July 12, 2011

Study on differences in mental health between homosexual and heterosexual transsexuals

Are gynephilic (woman loving)  transwomen more likely to suffer from mental illnesses than the androphilic (man loving) ones? And what about transmen? 

The question of whether there are different types of transsexuals is one of the minefields of transgender research, not at least because there is a long tradition to consider transwomen who love women fakes or perverts. The idea that transsexuals can be gay or lesbians too, seems to be hard to understand.  Both doctors and many "classic transsexuals" have considered the other kind to be fetishistic crossdressers and perverted "autogynephiliacs". 

An underpinning assumption has been that gynephilic (woman-loving) transwomen are mentally ill, while the the androphiles (man-lovers) are either "real women" ("real women love men") or -- as in the teachings of Ray Blanchard -- mentally healthy feminine gay men.

This debate is also of relevance to non-transsexual transgender people, especially if you believe there are common traits between crossdressers and crossdreamers on the one hand and transsexuals on the other. I believe there are, given that so many transsexuals have been  crossdreamers and/or crossdressers before transitioning.  

The MMPI-2/MMPI-A study

A  new Dutch study,"Comparing adult and adolescent transsexuals: An MMPI-2 and MMPI-A study",  looks into the mental health of transsexuals and presents some very interesting findings.

As always, remember that research is a work in progress, and that gender research is doubly so, given all the difficulties stemming from the cultural context, methodological problems, the prejudices of the researchers etc. etc. In this post I consider the findings as they are. 

Cause and effect, causality and correlation

What makes such studies hard is that it is hard to distinguish between cause and effect: 

Are transsexuals mentally ill? 

If they are ill: Does the mental illness cause their transsexual condition or is it their transsexual condition that makes them ill? 

If their their illness is caused by their transsexuality, is this for inborn reasons or because of the way people treat them?

The social and cultural context of transsexuals shape their life trajectories

I have previously put forward the following hypotheses:

An autoandrogerontophilia prank

It is summer in my part of the world, and time for something completely unserious:

July 8, 2011

Infidelity gender equality: They myth about the chaste women

New research throws doubt on fundamental gender stereotypes: Women are as likely as men to be unfaithful, given the same power and resources.

One of the aspects of the gender debate that is hardest to get a grasp on is the discussion on what is innate and what is caused by culture.

The traditional dichotomy of men being aggressive, sexually driven, leaders, while women are passive, emphatic followers, is so deeply ingrained in out culture, that even feminists fall for it (arguing that women are for peace, while men are war mongering beasts). 

Real life experience

I have known too many aggressive, outspoken, and dominant women to believe in this myth. 

I grew up in a part of Scandinavia that used to rely on fishing and whaling. The men were out, the women ruled at home. In nearly all the families I knew when growing up the women dominated conversations and  made all the important decisions regarding the family. This led to a double set of stereotypes: The traditional one of men being in charge (as they seemingly controlled the revenue) and a parallel one of men being under the heels of women.

Over and over again I found that  my male friends dreamed more about establishing a family with kids, than "nailing" the best looking girl at the party. They tried to behave according to the stereotype of the manly Casanova -- that is true -- but their main objective was love, not sex alone. 

That did not stop them from repeating the stereotypes in their conversations, however.

Transgender confusion: What does it mean to be a man or a woman?

It is interesting to see that so many crossdreamers report a psychological profile that is similar to what the cultural stereotypes tell us to expect from their target sex. 

To give one example: A significant portion of M2F crossdreamers taking part in the discussions over at Crossdream Life seem to be introvert and reactive. Their identification with their ideal of the  female sex goes far beyond the realm of sexual arousal. 

In spite of this I constantly hear, from the crossdreamers themselves, that their sexuality is far from female. The problem, it seems, is that they are too easily sexually aroused. 

Their argument is that "women do not have such fantasies", if they have any sexual fantasies at all. That is: Many male to female crossdreamers have a vision of XX women as chaste, asexual beings, who rarely masturbate, who never take the initiative sexually and who are not promiscuous.