Trans privilege II

I have made friends with a feminist academic, and we have had friendly, careful discussions about radical feminist theory. Do trans folk subvert patriarchal gender norms, or support them? In one case, she may be an ally. She convinced me of one area where trans women have privilege over cis women.

H was at a formal dinner, the guest of a trans woman. The trans woman was particularly glamorous, in pink silk dress, hair, makeup, nails all beautiful, performing Femininity squared. H is vegetarian, and the staff repeatedly brought her meat. The trans woman perhaps should have taken this up with the staff, as the hostess, but H felt she was behaving in a somewhat masculine manner, in care-taking. As perhaps I was, when I insisted on paying for the wine.

Then the trans woman stood to address the assembled multitude, giving a loud, extrovert, girlipink performance, like a drag queen. You may have done this yourself. It is risqué, but only to an extent. It is  a queer performance of gender which the culture has just about accepted.

Trans-women, on the whole, do not get slut-shamed. H admits that I will have had shame and restrictions as a child, but we do not have the experience aged 12 or 13 of burgeoning sexual feelings along with strong social messages that they must not be acted upon.

Oh you can’t lie back
You must stay cold at heart
You must never let your feelings show
For the moment you feel it might start
Why then the only answer’s No.

Girls must be modest. The man who sleeps around is Jack the Lad. Do not disclose Lord Palmerston’s philandering, or everyone will vote for him. The woman who sleeps around is a slut. H was with Green Party activists, who referred to a Conservative candidate as “the town bike”. That shocked me, too. I would expect Greens to be sensitive to such things.

We are careful and courteous. I said I did not object to the word “transsexual” used as a noun, though some of us do. H was surprised that I was so revolted by the expression “biological woman” to mean cis-woman. It says I am not a woman. Well, maybe I am not, but the implication still hurts. In an ideal world, would people have The Operations? I explained how delighted I was to have my op, how horrified I am at the thought of losing my toe, and how I don’t think social pressures alone, strong as they are, would convince me to be castrated against the most basic survival instinct. I am not sure she accepted this. Well, I grew this breast, and the thought of losing it horrifies me as much as you- but top surgery is right for trans men.

She was an ally on the matter of autogynephilia. I explained James Cantor‘s concept of euphilia, and the thought that M-F transsexualism in gynephiles is perversion, and she said that she found that meaningless. The thought that there could be a “perversion” would mean that there was a “normal” to be perverted from. It has no relation to reality.

I loved the conversation, all four hours of it. I find her fascinating.

Boldini, Alice RegnaultA week later, I have very different views. First, she complained of that trans woman making a performance like a drag queen. It is an OTT performance of gender which is accepted from trans women but not real women. To show how objectionable this is: no-one would think of saying “She did that thing you black people do” so why would anyone imagine that referring to cliché trans behaviour was OK?

And it is an Uncle Tom act. We behave in a way the cis straights expect, understand, and laugh at. I want to keep my options open, to do that, as more choices mean more freedom, but am unclear how to do it in power.

And, yes, we don’t get slut-shamed, but I was shamed out of my sexuality, seeing it as disgusting, and not having words for it: so I had four girlfriends between 18 and 30, none at school, none lasting more than two months because I could not be myself with them. Worse, not within the protection of Feminine Virtue and Honour, we are seen as available. Steve, who has some charm and intelligence but has gone to seed, old and fat, drove me home from J’s U3A games morning. He said he found me attractive and asked if I would go to bed with him. At Oldham CAB, a dirty old man, poor, a miserable specimen, propositioned our work-experience Asian girls. They had rebelled against Asian modest dress, head-scarves and all that, but had no idea how to dress as Westerners so came to work dressed to party. He said their fathers in shame should throw them out, but he would take them in; and when he saw me about his income support, he touched up my bottom. Low status as he is, he imagines me as immediately sexually available to a path…

Do you see me at all? Here am I, without a house, partner, children, savings, job, pension fund, anything, completely vulnerable,

and you call me Privileged???

J’s joky tales of Steve’s misadventures on the dating scene, which he told her to relieve his feelings and she tells me and her husband Pete for a laugh, rub it in. He takes women for coffee, because why take them for dinner when there will be only one fuck and who wants to be stuck with someone the whole evening? One said to him she would like him as a friend, and he expostulated that he has enough friends.

-He wants a fuck-buddy. Why not advertise for that?

Some people do. One woman basically said “Here I am- Take me.” Steve has a particularly unsuitable woman, Andrea, she’s alcoholic…


Kaisersesch_PilgerbrunnenWhat blocks loos? Women do. Well, obviously. They flush away baby wipes and sanitary towels- “women’s things” is the formulation the theory uses- which do not break down, unlike loo roll and faeces. I heard this from Mick, and Steph heard it from Dyno-Rod. Steph got very angry, as the high pressure hose which went down the man-hole cover, forced away the blockage, and sprayed a little water on my loo seat and the floor before it, sprayed faeces on her bath, tiles and shower screen. We don’t know who called them out. It wasn’t Primal Scream, the landlord’s agents. I had called the landlord, and heard at 9pm that something had been done when I heard Steph expressing herself forcefully at two men with rubber hoses, who beat a quick retreat.

Here is a clear male v female divide, with me on the female side in loyalty and interest.

I read Miriam, assigned male at birth, using a female name, who is attracted to men. One often reads such people claiming they are real transsexuals, and we gynephiles are sex perverts- “autogynephilia” is the jargon. However Miriam claims to be autogynephiliac, though she has not been aroused by the thought of herself as female, and regurgitates trans-exclusionist propaganda. In fact she claims to be male, and imagines all trans women are autogynephiliac.

Here is her TERF argument why I should not use women’s loos and changing rooms. She claims the word “TERF” is a slur, but trans-exclusionist, or even trans-erasing, is a literal description. Trans women are not women, they are males. Women are not responsible for protecting males from other males. If trans women (males) are allowed into women’s safe spaces, such as loos and changing rooms, this is a safety issue for the cis-women (Miriam the TERF uses the term “female”). Trans women are male, therefore dangerous.

Well, cis women are a threat in women’s toilets. Trans women generally aren’t. While Miriam’s argument has an appearance of rationality, and will no doubt please transphobes and trans-exclusionists, it does not relate to the real world. Making rules against trans women protects no-one. Why would a sex-offender dress female and lurk around toilets in town centres during the day, when he could dress male and prey on drunken women at night?

“Women are not responsible for protecting males” but women in my experience are generally very happy to accept me in women’s spaces, even lesbian or political women’s spaces. My genuine sympathy with Steph, and scepticism of that male argument, does not by itself prove that I am on the women’s side, but is one small piece of the overwhelming evidence that it is right to treat us as women. Picture from Wikimedia.


strap on riderWxhluyp commented on my Autogynephilia page to say there is no such thing as autogynephilia. AGP is the theory that gynephile transwomen are aroused by the suggestion that we are female, and that creates dysphoria. I disagree, but Wyxlhup disagrees for a different reason. S/he says that the fantasy is not of becoming women, but of being emasculated. Being “feminized” is only the symbol of being emasculated.

Well. Whuxlyp has a wonderful-sounding phrase, “masochistic emasculation fetish”, but a quick Google shows that only Wuxlyph uses it.

Were it believed that this was a cause of transition, Trans-exclusionary feminists could argue that we should certainly not be admitted to women’s spaces, as we did not even really want to be women; and trans women, who judge ourselves harshly before transitioning, might worry that there was a possibility that this was their condition, and they should therefore resist transitioning.

Fortunately there is no research to back Wux- wxyu- wotsisname’s conjecture. All there is, is one person on a number of forums banging on about how any sort of pre-existing femininity or transgender psychology is etiologically adjunct to whatever he calls his fetish; and being told to shut up, and go away. No, that is not the primary fantasy of those of us who transition.

I am, actually, hard-wired to find ways in which I am bad. A friend said how talented I was, and I heard a judgment that I was not using my gifts well- then realised how silly that is. I am where I am.

strap on thoughtful

Disclosure. I went to Wxhluyp’s site, and found an erotic picture by Prissy. I made a page, Prissie’s Sissies, (now deleted) not accessible from my home page but accessible from here, and from Tucking and Autogynephilia. I only included one involving penetration, but most had the cartoonist’s trademark erection inside panties.

I have never been tempted to “little girl” costumes like the ones in Prissy’s cartoons, but I was aroused, and that is the main motivation for collecting the pictures (through a Google image search). While searching, I found a picture of a transvestite I used to know, who is the only person who has admitted to me doing such role-play. Grayson Perry, who sometimes appears in “little-girl” dresses like no little girl ever wore is reducing shame- because of course I am tempted to the old line I may be a pervert but at least I am not as bad as him, which divides people and empowers kyriarchy.

I find the dominant women in the pictures arousing. There.  I have submissive fantasies– though as a psychiatrist told me, in fantasy I am in complete control, manipulating the dominant as well as the submissive with whom I identify. Pictures are safe, too. I tend to feel that there are no rigid boundaries between Prissy’s fantasies and mine, but they shade into each other.

I am posting here because I am ashamed of it, and I am working my shame out. But- this is now one of my most popular posts, getting views most days since it was published. Tell me: what did you want from this post? Has it given you what you want? Please leave a comment. What do you think of the women with strap-ons pictures in the comments?

Strap-on Femdom pictures

There are femdom pictures in the comments, which I hope please you.

sweet smile strapon

Erotic structuralism

390px-Falero_Luis_Ricardo_Lily_Fairy_1888 Erotic structuralism is almost a Googlewhack: five hits all referring to whenselves, which I found here. It claims to reject the “controversial notion of autogynephilia”.

Scientists make observations, but it is useful for philosophers trained to find relations, distinctions and implications to elucidate them.

In this article, Bettcher argues that sexual attraction must be re-conceptualized in light of transgender experience. In particular, Bettcher defends the theory of “erotic structuralism,” which replaces an exclusively other-directed account of gendered attraction with one that includes a gendered eroticization of self as an essential component. This erotic experience of self is necessary for other-directed gendered desire, where the two are bound together and mutually informing. One consequence of the theory is that the controversial notion of “autogynephilia” is rejected. Another consequence is that the distinction between gender identity and sexual orientation is softened.

To Dr Blanchard, who proposed the theory of autogynephilia, I am attracted to the thought of myself as a woman, and this motivates me to approximate myself to the appearance of a woman. For Dr Bettcher, my own physical body is necessarily part of the erotic content of a relationship. We make love with our bodies, and for a trans man, his penis substitute is part of his interaction with the other person. He is not attracted to his penis any more than a man born with a penis is.

461px-Egyptian_Woman_With_Harp,_by_Luis_Ricardo_FaleroUnfortunately, this may merely be semantic. I was aroused by the thought of myself as female. Fantasising about this aroused me, though the fantasy did not necessarily involve another person or any sort of lovemaking. Sometimes it involved being dominated, “forced” to present female.

So it depends how important “attraction” is to the theory. If mere “arousal” is possible then arousal fits the theory. The suffix -philia would have moved a little further from its etymology.

I am happy that autogynephilia is a trivial observation, rather than an explanation of gynephilic trans women. We are at some point in the transition process aroused by fantasising that we are physically female, and expressing ourselves female. Why would such a fantasy be pleasant, rather than ghastly and horrible? Because it is real, because it is what I want separate from the arousal. That is the challenge for Blanchard.

Consider “normal” heterosexual cis men. Could they ever find the thought of being women arousing? If not, then there has to be some propensity towards expressing ourselves female before we trans women start having those fantasies.

I am not certain I understand all the subtleties of Dr Bettcher’s argument. Do read her article if you want more.

Destructive addiction

Meghan StablerThe youngest old man I ever met was in his twenties. He was looked after by relatives, and he said things to me like, “I can remember school like it was yesterday, but I can’t remember yesterday”. He had been sniffing glue since age 14. He managed to give up twice, but when his grandmother died he was upset, and he went back on it. He is probably dead by now.

Autogynephilia is a false theory. We try so desperately to make men of ourselves, running from our femininity; and we are living in role as female, long after we cease to be aroused by it. So, if “gender dysphoria” had any meaning, and we were “really” men, we would be feeling terrible gender dysphoria.

But- what if there were something in the development of autogynephilia that prevented us from feeling that dysphoria? The dysphoria goes the other way- we can’t stand presenting male- what if that developed through erotic reinforcement?

Being transsexual is a difficult thing to cope with, sometimes. I might resent that I have this difficulty. And- Peter was killed in a motorbike accident, affecting all his family. Bad things happen to good people.

What if I had caused it? I should have treated it like an addiction, and found ways of avoiding it- I did for a year, once, I would have claimed to have “given up”- so it is my failure that leaves me where I am now. Andrea WaddellOther people kick addictions, lots of teenagers sniff glue, then stop, and I am too weak. I coulda been a contender! Still, human beings are a mix of good qualities and bad qualities. Where I am, now, is happy expressing myself female and revolted at the idea of presenting male. It is no more shameful than falling from a cliff because I could not hold on any longer, or a motorcyclist skidding in a patch of oil, and a lot less unpleasant than those things.

What difference would that make for changing rooms and loos? None. If I want to try on clothes or go swimming, I use the women’s changing room, I have a cubicle, and I behave normally, like everyone else in there.

What about the lesbian bar? Well, most people there are tolerant enough, and really don’t mind. You could get all political, and say I am a man, and men should not be in there, but such rigid categories are so last century.  Some lesbians have trans girlfriends- should they be ejected too? Tolerate me!

Beth ScottYou might notice this is not a particularly rigorous analysis, certainly not enough to satisfy a TERF. It does not have to be, for the reason that we are mostly harmless, far more murdered than assaulting others. If any woman is upset at my presence because I make her think of male violence against her, and she wants me out, let us talk about it. If any woman is concerned someone else might be upset, there is no problem, because it is so unlikely.

Tolerance of others is a good thing. As society gets more racially and culturally mixed, we meet people who don’t grow up in the same culture and see things the same way, and on the whole it is better if we can get on with them. Racism is bad. But humans are also sexual beings, with a strong sex drive, who have to find some way of not acting on it in order to function in society. Some homophobes do not like gay people because we make them think of sex. But that is not us, that is the homophobe. You still have to find a way of not acting on sexual thoughts, bracketing them for particular places. Homophobia is bad.

Autogynephilia is a symptom, and not a cause, of transsexuality. But even if it were not, so what?

Labels and desires

Beaumont magazineA search term: “Are hijra and autogynephilia the same?” Yes and no.

First, they are different because hijra is a cultural phenomenon, grown in a society, and autogynephilia is the stringing together of Greek words by a psychiatrist, to label a hypothesis. Second, they are different because hijra are generally thought of as attracted to men, and autogynephiliacs as attracted to women, though they may claim to be bisexual or attracted to men.

They are the same because they are people born with testicles who express ourselves female.

I was crossdressing, and I wanted to express myself female all the time. The label “transsexual” gave me permission to do this. I would not, perhaps, have been the pioneer, living female when no-one else had, but seeing people who did somehow made me see it was alright to do the same. I had a diagnosis from a psychiatrist, who recommended the hormones and surgery I desired, and had the treatment.

Another possibility used to be called “transgenderist”. Pip Wilson is an example: she expressed herself female all the time, but associated with “cross-dressers”. Janett Scott of the Beaumont Society is another.

The transsexual “support” groups had some members who policed membership and definitions. “Pre-op” or “Post-op” were welcome, but “Non-op”, those who had decided they would not have The Operation were dodgy, and might be attacked as Not Really Transsexual. They had some defenders, but those who identified as autogynephiliac did not: the latter were fair game.Seahorse Society makeup tips

With the Northern Concord in Manchester, some of the people seemed feminine to me, and some blokes down the pub who happened to be dressed rather strangely.

So are they the same? I don’t know. We can create words and categories which say they are, or say they are not. The word Trans* includes all of them: AMAB expressing ourselves female, AFAB expressing themselves male. The term “primary transsexual” has been used to include those who want surgical alteration, and are attracted to the sex they were assigned at birth.

Some assert that “gender identity is separate from sexuality”. This is true in that ones gender identity does not produce a particular sexuality, and trans women can be attracted to men, or attracted to women; but it is possible that there are separate phenomena, with separate causes: the trans woman attracted to women, the trans woman attracted to men, and the latter may be the same phenomenon as the trans man attracted to women, or not.

All these phenomena have this in common, that one expresses onesself in the “other” gender from that assigned at birth. Some have a sense of gender as a spectrum, and not fitting the “gender binary”. Some AMABs who assert they are “women” might also feel that they do not fit that binary, if they really thought about it.

Some assert that AMAB person’s desire to express herself female is legitimate if she is a “true transsexual”, however defined, and perverted and disgusting if she does not fit that definition.

Are autogynephilia and hijra the same? Culturally no; scientifically, yes if gender presentation is the most important thing, and no if certain other things are considered to be important.

Every human being is unique.

Vittorio Reggianini

Kitsch! Cloying sentimentality! Ridiculous, silly images with an attention to detail on the dresses, especially the fabrics, which may indicate Crossdreaming tendencies. There is normally a glimpse of stocking. However much the serious, high-brow part of me disapproves, I love it.

She has dropped her book. How sweet!

VR The interruption

Even where there is a man, his fabrics are so girly, his attention so foppish-


We see the woman with her Good Companion from a dog’s eye view:

VR Good companion

He lived from 1858-1938, but all these dresses are Empire-line, fashionable in the 1800s and 1810s. Also, sleeves changed after that. He is painting nostalgia even then.

VR 2

Women drape over each other in such a relaxed fashion

VR 2

Here, too-

VR Women reading a letter on a couch

And especially here

VR tempting-cupid

This man looks suspicious:


If it is kitsch, it is especially good kitsch, I waffle, seeking a reason for liking it. For someone who specialises in painting people, his range of facial expressions is limited. And- I just like it!

If you liked these paintings, you may also like Giovanni Boldini.

VR An_Amusing_Song VR Anticipation VR Elegant_Figures_In_An_Interior VR Elegant_Lady_in_Pink VR Surprise VR The Answer VR The Coquette 2 VR The feathered friend VR The fish VR The pearl necklace VR The_Piano_Recital VR The_Poetry_Reading VR woman with dog vittorio-reggianini1 VR a poetry reading VR A secret invitation VR A Young Beauty VR An Idyllic Afternoon

VR La Collezionista Di Stampe

A musical interlude

VR Seduction
VR Laudanum
National collection

Justifications are unnecessary.
I express myself female because I am transsexual.
I want to practise Reiki because I can channel healing energy, or Qi.

Well. I want to practise Reiki because it is a wonderful placebo, and I have the showmanship to carry it off. If you can fake sincerity, you have got it made. I express myself female because I am a transvestite pervert who has lost all sense of proportion. Or something.

I am fairly sure that the theory of autogynephilia is trivial. Yes, we get turned on by the thought of us female. No, this does not cause us to transition: if it did, “gender dysphoria” could have no meaning.

Some think there is that causal link, though I think the cause is likely to be the other way round. What do I do with contrary evidence?
-Blot it out of consciousness, ignore it, deny it, pretend it is not there, collapse weeping thinking of it occasionally-

Acknowledge it. It exists. It will not make me change my actions. It does not affect my situation: few cissexual folk care. What matters is my reaction to it. Is it a threat? Only if I find it so.

I have felt my hands grow warm, and I have felt warmth seemingly communicated from another’s hands, without touching. Others have valued my attention. And I want that to be the reason why I perform healing: I want it to connect to the reality of the other person.

I spoke to a man who has given several types of Healing over thirty years, and said it seems it’s just placebo. He said, “Yes, that’s about the size of it”. That shocked me. I should have asked straight out, “How do you let yourself do it, if that is all it is?” He told me of spending time with Shiatsu practitioners, and how lovely that was.

What I want is a reason for doing this. My inner rationalist should sense my hands growing warm, sense heat or coolness as I pass my right hand over someone, and use inductive reasoning to connect that to a measurable positive result for the other. It does not work that way.

Relax. It is alright. What I have instead is that I want to do this, that I like to do it, and that other people seem to like it too. It is not this amazing mystic calling, which I cannot follow without perfect certainty that it is right; it is a thing I can do if I want to. And- placebo is a powerful effect.

Scunnered started my blog with the words “Last week, I pupated“. That was not true.

What I thought was pupating was realising that being transsexual is a blessing, not a curse. I still think it is a blessing, but sometimes it seems a blessing too bright and hot for me to bear.

Here am I looking at the blue sky through the net curtain-

I started this, the whine hot within me. I would go back to that realisation, and describe how the day before I had been rejected for a job after an interview, and how upset I was about that. And being unemployed, and hating that job, and that job, and the Flourish-contra-mundum with Quakers, and that– writing now, I might put the links in, might not-

I have even thought this morning of- not reverting, exactly, but going genderqueer. Take an androgynous name, Evelyn, Jocelyn, Hilary- Lyndsay, perhaps- dress in jeans and t shirt, leave the wig off, just as an experiment. I mused on that for a moment, and pictured myself talking to someone- anyone- studying their reaction in a panicked anticipation of any bad reaction to me. Any bad reaction, judgment, surprise. Of course getting on the bus outside my front door would be impossible.

Later. I have walked in the sunshine, and feel better. I had been going to go on to say how I have got so upset at not getting jobs after interviews that I have stopped looking, and that I appear to have three options-

  • snap out of it
  • carry on hiding away
  • find some other way of proceeding

-and none of them seem to work. What do I want? I don’t know. Though in the park I saw a little boy lagging behind his parents and being nagged to keep up- that strange notion of conventional recreational activities, which are not enjoyable.

I am so attached to the thought that I am Growing, Spiritually, and I come to see that instead I am learning discrete lessons and skills, which help. And my aim has always been to stop feeling uncomfortable emotions, and I come to see that it is my fear and anger at feeling fear and anger which makes them so uncomfortable.

A facebook exchange when someone shared this link. Someone commented that lesbian trans women are “filthy perverts” who “masquerade as transgender” and make life harder for the real trans women like her. When I challenged this she wrote “Glad to see your bleeding” so I asked her if she had meant the word “bleeding” as a gerund. Her later use of the word “your” indicated she had probably not.

At first I was angry, and later I found I File:Gustave Caillebotte 'Nature morte au Homard'.jpgcould work myself up into distress at how I had felt about the autogynephilia theory in 2001; but it is only the faintest echo, a ripple caused by a splash a very long way away. How am I now- the next day? A little anger, but I am no longer hurt by what Rachel said. I am not entirely proud that I drove her away by mocking her grammar: “Oh, you poor thing! Consumed by your hatred, you’re lashing out at people who could be friends!”

I have kept the title “scunnered” even though having only heard my father use it I thought it meant “frustrated”, and from googling I see it means “disgusted”. Oh well.

Spiral don’t need to have the knife gun or pill-bottle in your hands to phone the Samaritans. Though you can phone for a listening ear, I did not; because I did not know whether to give a male or female name.

Having believed in autogynephilia– the idea that I could have been an ordinary husband and father if I had had a little more self-control, but because I wanked to fantasies of myself as I woman I decided to become one- I saw my sexuality as diseased, and I suppressed it. Now, emerging from my denial that I was a sexual being at all, I find quite how passive I am, and how ashamed I am of that.

I had a disappointment, and it overwhelmed me. First I felt upset, then I went into a vicious spiral. I want this ridiculous, ludicrous thing, because of the way my sexuality is, which I cannot have, that makes me miserable, and my misery prevents me functioning. Frightened of my own misery, my fear magnified it; it became proof of my uselessness and unchanging impossible weakness. For some time before weeping I was numb.

Even now, there is an ideal relationship in our culture-, of course. The man should earn more money. The woman should look after the house, though this is no longer a full time job. There are other ways of being, or we would not have words for them- a woman might “wear the trousers” in a relationship. Rod Liddle called Simon Schama a “male lesbian”, relating to women but not in a properly hetero way. Among gays and lesbians there are the terms butch and femme, top and bottom.

I want a woman who “wears the trousers”. After my long period of denial, I realise how utterly ashamed I am of this. I found myself wondering whether this was why I imagined I was transsexual: it was less shameful to be passive if one was female. That is deluded. Do I want to go back to male clothes or a male name? No. Horrible idea. And pretending to be female for ten years would be unbearable, except that I am female.

I have been wiped out and weeping today (Thursday)- and I have worked this out. The shame is the problem. I am so fearful of my desire and my misery that it overwhelms me. And- I was disappointed. It is natural to have the emotional reaction of unhappiness at a disappointment. And that unhappiness passes. I need not fear it, the fear makes it a far greater problem than it would be.

I am glad not to be so deep in denial. This is progress. My shame lessens. My sexuality is within the normal bounds of human diversity, and diversity is a good thing: we have a cliché for that as well. It is “all part of life’s rich tapestry”.

If I despise and hate myself and fear my own reactions, then every reaction I have brings me to a juddering halt. If I can come to accept myself the outside world does not become any easier, but it does get less overwhelming.