All male-to-feminine (MtF) trans are EITHER homosexual (exclusively attracted to men from childhood) or non-homosexual (not exclusively attracted to men from childhood.) The latter are commonly known as autogynephilic. This distinction is obvious and has been observed since the 19th century. It is recognised as fundamental by all serious scientists working in the field.
Homosexual Transsexuals (HSTS) exhibit a cluster of trait characteristics in addition to their sexual desire for men. They tend to be small, delicately built, light for their height, naturally feminine and neotenous. They have intense difficulty learning to be masculine, if they ever do. Non-homosexual trans exhibit no such clustering; in fact they conform to the averages for men of their ethnicity and are attracted to women.
The explanation for HSTS is easy and has never been disputed: they desire men and are feminine, so to attract men, whom they know to be attracted to femininity, they make themselves more feminine. Again none of this is true of non-homosexuals; so why on earth might it be that a man, who is not attracted to or seeking to attract men, would want to appear to be feminine?
The great discovery of Dr Ray Blanchard, which solved a mystery that had eluded scientists for a century, was in showing that the stimulus for all non-homosexual MtF trans is attraction to the idea of being a woman. He coined the term ‘autogynephilia’ to describe this: ‘a man’s propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman.’
All expressions of non-homosexual MtF are driven by autogynephilia (AGP). However, since the use of the term ‘non-homosexual’ is often misunderstood by the public and routinely misrepresented by AGP activists, I use the Blanchard term, AGP.
Age of presentation
Many AGP activists make much of the fact that, in Blanchard’s sample, there was a marked difference in age of presentation between HSTS and AGP. His HSTS rarely transitioned after the age of 23, AGPs rarely before 30. This has allowed AGP activists, whose powers of equivocation are highly refined, to suggest that the differences are only in age of transition; but we are already seeing the lie of this as AGPs are appearing younger in the West.
Still, there is a marked preponderance towards elderly transition in the West; so is this a general rule or is it particular to the West? Answering that question is something I have spent a lot of time and effort attempting to do in my travels in Southeast Asia. The fact that here, HSTS and AGPs do not show the same differences in age of presentation, as we see in the West, made this at first difficult. This was compounded because MtF do not see the distinctions between groups in the same way that we do. However, when I was finally able to pick apart the social structure within which it was all happening, it became quite clear.
In this region, the local population does not generally distinguish between gay men, HSTS and AGP at all. They are all grouped together as ‘gays’. Being ‘gay’ (which there means Gender Non-Conforming, born male) is far more important than the subtle differences between the subgroups. Further, the people there always think ‘AGP’ means ‘middle-aged male cross-dresser’ but that is obviously simplistic, as young Western AGPs like Justin ‘Riley’ Dennis prove.
However, once I dug under the surface, I found that Blanchard’s Typology was as accurately descriptive there as in the West. This now makes me postulate that AGP does indeed occur at roughly similar prevalence everywhere. The crucial difference from the West is the age of presentation and the culture and society within which individuals develop. These have marked effects on how AGP, and to a lesser extent HSTS, appears.
Like HSTS, most SE Asian AGPs transition in youth, usually in their teens. This is the same in South America. This has confused some researchers, eg Lawrence, who does not work in Asia or S America, and places too high a value on age of transition; in fact, the late transition typical of the West appears to be a function of intense homophobia and social intolerance.
AGP (everywhere) sets on soon after puberty, although there are claims that subjects had diffuse AGP feelings prior to that. These appear to be analogous to the crushes other children have.
In the Philippines, and across the region, the basic social unit is the village — this could be a hamlet or an urban or rural neighbourhood. This is a matriarchy; it is a collection of usually inter-related nuclear families, where the NCOs are first-born sisters, the officers are mothers and the generals are grandmothers. You would see the same in tribal or clan situations all over the world.
The women are in charge, there is absolutely no doubt about that. You never see the men. They are either away working or hanging out together at the basketball court, or one of the strategically placed benches on the periphery of the village.
The group that dominates this, the Home space, I call the Home group, for obvious reasons.
The other group I call the Away group. It comprises ONLY men and it is strictly policed by the members — non-conforming behaviour is not allowed. This rule is so well known and so strictly enforced that any young male who is somewhat ‘different’ is most unlikely to even try to join. Again, Filipinos and other SE Asians do not draw any distinction between gay men, HSTS or AGP. They are all ‘gays’, or ‘bekis’ in the local meaning; no such person can join the Away group.
Home and Away
The Home group is centred on women, led by grandmothers, with great-grandmothers as sort of venerated elders. But it also contains males who, for some reason, can’t make the cut in the Away group. They might be disabled or too old, or injured. It also contains all the young children but also GNC kids, who grow up to be gay and trans. These last are banned from ever being a part of the Away group, because they are considered to be a form of woman. So if you’re a gay boy, yes, you might just wear a dress and your hair long… it doesn’t matter, because as far as the culture is concerned, you’re a girl anyway.
It makes no difference whether you present as a male or a female. You’re still a girl, because you desire men. You can never be a part of the Away group and you probably don’t want to be anyway. Whether you present as a girl or a boy largely depends on social situations; if you get a job where they require you not to ‘crossdress’, you’ll cut your hair, if you get fired, you’ll grow it back. In fact the only distinction that Filipino homosexuals draw between the two types is long-hair and short-hair, and long-hairs have higher status, because, obviously, they are more beautiful and feminine — remember, this is happening inside a matriarchy, where the high-status individuals are all women.
This is not ‘gender fluidity’ in the sense that it is meant in the West; these girls’ gender never changes. They’re always girls. They just dress differently to suit the situation.
Back in the village, the real homosexual boys will probably have begun exhibiting GNC behaviour in childhood. It’s quite clear that effeminate homosexuality is innate, as it occurs in conjunction with other traits. These form a discrete group, easily recognisable to an outsider. Some of these will develop into HSTS.
The advantages of appearing to be masculine — even if one is not really — are often to do with career. If you’re bright and doing well at school, likely to go on to university and work in a ‘masculine’ career, then there is a pressure to remain masculine-appearing. An example might be if a boy wants to be a dentist or a doctor, he would do better not to transition; but if he wants to be a dental hygienist or a nurse, there’s far less reason to hold back.
Of course, there is a balance. An HSTS desires straight men. Only a straight man can satisfy her powerful need. As a gay boy, she can only have the attentions of gay men. Yet whereas HSTS nearly always find older straight men attractive, they find older gay men repulsive. While an HSTS in SE Asia might well have to pay a straight man for sex — that is, for him to penetrate her — she finds this preferable to relationships with gay men, which she regards as lesbian in nature.
One, perhaps surprising, to Western eyes, benefit of the burgeoning Ladyboy Sex Tourism scene in SE Asia is that this makes straight men available who not only want to penetrate our excited HSTS but will pay her handsomely to do it. It is almost too good to be true and is a rare example of how well an untrammelled free market can work. In addition, amongst this sea of passing faces, the men she attracts to her body, there might just be that one — ‘the one’, the ‘life partner’ who will make her simple, fervent dream come true: to be the woman at the centre of a decent man’s life. That so many of the men she encounters are hopelessly unable to provide this is a bitter pill sweetened by the status and beauty that their money can buy her.
Those in the AGP group are not initially attracted to men, but to women; they are gynephilic. But these are collectivist societies and, while women have lesbian relationships all the time, the idea of a person with a penis becoming a woman and still wanting to have sex with women is regarded as ridiculous. So an inversion of what we see in the West happens. Whereas, in the West, young AGPs are conditioned by homophobia and so suppress their pseudo-bisexual desire for sex ‘as a woman’, the very opposite happens in Asia. Young AGPs are encouraged to seek out boyfriends, because real girls have boyfriends…and AGPs want to be real girls.
The company of women
It’s consistently a part of AGP narratives in the West that they prefer the company of women. AGPs in Asia will nearly always talk not of their early crushes on boys but of their preference for the company of girls and how they ‘want to be like girls’. (HSTS do not need confirmation; they know what they are. They just want to get on with it.)
AGPs are not usually able to have sex with girls but they develop a somewhat unique, protective relationship with them (some do indeed have gfs and have sex with them, but most don’t.) Their preference for the company of girls means that they tend to remain in the female spaces. In Filipino villages, this is usually the volleyball court.
Well, if you prefer the company of girls in this culture, you will be assessed as ‘beki’. You don’t get into the Away group either, membership of which is competitive, because of your affinity with women. (This is probably why male rites of passage exits and are so widespread; they literally separate the girls from the boys.) So you’ll be hanging around the volleyball court with the other bekis and there you learn ‘how to be a girl’ — which includes, seeking and finding boyfriends. AGPs here are encouraged, indeed conditioned, to be pseudo-bisexual; but only to act on their pursuit of men and to suppress their heteronormative desire for women.
Now this preference is noted by the members of the Away group, especially the young males who are grooming themselves for entry. They do not hang out at the volleyball court, they hang out at the basketball court; basketball is a masculine contact sport while volleyball is not. In cities, the courts might be in the same building or even be the same court, but the social division is just as rigid.
(Interestingly, in Brazil the difference is football and volleyball.)
So a young AGP finds herself attracted to the company of women and is accepted into that group as long as she behaves in a feminine manner; and she is rejected by the boys for the same reason. So she becomes more intensely feminine. At some stage, usually around 14 in Thailand, a little later in the Phils, she will begin to take hormones and dress, whenever she can, as a girl. Unlike her Western counterpart, she is under little compulsion to be masculine, since she is already known to her peers as beki, and she is most unlikely to ‘hyper-masculinise’, get married young or any of the things typical of the Western profile, since, if she is going to be a girl, she intends to be a beautiful one. And remember, the authority figure in her life is her mother, and usually, mothers are tolerant of beki children. Fathers are often not, but he’s hardly ever around and mum’s cool with it.
Autogynephilic and HSTS: A similar path
HSTS follow a similar path, for totally different reasons. They physically want men (and how.) That immediately bars them from the Away group. (Most HSTS actually prefer the company of men; they are then surrounded by their own sexual targets.) Since they know themselves to be girls (because they want to be penetrated by big hairy men) and they are in competition with real girls, they do exactly what all the girls do; make themselves as beautiful as they can — something which they are surpassingly good at.
So HSTS and AGPs, along with the gay boys, are thrown together in the beki group, which is a subset of the matriarchal Home group. They learn about life from each other; hormones, how to make up, how to dress hair, sewing, etc — and also about boys and sex. AGPs’ natural tendency towards bisexualism — because ‘sex as a woman’ affirms them as women — is emphasised. (A good many remain analloerotic, however; they never actually have boyfriends, they just talk about having them.)
If you take a boy, just any boy but especially one from an ethnicity where males are not very craggy-looking and tend to be small, isolate him from the company of other males, in a space where the authority figures are all women, teach him to dress and make up and stick him on hormones at age 14, you should not really be surprised if, by the time he is 21, he is a pretty glamorous creature. Set beside an HSTS the difference might be obvious, but still. The AGPs might not have the natural delicacy of features or the fine bones, the naturally feminine comportment or neoteny of an HSTS — but they are smart and they can learn tricks that minimise most disadvantages, except, of course, size. (They actually use height to advantage in the beauty pageants they’re forever competing in — the judges like tall girls and five-foot-zip HSTS tend to be somewhat overlooked.)
However, from AGP, HSTS and gay points of view, they are all bekis together and they do not draw distinctions. They have been friends together since childhood and have helped each other through the travails that exist for a GNC person, even in a society like those in SE Asia, where homosexuality is much better tolerated.
The Western mistake
Individuals conforming to the Western profile of AGP do appear in the Philippines but they are rare. The social setup described above is very good at filtering them out and in fact, in the Phils anyway, most late-trans AGPs I know of are actually from ‘Phil-Am’ families; they did not grow up in traditional environments. This tends to support the idea that late transition in the West is the cultural artefact, not the AGP itself.
The mistake American researchers often make is in thinking that white US culture is normal; it certainly is not. Most of the world lives by other rules. It is this assumption that causes them to make the mistake of thinking there were few AGPs in the rest of the world. And to be fair, until about four years ago I was with them. But when you see it all happening before your own eyes, you have to change your opinions to fit the facts.
Also published on Medium.