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The taboo trans question Why can't we ask what drives people to change sex?

Have trans activists damaged their own cause? Credit: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images

Have trans activists damaged their own cause? Credit: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty Images


March 10, 2022   7 mins

“Sexuality is who you go to bed with, gender is who you go to bed as.” Learn it, remember it, drill it into your brain: this is one of the most important precepts of gender identity activism, and one of the most rigorously policed when outside voices address trans issues.

Maintaining this division is fundamental to maintaining the belief that a thing called gender identity — and gender identity only — explains individuals’ decisions to transition. It’s a belief in gender identity that allows the broadcaster Natasha Devon to write: “A trans woman is just as much a woman as I am — just a different sort of woman, with different needs.”

Once you accept the existence of some kind of internal, inherent womanhood it becomes possible to argue that physical sex is a triviality that must be looked past. The flesh is a faulty representative of the true self within, and the path to enlightenment comes when you learn to trust other people’s accounts of themselves over your own lying eyes.

With the principle of gender identity in place, you can even argue that it’s female people who are the blithely privileged ones, while male people (who, of course, must not be called male) have the wisdom instilled by disadvantage. The trans writer Julia Serano — who used the term “subconsious sex” in preference to “gender identity” — put it like this:

“Many cissexual people seem to have a hard time accepting the idea that they too have a subconscious sex — a deep-rooted understanding of what sex their bodies should be. I suppose that when a person feels right in the sex they were born into, they are never forced to locate or question their subconscious sex, to differentiate it from their physical sex. In other words, their subconscious sex exists, but it is hidden from their view. They have a blind spot.”

In short: if you have doubts about whether your sex is, in fact, best defined by an immaterial sense of self which you have never personally experienced, then you should stow your questions because all they betray is your own good fortune at not being trans. Lucky you, you must just love your gender role.

And if you suggest that the category we call trans might actually be a mix of several different things manifesting in distinctive ways within certain groups — if, say, you suggest that a woman with a complicated history of trauma fleeing femaleness might not be having exactly the same experience as middle-aged male posing in makeup — then god help you. Above all, never conceive that some instances of male transition might contain something distinctively sexual.

In 2003, the academic Michael Bailey published a book called The Man Who Would Be Queen, a dishy pop-science take on transsexuality (before that term was verboten) based on his own lengthy and sympathetic engagement with the trans community. It put forward the argument, drawn from sexologist Ray Blanchard, that males who transition fall, roughly, into two types.

The “homosexual transsexual” (usually young, gay and effeminate) is attracted to men and seeking to be attractive to men. So far, so much what most people suspected about the motivation for transition. But the second type was a more psychologically complex proposition. The “autogynephile transsexual” was often older, usually straight, tended to have a history of crossdressing — and was driven by an intense attraction to the idea of himself as a woman.

Does it matter why people experience themselves as being trans? For the individual concerned, perhaps not: when one reaches the point of misery with one’s physical body at which transition seems the only liveable choice, the backstory probably feels very much beside the point.

But for clinicians, studying the reasons for something as unusual as the drive to change sex can be important in helping direct patients to the most appropriate path. Gender reassignment surgery is a drastic process, and it makes sense to explore whether someone’s issues might be resolved by another means. And more than that, it’s just interesting. Humans are strange and complicated creatures. Understanding them is more than a life’s work.

As far as trans activists of the early noughties were concerned, though, this specific thing was not supposed to be understood. For addressing the theory of autogynephilia, Bailey was subjected to a life-ruining campaign of harassment. His professional reputation was assassinated; his family was abused. In her exhaustive and riveting investigation into the controversy, Alice Dreger found that even before Bailey’s critics had read the book, they’d concluded that its contents would be dangerous.

It became vital to establish that the autogynephilia theory was, as Serano wrote, “based on dubious evidence and has never been scientifically substantiated”. It could even, said Serano, be considered sexist — an outcome of “our cultural tendency to sexualize femininity and femaleness in all its forms”. And yet, infuriatingly for the cause, the sex keeps seeping into transwomen’s accounts of themselves.

It’s there is Caitlyn Jenner’s The Secrets of My Life, when she writes about the thrill of seeing her reflection in full feminine dress: “Sometimes I wonder if dressing up like this is the equivalent of having sex with myself, male and female at the same time.”

It’s there is Juno Dawson’s teacherly book The Gender Games, which breaks off from informing readers of the correct way to think about gender to tell us how, when living as a gay man, Dawson had felt “a very conscious urge to get fucked, to be penetrated as a woman would be”.

It’s there, extravagantly, in Andrea Long Chu’s Females: A Concern, which defines the “barest essentials” of “femaleness” as “an open mouth, an expectant asshole, blank, blank eyes”. It’s there in Torrey Peters’ spiritedly indecent novel of queer families and sissy fetishes, Detransition, Baby. (One trans reader’s first reaction to the novel’s compulsive bean-spilling was to say: “I’m upset that the cis are going to read it”.)

And it’s there in Grace Lavery’s memoir Please Miss: A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Penis. “There’s also the fear that what I write will be used against trans people in some way,” sighs Lavery, before jumping in anyway and describing the desire to be “fetishized… as a slutty girl is” and “assaulted as a girl is”.

Where you won’t find it, on the whole, is in testimonials by trans men. Gabriel Mac, in New York Magazine, concludes post-transition that he is in fact asexual. Thomas Page McBee’s autobiography Man Alive describes a history of terrible abuse leading to nightmarish depersonalisation: “I felt like a marionette, otherworldly and wooden.” The experiences fantasised about by Lavery did not confirm McBee’s femininity but broke the bond between self and body.

Trans men do get horny — the startlingly frank diaries of bathhouse denizen Lou Sullivan are one example, the career of porn star Buck Angel another — but there’s an undeniable sex divide here. Living as the opposite sex can be arousing for male transitioners, while female transitioners often experience it as something more like a respite from the demands of being a body.

This is, or should be, expected. Paraphilias — or fetishes — are wildly more common among male subjects than female ones. But it’s a paradox too. It means that male-to-female transitioners are, on the whole, becoming women in a specifically masculine way; and female-to-male transitioners are becoming men in a way that is characteristically feminine. The change of gender only reasserts the starting point.

Without wanting to traduce my whole sex, women can be sometimes wilfully naive about the force of masculine sexuality — and the range and strangeness of masculine desires. Paraphilias are not only more common in men, but also much more acceptable, on the whole, to men than they are to women. Tell a woman about the weird shit that gets you off, and you run a high risk of leaving her disgusted. It’s that disgust, I think, that leads some women to downplay the importance of sex for male people who want to be seen as women.

But it’s easier to believe comforting falsehoods about a universal gender identity (whatever one of those is) than to accommodate the sticky mess that male sexuality can be. As Debbie Hayton has written in these pages, in an essay entitled “Why I became trans”: “the concept of gender identity has been comforting and politically useful for autogynephilic transsexuals in a society that stigmatises unusual male sexuality”. This feminine coyness creates a strange situation where trans women can tell the dirty truth about themselves until they’re blue in the face, and kind-hearted women of the Natasha Devon tendency will pretend they never heard them.

It’s why the Marie Claire review of Detransition, Baby doesn’t mention the kinky stuff but does suggest that “cisgender women can learn a great deal about gender, motherhood, and queer identity from Peters”. It takes skill to distil wholesome self-improvement from a novel where one trans woman character declares “I want a man to love me so much he murders me”, but part of the art of femininity has always been the ability to prettify unpleasantness.

It’s not ladylike to comment on indecent things. The proper role of women is to demurely support the masculine quest for satisfaction. Amy Bloom’s superb 2002 “Conservative Men in Conservative Dresses” — which predates current doctrines about gender identity — describes a subculture in which husbands can revel in their feminine side by dressing up.

But they can only do this because their wives are there to do the less attractive but equally feminine work of looking after them. Wives help with makeup; wives advise on clothes. Wives continue to do all the things wives traditionally do. “For twenty years he couldn’t help with the dishes because he was watching football. Now he can’t help because he’s doing his nails. Is that different?” grouches one woman who, despite her obvious dissatisfaction, has still gone along to support her husband on a crossdressing retreat.

The horror at the idea of women bucking their allocated role as support humans explains why some feminist writers have received shocked pushback when quoting the trans women I’ve referenced above. A male writer can self-disclose with impunity, but when a woman draws attention to it, suddenly everyone gets uncomfortable. The quotes must be “out of context” — surely Chu can’t really mean the essence of woman is an “expectant asshole”? And yet that is what Chu wrote, so that is what we must believe was meant.

Is there anything wrong with a weird sexual predilection? In itself, no: what happens between brain and genitals to get the latter going is the definition of a private affair. So there really ought to be no cause for embarrassment about the fact that some trans women have a sexual component to their transition. If the activists keep lying about it, it’s because they’re the ones who are ashamed of it.


Sarah Ditum is a columnist, critic and feature writer.

sarahditum

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Malcolm Knott
Malcolm Knott
2 years ago

So basically it’s a kinky freak show with a variety of different people all with different hang-ups; all-consuming and sometimes tragic for them but essentially none of our business until they start telling us how we are supposed to think and what we we are supposed to say. Then they cross the line and are likely to forfeit our sympathy.
My right to see what I see and think what I think is not to be dictated by ‘activists’ of any description and especially not by individuals with deep psychological problems.

Last edited 2 years ago by Malcolm Knott
Derek Smith
Derek Smith
2 years ago

I just can’t help shake the feeling that these people are nuts.

Paddy Taylor
PT
Paddy Taylor
2 years ago
Reply to  Derek Smith

I just can’t help shake the feeling that these people want/don’t want nuts. (delete as appropriate)

Last edited 2 years ago by Paddy Taylor
Alastair Herd
AH
Alastair Herd
2 years ago

It is truly bizarre to me that the “woke” who are so big on lived experience that men are not allowed to comment on women’s issues; white people on black people’s issues, suddenly find it OK (even courageous!) when that man decides he’s a woman. And then other women have no right to disagree…

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Alastair Herd

I don’t even know how he decides he’s a woman. Does he look in the mirror one day and think “hmm I have all the equipment to make me female”? I don’t think so, and as far as I can see this is the only way to know what sex you are, short of having chromosomal testing done. I don’t know how you can think that you’re a woman, just liking pretty clothes doesn’t do it as I know men who are into such things and women who are not. Being attracted to men? Gay men are too, and gay women are not, so not definitive. I am always confused about this as, other than physical charcteristics I don’t know that I am female. Dare I say it – could it be that physical characteristics are important, or even defining

Kathryn Allegro
NG
Kathryn Allegro
2 years ago

Physical characteristics ARE important. Anatomy is not a social construct.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
2 years ago

Myself, my sister and my female friends all agree, we know we’re women because we bleed for days every month without dying. Our biology is our one common attribute, while it does not define us, it does makes us women!

Last edited 2 years ago by Lindsay S
Drahcir Nevarc
RC
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago
Reply to  Alastair Herd

Wokeness is fundamentally anti-rational.

Gayle Buhler
Gayle Buhler
11 months ago
Reply to  Drahcir Nevarc

YES!

michael stanwick
MS
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Alastair Herd

The other interesting side to this is the entertainment industry – TV and film – and the rise of the female parity-warrior. A warrior that can hurl men around, hit them onto the floor and kick them through a wall. In other words, behave as if they were a male in a female body – think Charlize Theron in Mad Max Fury road.
Sometimes to get around this, the film writers give them ‘powers’ but also do not enable them to make mistakes – the phenomenon of the ‘Mary Sue’.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
2 years ago

Gender Ideology is insane, regressive, and misogynistic. However, I do believe that we have a sex identity wired into our brains for the same reason we have a tail bone: at some point in evolutionary history, we needed one. We do not need one anymore, yet there it is.
Someone with sex dysphoria is like someone with a broken tailbone: you don’t need the damn thing, but it is causing you excruciating pain. Something needs to be done to ease that pain.
For now, all we have t ease the pain is medical “gender” (actually sex) transition.
Are there perverts exploiting gender dysphoria to normalize their perversions?
YES!
That’s why there needs to be strict gatekeeping on who can and cannot Identify as a woman: we should make medical/surgical transition free and ONLY allow those who’ve had their penises removed to legally identify as a woman.
If you don’t want to lose the D, you are not a woman. Full Stop. No excuses.
Sex dysphoria as a neurological condition is rare, and it has been eclipsed by narcisssitc trans trenders and cross dressers who want to legitmize their fetishes (this is why the Sex Industry is so trans “friendly”: ostracized people are a cash cow that the Sex Industry chews up and spits out with glee.
Anyway, we live in a misogynistic society, and trans women embrace misogynistic stereotypes for the same reason genetic women do: it makes them more popular. Trans people are desperate for acceptance and will do anything to get it, including debasing “womanhood” and demeaning other women.
Trans women are merely reflecting and amplifying the misogyny of their/our culture.

Jeff Butcher
JB
Jeff Butcher
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

This is my problem with ‘trans’ , like ‘fascist’ it has become far too broad in its meaning – it should only refer to a person who has had, or intends to have gender reassignment surgery and has been diagnosed with some form of body dismorphia – as you say, a very tiny proportion of the general population.

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

What are ‘misogynistic stereotypes’?

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I was wondering the same thing. Also, I was wondering whether we live in exhaustive misogynistic society or one that has elements of misogyny and misandry.

Helen E
Helen E
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Good tailbone analogy, and I agree that there are (exceedingly rare) individuals for whom transsexual surgery can bring relief.
Must disagree, though, Penny, w idea that losing one’s d and accompanying apparatus turns a male into a woman. And on rereading your post, I don’t think you meant to say this, either. He is a male, and will die as one, no matter what his legal status and social identity are. You cannot change your sex.

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

Without wanting to traduce my whole sex, women can be sometimes wilfully naive about the force of masculine sexuality — and the range and strangeness of masculine desires. 

I always though it was somewhat presumptive of women (in general) to hold forth about male sexuality when they appeared to have no idea about it. And it appeared to me to be mostly women that do hold forth about it.
You could argue that a great deal of the most modern Western culture has embedded the naive view of male sexuality within it.
Well done Sarah Ditum for being brave enough to consider this. Now, should we do anything about it? Or should we allow the sexual tensions to resolve themselves in an unguided way?

Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
Margaret Tudeau-Clayton
2 years ago

Glad to see someone pointing out the difference between trans women and trans men who are hardly ever discussed. I’m guessing there are fewer of them and no one is demanding that we chant ‘trans men are men’. On the other hand, there are more girls now seeking to transition than boys in what should really be treated as a separte phenomenon (tied up with girls’ fear of sexuality, the need to belong to a group….)

D Hockley
SM
D Hockley
2 years ago

It is 100% impossible to change one’s sex. End of story. This entire subject is boring most sane people to tears. Please to giving oxygen to this sad insanity.

Michael O'Donnell
IS
Michael O'Donnell
2 years ago

I saw this recently in. Business magazine:
The partnership will offer *****’s 700+ employees with female reproductive organs access to *****’s Menopause Plan

So that excludes women who’ve had a total hysterectomy with ovarian removal then. The people who experience the worst menopause symptoms. Just an example of how this stupidity leads to people being unable to work out how to say what they mean.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
2 years ago

Just read this BS:

‘employees with female reproductive organs’

Michael O'Donnell
Michael O'Donnell
2 years ago
Reply to  Derek Smith

Exactly!

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

I wonder if the sentiment expressed in ‘“I want a man to love me so much he murders me” is _common_? And exactly what this means. Are we supposed to take it literally? And if not, how?

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
Graham Stull
GS
Graham Stull
2 years ago

Apparently there are a surprising number of serial killers who received heaps of marriage proposals from random women when they are in prison. Some even manage to get married, have conjugal visits and rear children, while serving consecutive life sentences.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

This is bizarre. I realise that for a numer of people (male and female) there is a fascination with serial killers, but these women have real problems.

Last edited 2 years ago by Linda Hutchinson
Graham Stull
GS
Graham Stull
2 years ago

For sure. Imagine the kids when they ask where daddy is.

Peter Dawson
Peter Dawson
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

And who he is?

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Women’s shelters see people who go from one abusive relationship to another. A long time ago, I sat there with the other volunteers puzzling out loud ‘why does this person keep getting hooked up with these dangerous, violent people’. One of the older volunteers set me straight on this one — the problem with that person was not ‘bad judgement in mate selection’ but rather that she works very hard to make successive partners abusive. You start with the idea that only a jealous sort of love is ‘real love’, and that jealousy is a good measure for the depth of somebody else’s feelings for you. Many people believe this, (without ending up abused, or in shelters, either). And then you keep doing things ‘to make him jealous, so he can show me how much he loves me’. Repeat until meltdown.
So I can well believe that there are people who want to be loved so jealously and possessively that they are at risk for being killed by their partner. But is actually getting killed what a significant number of trans people are looking for?

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

Yeah I’ve read about the predilection for potentially jealous and abusive partners as a form of validation.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago

Didn’t that leave the volunteers a little disillusioned? I would describe the woman’s behaviour as emotional abuse.
I’ve often wondered the degree to which domestic abuse is a product of personality disorder – on the part of either abuser or victim.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

I think that a great many of the ‘spoiled-brat’ young would really benefit from this sort of disillusionment. The simple understanding that some victims, victimhood notwithstanding, are themselves evil people would produce much better policies for dealing with such evil.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago

I worked with homeless people for years, and while I encountered the usual mix of people, including some (rare) who I would deem “evil”, I can’t imagine what policies you are imagining that would somehow serve only the “deserving” victims of domestic abuse and screen out the “evil”. Something like the Poor Law of 1834, perhaps?

Last edited 1 year ago by Nona Yubiz
D Ward
DW
D Ward
2 years ago

Regrettably I have a few friends who do this (without realising themselves- it’s clear as day to me)

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  D Ward

Sorry to hear that.

Helen Russell
HR
Helen Russell
1 year ago

I’d say imagining women working hard to make their partners abusers is a serious case of victim blaming. People do not become abusers because someone tries to make them one. A woman cannot push a man to the point where she needs refuge from him without that man being inherently abusive. If she was raised in an environment where some degree of subservience or dysfunction in which she perceived validation of love as some kind of drama, she will not recognise healthy behaviour. She is, in that case, already a victim of abuse. That does not mean she causes it in her relationships. It may tie her to an abuser to the point where she defends him, but it takes time and help for her to see the connections. One volunteer perceives this as the victim’s responsibility, but that one opinion does not make it fact. Volunteers get understandably fed up and jaded. I’s say, rather than victim blaming, it would be useful to find another outlet for one’s volunteering skills and stay away from abused women.

Andrew E Walker
Andrew E Walker
1 year ago
Reply to  Helen Russell

You should read Erin Pizzey on this subject. She is very persuasive indeed.

Sharon Overy
SO
Sharon Overy
2 years ago

Apparently, during the trial of Ted Bundy, there were lots of young women driving for hours to be in the public gallery. They couldn’t take their eyes off him.

When it became clear that he had a definite preferred victim-type, as far as appearance goes, some of the regulars in the gallery turned up with the same look, wanting to draw his attention. I doubt very much that they wanted to be actually harmed, but they seemed to be hoping he would want to harm them.

A kind of hybristophilia, I suppose.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

hybristophilia –new word! Thank you.

MJ Reid
MJ Reid
2 years ago
Reply to  Sharon Overy

Having worked with men who abuse, the majority appear charismatic. They are attractive. They might be articulate. They have that “certain something”. It is an in-built thing. They may not be good looking, but you know they have that “something”. And it is the “something” that attracts women, even if the women know they are abusers.
It should be the job of those who rehabilitate abusers to find the switch that stops the “something”. But most find it to be too difficult and give up. I know I did with some if the men I worked with.

As for the trans women who put out what we might think of as bizarre statements in their own sexuality, it would seem that it is because they have no idea about being a woman, but they need society’s validation that they are women and their thinking on sex is normal female behaviour. When they are called out, they respond in a very masculine way which gives them away every time. They are and always will be biological men with leanings towards toxic male behaviour. Very fewtranssexual women are out there being vocal. Most are simply trying to get on with their lives with no fuss or bother. Some do speak out, but they are then pilloried by transgender individuals who want them to shut up and keep the myth alive… that transwomen are actual women when in fact they remain biological men.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
2 years ago

This is very interesting. Especially the paragraph about the “force of male sexuality”. Fortunately, I haven’t experienced the most extreme fantasies but even in my late fifties this force is powerful and I think, more than anything I’ve read, I can get a glimpse of why some men do something so dramatic as attempt to change sex.

Judy Englander
JE
Judy Englander
2 years ago

I tried to comment on this using distinctions and terminology from the article and it has disappeared into the ether. The post took some time to type out. What’s the point? Why should anyone bother with anything more than an anodyne short sentence?

Laura Creighton
LC
Laura Creighton
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Sometimes ‘too long’ is the problem, and you can get around it by posting what you wrote in 2 or 3 chunks.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago

Thanks for the tip, I was unaware of this.

Laura Creighton
Laura Creighton
2 years ago

You’re welcome.
(But I suspect Judy’s problem is an algorithm that doesn’t like a three letter word that begins with ‘s’ and ends with ‘x’.)

Last edited 2 years ago by Laura Creighton
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

I was writing bland stuff about sanctions rules and that disappeared too.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I’ve taken great care with use of language. They appear, then disappear. Are some people just flagging anything they don’t like and moderators automatically censor?
Membership cancelled til I hear the censorship issue has been addressed.

M Harries
M Harries
1 year ago

That sux.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago

It wasn’t that long – just a paragraph!

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Yes – I’m getting a bit fed up with it. I want to read real opinions on here.

David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Just cancelled my subscription. Will consider coming back if they sort out the censorship of comments issue. I’d like to know what is happening. Is it just comments that question feminist orthodoxy that get censored?

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

The clunky comments system that replaced Disqus is bad enough (no reply notifications), but to be censored for respectful posts that use the same terminology as the article … Unherd has become too big for its boots. It no longer cares.

Peter Dawson
Peter Dawson
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

What I object to is not being told what it was that they objected to – how can I behave if I don’t know what not to say?

Martin Bollis
Martin Bollis
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Type it as a draft em then cut and paste into UH. You can’t lose it halfway through and it maintains a record of your posts (if you want one, I delete mine.)

Mike Michaels
MM
Mike Michaels
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Bollis

Very wise my friend. Here we are all proffering our opinions on these comment threads believing we are safe behind a very thin shield of anonymity. I foresee a day in the future when we will be all held to account and judged on the standards of that day (shudder) for comments made now. It’s very naive and short sighted to believe that these opinions we publish now may not one day be held against us.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

That’s why it’s a good idea to use aliases. Doesn’t mean you’re a troll, just careful with personal information.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Englander

Another trick is to copy your post before you post it.
Sometimes when I type out, I tend to hit another letter and the word is misspelt. When that happens, entire chunks of my text disappear. Hence I now copy at certain points along the way.

Vijay Kant
Vijay Kant
2 years ago

The question is why would evolution separate sexuality from gender identity? Wouldn’t survival pressure through natural selection bring both of these together in any species? Why should womanhood be redefined to encompass trans-women instead of just accepting that there are men who just feel that they are women? Why give so much weight to feelings when there is no clear biological proof?

Last edited 2 years ago by Vijay Kant
michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

The question I ask is, why accept the notion of gender at all?
If I don’t, do I present as a man, that is, the adult version of a male individual? Is how I express myself unique, as a consequence of my choices and social conditioning?

Kathleen Potter
Kathleen Potter
2 years ago
Reply to  Vijay Kant

I want the option to LOVE this comment. Because I do.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

A large European country is being dismembered right now, this very moment, and yet this kind of idiocy is still being discussed. Nobody should care if a vanishingly few mentally ill people disfigure their bodies with surgery and pretend to be the opposite sex. It is sad, on a personal level, for the mentally ill people involved, but of no consequence for the other 99.99999% of the population.

J Hop
J Hop
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

Wrong. They’re steralizing and disfiguring children as well as taking over womens sports and safe spaces.

Christina Dalcher
Christina Dalcher
2 years ago
Reply to  J Hop

And don’t forget — people who dare speak out about keeping children safe, fairness in sports, or maintaining single-sex prisons put their jobs on the line every time they open their mouths.
We all know what’s happening in Ukraine is horrible and will affect the world on a large scale, but on the smaller scale, decent people are being fired and threatened.

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

The problem is that for many of them it is not enough to pretend to be the opposite sex. Not only must they be affirmed in their decision, but also the whole of society must participate in the lie that they are now the opposite sex, with sanctions on those who refuse to go along with it. That affects all of us.

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  Derek Smith

Moreover, the lived experience of nearly everyone – I am a man or I am a woman and that’s that – is now deemed invalid and even ‘oppressive’. This is not sustainable.

Laurence Siegel
Laurence Siegel
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

If you have kids in school, you’d observe that there are one, two, or three people claiming to be trans in every class, so you have way too many 9’s in your estimate. Most are probably just following a social fad, but some are sincere and it won’t be just a phase. They will pursue some sort of genital mutilation (which we’re vehemently opposed to when it happens in Africa). They need our help, not our cooperation and encouragement.

Elizabeth W.
EW
Elizabeth W.
1 year ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

This may not be applicable where you are, but in 2018, the British government tentatively estimated that between 200,000–500,000 UK residents are non-binary or transgender. Out of a population of 67 million, that makes them between 0.2%–0.7% of the population. Stonewall’s estimate is a little higher, at 600,000 (0.8%).

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

As my comment was deleted a third time. Tr*ns people have high incidences of a*tism, and it is criminal that link isn’t being explored more.

Helen Russell
HR
Helen Russell
1 year ago
Reply to  R Wright

From what I have observed and read, autism is more the case in females and minors who seek transition, whereas adult men often have autogynephilia or trauma as gay men.

Elizabeth W.
Elizabeth W.
1 year ago
Reply to  Helen Russell

I know three ‘non-binary’ females. Two are autistic and one is speculated to be autistic.

Last edited 1 year ago by Elizabeth W.
Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

“Life but not as we know it, Jim” is the famous quote from Mr Spock.

Well, the Klingons are attacking Eastern Europe – maybe they need to attack us as well.

Melissa
M
Melissa
2 years ago

Why are we allowing such a tiny and dare I say mentally ill group of people to dominate so much discussion and be so visible in culture? Completely absurd.

Richard Powell
Richard Powell
2 years ago

“Tell a woman about the weird shit that gets you off, and you run a high risk of leaving her disgusted.” If this is a reference to some arcane variant of coprophilia then disgust would indeed be a likely and understandable reaction.

Joy Bailey
JB
Joy Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Richard Powell

I had to look this up. There’s some very weird people out there!

cara williams
cara williams
1 year ago

there is no such thing as transition. you can re draw the map but it doesn’t change the land.

cara williams
CW
cara williams
1 year ago

there is no such thing as transition. you can re draw the map but it doesn’t change the land.

Nona Yubiz
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago

Clear. Compassionate. Great essay. Loved Amy Bloom’s piece, btw. She’s a great writer. Have loved her for years.

Nona Yubiz
NY
Nona Yubiz
1 year ago

Clear. Compassionate. Great essay. Loved Amy Bloom’s piece, btw. She’s a great writer. Have loved her for years.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

Whether or not it’s intentional a man cross dressing is attracting attention and it’s easy to understand why many women would not be enthusiastic. Women want/need to be the one attracting attention. The one in colourful attire who stands out. The man is supposed to be the plain/muted backdrop against which she shines. Women want a man to be someone who is well groomed in a smart, well fitted, suit and decent shoes. In that sense it’s rather easy to dress as a man, and most men are glad of it, but it’s also a restrictive straight jacket so it’s hardly surprising that a small percentage of men rebel.

Last edited 2 years ago by William Shaw
David Morley
David Morley
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Well yes – but they could rebel without actually cross dressing. Be a dandy, for example.

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Yes of course. But that’s beside the point.
The point is that any man dressing for maximum attention is detracting from the attention given to his female partner… not something many women want.

Al M
Al M
2 years ago
Reply to  David Morley

Worked for Quentin Crisp

Michael O'Donnell
Michael O'Donnell
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Tell that to a peacock

William Shaw
William Shaw
2 years ago

Cute non sequitur.

Michael O'Donnell
Michael O'Donnell
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

I think it’s apposite. There are many preening males who want to be noticed. It’s not just women.

Kathleen Potter
Kathleen Potter
2 years ago
Reply to  William Shaw

Hmmm. Not in most species. In most species it is female who is the drab selecter. It is the males who are expected to dress fancy and prance around to attract female attention. Or be big and strong and beat up all the other men. The girls just have to be fertile and receptive. Have you not watched any David Attenborough?