June 4, 2013

The Massey University Study of Transgender People

When the gender shoe does not fit (photos.com)
In my post Jaimie Veale's study of gender variant people throw new light upon crossdreamers I presented the high lights from one of the most important new studies of gender variant people. In this post I give a more in depth assessment of the findings.

The study

What makes the underlying study  from Masset University of New Zealand and her Ph.D: thesis much more reliable than similar research, is the number of respondents.

Ray Blanchard, who coined the term "autogynephilia", used the database of the Clarke Institute in Toronto for his studies of transsexuals. His ""Heterosexual and Homosexal Gender Dysphoria" paper of 1987, for instance, refers to a selection of 197 respondents, all of them patients at the university clinic.

Veale, on the other hand, is working on a sample of 2277 respondent, gender variant and gender typical, recruited via the internet.

There is still a bias towards white, "western", respondents, but she manages to cover a much wider group of gender variant people, also people who have not and will not seek out gender therapists.

In other words: Veale does to a much larger degree include non-transsexual transgender and crossdreamer people.

Gender Variant

Veale defines gender variant as "a subjective sense of not belonging  completely to the gender of one's birth-assigned sex." 

Note the word "completely". The term gender-variance is used to refer to the behavioral expression of this  identity which could range from occasionally dressing as one's identified gender to  living full-time in this gender. 

She has deliberately chosen to look into biological, psychological and cultural factors that other researchers have argued may influence the development of gender identity.

She explains this in this way:

"Previous research has found that genetics, prenatal hormone exposure, neuroanatomy, handedness and dermatoglyphics  [studies of fingerprints] (proposed to be related to susceptibility to developmental disturbances), fraternal birth order, and abuse are related to gender identity. While a number of investigators have studied these variables individually, the present study is the first know research to examine the inter-relationships between these variables." (p. 2).

Her point is that variations in gender identity and the intensity of alternative gender experiences may be the end result of an interaction between various factors -- genetic, hormonal, psychological and cultural. Moreover one variable might "hide" another influential cause of gender variance.

How to intepret results

When one read studies like this one, it is extremely important to keep in mind that she is writing about statistical aggregates, and not absolutes that apply to all people of a certain category.


For instance: Relative finger length varies between men and women on average.

Among men the the second (index) finger is more likely to be shorter than the fourth (ring) finger. This so-called 2D:4D digit ratio is believed to point to a higher exposure to "male" hormones (androgens) in the womb. Among women we will find that the fingers are more likely to be of equal length.

I have seen male to female transgender people enthusiastically proclaim that they must be female, because they have a "female" 2D:4D ratio. That is mixing the macro level with the life story of the individual. A lot of women born women have a "masculine" ratio. That does not stop them from being real women.

This graph can serve to illustrate the fact that we are talking about relative small, although significant, differences. Note the huge overlap between men and women.
Digit ratio visualization according to data from Bailey and Hurd
Blue line represents men, green line women. Click on image to enlarge!

With the exception of body height and sex organs practically all differences between men and women are less significant than this.

It is clear from this figure that if there is a causal relationship between exposure to androgens in the womb and the digit ratio, the effect must be masked in many, otherwise "manly", men.

This tells me, at least, that we should be very careful to interpret such findings in a dogmatic way. Androgen exposure alone cannot explain the existence of all male to female gender variant people.

Her main findings

Since Veale has only studied a limited number of potential factors influencing the development of gender identity, she finds that somewhere between 7 and 23 percent of the variance found can be accounted for from the biological  and psycho-social factors listed above.

I will go through the variables, one by one.

Number and ratio of siblings

Male to female (MTF) transsexuals are more likely to have older brothers than non-transgender males, according to Veale's data. This difference is not found to the same effect in other gender variant MTF gender variant people:

"Birth order and sibling sex ration did not differ between birth assigned males with other gender variant identities [as opposed to transsexual] and males with gender-typical identities in spite of previous research suggesting that cross-dressers are more likely to be first-born males."

I guess someone would argue that this proves that real transsexual women are completely different from non-transsexual transgender male bodied persons. However, the difference  is a matter of degree, non-transsexual MTF transgender taking an intermediate position between MTF transsexuals and non-transgender men. This finding could be used to support a spectrum model of gender variance.

Click on image to enlarge! (Figure from Veale's thesis)

There is no difference for the number of older brothers among birth assigned females.

You might ask what all of this has to do with the price of eggs.

Well, it turns out Ray Blanchard has argued that homosexual men are more likely to be effeminate if they have a larger number of older brothers, while we will not see this effect among non-homosexual men (and by implication MTF transgender attracted to women). This argument has been  used to "prove" that gynephilic transwomen are "less feminine" than the ones loving men.

Veale finds no significant difference between androphilic (man-loving) and non-androphilc (woman-loving and bisexual) MTF transsexuals in her data.

Sexual orientation

This conclusion, i.e. that there is no significant differences between male to female transgender who are attracted to men and those that are attracted to women, applies to the whole data set as well.

Blanchard argues that there are two distinct types of male to female transgender and transseuxals: the "homosexual transsexual", who is a extremely feminine man, and the "autogynephile" who is a non-homosexual man suffering from an erotic target error. He is basically a pervert in love with the idea of himself as a woman.

On the Blanchard scale of perversions, the man loving trans woman is slightly above the "autogynephile" on the mental illness scale. The fact that Blanchard also considers homosexuality a mental disorder, doesn't leave much respect for any of the two categories, however.

Veale, of course, knows this theory very well, and has very carefully checked her own data to see if they support Blanchard's dichotomy.

"Blanchard's theory predicts that there would be improvement in the model if biological and psychosocial variables' prediction of gender variance in this study were allowed to vary between androphilic and non-androphilic birth-assigned males. However, when these restrictions were relaxed, no significant improvement in the model fit was observed."

Anne Lawrence and J. Michael Bailey had tried to shoot down earlier papers by Veale and her colleagues, by arguing that she had no real androphilic trans women in her sample. Because of this she and her friends had imposed strict criteria for being categorized as androphilic. Veale argues strongly that the sample size is large enough to detect group differences.

There are no such differences. Sexual orientation does not determine different types of gender variant people. The autogynephilia theory is wrong.

The role of gender variant relatives

Transsexuals and gender variant respondents were much more likely to report gender variant relatives than respondents with gender typical identities.

Veale explains:

"Given the methodology of this research, it is not possible to distinguish whether this concordance is the result of a genetic or a social learning effect. However, it has been reported elsewhere that usually these individuals are not aware that their relative is gender variant until they reach adulthood, suggesting a genetic explanation is more likely." (p. 110)

Handedness

Handedness has been used to determine hormonal effects in the womb.

"The study found non-righthandedness was significantly related to adult gender variance in birth assigned females, but not birth-assigned males. The results are in accordance with previous findings for both birth-assigned females and consistent with the hypothesis that developmental instability has a role to play in the development of gender identities." (p.111)

I am not sure how she comes to this conclusion given that she finds no such effect among the birth assigned males.

She provides a methodological discussion that is simply to complex for me to popularize it here. See chapter 8.1.4 in the thesis.

Other studies have shown, however, higher levels of left-handedness among MTF transsexual women, and it is the fact that this study does not confirm these findings that causes confusion.

Abuse

Veale finds an increased level of emotional, physical and sexual abuse among transsexuals and participants with other gender variant identities.

It is harder to decide whether the abuse is causing gender variance or whether it is caused by it:

"The SEM [Standard Error of Mean] results showed that recalled childhood gender-variance partially meditated the relationship between emotional abuse and adult gender-variance among both birth assigned genders. This suggest that as well as having a direct influence on adult gender variance, emotional abuse was also the result of gender variance being the target for abuse. (p. 112)

In other words: Veale believes abuse is caused by gender variance, but that it will also influence its development. This study does not provide a final answer to this enigma.

Finger length ratio

As explained above finger length ratio (2D:4D) is believed to be a marker for prenatal androgen exposure (i.e.variations in the presence of "male" hormones in the womb).

Veale finds no differences between gender typical and gender variant respondents or between the different types of gender variant people.

Her conclusion is the following:

"Overall, these findings tell us little about the extent to which 2D:4D is related to prenatal exposure, or the role that prenatal androgen exposure might play in the development of gender identities."

Mental rotation and systemising quotient

Throughout the history of sexology there has been made many attempts to test for differences in male and female cognitive capabilities. We have all heard the "truism" that men are good with numbers and women are good with words.

Being a male bodied person with a preference for words, I might have taken this as proof of my inner femininity, but the existence of a significant number of successful male authors (and female engineers) has dampened my trust in such arguments.

As time goes by, and women enter more and more occupations and take over the universities, the differences reported by researchers become more and more insignificant.

In other words: I suspect that men and women are equal intellectually and mentally, and that the differences found by researchers are the results mainly of nurture rather than nature. This means that I doubt that such tests can be used to determine whether gender variance is inborn or cultural. (See my post on the differences between men and women for details.)

In Veale's scientific world  you have to look into such variables, however, and she does.

She notes that past studies have found that transsexuals are more likely to score in the same way as persons of their target sex when it comes to tests of three-dimensional object mental rotation (which is something men are supposed to excel at).  This suggest a neuro-biological explanation for gender variant identity development.

Veale gets the same results among the birth assigned males in her study. The results for the female bodied gender variant responents are less clear, however, as Veale will have to disregard the "systemising quotient" (the interaction between variables) to get the expected results.

She concludes:

"It can be concluded from these inconsistent results that there is at best limited further evidence for a neurobiological explanation of gender variant identity development among birth assigned females."

She finds similar results for the axis "systemising ability" (typicallly male according to sociobiologist Simon Baron-Cohen) and "empathizing ability" (a female enhanced trait according to Baron-Cohen). The male bodied gender variant respondents are more likely to have a "female brain", while there is no significant differences between birth-assigned females with gender variant or gender typical identities for systemizing.

I find it very hard to believe that gender variance in male bodied persons should be neurobiological and variance in female bodied persons should be cultural. There is clearly something wrong with the premise for the argument -- and the methodology.

Veal seems to believe these variables do say something about the origins of gender variance, though:

"Overall, these results are consistent with a prenatal hormone predisposition for gender-variant og gender-typical identities, although the possibility of systemising being caused by more than prenatal androgens and the role of socially desirable responding should not be discounted."

In other words: Gender-variant people may also be tempted to live up to gender stereotypes as this may make their target gender identity more understandable in the eyes of others.

This leaves us with the question of why female bodied respondents are less likely to live up to the stereotypes.  Maybe this is caused by the fact that women in general are less likely to be punished for masculine behavior than men are for feminine behavior.

Parental age

This is the first study that shows that  gender-variant birth-assigned females are more likely to have older mothers than the rest of the population:

"The more gender-variant a birth-assigned female's identity was, the older the mother tended to be [at the respondents birth]"

The sexual orientation of the respondents  was of no relevance.

Veale notes that:

"The link between autism and adult gender-variance that is discussed in Section 8.1.8 [on the systemising quotient] is also relevant here, and it is notable that it was also birth assigned females with gender-variant identities that this study found tended to score more autistic-typically (as opposed to gender-variant birth assigned males who scored less autistic-typically.)"

Please note that  Baron-Cohen  argues that autism is caused by some kind of hyper-masculine systemizing brain. Finding more autism among female bodied gender variant people might therefore indicate that a male gender identity is caused by a masculine brain development.

At the same time the finding that male bodied transgender people are less likely to be autistic, indicates that their brains are more female.

Again: I strongly advice readers to proceed with caution when reading these types of arguments. There are just too many undocumented steps leading up to the conclusion.

It is interesting to see that Veale finds fewer autistic traits among gender variant male bodied persons than among the non-transgender men, though.

In online fora you will find MTF crossdreamers arguing the opposite: that crossdreaming is somehow related to autism or Asperger among the birth-assigned males. I have suspected that it is gender confusion and shame that have made them less socially adaptable, and not some kind of autism.

Parental cohabitation

In the Veale study the chances of being gender-variant increases the earlier the father leaves the home. On the other hand, cohabitation with mother and parental death is not related to gender variance.

Veale says that:

"Generally, the finding provides some evidence in favour of theories that have proposed that parental absence plays a role in the causation of gender-variance as a psychosocial factor."

Earlier studies has found this correlation among male bodied persons only. Veale's study, however, finds this correlation among birth-assigned females, and not among birth-assigned males.

I am not sure what to make of that, and nor does Veale it seems, who suggests that more research is needed.

Socially desirable responding

When Blanchard & Co find that their data does not support their theory about "autogynephiliacs", they pull up the "they are lying" card.

In their book androphilic (man-loving) trans women cannot be crossdreaming (having "autogynephilic" erotic fantasies), so the ones that do report such arousal are reclassified as "non-homosexual". They must be deceiving themselves and/or the researcher about their love for men, according to Blanchard.

Interestingly, Blanchard never seems to look equally close at the truthfulness of androphilic transwomen. Maybe they are lying about their lack of crossdreaming fantasies, trying to live up to Blanchard's fantasy of the proper "homosexual transsexual"? But such a result would undermine Blanchard's theory, so he ignores this possibility.

I have always found Blanchard's respondents to be extremely frank about their crossdreaming fantasies. If they had been less forthcoming, maybe we wouldn't have been in this mess.

That being said, it is definitely true that many male to female transsexuals have lied to the gate-keepers of hormones and surgery to get the surgery they want. If the gate keepers lives in a world of sexual stereotypes, you'd better learn to live up to them. And if the gate keeper believes proper women love men, you tell him what he wants to hear.

Veale has one big advantage compared to Blanchard. She is not a gate keeper, and in an anonymized online survey the respondents do not have the same reason to sugar coat their life stories.

Veale writes:

"Accounting for social desirability did not significantly change the results. It is possible that the anonymous nature of the survey made it less susceptible to social desirability bias than the past research conducted by Blanchard & al.... and this differs from participation in Blanchard's et al's study which assessed participant's reports of gender-variance experience. Furthermore, participants in Blanchard's et al.'s study may have believed that their access to treatment was contingent on how they responded."

Transsexual vs. no-transsexual gender variant people

Veale finds support for Richard F. Docter's theory of gender variance. He has proposed a continuum from no gender variant identity at one end (often misleadingly labelled as "normal people") to transsexuals at the other end.

Veale puts it this way:

"As outlined in Chapter 2, Docter's (1988) theory of gender variant identity development proposes a continuum from no gender variant identity to transsexualism at the ends, with persons with other gender variant identities being somewhere between these. If this proposal is correct, then it would be expected that the participants with other gender variant identities would score intermediary between transsexuals and participants with gender typical identities on biological and psychological variables."

This is exactly what she finds:

"This was the case for the majority of the biological and the psychosocial variables in the present research that showed between group differences."

The biological origins of gender variance

All of this leads Veale to conclude that biological factors play a role in what causes gender variant identities. She is even willing to consider the possibility that this has one genetic origin:

"While there is evidence for a number of biological variables, this does not necessarily imply more than one biological mechanism plays a role -- these biological factors may be related and share a common precursor. For instance, it is plausible that there is a causal pathway in which genes that cause atypical prenatal hormone levels lead to neuroanatomical differences linked to gender identity."

Conclusion

Does all of this mean that Veale has provided the final truth about the origins of transgender conditions?

I seriously doubt that. But she has made an important contribution to our understanding of what this is all about. What is especially important for crossdreamers, though, is that she has debunked the theories of Ray Blanchard and his followers, on his terms.

This will not make Blanchard change his mind, though. He has invested too much in his restrictive view of humanity do to so. This research will make it easier for other researchers and care takers to develop a less toxic and stigmatizing view of gender variants, though.

Veale puts it this way:

"These findings suggest sexual orientation is not a moderating factor in the development of gender-variant identities in birth assigned males. This is likely to decrease the social stigma associated with gender-variant identities."



Jaimie Veale's publications can be found at her web site.

Richard F Docter: Transvestites and Transsexuals: Toward a Theory of Cross-Gender Behavior (Perspectives in Sexuality) Springer 1988

71 comments:

Lindsay said...

I have always like studies that seem to back up my side. But I have always thought that studies like this could be manipulating the statistics to support a preconceived conclusion.

Also, how did they recruit the people for the poll? Could anyone do it? Was it a random sample? There's lots of ways for the researchers bias to creep in.

I like her conclusions, but I don't trust them.

Lindsay

Innis Anity said...

I think that this study was open to anyone. However, if I am to believe people like Senrub, I might suspect that the sample itself is biased, in that if what senrub says is true, then real transsexuals would not participate n the survey and BTW I think that removing senrub's comments and banning her makes this entire discussion very biased and one sided.

I am not sure if I am TS or not but I really found what senrub had to say very helpful in helping me try to figure myself out and I don't think she is transphobic at all.

Jack Molay said...

@Lindsay

i have included a link to the thesis in the post. Chapter 5 describes the methodology in detail.

No one, absolutely no one, can do research without taking their own prejudices with them. This also applies to Veale.

She is extremely focused on the methodology, however, and discuss everything she is doing in detail to make sure that all potential problems are covered.

As I noted, there might be some problems with the underlying scientific paradigm, but if this is the case, that will apply to all studies of this kind, including Blanchard's and Benjamin's.

Participants were recruited for an internet-based survey described as investigating the development of gender and sexuality. This was conducted through Google advertising to web sites and search pages that had keywords such as “transsexual”, “transgender”, “sexuality”, and from contacting international gay-, lesbian-, bisexual-, and/or transgender-related online groups and organisations that had a web site asking if they would distribute a call for participants among their members.

There were 2,709 responses to the questionnaire. She used 2,278. 755 reported they were transsexual, 899 other types of gender variant and 623 gender typical.

There is no reason to believe that "real transsexuals" did not take part in this study, unless you define "real transsexuals" as those that adhere to the gospel of the CT/HBS-tribes,. That would mean that transsexual women are defined by their cultural and political belief, instead of sex identity, which is both meaningless and offensive.

The CT/HBS-groups are so small that their lack of response will have little or no statistical significance on any study of trans lives.



Innis Anity said...

"The CT/HBS-groups are so small that their lack of response will have little or no statistical significance on any study of trans lives."

I believe that may have been senrub's point. Was it not her assertion that "CT's", (Classic Transsexuals), and those suffering from what has been disparaged as "Harry Benjamin's Syndrome", (HBS), are so raree and so few in number as to be statistically inconsequential?

Lindsay said...

Hi Jack,

It just seems that the group is way too small and it's definitely not a random sample. It's bigger but I'm having trouble believing it's any more reliable than Blanchard's. It looks like she's made a genuine effort to stripped out any bias, which Blanchard failed to do.

@insanity

"I believe that may have been senrub's point. Was it not her assertion that "CT's", (Classic Transsexuals), and those suffering from what has been disparaged as "Harry Benjamin's Syndrome", (HBS), are so raree and so few in number as to be statistically inconsequential?"

I'm sorry that HBS/CT's want to isolate themselves from their roots. They could be a great benefit to the community. But I understand their desire to melt into the background. But that being said, it looks like there are many TS's who don't isolate themselves. Many more than the HBS/TS's who frequent these sites. So I don't think that this study's sample is underrepresented. HBS/CT's aren't anything special they are just a minority of Benjiman's Type 4-6's who for whatever reason want to be left alone but then refuse to just walk away from the TG umbrella which they abhor.

Innis Anity said...

Lindsay. Are you always so receptive to the opinions and thoughts of others? You address me as "insanity". Perhaps I should address you as Lewis or Larry.

You must be really insecure as a man.

Lindsay said...

That's hilarious. My auto correct changes InnisAnity to insanity. Didn't even notice it, thanks for pointing it out.

Your reply sounds more like Senrub, are you sure you're not her?

Lindsay

Innis Anity said...

I wish. *sigh*. She sounds like a pretty smart post-op Too bad you keep trashing her comments.

Jack Molay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jack Molay said...

@Lindsay

"It's bigger but I'm having trouble believing it's any more reliable than Blanchard's"

It is definitely much more reliable than Blanchard's. Her sample is much bigger than his.

Remember also that Blanchard make use of data from people who have approached the Toronto clinic for help, most of them wanting to transition. Not only is the geographic range smaller, his sample is also dominated by transsexuals.

There are very few studies out there of transgender people who do not seek out the health system for help. Veale is providing us with one.

///

Innis Anity may or may not be Senrub, but she is definitely part of the classic transsexual tribe.

Do a search for her pen name in Google and you will see that she has called transactivist Suzan Cooke "a drug addled anarchist" (because she has denounced the HBS agenda).

Innis Anity believes there is a TG conspiracy attempting to trap real transsexual women in a TG Ghetto.

I guess the fact that people like her and Senrub are posting here is a good sign. I must be doing something right if they consider this blog a threat.

I am not going to let any of them do us more harm, however.

joanna Santos said...

Jack I think you should let senrub post as she means well and even if she does not agree with everyone here all the time we do need sanity checks and balances. What do you think?

Sam Z said...

Agreed here too ! She does no more damage than blanchard and everyone can interpret all theories differently..

Lindsay said...

I don't have a problem with the HBS/CT crowd if they remain civil. We normally have discussions with no name calling or insults. It seems to me that if you try to present your own beliefs and they differ from what the HBS/CT's advocate that they start up with the insults and name calling. It's like they're trying to sway you through intimidation rather than the strength of their arguments.

I respect every ones beliefs and opinions. I expect the same respect for mine. But my belief is that any one who shows disrespect should be banned (even me, but I think when I've shown disrespect it's been in self defense).

Lindsay

Innis Anity said...

Wow! These are great links, Jack.

"From Suzan Cooke, who is almost always good for a laugh...

What the hell is wrong with these sick evil f**king Christians? The world would be a much better place without their hatred in the name of some imaginary invisible magic sky daddy.
Let's see... You have a group of people who hold a view that is different from the one Cooke holds, but who are motivated by honest concern for the well-being of someone they sincerely believe is on the wrong path, and who are acting in a manner that does not actually harm the person in question...versus a profane and hateful bigot who would deny them the basic right to exist, and who uses what basically amounts to outright lies to attack them."

I was trying to be kind in my assessment.

A " TG conspiracy " ???

"I don't typically give out "advice," since I think everyone's journey is their own, and everyone needs to experience things for themselves and find out what works best. However, there is one thing that I feel more and more strongly about as time goes on, and that is this. If you're someone who someday wishes for a normal life, and if this advice applies to you, you'll know what I mean by "normal," don't out yourself unnecessarily. I remember how good it felt, when I first started my transition, to be open and free and myself. This thing I had hidden for so long, I was finally free to shout to the world without apology if I so chose.

My take on how people have reacted to me has gone through a bit of a journey in and of itself, and it went something like this: Initially, no one out-and-out rejected me. Everyone *seemed* supportive. So I was open about it for a while. But then, I noticed that phone calls stopped, social things stopped, calls from family members decreased. Hmm. Well, perhaps they were only saying what they need to so as not to appear closed-minded, and they knew that guy, and it's a lot to hope for, to have the same relationship as we did before. Not realistic."

http://accept-embrace-live.blogspot.no/2013/03/i-dont-know-why-i-did-that.html

Senrub said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lindsay said...

@senrub and Innis,

Way to keep up the name calling. That really helps your case. It seems you'd rather hurl insults than engage in any form of debate. Whenever anyone tries to make a point you disagree with you just get nasty.

Lindsay

Senrub said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Senrub said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mark said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amy said...

This blog is very informative and intelligently written.

I'm a gynephilic ts who is attracted to female masculinity.

The following brain study performed on gynephilic ts women (pre hormone) by a research group led by Ivanka Savic really got me to think twice about transitioning

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21467211

In this study there was no femininization detected in the brains of the gynephilic ts sample. there were differences found between the the male control group and the gynephilic ts but these differences were not characterized by feminization.

I was hoping someone could provide me with links to studies that contradict Savic's findings. I have HRT treatments scheduled to begin next month. I must admit this new finding is a bit disturbing.

Sorry if there is another article on this study somewhere else in this blog. I couldn't find it.

-iridium

Jack Molay said...

@Joanna

"Jack I think you should let senrub post as she means well and even if she does not agree with everyone here all the time we do need sanity checks and balances. What do you think?"

We do need sanity checks and balances, which is why I have have encouraged an open debate on this blog.

I have also been very tolerant of the more extreme fringes of the transgender community, which is also why I let Senrub go on for so long.

But I am not taking verbal abuse from anyone, and I am no longer accepting comments from people whose main agenda is to belittle and pathologize crossdreamers. This is what the HBS crowd does.

If you think they represent a voice of reason, please read my posts on the HBS.

The HBS activists have developed an interesting technique:

1. First they present themselves as understanding listeners, not revealing their true intent.

2. Then they start using their own interpretation of Harry Benjamin to draw a line between true transsexuals and other transgender. (Their interpretation is wrong, but let us leave that for a moment)

3. If you challenge their views with facts and arguments, they avoid commenting on anything they do not understand or like, and continue to repeat their main message. They are not really interested in a discussion. They already know the truth.

4. As time goes by, it becomes harder and harder for them to keep their real views hidden, and it becomes apparent to most that they feel a strong contempt for crossdreamers and crossdressers. Senrub comment about me looking through my mother's underwear drawer is typical.

5. When asked to be civil, they start complaining about censorship. And when banned, they present themselves as victims of transgender oppression.

This is, in fact, a very efficient technique. By the time the moderator's patience has run out, they have managed to scare away many of the more reasonable readers, limiting the discussion to what they think is important: The difference between the pure and the unholy.

There is a lot of pain and suffering in transgender circles. The suicide rate among transsexuals is close to 50 percent. The fact that Senrub and others seek a kind of psychological haven in the HBS gospel, should therefore come as no surprise. Our societies are not tolerant of ambiguity, so they try to edit that ambiguity out of their lives. It is understandable.

But by their actions they have become a threat to those of us who do not fit their narrow definitions of right and wrong. They are not here to learn, they are not here to help -- they are here to destroy.

Jack Molay said...

@Amy

Take a look at this blog post, which sums up much of what I would say about this research as well.

There are several studies out there now that try to identify the maleness of men and the femaleness of women by studying the differences between brains.

Much of this research is interesting, but also extremely simplistic.

The researchers do not really know that the brain parts they find have anything to do with sex identity, only that they differ between men and women ON AVERAGE.

If you look at the numbers you will always find men with female looking brain parts and women with male looking brain parts. That does not mean that these people are trans. These findings only makes sense on an aggregated level, if at all.

In the studies I have read the researchers are looking at a lot of different parts of the brain. All they can say is that differences in these parts MAY reflect prenatal hormonal influences, not that this particular part is responsible for your sense of self.

I mean, women are more likely to develop breasts than men, that does not mean that her sex identity is anchored in her tits.

The major problem with research like this is that given the fact that these trans women have lived in male bodies for most of their lives, the differences you see can be the end result of any effect of having a male body, many of them completely unrelated to sex identity and many of them developed later in life.

Modern neurophysiologists like V S Ramachandran stress the complex interaction between various parts of the brain and its interaction with the environment. Nearly nothing can be reduced to one and only one gene or brain sector, especially not a complex phenomenon as your sense of self.

Some studies, like the one you refer to, start out with the typology of Blanchard as a premise. Ask yourself why they did not include androphilic trans women. They probably took the answer for granted.

Other studies say that trans women do have feminized brains.

I will come back to you asap with more info.

Jack Molay said...

@Amy

I have now uploaded the Savic and Arver paper you referred to to the Crossdream Life library. The online library is open for all crossdreamers, transgender and friends of transgender.

This library contains many of the papers referred to in the debate.

I have read the paper more carefully now that I see that it may actually have a very serious effect on your life.

It has one very important flaw that undermines the results in a serious manner.

Note that the authors say the following:

"Considering that homosexuality and transsexuality are two different phenomena with
presumably different underlying neurobiology, and positing that MtF-TR would have feminized brain, we deemed it relevant to first investigate only nonhomosexual MtF-TR and avoid possible confounds related to homosexuality."

The reason for this is that they use Blanchard's theory as a starting point. (When they say "homosexuality", they actually mean "heterosexuality" in trans women. )

This would have been all very well if they had compared the MTF trans women to both homosexual and heterosexual non-transgender men and women. But they do not. The trans women are benchmarked against heterosexual men and women only.

Ironically, this means it is impossible to find out whether the differences in the brain regions are related to sex identity or to sexual orientation.

In other words: It could be that the similarity between the MTF trans women and the non-transsexual men is caused by the fact that both groups love women.

Given that they have not included androphilic trans women or non-transgender lesbians either, we have no way of finding out.

I would like to add one more thing: You should not make the decision of whether you should transition or not based on one research report.

As the authors of this paper point out, many studies have given different results, and given the rather primitive nature of such research, more discrepancies are to be expected.

Savic and Arver also add the following very important caveat:

"The observed differences between MtF-TR and controls raise the question as to whether gender dysphoria may be associated with changes in multiple structures and involve a network (rather than a single nodal area)."

...which is more or less what I said in my previous comment.

/////
Ivanka Savic and Stefan Arver "Sex Dimorphism of the Brain in Male-to-Female Transsexuals"

Related posts:

Spanish brain scan study shows male to female transsexuals to be different from men
Do male to female transsexuals react differently to erotic material than cisgendered men?
What brain science says about M2F transsexuals

Senrub said...
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Lindsay said...

@senrub

It sounds like the only solution to your problem is for Jack and all other TG/TS bloggers to shut down their sites and for all us poor excuse's for men to crawl away in shame. I'm I reading you correctly? You know that will never happen. It's way too late.

If you're really the happy well adjusted woman that you claim to be then why are you even here? You don't consider yourself to be one of us, so why are you threatened by us? Regular women don't hang out here. Regular women aren't constantly haranguing us.

All your comments seem to be destructive. You constantly distort what people say and you take bits and pieces out of context. Why can't you leave us to discuss our petty issues in peace.

I've seen your type my whole life. You're a bully. And it really surprises me that you could do it. I've been TS my whole life. I've had to put up with bullying my whole life. I imagine that when you were a boy you were bullied just like me. Now that your a woman you've decided to bully the very people you once were. It's unimaginable to me how you could do it.

If you truly want to be left alone, leave us alone. We're not going to go away.

Lindsay

Senrub said...
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Sam Z said...

Senrub, even those who didnt quite feel like transsexuals (but had strong feminine urges), can have an unquestioning need to transition later on..not to meantion those who really were in the same position as youself, but cant transition because of social or economical issues.
Are you even a believer in homosexual rights? If so, why do you not assume there are transsexual lesbians existing who in these days still can get confused for believing ther are straight men at first?
If not, you really are old fashion and should have a reality check to see how there are a lot others not a clear case like yourself.
So why do i care about this not being TG myself? Well lets just say i feel for all of ya, its tough being different..

Senrub said...
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Jack Molay said...

I will continue to delete the comments of Senrub, as soon as I see them.

I will also ask the rest of you not to respond to her bullying.

For those of you who still thinks she is an open minded and innocent participant in an open discourse, I have copied the following comment from one of her comments from yesterday.

Lindsay said

"I've been TS my whole life".

Senrub replied by repeating the HBS dogma, without knowing Lindsay and without respecting her gender identity.

"So you say. Maybe yes, maybe no. You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I seriously doubt that you are. I certainly would not commit to a positive assessment w/o much more info. But given your long term commitment to your manhood, I seriously doubt that you are. A true TS simply must transition to the closest approximation of their true sex as possible. That is the defining factor. The absolute, total unquestioning NEED, is what defines a true TS. There is no compromise."

She starts out with underlining the need for more information about the sex identity of Lindsay, but ends up denouncing her anyway. In her eyes anyone who defends crossdreamers cannot be a real woman.

As I said, give an HBS troll enough time and her true nature shines through. It is not a pretty sight.

Sam Z said...

Senrub, yeah i was refering to the so called trans-bians.. and yeah i think i get what your game here is...

I was refering to homosexual rights because you obviously deny the existence of lesbians. If transsexuals are real women just like other cissexual women, there are some lesbians like there are some lesbian transsexuals, or do you deny transwomen to be like real women? Furthermore, what about lesbian transwomen who transitions early because they have a real need to do so, just like yourself? By your standards, they would qualify as "real women" too. And no, im not using the word transbian, just likei dont use the word transhomosexual for you.

Jack, i dont mind replying to Senrub unless you wont mind that. I didnt even know there were "right wing" transsexuals so im actually interested in seeing what shes all about..

Senrub said...
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Senrub said...
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Lindsay said...

@senrub

Why don't you go away? You're wasting bandwith. Everyone can see who and what you are. You don't want a civil debate. If anyone dare to disagree with you, you call them names, insult them and try to intimidate them. You can't stand someone having a different opinion than yours.

These are all traits of a bully. And most if not all TS's have had to put up with people like you. We don't need more bullying from a fellow TS. You should be ashamed of yourself. All you're doing is making your cause look ridiculous. Thank God you seem to be one of the few with these beliefs.

I look forward to what you call me this time. I learned long ago to ignore the insults and to laugh at them.

Lindsay

Senrub said...
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Lindsay said...

@ senrub,

I've answered your questions repeatedly but you just browbeat me. You never answer any of my questions about you.

"Please explain to me how this in any way makes you a woman. Remember. I am not denying your transgender identity."

OK, let me turn the question on you. How does inverting your penis make you a woman? You're the one case where Blanchard's models work. You're a effeminate homosexual male. Can I call you Bob?

How do you like that? Do you like me accusing you of something that's not true? That's what you do to me and others here all the time. You know nothing about me, but you make blanket statements about me.

You're just a bully and I know how to deal with you.

Lindsay

Senrub said...
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Lindsay said...

@senrub

How is what I said insulting to you? Calling you a bully? Now you parrot me by calling me a bully, what a joke. When have I bullied you?

What I did was cite an example. Did you read the next statement? (Do you like me accusing you of something that's not true?) I was only giving you an example of what you say to me and others here. Did you like it? Go back and read my replies to your posts and you'll see that I have not insulted you. I have answered your questions by stating my own opinions. I have not answered any insulting questions. Do you keep asking the same questions hoping I'll change my mind? You take snippets of what I say out of context and turn them into insults. You are failing to make your point by making personal attacks on people with different opinions than your own.

I'll repeat for the umpteenth time, you know almost nothing about me, both from my past or the present. How can you make such blanket untrue statements. Everyone here can see you for the bully you are. Please go away and quit wasting our time.

When you stop with the personal attacks, name calling and respect other peoples opinions I'll gladly call a truce.

Lindsay

Senrub said...
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Sam Z said...

If your criteria for being a real woman is early transitioning because of a life threatening need (assuming you were suicidal) and not wanting anything to do with men, there is much to discuss.

I can agree with you on the first one but the second one is way off. This article proves all of it, every single one of us is a gender variant at least to some degree. And this has nothing to do with sex-dysphoria itself. Thats why you can be a masculine woman, lesbian identified transwoman but still have a lifethreatening need to transition. The dysphoria might feel less because at least masculine lesbian can cope with the exact same problem you had, but as a straight man, like Lindsay. It has nothing to do with a wet dream, clinicians sure take this into account when making the diagnosis. Its not like anyone would lie to them to fulfil a sexual fantasy of being a "transbian".

If you insist on pointing out why others with a deep feeling of feeling like a woman, are not real woman, i can turn the question back on you like Lindsay did earlier. You were born a man, have the biology like a man, you did unnatural procedures of changing your natural body into something artificial, how are you a real woman? Im sure i can find as many feminists to support the previous claim i had, as i can find people supporting your way of thinking. Trans-fanaticism never wins, thats why im trying to open up your narrow mindedness as kindly as possible, at least without insulting.

Senrub said...
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Jack Molay said...
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Jack Molay said...

Lindsay and Sam Z

I understand your feelings, and the desire to set things straight. This especially applies to you, Lindsay, as Senrub again and again denies you the right to call yourself a woman.

The fact that transsexual women can spend so much time on attacking other trans women is sickening, and says a lot about their state of mind.

Still, please do not feed this troll anymore.

Senrub said...
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Senrub said...
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Jack Molay said...

@Senrub

Imagine a member of the Ku Klux Klan entering a support group for African-Americans.

He starts preaching his racist gospel, expecting the black people present accept his philosophy.

He gets insulted when they argue against him, and argues that their very resistance is proof of their racial inferiority.

When they finally ask him to leave, exasperated by his lack of civility, he starts complaining about censorship.

What you do, Senrub, is no less insulting than this.

But let us make this very simple. Reflect on what normal people do when they are no longer welcome in a house. They leave.

This blog is my home. You are no longer welcome.

GET OUT!

Senrub said...
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joanna Santos said...

I do understand your resentment jack because I am always skeptical of someone who needs to find fault and critisize. I have never understood why some transsexuals feel the need to attack others because they don't measure up to a set of criteria of their own choosing. I remember reading the transsexual phenomenon and never once read any vitriol or categorizing in terms of order of superiority the types of transsexuals.

joanna Santos said...

In my experience anger ALWAYS points to insecurity. I am also basically an advanced disphoric and have been all my life but I wish everyone well in their personal journeys. I don't get the motivation for attacks if that individual is secure and well adjusted...

Jack Molay said...

@Joanna

"In my experience anger ALWAYS points to insecurity."

Yes, I agree. Or at least, this applies to the kind of obsessive anger we witness here.

Anger in itself i neither good nor bad, it is only a natural response to what the psyche perceives as a threat.

If the threat is real, and all other options have been explored, expressing anger may be legitimate.

Senrub said...

Calling a charlatan and a fraud out for being what they are is not an expression of anger nor a personal attack. It is a simple expression of opinion. An opinion which I am prepare to substantiate with the false statements, outright lies and the hypocrisy of the double standards exhibited on this blog.

Calling those that disagree with your personally self-serving justifications and pure folderol, racists, trolls and other vile names is clearly an angry expression of being in that frustrating position of not having any valid or meaningful answer to being called out for such ridiculously unbelievable allegations and assertions that men, who live, work and have sex as men are "really women", because they "cross-dream" they are and say so.

Face it Jack. You are an angry man for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the success of some, where you have failed.

I am not angry. I am amused by your antics.

S.

Senrub said...

@Joanna.

" I remember reading the transsexual phenomenon and never once read any vitriol or categorizing in terms of order of superiority the types of transsexuals".

You are conflating here. Clearly there were several different categorizations made into groups and types. They were not made for the purpose of proposing or supporting a "hierarchy", or 'proving" any type of "superiority". That idea has been demagogued by TG's and cross-dressers in just one more "trans"parent effort to disparage this seminal work.

Further, I have never proposed nor addressed any "criteria". If you go back and read many of the comments in this thread, you will find that those "criteria" are the words and ideas of those vicious and malicious, an self-justifying individuals in their efforts to silence me.

S.

joanna Santos said...

Senrub the whole idea of arguing amongst trans people disturbs me. Not only because it is divisive but mostly because it serves no purpose. Assuming that you are comfortably and happily a woman then why not lead your life and just not come here? If these people (myself included) are poor, confused and dellusional crossdreamers or trans people then why not just leave us alone to try and figure out what makes us tick?

After all you've arrived and the rest of us are confused. Your combatative style is not helping either. I guess I'm trying to figure out your motivation since no one here means you any harm.

Please explain...

joanna Santos said...

Of course benjamin categorized transsexuals but never once will you find any judgemental statements saying that for example early transitioners are women and late transitioners. So I don't for one minute buy your argument. Categorizing is just grouping without value judgement pure and simple. Conventional transvestites are also treated respectfully in the book I might add...

joanna Santos said...

I never finished my sentence sorry.....that late transitioners are men in dresses...

joanna Santos said...

The crux of the argument from the HBS crowd is quite simple actually. They see themselves as true transsexuals because they knew they were women early and did something about it before they jumped off a bridge or blew their brains out.

The problem with this argument is that, like most arguments around this issue, there is very little to no science to back it up,

In the end it is all conjecture which is why Benjamin rightly stuck to pure observation back in 1966. Had there been then or now conclusive evidence to their argument then it would be included in the latest research studies.

Everyone agrees that Blanchard is the enemy because he treats everyone equally poorly in that the HBSers are homosexual men and the rest of us perverts.

But what is particularly fruatrating for HBSers is the idea that gender fluidity is more like a spectrum with they being on the furthest side of the disphoric scale. This of course implies that they get lumped in with the rest of us "pretenders" which is of course the most galling thing of all.

This frightens and hits home which then brings out the vitriol.

I don't pretend to be anything as I am a confused disphoric trying to figure out how to live with this abnormality. However I refuse to believe that HBSers are real women solely on the basis of their one argument.

In the end none of us really are nor ever will be but our brain thinks we are and how to deal with that little voice is what this whole thing is all about.

joanna Santos said...

All that being said I am a firm supporter of transition if it will keep you from going bananas. This is hard enough to live with and there is not a day that goes by that I don't imagine what my life might be like as a woman. I am petrified to need to do something to my body and am looking for alternative solutions all the time...

Senrub said...

I was planning to repost my "deleted" comments to point out that I am not many any 'argument' or proposing any 'criteria' or value system. You and your friends hear seem to have a fetish for these arguments and falsely attributing them to me.

Accusing me of being 'combative' is just one more example of your passive aggression, when the truth is that all I have done is question the validity of the ridiculous assertion that a man, who has lived his entire life as a man, worked as a man, had sex as a man for 50+ years and has benefitted from male privilege is "really a woman", just because he claim to be.

In order to classify this tiresome exercise as a discussion or even a debate, those issues raised by one party or the other, need to be addressed.

To answer my question as to why I persist in pointing out the misrepresentations, conflations and out-right lies, is that this "narrative", this "thesis" that "cross-dreamers"/transvestites are in any way related to men or women born with a cross-sexed neurology is just plain false.

It sows confusion and conflict. It allows those with a private self-serving agendato pass off their crackpot theories as eal science or research.

Why do you think Jack is so afraid to engage in open constructive debate? He knows that his arguments have no substance. All he can do is attempt to silence the messenger by any means possible. I ask a real question.

Answer it.

joanna Santos said...

You don't get it senrub do you? No one is claiming to be a woman here. The reason people transition is to get rid of their horrible disphoria. Inverting your penis and taking hormones does not make you a woman. GID is an illness plain and simple. The more extreme the disphoria the more likely you will transition. Oh and as far as having sex as a man? I CANNOT! Why not? Because I have gender disphoria and need to fantasize myself as a woman? How many men do you know who need to do that??

Senrub said...

I see. Thank so much for clarifying that for me. No doubt your personal feelings and self-identification as a gender dysphoric man will apply to all your friends and fellow transgenders, T-gurls and twans-women. I must have missed that memo.

Be sure to inform them that perhaps that is why women, reject the idea of having these dysphoric men in our private spaces.

Oh, and nice dig on the 'inverted penis' meme. Way to keep it civil. LOL...Like water off a ducks back. You start with that and you lose the argument and all respect. Sorry about your dick Charlie.

joanna Santos said...

Its a fact and I'm sorry that it disturbs you but you are a transsexual and not a cis woman. I have no issue whatsoever with your transition and you did absolutely the right thing. But if some poor deluded disphoric does the same thing that is not your concern. You are not more superior than that person by virtue of your transition path. Everyone has a right to deal with their disphoria in whatever way they see fit.

You don't know me nor my struggles and don't have any right to make any sort of value judgements on what I might do or not do to my body.

There is no hierarchy in the trans community other than what is being artificially created by people such as yourself. That reason remains unclear to me.

But if you think my personal struggles with gender disphoria are steeped in self dellusion I could care less. As I have said no one has made any pronouncements on your chosen path and you might want to do the same vis a vis others.

The fact that you think we are all men in dresses has no bearing on my daily reality in dealing with this issue since a very tender age and your constant baiting serves no purpose.

If you have some useful advice for us disphorics then we're all ears...

Senrub said...

Ah...the ol' "cis-woman" vs "trans-woman". Just the needed device for othering one from the other invented by the trannie-tribe to separate and distinguish real women from fake women.

Great effort. You keep going round and round labeling yourself and others as delusional, perverted, superior, hierarchy, etc., etc,, etc. These are your words not mine. Trying to accuse me of that type of thinking is just another "trans"-parent example of you projecting your own self-loathing and feelings of inferiority onto others.

Let me ask you this. Why are you so intent on attacking me when it is my message that causes you so much angst?

I have never called you a man in a dress. You have. You call yourself deluded and abnormal and then you lash out at me in frustration because I have achieved that quiet sense of normality that you so angrily covet.

The biased flaws in your thinking can be seen here: "There is no hierarchy in the trans community other than what is being artificially created by people such as yourself".

You blindly ignore the fact that folks like me are not a part of your "trans-community". Who is the "separatist". Are you not the one making the distinction between "trans", and the rest of society? Is that not why your community invented the concept of "cis"? To other yourself, to separate yourself from other women?

Yet you call me the separatist. Here is a reality check for you. What you think about yourself does not matter a whit to others. They see what they see and hear what they here and they/we, the society at large make the call. Not you. Not me

joanna Santos said...

I have never called myself a man in a dress. I suffer from gender disphoria and always have. I bear no one any ill will and will never understand why people like you have a problem with this site or the people who post here. I don't want to be a transsexual and only seek for viable and effective methods to treat my condition. The rest is unimportant to me.

For me the transgender most certainly includes transsexuals like yourself becsuse you have felt compelled to alter the body you were born with. The reason for this is not yet understood. You form part of a group of people in this world who are not comfortable with their birth gender and that by default qualifies you for membership.

The fact that you feel you are exceptional due exclusively to your having transitioned early is not reason enough for me but you are certainly entitled to your opinion.

Senrub said...

Parsing the language now. How trite. You self-describe as a gender dysphoic man. You tell us how you are pleased by the fact that you are perceived as a woman when cross-dressed.

While I understand that you somehow see your self as a woman are you not still a gender dysphoric man...wearing a dress?

Perhaps the cross-dressing somehow relieves your GD. If this is the case then perhaps this is a good thing for you.

You are most surely mistaken if you believe that I "form part of a group of people in this world who are not comfortable with their birth gender and that by default qualifies you for membership".

I am perfectly happy with both my gender and my sex. I am quite sure that "at birth" I had no concept of either my birth, my gender, or my sex for that matter.

And it you want to forcibly qualify me for some politically motivated label, against my will I might add, then perhaps we should consider your dick as qualification as a male.

PS: Nobody has said that "I feel exceptional" except you. Stop attributing your thoughts an misgivings to me. Those are your thoughts and feelings not mine.

joanna Santos said...

Yes the crossdressing helps me manage my disphoria.

What is exactly is the point you are trying to make to everyone here by the way? Maybe I missed it. Is it that by virtue that you were always a woman that disqualifies you from the transgender umbrella?

I'm good with that if it makes you happy.

joanna Santos said...

Oh and thanks for pointing out the obvious...of course I'm male. I am a disphoric male. Why exaxtly do you come here senrub? Do you suffer from GD?

Senrub said...

Joanna. I have no issue with you. You seem to have a realistic grasp of your own condition. In truth I am bewildered why you choose to beat a dead horse. Jack insisted that I "GET OUT" of his house, comparing me to a KKK racist.

You might remember that I slunk off as would be expected of a good house n*****r. "Yassa Massa. I be goin' now Massa. Thank You Massa".

I was happily on my way until you began your baiting, by "trans"-parently speculating "why some transsexuals feel the need to attack others because they don't measure up to a set of criteria of their own choosing". Something that I have never done and represents just one more flight of your fanciful imagination which you seem compelled to attribute to those you see as your enemy,

Kinda sad, really.

joanna Santos said...

I don't see anyone as my enemy other than my GD and I have had to embrace a kind of duality of gender in order to bear it. I wish anyone with anyone with any gender incronguity well because its no picnic to live with.

Be well...

Senrub said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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