DELINEATIONS OF TRANS, OR: NON-COMEDIC VARIETIES OF IMPERSONATION

December 2, 2014

ReBlogged without permission from here: http://miriamafloat.wordpress.com/

miriam afloat
On this blog I’ve written two posts (here and here) attempting to delineate different types of autogynephilia (AGP). Given that I am an autogynephile, and since being doxxed am one of two known “out” AGPs that I am aware of (the other being Anne Lawrence), I feel I have a right to talk about my unique experiences. Yet, I am also a transsexual, I experience sex dysphoria, and am still transitioning.

Which means I will also speak bluntly on issues related to being a transsexual, as well.

Those who have read this blog know that I view AGP as more of a continuum of experience rather than a singular identity, which in addition to my criticisms of the strict typology of AGP/homosexual-transsexual, is something I am not alone in proposing. Specifically, I view it as one of many potential motivations for transition. Interestingly enough, based upon the typology set forth by Blanchard and expounded upon by Lawrence, almost every single male trans I’ve met would fit within the AGP category. There are maybe two trans I’ve either met personally or just seen from a distance online who don’t fit within the category of AGP as outlined by Blanchard.

My error in attempting to delineate AGP was talking about it as an independent group of individuals, rather than truly viewing it as one possible motivation among many, which, even though I have toyed with this idea previously, I did not allow to inform my categorization of trans. The term “AGP” doesn’t describe all of us, obviously. The common way people use it doesn’t apply to me at all, either (in terms of transvestic fetishism). Also, I have always found it interesting that a man without dysphoria who wears clothes identified by society as “women’s” clothing is termed a cross-dresser, while a man who claims dysphoria (no way to prove it, eh?) and takes hormones who wears socially-prescribed “women’s” clothing is suddenly not a cross-dresser. Never sat right with me – in truth, I’ve always viewed any biological male who wears clothing associated with the socially-prescribed female gender expression to be a cross-dresser. It’s a behavior. What’s the difference, really?

The sense of “wrongness” this assertion seems to bring up in any transgender and/or transsexual circle is of note. Personally, I think strong emotions displayed by many people about a specific concept is worthy of consideration, as there may by a logical reason behind their displeasure that simply has not been evaluated precisely because of the strength of the emotion. Maybe what these individuals are attempting to get at is the unspoken motivation behind the behavior – assuming, of course, that the motivation of a cross-dresser is significantly different from your average transgender/transsexual.

The animosity I’ve seen consistently between cross-dressers and transsexuals, transgenders and transsexuals is something I’ve viewed with a sort of amused disgust. To me, it always seemed that such animosity follows a rejection of truth, especially a painful one. In every instance where this occurs, it results from the insistence that one’s ‘group’ is, by nature or essence or wish, altogether different from the other – whatever that other happens to be.

Therefore, I would first like to start at the beginning – at the point which all of us, whether CD, TV, TS, AGP, or whatevah-the-fuck-acronym-ya-dig, start to differentiate.

We are all female impersonators.

This is a neat little phrase that accurately describes the behavior of all of us – whether cross-dresser or drag queen, transgender or transsexual, so-called autogynephile or the mythical true-trans homosexual transsexual. Adopting the culture and trappings of femininity, of female oppression, is impersonating what we as men associate with female and identify as female (because as men and oppressors, we define the terms and conditions of the subjugated caste of female). Even those who do not partake of the oppressive gender category of women, who only undergo limited physical transition, are still impersonating females – quite literally, in fact: attempting to alter your hormonal levels with estradiol or simply obtaining an orchiectomy/SRS is an obviously male-centered attempt to ‘become a woman,’ whether we actually believe it will make us a woman or not.

In terms of behavior, we are all under one roof. Yet when motivation is considered, divisions start to appear – yet not along the strict lines that might be expected or desired. Here is a list of motivations (by no means exhaustive but which I believe comprise most) I’ve identified so far:

1) Rejection of toxic masculinity – includes all forms of dysphoria, including sex/body dysphoria.

2) Internalized homophobia.

3) Autogynephilia – transvestic fetishism or behavioral fetishism.

4) Autogynephilia – anatomic/physiologic/biologic.

5) Extension of male privilege.

6) Boredom.

7) Sexual abuse.

8) Political – includes peer pressure, attention-seeking behavior, monetary motivations.

9) Sexual predation.

To answer any confusion concerning why #1 includes all forms of dysphoria, I view toxic masculinity as the causation of social and sex/body dysphoria. Social conditioning can and does profoundly alter human biological systems in unpredictable ways. That sex dysphoria is supposedly parallel to body dysmorphic disorder strikes me as a bit of an odd comparison. If sex dysphoria (among males) was simply about one’s physical rejection of their sexed organs, why is it always paired with a rejection of assigned sex role? This is why sex dysphoria is not like body dysmorphic disorder – those with BDD don’t try to cut out their gall bladders or limbs because those organs/limbs indicate to them that they aren’t a rat (which don’t have gallbladders) or a snake (which is without limbs).

Yet, attempts to explain the causation of sex dysphoria by virtue of a “female brain” (which is demonstrably misogynistic), or that one has the “brain map” of a female body (unproven and fantastical), or even simply a vague statement that one “feels like they should have” the body of a female, all fall flat. Those who realize the ludicrousness of the aforementioned arguments seem to prefer the tried-and-true method of simply saying “I don’t know.”

I don’t really know, either. But again, the consistent association between sex dysphoria among male trans and rejection of toxic masculinity is a fruitful connection – I think it indicates that the radical feminist theory of sex role stereotypes being the causation of transsexuality is accurate. It certainly provides more opportunity for discussion of treatment options than simply throwing one’s hands up and saying, “we may never know.”

Just because you “feel” something, just because it feels real and physical, doesn’t mean its original causation is a biological one – although its manifestation likely involves biological systems. Again, though, the notion of sex dysphoria is purely subjective and currently unprovable. As such, it is no more useful than any other feeling-based approach. Which brings us to something no less subjective but certainly with more chance of observation – motivation, which may be implied through behavior.

It doesn’t seem as if many people have attempted to delineate female impersonators based upon the criteria of motivation. However, this seems a good start for us in creating a division between those who transition with sexual predation in mind, those who are using it as an extension of their masculinity (as displayed by rampant misogyny and a lifetime of masculine success), and those who are rejecting toxic masculinity.

Personally, I am transitioning because of numbers 1,2, 4 and 7. What does that make me? I don’t really know. Does it need some specific name, or is the acknowledgement of my individual motivations enough? A considerable source of distress at the beginning of my transition came from my failed attempts to find a narrative which seemed to ‘match’ me. Really, I wanted a label – at first, I suffered a serious sense of discontinuity at the fact that ‘transgender’ and ‘transsexual’ were considered different concepts, yet the specific differences were never very clearly delineated. Just look at the wikipedia pages for both – it’s a hopeless mess.

Only when I started to consider motivations – in my case, the specific dysphoria surrounding my male features and my desire to change them – did it occur to me that the term ‘transsexual’ seemed to describe my experience better than ‘transgender,’ which was also used to describe individuals who did not engage in physical transition. “There we go,” I thought, “there is the difference between me and the others, this is the factor which best describes my experience!”

Of course, then I discovered that the little kingdom of ‘transsexuality’ had its own clan battles. The misunderstood concept of autogynephilia, the specious notions of Harry-Benjamin-Syndrome-ers, the pervasive aroma of elitism – my community maybe wasn’t as welcoming as I thought. And within the context of the knowledge that sex changes aren’t even possible – well, the term ‘transsexual’ sorta loses its meaning, now doesn’t it? If there isn’t such a thing as a sex change, what are we ‘transing’ towards? Exogenous hormones and surgical holes do not a woman make. In fact, I would say it takes one further from the concept of “female” than if one remained an unmodified man.

Although for those of us who are passing/assimilated, nobody else knows this. They just see another woman. Such individuals might be said to have succeeded very well at the act of female impersonation – yet that gives no indication of motivation, or expected behavior.

This approach towards classification/delineation might aid us in determining what to prioritize in future treatment, and how to tailor treatment to the individual (as well as preventing sexual predators and violent misogynists from accessing transition-related services). By focusing on our motivations to transition – honestly and without the ridiculous narratives that pervade the transreality (‘on the other side of reality,’ see what I did there?) – we might start helping ourselves become a bit more stable in our lives.

Ultimately, we may even start to address the sex role stereotypes of which transsexuality/transgenderism is merely a symptom. As long as we are ignoring gender itself as the causation, as long as we are chalking it up to brain sex or feminine essence or body dysphoria which just happens to coincide with personal reactions to sex role stereotypes (but isn’t, oh no, can’t possibly be caused by gender itself), or any other fanciful legend which serves only to enshrine ourselves upon the seat of our own suffering, then we as trans are part of the problem.

Focusing on motivations I think would inevitably lead the honest researcher back to the sex role stereotypes themselves as the origin of the problem. If such knowledge were to enter the public sphere from the medical sector, more people could become aware of the reality of gender and its harmful nature.

As male trans, we are all female impersonators. The current delineations – CD, TV, TG, TS, whatever – are worthless at keeping out sex predators while allowing those who benefit somewhat from transition to access medical intervention. There is way too much cross-over among all of the aforementioned labels to be useful as they currently are, and there is too much left unsaid about motivation and behavior if all of these so-called identities are simply unified into a convenient trans umbrella.

Therefore, we need to start delineating based on new criteria – motivation. Motivation can be implied by behavior. Behavior can be interpreted to indicate motivation. I say we should put more faith in observations of behavior as a way of divining motivation rather than any self-described label. In truth, it’s not like these labels mean much of anything anymore.

Maybe it’s time to go back to basics.

18 Responses to “DELINEATIONS OF TRANS, OR: NON-COMEDIC VARIETIES OF IMPERSONATION”

  1. Miep Says:

    There are billions of humans on this planet who could benefit from even rudimentary health care, including such basics as clean water. There are children with cleft palates who go untreated. There are women dying in childbirth, there is sepsis, there are many terrible ailments humans suffer that really aren’t all that complicated to prevent, if enough people gave a damn.

    Instead, let’s worry about white men in first world societies who are unhealthily obsessed with identifying with women. Let’s spend lots of money giving them hormones and surgery and endless follow-up treatment.

    Let’s keep throwing money down this entirely unsubstantiated rathole. And if they rape and/or murder women, let us throw ourselves at their feet and give them mercy, poor abused “girls” that they are. Just like us!

    Good Dog but I despise this culture.

    • kesher Says:

      I was pretty much thinking the same thing today, but not necessarily in reference to many humans not receiving basic health care, more about how there are so many common disorders and diseases that medical science is pretty much useless to cure. The main advancements in human health have been public/personal hygiene, vaccines, and antibiotics. Anything else, if you’re lucky, can be managed with medical science, but rarely cured. And sometimes the “cure” is almost as bad as the disease (such as chemotherapy and interferon).

      But what medical science can do is make a man a pretty, pretty girl if he has enough money (or Cadillac trans-catering health insurance).

      This society is laughable.

      • Miep Says:

        kesher: what I wrote is true, what you wrote is true. Also many illnesses are disorders of civilization, meaning illnesses caused by sick hierachical practices involving making money for people at the top of the hierarchy, aka “White Dudes.”

        We have lost so much. How many women know how to use herbs medicinally any more? How many women are allowed to do so?

      • LC Says:

        Antibiotics haven’t been such a great contribution either, with the rise of resistant bacteria. Too often medical science is little more than a scare industry of all the things that could go wrong and all the bacteria we come in contact with every day… so hermetically seal your home and drug yourself up for every minor cold or inconvenience. Nothing could go wrong with that.

        I believe the over-dependence on the supposed benefits of medical science(and I’m not saying there aren’t -any-) is part of the proliferation of transgenderism. So long as we can identify an illness and prescribe a surgery or pill to treat it, it is socially acceptable to have it. I once spent months being shuffled from doctor to doctor taking unnecessary tests just to find out(on my own) that all of my problems came from side effects from the medication those same doctors had prescribed- and yet, there’s a complete lack of motivation among liberals to question the link between “medical science” and profit. How much of transgender treatment is being pushed by the patient desperate to feel well and not be socially judged, and how much is pushed by unscrupulous doctors?

      • kesher Says:

        As with just about anything in modern medicine, antibiotics became a solution in search of a problem, resulting in that incredible life-saving technology being wasted on industrial meat production. And, of course, it has negative effects on the human body in the shorter term, killing off healthy bacteria in our bodies and weakening our immune systems. It still nice not to die of an infection from a cut or routine surgery.

        And certainly this site has documented this already many times over, but trans “treatment” also seems like a solution in need of a problem. Get a patient hooked on those sweet hormones, and you have a patient for life.

    • Lizz Says:

      Yes – and if a dude in prison really wants to be a woman, let’s pay to make him a neo-vagina and put him in a women’s prison because anything else would be cruel. And let’s do all this while at the same time, pregnant women are being abused and neglected in prison, their labour pains ignored until they’re forced to give birth on their prison cell floor. As happened in my hometown, here:
      http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/10/11/woman-gives-birth-in-ottawa-jail-cell-after-guards-allegedly-ignore-screams-for-help/

      …Because we all know that some guy’s gender identity is what’s REALLY important.

      • morag99 Says:

        From the article: ‘While she was being moved, they say, a guard told Bilotta she shouldn’t have become pregnant if she couldn’t deal with pain and it would only get worse when the “real” labour began.’

        Sadistic. In a particularly woman-hating way.

        The way in which women prisoners are regarded and treated is the way in which all women are regarded and would be treated given similar circumstances to prison/jail/detention–even hospitals, where the process of labour is still sometimes called “confinement.”

        It’s pretty much a protected, private free-for-all where we find out how deeply we are despised, not only by men but by other women, too. (I couldn’t access the entire article, but I assume her tormentors–the guards and nurses–were women?)

        So, of course, we will continue to work for reforms to protect the human rights of pregnant women in prison, and the gains will, as usual, go directly to men. Not that male prisoners don’t need protections–they do. But for men, it will go not just toward their medical survival and basic dignity, but toward frills and thrills. A woman in the unmedicated agony of childbirth is equal, or more likely less than equal, than to a man who requires breast implants to help him with his fantasy life.


  2. Back to basics, agreed!

    There are males and females, and that is sex.

    Gender is a plastic, social construct and is not real nor enduring,but a tool of patriarchy.

    Let males and females dress and comport as they choose, but, the basic is that nobody ever changes sex.

    Behaviors and motivation based definitions? More baloney on top of the basics.

  3. shediogenes Says:

    What part of anything under the trans umbrella can reasonably be called a rejection of toxic masculinity? This dude at least admits to some of this shit, but their is nothing about any of the bullet points that costitutes rejecting toxic masculinity. A male seeing himself as female, sexualizing himself as feminine even in the case of enduring sexual abuse is to embrace that toxic model. Just because he has been sexually abused and possibly penetrated doesn’t make him woman (unless of course you embrace the toxic misogynistic idea that women, female, feminine, is meant to be sexualized and penetrated. An admission, and yet still a failure) At least he’s thinking about it. If he still identified as male, I would applaud, but Miriam seems to consider himself transexual as if you can trans sex. ??? Bet the trans brigade just luuuuv this. Get any death threats yet, Miriam?

    • Anon Male Says:

      I stopped reading after the toxic masculinity thing. You don’t use industry jargon like that unless you actually embrace certain politics.

      • shediogenes Says:

        I find I have a grotesque fascination with the jargon sometimes, just to see how far they will go. There seems to be no end in sight, and I tire of staring down the rabbit hole. Still, gotta love how a selfdeclared transsexual can wax on about toxic masculinity. Do they come up with this shit while curling their hair and telling themselves positive messages in the mirror? “I am beautiful” -applies mascara. “I am a good person” -applies lipstick. “I reject toxic masculinity” -plucks eyebrows….


    • I do think some of them are rejecting some parts of “toxic masculinity”, in that they do not identify with what I call the obvious physical/emotional traits of the sterotypical male physical attributes and gender role (large, muscular, aggressive, stoic, predatory, logical, etc). They do tend to retain all the more hidden (to men) gender role, as well as their entitlement, etc.

      But this does NOT mean they aren’t mired in sick gender roles. Rejection of some parts of masculinity is secondary to the near total acceptance of the most fetishized parts of the female gender role.

      I think this lays it out pretty well, when you look at what he is trying to do. Being honest about your motivations is important, mostly because that gives you the awareness needed to act in a way not harmful to others. If you are mired in thinking you are actually a woman, you will be more likely to fight against women to access their space. Recognizing you will always be an impersonator, and not actually female, at least you have the chance to see, and appreciate, the actual differences in your socialization. This can be freeing.

      I think it’s great that someone effected by this is even willing to entertain critical thinking on this topic. It makes perfect sense to work to understand yourself, and the community you find yourself in.

      That medical science is seen as a solution shows our over reliance onedicalizing anything related to a human body. This assures continual dependence on modern medicine, and ensures that they never seek to find a solution unrelated to this discipline. Where they could be doing analysis, they are handing over power to fix this to doctors.

      Yes it’s outrageous the technology and effort is going to men as always. How very typical.

  4. Shonagh Says:

    From the individualist point of view of trying to give appropriate *treatment*, maybe motivation matters. However, from our, political, point of view, motivation doesn’t matter a damn. A ‘transwoman’ could be the sweetest, gentlest person in the world, and genuinely be trying desperately to get away from maleness because of the awfulness of so many men and the patriarchy in general – but that wouldn’t stop his ‘trans-ness’ from contributing to the social erasure of women’s reality and the destruction of even the possibility of political efforts towards women’s liberation.

    • morag99 Says:

      Agreed. We may at times feel sympathy, but there’s no grey area when it comes to the various forces (even the non-deliberate ones) working together toward the erasure of women’s reality.

    • BadDyke Says:

      “Rejection of toxic masculinity”

      Okay, being an old fart, I had to look this one up………..And what do we have? How the behaviours that constitute masculinity are supposedly so HARMFUL to the menz.

      So a fail there straight away! The problem isn’t biological maleness per se (sex), but jenduh. You can’t escape the male gender by just trying to switch to the other side! Flipping genders (and mixing it up with sex) isn’t the same as rejecting the whole gender system. This seems more like the ‘failed male’ syndrome that Joanna Russ talked about in ‘The Female Man’ (and before the trans cult tried to get her to recant!).

      What do we have then? TRYING to assuage the guilt some man feels at what males have done to women for centuries. Except you can’t, except by battling it. And trying desperately to become ‘a victim’ yourself (whether that is a female, or just some other form of NOT heterosexual male) doesn’t redeem you either. Indeed, trying to LEAVE a male body when faced with the reality of the patriarchy is in effect saying that possessing a male body and behaving honourably is impossible.

      If someone tried the same sleight of hand with ‘race’, and tried to expiate their white guilt by becoming black, most people wouldn’t put up with that for an instant! And certainly I can’t imagine black people being excluded from a black-only meeting because they didn’t approve of a pre-op/pre-meds (i.e. WHITE) transracial person being an invited speaker……………..

      Individually trying to desert, MIGHT help you feel less guilty (see, I’m now oppressed too!), but doesn’t do a damn thing about the actual problem.

      The only part I agree with is:

      “We are all female impersonators.”

      and you’re all wrong. Impersonating an oppressed class is (at best) just taking the piss, so STOP DOING IT.

      Never mind if you are guilty about being a male, never mind if wearing dresses gets you hard, never mind if you really want to castrate yourself, or have boobies, or be a pretty girl. You’re male, a member of the oppressor class, so DEAL WITH IT in some socially useful way and leave women the hell ALONE.


  5. Correction to the article:
    It was pointed out to me shortly after posting this by FireWomon that “impersonating the very people you oppress is the epitome of privilege.” I meant to correct the article but never got around to it and now have abandoned my blogging for personal reasons.

    Apologies for entering the discussion. Thank you for posting this, Gallus.
    Goodbye.

    • GallusMag Says:

      Miriam you are welcome in the discussion on this post or any other post on this blog. Although my perspectives on gender are largely informed by Radical Feminism, (the only branch of feminism which offers an analysis of gender), this is not a Radical Feminist blog per se. Everyone is welcome to comment and participate. If blog comments ever become male-dominant I would re-think that policy, but it hasn’t ever happened.

      Thank you for responding graciously to my re-blog of your post, which I thought was very honest and interesting. x


      • I appreciate that a lot, Gallus. Indeed I will be continuing to check this blog, because it is your unceasing work in this field which has largely helped keep me – how shall we say – pointed more towards the honest end of things rather than the unsightly alternative.

        Thank you again, and take care! x


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