September 26, 2016

When Real Life Gets in the Way of Transphobic Science

Gigi Gorgeous first came out as a gay man, then
as a trans woman, and now as a lesbian, falsifying
the autogynephilia theory in the process.
Two recent articles and a YouTube blog post present lives that prove the stereotypes of transphobic psychologists wrong. 

Meet Ekundayo Afolayan, Gigi Gorgeous and Kat Hamilton!

Sexology has caused a lot of suffering in queer and transgender circles.

Since the late 1980s terms like "transvestic fetishism" have been used actively to invalidate the  identities of male to female transgender people, mostly by reducing their sense of self to some kind of sexual perversion.

The clearest example is the the autogynephilia theory of Ray Blanchard, which is based on traditional gender stereotypes and a strict binary understanding of sex, sexuality and gender.

He is basically reducing sexuality, gender expression as well as gender identity in male to female trans people to a function of sexual attraction. In other words:  Who you are attracted to determines what kind of transgender person you are. And male to female transgender persons are either effeminate gay men or mentally ill straight men, according to this theory.

In real life there is no one to one relationship between sexual orientation on the one hand and masculinity and femininity on the other.

In real life there is no clear boundary between male to female transgender people who love women and those who love men, neither when it comes to appearance, behavior, desires nor when they first become aware of their gender variance.
Modern sexology often reduces the identity and
sexuality of trans and queer people to
"autoeroticism", a strategy used to invalidate
gay, lesbian and transgender people for more
than a century. (Thinkstock)

But that is exactly what the theory requires.

"Homosexual transsexuals" (this is what these researchers offensively call straight trans women who love men) are described as effeminate and sexy young transitioners, while "autogynephilic transsexuals" (i.e homosexual and bisexual trans women) are masculine, unattractive,  and "late-onset".

Actually, this binary encompasses non-transitioning transgender persons as well, including drag queens and crossdressers.

I am not going to repeat the main arguments against the theory here. You will find ample documentation here and here.

In this post I will present three recent publications made by people who all violate the borders set up by Ray Blanchard.

Ekundayo Afolayan and non-binary gender variance

Afolayan's avatar over at The Establishment
Since I started my blog back in 2008, a lot has happened.

One of the most interesting developments is the increasing visibility of non-binary people who want to express their gender variance through clothing, behavior and various forms of body add-ons or modifications.

Many of them have been assigned female at birth.

To express the male or masculine side of themselves, the latter  often make use of binders (to hide their breasts) and penis prosthetics (to gain that bulge or erection).

They do not normally use the language of male to female crossdreamers to describe their feelings, but it is abundantly clear that the desire to appear masculine to the point of "packing" is an important way for them to express both identity and sexuality.

This is why I found Ekundayo Afolayan's article about their search for the perfect penis so interesting.

Afolayan is intersex, black and queer. They are passing as female, and have been raised as female.

They fall completely outside the traditional category of the old, white, "transvestic male fetishist," yet this is what they write:
"If I were just looking for a sex toy, I would have my pick of silicone dicks in every size and every color of the rainbow. But I’m looking for something that will help me express myself, my gender, and my sexuality, and that means no sparkly purple monster wangs. I want it to be be brown, like me. I want my dildo at a size that won’t absolutely obliterate my partner’s parts (like the Cannon). I need something that feels as real as it can get—something that can be worn flaccid or erect, something I can use to pee, something that lets me ejaculate."
There is no big difference between this desire and many MTF crossdreamer's experimentation with tucking, stuffed bras and breast forms.   Like them, they make use of the tools available to express and explore their sexuality and their gender.

This should be impossible according to the theory, as only straight cis men can experience such feelings. People like her do not exist, according to Blanchard. 

There are, in fact, a lot of female to male crossdreamers out there (who get aroused by the idea of being a man or taking the sexual role of a man).  Plenty.

Gigi Gorgeous - from coming out as a gay man to coming out as  lesbian 

Gigi Gorgeous is the kind of trans activist that makes some other trans activists uncomfortable by her rather explicit, feminine, gender expression.
Photo by @gigigourgeous at instagram.

In Norway we have several non-transgender female "pink bloggers" who reminds me of her way of expressing herself. People may object to their sexualization of womanhood, but no one would deny them their female identity.

As a good-looking, feminine, early transitioner, Gigi would immediately be classified as a "homosexual transsexual", according to the autogynephilia scheme of things.

You see, she has always been attracted to men, and if you are attracted to men you are not supposed to be an "autogynephiliac" or a "transvestic fetishist", according to the theory.

However, the hearts of men and women do not really care that much about Ray Blanchard and his theory. A few weeks ago Gigi came out on YouTube as a lesbian. She has fallen in love with a woman!

I guess the autogynephilia-supporters are hastily reclassifying Gigi as an "autogynephiliac", arguing that she had always been one, since any trans woman who has ever had sex with a woman is per definition a "paraphiliac" in their eyes.

Still, that does not explain how she is able to live up to all the other stereotypes of Blanchard & Co: Appearing sexy and attractive, transitioning young, expressing feminine mannerisms etc. etc. She first came out as a gay man.

The truth is, of course, that the whole theory is just a projection of an 19th century classification scheme developed to uphold the binary. They old bearded professors of that time believed  -- like Blanchard -- that gay men were "inverts", mentally ill men who mirrored female sexuality.

Real world sexuality and gender identity are not binary. They unfold themselves in a complex and multidimensional continuum of desire, identity, interest, expressions and abilities.



Kat Hamilton - a feminist who loves rough sex

The autogynephilia theory is based on the idea that the sexual desires of "non-homosexual" male to female trans persons represent a kind of misdirected straight, male, sexuality. All of them are straight men who feel a sexual attraction to their "inner woman".

One clear sign of this "erotic target location error" is that they get aroused by the idea of being a sexy woman, because this is something non-transgender women never do, according to Blanchard & Co.

The fact is, however, that in real life non-transgender women may also get turned on by "feeling sexy." They are not supposed to say so, of course, but many of them admit as much.

This should come as no surprise. Sexual desire is not a simple trigger/response process where we get turned on by looking at body parts. Sexual desire relies just as much on the feedback we get from others. To be desired by someone is a turn-on in itself, because it affirms our own attractiveness, which again makes real sex a real possibility.
The desire for sexual submission causes a lot of
guilt both in transgender circles and among
cisgender feminists.
Photo: Moussa81

Kat Hamilton's article is fascinating, because as a feminist she clearly believes that  getting turned on by the idea of being affirmed by a man is problematic. Or -- for that matter -- getting aroused  by the idea of being the submissive one in bed -- having "rough sex" with a dominant man.

She writes:
"Domination is all in the actions, the movements, micro-insinuations, and the placement of hands and body parts with clear intent and control. It's a delicate dance with someone who knows how to lead. That carnal feeling that somebody wants me, desires me, and finds me sexy is something new to me that I never felt growing up. Being teased for being petite and flat chested—I'm still currently working with 32A cup breasts—I never got chosen for seven minutes in heaven, and throughout my teen and adult years I had sex with my shirt on or at the very least a bra. It took me a very long time to feel sexy, and even then it's not all of the time."
Please remember: If a male to female transgender person says something like this, it is immediately taken as proof of some "autoerotic paraphilia". But it isn't. Hamilton is simply exploring a side of her sexuality that is natural. It is neither good nor bad in itself. It simply is.

And we should all be allowed to explore the different aspects of our sexualities and our identities, without shame and guilt, keeping the distinction between sexual fantasies and what happens in bed in mind, as well as the difference between what happens in and out of bed. Being submissive in bed is not the same as being submissive elsewhere.

Ekundayo Afolayan, Gigi Gorgeous and Kat Hamilton are real persons, living real lives outside the narrow boundaries defined by sexologists like Blanchard. Keep them in mind the next time you meet religious extremists or transphobic "radical feminists" (TERFs) who actively use such theories to attack crossdreamers and trans people.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!