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;

Transphobic Quakers

Norwich Quaker Meeting do not intend to be transphobic. Apparently, they imagine they are not; but because they do not understand their  implicit biases their arrogance, ignorance and thoughtlessness produces transphobic results.

They don’t mean to be transphobic, and that is not good enough. Here is their account of their blundering encounter with transphobia. This is my interpretation of it.

They had a room booking from Women’s Place UK in January 2019. The booking said that “similar meetings had been targeted by activists, and organisers personally attacked”- it played the victim. Quakers like to be kind to oppressed people. It makes them feel good. They do not understand the reversing tactic, whereby victims are portrayed as oppressors.

“Our clerk looked at the WPUK website and found nothing that was at odds with Quaker values.” Well, their clerk did not understand and should have asked someone. Their website is more clearly transphobic now, though they try to cover it up, but at the time it at least had the demand “The principle of woman only spaces to be upheld and, where necessary, extended”. They mean, no trans women. They want to kick us out of the spaces where we have been, harmlessly, for years. If you look at their website as it was in January 2019 (Wayback machine) you will see a lot of obfuscation, but from their online speeches, you can see they were preaching that all trans women are dangerous.

When the venue was published, a Quaker warned that WPUK was transphobic and the meeting should not go ahead. They ignored the warning. They thought WPUK intended “legitimate discussion”. In the event, WPUK speakers spouted transphobic claptrap, intended to foment fear and hatred. However, though there were Quakers there, this seemed to have gone over their heads.

At the meeting, Quakers, arrogantly, wanted to make a statement. “We do not believe it right that intimidation should be allowed to silence discussion.” This accepts WPUK lies as truthful. It’s not intimidation, it is whatever people can do to stop hatred being spread. It’s not “discussion”, it is transphobic falsehood. They accept that there was no intimidation, just “a peaceful picket of eight or ten women”.

They don’t understand their own testimonies. “The testimony to equality reminds us that each person is of equal value, and has an equal right to a voice, and to be heard.” Well, no. The testimony to equality should mean working to achieve equality, which means acknowledging the structural barriers and implicit biases which prevent it. They don’t even see that hate speech suppresses free speech- WPUK hate reduces trans people’s ability to be heard.

“Then, just as the first speaker was about to begin, the fire alarm went off and many of the building’s lights went out. A Friend quickly restored quiet and light.” Well, objectors achieved something. I note, wearily, the claim of efficiency and good order. I can believe that Quakers would be unable to turn off their own fire alarm, but in this instance they managed it.

Only after the meeting, and further protests, did they bother to consult the central offices of Quakers in Britain, Friends House. Staff there drew their attention to the Young Friends General Meeting statement, which calls out transphobia and supports trans people. They could have left it there. They had been stupid, and allowed a transphobic meeting to go ahead in their premises. They could have just apologised. But instead, despite hearing from a Quaker who understood, they issued a statement: “We acknowledge that the proposed change to the Gender Recognition Act is both important and divisive”. Well, no. It is a minor technical matter of interest only to trans people, which those who glory in their transphobia are using to foment fear and hatred, particularly of trans women.

They said, “We are sorry that some members of the local LGBT+ community were hurt”. That misunderstands. All members of the LGBT+ community were hurt. That’s what happens when you spread hate: all the victims are hurt, even if they are unaware of your actions. The statement makes it appear as hurt feelings. No, it is hurt interests.

Their summary continues, “We understood that transphobia is a real… threat to transgender people”. That misunderstands. Transphobia is a threat to everyone, just as racism is. It reinforces gender stereotypes and kyriarchy. The testimony to equality requires that implicit biases towards transphobia be expunged. And, what could their next word be, except “But”? “But we also realised that there are genuine causes for concern among some natal women”. Even now they are echoing the transphobic lies.

The Equality Act governs access to women’s spaces. The Equality Act will not be affected. A Gender Recognition Certificate is entirely symbolic. Do the reading!

They considered doing some reconciliation work, but they thought trans people would be unwilling to listen to “individuals with different perspectives”. They decided to invite trans people to talk about our experiences. This is problematic. They are shocked at the angry responses which they say “showed a distorted interpretation of our invitation and revealed a marked unwillingness to speak to us”. They quote some, I think to gain sympathy, though I sympathise with the person who wrote, “Who the FUCK do they think they are to judge on this matter?” Some trans people nevertheless went- I was one of them. The trans people who spoke showed concern about the straights’ feelings and beliefs, and gave a rounded view of the issues, rather than a partisan one- for example, “Gender is not the same as sex. People should not be identified by their organs, but women menstruate and give birth. Quite a number of people have transitioned back, so we must be careful about taking absolutist positions.” A trans woman said some mollifying things, from which they conclude that they are entirely in the right: “This response to the actual meeting expressed a very different perception of the nature of the meeting from the prospective responses of the other protesters”. Now, I wish I had not gone.

Then, unfortunately, they met with Debbie Hayton. Hayton, a trans woman, speaks up for WPUK for some reason, thereby giving some camouflage to WPUK transphobia. Ben Carson is in Donald Trump’s cabinet, and they would not doubt that Trump is a racist (at least, I hope they wouldn’t), but being ignorant they take Hayton at face value.

They then quote over 2000 words of transphobic twaddle, without qualification: trans women are a threat to other women, doctors at the gender clinic are a threat to children, the usual boring rubbish. This is on their website. As a Quaker I am ashamed that they would publish this stuff.

They then give a list of “Lessons for Friends and Others”. I despair. They include the line “predatory and controlling men are a real threat to the safety of women”. Well, if they did not know that beforehand, I don’t know what planet they’ve been living on. However, it is quite irrelevant to issues of gender recognition reform.

Their final paragraph shows their self-righteousness and invincible ignorance. Here they are, the wise ones, platitudinously sharing what they have learned with the world. “Nobody benefits from the perpetuation of conflict. There is much more work to be done to take the hostility out of this sensitive and contentious area, to enable common ground to be explored, and to promote understanding of all perspectives.”

Are Quakers transphobic? Some are proudly and aggressively so, speaking at WPUK meetings, campaigning against trans rights, and claiming victimhood. Some aren’t: do read that Young Friends statement. And most just don’t know or care enough, so perpetuate the societal transphobia which drives trans people so often to misery, joblessness and suicide. These Quakers’ ignorance is no excuse. Any trans person wondering about attending a Quaker meeting would be well advised to check it out thoroughly beforehand.

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.

A transvestite

Hope Lye dresses in low cut short dresses and tweets selfies from men’s loos. He likes male pronouns, calls himself a “gender critical trans identified male” and says trans women should also go to the gents.

He is balding, and does not wear a wig. His problem is that he does not understand Britishness, any more than trans. My friend from Tasmania said that when he was young, in Australia there were no eccentrics, just “bloody nutters”. Here we tolerate eccentricity, and do not make personal remarks. If he wants to go round looking like a weirdo, people will ignore him, for that is the culturally-accepted way of showing self-respect. He might get beaten up in the very roughest pubs, but drinkers in most places just won’t care.

Someone suggested that trans women try to look like women, and give off ambiguous signals to straight males. Transphobic attacks arise because men find us attractive then find that disturbing. Hope, however, wears no wig despite his short, receding hair. His copiously tattooed arms and legs are not feminine.

He whined about being suspended from Twitter, he said “for saying I’m male”, probably for being abusive to trans women, but Mumsnet had a long thread of adulation: “He truly is an ally to women, and it’s appreciated”. A trans woman produced a photo allegedly of him, when younger, doing a Nazi salute, and Mumsnetters appeared to confirm his nastiness- “he has an (allegedly) very shady and fucked up past”; “Hope was indeed involved with some dubious stuff in his youth.” But she doesn’t hold that against him: “Spot on on this, though”. Well, I suppose they have to take any allies they get. They were sweet, really, sympathising with him: femininity is so hard to escape!

Hope may be an exhibitionist rather than a transvestite. He blogs, with several photos of himself outdoors, or in toilets- who wants a picture of himself with a loo? Yuck- and is desperate for people to “ask me about my identity”. Sometimes, people do. He is not short on self-regard: when they ask him, “I normally end up educating other men”. He calls on “gender critical trans identified males” to follow him into the gents, show it’s safe, and put pressure on the trans community to do the same. “I have been challenging the media to feature how I go about life… They aren’t listening… No one’s listening!” Not even to his one-man crusade to get trans women into men’s loos.

However, we’re different. Most people who go out cross-dressed are testing the waters before transition. We want to fit in: the thing about being ignored as an eccentric is that it deprives you of ordinary human company. I don’t want to talk to strangers in the pub, especially not people who might be laughing at me, but to friends.

He claims to be perfectly safe in men’s loos, but told a different story in the past. In 2015 he complained of men putting their hands under his skirt and touching his “bum” (so, some understanding of Britishness). “Slut shaming right through to transphobia was the order of the day.” Also, though he is now a transvestite, formerly he wanted to transition: (link now deleted- see web archive) he came out as transgender in December 2014, and realised “many trans people fear being ridiculed or even murdered”. “I want to change now but alas the NHS is very slow. I hate being a man. I tried to conform to my birth gender for 47 years but can no longer do it. It just isn’t me!” He stopped wearing men’s clothes or using his male name, wanted hormones and “fully transitioning”. He was sickened by the misogynist abuse that [cis] women receive. He started campaigning for trans rights, and tried to get British Sky Broadcasting to add “Mx” to its list of possible titles. He dressed in micro-skirts and stockings with the tops showing, not a good look for a man of 47.

Then in April, he decided to identify as a “biological male” rather than trans or gender non-conforming, which are “ridiculous identities anyway”.

His “shady and fucked up past” reveals something of his current character. He shows no sign of repentance, and now he is involved in a hate campaign against trans people.

How would people behave, without internalised transphobia? It is a matter of self-respect, for me as a trans woman, to use women’s facilities. I try to look good when I go out, not ridiculous.

Debbie Hayton

Is Debbie Hayton a True TranssexualTM or a “feminine man”? It depends who is talking to her.

On 4 May she and sixteen others wrote to the Guardian, saying “Transsexual people undergo a meaningful transition, including hormone therapy and surgery”. They distinguished this from “male bodied people, including sexual fetishists, demanding access to women’s space”. However on 10 May in the Guardian, Gaby Hinsliff reported her saying she had male privilege from her upbringing, in an ideal world would present as a feminine man, and gave this utterly bizarre justification for transitioning: The problem is, as a teacher, if I express myself completely as non-gendered, I couldn’t get on with the job. If somebody comes in saying: “I’m not a woman or a man” then every time I did a new class, you would have to go through that with them, when what you really want to be doing is teaching them”.

So, she got castrated so as not to have to explain herself to pupils. Actually trans women need to be explained to pupils, and the explanation is not necessarily easier than of an effeminate man the pupils might think was gay. I can see it might be a problem for a supply teacher, but others don’t get new classes that often. If the school has an ethos of acceptance and respect for difference, she will be accepted, and if the school is an academy, many of which have an authoritarian ethos, she won’t. It may be more difficult to get a job where she can fit in. Or, she can pretend to be someone else, like every other teacher in a bad school.

Debbie is active in her teaching union, which has several gender-critical feminists. Do they like her? No. I saw a facebook thread. “Like a too eager puppy,” said one. “Somewhat cute but has annoying habits, like humping your leg. I am a cat person.”

Why tolerate her? “When accusations of ‘transphobia’ are made, TIMs get listened to and women don’t. Like it or not we’re stuck with them.” TIM means “trans-identified male”, or trans woman. But they’re not happy: “I prefer the ‘PUNCH TERFS! DIE CIS SCUM!’ variety. At least they’re honest.”

I am using whatever platforms I have to attempt conciliation with gender-critical feminists. I identify as a feminine male, and have had the operation. I have much less visibility than Debbie Hayton. I would even speak on an “A Woman’s Place” platform, if they would have me, even if another speaker gave a transphobic rant. All trans women are ludicrous and easy to mock. There is an intense vulnerability in being yourself, which many of us do not manage even after transition.

And, don’t throw other trans women under the bus. Don’t claim sexual fetishists are demanding access to women’s space- for some TERFs, with an unforgiving understanding of autogynephilia, that includes post-op transsexual women who have ever been aroused by dressing female, so all gynephile trans women. Don’t claim reform of the Gender Recognition Act has anything to do with such problems. One radical feminist graciously said she would permit me in a woman’s loo, because she knew I was post-op. But, when I was considering transition and going out dressed to see if I could hack it, with a functioning penis, I still needed the loo.

Using the word “male-bodied” is problematic. It won’t endear you to the TERFs, many of whom believe it fits you. Your pelvis is still male, and every human cell will have a Y chromosome. Your labia are a mere simulacrum, the shredded remains of your penis.

That letter said she had a right to define as transsexual, but transgender activists sought to remove the distinction. Well, some object to the word “transsexual”, precisely because it distinguishes between us and creates social pressure to have surgery. I could identify as transsexual but instead identify as trans. There is a temptation to claim I should have rights, because I have a medical condition, diagnosed by a psychiatrist, but there are all those fake trans perverts from whom I, as well as the real women, need protection. No-one prejudiced against trans women will make such distinctions, so claiming that does us no good and gives ammunition to our enemies. Debbie wrote, A Plea to Trans Activists: We Can Protect Trans Rights Without Denying Biology. However no-one denies biology. We all know what we are. And no-one is a trans activist- we are just ordinary people living our lives, speaking out against everyday prejudice.

Now Debbie Hayton is claiming she has autogynephilia, and that because she imagines she has, every lesbian trans woman must have. I refuted that claim.

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.