February 24, 2017

How Many Transgender People are There, Really?

The number of transgender people has been
seriously underestimated (photo: Llewellyn Chin)

There are more transgender people around than most think.

The New York Times reports that:
Nearly 150,000 American teenagers from 13 to 17 years old — or one out of every 137 — would identify as transgender if survey takers asked, according to an analysis of state and federal data that offers an answer to a question that has long eluded researchers
In addition to an estimated 149,750 transgender teenagers nationwide, accounting for 0.7 percent of the population ages 13 to 17, the Williams Institute Study estimates that there are 1.4 million transgender adults in the United States (some 0.6 percent).
I  am convinced all many of the  studies on the number of transgender people (in the broad umbrella sense of the term) seriously underestimate the percentage of the population who are some kind of gender variant, and that this even applies to this new study.
One of the reason is that so many of the statistics are based on respondents that have already been involved with the health system. That is an extreme selection bias.

The other one is that they tend to conflate the word transgender with transsexual (someone who would like to or have transitioned) or gender dysphoric, numbers that do not catch those who are neither, or those who are living in denial or cannot go down that road for other reasons. Lynn Conway   makes a good case for the higher estimate.


February 20, 2017

Interview with a Love Shy Crossdreamer

Last year I was contacted by a young male to female crossdreamer from Britian, who wanted to ask me some questions about how to cope with being gender variant. The conversation ended with me asking her a few questions. 
Photo: Hramovnick


(I am using female pronouns on her request).

The more I learn about crossdreamers, the more I realize that this is a diverse group of people. That is: You cannot make up a profile that fits all crossdreamers, in the same way there is no pattern of personality that fits all women or all men, all Europeans or all Asians.

(This also means, of course, that crossdreaming most likely is not the end result of one particular type of psychological event.)

Still  some crossdreamers have more in common than others. Some, for instance, tackle their gender variance by isolating themselves socially.

Q: We have been chatting a bit about crossdreaming and loneliness over at facebook, and I would love to share some of your reflections with my readers. Could you say a few words about where you stand today?

Jennifer replied:
"I live at home with my parents and I work, I really want to cross dress and find someone who truly gets me but I'm worried about being mocked etc."
And that sentence sums up, as we will see,  Jennifer's major challenge quite nicely.

Q: I know that for you crossdressing has been one way of expressing "your other side". Could you say some more about what role crossdressing plays in your life?

Jennifer tells me that for her crossdressing has been an important outlet for crossdreamer feelings:
"Cross dressing helps me be the real me or Jennifer as I've come to know myself. It's like I hear her calling me to express who I really am and I love it, I need it."

February 11, 2017

Waking Up the Anima – Jung Applied to Transgender Women

Guest writer Jocelyn Muchilinski takes a new approach to using Jung's theory of the subconscious to explain transgender experiences.  


The anima represents the female
side of the male psyche
Painting by Indra Grušaitė 
Guest Post by Jocelyn Muchlinski

The Anima and the Animus

Carl Jung introduced a new vocabulary into psychology. Among the most important words in this vocabulary are anima, animus, and projection.

In this essay, I will commandeer these words and twist them to suit my meanings. Perhaps Jung will forgive me for perverting his language so freely.

The anima is the female soul in every human. The animus is the male soul.

I want to encourage readers to understand the anima and animus as two entirely different people living in the same body. I also want to suggest that the animus, in cisgender men, is one and the same with the man himself.

That is to say, the animus has the reigns of the ego. The animus is expressed and brought to life in the words, thoughts, and actions of the man. The anima, on the other hand, gains life by projecting itself onto female figures in the man’s life.

In this way, both anima and animus take an essential and substantial role in the life of the cisgender man.

Conversely, the anima is the soul and person of the cisgender woman. This woman, who is the anima incarnate, experiences her animus by projecting it onto male figures in her life. Projection of anima and animus occurs naturally first on the parents of a child.

Thus, for a boy, his first experience of his own anima is vis-à-vis his mother. For a girl, she sees her own animus—her male soul—in her father.


February 8, 2017

If There Was a Magic Pill


I got permission to publish this crossdreamer poem by Marion Raven Thorsdottir.

If there was a magic pill
Female Thor (Marvel)
That could make this innate urge go away
None of us would be here today
Why is it like this?
Because a society through its infinite
jurassic way of thinking
Has glorified war, violence, militarism
Scoffed at the moon Luna
The softness, the sway 
of the feminine wave
The life giving wave of of Yin
How much has changed
Our existence is no longer a sin
As if it ever were
how much things still are the same
None places either of us could go to
If presenting as we are today

With long standing internal strife
Hours, days, weeks, months, years on end
hoardings and Urges,
Anxiety and purges
Pain and pleasure all mixed together
Self imposed feelings of shame
Until some day
Finding that we are not alone
Listen to the ancient wisdom of the past
From places and cultures
Uninfested by fantasy fairy tales
Imposed on the world
Through conquest and war
Proclaimed as eternal Truths
How wrong they were
How wrong they are
Listen to the voices and signs from times
Before patriarchy replaced matriarchy
Where two spirits were respected
Feared and revered 
Listen to the water, listen to the wind
Also our voices of wisdom will be heard at last
As I take mine from the delicate storms of thunder

Is there a way 
Out of this rabbit hole?


February 3, 2017

On cooties and the gender binary

Illustration: DmitryMo
This week I published a short post over at my tumblr blog called "How to avoid transgender and gay cooties". This led to a couple of questions in the line of "What on God's earth is a cootie?" 

The cootie phenomenon does actually says a lot about gender and socialization.

I'll come back to that. But first, here is what I wrote:

How to avoid transgender and gay cooties
"We are all aware of the increasing problem of transgender and homosexual cooties.

A perfectly straight white man may enter a restroom and find himself in the company of a gay man. Before you know it the straight man starts singing songs from Broadway musicals, while growing a mustache.The two of them don’t even have to touch each other!
Transgender cooties are even more devious. A transgender person enters the women’s bathroom and soon all the women in that room have got trans cooties. They start dreaming about climbing trees, having independent careers and wearing jeans and leather jackets.

Fortunately there is a way of avoiding the cooties. Don’t think about them!

The fact is that you have shared a bathroom with both homosexual and transgender people many, many, times already, but you did not know they were gay, lesbian or trans. You did not think about it, so you did not catch the LGBT cooties.
 
Don’t think about LGBT cooties and you will be OK!"
"Cooties" is a term used by children. The Urban dictionary defines it this way:
When children reach the age where they notice the sexes are different the children claim a member of the opposite opposite sex will give you "cooties" if they touch you. 
In Norway the terms are "jentelus" ("girls' lice") and "guttelus" ("boys' lice"). If a girl touches a boy, the rest of the kids will cry out: "She touched you! She touched you! You got  girl's lice!" Or something to that effect.

January 24, 2017

No, trans women are not men and trans men are not women

You meet them online, you meet them in various social settings: The people who think that gender is so simple that it is only a matter of what’s between your legs. Here is my response to one such individual.
Photo: Visivasnc
 “Transwomen are male, Transmen are female, there is nothing wrong with that fact at all.”
I hear this argument over and over again: "Men are men, and women are women. It is simple!"
No, this is not simple.
In this context I normally hear one of three explanations for what male and female are:
1. It is about genitalia -- taken as a sign of biological sex.
(The reality is much more complex, by the way. Many are born with ambiguous genitalia)
2.. It is about chromosomes -- XX is female, XY is male.
(This is not true either, there are intersex XX males and XY females who live as -- and identify with -- their assigned gender).
3. It is all about upbringing and socialization 
(Nope: The fundamental gender identity rarely changes even if you are raised as the opposite sex.)
Transgender feelings are real, regardless of what is causing them
In spite of genitalia, chromosomes and upbringing. In spite of a culture that harasses and ridicules gender variance (and in particular femininity and female identities in those assigned male). In spite of societies that reward men richly for playing the manly game: There they are, trans people who dream, long and desperately need to live their lives as the gender they feel they are. 
They did not ask for this mismatch. Most of them would give a lot not to feel this way. But they do and it does not go away.  For many of them this is a matter of life and death. The attempted suicide rate among transgender people is 40 percent. You do not try to kill yourself unless you are experiencing something very, very real.
In other words: The very existence of transgender men and women, the very people you try to invalidate, proves that you are wrong.

January 18, 2017

Yes, I'm Barbara

I asked Barbara over at Crossdream Life for permission to republish a version of a blog post she wrote for her own Crossdream Life blog (which is restricted to CDL members). It is a poetic presentation of a psychological breakthrough as regards gender and gender identity. This is not uncommon among transgender people, although the way this takes place may vary a lot. Barbara is a male to female crossdreamer.
Sometimes transgender doubts may be resolved by
a psychological breakthrough. (Illustration: sezer66)


Guest post by Barbara

It started with innocent restless obsession with all the things gender :) Old beliefs about two-spirited people were shaken, new ideas were written on the water, I was consuming page after page of  information in the vain hope of reaching the unreachable.

All this was be accompanied by one single black metal band: Mgła. Their great albums were the only music that I could stand. Excellent melodies, dark atmosphere and nihilistic lyrics; this combination was exactly right. A good dose of nihilism was a good thing; 

If I were to come to some conclusion, it had better not be an artificial construct, not a made-up position. So aggressively questioning everything except feelings was a right thing to do. Day after day tension built, thoughts buzzed in my head like a swarm of locusts.

The main question was: Who am I? Am I two-spirited? Am I female? Or is it all is made up and I just have a fetish (I’m a fetish, how funny)?

Is that true, that female part of me, or is it a defensive construct? What if the male part of me is an artificial construct? (Giggles) It feels like a right thought. What am I wearing? Male clothes? But why? Am I a female to male crossdresser? (more giggles) Ok, I’m not bad at passing as male (Did I say that aloud?) 

November 29, 2016

How to find love: The challenges facing crossdreamers and transgender people

There is someone for everyone, even if you are gender variant.

I have been communicating with a lot of male to female crossdreamers during the last nine years or so, and one of the major challenges facing many of them is extreme loneliness.

Drawing by Slav
Many of them tell me they have few if any friends. The discussion that follows often leads us in direction of the topic of romance and sex. 

There several reasons for why this becomes problematic:

Firstly, the are often confused about their own gender. As one young British crossdreamer recently told me: "I want to be a girl!"  And if that isn't possible, this person wants at least to dress up like one.

It is hard to go out and seek out a woman for love and companionship, if she expects you to play the role of the straight non-transgender man, and you dream about being the female partner. 

The fact is that many of those who are safely anchored in their assigned gender, also fear condemnation and ridicule if they reveal their gender variance to a partner.

So crossdreamers are facing two problems:

1. To find someone to love

2. If they do find someone to love, they might lose them if they tell them about their transgender nature (and I am using the word transgender in its broad umbrella sense here, including all shades of gender variant).

This is especially a problem for male to female (MTF) crossdreamers who love women.


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