Gender fluidity has come much under the spotlight recently. It has been suggested that there are ‘thousands of genders’, ’98 genders’, that ‘gender is a spectrum of gradations’ and even that it doesn’t exist. Yet if you walk down the street in any part of the world, you will see two genders. So how can this be?
This baffling conundrum is what you get when people don’t do enough research. In fact, BOTH the binary model and the gender-spectrum model are valid; but their relationship is being wilfully misunderstood.
In large parts of the world, but best documented in South America and Asia, the principal gender division is not between men and women but between men and ‘not-men’. I have referred to this in other pieces and it was well described by Prof Don Kulick in his 1998 book ‘Travesti’.
There are two distinct types of ‘trans woman’ — transsexuals and autogynephilic transvestites. These are people born male who present as women. Other than that, the two types have no similarity to each other. However, this has been deliberately confused by individuals in one of these types, to advantage themselves at the expense of the other, and also to harm women. This has caused widespread misunderstanding. We need a field guide.
Over the last few decades, particularly in schools and academia, strong masculine role models have been suppressed in favour of emasculated ones. This, today, has led to a situation where the majority of teachers, outside the hard sciences, engineering and maths, are either women or emasculated, effete men.
When I returned to university in 2010 to complete my Master’s I was shocked to see the extent to which this corrosion had progressed — and that was in Scotland. Not only were a majority of teachers either women or emasculated males, the few remaining masculine males were marginalised. There were, literally, no straight male role models. (I became one.)
In other parts of the world, this is a hundred times worse. It is obvious that academia in the US and, increasingly, elsewhere, has been infected by an anti-male social cancer which insists that everything male is bad and everything female is not just better, but so much better that maleness itself must be destroyed.
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.
Few clinical definitions, established by obscure researchers in obscure institutions, referring to an obscure subject, can have caused more brouhaha than Ray Blanchard’s definition of autogynephilia as ‘a man’s paraphilic propensity to be sexually aroused at the thought or image of himself as a woman.’
They have different characteristics, most notable being their primary sexual orientation: HSTS are uniquely attracted to men, whereas AGPs have a complex array of sexualities. These are all based on their autogynephilia, which Blanchard defined as ‘a man’s propensity to be aroused at the thought of himself as a woman’.
We should be aware that ‘arousal’ doesn’t just mean in the sense of becoming sexually excited, though that is a prominent characteristic of AGPs in the West. In fact there appear to be romantic and existential components to autogynephilia, which is a subtle and complex orientation. This has led some writers, for example Dr Alice Dreger, to suggest a definition of ‘amour de soi en femme’ — being in love with oneself as a woman. I would put that slightly differently: being in love with the idea of oneself as a woman.
Autogynephilia was defined by Dr Ray Blanchard. His studies focussed on patients born male who desired Genital Reconstruction Surgery (GRS) to change their male genitalia into cosmetic facsimiles of female ones.
Blanchard’s work is the definitive basis of the science on the subject of male-to-female transsexualism.
He defined, in the first place, a group he called ‘Homosexual Transsexual’ (HSTS). The most important factors that link the individuals together is that they are uniquely sexually attracted to men, in exactly the same way as women are, and that they are remarkably feminine in manners, comportment and appearance. Their parents and siblings would have noticed from an early age that they were ‘like girls’.
‘Identity politics’ claims, on the face of it, that everyone has the right to identify as anything they want, and we all have to accept that. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Brilliant. So egalitarian. And yes, if I decide that I ‘identify’ as a Prosthetic Vogon leading a constructor fleet across the galaxy which intends to obliterate the Earth to make way for an interstellar superhighway, or that I am Superman, Napoleon or for that matter Jesus Christ, then it matters little; I’m just barking mad and decent people will humour me until I become so delusional that I need to be locked up for my own safety. I would be, in common-sense terms, a harmless lunatic.