sillyolme

Whitewashing Colonialism: Fa’afafine in Samoa

(Post in question)

For those who do not know, fa’afafine are a culturally specific gender identity/role from Samoa. Fa’afafine most closely translates to “like a woman” or “in the manner of a woman”. The male counterpart for fa’afafine is fa’afatama. Although fa’afafine identity is often conceptualized as a “third gender”, this is fairly erasive and tends to frame non-Western identities and genders in the context of Western terminology and conceptualizations of gender and sexuality. Even more, fa’afafine organizations have explicitly spoken out against framing fa’afafine and fa’afatama as transgender:

The terms Fa’afafine & Fa’afatama are culturally unique and specific to Samoa’s 3rd gender. It is a social and communal gender fluid based status given to effeminate males and butch females within the Samoan cultural context. We go on record that we, Fa’afafines and Fa’afatamas, are NOT all transgender. Some of us are, but they are exceptions to the rule.

Boxing our issues together with Transgender issues under the LGBTIQ framework ignores our cultural connection or “fa’asinomaga” which is the essence and at the heart of every Samoan. The Samoa Faafafine Association is challenging this perception that Fa’afafines and Fa’afatamas are Transgender for the sake of convenience in the LGBTIQ framework

As someone living in relative privilege in Western society, I have to tiptoe carefully around issues of global majority gender identity for fear of inscribing my conceptualizations of gender and sexuality onto other cultures with a rich history and culture.

It seems to me that research focused on the fa’afafine of Samoa has become all the rage of late, at least for those interested in feminine androphilic males / “homosexual MTF transgender” folk.

Here’s the first issue. Fa’afafine are not some uniform category you can transcribe into Western categories. There is the issue of how European colonization of Samoa has transformed and twisted traditional Samoan culture, but further attempts to apply Western terminology are harmful and reproduce colonialism. Many fa’afafine identify as gay men, others as trans women, and more as a culturally specific identity.

The interest has at its heart, the hope that it represents a culture that is closer to what we might have had before large-scale civilizations began, one closer to what humans may have evolved within.

The narrative that casts indigenous cultures as ‘primordial’ is extremely problematic, and again reproduces colonialism. To quote Joanna Schmidt’s paper on fa’afafine gender identity,

However, suggesting that non-Western cultures are more accepting of non-normative genders and sexualities frequently involves casting these cultures as ‘primordial’, ‘implying that ancient history lives on in the contemporary lives of non-Western peoples, who are then called upon to exemplify “our [Western] sacred past”’ (Towle & Morgan 2002, 482). Alternatively, the use of psychological and sexological terminologies to ‘define’ fa’afāfine suggests that these Western scientific discourses contain the ‘truth’ of these non-normative identities (Schmidt 2010). Both of these approaches are fundamentally flawed because they position Western understandings of gender and sexuality as more ‘evolved’ than their non-Western counterparts, and/or elide the cultural specificities of the identities being discussed, assuming an equivalence between all instances of apparent transgenderism or ostensible same-sex desire.

Colonization has nearly irrevocably changed Samoan society and any attempt to compare modern Samoan society to ‘an environment in which humans evolved in’ implicitly requires the denial of colonization and the association of the Samoan people as being ‘primitive’.

Thus, if we were to predict the ratio of androphilic vs. non-androphilic transwomen based upon the relationship between the Hofstede Individualism Index and the percentage of non-androphilic transwomen found by Lawrence, we would expect almost no non-androphilic transwomen.  And indeed, one never sees them mentioned in connection with Samoa.

The conflation of trans women (not ‘transwomen’ Brown, there’s a space) with fa’afafine is representative of a fundamental misunderstanding of fa’afafine identity based on a misinterpretation of the literature. As stated above, fa’afafine identity is not something that can be easily translated into Western (specifically Anglospheric/English) terminology without reducing and erasing specific cultural attachments to these identities. Fa’afafine identity comes with a large variety of gender presentations/expressions and blurs the lines between ‘gay’ and ‘trans’ (as masculine gay men and feminine trans women can and do identify as fa’afafine):

However, the extent and manner of their gender presentation varies, and fa’afafine have male gender roles as well3. Though traditionally defined as women by society, they are a heterogeneous group in which some pass for women, others only adopt elements of female presentation, and still others are more masculine4. Some may dress as a woman full-time, part time, or only adopt certain aspects of female appearance like make-up or nail polish. Some fa’fafine identify themselves more as men. It should also be noted that fa’afafine may not always present their gender in the same manner day-to-day. Many identify as women, but most would define themselves as biologically and socially distinct from women

If one is using fa’afafine as a case study to analyze trans identity outside of North American/European countries, it is necessary to exclude those who would not be classified as trans.

Furthermore, there are some issues with the Hofstede Individualism Index that is being used to correlate ‘collectivism’/’individualism’ (which are amorphous terms that are defined as somehow contrasting, yet are not inherently mutually exclusive). Are individualism and collectivism event cogent concepts to apply to cross-cultural comparisons? Voronov and Singer argue they are not.

Furthermore, the way that the HII actually ends up functioning doesn’t seem to be the way that Brown is using it;

Based on our analysis, we suggest that Hofstede’s Individualism–Collectivism index be relabelled as Self-orientation vs Work-orientation and GLOBE’s In-group collectivism as Family Collectivism.

Analyses of the HII show that is has relatively small reliability, and other individualism vs collectivism metrics show more correlations with important metrics. There are numerous other overall problems with Hofstede’s analysis, some of which are still debated, but it’s safe to say that Hofstede’s Individualism-Collectivism is not a useful or applicable scale in the way it is being applied here.

In Samoa, there is almost no stigma attached to being a feminine male.  Feminine male children are not bullied.  Fa’afafine adults are not discriminated against in employment.  There is little to no stigma attached to masculine men finding Fa’afafine sexually attractive.

Naive. Fa’afafine face many issues in regards to their femininity, specifically because of the Western colonization she notes later on.

Violence is not uncommon

The violence fa’afafine experience is tied to male privilege. Samoa is a male-dominated culture in which women are socially disadvantaged7. Fa’afafine have increasingly experienced public discrimination. Inaccurately referred to as homophobia, this de novo misogyny is part of a pattern of oppression and marginalization of women and non-man genders that is pervasive in the culture. It is the marginalization of women, but of third-gender women. Stemming from this marginalization of women, violence is a psychological and physical reality for fa’afafine. Violence serves to isolate the fa’afafine, disrupt their access to and utilization of health services, and may be responsible for certain health outcomes.

And fa’afafine activists note the struggles of being fa’afafine:

However, these are the same relationships which prove challenging at times. Although we lead the choirs, organise the decorations for the church and so on, it is the same church that tells us that the way we live our lives is wrong. This then gives way to those who may look at us with contempt and suspicion justification maltreat fa’afafine.

Several fa’afafine have been victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence based on their chosen expression. I have certainly had my own personal experiences; however, I have been able to rise above them.

As President of the SFA I am able to work with a lot of young fa’afafine and to train them to be resilient and also advocates for other fa’afafine. The SFA provides a space of familiarity, where fa’fafine can come together to share and learn, network, create friendships and family bonds. It is a space where we can collectively navigate the issues that we all face, and recently it has been a space where we can work with communities and churches so that they understand who we are.

Therefore, Brown’s conclusion that:

But because there is little to no stigma attached, androphilic males are free to express as much or as little femininity as they find in themselves with little incentive to attempt to suppress it as occurs in many other cultures.

is clearly false.

Fa’afafine are universally androphilic and have sex with masculine men.  They don’t have sex with each other because they are attracted to masculinity which is not especially abundant in fa’afafine.

Predominantly androphilic, I’d tentatively agree with. But “universally” is a mischaracterization of an understudied field of research, especially in regards to the trans women population within the fa’afafine population and perhaps outside of it. Fa’afafine have typically been studied as an entire group, rather than trans women specifically, so applying research on fa’afafine to “Samoan trans women” is disingenuous and makes too many claims from the limited body of research present.

But those episodes with masculine men are typically “one night stands”.  I can’t believe that they wouldn’t choose to have long-term romance in a committed relationship.  Although not well publicized, and not nearly as common as we might like, such long term relationships do exist between masculine men and androphilic transwomen in Western cultures.  So I must conclude that it is the Samoan culture, non-fa’afafine family members and others, that in effect prohibits or discourages such relationships.  I would like to be proven wrong on this… I really would.

There is very little literature on the entire topic of fa’afafine sexuality or fa’afafine in general, so it’s pretty early to be making conclusions on fa’afafine and their sexualities.

An educated reader will perhaps recognize my quip of a title from Margaret Mead’s 1928 book.  They may also know of how she was attacked by Derek Freeman.  Maybe I’m just biased by my friendship with Alice Dreger, since I don’t believe a word Freeman says… but the episode does offer a cautionary tale regarding the potential changes that Christian missionaries have already brought to Samoa

The entire reason that Samoans are so hesitant to engage with Westerners now, especially sexuality is because Mead went there, collected some data and then misrepresented it to create her thesis that painted Samoans in a false light.

From Feu’u 2014:

Mead’s study has been challenged by anthropologist Derek Freeman in his book, Margaret Mead and Samoa: the Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth Refuted (1983); and Lowell D. Holmes in his PhD, The Restudy of Manu’an Culture: A Problem in Methodology (1957) (see also Margaret Mead and Samoa – part 1 to 6, 1988 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pw1NZjNkAYI). Several Samoans also strongly criticized Mead’s findings (see Margaret Mead and Samoa – part 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8puR-AaSrg) and entreated Freeman to correct her mistaken depiction of the Samoan culture (Freeman, 1983: xv). Talitiga Dr. Venasio Sele, for example, argued that Samoa and American Samoa have been misunderstood by anthropologists ever since Mead wrote about Samoan girls supposed promiscuity (Claire, 2002: p. 2)

Mead’s research has been described as a hoax, similar to the Manti Te’o hoax (see http://www.wnd.com/2013/01/manti-teo-meet-margaret-mead/). One of Mead’s participants, Fa’apua’a Fa’amu, confirmed and confessed she was lying to Mead about her stories, saying “Samoan girls are terrific liars when it comes to joking but Margaret accepted our trumped-up stories as though they were true” (cited in Kaltenborn, 2003: p. 30; see also Margaret Mead and Samoa – part 5 of 6 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8puR-AaSrg).

Schmidt (2005) encountered difficulties in studying fa’afafine in Samoa and Aotearoa/New Zealand, specifically because she is Palagi. She experienced harsh criticism from older, university educated individuals in Samoa who had considerably more influence and insider knowledge than she had with many of the fa’afafine she spoke to (Schmidt, 2005: p. 71). Some Samoans feared that Schmidt’s research would describe Samoa as a ‘gay paradise’ (ibid). She explains that the image of a ‘gay paradise’ was a consequence of Mead’s research (ibid). It left Samoans extremely wary of non-Samoan researchers, especially those who evidence any interest in sexuality (ibid). She reports that almost all Samoans seem to know
Mead’s name and many are aware of the belief of promiscuity among Samoan youth that Mead propagated (ibid). This suggests that some Samoans do not wish for history to repeat itself as a result of Mead’s research and may explain why there is such reluctance to participate in research with non-Samoan people.

Independent Study Project by non-Samoan Teake (2010) also experienced problems researching fa’afafine. Participants in Teake’s (2010: p. 5) research were concerned that yet another misinformed representation would be produced with the potential to negatively impact fa’afafine’s image internationally. One participant refused to participate in Teake’s research because he was concerned that he had no control over how the information would be used (ibid). Another participant remained cautious of any misinformed or distorted study that might centre disproportionately
on discussions of sexuality or sexual practices. One other participant mentioned that he did not like Margaret Mead and aimed to clearly ascertain the nature and ultimate purpose of Teake’s research, for example, “What is this for exactly?”….Psychology? Sociology?….Sexiology?” (ibid).

Clearly previous research on Samoa by non-Samoans or non-fa’afafine has not been wholeheartedly endorsed. Mead’s fieldwork has undermined the trust attributed to ethnographers whose task is to represent others to academic and nonacademic audiences (Goldsmith, 2000: p. 48). I would argue that Mead’s research has had a negative lasting impact on Samoan people in general. It is possible that the wary participants exemplify what Rohatynbskyj and Jaarsma (2000: p. 10) describe as feeling “outraged at being talked about, spoken for and represented” by non fa’afafine or nonSamoan researchers. I suspect that the unwillingness of Teake’s and Schmidt’s participants’ derives from suspicion about sharing information with someone who is non-fa’afafine and/or non-Samoan and concerns about how information will be used by the researcher. Another possible explanation for reluctance to participate could be a result of what Smith (1995) calls ‘conjuring up bad memories’ of previous western research. Schmidt and Teake did not have the advantage as I had as an insider when interviewing fa’afafine (see Chapter 3).

To conclude that portion, Mead is a hack research who was unaware of Samoan cultural intricacies, and her non-Samoan status made it nearly impossible for her to relate with Samoans. Her research left Samoa with a particular picture on the global scheme that Samoan refute, and she’s viewed negatively by most Samoans.

From a wonderful study by Hsu, we know that such men tend to be autogynephilic as well.  Although Samoan autogynephilic men are not likely to transition to presenting as women, that does not mean that they won’t seek out their prefered external sexual partners, women and feminine males, to wit fa’afafine.

Interesting that Brown supposes that ‘autogynephilia’ is universally cross-culturally prevalent given her previous comments about establishing autogynephilia in populations.

I have no contest with the rest of her analysis on Petterson’s work. I’ve read the study, found the research interesting and well-needed, but don’t exactly recall or have any comments on the conclusions of the author. I agree on the confounding aspect of the variety of fa’afafine gender presentation.

Advertisements
sillyolme

Biphobia: Invalidating People’s Identities Is Never OK

(Post in question)

J. Michael Bailey. Oh, he’s such a joy.

Bisexuals have lambasted him for showing that true bisexuality in men is actually quite rare.

Bisexuals have “lambasted” him for invalidating their identities. He claims to have objective knowledge of intersubjective experiences of attraction, as if phallic arousal represents all attraction. His research has a number of methodological flaws which I won’t waste my time getting into here, but the point is that he invalidates bisexual people’s identities on the basis of “raw objective science” as if science isn’t a domain of power by which minorities populations are subjugated, their experiences poked, prodded and invalidated. Science is not a neutral zone where we can find “rational truth”, it’s something created by ideology and power.

Gay people have maligned him for his philosophical stance that if it is “OK” for parents to use genetic screening or manipulation to effect a non-critical trait such as eye or hair color, then it is equality “OK” to select for the equally non-critical trait of sexual orientation  (meaning that Bailey sees gay or straight as equally valuable and acceptable outcomes in children), falsely accusing Bailey of supporting anti-gay genocide (ummmm… no… he equally supported chosing FOR being gay… as they were morally the same).

Here is where Brown misrepresents the opposition to Bailey’s position. Gay people oppose his position specifically because it enables a heterosexist homophobic society to erase gay people by eugenics. It allows society to prevent gay people from being born in the first place, to fuck with genetics, to screw up our sexualities. By equivocating the support of the choice to prevent gay sexuality from developing to the support of the choice to prevent straight sexuality from developing, Brown assumes that gay and straight are mutable and interchangeable categories with identical perspectives and histories. But we’ve seen that the socially produced power dynamics between straight and non-straight people create a privileging of heterosexual opinions that would intrinsically erase gay people. It is not possible to support “genetic screening” for sexuality without supporting the effect: religious homophobes genetically modifying children’s sexualities to prevent q\er children from being born. There is virtually nobody that would modify a fetus’ sexuality to be non-heterosexual. By allowing the non-heterosexual population to be systemically eliminated, Bailey’s position would reproduce societal cisheterosexism, and as such his position is indistinguishable from generic anti-gay positions.

sillyolme

On Closets

(Post in question)

Kay Brown embodies the elitist sense of all-knowing. She claims to know and understand lesbian trans women’s experiences, forcing her totalizing narrative upon their lived experiences to justify her dogmatic ideology. In this piece, she tries to force lesbian trans women to “come out of the closet” as “autogynephiles”.

So, knowing that all of the transwomen you know are also… go ahead… be brave… say the word out loud… autogynephilic!  Isn’t it time you and your friends talked about it?  Honestly talked about it.   (… and being honest about it also means not trying to lie to yourself or others… such as saying that non-transwomen also experience autogynephilia… they don’t).  Isn’t it time to face this secret, to own it, to use that self-knowledge to guide you toward a happier future?

The word “autogynephile” does not fit everyone. Kay, will come out and call yourself a “homosexual transsexual” instead of the clever evasion of the terminology via the shift to “transkid”? We didn’t think so. Fundamentally, Brown wants to preserve the stigmatizing and poisoned terminology that came from Blanchard’s bad tree. Even if his theories were correct, his terminology has been forever corrupted in the trans and public memory. TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or as I like to refer to them: trans-exclusionary reactionary fascists) regularly use “autogynephilia” and Blanchardianism to invalidate lesbian trans women or an outright incorrect application of his schema to invalidate all trans women as fetishists. This can be seen on “Gender Critical” spaces like the subreddit /r/GenderCritical, MumsNet, blogs like Gender Trender, Autogynephilia Truth and Sex Not Gender. Blanchardianist rhetoric, terminology and ideology is used as a rhetorical weapon to bludgeon lesbian trans women into submission, back into the closeted spaces they’ve existed for their whole lives. “Coming out” as autogynephilic is not going to help trans women, it’s going to hurt them.

Furthermore, trans women have been known to be forced back into the closet by autogynephilic ideology: a very common narrative is happening upon Anne Lawrence’s website in the early days of the trans internet only to have “autogynephilia” and Blanchard’s typology shoved in their faces. Inevitably, the narratives forced upon young lesbian trans women’s experiences causes self-hatred, regret, confusion and often re-closeting and the delay of transition. Autogynephilia theory might even be a very minor factor in why lesbian trans women seem to transition later than straight trans women.

Because, when given a chance, in survey after survey, for decades, your friends and those like them quietly acknowledged that they were sexually aroused by cross-dressing, at least they did as teens… and a bit over half admit that they still do many years later.  Imagine that.  YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

The moving target of autogynephilia. Here autogynephilia is conceptualized as the sexual arousal to cross-dressing, but it the definition shifts by ideological convenience. Sometimes, only “real” autogynephilia is Blanchard’s original scale (without any specifications as to what values constitute autogynephilia and what don’t), the more literal etymological definition of “sexual arousal to the thought of being a woman”, conceptualizations as a fetish, a sexual orientation, a paraphilia, an erotic target location error or all four at the same time, sometimes as a model. The definition and conceptualization changes to fit the twists in logic that are required to create a psuedo-coherent theory.

So, they hid it, perhaps even lied about it to their therapist.  They hid it from even themselves.  Oh… if only those memories of being a teenager and finding those lovely panties, or a bra… slipping them on… feeling those delicious… oopsie… we can’t talk about that.

Lesbian trans women often don’t talk about it because it’s so often a part of their past, a past that they want to forget. When their feelings and sexual arousal is utilized as a weapon to deny transition, to invalidate identity and to malign, it quickly becomes something that must be hidden out of need.

But, the closet. Where we all hide our “true selves”. Or do we? The rigid dichotomy we construct to sever our closeted selves and “out” selves may not hold up to the scrutiny of analysis. Is there a fundamentally different person inside and outside the closet? For some, maybe. Some alter their behaviors and psyche to mold to societal expectations of what it means to be a “good” cisgender heterosexual man/woman, but this experience isn’t universal. Coming out hasn’t fundamentally changed me as a person. With each person I came out to, I didn’t experience some radical shift in personality, in experience, in existence, in personhood. Even more, do we have an obligation to “come out”? Must my experience be broadcasted for all to hear? A Eurocentric model of gender and sexuality insists that it must be publicized for all to see, that we must come out. But this experience is not available to everyone: safety concerns are rampant for many living in global majority countries. One of the most moving articles by a trans person I’ve read is Jennifer Coates I Am A Transwoman. I Am In The Closet. I Am Not Coming Out. Every time I read it, tears run down my face. Discussions of closets are not easy because the closet is formed by the qu\\rphobic violence of society, yet every qu\\r person has a close relationship with it.

 

sillyolme

Teena, Brandon: Names – Borderlands

(Post in question)

Now let me emphasize that I don’t disagree with most of what Brown wrote in this essay, in fact I think it’s a useful and interesting essay from which I learned a few historical events. I just wanted to add on to her point on Brandon Teena / Teena Brandon

Addendum 6/24/18:  Interestingly we now have a mea culpa from the lesbian who broke the Brandon Teena story in the Village Voice and set the tone of misgendering him and stealing our history,

I completely agree that misgendering Teena is unwarranted and transphobic as it comes (taking the assumption that Teena identified as a man), but there was an interesting point brought up by Jacob Hale, a trans man. His philosophical work emphasizes that there is no clear-cut distinction between ftms and butches as he conceptualizes the terms.

His paper can be found here. Some points of note are that there is little evidence Teena used the exact name Brandon Teena to refer to themself (using gender neutral ambiguous pronouns specifically because their identity is ambiguous and it’s disrespectful to assume someone’s identity). The “border wars” over whether Teena is a butch lesbian or a trans man aren’t going to be resolved today, decades after the death occurred, but Hale’s position can be interpreted as a reconciliation of the two camps in a way. Rather than create distinct and mutually exclusive categories of butches and ftms, he conceptualizes a border zone where one can occupy both categories simultaneously. (The literature on border zones is fascinating; Anzaldúa is a great read). The attempt to force an individual into one category or another intrinsically breaks down the border zone in an attempt to create a nonpermeable and clearcut barrier between the two categories that erases lived experiences.

(I particularly like this theory and paradigm of the distinction between trans people and SGL people because I so personally resonate with it. )

It can be argued that the trans community’s attempt to “claim” Teena as a transgender man erases his personal subjective identity. By perpetuating this, we make it more difficult for people struggling with their identities, those who live inside both categories and struggle to differentiate between trans and gay (which is in and of itself a Westernized dichotomy).

sillyolme

Cherrypicking The Transgender Brain

(Post in question)

I won’t comment on the Daphna et. al literature, because it’s still an emerging line of research that has some more philosophical and definitional questions as to what actually constitutes dimorphism (I’ve seen contradicting meanings).

Ummm… this result is in complete agreement with another hypothesis that many transwomen find uncomfortable, one made by Ray Blanchard, in which he hypothesized that late transitioning transwomen would have brain structure differences from both men and women that would NOT be sexually dimorphic; while young (“homosexual”) transsexuals would show shifts in sexually dimorphic structures toward female morphologies.  There was an earlier review of previous studies (which I also wrote a post about) that had shown that hypothesis to be supported.

There’s also recent research that shows controlling for sexuality has absolutely no effect on trans brain structures.

From the abstract:

However, controlling for individual estradiol, testosterone, or progesterone plasma levels or for subjects’ sexual orientation did not change group differences

And then in the statistical analyses section they explain their control:

To investigate whether the three sex steroid hormones (E2, T, and P4) or sexual orientation explained group differences, the named variables were added as covariates of no interest within separate ANCOVA analyses. Finally, multiple regression analyses were performed to determine the effects of hormones and sexual orientation on diffusivity maps independent of group membership, i.e., with group in addition to TIV as factor of no interest. Separate models were calculated for each of the independent variables (E2, T, P4, and sexual orientation). Because hormone values over the entire sample were non-normally distributed, they were transformed to ordinal scales based on ranks before inclusion in the analysis. Sexual orientation was entered into analyses in three different ways of coding: (1) as raw values of the Likert scale (1 for attraction toward females; 7 for attraction toward males); (2) as a spectrum from homosexuality (e.g., 1) to heterosexuality (e.g., 7) with reference to the raters’ genetic sex; and (3) as a spectrum from homosexuality to heterosexuality with reference to the raters’ gender identity. The statistical threshold was set at p < 0.05 FWE corrected, using the threshold-free cluster enhancement method to define the clusters (). Voxels showing significant differences were assigned to white matter tracts using the DTI-81 white matter atlas of the International Consortium for Human Brain Mapping as provided by the DiffeoMap software package (www.mristudio.org/wiki/user_manual/diffeomap). Diffusivities based on tract-specific quantification for right and left CST, Fmajor, and Fminor were compared using ANOVA in SPSS. Separate models were calculated for each tract and diffusivity parameter, followed by post hoc pairwise comparisons and correction for multiple comparisons using the Bonferroni’s procedure. Analyses were run with and without TIV as covariate of no interest. Separate correlation analyses were performed to examine the association between diffusivities and age and between volumetric data [gray matter volume (GMV), white matter volume (WMV), CSF, and TIV] and age for each group.

And their results:

Here, we investigated whether sexual orientation associates with diffusivity measures. No effects on our main findings were observed when sexual orientation was regressed out in the ANCOVA design. Moreover, there was no significant effect of sexual orientation on diffusivity parameters in the regression analysis including all subjects and using group as factor of no interest.

And furthermore:
In our study, we find robust differences between investigated groups in MD, AD, and RD indicating that biological sex and gender identity both contribute to observed group differences. Moreover, the high positive correlation with adult plasma T levels (controlling for group membership) indicates that group differences cannot be explained by peripheral sex hormone plasma levels. As expected, biological males (MCs and MtF transsexuals) had higher T levels than biological females (FCs and FtM transsexuals), whereas group differences in diffusivity values showed the transition FC > FtM > MtF > MC. Furthermore, group differences were not explained by differences in sexual orientation, narrowing potential determinants for differences in diffusivity parameters to biological sex and gender identity.
As I said, I don’t particularly care about etiological debates over neurology considering the field is new enough to warrant skepticism about replicability and usefulessness, and the extent that socialization and environmental factors affect brain neurology.
But I’ll offer an alternative interpretation of the data that lesbian trans women have ‘masculinized brains’ (taking that as an axiom for the purpose of argument).
We know from some recent on the neurology of gay men and lesbian women that sexual orientation has an effect on brain neurology independent on trans status:

diffusivities and age and between volumetric data [gray matter volume (GMV), white matter volume (WMV), CSF, and TIV] and age for each group.

A 2008 study demonstrating that homosexual men and women have sex-atypical brain structures

The connectivity pattern in homosexual subjects was almost reciprocal in relation to the same-sex controls

Second, HoM, just as HeW, displayed connections with the contralateral amygdala, the anterior cingulate, the subcallosum, and the hypothalamus

Group comparisons confirmed these findings: HeW, as well as HoM, showed a greater connectivity with the contralateral amygdala and the cingulate cortex compared with both HeM and HoW.

We also found that the hemispheric ratios, as well as the patterns of amygdala connectivity, were sex atypical in homosexual subjects, with HoM exhibiting more female patterns and HoW showing more male-like features (albeit less pronounced).

(Note that this has been replicated quite a few times)

A TERF or transphobe could easily interpret this data to show that “trans women are just gay men!” and “trans men are just lesbian women”, which is exactly why the neurological argument is intrinsically flawed. But this data yields an alternative interpretation of the (contested) result that lesbian trans women have brains more similar to that of men: they should. Just like lesbian cis women have brains “more similar to that of heterosexual men” (to paraphrase), lesbian trans women do too. My conclusion is that brain structures are not organized by sex or gender, but by who one is sexually attracted to. Male/men-attracted people and female/woman-attracted people differentiate themselves. It’s internally consistent with the data, while the “male brain” / “female brain” hypothesis is not: gay men and lesbian women provide contradicting data. The issue is not one of data, but one of the paradigms we interpret the data through.

Now, this is all moot if we take the data from the study that I cited above that showed that sexual orientation had no impact on brain structures for trans individuals, which just explicates that trans brains are neurologically distinct than cis brains categorically rather than by subgroups

But either way we look at it, her argument is incorrect in some manner: paradigmatically or scientifically.

Searcy is likely to have written her article in an attempt to discount the growing evidence from transgender brain scan research that shows that the two type taxonomy for transwomen is supported.

There’s exactly one study that has shown gynephilic trans women have ‘male brains’, and there is at least one that shows the contrary. I wouldn’t be so eager to run and shout that the two type taxonomy is supported by the research

Where once older transitioning transwomen cherry picked the brain structure research in an attempt to spin it such that all transwomen had female brains.  She is spinning the science to lead us to believe that brain structure research is unimportant and should be ignored, first by saying that there is no brain structure sexual dimorphism of any consequence and then say that what differences between transgender folk and nontransfolk is unimportant anyway.

This just gets back into the debate over dimorphism, which as I said I won’t get into those weeds today, but I’d just emphasize that it’s not a simple topic. There are fundamental philosophical disagreements over what constitutes sexual dimorphism between the two camps that can’t be ignored by saying that ‘one side is supported by the evidence’ and that the other isn’t.

I believe it represents a growing fear by autogynephilic transwomen that the brain scan science will undermine their own identity as transwomen if the public were to become aware of what the evidence means.

To me it seems Brown is alluding to her own denial of lesbian trans women’s identities and womanhood, which contradicts her stated “support” of “autogynephilic transwomen”