[This should probably not be the first thing you read about Blanchard’s theories. I will consistently use “type one” to refer to so-called homosexual transsexuals and “type two” to refer to so-called autogynephile transsexuals, and it is the absence of neutral terms for these distinctions that have driven me to this problem. As always, a caveat that Blanchard’s theories are controversial and that there’s a replication crisis which limits the accuracy of any psychological research.]
So this is a super-fun request post. (Back me on Patreon and get a chance at a request post yourself!)
Monica sent me her thoughts on the type one/type two division. She argues that the division is in fact caused by age at transition, noting that age at transition is not precisely the same thing as when one became gender dysphoric. Later transition causes your brain to be exposed more to your birth sex hormones and you to experience more gender socialization for your assigned gender; we would expect more masculine behavior from this population. Sexual fantasies often don’t develop until adolescence and continue to develop in adulthood; earlier transitioners may have weaker or nonexistent sexual fantasies related to their gender. Orientation change is commonly noted as an effect of hormones; perhaps earlier transitioners are more likely to experience this effect, thus becoming exclusively androphiliac.
Children who were assigned male and who behave femininely may be more likely to transition early. Monica mentions that accepting parents may be more likely to allow their children to behave in a feminine fashion and to transition, and that early transition lends itself to selective memories on the parts of both families and trans people which exaggerate how feminine a child was. I’d add that more feminine assigned-male children may be more likely to be allowed to transition, while more masculine children take longer to transition because they have to get past more gatekeepers.
However, my own anecdotes suggest this is not the case. I personally know many type-twos who transitioned at nineteen or twenty; on r/asktransgender one may find type-twos who have come to a transgender identity as young as fourteen. By Blanchard, this really shouldn’t happen at all. In fact, given the number of trans women in Silicon Valley who come out in their twenties, the proposition that most type-twos transition in their forties or fifties would imply that (contrary to popular belief) there are in fact no cisgender male programmers at all.
Therefore I predict (with a fairly high degree of confidence) that Millennials will be far less likely to transition at midlife than previous generations.
It makes sense that this would be the case. Before relatively recently, there were two kinds of trans narratives. First, there were narratives that embodied cisgender anxieties far more than transgender realities: trans women were depicted as predatory and wanting to lure men into sex, or as pathetic mockeries of women, or surprisingly often both at the same time. (Trans men, of course, did not exist at all.) Second, and far less common, there were narratives from actual trans people sanitized for cisgender people’s consumption. You always knew you were a man deep down, you played with trucks as a child, you have definitely never been attracted to a man, your gender plays no role in your sexuality, and if you ever wore a dress it was by coercion and you threw it out and it is definitely not in the back of your closet waiting for Drag Night.
So whether people transitioned depended a lot on luck: it was hard to get any sort of idea about what trans lives were actually like unless you happened to meet a trans person. It was all too easy to have the idea that your gender dysphoria didn’t really count if you liked wearing eyeliner sometimes and had no deep-down sense of being male.
The trans and gay communities have been linked since inversion was a twinkle in Krafft-Ebing’s eye: thus, trans people who were part of the gay or lesbian community pre-transition generally encountered other trans people young and transitioned earlier. Trans people assigned male at birth who were not part of the LGBT community blundered around in a fog of shame and quiet misery unless they happened to stumble across a crossdresser group or something, and thus transitioned later. Trans people assigned female at birth who were not part of the LGBT community had… as far as I can tell completely nothing, and thus rarely transitioned.
Nowadays, we have Twitter and blogs and Imogen Binnie’s Nevada: narratives written by trans people, about trans people, for trans people. And these resources are accessible like never before. If some sixteen-year-old– hesitant, terrified, palms sweating– enters “am I transgender” into google, they will stumble across an article like this one (first result for me in incognito mode search). It’s not perfect, god no, but look at what’s on the list of signs the author was a trans woman: hating girly things, longing to be pregnant, crossdressing (!), repulsion at the idea of trans people, hating cameras, a bizarre fondness for the song “Lola”. And that means that that kid will not think “oh, I hated boys’ toys at a kid, I can’t possibly be trans”, will sort themselves out sooner, and will be able to transition.
In conclusion, I suspect the early transitioner/late transitioner thing is a mere artifact of transphobia and not a real division, and that trans people of the present generation will transition far earlier regardless of type.