September 24, 2013

Transinclusive feminism vs. radfem transphobia

Emmeline Pankhurst, suffragette
photos.com
Moderate feminists are now standing up against the radfem persecution of transgender people.

Some are surprised when I say I consider myself a feminist. They shouldn't be. As I have found that the temperaments and abilities of men and women overlap completely, gender equality is the only option.

Maybe (and I underline maybe) the average woman experience the world differently from the average man, and maybe this difference is partly grounded in "the flesh". But even if this is the case, this can be no ground for political, social or cultural discrimination.

Besides, I have so far in my life never  met an "average woman" or an "average man". The more I learn, the more I enjoy the diversity of human personalities, beyond gender.

Post-structuralist feminism

This being said, there are types of feminism out there that I find extremely disturbing, and that especially applies to the so called "radical feminism" or "radfems".

This tradition have grown out of the so-called post-structuralist tradition found in the social science and humanities departments in some American universities. Its roots can be found in post-modernist French philosophy.

The post-structuralist tradition is focusing on language as the basis for human experience and understanding. Strongly influenced by the French philosopher Michel Foucault they argue that the structure of language and symbols shapes the way we think.


The power used to suppress women is therefore not necessarily power consciously and deliberately used by some hidden male conspiracy. It is rather the end result of the creation of a mental map or a belief system that makes the suppression of women "self evident" to all who are part of that culture, women included.

Mental maps uphold gender inequality

I believe their understanding of such belief systems is useful, and that much of the suffering felt by transgender people is caused by such "mental maps".

Our understanding of women being weaker than men makes it for instance close to impossible for most to understand a man who dreams of being a woman. Who in his/her right mind will give up the world of male privilege? Or for that matter: Who wants to become something as humiliating as a "passive" woman in bed? This  person clearly is someone to pity or despise.

This is one of the reasons some crossdreamers embrace the idea that they are mentally ill, failed men, "autogynephiles" or perverted fetishists. The power of the surrounding culture makes it hard for them to find a positive affirmation of what they feel.

Lost in language

Unfortunately the post-structuralist love of language have led to a dangerous kind of intellectual lock-in. The only tool they have is the analysis or "deconstruction" of text, thought and  language, and they use this tool on everything. This means that they have no way of understanding the world beyond language.

If they want to talk about the body, they can only talk about our understanding of the body, and not the body itself. The body, and its hormones, instincts, urges,drives, flesh, blood, sweat and semen, become unreal to them. They are lost inside their own heads, unable to grasp the animal side of men and women..

This is also why they normally ignore the natural sciences, non-verbal arts and the what I like to call "the language of the body:" smell, touch, and taste.

A feminist thinker like Judith Butler not only argues that gender is a purely cultural phenomenon, but that our biological sex is also socially constructed.

I am sure our understanding of biological sex is influenced by cultural beliefs, but that does not mean that there is no biological basis influencing the way we feel, think and behave in the realm of sex. Her denial of the body is a denial of life itself.

Sex reduced to gender

The lock-in into language also means that these feminists are incapable of understanding transgender conditions as anything but the end result of some kind of mysterious  linguistic coding.

For the post-structuralists a  transsexual woman is at best a gender queer radical breaking down conceptual barriers. She is definitely not a woman, because a woman will have to be raised as a woman in order to be "socially constructed" as a woman. For them womanhood is reduced to nurture. There is no nature.

For the radfems the male to female transsexual is an impostor, a man with male privileges trying to suppress women by taking over "women's spaces".

This is why some of them so eagerly use the "autogynephilia" theory of Ray Blanchard to attack trans women. Blanchard gives them the ammo needed to label trans women as sexually perverted men. I have described this tactic in my blog post on how radical feminist use the AGP theory to persecute transgender.

The problem is, of course, that Blanchard is in not a feminist. He is a sexist who is doing everything he can to pathologize those that fall outside the traditional gender divides of our culture. By using Blanchard the radfems therefore contribute to upholding the gender stereotypes they so strongly oppose.

In the case of activists like GallusMag, radical feminism even degenerates into transphobic fascism.

Feminist statement on including trans

I am glad to say that more moderate feminists are getting fed up with their violence. A group of some 700 individuals and organisations  have now signed a statement denouncing radfem extremism and embracing transgender as part of feminist thought.

I have included an excerpt below. You can read the full statement here.

Note that the term trans* (with an asterisk) is a way of referring to different types of gender variation, crossdressers and transsexuals included.

"We are committed to recognizing and respecting the complex construction of sexual/gender identity; to recognizing trans* women as women and including them in all women’s spaces; to recognizing trans* men as men and rejecting accounts of manhood that exclude them; to recognizing the existence of genderqueer, non-binary identifying people and accepting their humanity; to rigorous, thoughtful, nuanced research and analysis of gender, sex, and sexuality that accept trans* people as authorities on their own experiences and understands that the legitimacy of their lives is not up for debate; and to fighting the twin ideologies of transphobia and patriarchy in all their guises.

"Transphobic feminism ignores the identification of many trans* and genderqueer people as feminists or womanists and many cis feminists/womanists with their trans* sisters, brothers, friends, and lovers; it is feminism that has too often rejected them, and not the reverse. 


"It ignores the historical pressures placed by the medical profession on trans* people to conform to rigid gender stereotypes in order to be 'gifted' the medical aid to which they as human beings are entitled. By positing 'woman' as a coherent, stable identity whose boundaries they are authorized to police, transphobic feminists reject the insights of intersectional analysis, subordinating all other identities to womanhood and all other oppressions to patriarchy. They are refusing to acknowledge their own power and privilege. (...)

"We also reject the notion that trans* activists’ critiques of transphobic bigotry 'silence' anybody. Criticism is not the same as silencing. We recognize that the recent emphasis on the so-called violent rhetoric and threats that transphobic feminists claim are coming from trans* women online ignores the 40+ – year history of violent and eliminationist rhetoric directed by prominent feminists against trans* women, trans* men, and genderqueer people. 


" It ignores the deliberate strategy of certain well-known anti-trans* feminists of engaging in gleeful and persistent harassment, baiting, and provocation of trans* people, particularly trans* women, in the hope of inciting angry responses, which are then utilized to paint a false portrayal of trans* women as oppressors and cis feminist women as victims. 

"It ignores the public outing of trans* women that certain transphobic feminists have engaged in regardless of the damage it does to women’s lives and the danger in which it puts them. And it relies upon the pernicious rhetoric of collective guilt,using any example of such violent rhetoric, no matter the source — and, just as much, the justified anger of any one trans* woman — to condemn all trans* women, and to justify their continued exclusion and the continued denial of their civil rights."






69 comments:

joanna Santos said...

interesting post Jack. All forms of aggression of one group versus another always comes from one source: namely fear. Whenever a group feels threatened in any way we end up with all sorts of vitriol pointed against who they perceive to be the aggressing party.

Trans people in fact receive far less agression from everyday folk who at worst find them bizarre but not threatening in any way.

The group you describe is a tiny sliver of the female population anyway so there is very little danger that their approach will catch on.

All forms of extremism which attempt to stiffle or denounce a group who is not by its very nature malevolent will not have much success.

theautogynephiliac said...

A better representation of the radfems here

http://youtu.be/YwTaD5rEh3o

"Our understanding of women being weaker than men makes it for instance close to impossible for most to understand a man who dreams of being a woman."

- I am not sexual aroused by, nor do I in any other way enjoy the idea of "being a woman". Rather I am simply sexually aroused by the anxiety in one's association to symbols of emasculation, for which feminine symbolism is it's supreme object". There is nothing inherently "perverted" about my fetish.

"This means that they have no way of understanding the world beyond language."

- They don't claim to.

"The body, and its hormones, instincts, urges,drives, flesh, blood, sweat and semen, become unreal to them. They are lost inside their own heads, unable to grasp the animal side of men and women.."

- Ignorance (or manipulation) of phenomenology and it's context. All experience in principle must be constructed, whether it is the imprinted constructs passed down through our evolutionary ancestors, or the constructed sexual imprints which happen during one's lifetime. It can be said that the brain is itself an evolutionary archive of imprints. For example, a child will be born with an evolutionary beneficial imprint, whereby a particular sound will be connected to an emotion such as fear or distress, and the emotion of distress may be evocative to the imprinted experience of hearing the sound. As the child grows, he may reconstitute the symbols which are associated with fear and distress.

A theorist would analyse how experiences are constructed, and whilst it is an essential tool in delimiting whether an experience is an evolutionary imprint or just constructed since birth, they don't claim to discover the physiological mechanisms which work with construction.

"A feminist thinker like Judith Butler not only argues that gender is a purely cultural phenomenon,"

- She shows how it is utterly constructable. Put this into the context of dimensional physiological differences between the sexes, and you have a model that works well in accordance with science.

"but that our biological sex is also socially constructed"

- How we come to think in terms of two "sexes", from bodies which are perceived to be generally along two polarising ends of a single variation.

"feminists are incapable of understanding transgender conditions as anything but the end result of some kind of mysterious linguistic coding"

- Socialization isn't mysterious. But your desire to necessitate an innate prerequisite for self-identification is mysterious. If not a desire to distance your adjunct dysphoric psychology from a common and innocent fetish.

"She is definitely not a woman, because a woman will have to be raised as a woman in order to be "socially constructed" as a woman."

- Butler wouldn't adhere to a notion of womanhood which has privilege over another notion of womanhood. In fact, she states the impossibility of being a gender.

"For the radfems the male to female transsexual is an impostor, a man with male privileges trying to suppress women by taking over "women's spaces"."

- These radfems are idiots.

Jack Molay said...

@Joanna

"The group you describe is a tiny sliver of the female population anyway so there is very little danger that their approach will catch on."

This is a very important point, and it might be that transgender activists and people like me exaggerate their importance.

As a parallel: Again and again I am drawn into discussions with bigoted "classic transsexuals" whose goal it is to stigmatize crossdreamers.

The truth is that they represent a fringe of a fringe movement, with no traction at all among younger transsexual women.

That being said, facing extremists of this kind forces us to think through our own understanding of ourselves and the unconscious "belief systems" that shape us.

@theautogynephiliac

If you by this mean that biological evolution, with its development of instincts and responses, is a parallel form of "construction", we may have some common ground.

It is absolutely clear that many of the predominantly biological traits found in human beings are the end result of an interaction between culture and nature. Lactose and gluten tolerance is, for instance, mutations caused by agriculture, which is a cultural phenomenon.

"For example, a child will be born with an evolutionary beneficial imprint, whereby a particular sound will be connected to an emotion such as fear or distress, and the emotion of distress may be evocative to the imprinted experience of hearing the sound. As the child grows, he may reconstitute the symbols which are associated with fear and distress."

My point exactly. There is an imprint that stimulates a child to develop an sex identity.

The symbols used to interpret and express this identity will vary, as they are personal and cultural. Human beings are, unlike more "primitive" organisms, not hardwired as regards the precise behaviors.

I guess this is what has made our species so adaptable to different environments. The sexual signals used in South Africa are useless on -- let's say -- Greenland.

At this point in time, I cannot prove that such a sex identity imprint exists, and you cannot prove that it does not. I guess we will just have to agree to disagree on that one.

tg_captioner said...

that's why I Like this skit from portlandia so much, it's so over the top:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IfOKeZ-MWI

joannaS said...

I do agree that by facing the worst enemy you become stronger and more resilient.

theautogynephiliac said...

"If you by this mean that biological evolution, with its development of instincts and responses, is a parallel form of "construction", we may have some common ground"

- I do not think you understand what you are projecting into the word "instinct". If the particular instinct in question has anything to do with phenomenology(experience), it is a matter of construction and the possibility of physiological mechanisms which interact with construction. Physiological stimulus such as pain is mapped with rudimentary pre-existing symbolic imprinting and is open to symbolic reconstitution or at least additional symbolism. This doesn't seem to be the case with the experience of "gender", not even imprinted symbolic gender archetypes.

"It is absolutely clear that many of the predominantly biological traits found in human beings are the end result of an interaction between culture and nature."

- Not biological traits if phenomenological, rather construction and biological utilization of constructs.

"Lactose and gluten tolerance is, for instance, mutations caused by agriculture, which is a cultural phenomenon."

- You are looking at this from the opposite perspective from my own. The example you give, presents the mutation happening on a biological level, whereby it is only abstractly related to experience(phenomenology). Conversely, gender is constructed and sustained in culture, whereby it is only abstracted related on a biological level. Where biology does not "give" gender, but at most can improvise unsymbolized influences such as dimensional differences between the sexes, triggered by hormones.

"There is an imprint that stimulates a child to develop an sex identity."

- An imprinted construct is a fetish, whereby the totally of an individual's fetishes is a "sexuality". It is thought that sexual imprinting occurs up until around twenty years of age.

Jack Molay said...

'- You are looking at this from the opposite perspective from my own. '

I definitely think we can agree on that one.

Kathryn Dumke said...

@ Jack "As a parallel: Again and again I am drawn into discussions with bigoted "classic transsexuals" whose goal it is to stigmatize crossdreamers."

I am not sure that this is actually a correct statement. The issue is not stigmatization of crossdreamers but a differential diagnosis of very different conditions. You might consider me a bigoted classic transsexual if you were to take issue with the reality of differential diagnosis.

What you call bigoted is a view that rejects the "we are all the same" kind of statement that is being used by trans activists all of the time.

The interesting thing though is that these views require little traction with young transsexual women because it is not hard to figure out once you get beyond the clutter of trans identified internet background noise. Once young transsexual women begin to become familiar both with the reality of a transsexual medical history and the reality of this ringing background noise the clash of those two realities usually follows.

I have seen it several times now and the clear drawing of distinctions is not fringe but widespread among those young women.

In terms of demographics radical feminists and trans whatever identified persons are completely fringe.

Lindsay said...

@Kathryn

"What you call bigoted is a view that rejects the "we are all the same" kind of statement that is being used by trans activists all of the time. "

Since when has Jack supported a "we are all the same" view? The theme here is that we're all different. One of the first things that became apparent with crossdreamers is that there are 2 distinct groups: the fetishists and the gender dysphoric. And Jack has presented much information on how each of these two groups are made up of many different variations.

Most if not all of the fetishists are not transsexuals, but there is a chance that some of the gender dysphorics are.

What I see happening at Jack's sites is that if someone is displaying gender dysphoria they are encouraged to do three things: look deep inside them selves and make sure they aren't suppressing their opposite side, to seek therapy if their dysphoria is severe and supply as much information so they can make informed decisions.

It seems to me that the classic transsexuals hate the term transgender. They think it still means the same as it did when Virginia Prince used it. They don't realize that words evolve over time. That it no longer refers to people and attitudes like Prince but to all people who have some sort of gender/sex misalignment, which is a very wide net. Also, Jack has supplied a comprehensive glossary of terms to avoid any misunderstandings.

The classic transsexuals would be better off trying to educate the general public about transsexualism than in brow beating an insignificant site like this. Jack only has a few hundred followers. You need to convince millions to get any sort of relief. Or do you just prefer to remain hidden from the general public and you're scared to death that somehow the crossdreamers are going to expose you?

Lindsay

joanna Santos said...

Well said lindsay!

Kathryn Dumke said...

Lindsay, I disagree that re-assignment of meaning to a term transgender in fact changes the meaning. The trouble with it is that in plain language (which is what the majority of the populations ascribes to this term) transgender means a change in location from one gender to another one. This is of course a complete misnomer as far as transsexualism is concerned. Classic transsexuals do not hate words, that is and would preposterous.

What they (we) are concerned and yes sometimes very angry about is the subversion of the distinction between a transsexual and transgender person in the eyes of the public continuously by the gender soup the politically correct transgender crowd wants to pour into the bowls of the unsuspecting public.

I agree with you that the public must be educated. I do and if you had taken the opportunity to find out a little more about me you would have known that that is the case. People from the TG crowd don't like what I have to say very much because it tends to reduce the justifiability of their actions IN THEIR OWN EYES which kind of baffles me.

Jack Molay said...

@Kathryn

"I am not sure that this is actually a correct statement. The issue is not stigmatization of crossdreamers but a differential diagnosis of very different conditions. "

Through our discussions I have learned to know you as an open minded person with a heart. You should not put yourself in the same category as the "classic transsexuals" I am referring to here.

There is particularly one individual who is stalking this blog and Crossdreamlife under different identities, preaching the gospel that nearly all lesbian transsexual women are autogynephilic perverts and that I am yet another pervert who wants all crossdreamers to transition.

See this discussion for a recent example.

I must admit that I find the abuse I have gotten from this person as well as others like her is extremely unpleasant and insulting.

This woman uses the same tactic over and over again: Pretend to be sympathetic and understanding in the first couple of posts, luring in open minded crossdreamers who think the best of all people, before spewing out the "Harry Benjamin Syndrome" gospel that only a small percentage of transitioned women are real women -- the rest misguided men.

You are nothing like these women.

Just to make this clear: My point is not that all crossdressers and crossdreamers are the same as trans women. If you identify as a man and live as a man, you should not be recognised as a woman.

What I am saying (and what the HBS tribe finds so offensive) is that some male to female crossdreamers suffers from severe gender dysphoria and have a real female sex identity.

The latest edition of the American psychiatric manual -- the DSM -- now recognises that it is possible to be gender dysphoric and a crossdreamer at the same time.

As for the term "transgender". Cristan Williams has proven that the term "transgender" was not coined by Virginia Prince and that the idea of a transgender umbrella can be traced by to Magnus Hirschfeld. (Virginia Prince hated the idea of a transgender umbrella.)

This is basic set theory: Terms like "transgender" and "trans*" refers to the large set of all gender variant persons. The term "transsexual" refers to a small subset suffering from severe gender dysphoria.

To put this in perspective: The fact that I share the set "Scandinavian" with Swedish women, does not make me a Swede or a woman.

But every time I clarify this issue in this way, the HBS activists forces me into their narrow narrative: That I, somehow, believe trans women and all crossdressers are the same.

I suspect this conflict arose for two main reasons:

1. Many of the HBS women transitioned in the 1970's at the time when the gate keepers demanded full adherence to a view of real women as heterosexual house wives with a low libido. The HBS tribe has assimilated the values of the time and is now fearing contamination from women who do not live up to their ideals.

2. The rise of post-modern women and queer studies which reduce sex to gender, and which therefore do not recognise trans women as real women.

I recognise trans women, whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, as real women.

joanna Santos said...

One of the issues I was personally dealing was perhaps Kathryn is alluding to is guilt. It paralyses you if you let it.

As a disphoric heterosexual male I tried my best to deny that I suffered from GID and even convinced myself for a time that I was indeed a pervert.

I think many in the trans community suffer from guilt which turns them against their own worst enemies. I am now past that stage and am dealing with my disphoria in more practical methods while realizing that all forms of disphoria are at the roots an illness. There are no real women involved here at any level whether you transition or not.

The very rabid transsexuals jack refers to are angry because in giving any leeway to the trans community they water down their own exceptionalism as so called "real" women when the best one can say is use the term transsexual woman.

joanna Santos said...

Apologies for the orthographic errors as I was typing rapidly on a tablet...

Kathryn Dumke said...

Jack, you and go back some time by now. I am not really interested in in shouting matches at all or the you are either with me or you're my enemy kind of views.

What resonates very strongly with me though is essentially three things: the correct characterization of transsexualism as a medical condition (and in this sense its discrimination from other conditions such a gender variance). Secondly, I reject the notion that a sex change is characterized in the same way than a gender transition. In my view women do not have penises no matter how they identify. In this context identifying someone as lesbian who has a penis is plain wrong, and the clamor over the rejection of radical lesbian feminists of transgender persons should be properly listened to instead of challenged. The notion that a gender transitioned individual with male genitals claims to be a lesbian is just bizarre, and it is not appropriate that this be supported. It is truly offensive. I would be happy to expand on this.
Thirdly, I see the work of the "we're all the same" notion spread by the TG crowd every day, in every day life, reflected back to me by the general population. I did a radio interview a few months ago about SRS funding in my Province. Not only was I "directed" if you will by some TG activists not to stress the point that surgery was sought by an incredibly small number of people (in my Province the number is somewhere in the 1:35000 range, I was also asked not to draw the distinction between transsexualism and gender variance because it would make non-ops look "bad" (their words not mine). The reason why this concerns me is that young transsexuals tend to get into this kind of an environment and are co-opted into a false narrative regarding their own condition. I have seen it and it upsets me.

As you know I transitioned in 2010, at age 56. Diagnostically, my anamnesis revealed my condition both through my biographical narrative but also some plain old medical biological evidence obtained from my medical charts. We briefly corresponded about this some time ago.

@ Joanna

I completely reject your notion, which by the way is completely embraced by the TG crowd that there are no real women and only transwomen among. The entire point about transexuality as a medical condition is based in very solid scientific research. It is up to each individual to ensure they obtain a solid diagnosis, not some weird wishy washy counseling that ends up with the patient self diagnosing because they are suddenly overcome by gender variant behavior.



joanna Santos said...

No offense to you Kathryn but please show me your science. There is no DNA differences and brain studies are at best inconclusive. If you have the studies I want to see them.

Jack Molay said...

@Kathryn

I actually think there is a biological basis for transsexualism, although Joanna is absolutely right when she says that the brain studies so far are inconclusive at best.

Basically what the researchers have done so far is to search for areas in the brain that looks different in male and women and postulated that this is the place for sex identity. The fact is that they have no idea what these brain areas really do. As far as I am concerned the biological sex identity may be anchored in brain areas that look the same, or in several parts of the brain at the same time.

" I reject the notion that a sex change is characterized in the same way than a gender transition."

I agree. This is not about adapting the cultural mores of the opposite gender. This is about realigning the body with the inner sex.

And as I noted above, I can see why the arguments made by the "post-structuralists" becomes problematic in this respect. They are unable to understand the deep felt in-congruence caused by gender dysphoria and therefore believe it is all cultural.

(And this very disagreement tells me that the idea of a unified "TG crowd" is a false one).

"In this context identifying someone as lesbian who has a penis is plain wrong, and the clamor over the rejection of radical lesbian feminists of transgender persons should be properly listened to instead of challenged."

This is where it becomes hard for me to follow you.

It is not that I do not get the idea that "bottom surgery" can be used as a litmus test for the intensity of a male bodied person's gender dysphoria. I do.

It is just that I think the real world is far to messy for this to be a reliable test. You were a woman before you transitioned. There are a lot of gender dysphoric women out there who for various reasons -- good or bad - do not transition.

A woman cannot be reduced to her genitalia.

Other tests put on the table are equally difficult. Both HBSers and Blanchard believe sexual arousal at the thought of having the body of the target sex is a good measure. This means that Lou Sullivan, the founder of the American FTM movement was not a man, and that Julia Serano, a leading MTF trans activist, is not a woman. She most certainly is.

I understand that you fear an affiliation with other "transgender" may undermine the respect you will get as a woman. You fear that you will be looked upon as some gender queer "halfling."

I certainly do not look at you that way. There are a few crossdreamers taking part in the discussions here who argue that all transgender persons are fetishist, but they are definitely in a minority.

The radical feminists, however, do not respect you as a woman. To them you are just a man trying to occupy women's spaces. Strange bedfellows, I'd say.

Kathryn Dumke said...

Jack, no bedfellows! I just happen to understand the anger over the presumptive attitude that lesbian radical feminists feel, when being told to love someone who clearly has a penis. If you read some of the stuff out there that is exactly what they are being told.

While a woman cannot be reduced to her genitalia using this as a rhetorical device is a bit unfair. At the heart of transsexualism is the congenital failure of the body to produce congruent reproductive organs. Both in consistent narrative and by research (Ai Min Bao and Dick Schwab, "Sexual differentiation of the human brain: Relation to gender identity, sexual
orientation and neuropsychiatric disorders" Frontiers of Neuroendocrinology, 2011; see also V.S. Ramachandran "Phantom Penises in Transsexuals" Journal of Consciousness Studies, 2008 etc.) transsexuals have always reported that in-congruent brain and body sex is at the heart of the distress felt. This not a social issue. In this sense it is not an issue of gender depression or gender dysphoria.

I am well aware of the views held by the radical feminists of the gender trender ilk. I know their views and completely disagree with them. Yet I cannot simply dismiss out of hand what anyone has to say.

joanna Santos said...

reporting an incongruence between mind and body is NOT science. Science would be a DNA anomaly or a structural brain difference. One of the possible sources may be EDC's(endocrine disruptive chemicals) but there is not direct proof as of yet. The science I am afraid will have to wait.

For the record I personally believe (as jack does) that there is a biological source to gender disphoria and what likely will make someone transition is the strength of said disphoria. So its not about who is a woman and who is'nt as that is a dead end with absolutely no scientitific basis whatsoever...

Jack Molay said...

"transsexuals have always reported that in-congruent brain and body sex is at the heart of the distress felt. This not a social issue. In this sense it is not an issue of gender depression or gender dysphoria."

As I said, I agree with you on this being caused by a misalignment between biological "body" sex and the mental sense of self (sex identity).

I am slightly bewildered by you distancing yourself from the term "gender dysphoria", however.

I do understand that a better term would be "sex identity dysphoria", but what the DSM describes is clearly what both of us refers to as transexualism:

"A marked incongruence between one's experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender..."

I would have written "one's experienced/expressed sex", but even the experts are undisciplined when it comes to using these terms.

Of the following six DSM criteria four refers to "primary and/or secondary sex characteristics".

Theoretically it is therefore possible to be recognized as transsexual via the DSM without a strong dislike of one's sexual anatomy. (You need to manifest two of the criteria to qualify.) I may be mistaken, but is it likely that this will ever happen?

Most professionals agree that gender dysphoria is what underpins the transsexual condition.

The main reason for using the term "gender dysphoria" instead of "transsexual" is the understanding that most transsexual men and women are no longer dysphoric post-op. This reflects the understanding that it is the suffering that is the condition that has to be "cured", not the true sex identity of the person at hand.

Still, I do see that the DSM Gender Dysphoria category may cause confusion. It might have been better to require a dislike for ones birth body to qualify as transsexual.

Jack Molay said...


When I use the term "gender dysphoria" I refer to the intolerable pain felt by transsexual men and women caused by being forced to live the life of a person of the opposite sex.

I may have been wrong in taking the misalignment with the body for granted. Maybe I should be careful to make that even clearer in future discussions.

"At the heart of transsexualism is the congenital failure of the body to produce congruent reproductive organs."

I find this a far too restrictive understanding. The whole body is a sexual organ. But for the sake of argument, let me accept this statement as a premise for our discussion.

I know a lot of non-op MTF crossdreamers and crossdressers who are completely alienated from their male sex organ. I am one of them.

Moreover I know FTM crossdreamers who are equally alienated from the female "sex organs", breasts included.

There are also trans women who chose not to do bottom surgery, not because they love their manly bits -- they do not -- but because such surgery, in some cases, is a very risky procedure that may ruin their health.

Others again cannot afford the surgery, or they are not given access to it by the local gate keepers.

Again: If a woman is not defined by her genitalia alone, this shouldn't stop her from being recognized as a woman.

I find it therefore hard to understand how this distinction can be used to separate MTF transsexuals who are truly women and those that are nothing but men.

Kathryn Dumke said...

@ Joanna,

Please re-read my previous post. I agree that self reported narratives are not science. I do however think that if the self-report is confirmed by a proper medical testing scheme that rests it's methodology on correct science the matter is somewhat different, don't you think.

@ Jack

The reason why I stay away from gender and also gender dysphoria is that it is really a social concept and in this regard a mental health concept as opposed to sex, which is a medical concept.

Gender dysphoria in it's most extreme cases may lead to transition but is based on a social and societal construct and the associated rejection that occurs socially. If that is all it were for transsexuals than simply wearing clothing and expression of the target gender would resolve the issues provided they were accompanied with full acceptance by society.

I was asked the question in a radio phone in show I recently conducted if society fully accepted me as who I claim to be would I have felt the need to have surgery. My answer is that no amount of clothing or expression could have resolved the distress caused by the in-congruence between brain sex and body reproductive organization, that is body sex. While I agree that sex is not just about genitals it is of course physiologically and physically a central part of a persons sex, because it gives the ability to the body to express or perform in such a way that it meets the brain configuration. No matter what your actual sexual orientation is (and in my view the demographics of transsexual populations in this regard seem to match the general population while the gender variant does not) What your body is able to do during sex (be penetrated and penetrate) has a significant impact on whether you are a woman or a man. Genitals are the instruments, if you will, of the body to allow this. In my view this is never properly addressed in these conversations mainly because this is a most personal yet common experience of those that have a vagina.

What transsexuals suffer from is a situational depression caused by the in-congruence. It is if you will similar to the depression experienced by those who have any form of birth defect or deformity. As you know surgery generally resolves this issue.

Kathryn Dumke said...

Just one other point about health risks etc. I have become extremely cautious about the health risk argument. Because it is very individual influenced both by risk acceptance as well as the personality and attitudes of the physician who advises the person it is almost impossible to assess the medical reality of such persons in fact. All I know is that actual risks in this surgery are low and do not exceed any surgery risk for operations of similar invasive character and duration. The health risk demographics of trans identified persons appears unusually high compared to the general population which in my view points to other reasons why surgery is avoided.

The cost fact while real is one that can be overcome. In Canada this is not so much of an issue since several Provinces now cover this procedure. There are also Organizations out there whose specific purpose is to assist in funding in the US especially.

joannaS said...

"..I do however think that if the self-report is confirmed by a proper medical testing scheme that rests it's methodology on correct science the matter is somewhat different, don't you think?"

I am afraid I do not agree with this assertion. yes there is a medical system set up to screen prospective candidates to go ahead and have surgery but the reasons these people want to have surgery in the first place is what is not clearly understood. The medical community is only responding to the insistence of the individual that they would be better off with the surgery. I am in total agreement that for those patients where the disphoria is extreme (such as with HBS types V and VI) then the surgery is the way to go to improve life quality.

That does not mean that the nature of gender disphoria is in any way shape or form understood. We are just treating the symptoms of a, likely biologically rooted disorder, through a gated system.

joannaS said...

gender disphoria is the term now used by the Montreal General hospital's gender clinic for example. They no longer use the term transsexualism. What they do is treat the distress of the patient and many do not go through with full transition. I have found my own method to deal with my disphoria which I am convinced has a severity scale much like Harry Benjamin alluded to when he placed his patients into types (the last two suffering the most extreme disphoria). I am most likely a type IV and unfortunately end up in the middle...

Lindsay said...

@Kathryn - some of your statements have raised some questions and thoughts. Thanks for stirring my curiosity.

"The entire point about transexuality as a medical condition is based in very solid scientific research."

In all my readings the only people who make this claim are the classic transsexuals. There has been research done on this and except for the those that are intersexed the evidence is circumstantial at best. Although some studies show characteristics falling in the normal female range, they also still fall inside the normal male range. There is a lot of overlap in most characteristics. So unless you can show DNA evidence or you have ovaries the best you can say there are theories. Personally I would love it if there were "very solid scientific" evidence.

"What they (we) are concerned and yes sometimes very angry about is the subversion of the distinction between a transsexual and transgender person in the eyes of the public continuously by the gender soup the politically correct transgender crowd wants to pour into the bowls of the unsuspecting public. "

And you think that crossdreamers are contributing to this? Or any transgendered people for that matter? What are we suppose to do? Just bottle all this up and let it fester inside us until we kill ourselves? I see it as transsexuals responsibility to educated the general cis-gendered public of any perceived differences. Why does it fall on our shoulders and not yours?

"People from the TG crowd don't like what I have to say very much because it tends to reduce the justifiability of their actions IN THEIR OWN EYES which kind of baffles me."

I don't have any problems with your message. What I have issues with is when you try to blame your perceived problems on the transgendered community. Aren't we all just trying to solve our own problems? Don't you think there is someway we could work together to educate the general problems on both our issues? I think you could change the "TG" in the above quote to "TS" and it would apply to most transgendered.

"The notion that a gender transitioned individual with male genitals claims to be a lesbian is just bizarre, and it is not appropriate that this be supported. It is truly offensive. I would be happy to expand on this."

Please expand on this, I think it could be very enlightening. As long as no one knows what's between someone legs it's really no one else's problem. If some one is flaunting it I might be bothered.

"As you know I transitioned in 2010, at age 56. Diagnostically, my anamnesis revealed my condition both through my biographical narrative but also some plain old medical biological evidence obtained from my medical charts. We briefly corresponded about this some time ago."

Why don't you tell us more of your history? It could be very relevant to a lot of people here who are in a similar situation. Why did you wait so long? From what most classic TS's say I'm amazed you survived that long. Did you ever crossdream before SRS? It sounds like you self diagnosed your own "medical condition".

"The entire point about transexuality as a medical condition is based in very solid scientific research. It is up to each individual to ensure they obtain a solid diagnosis, not some weird wishy washy counseling that ends up with the patient self diagnosing because they are suddenly overcome by gender variant behavior."

Lindsay said...

@Kathryn (continued)

Who defines what's a solid diagnosis and what's a weird wishy wash counseling? Again, where is the conclusive scientific research?

"I just happen to understand the anger over the presumptive attitude that lesbian radical feminists feel, when being told to love someone who clearly has a penis. If you read some of the stuff out there that is exactly what they are being told."

And crossdreamers are somehow responsible for this? This seems to be way off topic. Besides no one can tell anyone who they can and can't love. It's really no one else's business.

" transsexuals have always reported that in-congruent brain and body sex is at the heart of the distress felt"

This sounds identical to gender dysphoria.

I know from some of your earlier writings that you are a supporter of Benjamin, but it seems from what you're saying here that you do not. You seem to be implying in most of your posts that transsexuals aren't on his "sex and gender role" scale but that they exist as a totally separate category.

"Please re-read my previous post. I agree that self reported narratives are not science. I do however think that if the self-report is confirmed by a proper medical testing scheme that rests it's methodology on correct science the matter is somewhat different, don't you think."

The devil is in the details. What would be required? DNA testing? CT scans? Except for DNA testing wouldn't it all be statistical? And there is a lot of overlap of what is average female and average male. Two people probably wouldn't agree on a particular diagnosis.

"Gender dysphoria in it's most extreme cases may lead to transition but is based on a social and societal construct and the associated rejection that occurs socially. If that is all it were for transsexuals than simply wearing clothing and expression of the target gender would resolve the issues provided they were accompanied with full acceptance by society."

I've never heard anyone use the word social in the definition of gender dysphoria until now. I don't consider mine to be social at all. It's caused because my mind tells me I'm female, society has nothing to do with it.

"What transsexuals suffer from is a situational depression caused by the in-congruence. It is if you will similar to the depression experienced by those who have any form of birth defect or deformity. As you know surgery generally resolves this issue."

I don't see how this differs from gender dysphoria.

"What your body is able to do during sex (be penetrated and penetrate) has a significant impact on whether you are a woman or a man"

I asked my wife how important penetration is in sex. There were a few things that were more important (love was at the top of the list). It seems to me the real issue is that what's between your legs isn't important as long as no one knows the difference. And if you partner is happy with it why should anyone else care. Are you telling me that if you found out a long term female acquaintance had a penis, you'd have a problem with it?

Lindsay

Kathryn Dumke said...

@ Joanna

You made an assumption that I was referring to the usual gate keeping functions provided for under the standards of care. I do not refer to that type of testing. I mean genetic, testing, blood work etc. that is available.

Lindsay, I would be happy to discuss this in a more appropriate setting with you because I neither have the wish to completely sidetrack the conversation this post was intended to have nor do I generally discuss very intimate personal medical details in public. I have tried to access your email but it says the link is an error on your blogger email.

Lindsay said...

@kathryn

I was just making points and asking questions on items you brought up. It's interesting that you would bring them up to the blog and then not want to elaborate on and/or clarify them. It seems like you've raised a lot of questions here, I would hope the other readers would have similar concerns.

I would hope that you aren't using the "classic transsexual" tactic of just muddying the water. You don't seem to be one.

Lindsay

Kathryn Dumke said...

Lindsay,

I disagree that the evidence and scientific data is circumstantial at best. The MinBao and Schwab article is based on some real hard MRI date and other data as well, for instance. The research into sex switches for brain and body and the time differential is solid research not some circumstantial piece of evidence. What is missing is amniotic fluid analysis throughout gestation and significant enough cohort of transsexuals. The reason is obvious. The Prince Henry Institute in New Zealand is currently conducting a full study (after doing a pilot with a relatively small cohort size) to establish the largest DNA bank of transsexual and transgender individuals because they found in transsexual individuals an extension on the androgen receptor gene not normally found in the general population.

The work done by V.S. Ramachandran (he is one of the leading scientists on phantom limb and phantom pain and body image. His work around body image (not what you do when you twirl in front of a mirror) the biologically based body mapping by the brain has led to treatment for veterans to overcome intense pain due to lost limbs etc. He started working around transsexualism issues around 2007, conducted a study in 2008 and made some findings. He wants to take this further. At this point his work is in it`s infant stages.

Other work is being done by Netherland, Spanish, Chinese and North American scientists. I suggest there is a great field of study for you before you claim that the research is all inconclusive. I am a lawyer, I need this stuff to make my cases on behalf of my clients. So if I can find it you should be able to as well.

Lindsay, I really have to say you should get out and read more of the crap that is on the net. My point about the differentiation is is that the TG crowd tends to proclaim they are women because they say so. With all due respect if you would characterize your condition correctly you would either agree with me or we would not have this debate. I am certainly not the one who claims to be something I am not.

You see I don`t really have a problem with any of this except to the extent that I clarify things that I perceive to have been misstated or incorrect. I am simply living my life which in my daily existence is largely untouched by the net trans clamor out there. I also participate in developing policy to be set by my government, which is where a lot of my experience with the TG crowd comes from.

On the issue of women with penises claiming to be lesbian let me be blunt. Lesbian women are being told that they have to accept lesbian transwomen with a penis as potential lovers. What is wrong with this pictureÉ If you cannot see this I am sorry but then I cannot help you on this question.

I never crossdreamed or crossdressed.

Have you ever asked yourself the question why gender dysphoria is called `gender`dysphoria. If you use language to obfuscate it`s plain and ordinary meaning, then of course you would think that the distress described by me earlier sound a lot like `gender`dysphoria when it is not at all the same.

You should also describe to me why you feel distress over you condition. What makes you distressedÉ

If the devil is in the details (which I actually agree it is and not just in the way you meant it) then it`s the details that are required don`t you thinkÉ Because if we agree on this we suddenly move from nebulous to the actual.

You asked your wife, reallyÉ I am not even going to go there. Clearly you missed the entire point of my statement and on this one I cannot possibly help you. Not after you have SRS.


joannaS said...

"I never crossdreamed or crossdresse" that is interesting given that a huge portion of transsexuals have at some point in their history. That would put you in a minority not a majority.

As far as science is concerned I completely agree with Lindsay we are both well read professional engineers who are well read on this subject and no significant serious research exists that proves the origins of this disorder. If it had be sure it would be front page news as would that elusive gay gene.

joannaS said...

the distress comes from the challenge of coming to terms with a condition you did not ask for and given that we are heterosexual and not homosexual the distress is rather obvious. You are gping against your natural biology as a male. Until you come to terms with a solution for your disphoria there will certainly be distress.

joannaS said...

"
You made an assumption that I was referring to the usual gate keeping functions provided for under the standards of care. I do not refer to that type of testing. I mean genetic, testing, blood work etc. that is available."

Unfortunately genetic or blood testing of this sort proves nothing since there is no DNA evidence proving the origins of GID to date. So we are back at square one which is the insistence on the part of the patient that he or she wants to be the other gender for a reason yet unexplained.

joannaS said...

many transsexuals experience crossdreaming or eroticism as per the studies of Anne Lawrence performed in 1996. She showed that a significant portion of post op women had experienced pre op fantasies relating to feminisation so it is not an isolated incident that this happens. You cannot completely isolate sex from gender and an aspect of desiring to be a sex you were not born as often includes this phenomena. many transsexuals either deny or downplay it for fear they will not be considered legitimate. You will find the research on Anne's website

Kathryn Dumke said...

Ann Lawrence is not a good source for anything. You don't honestly propose what she or Blanchard is doing is science? Have you read Blanchards original paper on autogynephilia and analyzed his writing. This is kind of shocking to be honest.

Jack Molay said...

@Kathryn

Anne Lawrence and Blanchard are not doing science. That's for sure. But they are not the only researchers who have documented crossdreaming in a majority of transsexual women.

I follow Julia Serano in this: How is a woman living in a man's body not going to find the idea of having sex as a woman arousing? No wonder the very idea of having a woman's body turns them on!

Blanchard and Lawrence have made desperate attempts at proving that only gynephilic trans women crossdream, including fixing the numbers, but so far they have failed miserably.

Moser have found crossdreaming in XX women, and I have found crossdreaming in my study of XX women's sexual fantasies. Crossdreaming cannot be used to identify a "real" female sex identity.

Kathryn said: "On the issue of women with penises claiming to be lesbian let me be blunt. Lesbian women are being told that they have to accept lesbian transwomen with a penis as potential lovers."

I would very much like to see who have said such a thing. No one can force anyone to accept anyone as potential lovers in modern Western societies.

I know of several relationships between MTF trans women and lesbians, but none of these have been forced into transgender arms.

I suspect this bit of information comes from yet another radfem disinformation campaign. You can all read about it here.

And yes, I strongly recommend the books of Ramachandran. He might not have proven the existence of a "trans body image", but he has certainly brought me closer to an understanding of the neurophysiological part of our sex identities.

It should be noted, though, that he is no reductionist, and warns readers against reducing complex traits into simple gene sequences. It is his description of the complex interaction between genetic, epigenetic, hormonal, psychological and cultural factors that makes me doubt that we will ever be able to completely pin down the home of the sex identity.

That does not stop me from agreeing with your understanding of a biological basis for such identities.

However, this basis is no simple on/off switch, not according to Ramachandran. His team has even written of the fascinating "bigendered", where the sex identity may switch over night.

Among transgender we find all shades of gray (or rather all colors of the rainbow). Others change their own understanding of themselves as they discover more of their subconscious self, and find that they are living the life of a stranger.

It is very hard to reduce this complexity to a simple two field model.

joannaS said...

Kathryn I completely disagree with Blanchard's and Lawrence's conclusions on their findings but not on the findings themselves. The documented fact that the eroticism happens is one thing but calling this a paraphilia is another. Although all types of transsexuals experience this (Blanchard names them homosexual and non homosexual) he concludes the non homosexual is essentially a pervert and the homosexual a gay male who transitions to attract other male partners.

I am very familiar with his writings but completely disagree with his conclusions. He also disregards FtM transsexuals which further erodes his pseudo science

joannaS said...

Jack if you read Anne Lawrence carefully she doe the opposite of what you are saying. She actually tries to show that so called classic transsexuals very much DO crossdream. In her study which she documented in her article called "Men Trapped in Men's bodies" she documents this clearly. The problem is that essentially agrees with Blanchard's conclusions about paraphilia for the gynephilic transsexuals which makes no sense. It actually goes against her own findings.

I have been in contact with other transsexual women who fit the classic mold of early transition and attracted to men who essentially admit to experiencing this eroticims prior to transition.

Lindsay said...

@Kathryn

"I disagree that the evidence and scientific data is circumstantial at best."

I think that circumstantial is the right term. I'll agree that there is promising research. But any data is preliminary and calls for addition research. There are no firm conclusions to be made yet. I understand that you're a lawyer and that it's your job to try to convince people of things based on incomplete and maybe even conflicting data. I'm a scientist by training and I need to see enough data to prove the hypothesis. There is way to much extrapolation going on.

"My point about the differentiation is is that the TG crowd tends to proclaim they are women because they say so."

I don't think most TG's proclaim themselves as the opposite sex. It seems like the majority of them are happy with their current sex. They just want the right to live in the manner that they are most comfortable. Maybe there are some that call themselves transsexual that you think aren't? Who makes the call on who is or isn't? Probably therapists. Maybe post-ops should vote on it (just to be safe, I'm being sarcastic), that would be very democratic.

"On the issue of women with penises claiming to be lesbian let me be blunt. Lesbian women are being told that they have to accept lesbian transwomen with a penis as potential lovers. What is wrong with this pictureÉ If you cannot see this I am sorry but then I cannot help you on this question. "

No one can force any one into this. It's simple freedom of choice. Maybe lesbians are afraid of picking up someone at a bar and being surprised when they get home. In this case people need to be more forthcoming up front.

"I never crossdreamed or crossdressed."

I find this extremely hard to believe, but I guess there are some pretty chaste people out there. So before you transitioned you never wonder what it would be like and were never aroused by it?

"Have you ever asked yourself the question why gender dysphoria is called `gender`dysphoria."

Because it's the accepted medical term for the depression felt by people whose gender and sex are misaligned. Like transsexuals. So you have a hang up for any term that includes the word gender? They could just as easily called it sex dysphoria but they didn't.

"You should also describe to me why you feel distress over you condition. What makes you distressedÉ"

I think your definitions pretty much nailed it: "What transsexuals suffer from is a situational depression caused by the in-congruence." and " transsexuals have always reported that in-congruent brain and body sex is at the heart of the distress felt".

Kathryn Dumke said...

Jack, this is not about forcing anyone but about demanding acceptance as lesbians and lovers of trans-women in a general sense.

Joanna, the trouble with your analysis and statement about classic that is young transitioning persons is that you see them as men and women as the case may be according to their biological reproductive configuration albeit defective. A heterosexual woman during puberty and beyond will of course dream about having sex with a man. Until she has and the dream becomes a reality. Even if the woman was born with a birth defect of any kind.
To characterize such things through a tortured model of so called homosexual transsexualism or even autogynephilia is close to bizarre. Blanchard and through him Lawrence conducted their research not to research but to occasion a result which was pre-determined. If you read the 1989 paper by Blanchard on which this whole house of cards is built, you will find that it begins with a questionnaire designed to obtain a particular result. Answers that did not accord with the idea that this was philia because of the fetishistic elements ascribed to it by Blanchard in his design of the questionnaire were discounted as lies. No wonder that the resulting conclusions turned out to be what Blanchard’s most beloved idea was.
Suffice it to say that Lawrence personal behavior which is documented and which she engaged in under the guise of research curiosity begs the question what issues she has not the least of which is narcissism that expresses itself in self-descriptions in every bit of research she conducts.
Lindsay, if you follow the research from early days on, it is interesting to note that every bit of research confirms (and I am excluding the pseudoscientists such as the Bailey, Blanchard, Money Lawrence etc crowd) that there is an underlying biological factor. While initially speculative, the design of real research begins to reveal a theme that is threading it’s way through the literature.

Kathryn Dumke said...


When you say that “ they just want the right to live in the manner that they are most comfortable…” you put your finger exactly on the point I was making earlier. If you accept this as a premise then the issue is social, the wish that society provides tolerance to behavior that currently society still regards as at least somewhat off. So the deviation from societal expectations is the creation of a false pathology (in this case transsexualism) to justify living the life in the manner they want. The result is that transgender persons as you describe them borrow the transsexual narrative (or at least what they believe the transsexual narrative is) to obtain through counseling (that is the wishy washy counseling I referred to above) a “diagnosis” that provides them with permission to engage in their wants. They suffer terribly under the social and societal expectations and rejection and I have never said anything else. I fully understand their suffering and distress. But this is not a medical condition. And by obfuscating the line between the medical condition of transsexualism and their gender variance to obtain “medical” justification to claim rights, they hurt the medical health needs of transsexuals who are then seen as having similar needs and not what they really need, hormones, surgery and normal life after that.
I think my answer to Joanne provides some explanation on the crossdreaming issue from a transsexual perspective. I am affected by an attractive man the same way the next woman is, always have, always will be. Thinking of and taking a man into your bed as a woman is not crossdreaming. On crossdressing, the day before I transitioned I threw out all my male clothing, every last bit if it and that was that. In the 6 months prior to that day I had accumulated a professional and personal wardrobe.
Gender dysphoria is a term created by the psychiatric/psychological industrial complex (and I use this term advisedly) to create a new market for a new product. In plain language it’s depression over your gender. I was never depressed about my gender so I was never depressed or dysphoric about my gender. My gender also never changed after I became fully aware I was a gendered being at age 9.
Sadly you just echoed my description. I had hoped you would come up with something of your own. It is obvious to me from your comments to mine that you are searching still. Or are you fully transitioned including surgery?

Jack Molay said...

@Kathryn

"Jack, this is not about forcing anyone but about demanding acceptance as lesbians and lovers of trans-women in a general sense."

All right, but then you will have to make the same rule for androphilic trans women. In other words: You cannot demand acceptance of trans women as heterosexual women and lovers of men in the general sense. I think that is sad.

"Thinking of and taking a man into your bed as a woman is not crossdreaming."

But thinking of and taking a woman into your bed is?

It seems to me that you are mixing sexual orientation with sex identity.

You cannot possibly mean that being gynephilic disqualifies from womanhood? You would have to exclude all XX lesbians as women if that was the case.

It does indeed look like a majority of trans women are gynephilic, as you yourself pointed our some comments ago.

There is a an obvious reason for this: Sex identity is not the same as sexual orientation.

For that very reason you cannot expect the same co-variation between sexual orientation and sex identity in trans women as you see in XX women. After all, the trans women were born in a male body, and male bodies are more likely to be gynephilic.

Even if we do find a genetic structure or a brain area that determines sex identity, it is absolutely clear that it is not the same one as one for sexual orientation. The existence of lesbian women and gay men proves this.

In other words: Given your own logic, the majority of trans women -- as real women -- should be expected to be lesbian. And I am talking about a "medical condition" to use your terminology.

I believe they deserve the same respect as androphilic ones.



Jack Molay said...

Let me add one more point which is too often ignored in this debate.

Growing up as a gynephilic trans woman in a male body is very different from growing up as an androphilic one.

Your sexual instincts tell you to approach women, but most women prefer men. The ones that do prefer women are not interested in your male body.

Androphilic trans women can use the gay community to explore their sexuality. There is no parallel community for gynephilic trans women.

Gynephilic trans women are therefore most often forced to adapt to the life of a man if they are experience love and have a sex life. And they start adapting, at an early age, as kids.

The reason gynephlic trans women have been more likely to transition later than androphilic one is found in this conditioning: They have desperately tried to suppress their inner woman, hoping that somehow this would make a real love life with a woman possible.

Much of the behavior you find offensive, Kathryn, can be explained by their life history. This is not because they lack a real female sex identity, as you seem to imply.

Kathryn Dumke said...

Jack, in your response you said this:

"All right, but then you will have to make the same rule for androphilic trans women. In other words: You cannot demand acceptance of trans women as heterosexual women and lovers of men in the general sense. I think that is sad.

"Thinking of and taking a man into your bed as a woman is not crossdreaming."

But thinking of and taking a woman into your bed is?

It seems to me that you are mixing sexual orientation with sex identity."

That is not at all what I am saying in regards to this. You would surely agree with me that sex is at least to some extent a physical activity. Sexual orientation dictates which sex you are attracted to, not only emotionally, spiritually but physically as well. I don't think the difficulty arising when the woman you are bedding down with has a penis should be so hard to understand.

It is not that gynephilic transsexuals are disqualified from womanhood, because there are without question women with a transsexual history whose sexual orientation is same sex attracted. The problem is what genitals do you have. It is after all a same "sex" attraction. This is something you cannot ignore.

If you transition without a sex change, no matter what your motivation (true health issues preventing surgery are the least of my concerns here) then you may open certain doors for yourself but being a lesbian is not one of them. I you want to keep your penis and love women how can you?

I understand your crie de coeur about gynephilic trans women. But don't simply assume that transsexuals with a heterosexual attraction to men can explore their sexuality in the gay community. We are attracted to heterosexual men, not men that are attracted to men.


joanna Santos said...

these discussions always go in circles because of the refusal of both sides to understand each other. Disphoric people understand that they are NOT women but they are disphoric nonetheless and are looking for ways to live in a way that reduces that anxiety and incongruence. Kathyrin I suggest you read "The Transsexual Phenomenon" and learn about Benjamin's types. Its not all black and white and there are grades. We've known about this for decades and decades...

Jack Molay said...

" You would surely agree with me that sex is at least to some extent a physical activity... I don't think the difficulty arising when the woman you are bedding down with has a penis should be so hard to understand."

I am sure this will be a problem for some, and it is probably wise for any lesbian trans woman to explain her past if she wants to build a relationship with an XX lesbian.

(In the same way androphilic trans women can get into trouble if they hide their past from their male lovers.)

But for others it will not be a problem. Human sexuality is actually quite flexible, and recent research tells me that is even more so in the case of women.

Lesbians have been know to watch gay male porn due to a fascination for the visibility of the penis. (See this blog post for a discussion). They also make active use of strap-ons and dildos, so I am sure some of them can live with one made of flesh.

Straight men have also been know to accept transsexual women with a penis. For them it is often the overall femininity of the person that turns them on, not the individual body parts. I am sure this also will apply to many lesbians.

I can see that transgender lesbians with no body modifications at all will have little chance at attracting lesbian women (even if some bisexual women might like them), but this is their problem, not the problem of grown-up XX lesbians, who know how to say no.

This is definitely not a distinction that can be used to distinguish between "real" and "false" female sex identities.

Jack Molay said...



"But don't simply assume that transsexuals with a heterosexual attraction to men can explore their sexuality in the gay community. We are attracted to heterosexual men, not men that are attracted to men. "

If you tell me that you have never been attracted to a gay man, I will take your word for it. I have come to respect the diversity of the world of trans*, in the same way I have come to accept and love the diversity of humanity.

(But how do you know that you have never been attracted to a gay man?)

Still, I admit I find this a little bit hard to grasp (and not only because I find both gay and straight women amazingly attractive).

The first reason is that you have already underlined the importance of compatible physiology. Gay men are men in all respects.

I might understand that an androphilic trans woman would not fall for any of the effeminate gay men the girlfags love so much, but most gay men are just as masculine as the regular straight man.

A gay man will not affirm the femininity of a trans woman, and that kind of affirmation is extremely important -- I see that. But she will at least have the chance to explore her sexuality, although in an imperfect way.

Indeed, this is exactly what many androphilic trans women do. And I know this because I have a lot of friends in the gay community.

They do start the exploration of their sexuality in gay venues. You do not have to buy the sexist crap of Bailey ("all homosexual transsexuals are gay men well suited to prostitution") to appreciate this.

Some of them try out the role as the effeminate gay boy and find it lacking. Others explore their feminine side through drag. Most drag queens do indeed identify as males, but some find that they are women, and transition accordingly.

Others know the whole time that they are women, but find social and psychological support among gay men, which again means that they have a place to vent.

As soon as they identify publicly as women and modify clothes and body accordingly, gay men will lose interest. But until then, they may find sex partners. That is extremely important for building self confidence and self esteem.

Until now this has been close to impossible for young gynephilic trans women.

Recently, however, I have seen an increasing number of young gynephilic MTF trans videobloggers with girl friends. Hopefully greater tolerance will make my explanation of the difference between woman loving and man loving trans women dead and void.

Kathryn Dumke said...

Joanna, while I agree with you that most often people tend to talk in circles around these issues, this is not the case here. I have found this conversation very productive even if we may disagree on some matters. It is important I think to listen what the other is saying instead of defending positions. I generally do not tend to debate, I try to converse. I have no interest in proving you wrong. I make my own judgements about things that are important to me, and I do so with great care.

I am fully aware of Benjamin's book and have studied it in great detail and not just once. I am cognizant of the typology he developed in every comment I make.

Lindsay said...

@Kathryn

I think I finally understand one of the points you've been trying to make. You could have what appears to be 2 identical people. Both have a misalignment of sex and gender. Both have what appears to be the same gender dysphoria/incongruence. The only difference is that one feels normal with their sex and the other is totally alienated by it. The one that's uncomfortable with their sex would be transsexual and the other transgendered. Did I get that right? I think up until now I just assumed that they were both the same it was just that one was in denial.

I'm not sure who has it worse. A TS with severe gender dysphoria can get relief from hormones and SRS. A TG with sever gender dysphoria can't change their gender, or at least from what we know now. I could see that in some cases a TG with severe GD could benefit from transition but you would need to be very careful. A society more accepting of trans issues could help both a lot.

I could see where if a therapist wasn't properly trained they may not be able to tell the difference and could steer someone down the wrong path, a TG down the TS path or vice versa.

Oh, by the way I tried to email you some questions but your blogger email address didn't work. I guess that makes us even. :-)

Lindsay

Kathryn Dumke said...

Lindsay,

That is exactly the point I am trying to make. In my view being transgendered is a much more difficult and almost insurmountable problem. The only way that someone can in fact overcome it requires participation of a society that traditionally has marginalized those that suffer from gender variance.

If you borrow Benjamin's typology a Type 4 is in a terrible position in the sense, that transition often exacerbates the problem because having surgery may very well be the worst of moves. If it is undertaken to gain greater social acceptance (using the medical justification rationale) then the conflict often ends up simply on the other foot and often worse. If the condition was correctly diagnosed the resulting treatment at least has a chance of alleviating some of the distress.

No matter how much a transsexual might suffer there is a clear path to becoming whole.

Lindsay said...

I'm not sure I agree with you on type 4 being in a terrible position. It seems logical to me that as either a TG or a TS gets closer to type 6 the more difficult it becomes except that there is a cure for TS's... I've always thought one way to think of Benjamin's scale is that as the number gets bigger the more out of phase sex and gender are and the more out of phase the greater the discomfort.

Lindsay

Lindsay said...

OK, I couldn't sleep most of last night thinking about this, so based on my posts yesterday here is how my current theory goes.

1. Benjamins scale applies to both TG's and TS's. I think most people think that the TG's exist in types 1-3 and the TS's in 4-6. I used to think this way but now I think this is wrong. The two are equally distributed between the 6 types (maybe the ratio of TS's to TG's isn't 1 to 1).

2. The term transgender is misused when referencing the umbrella group. It should really only be used for people who are happy with there sex but have the gender of the opposite sex to some degree. The modern definition is based on cis-gendered people not understanding what trans means. We need to try to change the term to something like "sex and gender incongruent", only shorter, maybe just trans.

3. The dysphoria/incongruence felt by TS's and TG's is the same.

4. The difference between TS's and TG's is that TG's are comfortable with their sex and TS's aren't.

5. TS's can be cured with hormones and surgery since their dislike of their sex refers to their genitals. For TG's you can't physically alter their gender so it is more of a social issue. The main way to help them is to change the social mores to be accepting of any gender expression.

5. Most TS's and TG's in types 1-3 can handle their dysphoria best through things like crossdreaming, crossdressing, fetishes, etc... More drastic measures are unnecessary.

6. I think when you get to type 4 things get trickier. Some TS's (type 4?) may be happy with a partial transition to relieve their dysphoria. Type 5 and 6 TG's may be happier with a partial transition.

7. I see two outcomes for TS's/TG's with severe gender dysphoria. For TS's it's hormones and surgery. For TG's it's hormones and society accepting them as women. Otherwise you force the TG's into something like surgery which may or may not help them. For some TG's surgery may help if it relieves their dysphoria but they need to be very careful.

8. Maybe this explains the large number of "lesbians" getting SRS. Maybe they are really just TG's displaying their normal heterosexuality. Maybe if society would accept them as female without having SRS they could have a heterosexual relationship with a woman that only appeared to be lesbian relationship.

A lot of this I think is what Kathryn is trying to say I may be just stating it differently for my own clarity. Sorry if this seems too long and disjointed, I just needed to get it out for others to critique.

Lindsay

Kathryn Dumke said...

I believe that the nature of position in which a Type 4 finds him or herself straddles the line between Type 3 and Type 5-6. Type 4 are non surgical but the intensity of their distress is significant to require some medical intervention. Benjamin describes them as vacillating across the line back and forth which suggest a lack of stability both found in Type 3 and Type 5-6 if you can call it that. For Type 5 and 6 surgery is determinative and provides the opportunity to be healed.

joannaS said...

I agree Kathryn and I fit that typology very well. My solution has been to live as a man and as a woman simulatneously. I have two parallel lives so to speak just to be able to find a kind of balance.

Kathryn Dumke said...

What I find interesting however is that some Type 4 select surgery as a solution often because it creates an illusion of being medially justified to express that part of him/her that identifies as female. The problem I have observed with this is, that it does most often not address the the underlying issue of being Type 4, that unstable location I talked about above. What you often find is that the distress continues and the sense of victimization persist. In addition, the ability to adopt to an entirely female life is curtailed because the sex other than the reproductive se remains either firmly male or at least within the male baseline. The result is non-integration on either side of the binary with all of the attendant consequences.

joannaS said...

This is why I have elected not to pursue any modifications because in my case it would not make things better. Its like having a foot in both camps and your disphoria ebbs and flows. I am very aware of this by now and understand what my limit is after much introspection.

Kathryn Dumke said...

For Type 5 and 6 there is no election. The need is so overwhelming that it must happen or literally and actually "else".

Joanna, I find what you said in your last response very courageous. It is such a truthful recognition of what I have perceived about Type 4 that I feel privileged.

bingunginter said...

I fit somewhere between category type 2-3 but regardless I still pursue transition. One problem that I found is it seems its rare to find story of people like me that I can relate to.

Abhirup said...

"As far as science is concerned I completely agree with Lindsay we are both well read professional engineers who are well read on this subject and no significant serious research exists that proves the origins of this disorder. If it had be sure it would be front page news as would that elusive gay gene."

The same goes for homosexuality as well. There is no conclusive research therein either that people are either born one kind of sexual orientation or the other. That does not seem to stop the entire western culture from blatantly categorizing people as gay or heterosexual, as if kind of dividing humans into sheep and goats on such issues. Seems like the western world preaches to be scientific but actually behaves in a very unscientific or pesudo-scientific manner. Half-baked researches are passed off as absolute scientific truths without an iota of shame.

Abhirup said...

@Kathryn Dumke

Whatever you utter here is mere wishful thinking. Transgednerism is a huge umbrella term and it is very natural that there would be some at the very extreme (the transsexuals) and the others will be of various shades and degrees. If you look at even very ancient cultures, about 8% of gender-variant people wanted to get themselves 'castrated' and today's transsexuals go well with that same trend. That does not mean the remaining 90% of the gender-variants were of a different breed or had different roots or sources of their dysphoria.
The categorizing of transgenders by means of who experiences sexual kink and who does not is pretty lame and myopic too. Sexual desire is an inherent natural attribute of humans and some people (both cis and trans) may be highly sexual and some hypo sexual. That alone can never be used as a kind of criteria to deny someone a transgender status. As Jack has mentioned, there are also many natal XX women who have the sexual fantasies typical of many "crossdreamers".

Abhirup said...

@Kathryn Dumke
"
I understand your crie de coeur about gynephilic trans women. But don't simply assume that transsexuals with a heterosexual attraction to men can explore their sexuality in the gay community. We are attracted to heterosexual men, not men that are attracted to men. "

This one is really interesting. How is it that from the surface you know a man is hetero or bi or gay or asexual? Certainly you don't mean every gay male looks more feminine than the hetero male here? So, since according to you, sex is a physical activity, what really makes you prefer a hetero male to a gay male other than just that the gay male would not just have sex with a woman in reality? Can you elaborate more on this?

Abhirup said...

It is another thing to debate whether a Type-4 should or should not undergo surgery to live full time as a woman (or man in case of FTM).
But to totally deny the very genuine dysphoria of a Type-3 or 4 as a medical condition and to label it as mere "sexual fetish",something a lot of classical transsexuals keep doing is nothing short of extreme bigotry.

LongTimeSince said...

Before I start off I just want to say the comments I express are completely my own. I don't intend to speak on behalf of anyone but myself.

I'm transsexual (Type "V" though I don't put much stock in the classification system), that is from a *relatively* early age I had a nagging feeling of discomfort, both with my lived socialization as a boy and with the physical reality of living in a masculine body.

Without going into too much detail, transition wasn't easy - either socially or monetarily. I've had anxiety problems all my life, but walking out into the world and experiencing it from a new perspective with the nagging fear that I wouldn't be accepted or ever find someone who loved me was a lot more than I had ever dealt with up to that point.

But I've come out the other side of it now much happier and more well adjusted than I did living as a self hating male. I latched on hard to the HBS/true transsexual nonsense because it provided me a way to anchor myself. It felt good to have some "coherent" worldview explaining and validating me. I also spent an unusual amount of time being cruel and hateful toward other people I perceived to be "lesser", including trans individuals who had taken different paths. This is something I see over and over with HBS nutjobs issuing threats and stalking people (huh, kinda like radfems).

In any case, I don't identify with those labels anymore. There are a lot of things I dogmatically accepted when I drank the kool-aid that I can be more critical of now. I'm honest enough that I can admit that while having XX chromosomes doesn't confer some kind of higher status to cis women, it is one not entirely trivial difference between them and me. My genetics and consequent social upbringing determined I would have a divergent early socialization.

I also accept that for me, SRS was something deeply desired but also a compromise of sorts. I wouldn't admit at the time that I thought (and still think) that the aesthetic and functional qualities of SRS are rather disappointing compared to the natal equivalent. Despite the delusional protestations of HBSers, it is not exactly the same and this is just how it has to be either until the technique improves or science gives us a way to alter people on a genetic level.

I also accept that part of my decision to have SRS was to receive a legal status that would protect me from the idiots of the world who would harm people for the crime of having cross-sexed bodies and identifications.

I personally see in a lot of young transitioners a lot of the struggles I experienced and talking with a variety of them from late teens to college aged kids I get the feeling that there is more commonality between expressions of being trans* than I previously thought. So you know, if there are some people out there who really want to push the "I'm transsexual (/strike) woman/man of transsexual history and you better remember or i'll send you death threats" line then that's fine. By all means good luck trying to convince the rest of our conservative society to see the difference.

Jack Molay said...

@LongTimeSince

Thank you for sharing this with us. We need more realistic feedback from those who have walked down your path.

A lot of gender dysphoric crossdreamers struggle with this one way decision: Should I transition or should I not? Will I be able to cope when I come out on the other side? The experience of you and others may help them make an informed decision.

I can actually understand the attraction of the HBS gospel. Gender dysphoria causes a lot of confusion, and it must be tempting to accept a gospel that makes it all simple and easy to understand.

Even better: This is also the gospel most of us were brought up with: Men are men and women are women and never shall the two meet. Some may believe that living up to that creed will make society embrace them.

But it does not, as you point out, work that way in real life.

Some do not fit the binary. Others do, but find it impossible to make their dream come true for a variety of valid reasons. And some make it all the way, but will still have to live with the fact that their life trajectory includes the life of a young "boy".

I wish we could just accept the messiness and imperfections of life and get on with it. If we were as flexible towards trans women as most of us towards non-trans women, we would avoid a lot of unnecessary suffering.

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Mitchell Gilks said...

Extremely interesting, and enlightening discussion, which actually sheds light on myself, and my own orientation which I couldn't before make sense of.

I too make the distinction between transgendered, and transsexual, but I didn't consider them to be different conditions. I thought of TG as the identity, and TS as the physical process of modification.

Thinking of them as different conditions makes more sense to me. Especially since I like transgendered men, but not cismen, or transsexual men. Which didn't make sense to me before, because I am attracted to a female body, even though I am only particularly aroused by TGs that "move right". Or masculine idiosyncrasies, but even to me it does matter what parts they have.

For me it is also all about how I'm perceived, or viewed. Recognition of who I am inside, and not about my body. I also find feminine, or idiosyncrasies emulatable, or things I want to do myself, rather than arousing. I have a feeling that comes over me in both cases, for TG men, or just woman the move the right way I find myself drawn to them, and attracted to. Which is quite noticeable, because they are rare, so I don't feel that way very often, and around anyone else. Normal, particular very feminine gestures and body language, I just want to do myself.

A did consider transitioning myself, a couple of years ago, after a nervous breakdown, all of the barriers came down, and I stopped all of the self-regulation, and began exploring transgendered dating sites. I men a TS guy on there, that I befriends, and attempted to get pointers for how I would attract one (knowing at the time that I wasn't attracted to them post-op, but refraining from mentioning), and one of the things he told me was that they didn't like their genitals, or breasts, and wouldn't want attention brought to them, or definitely wouldn't let me "fuck them", and I told him that was fine. I prefer to move slow anyway, and wanted someone to relate to, and understand, even if just a companion at the time.

Though I did meet some TG guys, and this turned out not to be true at all for a lot of them. Who didn't have any problem with their bodies, from what I could tell, and made all of the moves too.

I decided that I didn't need to transition, or even cross dress or anything to get their attention. I just thought my TS friend had different feelings about themselves, I never considered that they had a different condition.

I figured different people just handle it differently... this is a really interesting revelation, that actually explains a whole lot of things I couldn't make sense of with my own feelings, and experiences.

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