Cognitive Dissonance is the feeling of discomfort we get when what we perceive clashes with our expectations. We all walk around in a mental model of the world. That should be obvious. But this is an immensely sophisticated system. When you enter a space for the first time your eyes target the most important elements and your mind blocks in the rest. As the moments pass, in response to sensory stimuli, the less critical areas are built up in your mental model in much the same way a as a computer works ‘in the background’
This process relies on assumptions that are made at a cognitive level. The sky is blue. I can measure that by using a type of light meter called a colour temperature meter. So while I cannot know how you perceive blue, I do know that whatever blue looks like in your head, the sky is that colour and we can agree on it.
What if you walked outside and the sky was yellow? I’m not talking about some beautiful sunset, just the regular sky. Ten minutes ago it was blue, now it’s yellow. What do you think of that?
Well actually, the chances are that you would not notice. Your mind would see the information but because it knows the sky is blue, it would refuse to see it as yellow and so would not update the mental model. You would see it as blue, therefore. In less dramatic terms, this is what happens when you ‘never noticed’ that a landmark building has been demolished or you can’t see the 15mm wrench that hangs on the board behind the bench when it is actually on the bench, right in front of you. The mind doesn’t expect to see it there, so it just doesn’t process that information.
This is a very clever system that multiplies the already remarkable power of the brain by using what are in effect software short-cuts. We do this all the time.
Cognitive dissonance happens when, for whatever reason, that neat little trick does not work.
There is another form, however, but the example above illustrates it well. This is what happens when we have developed an idea that something is a certain way, but in fact it is not.
Human sexuality is subject to this form of Cognitive Dissonance, but before I continue, let me make the following clear: while I think that hormone therapy should be available to young males under the age of 18, in appropriate cases, Genital Reconstruction Surgery should not be and it is completely inappropriate for any child under puberty to be ‘transed’. Just do nothing must be the appropriate course of action. On the other hand, while GRS is never a desirable route, it is also inappropriate for genuinely homosexual, gender non-conforming boys to be conditioned that being a gay ‘man’ is a better prospect than living successfully as a woman. This is demonstrably and provably not the case and there is no justification for condemning young people to a life of misery.
Autogynephilia and Cognitive Dissonance
I have already written about autogynephilia (AGP), ‘a man’s propensity to be aroused at the thought or image of himself as a woman’. Although individuals who display this are the more common form of Male to Feminine (MtF) trans in the West, in apparent terms at least, they are not really transsexual and have invented for themselves the term ‘transgender’. These individuals are non-homosexual. They have been known by many names, for example, ‘Pseudo transsexual’, Type 2 etc. I use the term autogynephilic or AGP. Essentially, in this, a man’s sexual interest is reflected back onto himself such that he becomes the object of his own erotic desire. But because the man is heterosexual, he experiences Cognitive Dissonance because his body is male. He looks in the mirror hoping to see a woman who excites him sexually, and instead sees a man.
This is a problem. Depending on how severe his Cognitive Dissonance is, the subject may purchase women’s clothing or wear make-up so that when he looks in the mirror he sees something that approximates to the mental image he has of himself as a woman. As time goes by, this will develop a personality. and if this personality gets strong enough, it can take over. This is what happened to Bruce ‘Caitlyn’ Jenner.
Thus Cognitive Dissonance is strongly implicated in autogynephilia, and the actual transition, either partial or complete, is an attempt by the subject to resolve the conflict between what he really is and what his mental image of himself is.
This Cognitive Dissonance is the cause of the feeling called Gender Dysphoria (GD) , which used to be called Gender Identity Disorder (GID). The AGP subject often experiences GD as an intense revulsion for those parts of his body that conflict with his invented self-image as a woman. This can be fixated on the genitalia but is not always. If it is so fixated, the GD develops a new dimension, in which the subject begins to loathe the pleasure of orgasm, because that is centred on his penis. Even if he learns to orgasm through anal penetration, he is still aware that a penis is involved. This leads to feelings of powerful revulsion and guilt, which are reinforced every time the subject masturbates. So GD in this case is not only powerful but increasingly so. The more the man excites himself as a woman, the more he will want to masturbate and the more he will hate his penis — and that means his male self — for doing so.
Reminded that they are men
Unfortunately, especially for the elderly-transitioning Western AGP, there is no escape from this. Even Genital reconstruction Surgery will not help, since every time the subject looks in the mirror he is perfectly well aware that he is looking at a man. That is why being reminded that they are men is so distressing for them. (Here it is worth mentioning those AGPs who insist on calling themselves men or wearing beards. This might be a form of masochistic emasculation fetish in which the subject is, bizarrely, relieved from his GD by appearing to be a man who has been turned into a woman.)
Therefore, except in the case of those who present young enough for testosterone blocking and HRT therapy to actually be successful enough for them to pass, transition seems inappropriate. For elderly, by which I mean over 25 in the case of AGP transitioners, in most cases, it will never provide the desired relief and the evidence shows that it has no benefit on suicide or self harm rates, while at the same time a married man at this stage of life can cause massive and permanent damage to wife and family, not to mention the likelihood of losing everything — career, family, home, marriage. It is very hard indeed to see this as a positive outcome.
There are ways of combating the GD caused by AGP but these are all too often dismissed. Yet they work. Some men survive all their lives by wearing women’s underwear or hose under their working clothes. Others are content with occasional ‘dressing’. In these cases psycho-analysis could be used to establish what the ‘talisman’ or charm might be that would assuage the autogynephilia and thus provide relief. The problem is that transitioned AGP men exhibit confirmation bias and so attempt to deny their condition and block any research into it — thus ensuring that more men will go through the misery that they do.
What about HSTS?
The other form of Male to Feminine transsexualism is HomoSexual TransSexual or HSTS. In this, subjects are exclusively and actively attracted to men from childhood. They typically will begin having crushes on men from six years of age up and probably will be markedly Gender Non Conforming (GNC) as prepubescent children. As they develop they will manifest a range of physiological characteristics: they will tend to be small but if they are tall they will be slender; to be lightly built; to show neoteny (baby face) have naturally softened speech with feminised sibilants, digit ratios close to the average for women etc.
This is the classic ‘True’ Transsexual, sometimes known as ‘Type 1’ and those in the group have adopted the name ‘transkids’ or former transkids’ because of their childhood history of GNC.
This type’s relationship to Cognitive Dissonance is interesting. In fact they are on a developmental scale with feminine homosexual ‘men’, that is people with a similar set of characteristics and orientation as HSTS but who present as men.
HSTS transition to avoid Cognitive Dissonance, much as AGPs do, but in their case, this is far more successful. HSTS are naturally feminine and can easily pass as women, whereas AGPs, even if they transition young, almost never do. As this picture shows, even in SE Asia, where AGPs are often significantly less masculine than the Western elderly transitioning profile, it is still easy to spot the small cute HSTS and the tall, heavily built AGPs.
These HSTS have no difficulty passing as women, either in the eyes of the broader society or in their own; so where is the Cognitive Dissonance? Essentially, they are completely relieved of this by transitioning.
Those homosexual males who do have Cognitive Dissonance are those they left behind, the gay men. As Dr James Cantor recently said, nearly all gay men will at some time have thought themselves to be women. By becoming men they cause a Cognitive Dissonance pattern to be formed which they will then have for the rest of their lives.
A queen hates a beautiful princess
This is why gay ‘men’ exhibit such hostility towards HSTS and are constantly trying to de-legitimise them as ‘failed gay men’: there is nothing a queen hates more than a beautiful princess. Even when HSTS age, as long as they have been careful with their life habits and maintained hormone balance within the normal female range, they will just look like graciously ageing women, as April Ashley attests so well. There is nothing to trigger Cognitive Dissonance at all.
Not so the effeminate gay ‘man’ who missed his opportunity in his late teens or early 20s to halt his masculinisation and to live as a woman.
There is no separation between orientation and gender: to desire to be penetrated makes a male into a woman, in this context. And anyone who knows gay men well knows that this is something they are aware of. As Cantor observed, ‘perhaps feminine homosexual men are just not fully-formed HSTS transwomen.’
The evidence of our eyes is clear: HSTS have a very distinct set of characteristics and these are closely matched by those of fem gay men. We know from neurological studies that both show deviation from the norm for males in the same area of the brain, though not identically. There is a strong case to be made that HSTS and fem gay ‘men’ have a form of intersex. This is consistent with Dr Guillemon’s conclusions in his 2016 review paper.
That would suggest that in this sense, albeit not a reproductive one, HSTS are far closer to women and that this is the result of an innate condition, the cause of which we do not yet know. It has been suggested that in-utero testosterone delivery might be the cause, but increasingly, studies are positing a genetic dimension to homosexuality in males — so any in-utero innate cause would have to be acting on the mother. On the other hand it might be that the individuals themselves are simply more resistant to testosterone, in something like a version of Partial Androgen Insensivity Syndrome.
What is not in doubt is that these individuals are, sexually at least, women. So if one such grows into a man, then he will always experience Cognitive Dissonance, every time he looks in a mirror. HSTS (ie, those who transition) do not have this Cognitive Dissonance, since their reflection in the mirror is consistent with their sexual persona. This is likely why HSTS tend to be well adjusted, balanced people, whereas gay ‘men’ are anything but; although the constant bullying these males get from more masculine gays must have something to do with it.
Cognitive Dissonance is also implicated in the GD that HSTS feel but it is of a different nature to that felt by AGPs. It is very rare to hear an HSTS say she hates her genitalia. Most, even if they will not use them with a partner, like the sensations they provide. GD in HSTS is essentially social in nature; it often devolves to a fear of discovery, especially if they are living in stealth. For many, it is about simple things like being able to wear a bikini to the beach with no risk of ‘anything slipping out’. A recurrently-heard fear, however, is that, should they be involved in an accident, their genitalia might be exposed to public view and they would be revealed to be transsexual. This is no light fear; there are reported cases where emergency responders have refused to treat an accident victim in these circumstances.
In SE Asia, however, this is far less pressing because HSTS, along with Asian-profile AGPs, who transition young, as well as fem gay ‘men’ inhabit a discrete social space. They never, in my experience, claim to to be ‘real girls’ but they are still, in their own minds, ‘women inside’. Very few HSTS in these cultures have GRS and this is one reason why — there is no pressing social need for them to do so, since most people, and certainly all in their village or barangay, know they are not real women.
They are on relatively low doses of hormones , typically one or two birth control pills a day, and it is unjustified to suggest that this causes long-term harm. Remember, these individuals are naturally feminine; the hormones, to which they respond extremely well, just finish off the job.
Although I have grave reservations about cosmetic surgery like GRS in all cases, I find that it is hard to justify denying transition to an adolescent who is diagnosed as MtF HSTS and wishes to. This individual’s life path is clear: he is homosexual. He will either be a gay ‘man’ or an HSTS. The fact is that for many, greater life success will be found, more easily, if they transition and they will never be subject to the appalling Gender Dysphoria that afflicts so many gay ‘men’ because they will not experience the Cognitive Dissonance of looking in the mirror and seeing a man.
It seems egregiously cruel to condemn young individuals to a life of constant Cognitive Dissonance in order to satisfy the demands of the New Gay Man orthodoxy that says that gays must always present as men. This is a recent phenomenon, originating in the 1960s and it has no historical or objective basis. It is an artefact of Western society, which is not at all the case with HSTS. The documentary and archaeological evidence makes it clear that HSTS have always been present in our communities, alongside effeminate gays.
If the subject is sufficiently mature (which does NOT include pre-pubescent children, ever) to consider the matter, fits the HSTS profile — which is easy to establish — and wishes to transition then it is not only inappropriate but cruel to hinder that, with the caveat that GRS should only ever be available to individuals who have reached their legal majority.
Also published on Medium.