Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Passing Priviledge & The "Gold Star" Transsexual

The "classic" or "gold star" transsexual camp is becoming increasingly vocal about their desire to not be included in the transgender rubric. I have read their comments on blogs, Facebook, and other places and one of the common themes I see is the concept of "men in dresses".

Many of us (CD, TG, & TS folks included) feel excluded from lesbian communities for example. Not so for the Gold Star:

And I will add, when I transitioned I was welcomed with open arms into the the local bi and lesbian communities. My experiences run absolutely contrary to the meme that lesbians have problems with women of history, most don't but most do have problems with men in dresses, to put it bluntly.


That last excerpt was a comment to Ashley Love's Facebook post -- "What are your thoughts on the "T" in LGBT Pride Month in June? Please let me know for my research, thanks."

Ashley Love herself has been very vocal on the issue of men in dresses. Her thoughts are worth quoting at length:

Humans have a instinct about them, a sixth sense, they internally register what someone’s gender essence is when they meet them. I will not blame the slow advancement of transsexual women on the men who like to dress up for what ever reason (but will blame it partly on the refusal of some trans gatekeeper’s refusal to initiate internal conversations about this controversial topic in our community that many TS women want to talk about!), and then say they are transsexual, which may confuse society’s education of the entire trans community, which includes transvestites. They can express themselves however they want, and people should just let them do what ever pleases them. But I do believe in DIFFERENT, BUT EQUAL.


A sixth sense, really? I don't believe humans work that way. I think humans are really really good at recognizing patterns spotting things that don't fit a given pattern; such as the gender of another human. Ashley Love is quite beautiful, young and passable; she fits the pattern for "female", there is no "uncanny valley" with her.

Now, it is well known older transitioners, on average, have a tougher time passing than younger transitioners and by virtue of that are far more likely to be labeled as "men in dresses" than those who transitioned young.

So I have to wonder who are the "gold star" transsexuals (incl. Ashley Love) talking about when they speak of "men in dresses". Are they really talking about CDs and TVs OR are they including by fiat older transitioners as well? I believe it's the latter because one other common theme in the "gold star" community; the belief that older transitioners have radically different motivations than those who transition young:

and we all began to discuss about the “older transsexuals” and how odd they seemed to be. It was the much more world-wise Marcella who explained it all, 'They are all TVs that need a bigger fix!'


I've observed that the "gold star" camp seems to be full of "transitioned while young" TS women and I think their thoughts about TGs, CDs, & late-transitioners can be summarized as: 1) CDs are men in dresses 2) TVs are men in dresses, and 3) late-transitioners are really just CDs or TVs that have conditioned themselves past the point of no return.

This is a clear example of prejudice within our own community regarding "not-passable" people. The "gold stars" are out there giving their own testimonies before legislatures across the land and not only does it undermine the message of trans women like Jenny Boylan, but it also reifies the concept of the "wacky" transgender in the minds of lawmakers and the public.

I'm not sure what can be done about any of this, but we really need to start paying attention to these separatists and what they are saying, lest the public starts listening to them instead of us.

Monday, February 14, 2011

My thoughts about Transsexual vs Transgender

I reject the notion that either transsexualism (TS) or transgender (TG including CDs) are disorders. I believe they are rather common variants in early human development. They indicate to me that the person began life as a set of boy-girl twins who merged together to form a viable embryo.

This is commonly known as a chimera. Chimeras were thought to be extremely rare, but advances in the understanding of embryology have revealed that most likely one out of every eight pregnancies begin as twins and end up as a single embryo. Many of these twin sets are boy-girl pairs and their merging is highly correlated with the proclivity towards gender variant behavior.

The reason is because the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonad (HPG) axis is hybridized -- both male and female. Remember the studies conducted that revealed the number of neurons in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTc) of male-to-female TS was similar to that of the females? The Stria Terminalis is a component of the HPG axis and hybridization is likely the reason why it presents with female neuron numbers in transsexual women. If the Stria Terminalis in these subjects were tested using the right methods, the tests would likely reveal these regions were actually of comprised different genetic material than the hosts.

I believe TS & TG folk share in common this biological variant in human development (i.e. a proclivity towards cross gender expression). We are *all trans women* and the differences we see in development (i.e. older vs younger transitioners) has more to do with whether the individual in question was born straight or born gay....

One who is born straight holds tight to her gender role ...and represses the feminine within herself because she wants to succeed as a woman-loving male. The feminine may become exotic to her and later, erotic. Finally after years, she transitions or comes to peace with being bi-gendered.

One who is born gay will not hold onto her gender role as tightly because she doesn't have the drive to succeed as a woman loving male. So she naturally embraces the feminine inside her at an early age and it becomes part of her identity instead of an "exotic thing" that must be kept at bay. And so the realization that she wants to transition comes much much earlier.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

We have a long way to go...

The underlying cause of what is often called either transphobia or homophobia is really something we have tagged as "gender non-conformophobia"... and at the core of that, lies misogyny.

While the things you will hear from Pastor Steven Anderson in this video are ignorant, despicable, judgmental and abusive, we believe he serves a useful purpose - he demonstrates, without any filter, the evil and danger that is the foundation for the intolerance, bigotry, physical and emotional abuse that gender non-conforming and transgender children and youth experience.

It's not an easy video to watch... but Pastor Anderson speaks the truth (as he sees it)... and it should terrify and energize everyone to speak up and out against this type of child abuse.

FYI: The Faithful Word Baptist Church has been labeled a "Hate Group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Eroticization of Cross Gender Expression Part 2: The Exotic Becomes Erotic

In part one, I discussed the evolution of my damsel in distress fantasies through childhood and adolescence. Since, I've gotten several emails and comments from other ladies who have had similar experiences. What is interesting to me is that is is not only crossdressers who have had these fantasies but also early-transitioning transsexuals as well. What I've heard flies in the face of the claims made by many about the nature of CD vs TS folk.

One of the Trans Women I spoke with was Andrea James. In our correspondence she told me that she believes for many of us, the desire for cross gender expression is impossible in childhood and adolescence and that it becomes sublimated and is expressed through sexual fantasy. Why sex? Andrea believes (and so do I) that the desires are so exotic that they become erotic.

The "Exotic Becomes Erotic theory" was develeoped by Daryl Bem and states that biological factors (e.g. chimerism) create proclivities towards behavior (e.g. gender variant behavior)in children which makes them feel "different" in relation to a social group (i.e. female children) and the child experiences physiological arousal (e.g. gut reaction) when near that group. The physiological arousal later becomes sexual arousal as the child becomes an adolescent and adult.

In my case, I was smaller and weaker than boys of my age which made me a "sissy" and bad at sports. I also was a little "He/She" and often mistaken for a girl by adults at the grocery store and other places. Nevertheless, I still believed I was a boy and that my place with the boys.

It was the girls who made me feel different. Or rather the feelings I had about their clothes and hair and (later on) make-up. I have vivid memories from when I was 8-10 years old of being in spaces with cis-girls in pigtails and baubles or my cis-woman teachers in skirts and boots or seeing cis-women put on lipstick in their car mirror.

The reason I remember these times so vividly is because of the intense physiological responses they produced. Who knows what behaviors I might have displayed if I had identified with the female peer group instead of the male one and sought their companionship? But I didn't and so my desires for cross gender expression were expressed (or repressed) in a different way.

I see my strong reactions (or "thrill" as I called in my last post) to depictions of women tied and gagged as the beginnings of repression. Metaphorically it seems like my male self attempting to control and silence my own desires to express femaleness; trying to ensure in a very primitive way that it would never gain expression. Then in adolescence those depictions were removed from their original purpose and became sexually arousing to me.

This is how gender and sexuality became "tied up" for me in early life. Eventually my desires to dress and appear as female came to the surface, but the exotic had become erotic many years prior and so the expression of my femaleness was highly sexualized. In my twenties, I dressed in fetish outfits and even had a website with photos of me as a damsel in distress. I had turned my female presentation of self into a sex object, which really was just another level of control being exerted by my male side; hoping that by turning her into a sex object, she would never be taken seriously by the world as is the case with cis-women who turn themselves into sex objects. And by being tied and gagged, she would never be able to tell anyone otherwise.

Not all of us develop along these lines of course, but I'm fairly certain most so-called AGP transitioners and crossdressers come from the a very similar soup. I think the process by which AGP transitioners and crossdressers make a sex object out of their own femaleness is very similar to what I have described above as the exotic becoming erotic. More on this in part 3 of this ongoing series....

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Spontaneous Human Chimeras, Homosexuality, & Transgender: A Causal Link

In ”Embryogenesis Of Chimeras, Twins And Anterior Midline Asymmetries”, Dr. Charles Boklage posits Chimeras are not as rare as previously thought and in fact 1 in 8 of us may be chimeras and are not aware of our conditions.

What can be considered rare is the motivation to detect a chimera. Indeed, in his book "How New Humans are Made", Dr. Boklage asserts most chimeras have no physical abnormalities and indeed look like everyone else. He also adds that Chimerism need not be present in the blood. So without physical abnormalities or strange blood typing to act as a motivation, there is little or no reason for a clinician to pursue the diagnosis.

While there may be no physical signs of chimerism, the condition might be expressed in the behavior of a chimera. The creation or artifical chimeras lends creedence to this idea. The creation of artificial “brain chimeras” is becoming a routine practice in the field of neurobiology. One such study conducted by German scientists created a brood of Japanese quails with female brains and male physiology.

“Male Japanese quails with female brains do not show male sexual behaviors”

The male quail chimeras with female brains did not display mounting or crowing behavior. It is a scientific fact the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonad (HPG) axis coordinates displays of sexual behavior with reproductive physiology. Sexual brain development therefore defines the ability of brain areas, including the neural part of the HPG axis, to respond to particular physiological signals in adulthood.

Could it be a that spontaneous human chimera arising from a plural pregnancy (boy & girl) might display similar behaviors? Indeed, in "Stem Cells for Dummies" Goldstein and Schneider describe the formation of a chimera:
Two zygotes travel down the fallopian tubes towards the uterus, growing and dividing into multiple celled embryos as they go. The growing embryos come into contact with each other, and one absorbs the other or they fuse together. The absorbed embryo supplies cells with it's own DNA to the body of the developing embryo. The resulting baby (and eventually adult) is composed of cells with two different genetic libraries -- one set of cells from each of the two embryos that fused.
When merging occurs, the embryos are little more than brain primordia. It is possible the merging of brain primordia from a boy and girl could create a hybrid brain structure or more appropriately a hybrid HPG axis – – both male and female at once.

I believe sometimes the merging creates a human with same-sex attraction, other times merging creates a human with gender confusion, and sometimes perhaps no effect at all. It would largely depend on the physics of the collision of the two embryos as to how the resulting chimera would form.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Eroticization of Cross Gender Expression Part 1: Childhood & Adolescence

When I was small, I got a thrill out of tie up games. My favorite was the "damsel in distress" trope played out in movies and TV (e.g. Daphne from Scooby Doo or Batgirl). I remember watching those women struggle and “mmmpphh”on the TV screen and would want so much to be in their predicament and their gender. I remember becoming embarrassed if my parents or other kids were watching the shows with me. I would try to act calm, hoping no one saw or sensed what I was feeling.

When I was a little older, I began putting on womens clothes and makeup and then gagging myself; fantasizing I was being tied up by a mean babysitter or some older girl from school. I liked the "tough girls" like "Jo" from "Facts of Life" or Joan Jett -- the larger and older girls who could overpower me and do mean things.

When I became sexually active, I still longed to be tied up as a damsel-in-distress but had no way of expressing the desire. I was attracted to girls and if I were to succeed as a woman-loving male, I couldn't behave like a female. Also, I learned early on there was something "wrong" with someone who liked tying other people up or being tied up themselves.

So I was too ashamed to ever ask any of the young women I was with to tie me up, let alone allow me to cross-dress in front of them. So I would try introducing bondage elements into our sexual activity, hoping somehow my partner would get that I wanted those things done to me. So I would try putting my hand over my partners mouth or gagging her with something, hoping she would turn the tables. I also "playfully" wore many girls' panties and stockings. I was throwing out clues right and left, but did not have the words to express any of it directly. In the social milieus of my young adulthood, cross-gender expression was impossible, but the desires found their way to the surface through my "playful" cross dressing and introduction of bondage into sex. I was experiencing being a damsel in distress by proxy; becoming aroused by imagining myself in the role of my partner.

As you might imagine, it was not the most successful strategy; I ended up with a lot of former partners who thought me really strange. I want to be clear though that I was never non-consensual with anyone and the feelings of arousal were not coming from a place of control or power over someone at at all. I became aroused by imagining myself in the role of my partner.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gender expression the intervening variable in school bullying

Ritch Savin-Williams, professor of developmental psychology and director of Cornell University's Sex and Gender Lab thinks so:

"First, middle schools can be tough places for youth who are 'different.' Bullies, however, seldom limit their attacks to gay youth. Research at Cornell's Sex and Gender Lab concludes that the life satisfaction of both straight and gay youth suffers if they behave in a gender 'inappropriate' manner (feminine boys, masculine girls). It is gender expression, not sexual orientation per se, that is linked with decreased psychological wellbeing, and this is likely the result of bullying."

He also added:

"It is important to point out in these moments of grief that there is absolutely no scientific evidence of an 'epidemic of gay youth suicide,' or even that gay youth kill themselves more frequently than do straight youth."

I know it is non-PC to come out with this observation but it is believable from my perspective as a kid whose gender expression deviated from mean.

I was bullied and called a faggot. I even considered suicide because of the bullying and name calling. But I was not gay, I'm Trans.

And the guys who were actually gay in my HS Class? They were football players, popular, good at sports; their masculinity was never questioned. I'm sure they had problems like every teenager and may have even been in silent misery over being attracted the same sex. But they sure as hell didn't walk around the halls in fear of their well-being like I did.

No scientific evidence' of gay youth suicide epidemic