Transsexualism/transgender: A position statement
Many people don’t quite understand my position on transsexualism, which is fair enough because I have never stated what that position might be. I have been asked why I talk so much about transsexualism here, in general writing and on my YouTube Channel. So here we go.
My background is in photography and journalism. I had a scientific education but was always propelled towards practicality, so I studied things that could make money, like photography and journalism (duuh.) I did consider reading English but then discovered that this was a pathway into academic insanity and it is not a reliable route into journalism (if you want to be a journalist, study a subject of public interest, like politics, economics, law, medicine…not English. They’ll assume you can write.)
I have always been interested in human sexuality, since the time I was at Art School. This was because there, I was exposed to a myriad of different ones. People today forget how open the culture, at least in Scotland, was in the 1980s. New Romance was the big thing, everybody wore mascara and it was rightly called the ‘gayest era ever.’
I graduated, went to work, got married, pursued a career, made a lot of money, became a dad four times and did the usual things one does as the head of a family. But I always remained interested in sexuality and read much about it.
I became interested in the subject of transsexualism. I realised that I found TS women sexually interesting, which surprised me. Thanks to the internet, it was now possible to communicate with others who shared this. There actually seemed to be rather a lot of them and they mostly seemed fairly normal. Even the USicans.
I began conversing online with a number of TS, from different parts of the globe. Some are very well known and were simply doing what one does as a public figure; others seemed genuine friends. This led to much discussion and, of course, a lot more reading.
I had been in contact with transsexual women in Art School and they were all — universally — small, lightly built, cute, pretty, incredibly feminine and extremely retiring. It was a struggle to get them to talk at all and they were clearly very apprehensive, although they were in no way hostile.
Amongst my new friends, two decades later, there were also girls like this, but also another type. These were, going by their pictures, much bigger, heavily built, often muscular.
By this time I had really left print journalism; the writing was on the wall and I have always had a nose for these things. I was working in corporate media and PR, which is pretty lucrative and left me a lot of time. I began to research and to write books.
Naturally, transsexualism became a part of my researches, a big part. This eventually crystallised into The Warm Pink Jelly Express Train, a fictional but fact based book.
The dichotomy I was becoming more and more aware of amongst trans women troubled me. It just did not seem to work that these were on a scale. They looked like two completely different types.
Then I discovered Mike Bailey’s book, The Man Who Would Be Queen. The first time I read it I was discouraged. I could respond to much of the book but there was something about it that pushed me away and at the time I could not really figure out what that might be.
That book caused a furore and I became aware of many sources hostile to it, notably sites run by Lynn Conway, Andrea James and others. These, of course, were diametrically opposed to Bailey. I looked at Bailey’s major source, Blanchard, and there found reasoned and well- constructed scientific papers that dealt with the matter in very detached terms, relying n statistics. Conway, James et al, were the opposite; unsupported claims, ad hominem attacks, blatant falsehoods.
Both types of transsexualism
The problem was that if Blanchard were right, then the transwomen I had been in touch with should represent both types of transsexualism. I noted how Roberta Close, a famous Brazilian transwoman, refused to have anything to do with the ‘travestis’. And then Sam Winter in Hong Kong published data suggesting that transwomen in Thailand were only of one type. So on one hand I had Blanchard, reasoned and articulate, and Bailey, and on the other, I had a number of histrionic agitators but with, by my reading, also scientists on their side. I came to the tentative conclusion that if Blanchard were right this was a Western phenomenon, and the greater likelihood seemed that he was somehow wrong.
To be honest, business and personal issues in other parts of my life began to restrict my time for this area.
My mother died in 2005 and my wife and I separated in 2009. Shaken to the core, and still dealing with the consequences, I took a year out to do a Masters degree — something I had always intended to do, but life had got in the way. Although I was shocked by what I witnessed in this return to academia, of which more later as they say, it did give me the breathing space I needed.
After graduation I made big changes. I moved to France; I sold my yacht; and I went to the Philippines.
After my separation I had dated a couple of women but nothing came of it. My first visit to the Phils was in response to having met a transwoman online. I was not to know where this was to lead me.
I completed the The Warm Pink Jelly Express Train and began researching others. One was to be called ‘Why Men Made God’ and, while I now recognise that there are major errors in that book that will be corrected, it did lead me down some interesting paths. The most relevant here is that transwomen have a long history. They were recorded in Sumer, in Phrygia, in Greece, Rome … all over the ancient world and, importantly, India.
I have travelled there. In north India there is a class of transwoman called hijra (actually an Arabic word). These are priestesses of the goddess. In the north of India the most popular of these is Bahachura Mata, who is an avatar of the Great Goddess Shakti.
I had encountered these transwomen. Everybody who travels off the tourist track in India has. They sell blessings at street-corners and street junctions. I remembered them and then Bailey: small, delicate. lightly built, feminine, pretty…Well there was a mismatch right away. Hijra very rarely fall into that category. In the main they are indistinguishable from the men around them, except they wear women’s clothes. Most are certainly not much in the way of objects of sexual desire.
As I said, I travelled to meet a transwoman in the Philippines. She surprised me. She was tall, not lightly built, not really graceful, but quite beautiful in her face. She had been taking hormones for years and this had softened her skin and smoothed her features; but she did not really look like a girl. She was striking rather than pretty.
In other words, she wasn’t small light, pretty and feminine either.
I can be slow sometimes but not usually. I was ‘big with book’ as Lawrence Durrell put it, so I filed these things for later.
No Eureka moment
I continued to visit the Philippines and began to make more TS friends. There was no eureka moment, but it became clear that there were indeed two completely distinct forms of transwomen there. One was like the first I’d met, and the other — wait for it — was small, pretty and feminine. At first I didn’t even see them. But as my eye became attuned, I did. I visited Thailand and saw the same thing: what I and, I think, most Westerners thought, were slightly larger than average women, were actually a form of transsexualism; but totally different from the tall, obvious ones. And these were all remarkably alike; they could almost be related, whereas the other ladyboys — to use the term they do — were disparate. Some were indeed attractive, though rarely pretty, others were not. Some were tall, some were stocky. But they all were bulkier than this other type.
The penny dropped. Western observers and even Dr Winter, had failed to see it: there were two types of transsexualism in SE Asia. There was one type that was clearly defined and who, within their group, were all remarkably similar, and another type that was totally disparate in every way. They were tall, they were short, they were somewhat feminine, they were very masculine; many did not seem to date men at all whereas others did; some even had girlfriends,
Most surprising was the latter’s attitude towards sex. Remember, none of the girls I met were active prostitutes. They were just being themselves. The small pretty ones were forward in their desire for sex; the others…well, they wanted to date men, but they were cool about sex. It just didn’t seem to be very important to them, whereas for the first group, it was.
Blanchard was right
I realised that not only was Blanchard right, but that this phenomenon was global and, even more, had always been recorded. There are two types of Male to Feminine transsexualism. And they are not in any way related or even remotely alike.
In other articles I have covered the social structures that provide for these groups to be rather hidden in cultures like those in southeast Asia. Suffice to say that now, I can tell just by spending some time with a girl, which type she belongs to.
Blanchard’s Typology divides these types into ‘homosexual’, exclusively and actively attracted to men from childhood, and ‘non-homosexual’ not so. He coined the term ‘autogynephilia’ to describe the overwhelming pressure, that the latter feel, to appear to be women. Both are rooted in sexuality, but the latter is much more complex and nuanced and again, I have written about it.
To recap, those in the first group, homosexual transsexuals or HSTS, are strongly attracted to men. They like older, very masculine men; they have no interest at all in gay men, indeed rather a rejection; they look like girls; their mannerisms are naturally girly; and they even sound like girls, even without vocal training. Overwhelmingly, these individuals seek to be recipient partners in sex. They are in direct competition with natal women for straight men, whom they know are attracted to feminine girls. So what do you think they might do? They function better in society as girls and this also makes them more attractive to their own sexual targets, straight men. So they transition. They are indeed related to feminine homosexual males but the litmus test is that HSTS can pass easily as women — and if they can do so, they are likely to.
AGPs are attracted, through a variety of mechanisms, to the idea of themselves as women. This is a form of auto-eroticism dependent on what Blanchard called an ‘Erotic Target Location Error’. They invent a pseudo-feminine second character who becomes the object of their erotic desire. This, in the right circumstances, can take over the host, causing him to believe that he is ‘actually female’ — since the second personality was invented as a pseudo-woman.
‘Early’ and ‘late’ onset
In SE Asia, non-homosexual transsexuals, or AGPs, tend to transition in their teens after puberty, whereas HSTS will usually have been displaying Gender Non-Conformity (GNC) before puberty. Thus the groups conform to the APA’s fudged and misleading classification of ‘early’ and ‘late’ onset, which is but a PC rendition of Blanchard’s typology. This conclusively shows that the APA’s position is fully grounded in Blanchard, contrary to the claims of many AGP activists. Unfortunately many people, wrongly, assume that ‘late’ means middle age, as was typical of Blanchard’s AGP sample. But the APA is clear in its definitions: ‘late’, here, means ‘at puberty or later’ while ‘early’ means ‘before puberty’.
So the two types, which do conform to Blanchard, are present. They are also present in India and South America and this explains the expressions I was aware of there.
My position on transsexualism in the West
Now I promised you my position and I have made you wait quite long enough. In the West today, non-homosexual, AGP, late onset, call them what you will, transsexuals are out of control. They physically attack feminists for standing up for sex-differentiated protections; they lie and pretend that biological sex is not real (it is indeed real and not a social construct); they bully, shout down and even physically abuse those who oppose them. They claim to be ‘feminists’ but are deeply misogynistic. If there ever were an example of toxic masculinity, then in the West, this group absolutely epitomises it.
HSTS in the West have always suffered. They suffered from a homophobic mainstream society; they suffer at the hands of ‘LGBT’ activists, who tell them they should be ‘men’ when that is clearly an infringement of the HSTS’ personal freedoms. The LGBT lobby consistently argues, rightly, that others do not have the right to define a person’s sexuality — but when it comes to HSTS, that is exactly what they themselves do. The hypocrisy reeks. HSTS are abused by AGP transgenders, who wish they did not exist, since they are evidence that there must actually be two types; and they are savaged by feminists, some brandishing ‘LGBT’ ‘be a man’ justification, some just because they loathe everyone born male, and many because AGP activists have persuaded them that there are not two types of MtF transsexualism and that AGPs, a group which Blanchard and others have found not to be significantly larger than HSTS, are actually representative. No, they are not; they just shout louder.
I support HSTS. They are the ONE group in society that can genuinely claim to be discriminated against by everyone and yet the least likely to complain. HSTS should be able to access support services towards transition, without political interference, either encouraging or discouraging them, but with their life-alternatives being clearly explained to them.
The approach to GNC in childhood is especially sensitive and once again, we are seeing the usual AGP stormtroopers at work; but AGPs have NO similarity to HSTS and by definition (see above) all those who exhibit persistent, voluntary (ie, not gaslighted into it) cross-gender behaviour will grow up, if they continue to persist, into gay males or HSTS: NEVER AGPs. GNC children are not in any way served by a ‘one size fits all’ approach, whether that be pressure to transition or to desist. Each and every case must be treated individually by people sensitive to the situation and who understand the nature of transsexualism.
I do not believe that living as a gay ‘man’ is necessarily a ‘better outcome’ for a GNC boy; I know far too many happy, well adjusted HSTS transwomen to ever agree with that — and far too many neurotic, ill-adjusted gay ‘men’. But I recognise that this is not my choice, rather the individual’s. And we should, as a society, be assisting young people to make these difficult choices in the light of the actual facts and the real science. We should not be using them, as so many do, as pawns in a political game. We have to stand up and protect our children, not process them according to whatever orthodoxy is fashionable.
A threat to no one
Anyone who attacks HSTS, of any age, for whatever reason, or tries to manipulate them or their parents for their nefarious political ends, makes me an enemy. That is my position. HSTS are a threat to NO ONE. They do not predate on vulnerable women or children, not ever. They are the innocents in this, yet they are constantly abused by others, to serve political ends that do not benefit HSTS at all.
It is not for AGP activists to even comment on the decisions HSTS must take, because there is absolutely NO relationship between AGPs and HSTS. None. Nor is it acceptable for feminist, religious or LGBT activists so to do. They are not your political pawns. Leave them alone. If you want to help, assist them to understand that they are not like Bruce ‘Caitlyn’ Jenner or Justin ‘Riley’ Dennis, not to mention a legion of others who influence social media. Teach genuinely and persistent GNC boys, when they are old enough to understand, that it is equally valid for them to be either a gay male or HSTS but that the choice is theirs and THEIRS ALONE. That it is eminently possible for them to find love and happiness as women; and even the HRT that they will require to do so is just the same as that used by post-menopausal natal women.
And then, if they decide that they do not wish to be gay ‘men’ and would rather live as women, or vice versa, then quietly support them and keep your political opinions to yourself.
Originally published at Rod Fleming’s World.