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.

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.