November 12, 2017

There are no Normal People

The concept of "normal people" is a threat to all of us, including -- of course -- transgender, non-binary and queer people. 

Time for a closer look!

There are no normal people. Seriously!

If you look at any distribution of human traits, abilities, interests, looks or mannerisms you will probably never find one person that is the average of them all, and if you do, that person is so rare that he or she is abnormal.

The median line in this figure has no width in reality. It is purely a theoretical construct, useful for statistics and research but with no counterpart out in the real world.

Illustration by lamnee.
"But hey, Jack, wait a minute!" you might say. "All of us consider 'normal' to be a broader area than that. Normalcy is rather something like this section of the bell curve."


Sure, but that is also a theoretical construct. In statistics normalcy may be defined as the area between +1 and -1 (the number is not important here, but it equals the marked area in the figure above), equalling 68 percent of a sample. 

Used to measure people, that would make 68% of us normal. 

Men are taller than women, right?  Well, no, not really. My wife and I have visited Asian countries a few times, and Sally can look down at the local men most of the time. This is all relative, really.

As Augustin Fuentes points out in an article over at Psychology Today: If you actually go out and select thousands of individual people at random and just look at their heights in the absence of any other data, you are going to be able to accurately determine their sex by their height alone only about 30 percent of the time.


October 25, 2017

Listen to this podcast about crossdreaming in a relationship

A heads up for a very brave and very interesting podcast from the couple John and Nikki, two podcast publishers who until now have mostly talked about their open relationship.
Photo: Antonio Guillem

The latest episode, however, is about John's crossdreaming and what that has done to both of them.

They cover some of the same ground as I did in my July blog post on Telling Your Girlfriend about Being a Crossdresser or a Crossdreamer.

If you look at this comment to that post,  you will see that Nikki is not the only one who have felt betrayed and hurt, not so much by the crossdreaming itself, as the fact that their partner has kept this part  from them. My wife expressed the same disappointment and hurt when she found out about my transgender side.

I guess the main message from my blogpost and the courageous discussion of John and Nikki, is that openness about this is the only meaningful option in the long run. The female partner should not be left in the dark about this, and -- I speak from my own experience -- the secrecy is also destructive for the crossdreamer.

That being said, it shouldn't be hard to understand why male to female crossdreamers stay in the closet, even vis-a-vis their partners. They are violating one of the strictest taboos in our misogynistic societies: A man that dreams about being a woman is at best weak and pathetic, at worst a sexual pervert. The fear of losing the respect of the loved one is strong. It is, unfortunately, quite realistic as well.

We are facing one of the many negative feedback loops that makes human existence so hard: Stiff necked prejudices stops people from living out their own dreams and potential, and the need to belong to your local community turns us all into cops policing the trespassers. Transgender people are often themselves the best cops, hence the secrecy.

I wish they would stop using the terms "autogynephilia" and "AGP. This is an N word in the transgender community and for very good reasons.

Nikki and John are not transphobic, but the man that coined the term is, and the term itself refers to crossdreaming as a sexual perversion.  The theory itself is extremely bad science. It been thoroughly debunked by people who actually know something about this and who have joined not only the 20th century, but the 21st as well. More about that here.

If embedded player does not work, download the episode here.

September 22, 2017

The LT Story: On How the Medical System Can Be Used To Force Transgender People Back Into The Closet

Illustration photo by Evgenyata Manenko
The medical system continues to be used to invalidate transgender identities and force gender variant people to live up to the expectations of traditional gender roles and identities.  

Here is the story about a member of the Crossdream Life forum, a Portuguese MTF transgender youth, who was committed to a mental hospital by force, most likely for being transgender.

Last fall the Crossdream Life Forum (CDL) got a new member, a Portuguese, 19 year old, male to female transgender.

I always use the term transgender in its wide umbrella sense, indicating some kind of gender variance. As far as I am concerned it is always up to the transgender person to decide what this means as regards gender identity and pronouns. She accepts both female and gender neutral pronouns. She thinks of herself as feminine transgender and non-binary.

Since this article is about a person who is still in a legal conflict with the medical establishment, I am going to refer to her as LT here.

The threat: Hospitalization and anti-psychotic drugs

I had met LT for a couple of times in the CDL chat room. She normally kept herself in the background, but would offer a comment from time to time. I remember I tried to entice her to tell us something more about her, but at the time she preferred not to.

Later on, however, she became more open in the chat room, and in July this year, I got a disturbing personal message from her. A doctor threatened to put her in a mental hospital, planning to give her anti-psychotic drugs.

She told me about parents who did not understand her, and who definitely did not accept her transfeminine nature. LT argued that her parents thought of her as “crazy”. I doubt they used the term in its clinical sense.


September 18, 2017

What Pepsi Cola Can Teach You About Sex and Gender

Pepsi Max promises max masculinity, here symbolized by
three phallic bottles.
Pepsi Max is dying, and Coca Cola Zero is disappearing from our shelves. What is happening in the Cola world and what does it mean for sex, gender and the understanding of transgender lives?

The first time I heard about Pepsi Max was back in 1993. I saw some ads promising "Maximum Taste. No sugar." I remember my first reaction was: Why on earth would someone drink a cola drink that is not sweet?

When I did taste it, in France I believe, I realized it was just another no-calorie soft drink with an artificial sweetener.

It tasted more or less the same as Pepsi Light (Diet Pepsi for Anglo Saxon readers). For all practical purposes it seemed PepsiCo had launched the same drink with a different label.

Defined by the symbols, not the content

I was wrong. The drink might have been the same on the inside, but it was very different on the outside. The cans and bottles  were black, they were masculine and they had the word MAX written on them in glowing, testosterone-boosting, lettering.

Indeed, the advertising gave the same message. This was a calorie free "hard drink" for real men who would not be caught dead with something white and girlie.



It took a loooong time, but Coca Cola eventually got the message, launching Coca Cola Zero in 2005. The cola expert would probably be able to taste the difference between Coca Cola Light/Diet Coke and Coke Zero (given that the two contained different artificial sweeteners in some countries), but most people would find it hard to pass a blind test, in spite of constantly changing formulas.

July 24, 2017

Telling your Girlfriend About Being a Crossdresser or Crossdreamer

Last week I got an email from a male to female crossdreamer and occasional crossdresser who wondered what and how he could tell his girlfriend about his gender variance. 
Illustration: nuravectorgirl

His girlfriend had taken an open approach to his story, but was hesitant about the crossdressing. Now he was looking for ways of explaining his feelings to his girlfriend.

He is using male pronouns.

He also wondered if this crossdreaming would progress into something more, like in wanting to transition and live as a woman. At the moment he expresses no need to transition or dress publicly as a woman.

Here is my reply:

I wish I had a simple answer for you. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) there is so much variation among crossdreamers that it is hard to foresee what is going to happen in the future.

There are, as I see it, two main reasons for this:

1. Gender variance is a continuum, and whatever it is that triggers these dreams and desires come in different forms and intensity.

2. Some crossdreamers are on a journey. They gradually find out that they are somewhere else in that landscape than they originally thought. There is -- for obvious reasons -- a lot of repression going on.

There is a lot of variation among crossdressers and crossdreamers

I our survey of crossdreamers we found that 1/3 reported severe gender dysphoria (in the sense that they could be considered transsexual, and transitioning would be one possible solution).

I reckon that another 1/3 lives in what I have called the twilight zone, being some shade of non-binary or gender queer, while the final 1/3 feel comfortable in their assigned gender and their crossdreaming and crossdressing is more like a trait spicing up their life.


July 19, 2017

The Transgender Clash of Narratives

Much of the conflicts and misunderstandings in the transgender debate seems to be caused by what we can call the clash of transgender narratives. As I see it, they do not have to be in conflict.
Photo: Jupiter Images


The trapped in body narrative

We hear the phrase over and over again: "I feel like a woman trapped in a man's body." "I feel like a woman trapped in a man's body".

For many (but not all) transgender people, the phrase does capture something essential about how they feel about themselves, especially if they are suffering from gender dysphoria, a deep sense of discomfort caused by a mismatch between their assigned gender and the way they feel gender wise.

The narrative is popular among sex and gender researchers steeped in the neurophysiological tradition.

The main explanation given is that during the pre-natal brain development of a fetus it is exposed to an unusual flow of hormones that feminizes the brain of male to female transgender persons and masculinizes the ones of those assigned female.

This model  does leave room for nonbinary persons and those who do not fully identify with one or the other gender, as the exposure to this unusual hormonal mix may vary. However, these people are often ignored in the debate.

The main problem with this narrative is that many of its supporters have a tendency of turning the concept of female or male into a well defined "thing", and that the definition of a woman or a man is reduced to a well defined list of abilities, interests, personality traits and expressions.


Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!