Shame, identity and the “causes of transgenderism”

If you’ve ever felt shame about trans fantasies or practices, or being trans, read this now.

In right-wing hate site Unherd, a trans woman who is an anti-trans campaigner shares her misery. She asks, “why am I also transsexual? What could have caused psychological distress so severe that I felt I had no choice but to transition?” She calls herself a “man”, “real” in that she used to produce sperm, though not the cultural concept of “real man”, who is “probably not wearing a dress”. Her answer is “autogynephilia”, the idea that sexual fantasies about being female make trans women transition.

Poor thing. She is not the only one consumed with shame. The hate sites using her to promote this shame, disgust at trans women, and lie of autogynephilia are truly diabolical. She likes the attention she gets from writing such articles, and the pain of seeing the truth, and realising what a fool she has made of herself and the harm she has done, might drive her to suicide. So she probably will remain in self-torturing denial.

According to the autogynephilia myth, trans women who transition after adolescence, or are lesbian, bisexual or asexual, started having fantasies about themselves as women, and the fantasies caused them to desire to transition. Ray Blanchard asked trans women “Have you ever become sexually aroused” by such fantasies- not, do you regularly have them, so that even one fantasy was enough for a positive score. He said that lesbian trans women who denied such fantasies were lying. He claimed that there were two kinds of trans women- those attracted to men, whom he called “homosexual”, and those not exclusively attracted to men, whom he called autogynephilic.

Many trans women have had such fantasies, particularly if they felt unable to transition. Could this be a cause of their desire to transition, as the poor sad hater imagines?

In Western culture, women are taught to see themselves as the object of sexual desire, so often fantasise about being desired, or being naked and seen as sexually attractive. Possibly trans women have similar fantasies because we are women. But humans fantasise about impossible things, and a third of cis men have fantasised about being or becoming women. These fantasies do not cause them to become trans.

Some trans women exclusively attracted to men have female embodiment fantasies. That contradicted Blanchard’s division of trans women into two types, and he accused them of lying about their sexuality. But if you accept they are women, they are just having ordinary heterosexual fantasies, like any woman might.

You can’t prove that the poor sad hater’s transition was not caused by her female embodiment fantasies, against her insistence. But the onus of proof is on the person asserting the cause. She had fantasies, and she transitioned. But both these facts might be coincidental; or caused by a third factor; or the fact of being trans might cause someone to fantasise about having the body of their true gender. It is for Blanchard’s dupes to prove the causal link, not for others to prove its impossibility.

Imagine Philip, who had a normal boyhood until puberty, when he started to have fantasies about kissing other boys. These fantasies became more frequent and intense. Philip called them “compulsive” and “addictive”. He could not resist them, however hard he tried. Eventually he came out as gay, and is convinced the fantasies caused his being gay.

It’s far more credible to believe his being gay caused him to have gay fantasies. As for “compulsive”- I think about food a lot, and eat three meals and some snacks every day. You would not call that “compulsive” or “addictive” because it is seen as normal and healthy, just as heterosexual fantasies are, and increasingly gay fantasies are. Most people would say Philip was gay all the time, but in denial or not fully aware of it, and that caused the fantasies.

No-one would ever suggest that heterosexual fantasies “made them straight”. It’s the default, seen as normal and acceptable, in Patriarchal culture, which sees gay and trans as less.

“Compulsive” does not just mean, “I do it all the time”. It means there is a strong negative value judgment. People who define themselves as “addicted” to pornography do not necessarily spend more time with it, just see it as a bad thing.

In the 1980s, some psychiatrists and gay people imagined being gay was a bad thing, and imagined lots of possible causes for it- sexual abuse as a child, particular problems with parenting.

The self-hater’s anguish is real. “Why am I transsexual?” she asks, stricken. She imagines a shameful cause. But, trans is just how some people are, just as some people are gay, some straight, and some are cis.

The self-hater shows negativity bias. She judges herself for being trans, and so obsesses over this bad thing, and ascribes it to some cause. Nobody worries what made them straight. Seeing being trans as bad, she feels huge relief at coming upon this [false] explanation, a cause she can blame. So she has huge emotional attachment to it. That does not make it true.

I get this from Julia Serano, whose 45 minute read is worth every minute. She explains how scientists have disproved the hypothesis of autogynephilia conclusively, and the dishonest arguments its proponents indulge in. They have the gall to claim that those critiquing their hot mess of a theory are “trans activists”, but this is a mere ad hominem attack. They make ad hoc amendments to the myth, to fit any contradictory evidence, and so make their myth unfalsifiable.

It is incredibly hard to overcome the idea that trans is bad, when so much of the culture insists on that, and when we are relentlessly shamed when we have little power to resist. We internalise transphobia, and even find it reassuring to believe the same that our culture does.

But being trans is just part of ordinary human diversity. The sooner I accept that the sooner I will be able to deal with my real problems.

Opie, John; The Angry Father (The Discovery… Correspondence); Birmingham Museums Trust;

Transgender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is discomfort caused by your assigned gender. Transgender dysphoria is discomfort arising from others’ attitudes to you being transgender.

“I used to pray every night to wake up as a girl,” people say. You experience that dysphoria, that misery, that down mood, and sometimes it’s just a background noise like living next to a busy road and having to have the window open, and sometimes it gets on top of you and you can’t think of anything else. The burden of expectations of the sex you are assigned cripples and confuses you. You are really of the other gender. And you hear about transition, and it seems a way to be truly who you are.

And then you find how difficult it is. You get abused in the street. One self-hating transgender transphobe writes trans people often experience a sense of insecurity and even shame, especially since the transitioning process can have a traumatic effect on their wives and children. Poor thing. She has traumatised her wife, and her wife, still living with her, lets her know it. I don’t know if transition traumatised her children, but she thinks so, and perhaps her continuing misery afflicts them.

Living a lie, she was affirmed as a man by her community. She could not express who she really is, but had some male privilege, which makes things easier for people. Now, visibly queer (no-one would see her as a cis woman), she gets to be herself and express the person she truly is, at the cost of prejudice and abuse. It is definitely preferable, I would say, but there is a down side.

She writes, I speak from experience when I say that it’s difficult for autogynephiles to admit the simple truth that they are simply heterosexual males who use the conceit of female self-identification as a means to rationalize their sexual attraction to a female version of themselves. So, when she transitioned, she did not think she was AGP, and that was sensible, because “autogynephilia” is a name for something that does not exist, an alleged causal link where even correlation is not established. However, now she asserts that she personally is autogynephiliac, against all the scientific evidence.

She writes, Shame is a powerful emotion, and a person who suffers from it often will be driven to control their narrative in a way that protects their sense of self-worth. So, she claims, she denied AGP because she was ashamed of it, and now she has digested that shame she can admit the “truth” that Autogynephilia drove my own transsexualism. How can this be, when AGP does not exist?

This poor sad trans woman associates with anti-trans campaigners. She has spoken at their gatherings, and had the powerful affirmation of a cheering audience. She has written for their publications, and had clicks, and all she has had to give for it was her integrity.

She transitioned, which was supposed to be the thing to free herself to be herself, the great emancipation, and she is still miserable. Therefore, she says, transition must have been based on a lie. But no- she would not be miserable but for the prejudice against trans people.

She thinks she denied the truth because she was ashamed of it, but now admits it. Rather, at first she expected to be happy transitioned, and found she was not. Faced with a wall of prejudice, she found herself with anti-trans campaigners who would affirm her if she spouted their ridiculous opinions. She has sought out that affirmation, and willingly paid the price for it.

She has not digested the shame, but sought a reason for the misery. What she did to end the misery did not work, she thinks, so the problem must be her. She was wrong to transition in the first place, because it was based on a “paraphilia”, rather than gender diversity. She finds some bizarre comfort in her delusion of having AGP- at least she does not have to defend herself from that particular hate any more. This was a stage I passed through.

She wants AGP “demystified and destigmatized” so that she suffers no shame for it, though that would also probably mean that she could not enter women’s spaces. I doubt AGP by itself could be destigmatized. Some people create hierarchies and seek reasons to despise others. Some people accept people as they are. Debbie may find she is the token acceptable transsexual with the anti-trans campaigners so imagine they have “destigmatized” AGP, but in reality they are using it to stigmatize all other trans people.

Transition makes life better. It makes us begin to resolve the contradictions within, heal the scars and introjects, and accept who we really are. And, it makes life worse for trans women. It makes us visibly queer so that we suffer street abuse and quiet discrimination. It’s just something people do. Open, tolerant societies make room for it, like the Women and Equalities Committee sought to do. Authoritarians, maintaining power through those social hierarchies, stigmatize it. Some trans women, unable to bear the pain and seeking any way out, accept the stigma.

The term “transgender dysphoria” was coined by Tina Torrontes.

“Autogynephilia” refuted

Autogynephilia is the hypothesis that despite constant rebuttal refuses to die. Julia Serano, in a long essay, summarises the refutations, and suggests reasons why people might cling to it despite them. The whole is worth reading, but as Medium predicts that could take half an hour here is my summary.

Ray Blanchard came up with the idea that people assigned male at birth, through fantasising about becoming women, caused themselves to develop gender dysphoria and then transitioned. He thought there were four kinds of fantasies, including but not limited to having a woman’s body: one was of stereotypical women’s activities. He imagined that people fantasise about knitting and sewing.

Blanchard’s only evidence for AGP was correlation, that trans lesbians had female embodiment fantasies (FEFs). But the correlation is poor- some trans lesbians don’t have FEFs, and some androphile trans women have. We experience FEFs after feeling the desire to be women, and they diminish or cease after transition. Rather than two distinct kinds of trans women, our sexualities fall on a continuum, and we have different experiences of desire and of FEFs. Intense FEFs may be caused by having to hide or repress gender dysphoria- they are most prevalent in older white trans women.

Cis women have FEFs too. 11% of cis women have fantasies about becoming men. People probably experience embodiment fantasies for a variety of reasons.

Trans women have many reasons for opposing AGP theory, besides that it is false. It is rigid and simplistic, reducing our complex experience to two simple subgroups. Blanchard insisted any trans woman opposing his hypothesis was in denial or lying. That is, he twists and minimises all the evidence contradicting his hypothesis.

He says our motivation for transition is sexual. It is far more complex. People should not be classified or stigmatised because of sexual fantasies. Science is about following the evidence wherever it leads.

So who still believes AGP theory, and why?

Blanchard failed to distinguish AGP and FEFs, which had been observed before his research. We use AGP to refer to the discredited hypothesis, but he and his supporters use the name to refer to FEFs in trans women.

Unfortunately some people have only read about AGP from Blanchard supporters, and have not read further. Laypeople may favour Blanchard’s simple but false explanation over a more complex understanding of complex traits. They may dismiss trans women because of sexism, so be happy to imagine all our motivation is sexual: they cannot imagine why someone would want to join the second sex. The stereotypes come from sexist ideas about women, not observation of trans people.

Other researchers are recognising and correcting for old unconscious sexism.

Older sexology referred to atypical and non-reproductive variants of sexuality as deviant or pathological, but sexuality is so varied, so inextricable from all aspects of life, that this is outdated. There is no clear line around “normal” sexuality.

Gender and sexuality are infinitely varied, but the old idea of sexual inversion still influences some people. They are gender essentialists, saying men should be a particular way so that when some are feminine, they are repelled. Such people conflate gender and sexuality, imagining it is “masculine” to be attracted to women.

AGP believers don’t take account of the social pressures on trans people, such as external and internal transphobia, homophobia and sexism. Gender diverse people exist across cultures and throughout history but our social roles vary considerably. Ideas of gender fluidity and non-binary increase our freedom. As societal transphobia decreases we transition younger, without being forced into a secret crossdressing stage. Younger trans lesbians experience far fewer FEFs.

We are not a “type” of trans woman. We are humans with vastly different life experiences. Stereotypes are useful for the most basic understanding but inhibit any greater understanding. People like Blanchard cling to their stereotypes to avoid the need to think. Male heterosexuality is normalised, women are sexualised, and trans women are hypersexualised.

Some trans women, such as Anne Lawrence, accept the AGP hypothesis because they imagine it relates to their experience and describes the fantasies that they were ashamed of. Their beliefs do not trump the overwhelming evidence against AGP.

Transmedicalists or truscum are tempted to portray other trans women as perverts in the hope that they will be recognised as real transsexuals, and accepted. This never works.

Transphobes looking for justification for their beliefs-religious conservatives and TERFs who are ideologically opposed to our existence and who actively work to undermine transgender recognition and acceptance- cling to the hypothesis. It’s like slut-shaming: it sexualises us in an attempt to discredit us. It gives a pseudo-scientific justification to portray us as perverted predators, a threat to women and children. Blanchard writes articles for such transphobes.

Julia promises another article on the absurd complications, like epicycles in Ptolemaic astronomy, that AGP diehards resort to, to wave away the mass of contradictory evidence. But the AGP hypothesis is discredited, and the reasons people still believe it are outdated.

Real self, female self

In 1998/99, I became aware of something in me, which I called at first the “vulnerable bit”- I am the effective, sane, normal human being and inside there is this hurting and easily hurt part of me which I do not understand. In February 1999 I understood it was the Real me, me behind my mask: I had lived with my pretense so long I had thought the mask was who I am, and now I found who I really was. I had to let the real me out. Shortly after, I identified that Real me as female.

We make stories about ourselves. This is the story I wrote in my diary at the time. By then I had been cross-dressing for twenty years, had been to the Sibyls and associated with other trans women, and seen a consultant psychotherapist claiming to be transsexual- he said I was not. But then a psychiatrist had said I had transsexual tendencies eight years before. I was aware of the concepts of TS, seen as a person with a medical condition, and TV, what I had thought I was and saw as a disgusting pervert, and might blame myself less if I were TS, but would have life harder as transition is difficult. It took me another 21 months to decide to transition. I had written fantasies about being physically turned into a woman by strong, controlling women following their own desires in my teens, and as that psychotherapist, Graeme McGrath, said, if you fantasise about being dominated, you are still in complete control of your fantasy but have fantasised another character who liberates you from guilt and responsibility.

I was aroused by cross-dressing, I masturbated while cross-dressed and initially took the clothes off immediately afterwards, and I had erotic dreams about cross-dressing. I found that completely shameful.

I don’t feel sexual arousal by itself would make anyone transition. Fiona spent a week cross-dressed and at the end was sick of it. I consider all these stories, all these ideas, put the pieces together in order to understand and underneath it all is what I do and what I desire…

McGrath asked what I wanted. I said I wanted to be a housewife, and my memory is that just by snorting and facial expression he indicated dismissive contempt of this impossible fantasy.

Anne Lawrence suggests that autogynephilia, love of onesself as a woman, is a sexual orientation, and that after a phase of lust it settles into romantic love. Just as people who love other people form a partnership sustained by affection and attachment, so we transition and our state of being our female selves involves, as well as arousal, the other elements, such as admiration, affection, beneficence, and desire for closeness, that are usually associated with the word love, broadly construed, and that are considered to be expressive of a person’s sexual orientation.

I have rejected this idea, and I have stories of the rejection. It does not fit the facts. Or, perhaps, thinking autogynephilia is stigmatising and wanting to avoid stigma and wanting to involve judging myself, I can’t accept that. Those who insist I am autogynephilic would say any denial by a trans person is simply special pleading. Actually, if I say I could not avoid transition without even greater self-suppression and self-hatred than I have suffered, I might avoid the judgment and stigma at least in my own mind, if not that of the most contemptuous TERF. I could not help myself! I would still judge myself, though. I should not be like this!

The moral argument is that we should be accepted, because this is who we are, and it is not a choice, even if it is a “paraphilic sexual orientation”. We could not help ourselves. The stigma, and internalised stigma, is such that you do not do this unless you cannot resist it. Though I still feel that gender dysphoria causing arousal by female embodiment fantasies makes far more sense than autogynephilia existing separately from gender dysphoria, then causing it.

I identified my real self as female, and transitioned. If now I argue that we should identify ourselves as feminine men, I could just be creating more anguish for trans women. They will transition eventually, I will just have fuelled their internal conflict, self-stigmatisation, and suffering. In Blanchard and Lawrence’s imagination, the desire for hormones and an approximation to female genitals is part of the love of onesself as a woman, so we have the operation for that, not because of social pressure. The clothes are not enough.

Miranda Yardley

How could a trans woman be transphobic? First, you have to define “trans”. My definition: a trans person is one who copes with their gender non-conformity by transgender behaviour up to and including transition. It is not something innate, but a choice we make in our particular circumstances. I feel it is a legitimate choice. We make our own lives easier. We do not harm others. This definition gives me freedom.

A transphobe, then, is one who delegitimises the choice, as Miranda Yardley does, even though she has transitioned and not reverted. For example, her insistence on the discredited autogynephilia theory, here. First, she selected the writings of four gynephile trans women, who write of being aroused by cross-gender fantasy. I don’t know whether these people have also written about being feminine, and if Yardley bothered finding out, she does not mention it, as it would refute her argument. Then she explains autogynephilia theory, that the desire to transition comes from an “erotic target location error”- you get aroused by the wrong thing, in this case fantasies of yourself as a woman. There is no explanation of what causes this error, because innate femininity (gender non-conformity) causes the error, and that refutes the theory. Yardley however wants to deal with the problem that sexual arousal is not a basis for living female continually, which she handwaves away by claiming that the erotic attachment becomes a romantic attachment.

The articles Yardley cites refute her. Why did Natalie Egan transition? Because when she was outwardly successful as a man there was always something gnawing away at me that I never understood and couldn’t explain. Only now do I understand it as a deep dissatisfaction with myself. This inner misalignment and horrific fear of expressing the person I really was inside. That’s clear enough for me, not enough for Yardley. Natalie was emotionally intuitive, yet hard to get to know. Her wife thought she was trans, at a time she herself was in deep denial.

In the New Statesman, Yardley denied being transphobic. She is a trans woman. She addresses crowds about her heavy metal magazine as “an openly trans woman”. I parse that phrase, and find it can only be a claim to be a “woman”, rather than a man. However she is “gender critical”, which means she claims to be male, and that being a woman is a matter of reproductive biology. Gender is sex-based socialisation which oppresses women. She calls a trans woman’s claim that she has always been female, “gender essentialism”, which contradicts her gender critical approach. However, I have always been feminine, and argue that women should be free not to be feminine.

Then she reaches the nub of the issue. Do the rights of a trans woman who has lived as a man for 60 years to not feel intimidated by having to use male facilities trump the rights of women to have a safe space where they do not need to be concerned about voyeurism or sexual violence? She does not give her answer here. Mine is that no woman need be concerned about voyeurism or sexual violence, if I am in a woman’s loo. I go in there to use the place in the normal way.

Here’s the transphobia. Yardley asserts that women feel threatened, and we are part of that threat, simply because of being born male. However, we are as broken by gender norms as anyone. It is a literal fear, seeing me as a threat, simply because of who I am. That negates me, and denies my right to exist.

Weaponising “autogynephilia”

“Autogynephilia” is a discredited theory. “Female embodiment fantasies” fits how people think and feel so much better. Yet the idea of autogynephilia is still used to attack trans women, sometimes by other trans women.

Go to Urban Dictionary and vote down the third definition, which imagines two kinds of trans women: homosexual transsexuals, and autogynephiliacs. “Ashley has randomly transitioned from male to female despite being age 55. I think she’s autogynephilic.” “Rose just spent her children’s university savings on sexual reassignment. She’s in the throes of autogynephilia.” “I just danced all over Ally last night, and didn’t even know she used to be male. Her movements and voice are so femme. I don’t think she’s autogynephilic.”

It creates a complete dichotomy. No homosexual transsexual transitions over age 25. All gynephile trans women are autogynephiliac. Most laughs in the Urban Dictionary are snark, but even by their standards this is a strong attack. I wonder if the statistic that 90% of trans women are gynephile has any basis in reality. Most cis people are straight, so that could just mean that the proportions of gynephile and androphile trans women are the same as in cis men.

It seems to me that more people transition without GRS, and this is out of a desire not to be mutilated. Why should you have your genitals altered? What good does it do? People talk of wanting the “poison glands” taken away, and orchiectomy means you don’t need testosterone suppressants- it is less invasive in the long run- but possibly we are altered because of social pressure. We desire a woman’s role, and everyone said that required body modification. Or, possibly we gynephiles are sexually passive, and that means we feel greater dislike for male organs. Anyway, gender dysphoria was popularly understood to mean body alteration, and now many trans folk don’t seek that.

I did not have facial feminisation surgery, but have known gynephile trans women who did. It involves grinding away the bones of the skull. I find the idea horrible, but again it could be that there is not the same social pressure. You will pass better after FFS, and that makes life easier, however much we assert that people should be treated differently according to other criteria, and not whether they pass or whether they are beautiful. Passing privilege and attractiveness privilege exist. A trans woman with a clear eye to her own interest might have FFS rather than GRS.

The writer hedges his/her bets with the words “common” and “generally”. All generalisations are wrong; but either the dichotomy is real, or it isn’t. There is no rational basis to this hostility- if it comes from anywhere, it is the idea that we make them look bad, that people would accept androphile trans women if the gynephiles weren’t messing it all up by being so revolting. But no-one who is intolerant of trans women would think the difference mattered at all.

What of this assertion? Generally, the two types of trans women don’t associate with each other in any way. If you are an androphile trans woman, please leave a comment. I find that trans women do not associate with each other generally, whatever their orientation, particularly after transition.

Female Embodiment fantasies

It is a common erotic fantasy among people with testicles to imagine themselves with women’s bodies- men, as well as M-Fs. Julia Serano calls these “Female embodiment fantasies”.

There is a huge range of sexual fantasies. In fantasy you are completely in control- if in my fantasy I am being “dominated” I still choose what the Domme will do. We fantasise about things we would never do- murder fantasies gave some relief to me, and to far more people than the number of actual murderers. So people cannot be classified by our fantasies. When I fantasise about doing something, or having something done to me, I fantasise about my body, and I fantasised about my body being female or being made to appear female from my mid teens. The fantasy aroused me sexually. Now I have attained my female body, with my breasts and vagina, expressing myself feminine, I have fewer such fantasies. Because I am attracted to women, I am more likely to fantasise about women’s bodies sexually- my own, or my fantasy partner’s- than androphilic trans women.

Cis women have this fantasy too. Serano argues this is because our culture is so male-centric: women are judged on their sexual attractiveness, and objectified. She does not comment on gay men’s fantasies.

I first read about FEFs through the site Transsexual Women’s Resources, run by Anne Lawrence. She had useful gen on various vaginoplasty surgeons, and the essay Men trapped in men’s bodies, now expanded into a book. It explained the theory of autogynephilia, the theory that lesbian trans women transitioned because of these fantasies. We fantasised so much about being women that we sought surgery to reify our fantasies. Serano says, and I agree, that we should cease to use the term “autogynephilia” because it has been associated with the theory that these fantasies cause gender dysphoria. That theory is merely silly. One fantasises about what one finds erotic, not about random things which then become erotic. Why would a man without gender dysphoria imagine himself to be a woman? Gender dysphoria causes FEFs, not the other way around. Or at least, correlation does not prove causation. Without clear evidence to the contrary, it is more likely that dysphoria causes female embodiment fantasy.

The term “autogynephilia” pathologises trans women’s experience, and conceptualises the fantasy as the cause of the dysphoria. The term FEF describes it. As the fantasy is unlikely to cause the dysphoria, the term autogynephilia should not be used. I now have a page called “autogynephilia”, which I may rewrite completely: for that page should describe what is, and spend less time describing what is not. I may rename the page, too, but right now the false term is well known and recognisable; I want the term female embodiment fantasy to eclipse it. The words we use to describe things are so powerful!

“Crossdreaming” is the other word for the fantasies. That word decouples the fantasy from the action of transition: crossdreamers may transition, or may not.

I heard of Julia‘s term from Joanna Santos through T-Central, the portal for trans blogs where you can find all kinds of trans experience.

I am grateful to Calie of T-Central for sharing this post. Her sharing gets me far more publicity than I would otherwise get. And- by eck you’re a shy lot. Comment! Like! Let us encourage each other!

Blake, Wise and foolish virgins

Peak trans

Peak trans is that moment when a trans woman does something you find unpleasant or objectionable, which is your licence to loathe, mock and berate all trans women for ever after. Because she’s always that nasty and stupid, and they’re all like that, all the time: misogynist, domineering, self-centred, masculine, and for them it’s all about them. Peak trans is hash tags and websites where women can share these stories and say, well, I was a liberal feminist and pro-trans, or at least not completely hostile until I met one and got revolted. Because they are revolting. Or until I read something on the internet.

Let’s consider some “Peak trans” claims. Google for the quotes, if you really must.

And I may not be correct here in assuming this but considering autogynephilia IS a paraphilia along with pedophilia it makes perfect sense that these MtT are attracted to underage girls. Some of them are even twisted enough to fantasize that they ARE teenage girls inside their own heads.

MtT is “Male to Trans”. She is well down the rabbit hole, perhaps never tolerant of trans women. Her “Peak trans” moment was when she first heard of the concept and was revolted- but rather than thinking, this is a human being, she sought out justification for her hostility. Considering mice are mammals along with elephants, perhaps mice can weigh several tons. Or perhaps not.

I found myself thinking that maybe I ( a socialist) will vote for Cruz because at least then he will appoint conservative judges who won’t give in to the bathroom bullshit. What the hell world am I living in that I actually have that thought???

A world where hating trans women is more important to you than not starting wars, not teaching Creationism as science, or women having access to abortion.

This woman self-identified as a trans man for a bit, but changed her mind. The final crack was seeing a trans woman I used to follow, post a photo of herself in a nice dress, for a night out. Something really irked me about it: she stood in a ridiculous little-girl pose (she’s middle aged), complete with high heel slightly raised in the air. I didn’t see an empowered woman. I saw a man in a dress, mocking women. So that trans woman should dress to please other women, not herself? She goes on, Now I read on here every day. It makes me feel confident, supported, and even loved. I LOVE feeling like I’ve found answers, but most importantly, community with like-minded women. Because when you are in a cult defined around identifying yourself as persecuted and another group as deserving to be hated simply for a single characteristic they share, your hate is addictive. Beware addictions which distract you from your real-life problems.

I have been calling this the trans-cult for a long time. I lost my partner of 5 years to it, 5 years ago and he has ruined his life as a result. Perhaps our union wasn’t going to last anyway but he actually severed it by following this cult online and eventually going behind my back to get hormones from his doctor.

People often dislike former partners, but you are claiming she should be an entirely different person because you don’t like who she actually is, and feeling betrayed when she does not obey. She’s lucky to have left. Doctors should not prescribe your partner medicine without your say-so? What?

My first peak trans moment came with the forcing of the label ‘cis woman.’ What would you prefer? “Women, and trans women”? “Cis woman” is only necessary to distinguish from trans women- normally “woman” is perfectly fine for both.

Thank God for “peak trans”- these TERFs will make women trans-friendly because of their extremism.

Caravaggio St Catherine

Reassurance II

I want to comfort you, to reassure, to give confidence, courage and hope.

Most of my audience is trans. 7% of my page views are for one post, on Tucking, which gets most searches and is probably responsible for my worldwide reach- readers in Mongolia and Greenland, Guam and Bhutan. I get more views for trans related posts: I may be fascinated by the myth of the Descent of Inanna, about the Sumerian Queen of Heaven descending into the Underworld, but my readers were not, particularly. Would it make a difference if I told you it has a detailed description of her clothes?

I want to reassure. The world can be cruel to us, but it is better not to dwell on that. I used to be in a Yahoo group called TNUK Digest, which reported news of interest to trans folk. Some idiot fundamentalist preacher in the US said Gays are BAD!!!! and TNUK would pass that on, and we would read it and think, oh, everyone’s horrible! How can I transition? Sometimes we dwell too much on the frightening stuff.

It will be alright. Stealth is very difficult to achieve. Anyone with a little practice can tell the difference between a counter-tenor and a soprano, so your voice may sound wrong. You are big, for a woman, your waist-hip ratio is too high, you may have ridges on your forehead and large, manly hands. Don’t worry. You will find people to value and celebrate you, even cherish you. Because even if you are ungainly, your personality is beautiful. We tend to be gentle and peaceful, sweet and loving. You may have little self-respect because you have never felt manly enough- but the good news is, you don’t have to be manly! You can just be your beautiful self.

You may have agonised for months or years about transition. There is a war within you: you desire the change, yet it revolts you. Of course it is worth seeing psychiatrists and counsellors to work out what is best for you- yet if transition is what you want, it is permitted. Yes, you can. You might worry about “autogynephilia”. Don’t. If you get turned on, that is perfectly natural for human beings.

Some people are hostile. They have the logical arguments: a trans woman has a Y chromosome, a fused, narrow pelvis, an upbringing as a boy and an inability to menstruate. The logical arguments don’t matter: what matters is human relationships. Most people are tolerant enough, very few are so hostile as to make a point of it, especially when they get to know you. It is a choice to be hostile, and outside narrow, bitter internet forums most people choose to be friendly enough.

Note the title of this picture. I chose it to get in the searches. I want to be read; and to be of use, to make a contribution. So do you. That is beautiful. You are good enough.

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Amputees by choice

Should people who have a desire for the amputation of a healthy limb receive that treatment? In this paper Tim Bayne argues yes.

What causes the desire? Bayne distinguishes Body Dysmorphic Disorder from Bodily Integrity Identity Disorder: in BDD, the “wannabe” believes the limb is diseased or ugly, and in BIID the person’s identity does not include the limb. In both the wannabe knows the limb is part of their body, unlike in deafferentation, where people rationally recognise the limb is theirs but only know where it is from visual clues, so that learning to walk again is difficult. Some amputees have phantom limbs, even trying to use those limbs eg to answer the telephone.

A wannabe might have apotemnophilia or acrotomophilia, the sexual desire to have an amputation or attraction to amputees. The attraction may be a projection: few apotemnophiles form permanent relationships with amputees, as it is never the right amputation. There is overlap between devotees, those who pretend to have an amputation, and wannabes. In a survey of only 52 subjects, 87% admitted sexual arousal. Bayne suggests that some wannabes might have BIID, some BDD, even some both, and if there was a sexual component this does not invalidate the desire: Perhaps the sexual element is better conceived of as common, though not inevitable. Sexuality is an essential ingredient in most people’s sense of identity. Like Gender Identity Disorder, BIID might be importantly sexual without ceasing to be essentially concerned with identity.

What could justify a surgeon amputating? Harm minimisation: many will damage their limbs in a dangerous way. Autonomy: an individual’s conception of their good should be respected. Jehovah’s Witnesses are not forced to have blood transfusions. Whether it is morally relevant is that amputation is an act rather than an omission is questionable, especially where doctors have an obligation to promote health. Arguably wannabes are not competent to give informed consent, as they are deluded; but it is a specific individual delusion, they are otherwise rational, and given the delusion amputation is a rational response.

Some say an attempt to change the belief is an attempt to change their identity, who they are. Perhaps they have tried and failed: there is little evidence, but it is unclear another cure would work. There are feminist arguments against cosmetic surgery, that the desire for a different body is false consciousness, but people are allowed to seek it.

Incidentally Bayne argues that transsexual surgery is less acceptable, because trans women conform to stereotypes- weak, helpless and obsessed by appearance. Here I wonder if he is motivated by empathy or perceived kudos for putting an unattractive argument convincingly.

The operation will have a therapeutic effect if (i) wannabes endure serious suffering as a result of their condition; (ii) amputation will – or is likely to – secure relief from this suffering; (iii) this relief cannot be secured by less drastic means; (iv) securing relief from this suffering is worth the cost of amputation.

One writer claimed the desire for amputation has its origins in attention seeking sparked by the deprivation of parental love. I find I am able to appear needy, and attract those who like helping, by less drastic means; and this disbelieves the subject. Why do you want the amputation? Simply for itself. “It is who I am.”

Many will feel repugnance, as shown by my initial choice of title, a poor joke to cover my embarrassment- “Off with their Legs!” That is not a ground for refusing the operation. Disgust is no reliable indicator of moral objectionability.

Monet three trees in grey weather