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?

Like most people I keep multiple different definitions in my head. Eg a grandma is someone with grey hair who is retired, loves cooking and spoiling her grandkids and all the other stereotypes, and a grandmother is someone whose children have children of their own. So Tina Turner is a grandma even if she doesn’t act grandma-ly.

In the case of woman/man, I generally go with what people tell me about what they are. However, I am well aware that historically, being a woman or a man was about external body parts, and if you got classified as a woman you were subject to various social definitions, if you got classified as a man you were subject to the draft or press-ganging, personal identity had nothing to do with it, barring some exceptional cases. So I switch between meanings depending on context.

I also am well aware that a binary definition does not cover everyone, some people identity as genders other than the binary, some people physically are inter-sex. I don’t think we will ever have words, or even short noun phrases, that cover every single possible case.

What’s your opinion of the cotton ceiling?

I think the cotton ceiling was the unfortunate intersection of two principles, both good in themselves. One, that people should avoid prejudice and discriminating on irrelevant grounds, and the other, that anything remotely like shame in relation to sexual preferences should be avoided. Sex should be about fun and pleasure, and violent language like “breaking down barriers” only used where both parties want it.

If you look at what advertisers do, they present their products as fulfilling existing needs or wants of the people they’re selling to, not as the needs or wants of the seller. A much better approach to trans women’s concerns would have been to focus on telling stories, and encouraging key idea makers, to produce stories, about trans women in happy romantic relationships and as attractive partners, and criticising only people who dispute others’ claim to be lesbian or whatever because they’re in a trans-relationship. There’s nothing sexy about obligations.

On the other hand, there was definitely ridiculous overreaction by radical feminists to the cotton ceilings, which should not happen, and is terribly abrasive to the public discourse.

Why are trans women disproportionately likely to be programmers?

A combination of factors I think. Programming is something you can do without navigating social situations. (I got into it when I was forced to spend weeks as a kid off school lying down with my foot elevated.) So it’s a natural place for kids who get bullied, and kids who get bullied tend to have something odd about them (as a kid, a lot of other kids tried to bully me).

It’s also a good career for people who can be happy inside their heads, which goes with a strong inward focus, and perhaps also the willingness to take on prejudice that transwomen face, or have faced. It’s easier to defy social norms if you don’t face them all the time.

And, it’s intellectually demanding of precision. “feelings” that some code is wrong or something have their place, but feelings don’t debug code. Working through implications rigourously is important.

So several reasons.

Explain trans people assigned female at birth.

A full explanation of the whys of trans men of course depends on proper research being carried out. But in the meantime I will speculate. There’s nothing I can think of in the laws of the universe that says that women (in sense 3) can’t be auto-androphilic, nor that they can’t find transitioning to men (in sense 1) attractive for social reasons.

There are more social advantages to people who are perceived as female to transition to male as well in our often sexist society. Which is another incentive for trans men to transition.

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.