Okay. So, maybe you just woke up after a wild night, looked over the bed and there beside you, happily dreaming away without a care in the world and looking as though butter wouldn’t melt, was a ladyboy; or, if you prefer, a transsexual. Possibly you’re just considering doing this. Maybe you did already, liked it, and are wondering about yourself. Maybe you’re in a relationship with a ladyboy and still confused. So I’m going to answer the question, ‘Am I gay for having sex with a ladyboy’?
This is a pretty popular question, as you’ll see from a casual Google of the terms, but almost none of the answers make any sense. They’re either written by people who have no experience of transsexuals, ladyboys, bonecas — call them as you will, they’re all the same — or they’re written by people with a hidden agenda, trying to promote a particular political point of view.
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’.
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.’
Strömholm ‘s Transsexuals: Les Amies de Place Blanche
Christer Strömholm (1918-2002) was ‘the father of Swedish photography’. A talented and influential photojournalist, he favoured direct contact with his subjects. He never ‘stole’ candid pictures and instead always had a relationship of some kind with the person or people he was photographing.
For over a decade, beginning in 1958, Strömholm documented the lives of a group of transsexual women (male-to-female) living in an area of Paris called the Place Blanche. His body of work is remarkable. In 2011 Aman Iman Publishing in Paris republished it as Les Amies de Place Blanche. The price is a very reasonable 45 Euros.
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.
Transsexualism is high profile these days. But what actually causes it? Who are transsexuals? Since there is clearly a deal of ignorance over this, I’m going to go over the explanations again, in a short series of articles.
Women trapped in men’s bodies?
Many people are familiar with the idea that male -to-female (MtF) transsexuals, or transwomen, are ‘women trapped in men’s’ bodies. At the same time, they probably have heard the inverse about Female to Male (FtM) transsexuals or transmen. That is to say, they are ‘men trapped in women’s’ bodies.
A moment’s reflection should make anyone with a brain ask a pertinent question: how can they possibly know that?
J Michael Bailey’s seminal book, The Man Who Would Be Queen(TMWWBQ) sparked huge controversy when it was published in 2003. The furore it caused, while small in focus, was spectacular in its incandescent rage at the author. This was categorically different from the conservative reaction to works of other controversial authors like D H Lawrence, or even Vladimir Nabokov’s deeply unsettling study of male attraction to pubescent girls. In those, the hostility was principally against the work; not so here. It was J Michael Bailey in person who was vilified.
And to cap that, TMWWBQ is not a work of fiction, but of popular science. It is well written, in non-scientific language, is easy to read and deeply sympathetic to its subject. So what on Earth happened, to provoke such a furious backlash? It included entirely spurious attempts to end Bailey’s career, personal slurs and threats of violence against him. His attackers even accused him of sexually molesting his children.
The campaign against Bailey, coordinated by a small group of internet bullies, amounted to nothing more or less than a blatant attempt at censorship associated with a virulent personal attack on the author. It’s time, now, to revisit this book and see why it caused such a storm in a latte cup. Continue reading “The Man Who Would Be Queen”
I am in a relationship with a transsexual (TS) woman. This places me in a position of responsibility, because my girlfriend, like all her sisters, is in danger. Transsexual women are abused, insulted, and disrespected; but worse, they are beaten, falsely arrested, harassed by authorities that should protect them and frequently murdered.
This means that men like me must stand up and be counted.
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. Or at least, this is the line that feminists have drawn.