Restroom rights again
The issue of ‘transgender’ access to female-specific spaces continues to boil up. So let’s look again at what is being said and why it is a problem.
While women-only toilets and other similar spaces may have originally been invented out of misogyny and male entitlement (more intended to keep women out of male spaces than men out of women’s), the fact is that they have come to be seen as a place of refuge, safe havens for women who spend all their lives enduring the proprietorial gazes and more, of the men around them.
The United Sates of America, as we have noted here before, has an appalling track record of misogynistic as well as transphobic and homophobic violence. A woman’s rape, according to recent data, is reported once every six minutes there and the level of under-reporting may be as high as 80% or more. Women in patriarchal cultures are under constant threat of rape, and that is why the safe spaces issue has become important.
The regressive left, with typical stupidity, has seized on this as an issue of ‘transgender rights’ and nothing else. This is a lie. There are two issues here. One is whether women have a right to safe spaces where they can perform private functions without interacting with men, and the other is whether a person born male who ‘self-identifies’ as a woman, can simply overthrow any such right. In other words, does just saying he is a woman allow a person who is externally identifiable as a man to enter a space reserved for women who were born female?
The matter is whether men’s ‘right’, to call themselves anything they like and demand to be treated as such, over-rides women’s right to feel safe. In other words, it is a simple matter of power and hierarchy. Giving people born male who simply ‘self-identify’ as women permission to enter women-only spaces, just says that men’s rights matter and women’s don’t. That simple.
Part of the problem is the idiocy of ‘identity politics’ which contends that we are whatever we say we are and there is an end to it. That’s absurd. If identity counts, it is what we can be identified as by others, not by ourselves. Science progresses on the accurate observation, identification and classification of phenomena from an independent observer’s point of view. Unfortunately, philosophy and politics conspire to muddy issues which are scientifically clear.
Sex and gender are not the same thing. Sex is predetermined and innate, for almost all of us, excepting those few with specific intersex conditions. But we are not talking about them here. The rest of us are either born male or female.
Similarly, there are only two genders, feminine and masculine. One is either a woman or a man, or in some cases, sometimes a woman and sometimes a man. Gender, like sex, is innate. However, there are conditions under which a person’s gender might not match their sex. These individuals are transsexual.
Most of the research that exists — and I am talking about proper research, not academic philosophical twaddle — has been done on male to female transsexualism rather than female to male. The principal researcher whose work informs the current scientific consensus on this is Dr Ray Blanchard, an unsung hero of sexology.
Blanchard was responsible for determining whether patients arriving at his clinic, the Clarke Institute in Toronto, were eligible for surgery to change their physical sex organs from male to female. He called these people ‘transsexual’, which remains the correct scientific term, because they wanted to transform their physical sex.
Blanchard therefore used the term ‘transsexual’ to mean ‘a person who desires to change their physical sex’. The term ‘transgender’ is meaningless in this context; Blanchard was looking at physical reality, not metaphysical mumbo-jumbo. He is a scientist and was applying proper scientific taxonomy and rigour. (It is telling that resistance to his findings, invariably on spurious grounds, comes from a deeply anti-scientific culture, the United States.)
This group was the only one Blanchard studied, and his results have to be taken in that context.
From long before Blanchard, however, researchers had been aware that not all people, who were born male but presented as women, desired Genital Reconstruction Surgery. Dr Harry Benjamin, in the 1960’s, posited a 7-point scale (these are frequently used by biologists) in which only the two most extreme required GRS. Since these scales are typically weighted towards the centre, this means that many individuals had to some degree a gender that differed from their birth sex, but who did not desire or require GRS. To put that another way, many transwomen have penises.
Benjamin did not look deeply into the causes of this dichotomy between gender and birth sex. He was a medical doctor and his aim was to relieve the suffering of his patients.
Blanchard, however, was interested in the causes and very quickly confirmed that, as previous researchers like Freund had noted, there were two distinct profiles of persons presenting, seeking to have their physical sex changed. He was able, over years of methodical research, to categorise these into ‘homosexual’ and ‘non-homosexual’ transsexuals. The first, which he termed ‘HSTS’ were uniquely attracted to men from an early age, typically long before puberty. They may have thought themselves to be gay boys at some stage, but this was an unsatisfactory and uncomfortable role to play and they would transition into women, often in their teens and nearly always before the age of 30. They were so naturally feminine in their looks and comportment that they would routinely be taken for women. It was easy for Blanchard to identify and plot the correlation between these individuals’ sex drive and their gender identity. In other words, HSTS transsexualism is based in male sexuality. However, because HSTS are uniquely attracted to men, they pose no sexual threat to women at all.
Blanchard then asked if male sex drive might be the stimulus behind the other, non-homosexual group. These had no sexual or romantic interest in men prior to transition, were typically much older, often married, and were not feminine in any way. They usually had great difficulty ‘passing’ as women, if they could at all.
Blanchard was able to show that this second group were otherwise normative heterosexual men who had a condition called an Erotic Target Location Error. Most of us are attracted to other people, no matter what our specific preferences are. These individuals, on the other hand, were attracted to themselves, but in the form of women. They typically had a history of dressing up as women to masturbate, and thus had been reinforcing their condition by sexual reward, often for two or three or more decades of their lives. Although they often claimed to have wanted to ‘dress up’ as girls before puberty, this was never out of desire for male partners, but out of desire for themselves, as girls. Thus autogynephilia is also a product of male sex drive.
To recap: all male to female expressions of transsexualism are rooted in male sex drive, but there are two completely distinct forms, HSTS and AGP. The former have no sexual interest in women while the latter do, though their primary erotic or romantic desire is for themselves, in the form of women.
This taxonomy remains the scientific consensus, although nomenclature differs a little. Numerous attempts have been made to scientifically disprove Blanchard’s core conclusions, and all have simply confirmed them.
Unfortunately, autogynephiles often resent the scientific description. To try to get round it, they have developed thing called the ‘brain sex’ theory. This is complete bunk and has no scientific basis, but it has become popular because many autogynephiles are good at manipulating a largely ignorant media.
To understand the resentment it is necessary to understand the development of autogynephilia. The subject has to invent a female character within himself to become attracted to. Through the years of sexual reward, this character becomes stronger and stronger until, one day, it takes over. Now as far as this pseudo-feminine personality is concerned, it always was a woman — and so it was, since the male brain it exists within created it as such. This is the real reason why autogynephiles, who are frequently not in the slightest bit feminine but indeed ultra masculine, claim they were ‘always women inside’.
The most extreme forms of autogynephilia can be treated with GRS. As is said, one gives the subject the body he wants so that it cosmetically conforms to the mental image that the pseudo-feminine constructed personality within the subject expects. The feelings of anxiety dissipate, and the subject can lead a more comfortable, if hardly normal, life. Blanchard’s great contribution to the lives of autogynephiles was in giving a supported scientific justification for performing GRS on them. Little enough gratitude did he get.
Clearly, an autogynephile who has had GRS is not a rape threat to women, because his penis has been removed. It would seem churlish and unkind to make a person who had gone to these lengths use a man’s facility.
However, as Benjamin noted, there is a developmental scale. Not all autogynephiles want GRS, and even if they do, they must pass years living in the appearance of women, before they can. At the same time, these individuals are gynephilic (clue: the hint is in the name). So while they are attracted to themselves as women, they are also attracted to other women. Proof of this is in how many get and remain married. So a pre-operative autogynephile, that is to say, one who retains his penis, remains a potential rape threat.
Now, this was not really too much of an issue. Most autogynephiles are far more excited by their erotic fantasy of being women than by the idea of forcing themselves on other women. Indeed, many have great difficulty in having sex at all, at least with others. So once again, there is little danger to women incumbent on allowing them to use women’s facilities.
The problem has come about because autogynephile activists reject the actual science that describes them in favour of the completely bogus and unsupported ‘brain sex’ theory, that posits, against all the evidence, that gender exists in the brain and is innate. Because of this they have promoted the notion of ‘self-identification’. They basically say ‘only I know whether I am a woman or not, so only I am qualified to say.’
And that might be all fine and dandy except that the ridiculous ‘Identity Politics’ fly-by-nighters have transformed this into ‘a man is a woman if he says he is’. It doesn’t matter how he lives or how he presents, as long as he says he’s a woman, we have to go along with that. And thus a woman’s right to a safe private space is trumped by a man’s ‘right’ to say he is a woman. That is simple misogyny, but this is the cornerstone of the restroom/toilet/bathroom debate: is a man a woman just because he says so?
It’s a ridiculous assertion.
Also published on Medium.