February 14, 2016

Transphobia and femme shaming - two sides of the same coin

Much of transphboia is rooted in our culture's disdain for femininity and feminine expressions. This applies to all femmes: straight cis-women, lesbian women, gay men and trans people of all genders.
Femme shaming is yet another way our society keeps women 
and gender variant people in check.
Photo by Maffi Iren.

People who should know better, like radical feminists, play the “feminine is a sexist stereotype” card with great enthusiasm, while at the same time embracing masculine gender stereotypes with gusto.

Muscles and leather are apparently not sexist, high heels and cleavage are.

To me this reflects a deep rooted misogyny that permeates our whole culture.

Femininity is a sign of weakness (or something worse)

This becomes especially difficult for those male to female transgender people who feel feminine and who want to express that femininity.

They are immediately dismissed as sexist, not in the same way as feminine non-transgender women, mind you (as ”sluts”, “airheads” or “bimbos”, depending on to what extent they express their sexuality) but dismissed all the same (as ”effeminate gay men” and “heterosexual perverts”).

It does not matter that “we all know” that a feminine gender expression in a woman does not equal fragility, weakness or promiscuity. Even in the most gender conscious among us the social dismissal of the feminine often takes over, and we make the same mistake over and over again: Femininity equals female equals weak equals powerless and pathetic.

Sexism and radical feminism

This tendency has been strengthened by the curse of post-structuralist philosophy; the idea that gender is nothing but a performance, a social construct with no deep roots in the personality. Or, at least, this is how such philosophy is presented by the militants.

Presenting as feminine is therefore a moral choice and a bad one. Butch is good, femme is bad.

Safira Anouk, a a two spirit native American artist and radical femme. makes the following observation over at Harlot Media:
"Femme-shaming oppresses not only women, but any gender-variant person who doesn’t equate their personal empowerment to masculine presentation. This brutal way of thinking stratifies people into a kyriarchal caste system according to their biological sex, forcing them into corresponding boxes of gender norms; arbitrarily socializing people in ways that betray their authentic selves."
Yes, this radical feminist actually believes there is such a thing as an "authentic self", and that this personality core is not just a mirage of gender symbols and semiotics.

I am certain she is right. Much of the suffering trans and queer people experience is because they are not allowed to be themselves, express themselves and be affirmed as themselves. Saying that there is no "self" does not help at all.

Anouk strongly defends her right to be femme:
"My choice to wear long nails may be partly influenced by the way that I was socialized, and it may also coincide with misogynist expectations of women, however it is my choice which I made through thoughtful analysis of pros and cons. In this case I chose in favour of my own aesthetic preference, knowing full well that they can be impractical and invite unwanted attention from disapproving feminists and chauvinist trolls alike."

Gay femme-phobia

The gay male culture has also become increasingly femme-phobic. Looking “straight” or even more straight than “straight” is the ideal. The six-pack is the new norm.

Over at iD Scottee Scottee, a femme queen, draws attention to ​femme-shaming and the need to fight back against gay-on-gay prejudice:
"Lets entertain Russell and Daniel's rhetoric that effeminacy is somehow performed -- then surely this means their beloved masculinity is also a performed action? 
My limp wrist, higher intonation and penchant for an ASOS blouse is not, contrary to popular belief a received action, I'm just being the person I feel I am. 
Granted when I'm wearing eight inches of foundation and covering myself in confetti perhaps this is a heightened version of my femme identity, but there's an argument here that this is only deemed outré because of the rules of gender our aforementioned attention seekers adhere to and enforce; perhaps we often try to be louder because we want to be heard. To paraphrase a Stonewall campaign slogan -- some people are camp, get over it."
For me femme shaming is yet another attempt by both religious, feminist and LGBT extremist to force the rest of the world to live to up to their ideals of restricted and puritan lives. It reflects centuries of sexual repression of women, the denial of sexuality in women and their pride in their female body and soul. It also turns the natural and healthy desire to celebrate yourself through clothing and appearance into something pathological.

And above all: It reinforces the cultural fear of femininity in people assigned male at birth.
Caitlyn Jenner's twitter photo. This is how
she would like to be seen.

I may disagree with Caitlyn Jenner when it comes to parts of her politics, but I will never reduce her desire to appear feminine to a result of social conditioning. It reflects a genuine part of herself that is now, finally, given room to breathe.

The fact that femme shaming has become a concept gives me hope. This means that we can finally see and do something about this kind of oppression.


  1. Peer pressure does more to control the population than laws do

  2. I agree. I am unable to retrace the research right now, but i have also read that as far as young people are concerned, the pressure from people in the same age group is much more important than the parents.

    This blog post is also discussed over at the Crossdream Life forum

  3. Um... Instead of transphobia in the title you should replace it with transmisogyny as that is more accurate as you are speaking about transphobia only directed at transwomen.

  4. //Um... Instead of transphobia in the title you should replace it with transmisogyny as that is more accurate as you are speaking about transphobia only directed at transwomen.//

    I get your point. I guess I am taking search engines and click-throughs into consideration when I make headlines like this one.

    That being said, I have even heard of trans men who have been criticized for being too "femme". It is as if people cannot conceive of a transgender man who wants to express femininity. See Gender Terror for a take on this.

  5. well written and a reflection of our culture to a tee. Good on you Jack

  6. Ok. You got a great point.

  7. So this person just read a completely biased account


    care to debunk?

  8. Wait you don't need to debunk. I asked an academic to factcheck it.

  9. Alice Dreger makes some good points in this book, but her description of transgender activists are completely off the mark. Dreger is actively defending some of the most transphobic researchers alive. She cannot possibly expect trans people not to defend themselves against this kind of harassment.

    I have written extensively about the pseudo-scientific nature of the autogynephilia-theory here in this blog. Ray Blanchard is definitely not a Galileo. He reminds me more of the eugenics-researchers of the 1930s.

  10. I know she makes some good points but Dreger doesn't understand transphobia. The author of the article seems to blame political correctness blindly.

    PC is not the reason why Blanchard got harassed. It is because of his transphobia. etc etc etc.
    PC culture has nothing to do with this.

    This is what PC is:

  11. Thank you for sharing that link!

    I agree. I know that there may be times when "social justice warriors" go to far to protect the oppressed and marginalized, but that is not often, and definitely not compared to the number of times bigots bully LGBT people.

    Most often the people who use the word "political correct", do so in order to defend their right to harass others.

    Dreger defends Ray Blanchard, who thinks it is all right to use words like "sissy" and "transvestite" to describe trans people, as well as the Donald Trump of sexology, J. Michael Bailey, who believes it is OK to call trans women "gay men".

    See the Motherboard interview to meet Ray Blanchard in a non-academic setting. Appalling stuff! And here are some quotes from Bailey's transphobic book. How anyone can describe this as neutral, exploratory, science, is beyond me.

  12. If you read that Motherboard interview Blanchard comes off as the furthest thing from a curious academic. Instead he appears to be highly biased, opinionated and smug. But as time goes on his work is being marginalized by real life. As transgender people begin to come out of the woodwork and require help from society his pseudoscience will just become part of our cautionary history about how not to deal with an issue.

  13. Ray Blanchard, J. Michael Bailey and James Cantor have this academic smugness or arrogance in common. It is as if they cannot feel the pain of others. Instead they look at trans people as fascinating specimens that have to be collected and labelled, completely disregarding their humanity.

    This is also why, I believe, they so quickly retreat behind the "scientific freedom of speech" defense. By doing so they avoid facing the fact that what they are doing is highly unethical.

    Compare the Motherboard interview with these extracts from relevant documents on research ethics.

  14. I love chatting here. I am afraid to talk anywhere else cause I will get called too PC and a SJW!

    Checking out out those links. now


  15. I want to be a psychologist when I grow up


  16. "There are two ways by which a paraphilia could be converted into a paraphilic disorder: the individual is distressed by their desires, or they are acting in a way that is noxious to people."

    By that ridiculous definition homosexuality is a paraphilia in Russia cause it digusts most Russians. (Please correct me about Russia if this is offensive)


  17. I get it. He's anti PC pretending to be pro PC. Seriously did he know he could made up words


  18. The Blanchard/Zucker/Bailey-group does not see the obvious: That they contribute to the stigmatization of crossdreamers and trans people, which again causes their distress, which is then used as proof of them being mentally ill.

    This was, as you point out, the same way of thinking as the one that caused so much suffering among homosexual. Homophobia and harassment caused the very suffering used to prove that they were ill. When the American psychiatrists finally agreed to remove homosexuality from the DSM manual, it was because of political pressure, not because the majority stopped believing that homosexual were "perverts". In hindsight, however, it is easy to see that they were wrong. In a society where gay men and lesbian women are even allowed to marry, there is less suffering caused by stigmatization.

    I should add, though, that Blanchard even now think that gay men are mentally ill, because his fundamental understanding of what causes a "paraphilia" is not distress, but "evolutionary fitness", i.e whether a sexual preference will foster procreation. This is an idea that leads back to the Social Darwinism of the 19th century. Blanchard is forever stuck in the 19th century.

    He never mentions the obvious end point of such an argument, though, namely that most bisexual and gynephilic MTF crossdreamers are "evolutionary fit", as they most often do procreate.

    His thinking is full of half-digested ideas like this one.

  19. Actually my religion revolves around social Darwinism and even I think he is taking the whole social Darwinism too far!

  20. I'm so happy for this blog. I feel, as a GG attracted to CDs, I have finally, FINALLY found a safe place for discussion and hopefully one day, real friendships.

  21. I would love to hear more about you here, equece. Do not hesitate to ask me and the others who hang around here about anything!

    You may also want to take a look at Crossdream Life, which is also open to supporters, family members, FTM crossdreamers or anyone interested in crossdreaming and crossdressing.

  22. https://theconversation.com/factcheck-qanda-was-lyle-shelton-right-about-transgender-people-and-a-higher-suicide-risk-after-surgery-55573

    Also I have thinking of opening up an online store... but what charity should half of the LGBT part of the online will go to?


  23. @equeue What is a GG?


  24. @J

    Here is a list of possible LGBT organizations.

    GG is an old abbreviation referring to a person assigned woman at birth.

    Partners of crossdreamers should feel free to ask questions here.

  25. Thanks

    I think he needs some advice.


  26. Thanks.

    I think he needs some advice: http://www.crossdreamers.com/2009/12/autogynephilia-and-loneliness.html?showComment=1457191582929#c1400134080045648466


  27. Thank you for reminding me about this! I will follow up.

  28. some ex-"trans" is claiming that gender dysphoria doesn't exist.


    How? Because of Cumming's own peronal experience of course. Damn the evidence that it exists.

  29. Reminds me of that supposed ex-TERF still being a TERF as seen here: (https://www.reddit.com/r/asktransgender/comments/3vqy0m/im_an_exterf_ask_me_anything/cxvhvns)

    Still can't realize humans made up the words female and male and assigned them to things deemed male and female.
    Gender roles aren't static or engained in nature as an example being here: (http://www.vox.com/2015/4/14/8405889/pink-color-gender):
    and these gender roles often vary among cultures.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_role#Cultures) Why does it vary? Well it is because humans made up gender roles. Made up. We made up cultural male and female. Made up.

    Also now thanks to humans being rubbish at assigning things, (american cultures only cause humans are racist)
    there's american cultural male, american cultural female, biological male, biological female. And yes for some reason (perhaps cisnormativity) (https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/cisnormativity) people still view cultural male = biological male, and vice versa.
    Due to the close-mindness of TERFs, they cannot even be able to tell the difference between cultural or biological, otherwise known as gender and sex respectively.

    A woman assigned male at birth can have a cultural female penis. It's that simple.

  30. For some reason, people decided to label both biological and cultural female as one thing and somehow attached cultural female to biological female, that's why it's called cultural female. Feminine etc.

  31. To make this even more confusing, gender dysphoria might be biological in nature as brain scans have shown that transssexuals' brain match more with their gender rather than sex. So what's biological now?

    And intersex people existing makes this even more confusing as examined here:
    "But trans people aren’t the only edge case of this model. In certain intersex conditions such as Swyer syndrome and complete androgen insensitivity syndrome (CAIS), a woman develops typically female physical features while nevertheless having XY chromosomes."

    Again what defines a biological sex? Hormones or chromosomes or brain scans or identity?

    I just broke the TERF binary of gender and sex.


  32. "People with Swyer syndrome have typical female external genitalia."

    Genitals vs chromosomes? Since TERFs love love love love defining gender based on those features.

    Where is your god now?


  33. Is the vagina a female's? Or male's?


  34. The Redditor who replied to the ex-TERF that still acts like a TERF pointed out this http://www.nature.com/news/sex-redefined-1.16943

    " the woman learned for the first time that a large part of her body was chromosomally male1. “That's kind of science-fiction material for someone who just came in for an amniocentesis,” says James."

    Our binary system is so so so exclusive.

    'Scientists are now finding that XX and XY cells behave in different ways, and that this can be independent of the action of sex hormones'

    Um do we now have to mess with the system and and separate categories at the possible differences?


  35. Good observations, indeed. I need you to contact me by email (jack.molay@gmail.com) so that we can gather all of them in a blog post.

    And here is one additional observation that makes the TERF standpoint even more puzzling:

    The TERFs think of themselves as post-structuralists believing in the social construction of gender (and even sex, according to some of them). Given the complexity of human ideas, cultural mores and social arrangement that should by itself lead to a more diverse view of gender identity.

    Even if they do dismiss any biological component of gender formation (which I do not, by the way), their own belief system should open their minds to the idea of someone born with a penis identifying as female.

    Instead they regress into a quasi-biological binary, were apparently all women -- wherever they live in the word -- share the same gender formative life experience as white, academic, middle and upper class women in America. This is ridiculous!

  36. The word pussy is used to describe "a weak, cowardly, or effeminate man." (oxford dictionary)

    Yep association with effeminate and weak

    Sissy means "a person regarded as effeminate or cowardly' (oxford dictionary)

    You get the idea.

    For some reason society in general seems to think of effeminate men as weak as thus use the association with the feminine as an insult to other men.

    Gay is often used as a slur for those reasons; feminine = weak.

    Thus I always feel uncomfortable when people use feminine words as an insults.

    I cringed when a news show I was watching insulted a politician as a pussy.

    And in my head, I have to repeat. It's okay to be PC. Ignore all the people attacking PC, ignore all the PC shamers again and again.


  37. Paer #1. Jack "The Blanchard/Zucker/Bailey-group does not see the obvious: That they contribute to the stigmatization of crossdreamers and trans people, which again causes their distress, which is then used as proof of them being mentally ill. "

    Disagree they know exactly what they were doing, trying to create or continue an anti-trans baised society, to deter and prevent us from existing. Bailey in TMWWBQ makes that quite clear, that greater societal tolerance for us would be a 'bad thing'.

    Both Blanchard and Zucker have been quite happy for their work to be quoted and misquoted by some of the worst right wing religious anti-LGBTI organisations around, like NARTH or the FRC. Without a peep of complaint.

    Blanchard spends his declning days now re-tweeting TERF tweets and links.

    The acolyte James Cantor keeps banging away the anti-trans Blanchard/Zucker stuff, when he is not re-quoting Gendertrender. He sometimes comments at the WPATH SoC 7 FB site and I pinned him one time to say just ONE thing good or supportive about trans women.... finally got him to sort of agree the US bathroom laws are wrong, sort of.

    Their mission was to 'prevent transsexualism' and to create a derogatory image of us was just one method they have used. it was qute deliberate.

    The best laugh, I have gone through Blanchard's original autogynephilia paper in detail ...and, on his own published results, he didn't prove it.

    His analysis used a poor and inappropriate statistical test (infamous for false positives), not designed for varying sample sizes and requires continuous Gaussian data to be valid. Even so:

    Core Autogynephilia (AGP) Test Results
    Asexuals and Heterosexuals were significantly the same.
    Heterosexuals and bisexuals were significantly the same.
    Asexuals and bisexuals were NOT significantly the same, meaning the other relationships barely met statistical validity..

    Autogynephilia Interpersonal Test
    Homosexuals, asexuals and heterosexuals were significantly the same.

    And another thing, the absoluate score velues were low. On the core AGP test, out of maximum value of 11 the average score for heterosexuals was only 5.3. Gay men 2.2 with a much higher CV (129% vs 55%), showing that a lot of gay men had the same or higher scores than hetero ones did.
    With all the flaws in the questionaires that causes score inflation (see below) that is sod all.

  38. Part #2

    So, on his own (flawed) results, you cannot say that AGP applies only (and the same) to hetero/bisexual/asexuals but homosexuals are 'different' and do not have AGP.

    So he introduced another, a non AGP test, Cross Gender Fantasy test used for Transvestic Fetishism...but changed the test to something unknown (I have asked him for details but no answer yet).
    The original test as quoted elsewhere by Blanchard has no negative numbers, (score range 0 to 11) but his published results show negative numbers.
    I have searched for another Cross Gen Fetish test that has negative values and have not found one. There is no reference in the paper to such a test

    So there you have it, Blanchard’s won results do NOT show (in fact disprove) the hypothesis that homosexuals do NOT have AGP, and hetero/asexual/bisexuals do.

    Technical Statistical Analyses Errors
    – No tests for normality were undertaken, given the high Coefficients of Variation (CV) shown (the highest being 523%) non-normality should have been considered and tested for.
    – The core statistical test (Newman-Keuls) has a high ‘false positive’ rate, is not valid for varying sized sample data (like his data) and not valid for non Gaussian data.
    – Sample sizes were averaged using the Harmonic Mean (most commonly used in financial analysis), no results or discussion was provided to justify why this was chosen in preference to other means or the impact on the Newman-Keuls test results.
    – The test used to 'prove' the hypothesis (Cross Gender Fetish) showed extremely high CVs(-73%, -421%, 388%, 523%) rendering the results problematic at best as this indicates a very poor test or extreme skewing in the data (or perhaps even being bimodal).

    – The data was bounded integer data, applying a test based on an assumption of an unbounded continuous Gaussian distribution is technically problematic.

    Questionnaire Errors.
    – The questionnaires followed the Core Question, Sub Question design. While this is appropriate for detailed analysis, it leads to multiple counting and score inflation when used as a measurement scale. If the Core question is answered with a yes, then at least one other Sub question will automatically be answered with a yes as well.
    – There were several questions that were essentially identical to other ones, again leading to score inflation.
    – The tests do not measure intensity (frequency or recency of fantasies or actions) .– The core question (#12) in the Autogynephilic Interpersonal Fantasy Scale is incorrect, with a score being given for non interpersonal fantasy behaviour, thus the results would be inflated for this test.

    The whole thing is rubbish, generated to 'prove' an ideological point, that trans people are 'just' extreme gays men or lesbians and any others that claim that are perverts. It was worse than most think, a fair proportion of kids only realise they are trans at the start of puberty...but the way AGP is defined then they were perverts too. You had to be a 'sissy'from birth and madly into sex with men to be considered a 'true transsexual' (extreme gay) by them.

    But the damage it has done, not just in the public image of us and in the legal arena, but the old 'gatekeepers' of the past used it to 'decide' who was trans or not and be allowed HRT, SRS and legal changes. For ages it was automatic disqualification if you were female atracted.

    But recent data shows that 40%-60% of trans women are female attracted (inc being bisexual). I haven't yet found the rate of trans men who are male attacted, but it won't be small.

    It was all idological by a small group of academics and practitioners determined to wipe us from the face of the earth.

  39. Even worse technical point, the sample of gay men was 117, with hetero only 19.

    Typically CVs drop wth larger sample sizes, the fact that the Gay CV was MUCH higher than the hetero ones (or the bisexuals or asexuals) shows that a heck of a lot of gays had as high or higher Core AGP scores than the hetero ones.

  40. @Lisa,

    We need a reference post giving a summary of your study of Blanchard & Co -- one I can, for instance, refer to in the resource section. Do you have published such a summary somewhere?

  41. Piping in late, but just going back to the point. Sometimes, the best way to illustrate the whole point is to use cartoons.

    Here is an old one from Venus Envy: http://www.venusenvycomic.com/index.php?id=118

    A more recent one from Assigned Male: http://www.assignedmale.com/comic/2015/9/8/b2wsy3x4pvdsgc5ny72r79x4x8x6lx

    And finally, my favourite, also from Assigned Male. This one touches a sore point, because the particular issue is a source of contention between my wife and I. She has never felt the need of 'wearing feminine clothes' to affirm her femaleness, and cannot understand why I cannot do the same. I argue precisely like Stephie in this cartoon: http://www.assignedmale.com/comic/2015/9/9/tc20aja3wydgtgcmm2xx5y4ac6kkfv

  42. @Sandra

    These need tumbling! Thank you!

  43. Sandra Lopes said...

    "She has never felt the need of 'wearing feminine clothes' to affirm her femaleness, and cannot understand why I cannot do the same. "

    I was thinking about that awhile back. why in my pre transtion and closeted part time days did I need to 'dress up'. I never did anything I didn't do in male clothes, blobbed around, read, watched TV, etc. It is just clothes after all, bits of fabric. But I felt far more relaxed and comfortable with myself when I did it.

    I finally realised it was just a mental trick, a way to trigger off dropping my act as a man. A way of giving myself permission to relax and act naturally.

    After I transitioned and a bit of time passed, that went away and I felt just as female in jeans and a top. I didn't need the 'mental trick' any longer to be myself.

    Commmon and perfectly understandable. It takes time to 'unlearn' your male act that you might have invested decades in creating (as I did) and various cues and triggers are useful tools in that. Even when you go full time it can take a fair while to completely 'unlearn', took me about a year.

    If you are part time it is very hard, because you are still reinforcing your male act all the time.


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