teens if they identify as “trans”, etc. without proper operational definitions and certainly never having validated these survey items to see if they mean anything more than the popularity of (falsely) claiming to be a perceived to be “cool” marginalized minority identity.

It’s long past time that researchers stop naively using unvalidated survey items and actually conduct in-depth interviews of these teens (and their friends and families) claiming these identities. I predict that these teens will not show ANY clinical gender dysphoria nor be very gender atypical when compared to control teens who are not claiming these identities, save for a few who will be homosexual. Far from being “gender diverse”, they will prove to be rather ‘gender ordinary’. Further, I predict that while sociologically and psychologically, these teens may be an interesting group, with some risk factors that correlate to their need to identify with a stigmatized and very RARE sexual minority, they are NOT the group that has any etiological or sociological connection to gender dysphoric youth. Also, if tested for implicit self-identification I predict that these teens will very clearly identify with their natal sex and not have a significant alienation from it.

A final thought. If so many youth are “Gender Diverse”, why aren’t there more such adults? Also, as adults looking back at our own high school days, we can recall knowing kids that would later come out as gay or lesbian, maybe a couple straight transvestites, but not 7-10% “gender diverse” kids. Could it be because most adults aren’t into following silly fads that make them feel “cool” or “special” and instead just be who and what they really are, gender typical?

As a transsexual, someone who was actually “gender different”, who began transition in high school in the early 1970s, I can assure you I was the only one at either of the two large suburban schools I attended, and suffered because of it.

Further Reading:

How Many Trans Folk Are There, Really?

Lost In The Crowd

ROGD Redux

Where Are All These “Detransitioners” Coming From?

References:

Turbin, et al., “Sex Assigned at Birth Ratio Among Transgender and Gender Diverse Adolescents In The United States”, Pediatrics (2022), https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2022-056567

Kidd, K. et al., “The Prevalence of Gender-Diverse Youth in a Rural Appalachian Region”, JAMA Pediatrics (2022), DOI:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2022.2768

Wernick, et al., “Gender Identity Disparities in Bathroom Safety and Wellbeing in High School Students”, Journal of Youth and Adolescence (2017), DOI: 10.1007/s10964-017-0652-1

Tagged with: , ,

Comments Off on Falsely Claiming To Be “Trans” Is “Cool” (NOT!)

Getting Lost in the Crowd

Posted in Female-to-Male, Science Criticism, Transgender Youth, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on April 16, 2017

Kay Brown

Or, How the Big Tent Transgender Movement Distorts Science and Holds Back Civil Rights for Transsexuals

The word “transgender” was originally coined and used by Dr. Virginia Prince, a full time autogynephilic cross-dresser, in the early ’70s, to denote those like her/him as opposed to “transsexuals” who took hormones and had “sex change” surgery and also opposed to secretive “transvestites” who only occasionally cross-dressed, usually in private.  The term was meant to be exclusive of any other group, like drag artists or gender atypical gays or lesbians.

But…

In the early ’90s, Beth Elliott, using her nom de plume Mustang Sally, wrote an essay entitled, “The Incredible Shrinking Identity” in which she decried the social effects of subsuming transsexual people into the larger umbrella of “transgender”, which with each passing year seemed to be growing at its margins to include more and more people who just a few years before, would never have been considered to be in the same grouping.  Now we must differentiate between an ever growing host of self-defined “other” gender categories and underlying behaviors, identities that are lumped under “transgender” to the point of making the term meaningless to sexologists, social scientists, and the public alike.

Flashback, 1980:  Hanging out in the L.A. transsexual community, as it gained a political self awareness, was a teenager; let’s call her “Lee”.  Lee would tell anyone who asked that she was “transsexual”… yet caused great confusion to all who met her.  She was natal female, short even for a woman, pleasantly plump, and decidedly feminine in both appearance and manner.  She was in no sense gender atypical.  And during the time that I knew her, over 18 months, she never made any attempt to present as a man, nor even as butch.  She was always on the femmy side of androgenous to the point of being decidedly “cute” as she hung out, mostly with younger MTF transwomen whom she seemed to admire.  Had she been hanging out in this same manner in the gay male scene, they would have likely labeled her a “Fag Hag”.  The transsexual community, while leery of non-trans males who would have acted this way, affectionately accepted Lee’s non-threatening presence, while secretly rolling their eyes when she declared that she was “FtM”.

Thinking back on Lee, I’m fairly certain that she never transitioned and I’m willing to place fairly high odds that she married and had kids, probably now has grandchildren, none of which have any idea that she once hung out in the trans-scene.  At the time, we had no label for her.  Today, on the internet, the FtM transsexual community does have a label that would have applied, “tucute”, as in “Too Cute” to be trans.  If you visit the FtM pages on Tumbler, you are sure to run into a few… and will also note that they in turn, grumble about the negative feedback they get from those they call “Truscum” (“true” masculine gynephilic FtM transsexuals) for not accepting that they too are just as “trans”, even if they are in no sense gender atypical nor gender dysphoric.

Recent Events:  A couple years ago, via her facebook page, a very socially liberal, rather prominent (and wealthy) venture capitalist in my professional circle proudly announced that her teenaged child was “transgender”.  I’ve been living “mostly stealth” in that most of my professional contacts do not know of my medical history (yes, I “pass”).  But in a move to be supportive and perhaps even help her with the emotional issues that almost always come with a child’s transition I came out to her.  BAD MOVE!  Nope, upon learning more about her child, it became very clear that her daughter had always been very gender typical as a girl, was not the least bit gender dysphoric, and had no intention of legally, socially, nor medically transitioning.  No, she just wanted to be recognized as “transgender” and have everyone around her use gender neutral pronouns (cause she is they are so special, she they deserves it).

tucuteThere is another couple names for this behavior, “TransTrender” and “TrendsGender”, as in it is now “trendy” to say that one is transgender, or “non-binary”, in the right circles.    Back in my college years, hanging around Stanford University, I would often hear complaints from actual gynephilic women, real lesbians, about the phenomena of primarily androphilic women taking social positions as “Political Lesbians” and “Lesbians Until Graduation”.  The “transgender” community now has the same phenomena.  It seems to have become “cool” in some comfortably well off, very socially liberal teenaged and young adult circles to be associated with the LGB and now T community, as though being associated with a marginalized group made up for their obvious social privilege.

One could well imagine the growing resentment felt by those of us who have experienced familial rejection, social disapprobation, economic deprivation, and psychic pain from a lifetime of gender atypicality and dysphoria towards those who misappropriate an identity from the protective cocoon of indulgent family, liberal universities, and the anonymity of the internet.

As one young transman put it,

“Dysphoria is the defining factor of a transgender person. It’s why they want to TRANSition. It’s why they’re called TRANS in the first place, fuckwits. It doesn’t have to be crippling “I hate my body ugh I can’t look at myself naked” (And I do know some trans people whose dysphoria is that bad). On a 10 is an “I can’t see myself naked” to 1 is a “I don’t feel right in this body”, I’m probably a 5-7. I can see myself naked but it just doesn’t feel right. Specially with my chest. That’s dysphoria. Not “omg I don’t want to be human I want to be a rabbit/sunflower/magical girl” or whatever these tucutes are on I don’t even know.   …

The more I look at it, the more I see tucutes acting like being transgender is a cute little accessory they can put on. You’re comfy with your body but you like girls even if you’re a girl yourself? Congratulations, you could be a lesbian. You like boys but you’re a boy? Good on you, you might be a homosexual man. You like the opposite gender? That makes you a terrible hetero person and that’s bad because all hetero people are transphobic and evil. 😦 Be trans instead. That’s cooler.

Except… it’s not.

It’s not cool to be trans. It’s not cool to wake up and see these parts of you that you feel so uncomfortable with having that you would wish cancer on yourself just to have them taken away. It’s not cool to have to struggle with the longing to tell your parents that you’re not the right gender because you want to trust them and want to open up to them but you’re afraid it’ll just add to the laundry list of things you’ve already disappointed them with. It’s not cool to have known you were one thing from birth but everyone else and your own body telling you you’re not and that you were supposed to be a certain way because that’s what you looked like from the outside.

It’s not cool to be trans.

If I had a choice, if being trans WAS a choice I would choose to be cis.”

If these issues had stayed on the pages of tumbler and facebook, it wouldn’t be a problem for science or those seeking better civil rights for transitioning transfolk.  But it hasn’t.

Consider a recent paper published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence in which the authors very laudably explore the issues of safety and bathroom access for “transgender” youth.  Ah… you are probably anticipating some of the problems that this might entail and you would be right.  But let’s explore each of them carefully.

The authors cite the now popular William’s estimate of 0.7% of the population in the US as “transgendered”.  The problem with that study is that is the number who identify as “transgendered” because William’s did not apply any operational definition beyond asking if they were “transgendered”. Yet we know that only 0.01% of the U.S. population has actually socially transitioned, according to US Census study that cross-correlated with name/sex status changes to Social Security cards (arguably the absolute best estimate we will ever get to the number of individuals who actually transitioned).  This means that less than 5% of those who identify as “transgender” ever transition.  Thus, by definition, more than 95% of those who identify as “transgender” never transition, that in fact, they aren’t at all gender dysphoric.  So who are they?

Most of them are young women who for various reasons want to sit at what they perceive to be the ‘cool kids lunch table’, as being “trans” or “non-binary” gives them a feeling of being special.  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.

How badly off are the numbers?  In the Wernick study they found 86 individuals who self-identified as transgendered out of 935 students.  Seriously, 9%?  NINE &^%$#@ percent?!?  That’s more than three hundred times the number who actually transition.  That’s higher than the number of teens who grow up to be gay or lesbian.  Are all of the LGB kids claiming to be “transgendered”???  Or is this representative of all LGB plus all of the secretly cross-dressing and cross-dreaming boys plus the TuCutes and the TransTrenders, all balled into one?  Because, if the schools were statistically representative of the population as a whole, with only a thousand or so students, we could only expect a one in three chance of finding an actual transsexual among them, most likely an autogynephile who will transition as an adult and only one in fifteen chance of finding a transkid.

The design of this study was flawed from inception, as the numbers surveyed were never enough to find any statistically valid number of transkids, while using self report of being “transgendered” without a valid operational definition lead only to a measure of the trendiness of the label in the teenaged population combined with “mischievous responders”, kids saying ‘shit’ to mess with the study.

transkids

Transkids after transition

So we see, that truly gender atypical and gender dysphoric individuals will be a very small percentage of youth who will self-identify as “transgender”.  These are the kids who social scientists and policy makers should be concerned with, not those who have yet to transition or never will.  These are the kids who, while finding more and more visibility in the press as they transition, are the ones who are getting lost in the crowd in social science studies and policy making because of the failure to apply appropriate operational definitions.

Addendum September 2020:  Here is THE poster child for a young, clearly feminine white woman falsely claiming to be both a Person Of Color AND to being trans / non-binary, demonstrating the problem discussed above.  Note that she did this at a liberal university to take on the mantle of being a doubly under-privileged individual.  Vitolo-Haddad was outed on the ethnic impersonation.  Here I am outing her on her trans impersonation.  She needs to stop doing it and apologize for it.

https://amp.cnn.com/cnn/2020/09/17/us/wisconsin-grad-student-race-trnd/index.html

Further Reading:

Essay on “How Many Transfolk Are There, Really?”

Essay on US Census Estimate of Post-Transition Population

Falsely Claiming To Be “Trans” is Cool (NOT!)

External Further Reading:

“Tucute: What it is and why its wrong”

Research on “Mischievous Responders” causing over-estimate of transgender in teenagers

References:

Wernick, et Al, “Gender Identity Disparities in Bathroom Safety and Wellbeing in High School Students”, Journal of Youth and Adolescence
DOI: 10.1007/s10964-017-0652-1

Sumia et Al, “Current and recalled childhood gender identity in community youth in comparison to referred adolescents seeking sex reassignment”, Journal of Adolescence
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0140197117300155

Joseph R. Cimpian, Jennifer D. Timmer, Michelle A. Birkett, Rachel L. Marro, Blair C. Turner, Gregory L. Phillips II, “Bias From Potentially Mischievous Responders on Large-Scale Estimates of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, or Questioning (LGBQ)–Heterosexual Youth Health Disparities”, American Journal of Public Health 108, no. S4 (November 1, 2018): pp. S258-S265. DOI: 10.2105/AJPH.2018.304407

Goodman, M. et al., “Prevalence of Transgender Depends on the “Case” Definition: A Systematic Review” (2016) The Journal of Sexual Medicine
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2016.02.001

Reisner, S., Hughto, J., “Comparing the health of non-binary and binary transgender adults in a statewide non-probability sample” PLOSOne, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0221583

Tagged with: ,

Comments Off on Getting Lost in the Crowd