ITT #6: Blanchard-Bailey

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This post is a person– who may believe either a gender identity or a Blanchard-Bailey theory of transness– doing their best to write what a Blanchardian believes. Confused about what an Intellectual Turing Test is or what “gender identity” and “Blanchard-Bailey” mean? Click here! Please read, then vote at the end of the post.

How do you define woman/man?

Humans are basically sexually dimorphic. There are edge cases, but there are also two mostly distinct clusters, one containing people who typically have XX chromosomes, vaginas, etc., and the other containing people who typically have XY chromosomes, penises, etc. The first cluster is “women” and the second is “men”.

Of course, all the controversy is over what to do about the edge cases. Some people are intersex – they’re naturally between the clusters, or just at the edge of one. Others are trans – they’re in one cluster but they want to be in another, or they have taken some steps to actually move to the other cluster, which might land them between the clusters or possibly within (but still towards the edge of) the other cluster. I think that the best way to categorize a particular individual is to see where they are in this hypothetical graph with the two clusters. (This does mean that for certain people, it won’t be reasonable to put them in either category.)

I do think that when one is in the midst of transitioning, or if one has completed the steps of transition without actually landing in their desired cluster, as a courtesy we can use the pronoun they want. But the categories that *matter* are mostly the physical clusters.

What are your opinions on the cotton ceiling?

I think this is an absurd term for a real struggle.

Trans people who want sexual and romantic partners really are in a difficult situation. But… this situation is sort of a natural consequence of choosing to transition.

Most people’s attraction to others is heavily gendered, and the ideal of an attractive man is very different from the ideal of an attractive woman, which makes androgynous people unattractive to many. And unfortunately current transition technology does not let all trans people look like their preferred gender. Also unfortunately, SRS is relatively expensive, so many trans people don’t get surgery – but many if not most people do in fact care about their sex partners’ genitals.

I’m not saying that trans people who don’t pass can never find love (clearly there are people who do find androgyny attractive, though this is not the norm) and I’m also not saying that transphobia plays no part in this (some people who are attracted to trans people are too ashamed to date one). But you’ll never get rid of the inherent disadvantage that trans people get in dating.

(I’ll note, btw, that though androphilic trans women have a disadvantage in dating compared to straight cis women, they’re still in a better position dating-wise than they’d be sans transition, since they tend to specifically prefer straight men.)

Also if your activism focuses on getting into someone’s pants, you’re doing activism wrong. Sexual pressure continues to be wrong if it’s perpetrated by a disadvantaged person.

Why are trans women disproportionately likely to be programmers?

Depends on who you’re comparing them with.

One reason trans women are more likely to be programmers than cis women is that the set of trans women contains the set of autogynephilic trans women, and autogynephilic trans women basically have typically male interests (and typically male socialization, which unlike androphilic trans women* they actually tend to absorb as kids).

The question of why trans women are overrepresented in programming compared to cis men is more interesting – if autogynephilic trans women had purely male-typical interests while androphilic trans women had purely female-typical interests, you would expect trans women to end up somewhere between men and women in programmeriness. I don’t think we know the full answer to this, but this too is clearly driven by the autogynephiles – androphilic trans women mostly have relatively female-typical interests and occupations. Trans people seem to be unusually likely to be autistic, so this is likely to be a factor; other than that, I don’t really understand this myself. This is definitely an area for further research.

*”homosexual transsexuals” is the technical term, but I disagree with Blanchard’s choice of terminology here – I think when you’re talking about trans people, using their own sex/gender as a reference point is going to be confusing for people who aren’t sex researchers. I also think that when we can use non-inflammatory language without sacrificing truth, there’s no reason not to do that (I’m trying to do so in this entry, for instance).

Explain trans people assigned female at birth.

This is woefully understudied, so I can’t do much more than speculate.

It seems plausible that a similar two-type situation could exist for trans men, except that there should be very few autoandrophiles because women generally have less intense sex drives than men and paraphilias in general are much less common in women. (Here Blanchard and Bailey both kind of fuck up – Blanchard says autoandrophilia doesn’t exist at all, Bailey says paraphilias are exclusively or almost exclusively experienced by men – but, well, I’ll just say that based on my observations both of these claims seem really unlikely. Women with very high sex drives & weird sexual preferences do in fact exist, they’re just rare. I think this is an excusable fuckup since they both primarily study male-sexed people.)

Gynephilic, masculine trans men should thus be the majority of trans men (and indeed Blanchard has a study that shows just that). This group would be analogous to androphilic trans women – they would naturally fit into society better as men and more easily be able to find straight, feminine female partners. (In a sense this is just a variant of butch lesbians who are into femmes – I think very butch lesbians are more common than very feminine gay men because gender-variant behavior is punished less for women than men; this would also predict fewer trans men than trans women.) Then there should be a few autoandrophiles – trans men who are into men and don’t seem that different from women, other than an unusually strong sex drive and, obviously, autoandrophilia & therefore a desire to transition.

Non-binary people don’t seem to fit neatly into either group – the first group wouldn’t fit because nobody becomes non-binary to *fit into a social role better*, and the second group would seem not to fit because, like, auto*andro*philia. But actually I do think it could be autoandrophilia. Consider that non-binary people frequently modify their bodies to become less like their birth sex and more like the other sex, and that even if they most prefer gender-neutral pronouns, they tend to prefer the pronouns of the opposite sex over the pronouns of their own sex. “Partial gynephilia” is in fact a thing – that is, some people have an attraction to themselves with some male and some female traits (e.g. breasts and also a penis). What if non-binary-ness is the same thing, conceptualized differently?

The first item on the poll refers to what side you think the author of this post really believes, while the second item refers to what side you believe. When taking the poll, if you can POSSIBLY round yourself off to Blanchard-Bailey or gender identity, please do so. Please do this even if you have major disagreements with the side you are leaning towards. Only use “neither” if you really really really cannot in good conscience round yourself to either.

ITT #5: Blanchard-Bailey

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This post is a person– who may believe either a gender identity or a Blanchard-Bailey theory of transness– doing their best to write what a Blanchardian believes. Confused about what an Intellectual Turing Test is or what “gender identity” and “Blanchard-Bailey” mean? Click here! Please read, then vote at the end of the post.

1. How I Define Men And Women

Let’s start off by conceding a completely irrelevant point: intersex people exist. I mean, yeah, they do exist and deciding whether an intersex person is male or female is complicated and there’s nothing wrong with letting them pick whichever they want so they can put “Mr.” or “Ms.” on forms instead of explaining their complicated medical situation to everyone they meet. There’s no god to tell them what they really are. It’s sort of the parable of bleggs and rubes. When you have a purple cuboid thing with rounded corners that’s furred on one face and smooth on the rest, you admit that you have to make a judgment call. You know what you don’t do? You don’t decide that you’ll never be able to tell whether a blue furred egg is a blegg because of the existence of edge cases… unless you’re politically motivated, that is.

I have to start with this long, irrelevant digression because otherwise the entire transgender community will remind me that intersex people exist—not that they actually care about intersex people who were sterilized against their will and without medical need, intersex people who are taught to be ashamed of their bodies, intersex people who exist in real life in contexts besides transgender arguments—and pretend that’s a knock-down argument that we can’t define men and women at all.

Men are men. They have XY chromosomes, broader shoulders than hips, beards, flat chests, testes, penises, more testosterone and less estrogen. Women are women. They have XX chromosomes, broader hips than shoulders, no beards, breasts, ovaries, vaginas, more estrogen and less testosterone. What about people with XX and SRY translocation? Judgment call. I say they’re men. Better question: does anyone identify as a trans woman due to getting a karyotype and finding out that they have this condition? If not, then why bring it up? It’s irrelevant and it’s a distraction. I’ve never heard anyone say “I am really a woman because I have gynecomastia” or “I am really a woman because I’m shorter than the average height for a man of my race” so it seems to me like this is all irrelevant. Everyone knows a man with SRY translocation is actually a man. No one is actually confused about this.

I’m not going to come up with one single thing that all men have and no women do, but I don’t need to. We all know what makes someone male or female. I’d like the transgender community to stop pretending to be confused now.

2. The Cotton Ceiling

People who want to be seen as women more than anything else, enough to rearrange their entire lives to achieve it, who especially want to be seen as women in a sexual way, feel bad when people just won’t see them that way. They want to be attractive women whom people attracted to women want to have sex with. Not being able to get what you want is disappointing. It’s even more painful when you can’t be what you want to be than when you just can’t have what you want to have. Admitting the problem is inherent in you is extremely disheartening because it means giving up hope. This is why some transgender people look for a way to blame their rejection on other people. It’s true that transgender people are at very high risk for assault; transgender people take this as evidence that they’re an oppressed minority. Once they already believe in “transphobia” as a social ill like racism, they can attribute all sorts of things to it.

Of course trans women are at a massive disadvantage trying to look like attractive women. They’ve had all of adolescence to grow into adult men. Some can still manage to look feminine enough to attract partners who are attracted to women, depending on which aspects of womanhood they’re attracted to and that’s lucky for them.

There’s a reason the cotton ceiling is mostly about lesbians and that’s because it’s later-transitioning, more masculine autogynephiles who want to be seen as women and desired as women and want female partners. Earlier-transitioning, more feminine homosexual transsexuals are able to pass better and don’t have this concern to the same degree, which is why there aren’t similar complaints about straight men. Further, more feminine homosexual trans women are more feminine (and tautologies are tautological) and more accommodating. Autogynephiles, who are very masculine, are more willing to demand that other people make them happy.

It’s not PC to say it that way. It’s not even nice. I do agree, in general, with the idea of talking to the person in front of you rather than a statistically average member of the same group as the person in front of you, but when you’re actually asking about the reason for general trends in group behavior, then you’re just going to have to talk about statistical tendencies and not that one autogynephile you know who’s a total teddy bear and would never hurt a fly.

3. Trans Women Programmers

Most trans women are actually more masculine than the average man. That is, autogynephiles are. Even a normal male sex drive isn’t intense enough to make someone risk losing friends and family and undergo painful and risky surgery just to live out a sexual fantasy; autogynephiles are more sexual than the average man, probably because they have even more testosterone. They’re even more inclined toward traditionally male pursuits like sports and programming than the average man is.

Besides, programmers are pretty autistic and interested in what you do, not who you are. I bet it’s a welcoming field for anyone who can do it.

The statistics are different for homosexual trans women, but they’re a minority of trans women.

4. AFAB Trans People

There’s nothing hard to explain about this. Paraphilias are less common in females than in males, which explains why trans men are more rare, but just because they’re less common doesn’t mean they never happen at all. There are also homosexual trans men who are attracted to women and generally more masculine than women. There are probably about as many of these as there are homosexual trans women who are attracted to men. What’s so inexplicable about that?

5. Transgender People Being Wrong About Their Own Experiences

The questions didn’t include this, but I thought I should mention it. One of the things that really seems like it bothers the transgender community is being told that they’re wrong about their own experiences. A lot of autogynephiles say that their experience isn’t autogynephilia at all. Some of my “side” (I’d really like to think we’re all on the same side, though: Team Help People Live Comfortable Lives) thinks they’re lying but I don’t think so and I think it’s horrible that that’s anyone’s first idea.

Everyone here reads Thing of Things, right? So we all remember Ozy’s post about feeling shame instead of sadness for losing time to depression. I love that post and it helped me a lot. I’m the exact opposite of Ozy! I used to feel guilty for everything. I thought I had a scrupulosity problem because I would feel so guilty all the time. Except, the weird thing is, it didn’t help to realize that I wasn’t doing anything that went against my values! I figured out eventually that I wasn’t guilty. I was scared everyone in the world would hate me! I don’t think I’m bad at introspection and I don’t think Ozy’s bad at introspection, so I don’t think it says anything mean about transgender people to say that they can’t always figure out their own motives. People can’t always figure out their own motives. Ozy thought they were ashamed of their depression. I thought I felt guilty whenever I did something that anyone in the world didn’t approve of. Most transgender people think they’re experiencing “gender dysphoria” when they want to transition.

“Gender dysphoria” isn’t a worthless model for homosexual transsexuals, either. That works with the analogy, too! Some people do have scrupulosity problems. Some people do feel ashamed of their mental illnesses.

Transgender people tell the truth about their beliefs about their experiences and their mistakes aren’t stupid or obvious. It took a lot of research the state of available evidence to a point where I feel comfortable saying that most transgender people are actually experiencing a sexual fetish. If you don’t have multiple studies behind you, it’s probably a bad idea to say you know someone’s experiences better than they do. I agree with that. People know their own experiences better than they know other people’s. I could be more cynical and say people are even more wrong about other people’s experiences than their own. It should take a lot of evidence to decide someone is wrong about their own feelings, but sometimes you have that much evidence. Check out Kay Brown’s blog, sillyolme.wordpress.com, because she understands the science and explains it better than I do. She has some great posts laying out the evidence. People usually can’t do better than just believing other people about their own feelings, but usually isn’t always.

The first item on the poll refers to what side you think the author of this post really believes, while the second item refers to what side you believe. When taking the poll, if you can POSSIBLY round yourself off to Blanchard-Bailey or gender identity, please do so. Please do this even if you have major disagreements with the side you are leaning towards. Only use “neither” if you really really really cannot in good conscience round yourself to either.

ITT #4: Blanchard-Bailey

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This post is a person– who may believe either a gender identity or a Blanchard-Bailey theory of transness– doing their best to write what a Blanchardian believes. Confused about what an Intellectual Turing Test is or what “gender identity” and “Blanchard-Bailey” mean? Click here! Please read, then vote at the end of the post.

How do you define woman/man?

Biologically. Most animals are described accurately by saying that an individual is genetically and in terms of primary and secondary sexual characteristics either biologically male or biologically female. Intersex individuals definitely exist and may be neither precisely biologically women or men.

There is no gender identity, there is only biological sex and gender role performance. Stating that gender identity exists and is separate from biological sex requires accepting a mind-body duality; I do not accept this. People sometimes discuss the inner sense of oneself as belonging to a particular gender and claim that this is entirely separate from either the body or performative gender roles. I have always found this unconvincing; discussion of transgender life focuses almost entirely on the individual wanting to perform the gender role of the target sex and have this performance socially accepted. Indeed if the issue were an issue of inner and inherent “identity” then the social performance would be at most peripheral, since an inherent sense of oneself as fundamentally female or male or neuter cannot be changed by the perceptions of others, any more than an inherent sense of oneself as any other kind of person can be changed by the perceptions of others.

Because there is no gender identity inherent to a person (rather a series of variously preferred actions that together are gender role performance), gender identity, gender dysphoria, and related hypothesis about the underlying cause of transsexualism are also rejected.

*None of the above (or the following) addresses or is intended to address cases of body dysmorphia or other disorders on the OCD spectrum, which can cause presentations that look similar to being trans but which resolve with appropriate treatment for the OCD spectrum disorder.*

What are your opinions on the cotton ceiling?

I didn’t know what this was, I had to look it up. I hope I found the definition in the sense that you mean, which is that although assigned-female-at-birth homosexual women may be friendly and socially accepting towards trans women, they will not necessarily desire or be willing to have sex with trans women.

I do not belong to either category, so my opinion here is basically not important. But because you asked for my opinion, it seems to me that assigned-female-at-birth homosexual women have every right to pursue or refuse sex with other people according to their desires (but not to be mean about it), and trans women have every right to feel sad about that to the extent that they are excluded from sex they would theoretically like to have (but not to pressure anyone to change their minds about having sex).

Why are trans women disproportionately likely to be programmers?

This is a really interesting question and I don’t know the answer. The following is a guess:

I think the most likely answer is that programmers as a group are likelier to not care at all what their coworkers are like. That sounds like I’m saying they’re not judgmental, but what I’m actually trying to say is that in my experience programmers in general (with plenty of exceptions, but still) don’t notice the people around them because they’re not interested in people. There are also proportionally many fewer assigned-female-at-birth programmers around to either police the femininity of the trans women or to be a source of sad self-comparison. This is probably a more restful environment overall for not only trans women but also a variety of other people who prefer not to perform expected social norms for whatever reason.

Explain trans people assigned female at birth.

Although this hasn’t to my knowledge been described in the literature, I think that the phenomena of trans men and also people who choose nonbinary presentations are explicable using the same model, which also may explain why there are proportionally fewer of these than of trans women.

People-assigned-female-at-birth have an easier time in modern western society with nontraditional gender role performance than people-assigned-male-at-birth. It is inarguably true that it is far more socially acceptable for a woman to act in performatively masculine ways (employment in traditionally male sector; “butch” presentation; interest in performatively masculine subjects like sports, hunting, cars; etc.) than it is for a man to act in performatively feminine ways (staying home with children; employment in traditionally female sector; “femme” presentation; interest in performatively feminine subjects like fashion, scrapbooking, flower gardening, romantic comedies; etc.). This being the case, it makes sense that there would be relatively fewer of the “homosexual transsexual” category among people-assigned-female-at-birth than among people-assigned-male-at-birth, since in most cases transitioning to living as a man would not be expected to make it much easier to find romantic partners, desired employment/career, or social acceptance.

The other category would be autoandrophilic or …autoudéterophilic? rather than autogynephilic. This means affectionally attached to the idea of oneself as a man or as nonbinary. I prefer to use the construction “affectionally attached” rather than something like sexually attracted because I think it is both more correct and less restrictive. “Affectional” includes not just sexual or erotic but also romantic orientation. An under-appreciated and under-discussed part of relational orientation is the self. When a person conceptualizes their own erotic/romantic activity, it’s not just the other person’s role that is important but also their own role in the relationship – defining oneself as a lesbian is not just about accepting that the other person in the relationship is female, but also about imagining oneself as a woman who is romantically involved with women. So we can hypothesize that there exist people-assigned-female-at-birth who are erotically and/or affectionally oriented in a way that includes imagining themselves either as a man or as a nonbinary person.

(It is almost never the case that transitioning to living as a nonbinary person would be logistically easier in any way, so I would expect to find the category of “assigned-either-sex-at-birth but transitioned to nonbinary, and not autoudéterophilic” almost entirely unpopulated.)

The first item on the poll refers to what side you think the author of this post really believes, while the second item refers to what side you believe. When taking the poll, if you can POSSIBLY round yourself off to Blanchard-Bailey or gender identity, please do so. Please do this even if you have major disagreements with the side you are leaning towards. Only use “neither” if you really really really cannot in good conscience round yourself to either.

ITT #3: Blanchard-Bailey

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This post is a person– who may believe either a gender identity or a Blanchard-Bailey theory of transness– doing their best to write what a Blanchardian believes. Confused about what an Intellectual Turing Test is or what “gender identity” and “Blanchard-Bailey” mean? Click here! Please read, then vote at the end of the post.

How do you define woman/man?

Oh, this is a fun one.

I have managed to construct two definitions that are not mutually inclusive and yet are simultaneously equally true.

The first definition, which I think I’m moving away from somewhat, is that a man or a woman is someone who needs to have the sexed body associated with that gender. This definition makes it very clear that gender dysphoria is ideally the prime factor in transition (regardless of exactly why that dysphoria exists, neuromasculinization/feminization or a certain sexual orientation) while kicking out all those people who claim to be dysphoric but apparently do not need to transition, and simultaneously accounts for people who have not yet transitioned.

I’ve found myself moving away from this definition because as I get increasingly spooked/redpilled on the very concept of gender at all (it’s funny how being a Blanchardian ends up making you look strikingly like a Tumblr genderqueer kid), and part of this is realizing that there is nothing that fundamentally distinguishes trans and cis people, that there are a lot of lesbians doing the exact same shit I am and a lot of men-in-female-bodies who aren’t. Especially the former. There are a lot of guys on 4chan with a greater or lesser degree of AGP who have decided transition will solve all the problems that led them to 4chan to the point we call it ‘falling for the transgender meme’, and only some of them actually should transition by any reasonable definition of ‘will this improve this person’s life’ (including subjective definitions), but they all feel a lot better about having tits than I did. There is no other meaningful behavioural difference between myself and those guys – if I don’t have a female brain, they sure as hell don’t either. (That’s before we throw in the other phenomenon on Tranny 4chan of people who outright identify as cis men and still medically transition, but a good few of those people are blatantly, unquestionably HSTS trans women who have gotten way too deep in repression.)

Still, I go back and forth on if I’m actually that spooked or just a crazy postmodernist. I don’t like postmodernists much, so I don’t see myself aping their style for too much longer, and as the last sentence of that paragraph showed I think there are at least some people-who-are-unambiguously-transsexual and some people-who-are-unambiguously-not.

My other simultaneously-held definition is that a man or a woman is someone who lives in the social role ascribed to people of that sex. A man is called ‘he’ and is assumed to have a penis, a woman is called ‘she’ and is assumed to have a vagina. I’ve found I like this definition, but I cannot unquestioningly use it as a primary one.

The first issue is that this definition makes gender look like a much more fluid thing than it is, and I know very well by my experiences with definition #1 that gender is not fluid. There are also (in certain contexts) four genders by this definition rather than the actual two, in that men who are assumed to have vaginas and women who are assumed to have penises are treated very, very differently than those who are assumed to have genitals matching their genders.

My second issue is that by this definition, I am the only trans man I know who is actually a man. I would not like suggesting this to my trans male friends.

As a result, I’ve combined the definitions in an attempt at covering the massive, all-
consuming gaps in each. This is still better than anything else I’ve found.

What are your opinions on the cotton ceiling?

Having stricter standards than would make you happy and calling people bitches for not sleeping with you are routinely agreed to be bad things by, interestingly enough, the exact same group of people.

I have become so removed from everything involving feminism as an ideology over the past few years that I can no longer say I have ‘an opinion on the cotton ceiling’. It would be great if more people were willing to sleep with transsexuals, in that I would probably not be a virgin if I had better options than Tumblrinas. This is probably vaguely ‘I think the cotton ceiling is a bad thing’, but in reality I’d just be killed by both groups for not wanting to sleep with Tumblrinas.

(The transbians for having standards as an abstract concept, and the cisbians for being a gynephilic natal female not attracted to people who look like them.)

Why are trans women disproportionately likely to be programmers?

A G P

G

P

Shitposting aside…

My anecdotal observation is that A*P (wildcard asterisk because the association is incredible for both autogynephilia and autoandrophilia) is heavily associated with nerdiness, and I am far from the only person to make this observation. Male nerds become coders/game developers/channers. Female nerds become fujoshi/YA authors/tumblrinas. Guess where I’ve met a lot of trans people.

On the other hand, I don’t think the association is solely with AGP, because I’ve met HSTS trans women (the immediate associations being Kay Brown/Candice Brown Elliott and Blaire White) who work or study in IT fields. (And in turn I’ve met a lot of trans men of both types, myself included, whose thing is writing.) It’s a strong, strong association…but men and women who are transsexual are more likely to enter literature- or computer- related paths respectively than those who are not no matter their apparent etiology.

So here’s my tentative answer for what the typology doesn’t cover: Trans people are weird.

If you’ve met enough of us, you’ve probably figured that one out by now.

Explain trans people assigned female at birth.

Roughly half are autoandrophilic, the other half fit the HSTS profile. Blanchard really dropped the ball on this one.

The first item on the poll refers to what side you think the author of this post really believes, while the second item refers to what side you believe. When taking the poll, if you can POSSIBLY round yourself off to Blanchard-Bailey or gender identity, please do so. Please do this even if you have major disagreements with the side you are leaning towards. Only use “neither” if you really really really cannot in good conscience round yourself to either.

ITT #2: Blanchard-Bailey

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This post is a person– who may believe either a gender identity or a Blanchard-Bailey theory of transness– doing their best to write what a Blanchardian believes. Confused about what an Intellectual Turing Test is or what “gender identity” and “Blanchard-Bailey” mean? Click here! Please read, then vote at the end of the post.

How do you define woman/man?

Humans come in two major clusters, based on some biological characteristics: one where people have penises, testicles, flat chests, testosterone-dominant hormone profiles, XY chromosomes, and other related traits, and another where they have vaginas, ovaries, breasts, estrogen-dominant hormone profiles, XX chromosomes, etc. Men are those humans that belong to the first cluster, and women are those that belong to the second.

Some people do not fit perfectly into either cluster, of course. A woman with a flat chest is still a woman, and a man who undergoes an orchiectomy is still a man, but there can be more complicated cases that are not trivial to classify. Indeed there’s no reason to think everyone fits in one category or the other, but the overwhelming majority of humans do.

What are your opinions on the cotton ceiling?

The cotton ceiling is the complaint by autogynephilic transsexuals that lesbian women don’t consider them viable sexual partners (the woman’s panties being a barrier they are not allowed to get past). People’s right to choose their sex partners should be absolute and not subject to guilt tripping about how ‘if you really saw me as a woman, you’d want to have sex with me’; the cotton ceiling is an attempt to use queer politics to control women’s sex lives.

Why are trans women disproportionately likely to be programmers?

For the same reasons men are. I’m agnostic on whether male brains are somehow ‘better suited to programming’, or cultural messages aimed at boys make them more interested in computers, or some combination of similar factors is at play, but it’s not remarkable that transsexuals with male brains who were raised as boys have the same range of interests as ordinary men.

It’s also possible that programming has a stronger appeal to people who are social outcasts in some way, which transsexuals frequently are (cf. the nerd stereotype of a man with poor social skills and great technical skills). Spending more time at home, on a computer, for fear of social repercussions could be a factor.

Explain trans people assigned female at birth.

It’s possible that some female transsexuals are the symmetric case of homosexual male transsexuals, i.e. masculine lesbians who prefer lives as straight men; as far as I know autoandrophilic transsexuals are not a group of any significance.

Non-lesbian female transsexuals are more likely to be motivated by social/political concerns like avoiding misogyny or protesting gender roles or the concept of gender binaries (women are more likely to be involved in the social justice movement than men, and more likely to identify as nonbinary or genderqueer).

The first item on the poll refers to what side you think the author of this post really believes, while the second item refers to what side you believe. When taking the poll, if you can POSSIBLY round yourself off to Blanchard-Bailey or gender identity, please do so. Please do this even if you have major disagreements with the side you are leaning towards. Only use “neither” if you really really really cannot in good conscience round yourself to either.

ITT #1: Blanchard-Bailey

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This post is a person– who may believe either a gender identity or a Blanchard-Bailey theory of transness– doing their best to write what a Blanchardian believes. Confused about what an Intellectual Turing Test is or what “gender identity” and “Blanchard-Bailey” mean? Click here! Please read, then vote at the end of the post.

How do you define woman/man?

Where it does not hopelessly impede the clarity and elegance of my writing, I concede man and woman to the more modern usage, in exchange for keeping male and female to refer to the physical sexes normally present in humans. For me a person’s sex can only refer to physical reality, which includes but is not limited to chromosomal sex or sex at birth. A lot of people on my side of this debate might insist on calling a committed transsexual woman – that is, a person born male who has altered themselves to have feminine features and hormone levels – an altered male, and while that’s true in one sense, in another it might be more accurate to consider this to be a type of intersex. It’s a kind of intersex condition that’s been deliberately induced in adulthood, instead of arising naturally at birth, but intersex is still the best way to describe someone whose physical and medical realities will not fit the typical model of either sex. A person needing both breast and prostate cancer screenings, for instance.

So a woman would be a person, whether originally male or female, who is honestly and consistently presenting in a feminine manner and generally living life as a woman.

What are your opinions on the cotton ceiling?

Here’s where I have to admit that the internal discourse of the lesbian community is not an area where I have great expertise. It does seem natural to me that lesbians wouldn’t have any real interest in penises, and indeed the lesbians who talk about such things with me online tell me that they are also far less interested in the plastic strap-on kind than pornography or pop culture would have you believe.

I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with a lesbian choosing to involve herself with an autogynephilic transsexual if she chooses to, but as a lover of clarity in definitions, I can also see how the traditional female-attracted lesbian may not consider her a fellow lesbian.

I also think there’s a little-addressed practical reason for lesbians to resist this redefinition of their brand. Lesbians enjoy a degree of immunity from being seen by males as a potential sexual conquest. This is good for them, because typically male and female people want different amounts of sex and to approach sex in different ways, which creates a lot of conflict among heterosexuals.

(Here, just for ease of grammar and to avoid that awful nature documentary-esque tone, I will return to using ‘men’ and ‘women’; please understand that that what is true of ‘men’ below is true of males in general.)

The usual imbalance is that men want more sex than women, and they want to jump through as few hoops as possible to get it. As women are the ones choosing (as with many species) they can get a lot of what they want, which is why heterosexual and lesbian relationships look fairly similar – most people practice serial monogamy of varying levels of commitment, with some couples for life and some casual sex. We can see how different things would be if men had their way by looking at gay male relationships – even today, men who have sex with men report far more casual sex and higher numbers of partners than other groups.

But, while straight women do for the most part get their way in that college campuses are not the bathhouse orgy editorialists like to depict, they are still beset with more male sexual attention than they would like. Internet discourse concerning feminist groups taking issue with this aside, most women seem to accept this as the price of having sex with men.

Or, with males (I’m switching terminology again now). This is what lesbians, in staking their claim to a legitimate, non-negotiable sexuality, have just started to be able to avoid. If a small subset of lesbians who are interested in transsexuals begin to send the message that lesbians are not off-limits to all males after all, they lose this precious immunity.

This doesn’t have to be the classic slippery slope, by the way. I’m not saying that if men see lesbians having sex with women who were once male, they will assume that they are in with a chance as well. I’m saying this could happen even if the only males who consider themselves in with a chance are transsexual women. They still (generally, some autogynephilics are functionally asexual) have male-typical sex drives, and while I don’t have the numbers, it seems like it’s a minority of lesbians who are open to their advances. This would mean a lot of unwanted advances, something a lot of women find troubling to deal with.

It seems rational, to me, for lesbians to want to preserve their label as indicating that they are not open to the sexual advances of males.

Why are trans women disproportionately likely to be programmers?

I think I remember reading that autogynephillic-type trans women are, but not homosexual-type. This would make sense, given that the research suggests that autohynephilic-types have more usual male attributes, and that males in general are more likely to be programmers.

Though, if I recall correctly, the number of trans women in programming is even disproportionate relative to men. I don’t know why this is the case, but I do have a couple of theories:
a) Nerdy types are more accepting of less feminine women, as well as people who are outside the norm a bit in other ways
b) Programming jobs in the US, where this info is from, are heavily clustered in very liberal areas. It would make sense, if you were or wanted to be transsexual, to go to these areas, and if you were going there, it would make sense to learn to program.

Explain trans people assigned female at birth.

I don’t know the answer to this one and admit more research needs to be done.

On the surface, there seems to be something of an analogue with the homosexual transsexuals in Blanchard and Bailey’s work.

I would certainly admit to finding it difficult to tell apart butch lesbians and trans men. I’m told many of the latter start out as the former. And (anecdotal, I know) I don’t know, nor do I even ever recall reading about, a trans man who was exclusively into men.

What does differ here is that B-B’s homosexual-type trans women were typically into straight men, while female-to-male trans people (again, anecdotally and from what I happen to have read) typically seem to date bisexual or even lesbian women.

The figures often claimed as historical examples of the female-to-male phenomenon generally seem to have been rationally adopting the male role to escape the limitations placed on women. But, if this were the reason, one would expect this to have been more common in the past and less common today, while I think the opposite is likely true.

So again, my instinct is that this might be something to do with a kind of extreme butch lesbian thing that is somehow analogous to homosexual-type transsexual women, but the real answer is that as far as I know, no one has studied this enough to know the answer.

The first item on the poll refers to what side you think the author of this post really believes, while the second item refers to what side you believe. When taking the poll, if you can POSSIBLY round yourself off to Blanchard-Bailey or gender identity, please do so. Please do this even if you have major disagreements with the side you are leaning towards. Only use “neither” if you really really really cannot in good conscience round yourself to either.

ITT #9: Gender Identity

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This post is a person– who may believe either a gender identity or a Blanchard-Bailey theory of transness– doing their best to write what a gender identity theory supporter believes. Confused about what an Intellectual Turing Test is or what “gender identity” and “Blanchard-Bailey” mean? Click here! Please read, then vote at the end of the post.

How do you define woman/man?

A woman is someone with a female gender identity. A man is someone with a male gender identity. Gender identity is your innate sense of what your gender is caused by changes in certain regions of the brain, and has nothing to do with gender roles and only a correlation with biological sex (though when gender identity and biological sex don’t coincide, that tends to cause no end of grief in the form of gender dysphoria).

What are your opinions on the cotton ceiling?

The cotton ceiling – the phenomenon where trans women are discriminated against in lesbian spaces – is a genuine problem that has to end.

TERFs obsess over the idea of ‘male socialization’ in trans women as a dog whistle for their transmisogyny. The idea that WLW (women-loving women) are ‘more like men than women’ is a lesbophobic stalwart that’s especially sad when it’s being espoused by actual lesbians, who should know better, and the behaviours they claim are symptomatic of male socialization/privilege are just as stereotypical as the idea that butch women aren’t really women either – besides, how is it ‘entitled’ for a member of an oppressed group to vent her sorrow that she faces discrimination?

Most arguments against the ‘cotton ceiling’ also rely on misunderstandings about what trans WLW want out of their relationships. Trans WLW don’t always want to use their pre-op/non-op genitals (though some do, and some cis lesbians are fine with this), and the ways hormones change them means they usually can’t engage in PIV sex anyway. Plus, asexual and post-op trans WLW exist. TERF arguments in favour of the cotton ceiling usually come from the idea that trans women must want to have PIV with them (which, again, some do! And there are cis lesbians who want that!) and that saying cis women should sleep with trans women is ‘another form of conversion therapy’ – brave move coming from people who call transition that.

Why are trans women disproportionately likely to be programmers?

Trans girls raised as boys will usually be pushed into masculine hobbies, and the most unisex ‘masculine’ hobbies by far are the nerdy ones. Further into adulthood, nerdy men don’t have as high an expectation of masculinity upon them as ‘alpha’ ones. Of course we’re going to see a lot of nerdy trans women.

Plus, how are we so sure it’s disproportionate? If there wasn’t an invisible filter against women in STEM, we’d see at least as many cis women in the field.

Why do many trans women experience sexual fantasies about being or becoming a woman?

It is really, really socially unacceptable for a ‘man’ to say ‘he’ ‘wants to be’ a woman, and testosterone and repression are both a hell of a drug.

If you’re pushing your true self so deep within you almost forget she exists…you’re not going to be able to actually pull that off. She’s going to remind you, no matter what you do. If she can’t remind you through any other possible route, she’ll remind you through a sexual one. Besides, being transgender is (increasingly less, but still) taboo anyway – it makes sense for those who peddle in the taboo to hijack the whole experience.

The fact these sexual fantasies drop to zero in almost every trans woman who takes estrogen shows they’re just the result of high testosterone levels in a female brain. (Probably. Let’s get some studies on detransitioned women who used to be trans men!)

I guess there are also a few genuine fetishists who go too far, but I don’t think they make up the majority of trans women the way Blanchard wants you to think, and they would detransition quickly once they realize what they’ve done to themselves. Gender dysphoria is not fun.

The first item on the poll refers to what side you think the author of this post really believes, while the second item refers to what side you believe. When taking the poll, if you can POSSIBLY round yourself off to Blanchard-Bailey or gender identity, please do so. Please do this even if you have major disagreements with the side you are leaning towards. Only use “neither” if you really really really cannot in good conscience round yourself to either.

ITT #8: Gender Identity

Tags

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This post is a person– who may believe either a gender identity or a Blanchard-Bailey theory of transness– doing their best to write what a gender identity theory supporter believes. Confused about what an Intellectual Turing Test is or what “gender identity” and “Blanchard-Bailey” mean? Click here! Please read, then vote at the end of the post.

How do you define woman/man?

I do not think there exists an objective True Definition of “woman” or of “man”, as I do not think there exists an objective True Definition of any word. As a linguistic descriptivist, I think the truth of a word is how people use the word. As an activist (sort of) or as a consequentialist (sort of) or as a human trying to construct norms that advance the flourishing of humanity, I think we should choose definitions based on the effect they have on the world.

Putting on my descriptivist hat, the definitions of “woman” and “man” are obviously highly contested. I think all of the following definitions enjoy relatively widespread usage:
– A woman is someone who says she is a woman. (the trans advocate position)
– A woman is someone who has most or all of the physical characteristics associated with women. (I think this is probably the most common in practice)
– A woman is someone who has most or all of the physical characteristics associated with women, but only if she has those characteristics naturally. (I think this is probably the definition that people who totally reject trans people mostly use in practice.)
– A woman is someone with a female reproductive system. (e.g. when talking about abortion rights or pregnancy, if one doesn’t explicitly try to be trans-inclusive)
– A woman is someone with XX chromosomes and a vagina and breasts and mostly estrogen etc. (This definition is I think generally thought of as the standard trans-exclusive definition, but as many people have pointed out there are edge cases besides trans people who don’t meet all these requirements, and in practice those edge cases are usually gendered correctly most of the time.)

More broadly I think definitions are usually based on prototypes, and the *prototype* of a woman is indeed “person with XX chromosomes and a vagina and breasts and mostly estrogen etc.” People who depart from the prototype a little are usually still included in the definition; people who are farther might be excluded. I think the conflict over the proper definition is mostly about how far away from the prototype the boundary between “woman” and “not woman” should lie.

Putting on my social justice hat, I think we should choose the definition that makes people the happiest, and I think on that metric an identity-based definition is by far the best. Trans people generally care a great deal about being categorized in accordance with their identity and feel substantially happier when gendered correctly than when misgendered. (And of course, making people happier has a lot of further good consequences as well, like making them more likely to participate in your discourse, contribute to your community, be pleasant to spend time with, etc.)

I do think that there exist times when it makes more sense to discuss groups of people based on sex more than on gender (like if you are discussing medical stuff, or if you believe there are major psychological differences between the sexes). I don’t think this should be made impossible, and I don’t think that an identity-based definition of gender makes it impossible. Some alternatives:
– Use more specific language like “people with uteruses” or “people with estrogen-dominant systems” or “AFAB people who haven’t undergone HRT” or whatever group you’re actually talking about. (Cumbersome, but precise.)
– Start with a disclaimer that “right now I’m going to be using ‘women’ to refer to people with [X characteristic]”. (You still run the risk of making some people dysphoric, but this is loads better than not including the disclaimer.)
– Specify “cis men” and “cis women”. (Yes, these aren’t *exactly* the categories you’re looking for in most cases, but it’s pretty close, and it also has the benefit of simplifying things. The existence of trans people doesn’t just complicate things linguistically, it actually makes the landscape you’re describing more complicated because social and medical transition have effects on the things you want to talk about. If you want to make a generalization, sticking to the less complicated case can help.)

Also I’ll note that when I say “identity-based view on gender”, what I really mean is “start with the conventional understanding of ‘man’ and ‘woman’, but when someone has a strong sense of gender identity, use that” – in fact many cis people don’t have a strong felt sense of gender identity, so using *only* identity is insufficiently informative.

What are your opinions on the cotton ceiling?

I do not think it is immoral to have sexual preferences that exclude trans people (or any other kind of people), and I think that a lot of people would have trans-exclusive sexual preferences even if transphobia didn’t exist. However, I also think that in a world without transphobia, trans-exclusive sexual preferences and behavior would be significantly less common. (I don’t have a good estimate of how less common, but I think I would be least surprised if about half of trans-exclusive sexual preferences were due to transphobia.)

For one thing, especially when it comes to dating rather than just sex, people tend to care about what other people in their lives think of their partners. If society is transphobic, people may be socially punished for dating trans people and thus choose not to do it even if they otherwise would.

Also, if you have negative feelings or beliefs about trans people, that can also prevent you from being attracted to trans people even if you would be otherwise. If you’re attracted to someone and then stop being attracted to them after learning they’re trans, I think this is likely to be related to transphobia.

Finally, different people’s gender filters on attraction work in different ways – for some people genitals are really important, for others genitals don’t matter but you need to generally “look like a woman”, for yet others gender presentation is the most important part, and for some identity is a crucial bit. My impression is that there’s some correlation between the trans-inclusiveness of someone’s beliefs and feelings and the trans-inclusiveness of their gender filter – so while increasing trans-inclusiveness in society wouldn’t make everyone’s gender filters trans-inclusive, it would in general increase that inclusiveness.

I don’t think it is good to shame people for their sexual preferences or treat these preferences as evidence that they are Really Transphobic and Bad. I don’t think that sexual/dating preferences are a good target for activism; rather, I think the right way to solve these problems is to work on increasing trans acceptance in society in general, and sexual/dating preferences will follow. But I’m also okay with trans people using words like “cotton ceiling” to describe their experiences, because this type of exclusion can be a pretty major and painful part of their lives and I do think the exclusion is partly driven by bigotry, and It’s good to have words to talk about things.

Why are trans women disproportionately likely to be programmers?

I don’t actually know the relevant statistics but I’ll take it as stipulated that is is the case. I don’t really know why. One obvious factor is that tech as an industry is just unusually friendly to trans people – it’s a particularly liberal industry and “headquartered” in a particularly liberal place, more generally it’s unusually tolerant of weirdness and neurodivergence and a common refuge of people who were unpopular in school, and it also pays quite well – so (a) trans people and other weirdos are somewhat likely to gravitate in that direction (b) gender dysphoric people already in the industry are perhaps more likely to transition (c) trans people from unwelcoming places will find it easiest to relocate to a more welcoming place, and actually come out, if they are in a well-paying industry which is willing to pay for relocation and sponsor immigrants.

(Then again, the above mostly applies only to people who are already realizing they’re trans around the same time they’re starting their career, not the later-in-life transitioners.)

There’s also the thing where trans people are disproportionately likely to be on the autism spectrum (which possibly makes it more likely that one will like programming?), which itself is a subset of “different kinds of brain-weirdness are correlated”, but I do not know why transness and autism in particularly are correlated, nor do I know to what extent autism and programming are correlated.

I’m not sure just how overrepresented trans women are in tech, so I’m not sure whether the above would be sufficient to explain it. I confess I don’t have an actual theory, though.

Why do many trans women experience sexual fantasies about being or becoming a woman?

I have some uncertainty about this because determining the direction of causation between things that happen *inside the brain* is necessarily tricky, but I think that AGP-type fantasies are a *result* of gender dysphoria rather than a cause. This seems more plausible to me than the reverse for a bunch of reasons.

(I draw heavily on Julia Serano’s critique of Blanchard’s theory in this section, though I’m not just parroting her. I would be really curious to know how proponents of this theory respond to a lot of Serano’s criticisms.)

To begin with, even for trans women who do experience some sort of AGP, they often have a general interest in being a woman *first*. Serano points out that in Blanchard’s own data, the average age of onset of desire to be female among AGP-type trans women is before puberty – whereas active sexual fantasies generally start around puberty. (Of course you could say those answers are actually false since they’re socially desirable, though.)

(Another narrative I’ve heard is “I noticed I felt drawn towards the idea of presenting feminine, so I sought out a relevant forum online, and among other things it contained porn, so among other things I started looking at that porn”. Which also points to another thing – porn and sex-related stuff is just a major cultural reference point for trans-related stuff. It makes sense that someone might encounter this, or conceptualize their desire in these terms, even if the desire isn’t sexual at its core.)

There have been some studies (e.g.) that are sort of replication attempts of Blanchard’s research (eliminating the thing where Blanchard was *both studying and gatekeeping his patients/research subjects* which seems like a terrible idea for the same reason Blanchard doesn’t trust them! Whenever Blanchard goes on about how the research subjects are untrustworthy because they are trying to make sure they get to transition, I want to be like, you’re the one who put them in this position!!). Anyway, it seems there is indeed a correlation, among trans women, between gynephilia and autogynephilia (which makes intuitive sense), but it’s not as stark a contrast as Blanchard found – there are androphilic trans women with AGP, and gynephilic trans women without. (I understand one may want to distrust the latter, but why distrust the former?) This doesn’t look like two totally distinct groups of people.

(To be honest, I have a general bias in favor of the notion that People Are Complicated and Don’t Fall Into Neat Categories and If You Try You Will Always Oversimplify, so I find really strict taxonomies implausible to begin with. In my defense, I think there’s good reason to have this bias.)

I also think that AGP theory doesn’t adequately describe trans women’s behavior.
– Among trans women with AGP experiences, they don’t all react to the same specific thing. Some people are aroused by the idea of having a vagina; others get erections when crossdressing; others watch transformation porn but don’t get aroused while crossdressing. You would think that people would do only the specific things that arouse them – but in fact people can have some AGP-like things and also have a nonsexual desire to do things they don’t have a sexual response to, and be at least as motivated to do that thing as to do the arousing thing. People who have little enough social desirability bias to report some AGP-type experiences will also report that presenting feminine was never itself arousing but just felt *right* and this was a major motivation in the absence of any sexual reward.
– You would also expect that the stronger someone’s AGP, the more motivated they will be to transition. But there are cis men with a lot of AGP who don’t feel motivated to transition, and there are gynephilic trans women with not that much AGP who feel very motivated to transition (and, I’m pretty sure, also gynephilic trans women with *no* AGP, though this is harder to prove).
– It is acknowledged by everyone, I think, that AGP usually subsides post-transition (where “post-transition” can even mean “after beginning to present feminine all the time”). Normally if you were doing a thing for a sexual purpose and it stops being sexually appealing to you, you stop doing the thing, but that’s generally not what happens with trans women. (I do see how in this model a trans woman with AGP who detransitioned would probably start having the sexual desire again and just transition again – but this doesn’t seem to really be what happens either? We don’t see people cycling between presenting-male-and-AGP and presenting-female-and-no-AGP. What we see is people transitioning, usually being like “ah yes this is better”, and staying the course.)

Anne Lawrence has argued that the thing where sexual AGP-type fantasies go away after transition, as well as cases where gynephilic trans women don’t have a strong sexual component to their dysphoria, can be explained by seeing AGP as *love* in addition to a sexual fetish. I don’t buy this because… I don’t think it’s an actual *explanation*, it’s just a roundabout way to describe the phenomenon of having dysphoria and then having the dysphoria relieved. The theory of AGP as a sexual fetish makes some predictions, which for reasons listed above I don’t think are borne out. The theory of AGP as romantic love, as far as I can tell, doesn’t really make any predictions different from a model based on dysphoria/identity. Blanchard’s explanation of mismatches between his theory and self-reports is that the self-reporters are deceiving him or doing their best to deceive themselves; Lawrence’s explanation is that actually they’re telling the truth, but they’re mislabeling it as “identity” rather than “love”, even though “identity” apparently feels indistinguishable from “love”. This is taking an actual theory, noticing that it doesn’t totally fit, and stretching it beyond recognition into something that’s hard to call a theory at all.

I do think there are some people who have really strong and persistent sexual desire to have a female body, such that it would actually be enough motivation for some people to transition based on that. But lots of trans women instead have relatively sporadic AGP, paired with a strong and persistent *non-sexual* desire to be women. It is not plausible to me that the stronger non-sexual desire is a consequence of the weaker sexual desire.

As for why dysphoria would cause AGP…

Some of the things discussed as evidence of AGP are in the category “sexual fantasies in which one is a woman”. For instance, Blanchard talks about bisexual trans women having fantasies in which a generic faceless man admires and/or has sex with them; he takes a supposed lack of “admiration of the male physique”* as evidence that they’re really “pseudobisexuals” and not really attracted to men – but this is a totally normal type of fantasy for cis women? Other things in this category include imagining being penetrated when actually penetrating a cis woman, as well as imagining oneself masturbating as a cis woman. (This last one is not a common cis woman fantasy because it’s a common cis woman *reality*. If a cis woman thinks “hm, fingering myself sounds great right now” she can just go and do it! A trans woman without a vagina can’t, so it becomes a fantasy.)

*later research finds they totally have admiration of the male physique, but whatever

But to be fair, Blanchard focuses heavily on arousal at the mere thought of being a woman, not even doing anything particularly sexual. This is indeed not a common cis woman fantasy; cis women have cis women bodies all the time, so it’s kind of hard to fantasize about it! (Though apparently cis women still don’t score zero* on the core autogynephilia stuff.) It makes a lot of sense to me that this would be correlated with gynephilia among trans women. Gynephilic people often find breasts and vulvas arousing [citation needed], and you can’t really imagine yourself with a female body without imagining those things. You think of yourself as a sexy woman, you now are thinking about a sexy woman, this is arousing. More generally, it seems really plausible to me that because gender and sex and sexuality are in general closely related, strong gender feelings can give rise to sexual feelings as well.

*just a note that yes I do keep linking to the same study – I don’t mean to give an impression of this being better-researched than it is, I just want to point people to where I’m getting information from.

It *also* seems plausible that if someone has this general type of AGP where they have a very strong and persistent sexual desire to have a female body, that can in fact motivate them to transition. I think this happens sometimes, but it’s not the norm. More often one has a strong and persistent nonsexual interest in various aspects of transition (including social transition), and the sexual fantasies that come with this are limited in scope and strength and duration and only apply to a subset of the things one wants to do.

The first item on the poll refers to what side you think the author of this post really believes, while the second item refers to what side you believe. When taking the poll, if you can POSSIBLY round yourself off to Blanchard-Bailey or gender identity, please do so. Please do this even if you have major disagreements with the side you are leaning towards. Only use “neither” if you really really really cannot in good conscience round yourself to either.

ITT #7: Gender Identity

Tags

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This post is a person– who may believe either a gender identity or a Blanchard-Bailey theory of transness– doing their best to write what a gender identity theory supporter believes. Confused about what an Intellectual Turing Test is or what “gender identity” and “Blanchard-Bailey” mean? Click here! Please read, then vote at the end of the post. This post is for the gender identity side.

How do you define woman/man?

I generally try not to, because of how it is super hard and also because of how they sort of fall apart to me as words when you look at them too closely.

It is clear to me that there is such a thing as biological sex. There is the way a given person’s body is designed with regard to sexual characteristics, and in this area the vast majority of unmodified bodies conform to one of two basic designs. Binary trans people who do the whole surgery and hormones thing are doing their best to get from one of the standard designs to the other; intersex people have bodies that fit neither model and are often altered without their consent to match one of the designs.

It’s also clear that there are such things as gender roles and femininity/masculinity, which is about how you are expected to act and be and how you might want to act and be, respectively. (Though which things are masculine or feminine seems to owe a little to relative commonality in either the associated gender or ASAB, and a lot to ‘because Society has decided somehow’.)

It’s not clear to me what exactly ‘man’ and ‘woman’ add to this picture.

So in conclusion: ‘woman’ and ‘man’ are two types of something called a gender identity. People who have gender identities seem to feel very strongly about them, and they can become very unhappy if you refuse to call them the one that feels right to them. Biological sex and femin/masculinity correlate strongly with gender identity, but they don’t always match up. Since there isn’t a test for gender identity, we pretty much just have to believe people who say that they have one and tell us what it is.

Which means that men and women are people who claim the label ‘man’ or ‘woman’, and also for those of us who don’t really do gender identity so much, people who accept the label ‘man’ or ‘woman’ when society has assigned it to us.

What are your opinions on the cotton ceiling?

People should have sex with who they want to have sex with, but also trans women and the women who love them can totally be proper lesbians and lesbians who say otherwise are being mean.

The reason for the cotton ceiling controversy is a combination of two things.

First, there totally are some people who don’t want to sleep with trans women because they don’t fully see them as women. I mean, obviously; there is a whole genre of terrible ‘comedy’ and also murder defences based on the straight dude version of this. I don’t think arguing that they should consider fucking trans women is in any way helpful to anyone. Instead, if you’re gonna engage, the focus has to be on convincing them that trans women actually are women, and that they and their girlfriends can totally be Legit Lesbians. Like, maybe if they come to realise that trans women are women it will turn out that they can be attracted to them, but also maybe not, and both of those things are fine. Anything else will just put people on the defensive, make them feel pressured about their sexual choices, and add weight to the TERF argument that trans women just want to get their hands on your precious vagina.

Second, I think there is a spectrum among people who would describe themselves as a lesbian. Some are women who are attracted to other women, regardless of anatomy or ASAB. In other people, they think of themselves as lesbian because their sexual arousal depends on their partner having or not having certain physical attributes. In other words, they have observed that they only get turned on by people with boobs and vulvas and are turned off by people with penises or a deep voice or a beard. It is entirely reasonable for these people to also consider themselves lesbians, because their ‘can be sexy’/’can’t be sexy’ criteria round off to ‘man’ and ‘woman’. It’s just that these women will behave differently in edge cases than might be predicted from our definitions of ‘lesbian’, ‘man’ and ‘woman’. These are the ladies who could never get it on with a trans lady unless she’d done all the physical transformation stuff, and also some of the lesbians you see dating pre/non-op trans men.

This second group of lesbians typical-minding what being a lesbian is like is almost certainly how come people can claim in good faith to have nothing against trans women, and also that a lesbian could never shag someone who has a penis.

Basically I feel that harmony in this area can be achieved by making each group aware that the other exists, and getting them to agree that we are slightly different kinds of lesbians but we are all lesbians and we are all fine.

Why are trans women disproportionately likely to be programmers?

I don’t know. Previously we did studies that showed that being drawn to/good at this sort of thing was more common in men, but since trans people are such a small percentage of the population and I bet most of those studies were assuming that male=AMAB, it seems to me that it could just be that programming skill is correlated with being AMAB. This would produce the results that we see, which is both men and trans women being good programmers.

Since we don’t know (as far as I am aware) what causes being more likely to be good at programming, there’s no reason to assume it would sync with gender identity instead of ASAB.

Why do many trans women experience sexual fantasies about being or becoming a woman?

(Glib answer) IDK man, why do I have sexual fantasies about being raped by a tentacle monster, and why isn’t that a reason to deny me elective surgery or entrance to Seaworld?

For reals, though, doing this in two parts.

First, sexual fantasies about being a woman. Simple: trans women see themselves, or at least their ideal self, as being a woman. Most of us, in our sexual fantasies, are either the way we see ourselves, or a somewhat idealised and sexier version of ourselves. A woman who wishes she had a vagina having one in her sexual fantasies is no different than a woman who wishes she had enormous tits or unlimited sexual stamina having those things in her fantasies.

Second, sexual fantasies about becoming a woman. I guess I understand this one less? I mean, I understand fantasies about becoming a woman, obviously – I’m not sure I would understand someone who wanted to become something not also fantasising about becoming that thing. This in itself being sexual, I’m not sure.

It could be that transformation fetish porn is just a thing that exists and provides a way to explore the desire for physical feminisation without letting on to yourself that you’re trans. It could be that if you have problems with how your genitals are, you might not be able to get into a sexual frame of mind without imagining that they’re how you want them, and also that your brain is a stickler for backstory.

But hey, who actually cares? If it was a friend of mine, I’d probably advise against getting surgery unless they also want the change when they are not aroused. But I don’t think this fantasy by itself is any kind of blow to the gender identity position.

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