Letter to GenderTrender from a Gay Man

August 24, 2015

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Left as a comment on this post:

https://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2015/08/22/exiles-in-their-own-flesh-a-psychotherapist-speaks/

Reading this makes me glad that I grew up in a time and place where such resources weren’t present. If I may tell a bit of my story to highlight why I agree with this doctor. Born male, I can only speak to my experience regarding the homosexual mtt side, so I don’t discuss the ftt side because it isn’t my place to do so.

I was a young gay kid, constantly attacked for being ‘feminine’, in a violently homophobic environment which militantly guarded classical gender roles. Eventually I learned how to play the right role and stopped getting harassed, but this was very taxing, depressing, and repulsive to me. It wore me down to such an extent that it became easier to fall for the transgender tropes than it was to accept that my situation was hopeless.

Homelessness as a young teenager was a distinct possibility if I didn’t learn to conform–a stated policy in my house in fact. I see now that my situation rhymes in some ways with the situation many gays and lesbians face in Iran, where the state and society attempt to erase their homosexuality via surgery in order to preserve the social regime. To my shame, though there was no state forcing me down this path, I stumbled down it on my own because, absurdly enough, it was easier for me (in my mind) to try to erase my homosexuality and natural deviation from gender norms, than to stand up for myself and face the consequences. By thinking I was trans, I was suddenly (in my mind) no longer a hated and self-loathing effeminate gay boy but somebody with a fixable medical condition who would, after fixing it, end up leading a perfectly normal life. It was a false hope that made the years of conforming more bearable when I really should have been looking towards the hope of change, the hope of resisting, the hope of breaking the chains of homophobia and patriarchy. The trans propaganda can be enticing for some vulnerable young gay minds since it offers a sort of out to the seeming contradiction of being biologically male (or female) yet not behaving or loving like males (or females) are supposed to behave or love. But it is a hope that affirms rather than resists classic patriarchy.

Last year (I’m in my early 30s now), I nearly started down a path of trans medical intervention that would have bankrupted me and damaged my body. Just before an appointment, a friend had a personal tragedy and needed the money I had saved up more than I did. This delayed my entry into the medical path and gave me time to think more carefully and do more research. This website above all others helped me see through the confusion, helped me realize that I could only find happiness by living my life as a proud gay man, that I could only honor women by respecting them, listening to them, and resisting patriarchy where I could.

What if I had gone down the medical path as I almost did last year as an adult, or worse yet, what if I had these resources available as a teenager when I was at my most vulnerable? I think I would have created a miserable life for myself. As of now, I’m finding happiness honoring my biology, honoring my sexuality, honoring my difference. I am grateful that I was never “blessed” so early by access to a medical establishment that is alarmingly eager to let people damage their bodies. I am learning to unwind the masks I created to protect myself as a teen as I build the courage to be who I am openly and proudly.

If you are under 16, you can’t vote, you can’t drive, you can’t smoke or drink alcohol, you can’t gamble, you can’t enter into a contract, you can’t live on your own, but in our brave new world you can elect to make radical hormonal and physical changes to your body. The justice system recognizes that the teenage brain is not fully formed and doesn’t hold juveniles to the same level of accountability as it does adults; yet the trans movement says that they should be virtually handed pills and a scalpel. Thank you for continuing to point out the absurdity of this.

I think most people on either side of this issue want the same thing: a better world for the next generation. I strongly suspect that this better world can be found through social change rather than surgical intervention. The former is a lot harder than the latter, but it’s also the only path that will improve the world for everyone, not just the few.

rainbow-light-earth

65 Responses to “Letter to GenderTrender from a Gay Man”

  1. RadicalGrandma Says:

    Thank you for your candor. As an old Second Wave feminist, we women fought openly for our rights and the elimination of gender bias and for the rights of lesbians and gay men. Unfortunately, for those who grew up after the civil rights/Vietnam era, there was only a skeleton of any kind of “movement” activity which left many of us bereft and searching over the years.

    I’m glad you were able to “dodge the trans bullet”, so to speak, and embraced your own being as a gay man. People who consider themselves “trans” should do more self-examination and figure out what really is going on with themselves. Of course, kids who don’t know any better w/parents who think they do, and those who have been sold on hormones, surgery and the like already, are less likely to do so. They actually think that they can “buy” the opposite gender as a market commodity. What should be relaxed and examined is attitudes about what a “woman” is, and what a “man” is and not tie ourselves to outdated notions.

    And, you’re absolutely right: “I think most people on either side of this issue want the same thing: a better world for the next generation. I strongly suspect that this better world can be found through social change rather than surgical intervention.”

  2. Ando girondo Says:

    This resonated so much with. .i was on the same path 10 years ago ..brother i can say that you made the right decision nothing good come up from enslaving oneself to hormones and surgery. ..in away is bitter sweet that the only option for people like us is radical feminism. .sweet because make us aware of the realities of patriarchy that we due to our status sometimes forget. .bitter because other people don’t have the access and currently anything deviating from the current trans politics is heresy and bigotry…thanks Gallus..true warrior

  3. Jesse Says:

    Rock on your bad self, sir.

  4. Cady Says:

    This is a moving and important post from a gay man. It is so refreshing to have a sane and mature description of a journey of growth and discovery of one’s true self. It is also brave in this atmosphere of intimidation and hysteria. As a hated radical feminist, I so appreciate the writer’s respect for women, his seeming understanding that as a man, he could and should not co-opt femaleness to define himself, and that he can and has put himself on the path to realizing that he can define his maleness in any way he wishes regardless of what the patriarchy tries to dictate. Both sexes must do this, and eliminate gender all together. And thank you to gender trender for being a beacon of truth in this time of so many lies and deceitful thinking.

  5. ftmskeptic Says:

    Thanks so much to the writer of that letter for speaking out. This is a message that urgently needs to be heard by kids, parents, psychologists, social workers and the medical community. I admire you for speaking out and hope others will follow.

    In helping your friend, a favor was returned to you. Best wishes to you as you untangle the threads of your past and face the world with a new outlook and self-authenticity. Best wishes for a safe and fulfilling journey.

  6. amazondream Says:

    Jason, I’m glad you came through your ordeal safe, sane & in one piece. I think we’re facing an imperative to recreate the lesbian and gay focused communities that have been destroyed by the gender imperatives of straight men who push this shit on us.

    Be happy little bro, stay safe, and always remember to love yourself at the end of the day.


  7. Beautiful! Thank you!

  8. OldPolarBear Says:

    Bravo! Really well said. I am a white, gay man. If I am reading your timeline correctly, I am not quite 30 years your senior, and I am struck by how much of this post resembled my own experience. I’m one of those who knew from an extremely early age, like preschool, that I was very different, without knowing why. By the time I started kindergarten, I was able to “butch it up” somewhat successfully in order to get by, but everybody could still perceive that there was something “wrong” with me and K12 was pretty miserable. I don’t remember exactly when I started to think in terms of possibly being transgender. There was very little talk of such things in those days and I think the first I heard of what was still being called “transexual” was when I saw Christine Jorgensen on some talk show sometime in the mid-sixties.

    It became an increasingly powerful idea over time, perhaps helped along by undiagnosed OCD. I began to imagine myself as a woman in my erotic fantasies and identify with the women in romantic or erotic scenes and images in movies, magazines, etc. Homosexuality was still overwhelmingly regarded as a sin and/or terrible illness and somehow it seemed much less threatening to think that I had been messed up by nature some way and that I could be “fixed” surgically. At the same time, I struggled constantly to be more “masculine.” A really effed up paradox! When I was old enough to go to the bars, I was fascinated by the drag queens and went many weekends to the shows they put on. I thought a lot about trying drag and came pretty close but never did. I’m pretty sure that for various reasons it would have been a big mess for me LOL. I really shudder to think what might have happened to me in today’s environment where very young children are being exposed to so much transgender this and that via media and encouraged to think of themselves this way. My thoughts of possibly being a “transwoman” persisted somewhat into my mid-20s and I finally gave them up via the affirmations of my partner, who I’m still with.

    Even after that though, and until quite recently, I still pretty much bought into the prevailing ideas about transgender issues and accepted that MTTs and FTTs were actual women and men, respectively. Now I’ve turned around on that completely. That was caused not so much by any one thing, but by a confluence of events and influences. I think it started from some things Derrick Jensen wrote, from which by some path of links no longer clear I found this blog and also Feminist Current. It was all about the same time as the Bruce Jenner “transition.” Funny how things come together like that.

    Thank you, gay brother, for posting such an articulate and heartfelt letter. I am proud of you and hope you have all the best.

    And thank you, GallusMag, for running this Gender Trender blog.

    • Em Says:

      Thank you for this. It’s crucial for everyone to hear narratives that run counter to the current trans script.

      Everyone familiar with Blanchard’s taxonomy, please note: “I am a gay man … I began to imagine myself as a woman in my erotic fantasies and identify with the women in romantic or erotic scenes and images in movies, magazines, etc.”

      Blanchard’s taxonomy, while interesting and a good starting point for further investigation, is inaccurate in at least this one, very important, way. There ***are** bred-in-the-bone homosexual autogynephiles.

      • Bea Says:

        I’m gonna have to respectfully disagree on this. To “identify with” women in erotic movie scenes isn’t the same thing as getting aroused by imagining yourself inhabiting a female body. I imagine a lot of gay males had fantasies of being opposite Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing, but not because they got off on having a vagina, but because there is so little gay male representation in movies. Like “I wish I was her because I would love for Patrick Swayze to fuck me,” or “I would love to be a woman because I could openly date other men (internalized homophobia) and be admired by lots of men,” and not “I wish I was her because I would love to get fucked by a man in my vagina and have him see me as female because the female body is a fuckhole for men’s pleasure, and therefore my pleasure.” Autogynephilia is wanting your own hetero male gaze to be on your own body. It’s twisted, unlike a gay guy wishing he could be swept off his feet by a sweaty hunk.

      • Ando girondo Says:

        Bea… you nailed it….sometimes internalised homophobia. .plays a great part on gender issues …autogynephilia is a totally different thing…its a fetish a narcissistic fetish

      • OldPolarBear Says:

        Em, that is a very interesting idea. I can’t really say for sure — I have only encountered the autogynephile term quite recenlty, on this blog, and I’m still trying to understand the concept. But I think it is, with me at least, more like what Bea says. The fantasy of being female was more of a means to an end, that of imagining a mutually satisfying sexual encounter with a boy/man who was heterosexual, rather than being personally arousing for its own sake. For example, many of my early erotic fantasies with boys or men I was attracted to were with both of us being male, although usually with myself in more of a “bottom” role. It was later, when those same males were obviously attracted to girls/women, that I started thinking, “well, if I were a girl, maybe they would be attracted to me and we could have sex.”

        I grew up with very little access to information of any kind about sex. Until the 6th grade, I had zero idea of how sex even worked. A short book was put in the classroom for those who wanted to go look at it that explained the basic mechanics of (hetero) sex. Those who were curious made an effort to check it out and read it with as little notice as possible. Even after I read that, I still had only the vaguest notion of female reproductive anatomy. But it was some time around then that I first imagined what I thought it might be like to have a vagina that could be used in sex. It popped into my head very suddenly; I don’t know exactly when but I can remember the exact circumstances which is too long to describe here but which I now find kind of amusing.

        And another factor that Bea mentioned: I think a lot of gay boys of my era and even later may have started having female-identifying thoughts was that there were no media images of male-male sexual relations or even affection. NONE. By the early 70s it was possible to find books with text description of gay sex, both fiction and nonfiction, e.g., Gordon Merrick novels. Occasionally, you could stand in a quiet corner of the bookstore furtively reading them. Pretty much the only ones permitted to be seen in film were “sissies” or drag queens, and they were only buffoonish comic relief, not serious people. Once in a while, it might be hinted that a more-or-less “normal-appearing” man might be attracted to another, but they would be horrible messes as people and they would often literally DIE. Think Sal Mineo ( who actually did turn out to be gay) in Rebel Without a Cause. Same went for lesbian characters, or any that even hinted at being lesbian. The only people who got to have sex without everything ending horribly, at least some of the time, were men and women who did it with each other. So it’s not surprising to me that a lot of gay boys would identify with women, or perhaps, that lesbians girls would identify with men.

        I’ve probably gone on way too long about this, but it’s interesting and GenderTrender seems to be one of the few places where people can talk about this stuff.

    • Fruitopia Says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts Polar Bear! You didn’t go on too long at all. It was fascinating to hear your story.

  9. overwhelmed Says:

    Thank you for sharing!

  10. Margie Says:

    Some truth came out in the Boston Globe this week, when the paper did a follow up on a very popular story from 10 years ago about 2 twin 7-year old boys, one of whom said he “felt” like a girl. 10 years later, that boy no longer feels that way and according to his mother, the gender dysphoria issues went away fairly rapidly about a year after the 2005 interview. Also included in the follow-up article are the stats showing the large majority of kids with gender dysphoria grow out of it. The author mentions the phenomenon of pushing these kids into life-altering medical procedures, which would be disastrous for the majority of kids who later lose their dysphoria naturally.

    http://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine/2015/08/22/what-makes-people-gay-update/8Mos2MXHvX5JsxP7AzW9RJ/story.html#comments

    “[T]here is simply no accurate way to predict which children will see their gender dysphoria persist and which ones will see it go away. Some researchers, including Eric Vilain and Mike Bailey, worry that the dramatic shift in public opinion may be persuading parents the only compassionate response is to get on the rapidly moving trans train of blockers and (effectively irreversible) cross-sex hormones and genital surgery, when that approach might not turn out to be in their child’s best interest.

    More recent studies continue to suggest that most gender dysphoric kids will outgrow their gender-bending behavior — with the majority of the boys turning out to be gay or bisexual — and have no lingering gender identity confusion. A 2011 review of research published in the International Journal of Transgenderism found that, of children who exhibited gender dysphoria, it persisted into adulthood in only 6 to 23 percent of boys and 12 to 27 percent of girls.”

    • Loup-loup garou Says:

      What we’re not seeing in a lot of these articles is a clear distinction between non-stereotypical (sex-role non-compliant) behavior and “gender dysphoria.” According to this mindset, a girl who doesn’t girlify on schedule at age 13, or a boy who doesn’t butch up, could be considered a “persister,” and get the trans label imposed on them.

      So we could end up back where things were 40 years ago — it’s okay for girls to be a little tomboyish (and maybe kinda sorta okay for boys to play with dolls), as long as they grow out of it. We’ll have made progress when the mainstream acknowledges that conforming to a sex role is not some necessary part of growing up.

      • GallusMag Says:

        We continually see the following two “options” from so-called authorities on sex-role resistant children (including in the recent trans-activist written APA guidelines):
        1. Transgendering, social and/or medical
        2. Restraining the child’s expression of sex-role noncompliant personality traits, behaviors, and tastes (in clothing, toys, activities).
        What we do NOT see as an option is acceptance of the child as sex-role divergent or support in coping with social difference, negotiating ostracization and bullying, etc. We do NOT see guidelines for implementing the social changes required to mainstream these kids without changing them. It is ASTOUNDING.

  11. coelacanth Says:

    What a sad thread to read for me, a 60 gay man who was out and openly gay from an early age in the 1970s and have lived and seen it all and now watch Trans dance upon our graves. The problem IMO with the letter writer and other “feminine” gay men on this thread is that all that confusion could have been avoided if you had been able when younger to locate a dialogue by other gay males who were free to write about our real lives in mass numbers — you would have seen other variations on being not “manly” which did not default to the “if I am not a man, I must be a woman” idiocy. If you are not being a “man” because you are gay; you are never a “woman”; you are a homosexual which means anything it needs to because you are a male, a man, not a woman, a homosexual male who gets to define what being a “man” is because you are one.

    This type of conversation was killed by two historical moments: AIDS killed the bulk of gay men who were just beginning to get critical mass to discuss among ourselves what it meant to be homosexual and Queer which killed it because the ideology of Queer states the opposite of what I said before — being homosexual does not mean you are another variation of male, you are in Queer Theory a demi-women, ie, a Trans (all homosexuals are Trans in Queer Theory). So you never got to read the other possible narratives of how to deal with non-manliness as a homosexual male so defaulted to the “woman” narrative.

    I have seen this misinterpretation by omission many times and despair at how unnecessary all that suffering could have been if gay men had been allowed to continue to build the networks and discourse that would have reached such confused young male homosexuals. Now such a thing is over and impossible. All gay is now Queer thus Trans and so the males on this thread are viewed by them as self-loathing traitors to the queer.

    By the way, to the homosexuals here, I dealt with much of the same stuff you talk about when young — we all did as homosexuals — and I was lucky since early teens to have been part of existing sub-cultures of hippie, artists, punks, tribals, etc. so never had to hide any flamboyance indeed the opposite (though dodging street beatings by fag-hating thugs was another matter!). However, I saw drag and camp simply as theatre (entertainment and political comment) and as humour, and never as a life option.

    Indeed I often felt many gay men overcompensated with “femininity” because they had so obviously failed at “masculinity” and had been so ridiculed and beaten for this failure by other men (and many women!). So rather than even try to look at what masculine might be like for them to invent as gay men (rather than merely taking masculinity solely as a mask from the larger culture which most of gay male porn and gay men’s self-image problems is about), many homosexual males default to the easier “femme”.

    One of the greatest psychic breakthroughs of my gay life was when I finally saw this pretense at womanliness as an insult to real women and I then got in touch with my inner masculinity and innate maleness which I possessed simply because I was a male human regardless of socialization and cultural gender norms — I was well in touch with my inner “anima” and “femaleness” as a hippie fag artist; but I had run and hid all of my life from my own innate maleness because I too had failed at it and felt that any expression of it would come out “wrong”. Can one’s tears come out “wrong” or one’s breath? So how can one’s sex come out “wrong” — only its enactment was “wrong” and not the thing itself (as nature how could it be) — only then could I see the gender trap as a two way street — to be a homosexual male is not to mean you are a semi-woman — it is to be man in another form of man.

    I discovered all of this in the 1990s when I got deeply into some gay male sub-subcultures and the gay male writers who were exploring this (the original Bear sub sub-culture was part of this and is now totally dead), it made me really reinvent what being a male homosexual could mean without the cliche and wounded default of “femaleness”. It also made me re-examine my former neutrality to Trans and really investigate what they were doing to manipulate this gay male femininty paradox and it was as ugly as what Trans was also doing to women.

    Gay men are as much victims of Trans insanity as all women are — not from physical violence but from erasure — Trans erases the possibilities of gay male homosexuality and reduced them back to the same old 1950s religious right-wing gender box that we just spent 60 years trying to get out of.

    Oh and one last thing — when I was really young I found all the gay male sex and role models I needed to help shape me away from the madness of man and woman model only — I found this in the works of literature! Isherwood, Genet, Mishima, and on and on and on — all these genius fags were telling it like it was homosexual-wise from the 1930s onwards and all were available in my local library! They saved my young life!

    Gallus, thanks for the space on this thread to let us share this side of the gay story. No gay male (now Trans controlled and Queer) web outlets will tolerate any discussion of this type in their comment sections let alone as the subject of actual public discourse.

    • GallusMag Says:

      I feel honored to do so.

    • Derrick Jensen Says:

      First, thank you, Gallus Mag, for providing this extremely educational forum and for providing your important analysis. Second, coelecanth, thank you for your analysis, which I found also very educational. You wrote, “you are in Queer Theory a demi-women, ie, a Trans (all homosexuals are Trans in Queer Theory).” Can you provide some sort of citation for this? I’ve got a book coming out next year that devotes a chapter or two to going after queer theory, and I’d love to provide a one paragraph mention of what you just said. Thank you.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Kate Bornstein, Ricki Wilchens, Pat Califia, etc. expounded these views in the early 1990’s as the Transgender political movement coalesced. The founders of the genderist rights movement believed that Lesbian and Gay were a form of transgender and that the gay movement should be subsumed into a broader genderist and anti-feminist umbrella. Which they arguably did make happen by integrating a denial and erasure of the sex-based oppression of women into their political platform. Obama appointee and “ex-lesbian” Shannon Minter, former legal director of NCLR discussed this at some length from a genderist perspective in her famous (1999?) essay “Do transsexuals dream of gay rights?”.

      • Free Jason Says:

        The article GallusMag mentions can be found here (page 18 of the PDF, the fourth section of the article with the subtitle “Do Gay People Dream of Transgender Rights”):

        http://www.nclrights.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Transgender-Rights-Intro-Minter-chapter.pdf

        That includes quotes from Bornstein (“it’s the transgendered who are the more inclusive category” -Gender Outlaw p. 135), and Rotello (“shouldn’t we stop being the [lgb] movement … and simply become the trans movement” – Advocate 10 Dec. 1996 Issue 722, p88).

        Echos of this (and for a sense of how the trans movement has had some effect in re-engineering the perception by some of the LGB movement) can be seen, for example, in this absurd paternalistic piece of writing in Psychology Today which predicts that the LGBT movement will become “transhumanist” (“With the onslaught of new tech and advanced medical and surgical techniques hitting the market, the LGBT movement will soon evolve into full blown transhumanism”). In the “LGBT” alphabet, there’s only one letter that pushes “advanced medical and surgical techniques”.

        https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-transhumanist-philosopher/201501/will-the-lgbt-movement-evolve-transhumanism

      • Derrick Jensen Says:

        Thank you, Gallus Mag and Free Jason, for that. I’ll put it in. I already deal with Pat Califia a bit in the book, but mainly for writing child torture porn, and also torture porn of adult women. Oh, and for advocating pedophilia more broadly. Thank you.

      • GallusMag Says:

        Anytime, Derrick. Coelacanth may show up with more.

      • Peggy Luhrs Says:

        Derrick I presume you have read Somer Brodrib’s wonderful Nothing Mat(t)ers a great take down of queer theory.

    • coelacanth Says:

      from the mouth of a university-paid Queer Theorist:

      “I should begin by stating that I consider myself a transgendered person. I do not live 24 hours a day representing myself as belonging to the gender that I was not assigned at birth. Many people consider this to be the working definition of transgendered. But I am a proud drag queen and an effeminate gay male, one who makes others uncomfortable with his often unintended ‘flamboyance,’ and is often denied basic human respect, because of that.”

      http://skygilbert.blogspot.ca/2011/12/is-trans-gay.html

      “When I teach queer theory in my classes I talk about the three most important ideas that queers bring to straight culture, which are:
      a) gender play
      b) alternative relationships
      c) camp
      Gender play means the notion that men can be feminine and women can be masculine.”

      http://skygilbert.blogspot.ca/2012/05/whats-wrong-with-velvet-rage.html

      • coelacanth Says:

        From the mouth of another Queer Theorist from 1998 (Bert Archer, The End of Gay), first citing to my knowledge of the Cotton Ceiling as essential to Queerness (paraphrased):

        “Archer writes, ‘I was remembering what my mother told me about olives, you keep eating them, and soon you begin to enjoy them. An acquired taste. The implication is that certain pleasures are learned, are worked for. They are nonetheless pleasurable for being the product of effort.’ Suggesting we can retrain ourselves to have a sexual interest where there currently isn’t one…”

        Retraining homosexuals into pan or bisexuality is the essence of the Cotton Ceiling and this Queer Theorist has been much quoted as having “proved” that Queer means inclusive sexuality not exclusive like homosexuality. This theoretical and socio-political “validation” of the Cotton Ceiling (“queering” homosexuality from genitally “closed” to “open”) has become part of the Trans Platform 101.

        http://mantalksmanstuff.blogspot.ca/2009/04/j-riga-reviews-bert-archers-end-of-gay.html

      • coelacanth Says:

        And of course what is queer theory as gay erasure without Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. This is long and dense (pun intended!) but leads to a plethora of sources.

        http://www.dissertation.lib-ebook.com/d-economy/1913089-94-edited-susan-stryker-and-stephen-whittle-new-york-london-rout.php

        94 Edited by Susan Stryker and Stephen Whittle New York London Routledge 2006 by SUSAN STRYKER, JAY PROSSER, TRANSGENDER AND THE QUEER MOMENT

        “Even in Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s work, which has argued most trenchantly for “a certain irreducibility” of sexuality to gender, and thus one might deduce would follow a certain irreducibility of homosexuality to transgender, homophobic constructions are understood to be produced by and productive of culturally normative gender identities and relations. The implications of this include a thorough enmeshing of homosexual desire with transgender identification. In its claim that women in the nineteenth century served to mediate desire between men, Sedgwick’s Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire suggests that the production of normative heterosexuality depended on a degree of male identification—and yet importantly, the disavowal of this identification—with woman as the object of desire. At the beginnings of queer therefore, in what is arguably lesbian and gay studies’ first book, heterosexuality is shown to be constructed through the sublimation of a cross-gendered identification; for this reason, making visible this identification—transgendered movement—will become the key queer mechanism for deconstructing heterosexuality and writing Sedgwick’s next book foregrounds this methodological function of transgender explicitly. Epistemology of the Closet presents transgender as one good reason for the development of a theory of (homo)sexuality distinct from feminism. The critical visibility of transgender—“the reclamation and relegitimation of a courageous history of lesbian trans-gender role-playing and identification”—poses a challenge to lesbianism’s incorporation within feminism: “The irrepressible, relatively class-nonspecific popular culture in which James Dean has been as numinous an icon for lesbians as Garbo or Dietrich has for gay men seems resistant to a purely feminist theorization. It is in these contexts that calls for a theorized axis of sexuality as distinct from gender have developed.” Exceeding feminism’s purview of gender, transgender demands and contributes to the basis for a new queer theory; paradoxically, transgender demands a new theory of sexuality. It is transgender that makes possible the lesbian and gay overlap, the identification between gay men and lesbians, which forms the grounds for this new theory of homosexuality discrete from feminism. And it is surely this overlap or cross-gendered identification between gay men and lesbians—an identification made critically necessary by the aids crisis—that ushers in the queer moment.”

      • Loup-loup garou Says:

        Ah, good old Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick — a heterosexual, married woman who built quite a career for herself by identifying with gay male sadomasochists (and occasionally with pedophiles — I seem to recall her giving a paper on “Cruising the Inner Child in the Works of Henry James” — or something like that.) She couldn’t get past the idea that homosexual = transgressive = pervert. Sounds almost…homophobic, doesn’t it?

        An entire generation of gay and lesbian university students were encouraged to follow her like the Pied Piper and view their own experiences through her pervy lens. Not all of them were aspiring academics looking for a new intellectual meat grinder to help them crank out more research sausages, some were really just seeking insight into what it meant to be homosexual in the 90s and aughties. They were offered some of the most toxic answers imaginable, with little to counterbalance them.

      • Derrick Jensen Says:

        Dear All, Thank you so much for all of this. It’s all really helpful and informative. Thank you!

    • Jesse Says:

      This…is brilliant.

    • KgSch Says:

      @Derrick Jensen

      You might also like to know that Pat Califa once carved a swastika into her Jewish lover’s back: https://bevjoradicallesbian.wordpress.com/2012/08/04/chaptersixleather-sm-bdsm-its-all-still-sadism-and-masochism/

      So you can add racism to the list.

      Nice to see some more books getting published that debunk the queer theory nonsense.

      • Derrick Jensen Says:

        KgSch, Thank you for that. Yes, I put that in about Califia. Califia’s defense was that it wasn’t “carved” but rather “scratched,” which seems to me about as weak a defense as one could muster about that. From everything I’ve read, Pat Califia seems like an extremely extremely disturbed individual.

      • KgSch Says:

        No problem.

        Yes, Califa seems like a deeply disturbed person from everything I’ve read about her. It just baffles me that at one point some lesbians actually not only believed she was a lesbian, but a decent person who should be listened to. Seriously, why would anyone in their right mind want relationship advice from someone who writes rape porn?

        Also, good job everyone else for finding the most pivotal parts of queer theory. Good luck going through it Derrick. Queer theory is a bunch of rambling nonsense, and it’s a bunch of rambling to disguise the fact that it makes no sense. Post-modernists, especially queer theorists can’t write in a direct and understandable way because they’ve got nothing. It’s just a bunch of thinly veiled lesbian and gay hating saying we should become bi or pansexual (because of hurt trans feels) and playing around with gender/sex roles suddenly makes them empowering and not oppressive towards women.

        I have the radical idea that women who reject femininity (which is a male-invented idea about how men want women to dress and act) aren’t becoming “masculine”, but are behaving outside the narrow box.


  12. Heads up: Tomorrow Dr. Drew is doing a two night special on “Transgender In America”

  13. Dogtowner Says:

    This is a wonderful essay; I sent it to someone who writes regularly for Counterpunch, and he was appreciative.

    That said, I come here for sanity. I stated online that transphobe is the word hurled at women who do not want men in women’s spaces, lesbians who do not want to have sex with men, and I was told, lengthily, what a bigot I am. By a “queer” woman — thank you, coelacanth. I am now very careful what organizations I give my pennies to, and was told by the director of one “leftist” organization that transgender has nothing to do with homosexuality. She’s 30-something and she knows it all, and what really makes me want to vomit keeps wishing me peace and light. Where is that barf bag?

    I do appreciate you, Gallus, even if I walked away from a discussion we were having once upon a time (not feeling well, not able to argue). I still do give money to animal welfare organizations — oh my god, someone’s going to tell me that they, too, subscribe to trans — but instead of giving money to “leftist” organizations which have little interest in women’s welfare, I’ll try to make a donation here.

    • Fruitopia Says:

      I’m a member of several animal welfare/rights organisations in the UK and have yet to see them mention trans. It may be different in America, where the trans obsession seems to be more intense. Because animal welfare/rights is a permanently unfashionable cause, I’ve noticed that some campaigners and organisations jump on the bandwagon of politically correct, popular causes that are unrelated to animal rights, in an attempt to make themselves/their organisation less marginalised.

      Although I have not personally seen this happen with trans, what I would do if I saw it, is to write in and ask them not to get involved in any contentious issue that is not relevant to animal welfare. I would politely and neutrally list the reasons why many people would disagree with that viewpoint, and remind them of the benefits of remaining neutral on all issues not related to animal rights (ie more support by not alienating people who don’t agree with you on irrelevant topics). Also I would remind them that just because something (ie trans) has strong media support, that is not equal to actual real life support from the general public.

      • Dogtowner Says:

        It was kind of a joke, Fruitopia. I can’t imagine anyone who has to deal constantly with actual female and male bodies going for trans except, as you point out, to jump on a bandwagon to prove how liberal they are.

        Animals — domestic and wild — keep me from offing myself through disgust at the human condition.

  14. sula Says:

    I’m sure it will surprise nobody here that the poster person for glam-trans, Caitlyn Jenner, after flim flamming about absolutely not being gay and saying she ‘thinks’ she’s probably still heterosexual but isn’t sure (so you’d go through transition but not be sure about something like your sexual preference? Yeah right) has NOW ‘come out’ and said she’d like a man to treat her like a ‘real’ woman. (of course, in bruce-land, this doesn’t mean he was gay, no sirree) Sorry but you were gay all along Bruce. What an unholy mess. On the bright side Cait is getting flak from all sides as her progressive trans buddy pointed out, like a true feminist, that you don’t need a man to define you!! Ha! God help Cait/Bruce if he has to navigate feminism, the poor right wing capitalist narcissist didn’t bank on going quite that far. Being a woman is all about pretty dresses and make-up isn’t it? We may yet see his biggest transition yet, from media construct with reactionary views, to liberated feminist and then, realising she/he has mutilated himself, back to being a gay man happy in his OWN skin.

    • GallusMag Says:

      That will never ever happen because Bruce Jenner is not a gay man. Bruce is not sexually attracted to men. His sexuality (Autogynephilia) is a distinctly heterosexual one. Bruce states: “It would be very attractive to me to have a guy treat me like a woman.”

      The object of Bruce’s attraction is not the nameless, faceless man who acts as a foil in his fantasies of being “treated like a woman”, but himself, as the entity he calls “her”, (himself as “Caitlyn”). Autogynephila is an Autosexuality, where oneself is the object of desire. In Bruce’s scenario the male partner’s role is similar that of a bystander subjected to an exhibitionist’s display on a subway platform: regarded only as an object to facilitate one’s own self-directed eroticism. This has nothing to do with homosexuality. Gay men are attracted to male partners and male bodies. In fact they like them quite a bit!

      Fellow Auto Jenny Boylan’s response to Bruce was: “You don’t need a man to make you a woman. A woman can make you a woman.” By this he means that Bruce can also use a woman partner as a foil to act out his fantasy of inhabiting a female body. Which is what Boylan does.

      Blanchard used the term “pseudo bisexual” to discuss the sexuality of many autogynephiles. This is distinct from true bisexuality as the partner is incidental to the true sexual orientation: Male sexual desire to inhabit a female body.

      So no. Bruce is not and will never be any sort of gay man.

      • kesher Says:

        Explains why the autogynephiles are so fixated on lesbians. They can only be the object of desire when the partner is attracted solely to women.

      • Bea Says:

        Eeeeyup and “straight” men know another “straight” man would fuck another man in a pinch, so they fixate on “conquering” lesbians as a part of their “conquering womanhood” quest. The final frontier.

        By the way I saw some dude who decided to transition 3 months ago (because he thought that he would make a “hotter girl” than he does a boy) celebrating Women’s Day, saying “the one day a year we get to be equal.” I wanted to rip his dumb wig off for appropriating women’s suffrage. Seriously? How far is this going to go.

        GallusMag for president 2016.

      • Susan Nunes Says:

        Yep. He is straight as an arrow. He won’t “do” men, even if they pretend they are women such as Brendan McDaniel aka Candis Cayne.


      • For autogynephiles lesbians (and sometimes men) are there for identity validation. They need others to act out their fantasies. The feelings and desires of others don’t matter to them. That’s why they they get so angry if women don’t want to date them and feel repulsed by them.

      • sula Says:

        Wow, thank you for clarifying ‘autogynephelia’, Gallus, I’d not thought of it like that. You’re right, he could never simply be gay. You can see it in the way he ‘competes’ to be the most ‘attractive’ woman, even against Kendall (apparently) in the latest episode he makes some silly comment about himself being a model on the catwalk. Yuck, they really are vile. This is a twisted perversion and an insult to women. I never thought I’d feel sympathy for Kris Jenner but despite her awfulness her sense of being used and exploited is common to a lot of wives who have to put up with this indulgent nonsense from disturbed narcissists.

  15. LisaT Says:

    Sorry I do not buy it.

    Their story is so unlike anyone who actually transitions and the process they go through.

    They never saw a gender specialist, who do not give out approval for HRT in lucky bags by the way. They would have probably have diagnosed them as not being trans at all and then been helped to become comfortable with their gay and feminine sides.

    Gender therapists do NOT push ‘being trans’ at all. For a long time they actually saw their job to prevent people becoming ‘trans’. Nowadays they see it is working with the person to help them become comfortable with themselves, whatever that may be.

    For example: If they are a gay male who likes to be gender fulid, then they will work with them to help them become comfortable with that (that is real example of a friend of mine in therapy by the way).

    That person was never were a serious ‘part timer’, presenting as a female socially at times, while still being male for work (etc). being part time is like an apprenticeship, where you work out how you feel and what you want to do.

    Many people never move past this point and are quite happy to be ‘gender fluid’, present as male one day, female the next. I have many friends like that, happy with both their masculine and feminine sides. And from all ages, genders and sexualities.
    The ranges form those who do that only occasionally to those who it is quite a major part of their lfe. But they are happy being both.

    Obviously they were never on HRT which consists of two parts: estragon (of course) and a testosterone blocker.
    Now when you are on a Tblocker your libido dies, so if you are only motivated sexually you soon stop transitioning, because your sex drive is gone. it really comes down then to an innate gender drive.
    Your testosterone is gone, so all this claimed ‘male sex drive’ no longer exists.

    Plus quite a few trans people are and always have been actually asexual, they have never have had much of a sex drive or orientation ever.

    So for this person to claim that ‘they were on the path’ to transitioning does not add up at all. if they were they would have been doing many other things first.

    If they had actually seen a gender specialist they probably would have been helped to work out themselves and ended up doing what they did in the end, only earlier. They should have done that far sooner.

    • GallusMag Says:

      Lisa T- What a mystifying analysis you offer. You are “disputing” specifics of the OP’s narrative that have not been offered. It’s as if your comment is a tone-deaf recitation of some sort of internal narrative of your own, disconnected from reality and seemingly driven by a motor.
      I suggest you familiarize yourself with transgender issues (you can start by googling “informed consent”) and also Ray Blanchard’s theory of Autogynephilia. If you had, you would know that many Autos desire a reduced sex drive because it may help relive some of the more compulsive aspects of their Autosexual obsession, which often feel dangerously out of their control. (To others, having synthetic female hormones coursing through their veins is an erotic experience). You would also then understand how Asexuality is placed within Blanchard’s paradigm. This information should be interesting to you as a late transitioner merging into his fetish persona after a lifetime of erotic crossdressing (Or as you call it, “being a serious part-timer”). The OP is a gay man, so whatever he did or didn’t do vis a vis experimentation on his Jendur Jurney will have no relation to your experience of transvestic fetishism. That is why his narrative may seem unfamiliar to you.

      In the future, please direct your comments on the experiences of others away from the clanking gears of your internal motor and instead direct your focus outwardly, towards the other whose experience you are addressing, which may be different from your own.

    • dbrvnk Says:

      “Obviously they were never on HRT which consists of two parts: estragon (of course)”

      not to be confused with Oestrogen, a notable character in Beckett’s Waiting for Godot

    • Free Jason Says:

      I can understand why you don’t buy this, because I’m not selling the standard line. I was seeing a gender therapist. This therapist was trans. I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria and after a few months of therapy, encouraged to try HRT. It isn’t something my insurance would cover so I saved up for that and electrolysis.

      I’m fortunate that I didn’t go through with it because the pause gave me time to catch my breath and get off the track. Yes, if given a magical choice where I would have been born female vs. male, I would still choose female. Does that mean I need to play mad scientist with my endocrine system and let a surgeon take a go at perfectly healthy flesh? No. Does it mean that I have a right to female spaces such as bathrooms and locker rooms? Nope.

      There are many reasons why I would choose to be female over male if given the magical choice. Throughout all of my life, the people who made me feel like a genuine human being have more often than not been women, and the people who have been cruel have more often than not been men. Yes, almost all of my childhood friends were female. Yes, I’ve always felt an affinity to things that our society labels as female. Yes, I did on numerous occasions present ‘female’ in private settings with friends and lovers. And yes, I am a dude. None of those things make me a woman any more than if I were to get my name changed and go full-time. As a gay man, I still think that the better human beings on this planet are more often than not women. As a gay man, I still prefer friendships with straight women because we tend to have many common interest. As a gay man, I still find joy in a number of things labeled ‘feminine’. And while many gay men are quite masculine, some of us aren’t, and the great thing that being gay was supposed to be about is a liberation from arbitrary gender norms. That spark of liberation, which represented our society’s greatest hope for freedom from gender norms, seems to have ebbed in the 21st century. Now, instead of cheering on those who defy gender expectations, we cheer them on if they try to align their bodies to them through potentially dangerous medical intervention.

      The nature of the cure for gender dysphoria isn’t medical, it’s social. I don’t know what it ‘feels’ like to be a woman–given that there are nearly 3.5 billion women on this planet all with unique experiences, perhaps nobody can define what it ‘feels’ like to be a woman since there is such a broad range of experiences that women live through. (With all due respect to Caitlyn Jenner, it certainly isn’t the same feeling as being able to wear nail polish, judging by the billions of women who have never worn nail polish). But I do know this: if I were a woman, I would be harmed by the gender norms which enforce male power and would want to resist them. I will do my small part to resist those norms as a gay man. For one thing, I’m not going to medically modify my body to endorse those norms. I’m not going to partake in the attempt to colonize safe spaces for women. I will recognize that when men mock or discriminate against me for characteristics that are typically associated with women in our society, that this is part of a larger problem of misogyny and male power. Many of those men would probably prefer that I reshape myself into a female-shaped sex object subject to their lust rather than live on as a discomfortable reminder to them that their power structure is arbitrary since gender is arbitrary. I refuse.

    • nonny Says:

      Detransitioned female here. I’m so tired of people calling out stories as phony when people report getting their hormones so easily. I saw a “gender specialist” for TWENTY MINUTES before I got my “papers” for HRT. She didn’t even charge me for the session! She kept rolling her eyes and apologizing for the questions that she “had to” (her air quotes) ask me. She joked about how in the future, people would be able to get their papers “from a vending machine.”

      She knew I had been on two antidepressants for years. Even though I felt desperate for my papers, I also wanted to talk to someone about all of it. I asked her if I could please come back and see her a couple more times over the next month or two, or if she could refer me to someone else for talk therapy. I specifically expressed a need to talk to someone about why I felt the need to do all of it. She instantly got very impatient and annoyed and literally waved her hand at me, and that was that.

  16. Artemis Jade Says:

    Big New York Times front-page above-the-fold profile of transgender Judge Phyllis Frye. One of the big themes I get from the article is how much the transgender movement yoked itself to the gay rights movement. The most striking paragraph: “Yet from the time their far younger movement coalesced, most transgender advocates felt kinship and a practical need to ally themselves with the large, relatively well-financed gay movement. “We realized that we should have a parallel movement, but also needed to be dug into the L.G.B.T. movement…..At a certain point, we said, ‘No more moving gay people ahead without trans people.’ ”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/30/us/transgender-judge-phyllis-fryes-early-transformative-journey.html?_r=0

    • Margie Says:

      “practical need to ally themselves with the large, relatively well-financed gay movement”

      Translation: “We saw that the gays and lesbians had money and we wanted to steal it, and we saw that they had a labor force and we wanted to exploit it. So we did.”

      Vile. And the rest of the paragraph is an admission of what I have been saying for years: their relationship with LGBs is parasitic. They “dig in” to our movement the way a tick burrows into the skin of a host and, once ensconced, they retard our progress, holding it hostage to their demands. And all the while, they maintain their “parallel movement” which is unencumbered by any sense of obligation to LGBs. In fact, LGBs are major funders of the trans-only groups. Why on Goddess’s green Earth do we allow this to go on? Why aren’t the quotes in this article shouted back at every “LGBT” organization which helps perpetrate this hijacking?

    • Artemis Jade Says:

      Headline: Why Transgender Women Chanted ‘We Are Not Gay Men!’ At An AIDS Conference

      http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2015/09/17/3701612/transgender-aids-protest/

      They’ve discovered a new form a violence, besides “misgendering”, that they are subject to: “The new plan abandons the trans-specific strategies altogether, essentially erasing the unique experiences of transgender people with HIV, what Salcedo describes as “structural violence.”’

      I have to agree with the notion that the trans movement fetishizes violence.

      • kesher Says:

        Next up: Statistics on HIV/AIDS being official turned to shit because MTTs who have sex with men are now counted as “straight women”. Can’t wait to get lumped in with men who have unprotected sex with other men because condoms hurt their “identities” as “straight women”.

  17. Artemis Jade Says:

    Ellen DeGeneres says she’s ‘trying to understand’ how a transwoman like Jenner could be a homophobe, but I’m trying to understand Ellen DeGeneres. Is she really this dumb/uninformed or is she being disingenuous? How hard would it be for someone like DeGeneres to get educated on this subject? My most optimistic interpretation is that she is stealthily getting the word out to mainstream America that this trans thing is not in the same vein as prior civil rights causes. And perhaps also she wants to maintain her credibility with the LGB community.

    http://www.ew.com/article/2015/09/08/ellen-degeneres-caitlyn-jenner-gay-marriage

    • kesher Says:

      Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but I want to believe that Ellen doesn’t buy this crap. I remember she was dragged by trans activists a few years ago for her Liza Minnelli drag queen joke at the Oscars, and it didn’t seem like she even responded to their outrage. (Although someone correct me if I’m wrong.)

      Ellen came out when it was still dangerous to do so. She’s paid her dues. Why should she align herself with a straight man who only “came out” when it was convenient for him? She’s also been in Hollywood long enough to know what a misogynistic, homophobic, old, wealthy white man looks like.

      I doubt she’d ever be overtly trans critical. Even beyond fearing the backlash, it doesn’t align with her cute, cuddly image, but I just really doubt she accepts the idea of trans “lesbians” or “female penis”. She’s old enough not to have been brainwashed by queer theory.

  18. Jossie Says:

    I’m a “non-binary trans person”, male.

    The Letter, and all these comments (particularly from OP and coelacanth) resonated in me more than any kind of trans-narrative. For this reason I’m inclined to think I’ve found my real true ultimate innate self.

    I find it depressing that I intuitively had theorized that this (the OP’s ideas about himself) is the case in me too! But I didn’t have any confidence in my thinking because of intense pressure of the trans-narrative, and went into the trans-wagon, and have experienced intense dysphoria (evidently intensifying in times when the “wrong body/role/sex”-paradigm is enforced in my mind). I had my suspections still, and more than a few times have felt that I probably hadn’t have gender confusion if I was a homosexual, because I suspected that then I would have integrated my feelings and aspects in a different way, due to having been exposed to more fitting role-models.

    I felt for a time that my inner feelings (“essence”) and my outer self was an abomination. Then I realized that I exist, and because I exist, I exist (ridiculous, but true). I can only be what I am, whether it makes me unattractive, ugly, uncool, whatever, or whether my feelings “fit” with my look. I think it’s very disturbing that I actually feel like an outlaw for thinking like this!


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