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?
Women are adult female humans. Men are adult male humans. Not that complicated.
Now, “female” and “male” are not absolutely rigid descriptors. Sexual differentiation begins at a very early stage of embryo development, and a lot of things can interfere with the process. Some people get an extra sex chromosome. Some people with XY chromosomes have a metabolism that does not respond to androgens. Or they could have 5-alpha- reductase deficiency (5-ARD) which causes them to appear female from birth until puberty hits and they suddenly masculinize. If you’re reading these threads you’ve probably heard of a dozen intersex conditions like this. (The term hermaphroditic, alas, has long since met its grisly death in the gears of the euphemism treadmill.)
In the last few generations, children born with ambiguous genitalia or other intersex conditions were surgically ‘corrected’ (where applicable) and raised as one or the other. Some of these individuals who found out came forward to say that this compromised their right to autonomy. (Not all of them find out, and there are surely plenty among us living, for now, in blissful ignorance.)
For the most part, I’m a fan of autonomy. If an intersexed person decides that they align more with men, or with women, or somewhere in between, they should be welcome to figure it out on their own and stick with what makes them more comfortable.
But that’s not who we’re talking about. No, we’re talking about chromosomally normal men, and chromosomally normal women, apparently fertile and healthy, who decide that they were meant to live as the opposite sex. (There’s a handful of individuals who want to identify as some kind of neuter, androgyne or ‘non-binary’ being, but that’s getting into the margins of an already very small niche.)
With today’s resources, it’s possible to manipulate the body’s chemistry, or, more crudely, its anatomy. Drugs can suppress hormone expression or launch it into overdrive. We can manufacture artificial hormones and administer them. We can cut into your body and twist it with a scalpel. Can we turn men into women, and women to men? Well… soooorta. MtFs can never bear their own children, and FtMs can never sire them. Which flies in the face of what males and females are supposed to be for. But that huge caveat aside, the best luck and medical science looks capable of “really” changing one’s sex, at least to the point where only a philosopher with a medical license would be qualified to argue.
Some people go for it. The reigning orthodoxy is that we have some kind of inner brain-to-body map, usually said to be molded by pre-natal hormones, and that trans people ended up with the wrong one.
But color me skeptical. I don’t ‘feel’ like a man. I am one. It’s a physical attribute, like having two arms or wavy hair. “Man” is a category defined by my presence in it, not vice-versa. Sometimes I like that I’m a man. Sometimes I don’t. But usually it doesn’t even cross my mind, because my sex is completely irrelevant to most of life’s endeavors.
Yet I’ve heard stories from trans people so caught up in their ‘body map’ that they tried to cut off their gonads or crush them with rocks, or bind them or tuck them or whatever and it makes me think gaahhh what the fuck that’s your OWN BODY what in the hell is WRONG with you? And we’re to believe this is a normal thing that could just happen to anybody? Look, if the theory is true then everything has a body map, there should be dysphoric lab rats and wolves and monkeys trying to chew off their sex organs. And we don’t see it.
I don’t think transness is about becoming something you are. It’s about becoming something you aren’t. And for a lot of MtFs it’s about becoming a fuckable woman.
I have no reason to believe most men would mind being a woman. I wouldn’t. Obviously it’s not something cis people bring up for conversation, but in certain contexts (describing the clownfish, say, or a hermaphromorphic android shell in an RPG) my guy friends have hinted or said outright, apropos of nothing, they’d totally be down with that. (As one put it, “I’d never leave the house!”) And these are guys on the normie side of nerd-dom, not the kind of weirdos who hang around the LWsphere. The horror cis people are supposed to feel just isn’t there. Cis-by- default is the default.
But I should confess to something. I’m egg-mode trans. Probably. Because I’m part of Rashey Tumblr and plasticbrainy as fuck. And because for as long as I can remember, I’ve been getting my rocks off to TF-TG fetish shit on DeviantArt. Comic strips and dirty stories of men turning into women. Not just any men, and not just any women. Miserable unattractive gawky men, and gorgeous young nymphs whose self-esteem and sexual appetite runneth over. And Christ on a bike, are these forums crawling with dysphoric dudes. I would not be at all surprised if at least half of the artists and their clients were trans. In the better part of a decade I’ve seen… at least six?… TF artists announce their transition. In journals and comment chains, you see a lot of wobbling. Once they tip, they never return.
Their creations don’t always show people fucking, but all of it’s porn. It exists completely within a sexualized context. There are no illusions from anyone involved about why the artists are making it or what their audience is coming for.
A few ‘plotlines’ show up over and over. Best friends become romantic partners. Bullies become fawning groupies. The self-insert ‘victim’ of some curse is transformed utterly, their memories erased, reality itself re-written – and everything about their new life is inexplicably more fulfilling or promising than their old one. (Of course, they find time to fuck or masturbate.) The person they used to be is simply erased like they never existed; no one ever mourns their loss.
…Kind of fucked up, don’t you think? Fantasy is fantasy, but are you so surprised that people aren’t tripping over themselves to validate someone trying to make this degenerate affectation real?
“My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.” – Woody Allen
Still, nobody would do that just for a boner, right? I know what you’re probably thinking about me right now – ‘poor sad sack, he’s just trapped in the closet.’ Yeah, no – I don’t believe gender identity works like that, I doubt that anyone is inherently that attached to their ‘nads. Here’s a verbatim excerpt from a 2012 entry in my private journal (three months before “Cis by Default” was published, and years before I’d ever heard of it):
“Maybe I just don’t feel these things on the ‘deep’ level that some people do. I can’t imagine clinging to a self-label of ‘masculine’ or ‘feminine’ and pursuing it like a manly-man or a feminine woman or transitioning transsexual. I’m male because that’s simply what I am, and have always been.”
But you’re right – no one would transition just for a kink. You’d have to be crazy.
My incredibly volatile, politically incorrect hunch is that transitioning is a way to kill yourself without actually having to die. A mixture of suicidal ideation and putting the pussy on a pedestal. Don’t take my word for it: the metaphors are EVERYWHERE in the community. The new name and signifiers. “Look at it this way, you’re losing a son but gaining a daughter.” The dreaded faux pas – “deadnaming.” The butterfly iconography. Referring to the untransitioned as “eggs” – lifeless things that just haven’t hatched yet. THE RAMPANT SUICIDAL DEPRESSION.
You know how rich white people kill themselves more often than poor black people, even though it seems like their lives couldn’t possibly suck as much? But I bet poor people who are stuck in shitty situations think, ‘one day I could have money, and this will all be a bad memory.’ Their privileged counterparts feel like they already have everything – so they don’t have anything left.
If you’re a dude with this kink and you hate yourself, you’ve got one thing left. Hope they’re right when they say it works.
What are your opinions on the cotton ceiling?
Dysfunctional SJ power dynamics are the whole reason it exists in the first place. Looks like nobody wants to sleep in a bed that they’ve shat in.
Why are trans women disproportionately likely to be programmers?
Programming is an attractive pastime for nerds. Nerds like abstract systems with lots of variables that can be tweaked to produce predictable, yet distinctively unique and complex results. It’s why they’re also disproportionately likely to take up an interest in fantasy worldbuilding, game rule systems, time travel, alien planets, and shape-shifted sex.
Explain trans people assigned female at birth.
And here we get to what’s supposed to be the other side of the dichotomy – trading ‘cis and gay’ for ‘trans and straight.’ Unlike the AGP side, I have no particular insight into the seedy underbelly here. I only know one or two (pre-anything) AFAB trans people, and I’m not sure what distinguishes them from butch lesbians other than their desire to have a penis. Which I suppose is all you really need, if you want it enough, and there’s no reason why they couldn’t.
Probably it’s just the mirror-image of what non-AGP MtFs experience. I disagree that non-AGP trans people are always gay (because clearly, some of them aren’t), but they definitely appear under-masculinized if AMAB and vice-versa. In my experience non-AGP transness tends to be co-morbid with a bunch of cluster A or cluster B disorders. (The LW- sphere suggests a connection to autism as well.) Honestly it doesn’t surprise me that much. Transness just compliments the rest of the badbrains. This is where the ‘trans-trender’ stereotype has the most play, I think; people who fit this umbrella tend to clump together and experiment with radical politics or psychoactive drug use, and it’s also where you get the peculiar group dynamics that reward the most outrageous or outré persona you can get away with.
Can we also acknowledge that everyone is prone to think the grass is greener? Especially in today’s fucked up climate. Who wants to be one of those unlovable, predatory, oppressive men? Who wants to be one of those objectified, victimized, defenseless women? It’s a miracle everybody hasn’t gone screwy. Maybe they have.
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.