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.