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).


Bad Terminological History, Gatekeeping and Falsehoods About Prevalence

Post in question

Right off the bat, we have some falsehoods;

The word “transgender” was originally coined and used by Dr. Virginia Prince, a full time autogynephilic cross-dresser, in the early ’70s, to denote those like her/him as opposed to “transsexuals” who took hormones and had “sex change” surgery and also opposed to secretive “transvestites” who only occasionally cross-dressed, usually in private.  The term was meant to be exclusive of any other group, like drag artists or gender atypical gays or lesbians.

We should go over and look at Cristan William’s research into the terminology and how it originated (hint: Virginia Prince only coined the term transgenderist). Essentially a summary of her research can be found here; she finds that most terms were used interchangeably over long periods of time.

She breaks down the Virginia Prince narrative here in probably my favorite post of hers

In the early ’90s, Beth Elliott, using her nom de plume Mustang Sally, wrote an essay entitled, “The Incredible Shrinking Identity” in which she decried the social effects of subsuming transsexual people into the larger umbrella of “transgender”, which with each passing year seemed to be growing at its margins to include more and more people who just a few years before, would never have been considered to be in the same grouping.

This is how umbrella groupings work. Terminology changes. To insist that it stays static is irrational and frankly ridiculous.

But what started as merely political embarrassement (for AGP transwomen) has now become a serious scientific and civil rights issue as the term “transgender” has now been stretched to the point where it has little meaning as to actual sexual, social, or gendered behavior

I’ve seen little evidence for this assertion, if any at all. Again, transgender is an umbrella term that covers a broad range of behaviors (that has a variety of contested definitions [see Leslie Feinberg]), that doesn’t make it useless or meaningless.

But in a move to be supportive and perhaps even help her with the emotional issues that almost always come with a child’s transition I came out to her.  BAD MOVE!  Nope, upon learning more about her child, it became very clear that her daughter had always been very gender typical as a girl, was not the least bit gender dysphoric, and had no intention of legally, socially, nor medically transitioning.  No, she just wanted to be recognized as “transgender” and have everyone around her use gender neutral pronouns (cause she is they are so special, she they deserves it).

It seems as if Kay Brown is reluctant to correctly gender people who have a different conceptualization of their trans identity than her. I was going to write more on the truscum/tucute thing, but I’m honestly tired of it (I have a position, a very strong position, but it’s difficult to articulate it)

Yet we know that only 0.03% of the U.S. population has actually socially transitioned, according to US Census study that cross-correlated with name/sex status changes to Social Security cards (arguably the absolute best estimate we will ever get to the number of individuals who actually transitioned)

This is false at best. There are serious barriers to getting ones name and sex status changed: most notably having all the necessary medical procedures [SRS] and doctors letters, both of which are constrained by finances. An individual can socially transition and be legally unable to change their documents; it’s a difficult process.

A better indicator would be using the numbers from the US Trans Survey, using the breakdown of gender identities and what percent of each of those groupings is currently on hormones.

This means that less than 5% of those who identify as “transgender” ever transition.  Thus, by definition, more than 95% of those who identify as “transgender” never transition, that in fact, they aren’t all that gender dysphoric.

The assumption is that dysphoric = transition and not dysphoric = does not transition when there are counterexamples to both. Specifically that some gender dysphoric people are medically unable to transition due to a variety of conditions, and that some gender non-dysphoric people do transition due to experiences with gender euphoria or other complex relationships with gender.

Well, given that 80 to 90% of MTF transsexuals are autogynephilic and that an estimated 2.8% to 4.6% of men in the general population are autogynephilic, while only 0.5% of women are autoandrophilic, we can surmise that the vast bulk of those who identify as “transgender” adults are autogynephilic males, otherwise gender typical heterosexual men who cross-dress in the privacy of their homes and perhaps occasionally have a “girls’ night out” with other cross-dressers.

Ridiculously long run-on sentence, so it’s somewhat difficult to parse. The first false statement is that “80 to 90% of MTF transsexuals are autogynephilic”. Data from numerous surveys shows that anywhere from 25-33% of trans women are androphilic. If her claim were true, then she would have to concede that androphilic trans women can be autogynephilic. She also implies that all people who identify as transgender must be MTF or FTM, with the interesting conclusion that nonbinary and genderqueer identities do not exist.

we can surmise that the vast bulk of those who identify as “transgender” adults are autogynephilic males, otherwise gender typical heterosexual men who cross-dress in the privacy of their homes and perhaps occasionally have a “girls’ night out” with other cross-dressers

No, we most certainly cannot.

How badly off are the numbers?  In the Wernick study they found 86 individuals who self-identified as transgendered out of 935 students.  Seriously, 9%?  NINE &^%$#@ percent?!?  That’s more than ten times the number of adults who self-identify and three hundred times the number who actually transition.  That’s higher than the number of teens who grow up to be gay or lesbian

It seems she is conflating past incidence of being gay/lesbian with the current prevalence. The study states;

The sample included students in 9th–12th grade who identified as trans (9.2%) and cisgender (41.2% boys, 49.6% girls), as well as LGBQ (21.6%) and heterosexual (78.4%)

We can also note that 39 (45.9%) of the trans individuals in the study identified as straight (so they would plausibly be ‘homosexual transsexuals’ under Blanchardianist classifications).

Her problem is assuming that the percentage of trans and LGBQ people stays constant over time, and thus by comparing adolescent and adult populations, she can find the “true” percentage and “prove” that the study does not “truly” represent the LGBTQ+ population.

Are all of the LGB kids claiming to be “transgendered”???  Or is this representative of all LGB plus all of the secretly cross-dressing and cross-dreaming boys plus the TuCutes and the TransTrenders, all balled into one?

Nope, because they found 20% of the population was LGBQ.

Because, if the schools were statistically representative of the population as a whole

Here’s her issue. Her assumption is that schools are statistically representative of the population as a whole. It’s patently false. We know that youth have a completely different demographic, sociocultural and economic makeup than adults. We know that youth have completely different behaviors, trends, beliefs, different everything.

we could only expect a one in three chance of finding an actual transsexual among them, most likely an autogynephile who will transition as an adult and only one in fifteen chance of finding a transkid.

There’s an interesting implication that comes from what she wrote here. She’s saying there is a 1 in 3 chance that an “autogynephile” (note she drops the reference to lesbian trans women as trans) would be in the school’s population. What’s implied, though, is that “autogynephiles” are aware of their gender. That means that, no, “autogynephiles” postpone transition for a reason, probably a combination of gatekeeping (which is perpetuated by the myth of autogynephilia) and social dynamics.

The design of this study was flawed from inception, as the numbers surveyed were never enough to find any statistically valid number of transkids, while using self report of being “transgendered” without a valid operational definition lead only to a measure of the trendiness of the label in the teenaged population combined with “mischievous responders”, kids saying ‘shit’ to mess with the study.

We know “transkids” to mean “straight trans women” (‘homosexual transsexuals’ in Blanchardian terms). It’s implied that she doesn’t care about finding the prevalence of non-straight trans women in the population, only that of straight trans women, and further that non-straight trans women are not trans. I might be reading too much into it, but that’s the way I’m reading this portion.

So we see, that truly gender atypical and gender dysphoric individuals will be a very small percentage of youth who will self-identify as “transgender”.

One need not be gender atypical (as in presentation) from birth to be transgender. One also need not have gender dysphoria to be transgender.
UPDATE: In regards to the Wernwick study, there are some actual valid critiques; namely that they included teens questioning their sexual orientation under LGBQ and those questioning their gender identity under trans.


Mentalism and Bad History

A Kay Brown post delving into biased accounts of history? It’s not that surprising.


One of the most famous individuals I met was Angela Keyes Douglas, AKA Douglas Keyes.  When I first met Douglas, in 1977, s/he was living in Berkeley as… well… not really a woman so much as s/he didn’t really pass or even really try, and seemed totally oblivious to how people reacted to him/her.  It was obvious to me that s/he was “off”… and I mean “off“.

It’s interesting how she “half”-misgenders Douglas, likely due to a combination of mentalism/ableism and gender-conforming bias; “if you don’t pass, you’re not a woman”.

A great account of the disparity between Kay Brown’s posts about Douglas and Douglas’s experiences herself can be found here.

Clearly, Douglas was psychotic, probably schizophrenic.

Armchair diagnosing is a hallmark of psuedoscientific internet posters.

Some cases of MtF transsexualism are associated with and plausibly attributable to other comorbid psychiatric disorders, especially psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Á Campo, Nijman, Merckelbach, and Evers (2003) reported on a large survey of Dutch psychiatrists, who had evaluated 584 patients with cross-gender identification and possible GID; in 46% of these patients, the psychiatrists interpreted cross-gender identification as an epiphenomenon of other psychiatric problems, including psychotic, mood, dissociative, and personality disorders. Brown and Jones (2016) observed that, among 5135 persons (69% male) diagnosed with GID, transsexualism, or transvestism who had received care from the U.S. Veterans Administration, 32% had also received a diagnosis of “serious mental illness,” meaning “diagnoses associated with psychotic symptoms” (p. 128), including schizophrenia- and bipolar-spectrum disorders. Thus, comorbid psychotic disorders and other severe mental illnesses may account for some cases of MtF transsexualism in nonandrophilic persons who deny autogynephilia — and for some cases of MtF transsexualism in androphilic persons as well.

The attempt to paint being trans as some sort of mental illness or the result of a mental illness is neither scientific nor unproblematic. There is a long history of attributing being trans to various mental illnesses by transphobes, GVTs and TERFs: schizophrenia, anorexia, body identity integrity disorder, narcissistic personality disorders (and other cluster B personality disorders). It’s a tactic used to demean and invalidate trans identities and experiences, and Lawrence’s evidence is far from establishing being trans a result of co-morbid conditions. She uses opinions of psychiatrists, of which we have long documented gatekeeping, stigma, bias and discrimination from. There is no clinical evidence, no cross-sectional evidence, no actual evidence from the patients, no experimental evidence, nothing. It’s a survey of people related to the trans people in question. Which sounds very familiar, doesn’t it? Oh, that sounds like the Littman “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” paper there was a big hullabaloo about in the news that’s been widely discredited.