October 8, 2015

What Dr. Zhana Vrangalova Taught Me About Transphobia in Science

This is the story about how science can be used to persecute transgender people, and on how some seemingly well-intended LGBT-allies can contribute to transphobia.
Zhana Vrangalova
Photo by Enid Alvarez, New York Daily News


In this post I will give you the story about Dr. Zhana Vrangalova's support for the transphobic autogynephilia theory.

The Vrangalova story is interesting because it is such a clear an example of how scientific theories can be used to recruit even  the most well-meaning helpers to the oppression of trans people.

And yes, in this post I will prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the autogynephilia theory is transphobic.

Context

Those of you who do not know the ins and outs of this stagnant backwater of transgender research, may make note of the following:

1. The auogynephilia/AGP theory, created by Dr. Ray Blanchard of Toronto, says that there is a separate category of trans women who are motivated by a sexual paraphilia (perversion) that drives them towards transitioning.  They are, according to Blanchard, sexually attracted to the idea of themselves as a woman. The word is also used to describe male to female crossdressers and crossdreamers who do not transition.

2. Dr J. Michael Bailey is a supporter of Dr. Blanchard, and the author of The Man Who Would be Queen, a book that popularizes Blanchard's theory, dividing the world of trans women into two: "autogynephile transsexuals" (non-homosexual perverted men, according to Blanchard & Bailey) and homosexual transsexuals (extremely effeminate gay men).

3. Zhana Vrangalova is a sexologist; she has PhD in Developmental Psychology from Cornell and is currently an adjunct professor at the NYU Psychology department.


SIDEBAR This is not a blog post about the scientific value of the autogynephilia theory. This is a post about how it is used to harm MTF crossdreamers and trans women. I have elsewhere documented that  the science is bad, and that it has been thoroughly falsified by other researchers. You will find links to papers and blog posts showing this hereI have also written several blog posts on the scientific defects of the autogynephilia theory.


LGBT-support and autogynephilia do not mix

On June 13 Vrangalova tweeted a link to an interview the religious site Patheos had made with Bailey, adding the statement "There are 2 types of trans women".

I have been following Vrangalova since she often tweets interesting links to all things sexology. She has become an active spokesperson for the polyamorous amongst us. I also knew her as a supporter of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights, so her promoting Bailey in this way surprised me.

After all, the autogynephilia model is considered to be one of the most invalidating and stigmatizing theories around right now. It is routinely used by right wing religious  fundamentalists and left wing trans-exclusionary "radical" feminists to harass and invalidate trans women. It has been dismissed by transgender activists as toxic and unfounded, and has very little support among front line health professionals in the field.

The Vrangalova Dialogue

I responded in accordance with this, hoping I had been mistaken about the dear Doctor's intentions:



Click to enlarge!

Not only did she confirm that she believes the autogynephilia theory is good science. She even pulled the expert-card, rejecting trans activists because they are not scientists. The opinions of those who actually live and breathe as transgender every single day were dismissed by the doctor, simply because they have a vested interest in this conflict.

This is an argument that has been used over and over again by those who support Blanchard and Bailey, so I should not be surprised. But still, for someone who in other contexts show insight into how queer people are marginalized and invalidated by such various forms of suppression, this was more than a little disappointing.

Science is not neutral

The same tactic was once used by racist "eugenics"-researchers who dismissed the civil rights movement, because black people where not scientists and didn't understand the statistics (which at that time "proved" that black people were simple-minded, lazy and over-sexed). 

And yes, there were also those old bearded doctors who in their wisdom concluded that all feminist women were mentally ill, out of touch with their true nature, and suffering from hysteria. Given that women in general were denied higher education, nothing of what they said mattered anyway.

I am not saying that oppressed people are always right. But open-minded, progressive activists like Vrangalova might want to take a deep breath and consider the motives of scientists before playing the science card against non-scientists.

Transgender scientists

Here's the ironic part: If Vrangalova had done her home-work, she would have known that nearly all the main trans activists opposing Blanchard and Bailey have solid  academic backgrounds. 

Let me mention a few: Lynn Conway, professor; Joan Roughgarden, professor;  Deirdre McCloskey, professor; Andrea James, MA; Jaimie Veale, Post Doc; Kelley Winters, Ph.D; Talia Mae Bettcher, Professor.  And yes, I am also trained as a researcher.

Somehow the AGP-supporters have created their own myth about the uneducated trans activists, and is now using that myth to invalidate those that oppose the autogynephilia-theory.

The educational level should not matter, though. We can read, we can write, we have real life experience. That should be enough. Indeed, the great researchers in this field have always listened attentively to the ideas of transgender people. Read the research of Magnus Hirschfeld and Harry Benjamin if you do not believe me.

Is the autogynephilia theory transphobic?

The next line is even more fascinating: "Who wrongly think it [the autogynephilia theory] is transphobic."

Hm. If being being transphobic means that you have to be afraid of trans people to the point of not wanting to shake their hands or something, I guess she is right. I mean, in the same way American slave owners were not racist. After all, they were not afraid to touch their slaves.

We know that both Blanchard and Bailey have met trans women. Blanchard met some at the Clarke Institute in Toronto (now known as CAMH). The only original "research" in Bailey's book The Man Who Would be Queen is based on him meeting a couple of androphilic (man-loving) trans women while Bailey were cruising clubs.
"She was stunning... My avowedly heterosexual male research assistant told me he would gladly have had sex with her, even knowing that Kim still possessed a penis." (p. 182)
"Juanita is a very attractive postoperative transsexual who has worked as a call girl both before and since her operation... she does not feel degraded and guilty about what she does for a living. I suspect that this reflects an aspect of her psychology that has remained male... her ability to enjoy emotionally meaningless sex appears male-typical. In this sense, homosexual transsexuals [he is actually referring to heterosexual trans women] might be especially well suited to prostitution.] (p. 185)
So yes, B&B have met trans women, but it is extremely hard to conclude that their statements about these encounters are not transphobic and stereotyping. They are definitely not based on science.

From homophobia to transphobia

Indeed, Bailey effectively anchors autogynephilia in a scientific tradition that is not only transphobic, it is also homophobic and -- would you believe it! -- connected to ideas fetched from the discredited eugenics/mental hygiene tradition of psychiatry (where sterilization and/or euthanasia often were considered legitimate solutions to unwanted human diversity).

Bailey says that "Homosexuality is evolutionary maladaptive." (p. 116) And since the non-autogynephilic trans women are effeminate homosexual men in his book, I guess that also makes them maladaptive. 

Bailey suggests that aborting gay fetuses should be considered OK, if the parents would not like to have a homosexual child or out of the desire to "spare their children the difficulties of societal intolerance of homosexuality".  (p 114) He has even published a paper defending abortion on the basis of sexual orientation

He does not say anything about aborting "autogynephiles", though, but given that Blanchard thinks that autogynephilia is inborn, I guess that should be possible too, in the Brave New World of B&B.

Yes, I do know that James Cantor, B&B friend and AGP supporter is gay. I have seen the argument that  Blanchard himself is gay. But being gay has never stopped men from being homophobic, in the sense of supporting an ideology that invalidates gay people. My guess is that the main driving force here is the traditional contempt for femininity in men. What Bailey wants to avoid is the burden of being a feminine man or having a feminine son.

Is Bailey supporting homophobic attitudes? Definitely! 

Sissies throwing like girls

Blanchard argues that he only wants to help autogynehphilic trans women, but he insists on calling them men, which is not helping at all, and extremely invalidating. 

Motherboard asked him once in an interview: "Do you think that classifying transgender people as having a disorder does contribute to stigma against the trans community?"

"No. I mean how many people who make a joke about trannies consult the DSM [psychiatric manual] first?"
Toxic language aside, it is amazing that Blanchard cannot see that having health personnel calling transgender patients sexual perverts (as defined by the DSM manual) is contributing to stigma against the trans community.

In the same interview he goes on to argue that calling someone a sissy is OK:
"I mean, what are you going to do? Nobody says you throw a ball like a cross-gender identified boy."
These comments clearly show that Blanchard not only despises femininity in boys. I find it hard to believe that his contempt for trans women does not in any way influence the way he does research.

Trans people turned into specimens

Blanchard is deeply embedded in what I have called the binary, pathologizing, tradition of transgender research. For Blanchard "normal" sexuality is all about reproduction. On this basis he meticulously makes up new pesudo-greek words for sexual fantasies that do not fit his narrow view of a normal heterosexual intercourse ("gynandromorphophilia" and "teleiophilia" anyone?) That might have been acceptable in the 1890s, but in 2015? Come on!

I sense no empathy, no real wish to help and understand here, only this obsessive desire to put people into boxes. To Blanchard, "autogynephiliacs" are exotic specimens in his collection of human perversions. 

When Motherboard asked him:  "So, in your point of view, science rules. Scientific inquiry is the first priority, whatever it might mean for social justice?", Blanchard answered: "If you put it in abstract terms, it makes me sound vaguely lunatic."

No, not lunatic -- I do not think Blanchard is insane -- but he is suffering from a severe empathy deficiency and from what can be described as a severe "ethical target location error".

By the way, in the same interview, Blanchard also argues homosexuality should be considered a mental illness.


SIDEBAR: Read the amazing story about how Ray  Blanchard's definition of paraphilia  ended up making his own personal preferences and prejudices the basis for who are going to be labelled sexual perverts in America.


Bailey's love for AGP

Bailey pretends he has a heart for "the autogynephiliacs", that is true; he says so even in the interview linked to by Vrangalova. 

Imogen Binnie describes the true nature of J. Michael Bailey
in her book Nevada. Click to enlarge!
He argues that “Autogynephilia is nothing to be ashamed of,” and  that people who admit and deal with their autogynephilia are even admirable. This admiration requires, however, that the "autogynephiliac" admits that he or she is motivated by a male sexuality, and that the experience of having a female identity is an illusion. 

Bailey reminds me of the kind of right wing Christians who feign admiration for gay men who stay celibate. "We love you, brother, as long as you do not behave like a gay man!"

But hey, Blanchard and Bailey are not calling all "autogynephiliacs" mentally ill, are they? There is a difference between "paraphilia" and "paraphilic disorder", they say, and only those suffering from a "paraphilic disorder" are mentally ill. 
Ray Blanchard has reduced the complexity of 
sex and gender to one single dimension:
homosexual vs. non-homosexual.
According to the AGP-supporters
anyone who deputes this
simplistic approach is either deluded 
or lying.
Photo from twitter.

I am not so sure the trans-haters out there will appreciate and respect the difference. That doesn't matter, however, because all who are impaired or distressed by their gender dysphoria are disordered according to this schema, Caitlyn Jenner and me included.

In other words: Only those who threaten the traditional binary gender system and the traditional white, Western, middle class ideals of normal sex are mentally ill. The rest are still paraphilic, mind you, but not mentally ill.  

Thank Blanchard for small favors!

Allowing surgery

Some have told me that Blanchard and Bailey are friends of trans women, because they will allow "autogynephiles" to get hormone therapy and bottom surgery. 

This seems to be Vrangalova's point as well:

Click on image to read

I can't possibly be the only one to find this utterly bizarre. 

If Blanchard and Bailey were right in that bisexual and woman-loving trans women are mentally ill (which they are not), it would be unethical and dangerous for the health system to give in to such "delusions". Not only because the patient would be living a lie, but because the same health system would make their new lives living hell by telling the whole world that they are sexually perverted men. 

Does Bailey really think it will help Caitlyn Jenner that he denies her sense of self and reduces her female identity to a man's "erotic target location error"? Does Bailey really think we will be able to reduce the insane number of trans women being murdered each year, by arming the sexist bastards out there with these cultural A-bombs?

And isn't it interesting that neither Blanchard nor Bailey have spent any time on finding ways of helping crossdreamers and trans women?  Nope, instead they have wasted gallons of digital ink on explaining why all trans women are sexual deviants. 

"Autogynephilia is a fact"

I have lost count of how many times I have heard that autogynephilia is a fact, because many MTF trans people get aroused imagining themselves as their target sex. 

This is not the issue. Most transgender activist recognize the existence of such fantasies. Trans researcher Jaimie Veale calls this "cross-gender arousal". Julia Serano has suggested the terms "female/feminine embodiment fantasies" or "male/masculine embodiment fantasies". This blog is devoted to what I have called "crossdreaming", which means the same thing.

Calling MTF trans people autogynephilic, however, is both unethical and transphobic because the word autogynephilia refers not only to the phenomenon of crossdreaming, it refers to the explanation given by Blanchard and Bailey. The word itself means "love of oneself as a woman", which is based to the mistaken idea that this is a "erotic target location error", and therefore a paraphilia and a mental illness.

No doubt Vrangalova, with her PhD in sexology, knows this. 

The autogynephilia theory reflects extreme transphobia

Oxford Dictionary defines transphobia "Intense dislike of or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people". Macmillan simply refers to it as "prejudice towards or unfair treatment of transgender people". The autogynephilia theory is all about contempt, prejudice and unfair treatment of trans people.

The title and the cover
of Bailey's book does not hide
the author's contempt
for transgender women.
It is also absolutely clear that it leads to internalized transphobia, defined by WPATH as "Discomfort with one’s own transgender feelings or identity as a result of internalizing society’s normative gender expectations."

Having your sense of self reduced to a sexual perversion can be devastating. I have lost count of the number of crossdreamers and trans women who have told me they have been close to suicide because of this diagnosis.

How many who have actually killed themselves because of this, I do not know. Given the anonymous nature of many such interactions, I have no way of knowing what caused so many of my online crossdreamer acquaintances to fall off the grid.

The Bailey - Vrangalova connection
Vrangalova has not written anything about autogynephilia, to my knowledge. So why this need to defend the transphobia of Bailey and Blanchard? 

One contact in the transgender community pointed me in the direction of Gerulf Rieger, a student of Bailey's. Rieger gained some fame years ago, denying the existence of real bisexuals.  Vrangalova and Rieger have published together, so my guess is that she has gotten the Blanchard/Bailey narrative from him.

I hope so, because that gives her a chance to retract her statement, telling the world that she has been mislead. This would also be embarrassing for her, but less so than being known as a Blanchard-supporter in the LGBT-community.

To paraphrase J. Michael Bailey:

"There is no way to say this as sensitively as I would prefer, so I will just go ahead:"

There is no doubt that both Blanchard and Bailey present sexist and transphobic attitudes. The autogynephilia theory is clearly transphobic. Anyone who supports this theory contributes to the continuing persecution and harassment of transgender people. Anyone who does so is therefore not a friend of the LGBT community.

Selected reading:

Ask a sex researcher (Dr. Zhana Vrangalova on Slutever)
Kelley Winters: Gender Madness in American Psychiatry
Lynn Conway: "CAMH battles notorious reputation of Zucker’s and Blanchard’s gender clinics with scathing report"  (Blanchard's transphobic treatment of transgender patients at the CAMH clinic cost him his job. This report explains why. Original report available as PDF here.)

APPENDIX: RESEARCH  AND HEALTH CARE ETHICS

There can be no doubt that the autogynephilia theory and Blanchard and Bailey's research are in violation of fundamental ethical principles  of both science and patient care.

69 comments:

  1. Jack how stupid do these supporters get? do they no understand that its not about the sexual arousal but that its about the fact that their transition is driven exclusively by a paraphilia?? I want to see what science they are talking about show it to me. A diagnosis based on a psychological interview is not science and never will be. I wonder sometimes about the naiveté of some of these people that they fall prey to such awful work. It astounds me no end!

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  2. The fact that people like Blanchard, Bailey and Cantor exist, does not surprise me. We have seen a lot of cocky, arrogant, academics who are so full of themselves that they are unable to see that they are channeling their own bigotry through the language of science. In other words: The see the "facts" they want to see, because these "facts" confirm their own bias.

    What really surprises me, though, is that people like Alice Dreger and Zhana Vrangalova support them. These researchers know a lot about marginalization of minorities, sexual prejudice in science and the way society suppress sex and gender variance.

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  3. First off...deep breath, let it out...sigh.

    I think the crux of the problem when it comes to B&B and the supporters of AGP theory is, for starters, a giant case of confirmation bias. They want it to be a certain way, and they (to quote the fictional Mark Watney) science the shit out of it to get the results to their liking.

    But what that really comes down to is their (false) notions of normality. They are obviously so obsessed with what they would consider normal sexual/gender behavior that they force any thing that threatens their definition of normality out of the box in to a separate category they've let fester as "perversion." This is morally irresponsible on pretty much every level you can list. This is the same mentality, as you more eloquently pointed out, that has led to the systematic and devastating oppression of...well, just about every oppressed sub-system of human beings we've ever had on this planet. Justified slavery, subjugation of women, the freakin Holocaust.

    The problem boils down to scientists, the very last people who should ever form this kind of mentality, jumping up on a table in reaction to something and screaming "EW! DIFFERENT! KILL IT!"

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  4. "The problem boils down to scientists, the very last people who should ever form this kind of mentality, jumping up on a table in reaction to something and screaming "EW! DIFFERENT! KILL IT!"

    If it only it were so Sandi but we are not dealing with actual science we are dealing with psychology (ie information gained from an interview process). It is beyond absurd to even consider this even close to the realm of science. Which leads me to question just how bright these crazies are. I know they are highly motivated by prejudice and arrogance.

    Science?? not even remotely close.

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  5. Well, no science is an exact science. I don't want to throw the baby out with the bathwater in a sense, so let me rephrase:

    People who claim to be scientists have no right to call themselves such if they practice a scientific theory that equates to jumping up on a table in reaction to something and screaming "EW! DIFFERENT! KILL IT!"

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  6. I don't think they are mistaken, or misguided or unintentionally insensitive at all.

    I think they know exactly what they are doing, which is to create a hostile social/political/legal environment for trans people, with the aim of dissuading them from expressing it publicly and especially to stop people transitioning.

    These are intelligent, well read, well connected people...none of what they do is accidental.

    As far as they are concerned this is a social/political ideology, where a covering (or figleaf) of science is used to achieve a desired aim, to prevent trans people.
    The journal they are all so closely associated (Archives of Sexual Behavior) said in its very first edition that their aim was the 'prevention of transsexuality', something they have never deviated from.

    All of them sign up to the ideology (even James Cantor a self confessed gay male) of 'anything not procreative related sex is bad', with firm and clear roles for males and females. From their point of view being transgender, most especially trans woman, is the ultimate transgression from their sex/gender ideology.

    Everything they have done, said (and not said) has been to towards this ideological aim. The list is endless:
    The terminology they use is quite deliberately stigmatising, 'homosexual' rather than 'androphile'. 'Sexual paraphilia'...and all the rest. Their firm refusal to change it is very telling.
    Ignoring contradictory data or research (of course).
    Supporting anti-trans people, blogs and sites.
    Allowing the use (and misuse) of their articles, comments, papers being used by trans hate groups. I find it so amusing that they jump up and down when they are contradicted by a trans activist, but they never say anything about (eg) NARTH quoting them.
    Remote diagnosing of trans people...publicly labelling them as sexual paraphiliacs.
    Labelling ALL trans activists as sexual paraphiliacs....and saying they should not be involved with trans children 'because they are not the same'.
    Labelling trans people as liars and as deceptive (those childhood feelings you had are all a lie).
    Creating doubt and fear about trans people with the use of terms like 'paraphiliac clustering'...and nearly always mentioning paedophilia in their articles, comments, etc about trans people. Basically not so subtly linking us to them.
    Carefully alluding to possible 'cures' for adults being trans.
    Being very open about being pro reparative therapy to cure/prevent children becoming trans.
    Concern trolling (Dreger is the expert at this), "yes trans people are sort of ok...but the lifelong medical issues".....and so on.
    Quietly supporting misogynist positions, where it is the fault of 'week fathers and neurotic/domineering/clingy/etc mothers for creating trans children'
    And all the rest.

    McHugh is quite clear on his position and carries the Blanchard ideology to its logical conclusion...no HRT or surgery or social/legal acceptance since we are all mentally ill. Oh yes he admits there is no 'cure' right now, but says one should be developed. But the difference between McHugh and Blanchard/Bailey/Raymomd/Dreger/Cantor/etc is only one of degree, not type.

    None of these people are stupid they know exactly what they are doing, only constrained by the 'niceties' they have to follow (to a point) by their employment.

    So basically they have waged a (if you include Green and the other earlier ones in all this) a 40+ year campaign to eliminate us. To have us socially (and hence legally) stigmatised. Denied medical treatment and all the rest.
    They will use any ideological trick they can get away with, any 'misrepresentation of the truth', scaremongering and all the rest. Such as James Cantor (CAMH) saying 'Autogynephilia deniers are the new anti-vaxxers'...then quoting all sorts of stuff from a trans hate site. Or Bailey in his recent Patheos interview. Blanchard retweeting another trans hate site links and articles...

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  7. What is going on with my kid matches what Blanchard and Bailey have described. When I sought out the advice and support of a gender therapist in my area, she was already mentioning blockers after a few minutes into the conversation. She also twisted my kid's story. She explained to me that he has been suffering with this for a long time and wants to be a girl. He is 13, so long time doesn't really match here either way. He denies having thoughts about this until fairly recently. He also said he does not wish to be a girl. If he could have his way exactly, he'd like breasts and a vagina without hormones (he thinks those are dangerous) and without socially transitioning because that's not what it is about for him. I told him he'd be required to "live as a woman" for a period of time. He didn't know what that meant. Neither do I really. He just wants to be himself, but admits to being aroused at the thought of having female body parts. Is this a pleasant thing for a mother to hear? Definitely not. However, it felt worse to have someone twist his words and try to bully me into forcing him into therapy and blockers (and being put on a path to SRS). I told him his current options and he was not interested. The therapist told me I should force him. If anyone has been closed minded and unsupportive, it was the gender "expert" that I saw.

    I hope my kid never gets SRS. I won't lie, I find that idea pretty disturbing. I'll support him either way, but I do think it is important that he understands what this is about. To me, if he goes into a treatment like that thinking it will make the confusing thoughts go away, he might end up disappointed in the end. Because let's be honest here. We can do some pretty amazing things in the cosmetic surgery department, but I cannot really fathom how this will totally alleviate the unusual and confusing feelings. I'm sure this works out fine for some people, but what if it doesn't work fine for him? Again, I want him to know the ramifications of doing this. Most of these treatments are experimental in the sense we don't know how much they help. Many of these people never follow up afterwards, and honestly after all of that who could stand being honest if it didn't work out? Not to mention anyone who speaks up about their disappointed is immediately dismissed. We talk about letting people be their "authentic selves", but we tell these people they can't admit the treatment didn't work for them?

    I feel like the current fast tracking of children into SRS is more phobic than the theories of Blanchard and Bailey. I am pretty certain that Bailey is not only in favor of allowing these treatments, but on each person's own terms. And that is more than I can say for a lot of the professionals I have encountered who deal with this. My son would not have the option to transition on his own terms because maybe his reasoning is too unpalatable. Of course he could always lie to get what he wants. If we are all about letting people be themselves, why would what he wants to do be a problem?

    Bailey has been a big support to me. He listened to what I had to say. He did not twist my words. He never put down my son for what he is experiencing. I keep reading all these incredibly negative things about him, but they just have not matched up with my experiences. And this trend of fast tracking children to undergo these treatments worries me. We don't even let kids make up their own minds about getting their ears pierced, but yet we allow them to call the shots that could result in an outcome far more damaging than pierced ears.

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  8. Let's separate some issues here. I am one of those dysphoric kids who never transitioned so you shouldn't think that your child need be on an inevitable path towards SRS. Listen to and support your child without judgement and follow his progress. There is a possibility that its a phase and he will outgrow it therefore the common sense path is not to rush into puberty blockers. Again strong moral support is key and keeping communication open because too many transgender kids attempt suicide when they feel trapped.

    I have never met Bailey or Blanchard in person but the criricism here is not personal. It's more about critiquing biased and lazy research that tries to pass itself off as science. You don't need to agree or disagree with Bailey in order to help and support your child. This site mostly focuses on analysing the causes of the transgender condition but there are people here who can support you in your efforts.

    I hope all goes well for your child and if ultimately SRS is in the picture at least you will know you have explored all avenues with an open heart and clear communication. Although please know that transgender people need not necessarily transition to lead fruitful lives. Let your child be themselves.

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  9. I understand that you are worried for you child. Society can be quite unforgiving when it comes to gender variance, and gender variant children are all having a tough time. They need your love and support.

    (I will stick to a gender neutral pronoun here, given that I do not really know your child's gender identity).

    It is pretty clear from what you are writing that your child is crossdreaming (i.e. having erotic fantasies of being their target sex). "Crossdreamers" are a diverse group of people. Some are gender dysphoric, in the sense of suffering tremendously from a misalignment between mind and body. I belong to that category.

    Others come to identify with the sex assigned to them at birth, and find ways of integrating their fantasies into their lives of presenting as non-transgender men and women. They are all transgender, in the sense of being gender variant, but only the first group can be said to be transsexual, and in general only members of the first group transition.

    Neither you nor I can, at this point, know whether your child is transsexual or not. Ultimately they must decide for themselves, but if I understand you correctly, your child does not know either -- yet. That is only natural. So you must give your kid time to find out.

    There are at least two possible outcomes here:

    1. If your child is gender dysphoric, they will never be able to live a truly happy life as their assigned gender. They will need all the support they can get, as well as your respect. If this is the case telling them the Blanchard/Bailey narrative (i.e. your child is a sexually perverted male) will be cruel and destructive. They will never come to trust you again. And if you insist on invalidating their identity, they will not end up being "disappointed", as you indicate -- they may end up dead. The suicide rates among transgender people are extremely high, partly because people like Blanchard and Bailey treat them as perverts.

    2. If your child is not gender dysphoric, they may be able find a way of integrating their crossdreaming in the life of a man, without much harm. But if you tell him (in this scenario) that you belive in the "autogynephilia" narrative of Blanchard and Bailey, that is not going to happen. He will have to live with the shame of being seen as a sexual pervert, and the pain of having you think of him as such.

    The thinking of Blanchard and Bailey is poison for transgender children, and if you read my post more carefully, and explore this site more extensively, you will understand why.

    cont...

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  10. cont...

    You have to ask yourself whether you are going for Bailey's advice for the simple reason that you are afraid of your kid being truly transsexual, and you dismiss the gender therapist because she believes your child might be a girl at heart. This is not about your needs, but about the needs of your child.

    You are repeating a lot of the arguments used by AGP-supporters, trans-exclusionary radical feminists, and transphobic conservative fundamentalists , including the idea that transitioning may lead to more suffering than not doing so. Most researcher in the field agree that in the great majority of cases, gender dysphoric trans women and trans men are much happier after transitioning than before. Their dysphoria disappears or is much alleviated. The regret rates are around 1 to 4 percent.

    Moreover, I do not know of many serious gender therapists who will recommend irreversible surgery or hormone therapy before the age of 18. What they do recommend is for them to be able to present as their preferred gender. Furthermore some, but not all, will -- if the gender dysphoria is clear and persistent over a long period of time -- suggest that the child take hormone blockers, to stop the body from becoming too masculine (or too feminine, as might be) before he or she has the chance to make up their mind as an adult.

    In other words: If it turns out that this is not about gender dysphoria, but only about expressing non-normative gender expressions or fantasies, the person can go back to presenting and living as their assigned sex. Many do.

    The idea that all pro-trans therapists are out to "fast-track" children into transitioning is a myth created by those who disrespect and fear transgender people. I am sure you might find examples of everything, but in my experience most gender therapist are very careful not to rush anyone into such a dramatic, life-changing, decisions, regardless of the age of their patients. But they do treat their transgender people with respect, love and patience -- unlike Blanchard and Bailey, who invalidate all we stand for.

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  11. @Lisa

    "I don't think they are mistaken, or misguided or unintentionally insensitive at all. "

    I am afraid that you are right. They know perfectly well what they are doing.

    I am reading up on the history of transphobic science right now, and it is interesting to see how Blanchard and Bailey repeat the exact same ideas and theories as the bearded 19th century patriarchs of sex research, and for the same purpose: to stop male assigned people --regardless of sexual orientation -- from expressing or feeling any kind femininity.

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  12. I am afraid that my kid would be led down the wrong path by a pushy gender specialist. Yes, that part is true. As I said in my previous post someone was pushing to do just that without even talking to my kid. Whatever the deal, I do not think people should be pushing children into any sort of direction before they are mature enough to make these sorts of decisions. And that IS what is happening. I can't speak out about this because I want to protect my kid's privacy, but I am very upset to see what is going on. I am not the only one with this story. This is not a myth that I have created. This happened to me. When I tell people this they tell me I'm phobic. Asking questions does not make me phobic. Sharing what actually happened to me is not phobic either. If my kid wanted these treatments, I would not be here talking about this. I have been nothing but supportive towards him. Heck, I even bought him undergarments and fake breasts so he wouldn't have to go digging in the trash for stuff like he was doing. I told him what he is doing is ok and not a big deal. If that is not supportive, then I do not know what is.

    In terms of repeating what AGP supporters are saying, that is a conclusion I came to on my own after reading about this from all angles. If anything, the gender specialist tried to convince me of what I should believe. Baily has never told me what I should believe. But really the only angle that matters most to me, is that of my kid and what he said he is feeling.

    At the end of the day, I really don't care about the terminology. If anything, I think that is what people are getting hung up on. Your site in particular feels like one of the more honest sites. You yourself have used the term autogynephilia and eventually you believed it was too much of a contentious term to continue to use. And I get that. Words can be powerful. Then again, sometimes I think we get too caught up with the terminology. It reminds me of how wording changes when referring to people with various handicaps. I think now we say special needs? Maybe it's even some other sort of wording at this point. It is difficult to keep up with. However, whatever words we use has not changed the reality behind them.

    continued on next post....

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  13. And I fully agree that no one theory describes all people. And certainly the research has a lot of limitations. It is not ethical to conduct experiments on people in this way so it is really the only research methods that can be used. Some doctors and gender specialists are in fact experimenting on children. The affects of blockers and hormones given to children has not been extensively studied. And no it is not good enough that gender specialists say these things work. The gender specialist I saw, stated in her book that most of her clients never return to her after the treatments so it is not known. At least she was honest about that part.

    So I guess what I am hearing is that my experiences with the gender therapist are very unique. That I am extremely rare. Except the person I went to is well known, has written books, and has practiced for a long time. So I'm inclined to believe that I may not be the only one with a similar experience. The biggest difference might be that I didn't walk into her office without having learned about what I might be dealing with. I also firmly stuck by my kid and what he said he wanted. She writes in her publications that kids know what they want early on in this department and it is only we adults who stand in their way of realizing who they are. Then when I told her I was listening to my kid and what he wanted (not to move forward with any sort of treatments at this time) she told me I should make a parenting decision and force him. Ok, so which is it? I guess with choices like that I'll do the wrong thing whatever it is I decide.

    I have no reason to believe my child is gender dysphoric. He does not have a single symptom on the list. In terms of expressing femininity, what exactly is that? I have never told him which clothing he must wear or which activities he must engage in. When I offered to let him dress as he wanted after finding out about this, he looked at me like I have 10 heads. He isn't interested in that. It is unfair of you to accuse me of not letting him express himself. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    I am not here to convince you to believe Bailey and Blanchard. I am not here to tell you that you are full of it. I am here telling you about my personal experiences because I want to better understand the situation. I'm also here to say that in fact some of these gender specialists are being very pushy and not listening to parents nor their children.

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  14. Vocabulary shouldn't matter, no. But when a "defined term" is used as a weapon to lump people in to a rigid box marked "perverted" by people in a position to influence faaaar too many bigots, that words gotta GO. Because said bigots will take it and run with it as absolute proof (of a concept that can't even begin to wrap their heads around, mainly because it terrifies them at a core level about their own nature) that we're just abnormal perverts instead of human beings with gender variance.

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  15. I agree, what they say is hard to digest. Saying difficult to hear things is not in and of itself hateful though. People have a hard time talking about sex at all. So having some scientists break it down in that way is very uncomfortable to a lot of people. It is not easy for me either.

    Again, I will not claim to have everyone figured out. I'm not a scientist. I'm not trans. I've never had these feelings. I am only a concerned parent trying to get people to hear me out.

    Every time I explain my situation, people try to explain it for me in a way that makes absolutely no sense to me. What do I say to my kid who wants breasts and a vagina, but has no desire to be a girl? Or no desire to live as a girl? How does that not sound a lot like what Bailey and Blanchard have published about?

    The therapist told me kids won't tell their parents things. I'm pretty sure it would be easier for my kid to tell me he thinks he might be a girl than what he actually told me. So that doesn't sound like solid reasoning to me.

    When I try to get any sort of sympathy from trans supporters they twist what I tell them. They claim I'm phobic for reasons I cannot fathom. Because I'm being absolutely honest is the only thing I can come up with. Because I dare to question them. Really, I have no clue. I even asked the therapist if other parents say the same things about what their kids are doing. She said it's totally normal, but no only older people mention those details. Ok, so what, is my kid some sort of prodigy or special snow flake? I doubt it. He's a kid with confusing thoughts.

    Bailey has never called my kid a pervert. He has been the one and only person who actually listened to what I had to say. How can I be angry with that, and how can I see that as bigoted? He doesn't owe me any special treatment or consideration. I'm just some random stranger.

    Trans people themselves are very well aware of this source of contention. They are very quick to point out they are "real". I've talked to many trans people and listened to their stories (many love to tell their stories). Again, they are quick to convince me they are real. I never doubted them. I never asked them. But, they are obviously aware of these things. Probably to a much greater extent than people who don't know anything about this.

    So instead of accepting that people have different stories, some seem to be ever so carefully twisting and turning the details to make it fit. I don't like that. And the biggest reason being that if my kid really doesn't want to be a girl, and it is all about a sexual orientation or preference, then he can make a better choice about any sort of drastic life altering procedures. I will always support him no matter what. I tell him that all the time. And I tell him he is great the way he is. And this isn't about some sort of moral or religious objection on my part. I've been an atheist most of my life. I also support adults doing whatever they want to their own bodies.

    I do appreciate you letting me get these thoughts out here. I do not have bad intentions. I just want to help my kid in the best way possible.

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  16. Help your kid and forget the science. Just understand that your son is not a paraphilic pervert. If he is truly dysphoric then there may be many elements at play that we know very little about.

    Our opinion on this horrible pseudoscience doesn't change the fact that needs to sort through his feelings with your support. I suffered in silence for over 40 years. Don't let that happen to him. No preconceived idess just one day at a time and open dialog. I can tell you are really concerned and you should be but if your child is a full blown transsexual that is a reality you may have to face. At 13 I doubt that he knows what he is but just let him sort through the feelings and things will fall into place.

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  17. If someone tells me my kid needs to be treated with drugs and surgery, the science is in fact important to me. I'm not disturbed by the behaviors. I'm disturbed by the interpretation. People telling me he wants to express his feminine side. That is something I don't understand. He is pretty middle of the road in terms of his gender expression. So am I. To see him do some complete change in that department would lead me to think something was very wrong and strange.

    He talks to me about it regularly. I'm sorry you had to be silent for so long. That is one thing that is important to me. That my kids can come to me for any reason.

    But yes, how do I get comfortable with the advice that I'm not supposed to ask about the science behind this? Otherwise, I just feel like my kid is part of some experiment. If he were dying from an incurable disease then I'd probably be ok with that fact, but there is nothing at all wrong with him so why would I want him to be experimented on?

    I don't think my reasoning is so off here.

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  18. I am afrsid that we are nowhere near understanding the origins of gender dysphoria but i can definitely tell you from personal experience that it's not about perversion. It's probably a combination of factors but it most definitely involves genetic predisposition.

    If he needs to express his feminine side let him. Obviously he is too young for any intervention on the drug or surgical side and perhaps he will never need that. Gender dysphoria is extremely confusing for the person that has it and given his age, he needs plenty of time to reflect and change as he goes. Here I am at 53 years old and still living day to day with it. It's far from easy but it can be managed.

    You seem to be asking all the right questions which is good. Also resist getting pushed along down a particular avenue. There are no hard and fast answers here no matter what anyone tells you

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  19. @Jack The AGP crowd are achieving exacty what they intend to re @unrestricteduncensoredandunleashed confusion (if genuine and not a troll).

    Zucker would be proud of this: " that if my kid really doesn't want to be a girl, and it is all about a sexual orientation or preference, then he can make a better choice ".

    Demonise gender feelings as a sexual perversion, then push the 'choice' thing...perfect. Mission accomplished.

    Same as the anti-gay crowd...'perversion'...'choice'..therefore get them to 'choose' differently (one way or another).

    The key is to analyse the 'Blanchards' (as I call the group of Blanchard, Bailey, Zucker, etc) in political terms, not academic ways. Then (and only then) what they say and do make sense.

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  20. @unrestricteduncensoredandunleashed

    The best thing you can do is read the WPATH Standards of care for children http://www.wpath.org/uploaded_files/140/files/Standards%20of%20Care,%20V7%20Full%20Book.pdf

    The therapist you are seeing should be following these and if not then you should find one that does.

    WPATH does not (backed by all the research) suport the Blanchard/Bailey/etc 'model'.
    They do not support 'reparative' therapy of any kind (backed by the research) as advocated by Zucker (et al). They do not (backed by all the research) support any 'sexuality' based model.
    They do support alternative gender non-conforming pathways.

    Some snippets, but please read the while thing.
    "Gender nonconformity refers to the extent to which a person’s gender identity, role, or expression differs from the cultural norms prescribed for people of a particular sex (Institute of Medicine, 2011). Gender dysphoria refers to discomfort or distress that is caused by a discrepancy between a person’s gender identity and that person’s sex assigned at birth (and the associated gender role and/or primary and secondary sex characteristics) "

    "Treatment is available to assist people with such distress to explore their gender identity and find a gender role that is comfortable for them (Bockting & Goldberg, 2006). Treatment is individualized: What helps one person alleviate gender dysphoria might be very different from what helps another person"

    "An important difference between gender dysphoric children and adolescents is in the proportion for whom dysphoria persists into adulthood. Gender dysphoria during childhood does not inevitably continue into adulthood"

    "In contrast, the persistence of gender dysphoria into adulthood appears to be much higher for adolescents"

    "Yet many adolescents and adults presenting with gender dysphoria do not report
    a history of childhood gender-nonconforming behaviors (Docter, 1988; Landén, Wålinder, & Lundström, 1998). Therefore, it may come as a surprise to others (parents, other family members, friends, and community members) when a youth’s gender dysphoria first becomes evident in adolescence. "

    Treatment aimed at trying to change a person’s gender identity and expression to become more congruent with sex assigned at birth has been attempted in the past without success (Gelder & Marks, 1969; Greenson, 1964), particularly in the long term (Cohen-Kettenis & Kuiper, 1984; Pauly, 1965). Such treatment is no longer considered ethical"

    "Mental health professionals should not impose a binary view of gender. They should give ample room for clients to explore different options for gender expression. Hormonal or surgical interventions are appropriate for some adolescents, but not for others."

    Social Transition in Early Childhood
    "For reasons such as these, parents may want to present this role change as an exploration of living in another gender role rather than an irreversible situation. Mental health professionals can assist parents in identifying potential inbetween solutions or compromises (e.g., only when on vacation). It is also important that parents explicitly let the child know that there is a way back. "

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  21. /Cont....

    Fully Reversible Interventions
    "In order for adolescents to receive puberty-suppressing hormones, the following minimum criteria must be met:
    1.The adolescent has demonstrated a long-lasting and intense pattern of gender nonconformity or gender dysphoria (whether suppressed or expressed);
    2.Gender dysphoria emerged or worsened with the onset of puberty;
    3.Any coexisting psychological, medical, or social problems that could interfere with treatment (e.g., that may compromise treatment adherence) have been addressed, such that the adolescent’s situation and functioning are stable enough to start treatment;
    4. The adolescent has given informed consent and, particularly when the adolescent has not reached the age of medical consent, the parents or other caretakers or guardians have consented to the treatment and are involved in supporting the adolescent throughout the treatment process. "

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  22. Best link for refutation, debunking and disproving Blanchard, including analysing Blanchard's own data that he used: http://www.genderpsychology.org/autogynephilia/ray_blanchard/index.html

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  23. //"What do I say to my kid who wants breasts and a vagina, but has no desire to be a girl? Or no desire to live as a girl? How does that not sound a lot like what Bailey and Blanchard have published about?

    The therapist told me kids won't tell their parents things. I'm pretty sure it would be easier for my kid to tell me he thinks he might be a girl than what he actually told me. So that doesn't sound like solid reasoning to me."//

    It is indeed solid reasoning. You have to keep in mind the following:

    Not all transgender children follow the pattern of Jazz Jenning, where gender identity and traditional gender expressions is in a one to one relationship. Young trans girls may be like many young non-transgender girls: On any place on the scale of masculinity and femininity, extroversion or introversion, and may perfectly well have interests and abilities that do not fit the gender dogma.

    Your child is young. They do not necessarily grasp the nuances of gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression and gender roles. If they say they do not want to be a girl, it might simply be because they have not found the language and the insight needed to solve the puzzle.

    They do not grasp that you can be a girl, without living up to the sexist gender stereotypes presented by friends, media and bigoted scientists. You can be a girl without being a Barbie. And yes, I do understand that you are not a supporter of such stereotypes, but your kid is at an age where acceptance by peers is extremely important.

    In other words: More time is needed.

    Furthermore: Even if children lack experience and concepts, they are not stupid. If you broadcast fear and skepticism towards transitioning in all channels, consciously or subconsciously, your child will get the message and do their best to accommodate your needs. Children are often amazingly good at putting the needs of the ones they love and rely on above their own.

    If you have communicated in any way that you believe in the autogynephilia narrative, they will understand that crossdreaming fantasies are -- in your view -- the lesser of two evils. By sticking to this story he might feel that he is not alone in this. You will see him, even if it is as a sexual perverts, and for some that is better than nothing.

    But let me repeat the most important, because this is something you try to avoid talking about: If you accept the Blanchard/Bailey theory, and you communicate this to your child, you may be ruining your child's life.

    Your child is not a sexual pervert. Your child is not an "autogynephiliac". Your child is not mentally ill. He or she is just one of many wonderful incarnations of the amazing diversity of human potential, and should be accepted as such, loved as such, and embraced as such.

    I have been working with MTF crossdreamers for more than seven years now, and I have learned to know many of them. The autogynephilia and fetish theories have caused most of them extreme suffering: shame, guilt, embarrassment and pain. Many of them have set their lives on hold in a desperate effort to fit in and to be accepted, only to find that their identity struggles do not go away. They get worse. And when they finally get to the point where they are able to see through the evil of these theories and come to accept themselves for who they are,they find that they have wasted 10, 20 or even 50 year of their life.

    Do not let that happen to your child.

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  24. Actually, I have changed my mind about a few things here. I don't really disagree with Bailey and Blanchard, but they really are only looking at one small aspect here. It can't possible explain everything even if it is entirely true. If I were reduced to my sexual preferences and behaviors that wouldn't describe all that much about me.

    Maybe what my kid is going through is showing up in this way because he has never had to suppress his "true self". When I told him I was afraid he'd change too much, he wondered what on earth I meant. I just couldn't imagine him turning into this super feminine person because he isn't like that at all. He's pretty much in the middle. Under different circumstances, that might have been different.

    I don't think he is a pervert. I have never thought that. Even if this is just some sort of fetish (too soon to tell really), to me it hurts nobody and it doesn't hurt him either. I never intended to say that about him.

    In terms of my lousy experience with the therapist, well that is unfortunate. She screwed up. I shouldn't, however, assume all of these gender therapists are the same. She's just a person. People make mistakes and some therapists just aren't that good or right for everyone.

    She was in fact pushing treatment too soon though. Even per the WPATH stuff, she was not following it. So, again, maybe she just isn't being ethical here.

    I'm sorry if I came across as a jerk. I'm really trying to understand this. This is hard to understand.

    My kids mean more to me than anything and I only want to do the best for them. That is the only reason I have spent so much time trying to understand. Even if that means driving a lot of people crazy (and again I apologize that anyone here had to be the brunt of that!).


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  25. The key is to find a therapist, properly qualified (and the WPATH SoC outlines what s needed) and that follows the guidelines.

    Check here for a list of practitioners: http://www.wpath.org/uploaded_files/140/custom/find_a_provider.cfm?CFID=8629&CFTOKEN=9e080091385bac3-3FE729A0-A26B-81C2-0753C4B68551B3A4

    In fact the whole WPATH site has a wealth of information available. http://www.wpath.org/

    That should be your first question when you intervew a new therapist (after reading and becoming familiar with them yourself): "do you follow the WPATH Standards of Care for Trangender children".

    Then your child, you and the therapst can then work together to find the best way for your child to be happy. And, of course, it will not be an overnight thing, it will take time, work and heartache.

    In the end it does not matter whether your child becomes happy with being cis, or gender fluid, or gender variant, or transitions. The only thing that matters is what is right for them.

    Remember, you are not alone, there are many support organisations for children and parents. The WPATH site has some links to some of them.

    Here is just one blog by another mother going through smiliar to what you are: https://gendermom.wordpress.com/

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  26. I'd ask if anyone else here has links for trans children and their parents please post them.

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  27. Lisa, I went to someone who is a WPATH therapist. She has written books and has a lot of experience. She is very very well known. If you knew where I lived, you could easily figure out who she is. In part maybe our personalities clashed. And I do not trust her after the way she treated me.

    Unfortunately, she is the only person in my area too. Which for now is not an issue. My kid is not interested in pursuing any sort of treatment at the moment and he rejected all offers to join any groups, clubs, etc. He just doesn't want to, and I see no reason to make him. And he knows he can change his mind.

    My kid is happy. I think it made him happy to know that I didn't think what he was doing is a big deal. Prior to that, yes I think he was a bit confused.

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  28. You miss the mark COMPLETELY when you say that a paraphilia is a "perversion" - hence all your outrage. But you are starting off on a false premise. Your moral approach to this issue - seen in black/white moralistic terms speaks volumes. It is the language and thinking of religion.

    The whole situation can be summed up as such:
    Autogynophilia is evolution.
    Trans activist theories are creationism.

    Whether you like it or not, autogynophilia is well documented. There is evidence for it. Hard facts.
    Trans activist theories of "hormone washes" and gendered brains are backed by NOTHING but belief.

    That is why Trans Activists make the EXACT same attacks on science that fundamentalist Christians do. Trans Activists believe SO deeply in their "faith" that anything else is absurd blasphemy to them.

    For the record, sex researchers do NOT condemn trans people - they merely want accurate understanding of what causes people to be trans. The Trans Activist community, for their part, has offered no enlightenment other than motivated reasoning and reverse-engineered theories to substantiate their pre-existing feelings. Again, that's religion and dogma.

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  29. Interesting points Anonymous.

    See this is where I get stuck. I believe what Anonymous here says (and I promise I do not know who that person is). But there is a disconnect in a way too. What I mean is let's say you have these thoughts and you want to learn about yourself and why you feel the way you do (or someone wants to learn about their family member). So you go and research this. What do you come up with? The theories describing the sexual orientations of transwomen mostly. And that makes sense because that is how it got started. Some men had some unusual feelings, and they sought sex change operations.

    But then that is it. That is pretty much all there is in the realm of scientific research. And I do get why it is problematic to reduce people to their sexual preferences. I am a lot more than my sexual preferences. What about the rest of me? Even if I spent an hour per day thinking about sex, there is still 23 hours in the day I'm doing something else.

    The only other stuff out there are what transpeople say about themselves. I don't discount what they say about themselves, but they often talk in pretty vague terms that I have a hard time understanding. For example, when people make comments such as, "It is about getting in touch with my feminine side." I don't really know what that means. And nobody has yet answered me when I have asked.

    And yes, I do agree that sometimes trans activists treat this as some sort of (pushy) religion. The therapist I went to was very insistent that I join the groups and clubs. I must. I can't be supportive otherwise. I told her I am not much of a club person. She was angry that I didn't want to join. Not everyone is the same. I think I can be supportive towards my son without joining a club.

    I'll just leave it at that. I don't want what I say to come off as attacking or mean. I have yet to talk with a sex researcher who had anything negative to say about paraphilias though. I think most people just find this stuff uncomfortable to talk about period.


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  30. @Anonymous #2

    //"You miss the mark COMPLETELY when you say that a paraphilia is a "perversion" - hence all your outrage. "//

    I do not know who you are trying to fool here, but the word "paraphilia" does mean "sexual perversion".

    The history of the the term "paraphilia" is very clear on this. This was an attempt by psychiatry to white-wash a concept that had become too toxic for the general public. Lisa Downing, Iain Morland and Nikki Sullivan have written an excellent book looking into the well-known sex researcher John Money's understanding of "paraphilia", and they find no significant differences as regards his concept of paraphilia and his predecessors ideas about sexual perversions.


    Psychiatrist Glen Gabbard writes that despite efforts by Stekel and Money, "the term paraphilia remains pejorative in most circumstances."

    The ideas of Blanchard were there already in the 19th century, presented as sexual perversions and degeneracy.

    Indeed, this understanding of the word is also reflected in contemporary dictionaries and encyclopaedias, where "paraphilia" is described as perversions or deviations.

    Wikipedia: "Paraphilia (also known as sexual perversion and sexual deviation) is the experience of intense sexual arousal to atypical objects, situations, or individuals."
    The Free Dictionary: "(Psychiatry) any abnormal sexual behaviour; sexual anomaly or deviation"
    Merriam-Webster: "a pattern of recurring sexually arousing mental imagery or behavior that involves unusual and especially socially unacceptable sexual practices (as sadism or pedophilia)"
    Oxford: "A condition characterized by abnormal sexual desires, typically involving extreme or dangerous activities."

    To say that the gender identity of transgender men on women is comparable to the lust of necorphiliac, is offensive beyond any imagination, and if that is your point I suggest you go elsewhere with your bigotry.

    //"Whether you like it or not, autogynophilia is well documented. There is evidence for it. Hard facts."//

    It was comments like these who made it clear to me that the AGP-supporters were not driven by science, but by prejudice. This is a so-called straw man argument. Anonymous 2 is trying to make it look like I deny that crossdreaming exists, thus making me look completely unreasonable.

    The problem, Anonymous 2, is that this is a blog devoted to the study of crossdreaming and cross-gender arousal. The blog post you are commenting on, makes the point that it is not the existence of crossdreaming that is the issue, but the autogynephilia interpretation and explanation of it. And if you have bothered to read the discussion above, you would have seen that none of us question the fact that the child of Anonymous #1 is crossdreaming.


    //"That is why Trans Activists make the EXACT same attacks on science that fundamentalist Christians do. "//

    Most of us are perfectly aware of who are the real pseudo-scientists in the area of sexology. Most of the leading experts in this field do not buy into the bigotry of Blanchard, in the same way they no longer buy the idea that homosexuality is a sexual perversion.

    Fundamentalist Christians, however, love the autogynephilia theory, because they can use it to force transgender people back into the closet. The only other group that currently makes use of the theory in public spaces are transphobic radical feminists. They do not care much about science, but they love Blanchard and Bailey. I think that says it all.

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  31. @Anonymous #1

    //"I am a lot more than my sexual preferences. What about the rest of me? Even if I spent an hour per day thinking about sex, there is still 23 hours in the day I'm doing something else."//

    Actually, this is the very point I am making here: Crossdreaming is just one of many ways a transgender identity can express itself. Like non-transgender people a lot of trans people spend most of their time being just people.

    But there is one difference: If transgender people are denied the right to express their identity and their sexuality, the dysphoria may take over your life, simply because you are denied the right to be who they truly are. Any psychologist will be able to tell you how damaging that can be. Non-transgender people may find it hard to understand, because for them this is rarely an issue. They take this right for granted.

    //"For example, when people make comments such as, "It is about getting in touch with my feminine side." I don't really know what that means. And nobody has yet answered me when I have asked."//

    It seems to me you are also making straw man arguments now, which -- unfortunately -- makes me doubt that you are who you say you are. You have now stopped being a concerned mother and is more interested in attacking transgender women.

    But I will give you the benefit of doubt.

    If you want to know what transgender people mean about what it means to be transgender, there are quite a few autobiographies and studies written by transgender people that will help you understand. Take a look at my reference section for more information.

    A sentence like the one you refer to can mean a lot of different things to transgender people. For some it simply means to be allowed to express femininity. For non-transgender women this is again given. For transgender women it is not. (And if you do not know what feminine expressions entail, go buy a woman's magazine, or look at butch/femme relationships).

    Now, the fact that a person assigned male at birth desire to express femininity does not necessarily mean that this person is transgender, but for those who are transgender and "femme", the possibility of expressing themselves in this way makes them happier.

    For others, this and related statements,simply mean to be allowed to feel and acknowledge a female identity, and -- which is even more liberating -- to have it affirmed by others. As I noted above, this identity does not necessarily have to fit the stereotypes of traditional gender roles.

    Older generations of trans women were forced to say so, because this was the only way they would be accepted by the gate keepers and society at large, but we are fortunately moving beyond that stage now. Trans women can be butch and femme, lesbian and straight, hair dressers and ICT-experts, just like other women.

    If you ever see Bailey again, give him that memo, because he has clearly not read it.



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  32. Transgender feelings show (and are expressed) in many diffferent ways.

    I had strong feelings from (my first reliable memeory) 6 years of age.
    But my feelings wre very body orientated, in that I just felt wrong and could not understand why I did not look like my sister. As I grew older I kept thinking (hoping) I'd grow out of it.

    Now I wasn't particularly feminine or masculine. I was intelligent, very emotionally senstive, loved imaginary games, reading, didn't like most boy games (loved a few though), but liked some girl ones (later on I loved table tennis and swimmming). I wasn't interested in doll's though loved my fluffy toys and made up games with them, but I also had toy cars that I loved too (later on toy rockets and so on were the best).
    I was into comics and science fiction and some action stuff, the days of Dr Who, The Twilight Zone, Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, the Invisible man, Dangerman and all that.

    I loved adult conversations and preferred being with them, found most other children (except some girls and a few boys) boring, ignorant and often cruel.

    If I had been born a female I would have been a bit of tomboy, intellectual and creative.

    That's a mistake many make that childhood transgender feelings and behaviour are extremely feminine, nope... They fall into the same range as cis females, sme are some aren't. Pre about 10 boys and girls all a lot more similar than most think. Yes the extremes stand out, but the majority are surprisingly the same. As a kid at that age I remember we boys and girls playing together all sorts of games (we were less supervised back then).

    For me it was my body that just did not feel right. There were things there that should not have been and things not there that should have been. A constant discomfort, that stayed all my life (no matter what I did) ..well until I transitioned that is.

    So, Jazz Jennings is great as a public example..BUT...not all TG girls will express it that way, or are as 'traditionally' feminine or want to be or will be if they transition. Just like cis girls there will be wide spectrum of behaviour.

    This applies equally to trans boys, who may not be 'hyper masculine' as children at all, they will fall somewhere in the spectrum of cis boys. Lots of cis boys (who will grow up very stright) are not interested at all in 'rough and tumble' play and 'traditional' boys activities. They too can be creative, intellectual, imaginative and all the rest.

    So there are a lot of preconceptions (prejudices actually) about cis males and females and also trans males and females.. especially as per their childhood behaviour.

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  33. You are absolutely right, Lisa.

    The irony here is that we have had a system that has forced trans women into living up to the stereotypes of femininity. This even happens now in my country, where trans women are told they have ot dress and behave according to the sexist concepts of doctors and nurses, if they want to get state supported therapy (hormones and surgery).

    In other words: Non-transgender women may get away with more "gender-bending" than trans women, because they do not have to prove that they are "real" women. Trans women do.

    Because of this pressure, people will meet trans women who have done their best to adapt to the stereotypes in order to get the help they need, and who now repeat that narrative. This makes others think that being trans is to live up to the stereotypes.

    It is fascinating to see how the machinery of oppression works. It has now turned some transgender people into weapons that can be used against the trans community as a whole. The oppression of the system does not have to be coherent or logical. Any argument can be used against those marginalized, even if the arguments do not add up. The reason for this is that most people do not see the whole picture. They hold on to the snippets of information that confirms their own prejudices.

    So it is worth repeating:

    *Sexual orientation does not equal gender identity
    *Gender identity does not equal the desire to express femininity or masculinity
    *Masculinity vs. femininity does not equal dominance vs. submission
    *Sexual submission and dominance does not equal social submission and dominance
    *Sexual orientation is not binary and unchangeable

    Blanchard and Bailey haven't even gotten past bullet point 1 on this list, as they still believe transgender is about sexual orientation. That is a regression to the "inversion theories" of the late 19th century/early 20th century. No serious researchers believe in this simplistic nonsense anymore.

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  34. Oh so true Jack. I always argue against those so called 'true transsexuals' that pop up (and have some blogs) that spend their time attacking other trans women. Pathetic, except it hurts people.

    We are all transgender, we deal with it in many very different ways, we express our inner and true identty in public in many different ways. There is no one path or one solution for anyone. It is an individual journey to find where you are comfortable and happy.

    It is not that difficult..provided you spend the time to actually listen to people and relate to them.

    Now, and only now the 'experts' are listenng (re WPATH) but some transgender people haven't caught up to that yet....on top of gay, lesbian, stright, cis and all the rest.

    I would so love some of those so called 'true transsexuals' to shut up and maybe, just maybe, become helpers and friends to others.

    I also would so love part timers to get out of the bloody closet and get out and about. You should think of yourselves as proud transgender people. You are gender variable...good, be proud of it. Join the rest of us.

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  35. The grain of this issue and the weakest link in the chain of Blanchard's pseudoscientific mess is that transitions are driven exclusively due to sexual arousal. That is an unprovable assertion and the thing most people fail to understand. This is why I am amazed at some transsexuals who actually buy this garbage. There is absolutely not one shred of science backing this up.

    I am with you there Lisa. Proudly out there in the world. Got fed up of hiding.

    As far as the true transsexuaks go there aren't many left now who buy into that. Certainly not from from what I see from the new generation.

    Everyone who has any common sense and is well read up on this knows that its about gender dysphoria and its varying degrees. After that its what the person does with their own set of circumstances.

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  36. Oh and the way you describe yourself Lisa, sounds a lot like me growing up.....

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  37. "The irony here is that we have had a system that has forced trans women into living up to the stereotypes of femininity. This even happens now in my country, where trans women are told they have ot dress and behave according to the sexist concepts of doctors and nurses, if they want to get state supported therapy (hormones and surgery)."

    Yes and I find that kind of crazy. The trans movement itself is perpetuating stereotypes of women. The fact they have to "live as women" for a period of time is part of it. What does it mean to live as a woman? There are zillions of types of women. It's an insult to claim that should look any certain way.

    And this does get at the heart of what upsets me when thinking about my kid. He is pretty eclectic in his tastes (so am I). The thought of him turning into this frilly female is a very disturbing thought to me. I am worried that would end up making him feel even more confused. Some people do seem to be pushed in that direction when transitioning. That seems very wrong to me.

    On the other hand, someone with strong enough convictions can pull that off, but they endure a lot of flack for it. Julia Serano is a good example of that.

    So I'd argue that the trans movement itself needs to examine what their real motivations are.

    On another note, I get the impression that paraphilias are more common than we assume. Most don't require any sort of drastic change or intervention. Some are illegal (pedophilia). Many of these researchers are even open minded enough to not consider pedophilia "icky" (for lack of a better word). Obviously, it is not legal and most people have a problem with it, but just saying these researchers really are not freaked out about this stuff. I get what you are saying regarding the fact the average person would consider these things odd "sick" perversions. I personally do not think any of these things are "sick" so long as they don't involve hurting other people. Most of these things do not hurt people.

    I grew up with a mother, father, and sister who have a mental illness. And I"m not talking garden variety depression and anxiety. They each had a label. Yes, sometimes that is stigmatizing. But I'm so used to them and I never saw them as being scary or anything other than human. So if you tell me this sort of thing is because of a paraphila, from my perspective that's by comparison a cake walk. I can't deny other people are wigged out, but not all people are. Of course there are some folks in this world who think women should completely cover their face when they leave the house. So there are all kinds of damaging and stupid opinions. I don't know exactly what the answer is. But I value the truth even if it is not comfortable.

    I'll sign with "Fionna" from now on so you don't get confused.

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  38. I get irritated at the "live as a woman" decree to no end. I DO live as a woman, every day. It's not MY fault nobody can tell, and it's my business (unless I choose to share it with you) why that is. What they're really saying when they tell us to "live as a woman" is "fit in to our binary stereotype of a woman" WHICH COMPLETELY UNDERMINES THE CORE ISSUE.

    But here's the rub, especially the older one gets (I feel, anyway). Gender stereotypes, while obviously stereotypes, also get wired in to our brains by exposure of life. So while I know damn well they're stereotypes, I feel almost compelled to express myself in certain stereotypical ways because my brain equates them with "being a woman." This creates even more conflict in an already overloaded noodle. It's one of the reasons I hate the societal constructs. I bring this up because our concerned mother immediately went to the "frilly girl" idea. Trans doesn't have to equal that.

    But I'm also just not interested in a lot of stuff that's way to the "femme" side of the spectrum. I have no desire to wear pretty dresses or wear heels. A practical skirt, maybe, that's about as far as I think I'll go on any regular basis. But this might actually be a boon when transition starts for me (well, proper and obvious transition), because someone with my general build trying to fulfill the overly femme stereotype will get clocked as a "dude in a dress" pretty damn quick. But if I continue my philosophy of "comfort and convenience" I might get overlooked as a really butch woman. I mean, I'm not one for undue attention, and I'd be seen as a woman (what I want, of course) so I don't see that as a bad thing.

    As for you, Fionna/anonymous mom, it seems your son's needle falls almost right down the middle on the spectrum right now. My personal advice would be simply not to stymie him, let him explore. I can't tell from your words whether that's your intent or not (you tend to somewhat contradict yourself here and there on your own feelings on the matter, which is understandable as you're obviously conflicted) to let him explore this or not, but you should. When I came out, I was lucky to have an outpouring of support and affection, and one of the running themes was "you be you!" Try that with your son as the support. You'll always be his mother, tell him you be you!

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  39. I haven't stymied him on this at all. People keep telling me to not stymie. They are making assumptions. I haven't. He picks out his own clothes. He picks out his own activities. I never tell him to do this, that, or the other thing in terms of behavior. I never have, and I never will because I just don't operate in that way. Heck, I even asked if he wanted to change his name or have me refer to him as a she. He looked at me like I had lost my mind. He doesn't want that.

    I do get that there are expectations placed on us as women. The older and more confident I get in my own skin, the less I care about that stuff. We all bend to expectations sometimes. I might, for example, feel like going to work dressed in pajamas, but I don't. So yeah in that sense I'm not doing what I REALLY want to do.

    I suspect some transwomen might just be overcompensating. But then I have encountered some that are pretty obnoxious. In other words, they are not the kind of women I could get along with. A few brag about how pretty they are to me. I could care less if they are pretty. Why do they tell me that? Of course some people are just nuts and some of them might just be nuts on top of being trans. (pardon the crude term "nuts")

    The contradiction comes from the fact we are talking in both real and nebulous terms. That and I sometimes my thoughts are scattered, and I don't take the time to organize them. I stopped worrying about that because then I'd never get any of my thoughts down at all. And honestly, this is something that is incredibly difficult to understand and to put into words.

    Fionna

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  40. It's not overcompensation. It's seeking validation. A subtle, but crucial, decision. Except for the truly nuts ones, yes. ;)

    And good, I'm glad you're letting him express himself and being completely open. Like I said, it was hard to tell simply because your own conflictions are obvious in your expressions, making it somewhat difficult to tell. I can't talk for anyone else, but I asked because I'm trying NOT to make an assumption because of that.

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  41. Allow your son/daughter to be who they are. Time will tell and perhaps he may just turn out to be gender non conforming. The old stifling rigid binary that I grew up with was slowing killing me. There are those of us who are dysphoric who just need a more expansive range of expression just to be ourselves. Sometimes our life path takes us to transition but not always.

    Jack's efforts here (and on my own blog) are to dispel untruths promoted by the Blanchards and others who are driven by political agendas and no science to speak of. By spewing their gobblygook they are managing to even attract misinformed transgender women to buy in which is unfortunate.

    Our lives have been difficult and stigmatizing which is why so many of us are so passionate. You will find that many of us are highly educated on gender issues. We need to be in order to fight these loonies.

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  42. Fionna,

    Your description of your son reminds me of my younger self in some ways; namely in experiencing cross-gender sexual fantasies and in being disinterested in some of the social aspects of transition.

    It's important to remember that this condition will not go away. No matter who you listen to, this is agreed upon; Blanchard and Bailey will say so (sexual orientation is unchangeable), other researchers will say so (that whatever underlying neurological cause is unchangeable), and people who are transgender in some way or another will say so (by self report of their feelings).

    It is possible that your son will simply grow into a man who has unusual sexual fantasies. That's perfectly okay. It is also possible that your son may grow to be gender dysphoric, or that he already be dysphoric and that it will worsen as he grows older and more masculine.

    This is not okay as by definition it would mean that your son is suffering.

    Like many things, this dysphoria is a spectrum. For some people, it is tolerable without transition. For others, it is livable, but they decide to transition to improve their quality of life. For yet others, it is debilitating and they essentially have no choice but to try to transition- and even then, their dysphoria may be only partially or slightly alleviated.

    It is also important to note that dysphoria differs from person to person. Some people are very dysphoric about their social role, about being percieved as a specific gender, and so forth. Some people are dysphoric about their sexed body traits, be they genitals, secondary sex traits, skeletal structure, and so forth. Most trans people experience both of these general categories in varying degrees, buy for some, their suffering is primarily social or physical in nature, and other issues are less relevant.

    Again, no one (or at least no one serious) is debating whether this dysphoria exists. Blanchard and Bailey believe it exists- they just disagree on the etiology of what causes it. A lot of portrayals of Blanchard's theory (including, arguably, Bailey's book) gloss over this and just make it out to be an issue of sexuality whereas Blanchard's original theory was that the gender dysphoria motivating certain cases of transsexualism was caused by autogynephilia.

    Blanchard and Bailey also- despite their problematic lack of tact, unpopular theories and questionable research- support transition as a treatment of dysphoria (strongly so, even, although Blanchard's support of 'hoop jumping' or gate-keeping required for access to treatment is widely criticized by transsexuals, and rightly so).

    Ironically there's actually a lot that isn't under debate.

    1/3

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  43. 2/3

    When I was your son's age, I did not "identify as female". I did not want to skip around in dresses. I did not want to wear makeup. I did not want to paint my bedroom pink and have flower-print bedspreads.

    I still don't; it's just my personal preference. We all have a preference for and against certain things, and we are all entitled to our preferences.

    When I was your son's age, the thought of being called by female pronouns made me feel awkward. The thought of changing my name just seemed surreal; what would I even change it to? The thought of being known as female rather than male by everyone I knew- how would that change social dynamics? What would they think? The thought of "coming out" absolutely terrified me. I figured really bad things might happen if I did that- and in the end those fears weren't exactly founded; they depended more on my anxiety than the views of those around me.

    I was scared- so I didn't do anything.

    When I was your son's age, I knew of the autogynephilia theory via reading up on stuff via the internet. I figured it described me perfectly; someone who has sexual fantasies of being a woman. I wasn't ashamed, or scared- though I will admit I didn't get into the detail of it in the sense of being a medical disorder or sexual perversion- I just figured it was like a personal quirk.

    Besides, I didn't particularly feel like a woman... I figured I wouldn't really be able to tell in any case, and I didn't identify as a woman, and certainly not from age 3 or 5 like in all the stereotyped narratives. I mean, you see that you're male, everyone says you're male, generally you're probably going to figure out to yourself: I'm a male.

    So I didn't see myself as transgender. I saw myself as a fetishist. I figured, I just find this arousing, it's a fun thing to fantasize about.

    I was confused. Whether it was over my idea of autogynephilia as a harmless fetish vs the true concept of a medical paraphilia, over my cross-gender fantasies being "just sexual" or a symptom of a more general condition, over the concept of autogynephilia itself, take your pick. But I was definitely confused- so I didn't do anything.

    This was the biggest mistake of my life. As time went on, and I grew more masculine, I became less content. I became more and more uncomfortable with my body, it was like an annoying distraction that got worse and worse... eventually it was debilitating. Those "harmless sexual fantasies"? They weren't so harmless, eventually- there's something very cruel in wanting to feel a certain way, wanting to relate to another person in a certain way, wanting to be wanted and admired for certain reasons, and you're handed this body that completely goes against that, that reacts in a way, and expects to relate to a sexual partner in a way that makes you deeply uncomfortable.

    It's a terrible, disgusting experience.

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  44. 3/3

    I am not saying your son feels like this or that he will feel like this. For his sake, I hope not. All I'm trying to say is that it is one possibility - and that you can't just make it go away by doing nothing like I did, or by "trying to make yourself not be this way" like I did.

    What I'm also trying to say is that I have the deepest regret that I did not try to stop the male development of my body earlier. People often make an issue of someone taking steps to transition and regretting them, but it's often- statistically likely much more often- the other way around. Testosterone produces irreversible effects, and just because puberty is "natural" and "happening on its own" doesn't mean its outcome can't cause incredible suffering- for some people.

    Your son may not be hiding anything- he may simply be confused. Perhaps he simply doesn't find certain things important. You might be asking the wrong questions. Perhaps he doesn't feel uncomfortable enough about his body to talk about that because he isn't particularly developed yet, or he hasn't been developing masculine features for that long a period of time.

    You should be trying to connect with your child in the most open and unbiased way possible. Yes, that also means that if he might feel that undergoing medical treatments to make his body more feminine or less masculine is in his best interest, you will support him. You need to gain an understanding of his feelings, both for you- and for him. For example, in the most neutral way you can, you should be asking him how he feels about male puberty, or about his body becoming more masculine, whether he'd feel more comfortable if it became more masculine or more feminine, and soforth.

    A good therapist- one who won't push treatments on your child when he or you are unusure, or advise against them if they are needed, would be a big help. I suggest you keep searching for a good therapist, and that when you find one, ensure that completely open description of your concerns (and your son's feelings) is imperative. It is also important to remember that puberty blockers- should the subject arise- are ideally intended to 'put a hold' on irreversible development, buying the child time to make an informed decision at a later age- not to set a child on the path to transition.

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  45. I've already done everything you mention here and then some anonymous.

    Maybe I am asking the wrong questions? I'm sorry, I didn't get the perfection chip implanted into my body at the mom creation factory.

    Just because some people have had bad experiences due to parents who were not understanding does not mean anyone should assume I have not been understanding. Why on earth would I even be here discussing this if I didn't care and was not trying?

    I assume you were trying to help, but honestly it is like you looked for my most sensitive nerve and poked it with a sharp object. This has come off as very hurtful to me. You know, I've been doing my best with this, and I have had zero support through all of this. I've given long past what I thought was my breaking point and all I get when I ask for help are insults and demands that I do more. You have no idea what I have been through in my life.

    -Fionna

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  46. Fionna I think people are supportive, plus they are able to give the story 'from the other side' as well, which always helps.

    One of things so many of us did was hide it really well from parents (etc) while struggling through childhood and adolescence. In our cases it was later in life that we threw in the towel on the hiding, sadly after the irreversable affects of puberty. When I told my mother she had no idea what I was feeling and doing as a child.

    Everyone agrees on a getting a good therapist and you all working together on this.

    Time is an issue though, if your child is hitting Tanner stage #2 in their puberty then they are getting close to irreversable changes. It is always much easier for everyone if this comes out at an earler age, so there is more time to work through it and all the issues.

    Don't panic about puberty blockers, as said by others they are 'time buyers' and are most definately reversable. They have been used for decades (earliest refernce I can find is 1983) for very early onset puberty (about 5-9 years old), so they not experimental at all and have been around and used for a long time.
    It is just the use for trans children that is relatively new (last 10-15 years).

    The time they are used is also short compared to much early onset puberty usage, typcially about 3 years (13-16 is common). By 16 if an adolescent is still sure about changing gender then all the research shows they really, really are sure.

    Also don't be afraid of HRT if things go that way, some cis women for certain medical issues and also use it lifelong, think of it as another 'insulin' type of thing. GRS (or SRS) surgery is now very safe and the happiness rate is very high, much higher than for things like gastric band surgery....

    The latest research from the US & Holland show that early transitioning people are very happy and have virtually the exact same mental health statistics as their cis counterparts at the same age and sex.

    So if things go that way don't worry, it almost certain it will turn out well and they will grow up to be a healthy and happy adult and have a good life.

    If they decide to be more 'in between' then the odds are this will turn out well too, more and more are showing this 'gender fluidity' these days.

    As I said earlier, transgender feelings come in different ways for different people. It is not necessary for them to be 'typically feminine' in actions, Jazz Jennings is really at the more feminine part of the range. Like cis girls there is a wide specturm of behaviours and expressions. in my personal case my dysphoria was very much centred around my body feeling wrong, especially genitals and I wasn't particularly feminine or masculine in behaviour, but that was just me, others are different.

    It is so hard for others to understand, but trust me we stuggle to understand it ourselves. It just is.....

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  47. The 'time thing' might have been an issue with your current therapist, but they should have communicated that to you clearly so you knew their reasoning. The fact that they didn't is a big black mark on them.

    If (say) your child started puberty blockers now at 13, then if they continue to express being transgender the odds get larger and larger that it is permanent as time goes on. If they feel that way at 14 the odds are high, 15 very high, 16 certain.

    There is nothing 'experimental' these days about the medical treatments involved in being a trans woman. GRS has been done for about 60 years, similar with HRT, puberty blockers 30 years (ncluding early onset puberty usage), everything is well understood now, both the pros and cons. Plus many things have improved greatly over the years, such as HRT (better types used now) and better surgical techniques.

    So don't let any fears about those things influence you. If things go that way, it will all work out well and they will be healthy. In some ways healthier as their heart attack risk will be much lower, the odds are they will live longer than if they had stayed male.

    Funny story, though I wasn't excessively feminine as a chld, I deliberately made myself act more masculine as I grew older. I remember watching my father and other adult males and copying how they sat and moved, so no one would suspect me. Oh my, the things we did. Tragic.

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  48. >I assume you were trying to help, but honestly it is like you looked for my most >sensitive nerve and poked it with a sharp object. This has come off as very >hurtful to me. You know, I've been doing my best with this, and I have had zero >support through all of this. I've given long past what I thought was my breaking >point and all I get when I ask for help are insults and demands that I do more. >You have no idea what I have been through in my life.

    I apologize deeply for this, it was absolutely not my intent. My point was that it was very difficult for me to piece together my feelings- my own feelings. In retrospect I'm not even sure if I could have plausibly done anything differently. On top of this parenthood can undoubtedly be very difficult and demanding. None of us are perfect and should not be expected to be so.

    I also didn't experience lack of understanding from parents or family, so I'm not trying to harp on about that- my point is I feared it even when I didn't have to.

    You do seem fairly distressed about the subject. Are you worried about your son becoming a transsexual? About him becoming a "different person", frilly and feminine? That it'll feel like a loss? Are you worried about him suffering social persecution for some reason or another? Does discussing his fantasies make you feel uncomfortable? Are you just bothered by this discussion? Internet discussions can be quite annoying sometimes- plus, tone doesn't transfer well over text.

    If your fear is that transition would "force" him to essentially become a different person, it's important to remember that this is unfounded unless you're working with very backwards professionals. I had the same fear exactly- and also feared that it would make me more confused. Eventually I realized that the whole issue was over my body and not who I was or what my social role is supposed to be, and that trying to fit people into neat little boxes is nonsense and harmful.

    Some of your comments- and I apologize if I'm incorrect- seem to imply that you feel transsexualism is connected to strict gender stereotypes and serves to reinforce them. This is not true at all, or at least, it doesn't have to be. It certainly shouldn't be.

    It should also be noted that some trans people 'compromise' their presentation from what they feel most comfortable with in order to "pass" or "blend", in order to compensate for the 'incorrect' physical development during puberty, which can sometimes be quite stark. Some trans women would prefer to wear their hair short, but feel like they need to wear it long or else they will look like men. Some trans women need to wear makeup to pass, even when they rather wouldn't bother with it at all, for example.

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  49. I can't do more than my best. I've done my best. What some of you ask of your parents is asking the impossible. Nobody can take your pain on for you, and nobody can fix it for you. Parents do not go into the whole parenting gig knowing what they are doing. You learn on the job. Sometimes some stuff is so difficult and lonely that the best thing you can manage is to admit you can't figure it out or that you cannot fix it.

    Don't project your feelings and experiences onto me as if I am doing something wrong towards you. I'm not doing anything towards you. I am just asking questions. I suppose it is unfair of me to expect some sort of answers, but it is in part the length I've gone to to help my kid.

    Your line about wanting to be wanted and admired in a certain way. I don't quite know what you mean with that. Who doesn't want to be accepted? There is no special way in which I as a woman want to be admired or accepted. And we all have things we want to be liked for. I don't want to be liked for my looks. I don't want to be liked for being a woman. I'd like to be admired for being intelligent, but I just feel dumber the older I get. All that, it's a human thing. Not a woman thing. Not a man thing. Just a human thing.

    I don't deny the disconcerting feelings despite the fact I doubt I will ever understand them. But not everyone in the world is mean, out to get you, or to reject you for who you are. And no matter how close to perfection you can possibly come, there will be people who will reject you anyway. We all experience rejection. We all fall short of what we'd like to be.

    And please do not assume I've asked the wrong questions. Do not assume I have not let my kid be himself. Do not assume the therapy didn't work out because I have done something to sabotage it. I was born in the role of caretaker living with three people who had a severe mental illness. I was always the last to be considered. And now here I am again. In that role. And all I get are some strangers on the Internet telling me I must be screwing it all up. You aren't the only people with problems and baggage. How about showing a little compassion for those around you who are trying rather than assuming we are all just some cruel heartless jerks out to get you?

    continued....

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  50. And do not threaten people with horror stories of not getting on the blockers and the treatments. These things are mostly reserved for the privileged anyway (aka those with money). I'm not in that category. And there isn't much in the way of evidence that it is a highly effective treatment for all people. Claiming that is dishonest because that information really is just not there. At this point, a lot of this is experimental. And yes I do worry about people experimenting on my kid. If he were dying of an incurable disease, I'd try something experimental if that is all there was because I'd have nothing to lose in trying. He is not dying of an incurable disease. In fact he is doing quite well. He has thanked me for my understanding. He has also thanked me for not pushing him into doing things he does not want to do (all the things you are insisting upon). The therapist did nothing but attempt to scare and bully me. Just as some of you are doing here.

    Even the line about following your dad to hide the fact you didn't see yourself as a boy? Well, newsflash, not all dads are of the burly manly category. His dad isn't. His dad isn't much different than me in that department. Men and women aren't either or, black or white, up or down. Again, more assumptions of what we must be like and what we must have done. It's just not true at all. We have not caused this. Just like your parents did not cause this. Society has not caused this. The problem does not originate outside of you. It won't all go away because we all decide to start acting differently. That might sound mean of me to say, but honestly, it is true. You can't possibly think everyone else is wrong and it's not some disordered thinking on your part (not your fault and not on purpose, but again, not originating outside of you).

    Do you want acceptance? Or do you really want the world to revolve around you? The world does not revolve around you.

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  51. @Fionna

    It seems to me that most of those who have commented here have done their best to be both tactful and helpful, with no ill will intended. As far as I can see no one has said that they believe in gender stereotypes, and everyone agrees that it is the interests and the will of your child that must come first.

    You are absolutely right when you say that parenting is on the job training, and no one, absolutely no one, are "perfect" parents. Both parents and their children are human beings set into a world that is hard to handle for all.

    So we all do the best we can, and we cannot ask for more from any individual.

    But I am convinced society is partly to blame for the pain both your child and you are feeling right now. Admittedly, I too believe there are biological factors influencing the development of crossdreaming and transgender identities , and no one can be blamed for those. But the negative ways in which society reacts towards transgender people are definitely caused by human beings making bad choices.

    I am getting more and more concerned about the effects the world outside the family has on gender variant people, and I am convinced that much of the suffering transgender people are going through is the result not of bad parenting, but of a culture that not only doesn't grasp what this is about, but which is even actively hostile.

    The current bathroom hysteria in the US is a good example of what I am talking about: Transgender children are cast in the role of perverted stalkers. No wonder many parents feel obliged to stop their children from exploring their own identities, if this is the kind of harassment transgender children must face out there.

    In other words: A transphobic culture may lead parents to become part of the very system that causes their transgender children grief and pain. This is not because the parents do not love their children; it is because they do love them. Calling children "autogynephiliacs" and "paraphiliacs" is definitely not helping.

    As I see it, you should not have to worry about your kid being harassed at school. No transgender people -- or their family members -- should have to fear harassment and condemnation from others. You should not have to worry about not being able to afford hormone blockers, if that is the chosen alternative. You should have had free access to competent health personell, well skilled in transgender issues. And most important of all: You should not have to carry this burden alone, as you do now.

    But I get it: That is not the reality you are facing right now.

    We must not forget that there is a lot of hope in the situation you and your child are in right now:

    1. You are aware of what's going on.

    2. You are listening to your child with an open mind.

    3. Your child is actually talking to you, which in itself is wonderful. As long as they are open about their pain and their problems, that in itself will stop them from capsuling in the wound, making it a permanent source of depression and anxiety later on. Moreover, talking may -- in time -- help them find out whether they really are a woman, or if they can integrate this side of themselves into the life of a happy man.

    4. The two of you have taken the important step of contacting health personell. Admittedly, the people you have met have not lived up to the standards you hoped for, but you have reached out. There are others out there that may be of help.

    5. Most importantly: There is still time, even if you do not go for the puberty blockers. Even if your child waits until the age of 18 before deciding, testosterone may still not have masculinized the body beyond the point were passing is possible (although it will take more work). You can still wait a couple of years and see what your child finds out about their own identity and hopes for the future.

    Maybe your first priority right now, at this moment, should be yourself. Do you have someone to talk to about this? Empathic family members maybe, a friend, a priest, a therapist?





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  52. --Nobody can take your pain on for you, and nobody can fix it for you.

    I never asked anyone to take my pain on for me. I was just describing my life experiences.

    --Don't project your feelings and experiences onto me as if I am doing something wrong towards you. I'm not doing anything towards you. I am just asking questions.

    I'm not trying to project anything. I'm just trying to provide answers and elaborate on them based on what I know.

    --Your line about wanting to be wanted and admired in a certain way. I don't quite know what you mean with that.

    I mean being wanted and admired sexually for being a woman rather than a man.

    Men usually do not want to possess breasts, and definitely do not want people to be attracted to them because they have breasts. Women generally do not want to have the physique of a man, and do not want to be admired for those physical qualities, etc. It's just that this is so far outside most people's experiences, so it isn't really something people consider.

    --Who doesn't want to be accepted? There is no special way in which I as a woman want to be admired or accepted. And we all have things we want to be liked for. I don't want to be liked for my looks. I don't want to be liked for being a woman. I'd like to be admired for being intelligent, but I just feel dumber the older I get. All that, it's a human thing. Not a woman thing. Not a man thing. Just a human thing.

    Yes, no doubt. I also want to be admired for traits such as intelligence, competence, or other virtues which have nothing to do with gender.

    --And please do not assume I've asked the wrong questions.

    I'm not. I'm raising the question of what questions may or may not be the most helpful ones to ask your son.

    --Do not assume I have not let my kid be himself.

    I'm not. You sound like a very good parent in that regard.

    --How about showing a little compassion for those around you who are trying rather than assuming we are all just some cruel heartless jerks out to get you?

    ...I'm not. At worst I think you might be making the same sort mistakes I made myself.

    --And do not threaten people with horror stories of not getting on the blockers and the treatments.

    I'm not threatening anyone. I'm just describing my life experiences.

    --Claiming that is dishonest because that information really is just not there

    Depends on what information you want and how you define "everyone". There are scientific studies demonstrating the effectiveness of transition alleviating suffering for gender dysphoric patients- a specific group of people.

    There are also studies indicating good outcomes of early medical intervention for transgender children; a group which has exhibited a strong and consistent cross-gender identity for a prolonged period of time.

    It sounds like your son currently fits into neither group, but there is some possibility he might end up fitting into the first group.

    --At this point, a lot of this is experimental.

    Depends on what you referring to. Transition as a treatment for gender dysphoric adults has been performed for decades and has been generally recognized as effective for decades.

    Transition as a treatment for gender dysphoric children is a subject of debate due to the contention of conversion therapy being effective in leading to desistence of cross-gender identities in children.

    The view of transition as a treatment for adolescents lies somewhere between the two, but suffice to say, cross-gender feelings do not desist if they are present post-puberty, and sex trait development is recognized as a severe source of distress within the adult transgender population.

    --The therapist did nothing but attempt to scare and bully me.

    And that is nothing short of terrible behaviour on the part of the therapist. If you try to find a therapist in future make sure that they do not act like that.

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  53. --Nobody can take your pain on for you, and nobody can fix it for you.

    I never asked anyone to take my pain on for me. I was just describing my life experiences.

    --Don't project your feelings and experiences onto me as if I am doing something wrong towards you. I'm not doing anything towards you. I am just asking questions.

    I'm not trying to project anything. I'm just trying to provide answers and elaborate on them based on what I know.

    --Your line about wanting to be wanted and admired in a certain way. I don't quite know what you mean with that.

    I mean being wanted and admired sexually for being a woman rather than a man.

    Men usually do not want to possess breasts, and definitely do not want people to be attracted to them because they have breasts. Women generally do not want to have the physique of a man, and do not want to be admired for those physical qualities, etc. It's just that this is so far outside most people's experiences, so it isn't really something people consider.

    --Who doesn't want to be accepted? There is no special way in which I as a woman want to be admired or accepted. And we all have things we want to be liked for. I don't want to be liked for my looks. I don't want to be liked for being a woman. I'd like to be admired for being intelligent, but I just feel dumber the older I get. All that, it's a human thing. Not a woman thing. Not a man thing. Just a human thing.

    Yes, no doubt. I also want to be admired for traits such as intelligence, competence, or other virtues which have nothing to do with gender.

    --And please do not assume I've asked the wrong questions.

    I'm not. I'm raising the question of what questions may or may not be the most helpful ones to ask your son.

    --Do not assume I have not let my kid be himself.

    I'm not. You sound like a very good parent in that regard.

    --How about showing a little compassion for those around you who are trying rather than assuming we are all just some cruel heartless jerks out to get you?

    ...I'm not. At worst I think you might be making the same sort mistakes I made myself.

    --And do not threaten people with horror stories of not getting on the blockers and the treatments.

    I'm not threatening anyone. I'm just describing my life experiences.

    --Claiming that is dishonest because that information really is just not there

    Depends on what information you want and how you define "everyone". There are scientific studies demonstrating the effectiveness of transition alleviating suffering for gender dysphoric patients- a specific group of people.

    There are also studies indicating good outcomes of early medical intervention for transgender children; a group which has exhibited a strong and consistent cross-gender identity for a prolonged period of time.

    It sounds like your son currently fits into neither group, but there is some possibility he might end up fitting into the first group.

    --At this point, a lot of this is experimental.

    Depends on what you referring to. Transition as a treatment for gender dysphoric adults has been performed for decades and has been generally recognized as effective for decades.

    Transition as a treatment for gender dysphoric children is a subject of debate due to the contention of conversion therapy being effective in leading to desistence of cross-gender identities in children.

    The view of transition as a treatment for adolescents lies somewhere between the two, but suffice to say, cross-gender feelings do not desist if they are present post-puberty, and sex trait development is recognized as a severe source of distress within the adult transgender population.

    --The therapist did nothing but attempt to scare and bully me.

    And that is nothing short of terrible behaviour on the part of the therapist. If you try to find a therapist in future make sure that they do not act like that.

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  54. No, I don't have anyone to talk to other than strangers on the Internet. Better than nothing, but not great. For one thing it takes forever to get everything out in writing. Until it all comes together it just comes out sounding crazy, but it's not easy to explain quickly.

    Fionna

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  55. Fionna: You are not alone.


    Great article by gendermom along with other parents going through all this.

    "In August, I attended this annual conference (http://www.genderodyssey.org/)for the third time, along with about a thousand other lucky souls – including a couple hundred families with kids like mine. While our kids played in the free day camp, us parents gathered in conference rooms to swap stories, laugh, cry, rage, and learn. If only everyone could be there and see what I’ve seen, hear the stories I’ve heard. You’d be so inspired by the devotion of the parents, the smiles on the faces of the wee ones who are making their first friendships with other trans kids, the courage of the ass-kicking transgender teens (they speak on a panel, answering the questions and allaying the fears of moms and dads like me: “Look, they are teens and they’re trans and they’re OK!”)"


    https://gendermom.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/your-questions-answered/

    "Dr. Jo goes on to say that it’s also very common for kids to tell their parents they are transgender in their teen years. Ironically, she says, these kids are seen as “less credible” than the kids who told their parents when they were younger. "

    "Dr. Jo Olson is the medical director of the Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, where she sees nearly 500 transgender and gender-nonconforming youth between the ages of three and 25. "

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  56. Yes, I am alone. My kid would not fit in there. He does not have this story. He has never said he is transgendered.

    I don't know why you are ignoring that I have repeatedly tried to get this point across. It feels as if you are trying to convince me something that just is not there.

    Fionna


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  57. @Fionna

    //"Until it all comes together it just comes out sounding crazy, but it's not easy to explain quickly."//

    The good thing about discussing this here at Crossdreamers, is that the regular readers of this blog find nothing about this crazy.

    // "It feels as if you are trying to convince me something that just is not there."//

    None of us are saying that your kid IS a woman. We are saying that you must be open for the possibility that they MIGHT be. And we all agree that in the end the only one who can decide is your child, when the time is right.

    What I am saying though (and this is based on hard earned real life experience), is that many transgender people suppress their identities when younger, in order to fit in and be accepted by family, friends and society. The peer pressure against gender variance is extreme when you are a teenager. The stigma attached to "autogynephilia" and "sexual perversions" is even stronger. Children may do anything to avoid that kind of ostracization, including lying to themselves about it.

    Some, but not all, male to female crossdreamers find -- later in life -- that they are women.

    Given the fact that you and your child are open about this, and your kid openly tells you that they are NOT transsexual, the chances are that that you are facing another shade of gender variance. If that is the case he will most likely adapt well to living as a man.

    In other words: The chances are that your kid is not transsexual. But, unfortunately, given our own experiences, we have to prepare you for the alternative.

    As I said above: It seems to me you are doing this the right way: You are listening to your child (which is THE most important thing) and you are doing your best to gather information about what this can be. No one can ask for more.

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  58. I basically just have no reason to believe he is transgendered. What he is doing isn't listed as a symptom under Gender Dysphoria. I've had people tell me it's a symptom, but again, it is not listed. If it is a symptom, why isn't it listed?

    I told my kid all about this conversation. He continues to deny that he feels he is in the wrong body. He said it's not like that at all.

    I just wonder why it is so important to people that I misinterpret what he says. They seem to heavily be counting on me to do that. They aren't comfortable with the details as they are. Admittedly it might be easier on me as well, but I'd rather be uncomfortable than force my kid to do stuff that might harm him.

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  59. Try not to get hung up on language or "listed" symptoms. As far as language is concerned, there's just way too many ways to identify to just stick to "transgender." There's plenty of people who rely on other umbrellas while they figure themselves out. Like genderqueer. Or just don't try to quantify it at all, and just roll with whatever for the time being. As for the listed stuff, the "documented" stuff is woefully behind, so don't rely on that. Hell, you're commenting on a post which is basically pointing out the fact that documented "science" on this topic is still horribly toxic.

    At the very least, your son is gender variant based on current societal norms. And who knows, maybe he'll just be a very well in touch with himself male when he grows up, comfortable in his own actions that it doesn't matter that what he does "is girly." Let's face it, most of the masculine/feminine norms out there are just societal constructs anyway.

    We just feel its important that the door remains open for him, just in case. Which it does seem like you've got covered. If we get snippy at times, its because you tend to snap back at any little suggestion, which is understandable, you're tense about all this. We're really just trying to help, honest.

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  60. Yeah I suppose it's rather obnoxious of me to ask people who have gone or are going through this to give me answers. I just figure of all the people out there, you'd have the best idea as to what it felt like. The therapist I saw, she has not experienced this herself. She also has never had a child experience this. That's kind of like going to a marriage counselor who has never been married and on top of it lived with a single parent. There is only so much one can know about something if they haven't experienced it.

    -fionna

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  61. If you're looking for a hard and fast answer, there really is no hard and fast answer. So, please, again, quit it with the snide sarcasm, because (again) we are trying to help as best we can.

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  62. Sorry. I wasn't trying to be sarcastic.

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  63. My bad for misreading it, then.

    But yeah, I'm afraid there really is no hard and fast answer. All we can really do is give you our perspectives. You kinda have to throw the spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks.

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  64. Thank you. Again, sorry for sounding like a jerk. That's the tricky thing about message boards sometimes.

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  65. You ain't just whistlin' Dixie. :D

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  66. Fionna,

    It is possible for your kid to be male and transgender at the same time.
    Transgender is an umbrella term ((1, common use) Umbrella term applied to a variety of individuals, behaviors, and groups involving tendencies to diverge from the normative gender roles connected to their original biological sex, including transsexuals.) from http://www.crossdreamers.com/2010/01/transgender-and-transsexual-glossary.html

    No one is pressuring you to do anything. Sorry if it seems that way. I am 14- gender fluid.

    From your information you given here, I am guessing your kid is probably:
    Biological sex: male
    Gender identity: male
    Gender expression: Androgynous or crossdreamer

    "Crossdreaming (or cross-dreaming, also XD, covers some of the same phenomena as autogynephilia/autoandrophilia): Term made by me to describe the act of dreaming about being ones target sex or getting aroused from the idea of being ones target sex.

    These feminization fantasies (in case of biological men) and masculinization fantasies (in the case of biological women) are often found sexually arousing. Male to female crossdreamers often imagine themselves having breasts and female genitalia. Some crossdreamers will play the culturally defined role of the opposite sex in these fantasies. Female to male crossdreamers may fantasize about taking the proactive, dominant, thrusting, role when having intercourse. Crossdreaming is often, but not always, expressed through crossdressing, role playing and/or transgender erotica.

    Many argue that most crossdreamers are attracted to persons of the same sex as the target sex of their fantasies. M2F crossdreamers are attracted to women. F2M crossdreamers are attracted to men. Research indicates, however, that there are also androphilic (man loving) M2F crossdreamers and gynephilic (woman loving) F2M crossdreamers. A majority of crossdreamers identify with their biological sex, at least partly and in public. Studies of M2F crossdressers indicate that close to 20 percent of them may consider sex reassignment surgery, however, and some of them do transition.

    The term crossdreaming was originally a response to the concept of autogynephilia (see autogyenphilia), which was developed by Ray Blanchard. However, the term autogynephilia (or autoandrophilia for F2M crossdreamers) indicates that the conditions is caused by autoerotisism (auto in the meaning of "self") whereby the person has internalized the external love object, becoming sexually attracted to the idea of him or herself having the body of the opposite sex. The term crossdreaming does not entail such an explanation. Personally I think crossdreaming is at least partly caused by a biologically based gender variance. The term crossdreaming can also be considered a parallel to Harry Benjamin's types 1, 2, 3 and 4. They may develop into type 5 and 6.

    Julia Serano has suggested the terms Male/Masculine Embodiment Fantasies (MEFs) for FTM crossdreaming and Female/Feminine Embodiment Fantasies (FEFs) for MTF crossdreaming."
    (taken from the site's glossary)


    A few possible outcomes:
    Sex: male
    Gender identity: female
    Gender expression: butch

    Sex: male
    Gender identity: female
    Gender expression: androgynous

    Try not to worry and calm down. Have a nice long talk about the difference of gender identity and expression with your kid. Present some examples of gender expressions. Ask them what their gender identity is, then what their gender expression is- but also reassure them that it's okay to not know and that they might need some time to think it over.

    http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/05/separating-identity-expression/
    http://www.crossdreamers.com/2010/01/transgender-and-transsexual-glossary.html (check all the terms out)
    https://prezi.com/yvqu4hrcexig/gender-identity-expression-map/

    An incomplete list of gender expressions:
    http://nonbinary.org/wiki/Femme
    http://nonbinary.org/wiki/Butch
    http://nonbinary.org/wiki/Androgyny
    http://nonbinary.org/wiki/Epicene

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