In the last few years the terms transgender, transsexual and transvestite have become more mainstream than anyone could have thought a scarce ten years ago. But along the way they have become distorted and confused. So we need to look at them again and define what the words transsexual, transgender and transvestite actually mean.
Science has known for over a hundred years that some born males desire to dress as women. This may be partial secret cross-dressing, or it may be a compelling need to live as a woman all the time. Several attempts were made to categorise these. The best known was by Dr Harry Benjamin in the 1960s. Benjamin was one of the first to define ‘transsexualism’ as a desire to live full time in the gender opposite to the sex one was born, often with cosmetic affirming surgery. He posited a scale of intensity from occasional transvestism to full-blown transsexualism, in which the subjects strongly desired Genital Reconstruction Surgery to reshape their penises into simulated vaginas.
The word ‘transsexual’ became current in the 1960s. Prior to this, all such expressions, of born males appearing or wishing to appear as women, were called ‘transvestite’, meaning ‘cross-dresser.’ It was only with the development of successful GRS techniques that ‘transsexual’ was adopted.
Benjamin did not dig into the causes of these phenomena; as a clinician his goal was to make his patients’ lives easier. Trying to understand the actual causes of the desire on the part of some born males to appear to be women some or all of the time, was left to later researchers, notably Dr Ray Blanchard, whose work remains definitive.
Dr Ray Blanchard proposed that there were two (and only two) underlying causes for the phenomenon of what he called transsexuals, meaning those born male who desired to appear to be women and who requested surgery. He did not research into the broader field of transvestism, except by limited extrapolation, simply because they were not presenting to him for help.
There were two distinct profiles of born-males coming forward for GRS. One type tended to be, on average, smaller, lighter, slighter in relation to height, prettier, more feminine, and usually had little difficulty ‘passing’ as women. These individuals presented young, in their teens or early twenties, would have had a history of cross-dressing and other gender non-conforming behaviours in childhood, ie, before puberty, and most importantly, they were uniquely attracted to men, with whom they wished to have sex in the submissive role. This profile Blanchard termed ‘HomoSexual TransSexual’ or HSTS, though they often prefer the term ‘transkids’.
Blanchard suggested that these individuals’ sense of gender was rooted in their sexual desire for men; nobody has ever convincingly challenged this.
The other type were not like that at all.
They were, on average, taller, larger, heavier in proportion to height, masculine, unfeminine and not pretty and had extreme difficulty ‘passing’. These individuals would have had no history of GNC behaviour before puberty, though they might report some fantasy experiments, and generally would have been seen as very masculine men. They were ‘alpha males’ and likely would have had typical masculine careers, often in the military. Their median age was older, 43 in Blanchard’s samples, and they were almost always married or had been so. They usually had children and often, the point of their ‘coming out’ coincided with the time that these became independent.
Blanchard, like others before him, had little difficulty in describing the first type, his HSTS. The second was far more complicated. He identified three different sexualities — gynephilic (attracted to women), bisexual and analloerotic. There were also at least four different categories. What they had in common was that the subjects became aroused by the idea of themselves as women. Blanchard categorised this type as ‘autogynephilic’, AGP, and defined autogynephilia, the root commonality as:
‘A man’s propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman.’
Men in men’s bodies
Thus Blanchard organised a baffling array of presentations into two: HSTS and AGP. This typology has been repeatedly supported and is the basis of today’s scientific understanding of transsexualism.
Further, Blanchard related HSTS to feminine gay men and AGPs to cross-dressing fetishists. Almost all AGPs will have dressed in women’s clothing, or imagined themselves to be women, to masturbate or even have sex at some point in their past; Bruce ‘Caitlyn’ Jenner is a case in point. Almost all HSTS will have wondered if they were gay men at some point in the past.
Blanchard identified ‘Gender Dysphoria’ (GD), as the stimulus for a perceived need to fully transition. This he described as an overwhelming sense of discomfort with the ‘gender presentation’ society considered ‘normal’ for one’s birth genitalia. Here, Blanchard was simplistic. GD does appear to factor into the need for transition, but it is clear that it is not quite the same for the two types. For AGPs it devolves to a loathing of their male organs and features, while for HSTS it’s about being more realistic women in order to attract male partners.
Very few AGPs are able to attract male partners, certainly in the West, because they are simply too masculine. However the nature of their dysphoria — a detestation of all that is male about them — should give us a clue to the underlying psychological impetus.
This was never discussed by Blanchard, nor did he speculate as to why it was that some men, who were attracted to women, desired to appear to be women. He simply described and defined the condition. As I once wrote, one doesn’t really need to know how a patient came to break his leg in order to identify a broken leg. Blanchard seems to have taken the view that discussion of underlying psychology was outside his remit as a clinician, and concentrated on the symptoms, which was a perfectly sound and professional approach.
It does, however, leave open the question: what provokes autogynephilia?
HSTS is easy. Blanchard showed that morphologically, these were on average more ‘like women’ than men. They tended to be small, light, petite and feminine in features. They had other behavioural features that made them more similar to the average woman, such that Blanchard himself said that ‘When it becomes possible to test for this, HSTS will be found to have brains more like women’s than men’s.’ This was proven in 2011 in MRI studies by Rametti et al.
HSTS are feminine
Essentially, these individuals are so feminine that appearing to be masculine is
almost impossible for them; they could never be mistaken for a straight ‘alpha male’. Their choice is to be seen by the culture around them as effeminate gay beta males or as beautiful women. With great enthusiasm, they adopt the latter.
Further, as has been documented for millennia and remains the case today, these individuals desire to play the receptive role in anal sex. They have absolutely no interest whatsoever in having gay men as partners. (Don Kulick describes this well in his 1996 book Travesti, about Brazilian transsexual women.) They want straight, masculine, powerful, alpha-male partners who will penetrate them. Very few have any interest in reciprocating and even if they do, they will not establish a relationship with a man who accepts penetration, because they recognise that he is as they are.
AGPs, however, are much more complex. In the first place, in the West, perhaps 60% or more remain exclusively attracted to women. About 20% become attracted to men. Blanchard called this ‘pseudo-bisexualism’, since it develops as a function of a growing pseudo-feminine character that the AGP has invented. AGPs are exclusively gynephilic until this character grows, so their bisexualism should be seen as a form of role-play. Then there are the analloerotics, whose sexual satisfaction is entirely internalised and who do not have sex with partners; nevertheless, their underlying attraction is gynephilic. So all AGPs are gynephilic at base.
But why is this happening? Doesn’t it seem a little strange? Why would a gynephilic alpha-male want to appear to be a woman? We know from the studies by Savic and Arver that AGPs have brains ‘indistinguishable from men’s’. They are NOT ‘women trapped in men’s bodies’, they are, as Dr Anne Lawrence put it, ‘men trapped in men’s bodies.’ Blanchard had showed that their ‘sense of gender identity’ was rooted in their male sex drive, but he never explained how this was working.
Most researchers either ignored or struggled with this until recently. Dr Charles Moser, for example, suggested that androphobia (hatred of masculinity) might be the root, but this would not explain the 20% or so of pseudo-bisexuals who do pursue sex with men. However, he was on the right track.
The root cause of autogynephilia is a man’s masochistic sexual desire to be emasculated. This is why, in some cases, AGPs hate their male genitalia.
HSTS do not hate their genitalia. In fact they really enjoy the sensations they
get from them. (What they will not usually do is play a masculine, penetrative role in sex.) For an HSTS, GRS is cosmetic. It’s like a nose job: it makes a more convincingly beautiful woman who then has a larger pool of available straight male partners. HSTS are not fools; they know that most straight men reject penises. Remodelling their own into a facsimile of a vagina is designed simply to make them more attractive to these men. HSTS do not seek to be emasculated, because they are complete psycho-sexual inversions. They are, literally, transsexual. Their personalities are consistent in every way with the norm for the sex opposite to that which they were born. They are women in men’s bodies.
AGPs are not like that at all. Their sexual thrill is masochistic. It comes from emasculation: the destruction of their masculinity. However, because they are alpha males, they cannot allow this to be done directly through sex in the way that a receptive gay man might. Especially in the West, where homophobia is rampant, to give themselves to a man, while presenting as one, would be intolerable for them. These men have learned, so deeply that it is ingrained in their personalities, all the poisonous homophobia of Anglo-Saxon Protestant culture. They cannot, as adults, shake that off. It is a part of them and always will be.
AGPs retain a hetero-normative male desire for women: they are gynephilic. When they indulge in sex with men, it is role-play. This is completely different from HSTS. AGPs are not, in any sense, psycho-sexually inverted. They are men with a masculine sexuality whose primary sexual reward comes from masochistic emasculation. Where an HSTS has a close approximation to a woman’s desire for male bodies, an AGP, if he has sex with men, is using them to fuel his emasculation fantasy.
AGPs are therefore not transsexual. So what are they?
In recent years, AGP activists have tried to establish the use of the word ‘transgender’, but this is a political ruse. In the first place, the word has no scientific meaning, because science does not agree on what ‘gender’ is. Many consider that it is just a social construct, a set of behaviours and responses that are taught in childhood. This is simplistic; if gender were not innate, then there should be cultures where there is no gender distinction between the sexes; but there are none. So gender must have an innate stimulus of some sort.
However, most of what we think of gender as is indeed constructed. It’s about clothes, fashion, the social signals we give out to those around us. AGPs, who are men, seize on these external signals and suggest that they are the totality of what gender is. In short, they suggest that it’s about wearing skirts.
Femininity, for these men, is therefore the absence of masculinity. It has no positive qualities in and of itself. It is merely that which is left, when masculinity has been erased. Theirs is a crass parody of femininity: literally, a man’s notion of what ‘being a woman’ might be.
Gender includes far more than appearance. It is about a whole set of behaviours, some of which are innate, but most of which are learned. However, they are learned in childhood and fixed by the time of teenage. One simply cannot ‘learn’ how to be a woman at the age of 25, 45 or 65. It’s too late. And even if it were possible, that is not the desire of these men. Their desire is to make themselves less male, not more feminine; they have no idea what femininity might be, other than the absence of masculinity — the desired end product of their self-emasculation.
An HSTS, on the other hand, can’t be masculine even if she tries; it’s a disaster for her. Her ‘transition’ is just to make sense of a life that cannot be resolved in any other way. She desires to be penetrated by straight men and cannot be masculine. She is repulsed by the New Gay Man ‘scene’ and its constant insistence on faux masculinity — an exercise in pointlessness as far as she is concerned anyway, since she has no interest in gay partners. Becoming a girl is the only sensible solution to her dilemma. HSTS are never misogynistic; but they are in competition with natal women for men as sexual and romantic partners; and because they retain all of a male’s drive, they pursue the goal of feminine beauty with breathtaking determination.
AGPs have none of this. Put simply, a man with a beard wearing a dress is a man with a beard wearing a dress. Gender is more than just a nice print frock and some lipstick; these men are not ‘transgender’. So what are they? They are men in women’s clothing: transvestites.
Transgender has been popularised as a term, by AGP activists, to blur the difference between true transsexuals (Blanchard’s HSTS) and transvestites (his AGPs.) In reality there is no similarity between the two types; one is of genuinely psycho-sexually inverted born males, the other is of men who want to pretend to be women to satisfy a fetish for masochistic emasculation. A moment’s thought should tell you that men who feel that appearing to be a woman is the gravest insult they can attract to themselves — as masochists — must be profoundly misogynistic. Like all masochists, they gain sexual release from that action which they find most demeaning. For some it is to be whipped and tortured and for others to eat faeces; but for AGPs it is to pretend to be women.
We should stop, at once, using the word ‘transgender’. It is a meaningless term that actively demeans women and transsexuals in order to bolster the masturbatory fantasy of fetishistic men. We should deny them this blatant misogyny. They are transvestites.
Transsexual and transvestite
Blanchard’s HSTS are true transsexuals; his AGPs, however, are fetishistic transvestites. He only brought them together because a percentage of both desire GRS. Otherwise there is simply no correlation between the two.
Transsexual, transgender and transvestite therefore form a false proposition. There are only two: transsexual and transvestite, and the differences could not be more clear. We should stop using the term ‘transgender’, because it is a charged, Politically Correct, term designed to favour transvestites against women and transsexuals. From now on, I will use the term ‘transsexual’ to mean what Blanchard meant by ‘HSTS’ and ‘transvestite’ to describe his AGPs.
In the West, during the last two decades, we have seen an explosion in the numbers of transvestite men. This is happening for very specific cultural reasons that are unique to the West. We should be very worried about this. In the next article in this series I will explain how and why it is happening, and why we should be worried.
Also published on Medium.