6. Concluding Thoughts
Blanchard’s work described two types of MtF transsexuals, but made little attempt to outline possible causes. Although he suggested that an Erotic Target Location Error (ETLE) might underlie AGP (and certain other paraphilias), he gave no explanation of how this might occur. This is not a criticism of Blanchard’s work — he can’t be expected to explain everything. Although ETLE may be a useful idea, the ultimate cause of AGP is unknown, despite many theories.
It appears it may be possible to induce AGP-like gender dysphoria in men by means of pornography:
Some men may consciously choose to attempt this in the hope that it will improve their lives. Others may be indulging in a sissification fetish — which might look a lot like AGP, but could be something completely different, or something related, or basically — perhaps — the same thing.
This suggests that (as Blanchard observed) what we call gender dysphoria is not one thing. But not only that — AGP may not be be one thing, either! It could be a variety of different conditions that all manifest in similar ways. If so, those people we call ‘autogynephiles’ are likely to be very diverse in both character and conduct. Blanchard’s theory acknowledges this by outlining multiple types of autogynephilic behaviour. An individual may engage in several of these, or just one. It is a complex condition, and every case is different.
Autogynephiles will vary in how they view women; their vision of the ‘ideal woman’ is also the kind of woman they themselves would like to be — and, in many cases, that they believe themselves to be. This ‘ideal woman’ will often be a stereotype; if the development of AGP is rooted in internalised sex-stereotypes, this is what we would expect to see. But that may not be inherent to the condition.
Like all aspects of the self, an AGPs attitude towards women may change over time. Therefore his presentation ‘as a woman’ may gradually become less sexualised, particularly if he is motivated only by the ‘self-degradation’ of ‘being a woman’, and not by degrading images of women themselves. If he comes to regard ‘being a woman’ as not degrading at all, he may even desist from his AGP tendencies.
AGP may stem as much (or more) from a rejection of masculine stereotypes than from a desire to fit feminine ones. AGPs have rejected manhood. The driving factor for this is misandry, arising from sexist stereotypes of men, to which AGPs are unable or unwilling to conform. They hate themselves for being men, and aspire to be women instead; yet their view of women is inevitably coloured by sexist stereotypes. Like many men, they have an idealised view of women, which no real woman can possibly live up to. Thus, the AGP may hate himself for being a man, and also for his inadequacies as ‘a woman’.
Women often do not appreciate their ‘femininity’ in the same way men do; they may find aspects of it oppressive. For the AGP, this may be hard to understand; to them, womanhood is an ideal state of being, which they long to achieve.
Feminists who insist AGPs are not women may be seen as ‘hoarding’ womanhood; they keep it for themselves, while simultaneously devaluing it with constant complaints about ‘misogyny’. Some AGPs may therefore become jealous — “If I were lucky enough to be a woman,” they think, “I would treat ‘femininity’ with the reverence it deserves; I’d make a better woman than any women ever will!” This jealousy of womanhood may be indistinguishable from misogyny. To some AGPs, womanhood is a glittering prize, controlled by barbarians who refuse to grant them access.
For men, it is easy to feel sympathy for transwomen, whose origin stories contain many elements that resonate with men. Most men, at some point, were humiliated or ridiculed for behaviour regarded by others as feminine. Perhaps we had a favourite teddy-bear, and our friends laughed at us for remaining attached to it for too long. Perhaps we cried too often, or too easily. This behaviour was punished, and we learned to ‘grow out of it’. We learned, in short, to become men.
Pink Floyd: The Wall:
When we hear these stories from transwomen, we remember our own childhood, and how awful it felt to be humiliated for these minor acts of ‘femininity’. It’s easy to imagine how much worse it must have been for a young ‘transgirl’, who must surely have been far more feminine than us, and been punished far more severely. It is easy to sympathise with these individuals, and for our protective instincts to kick in. For we are good men! We protect the weak and vulnerable in society, as real men are supposed to do.
Thus, especially for those of us who are insecure in our masculinity, to think of transwomen as women confirms that — unlike them — we are strong enough to have overcome our childhood ‘weaknesses’, and become men. This makes us very proud.
Feminine qualities are devalued; transwomen are women, and women are weak. To fight for the ‘weak’ among us makes men feel like heroes. So when people say transwomen are men, it is a threat to our own masculinity — subconsciously, of course — because it means manhood is no achievement at all.
On top of this, it encourages those men with stronger, more painful memories of their own ritual humiliation for alleged ‘feminine’ behaviour to question their own ‘gender identity’. These childhood experiences can easy be reframed as transphobia, and evidence of one’s trans-status:
The bar for ‘transition’ is therefore lowered to include potentially any man who suffered from male socialisation. These men may be completely unremarkable — but suddenly, they claim to be trans. With a simple change of pronouns, they cease to be men; they have been women all along!
For men this is much more appealing than a discussion about how male socialisation harms men. Instead, we can call ourselves feminists. We can be brave, gender-nonconforming women; as masculine and aggressive as any man! Now, instead of being a ‘weak’ feminine man, we can be a ‘strong woman’; the toughest of the bunch! We can fight for the rights of every woman — but especially those with penises, who are most marginalised of all.
But despite this, penis-women are the best! They are not like the other girls; they know how to get things done. Where women have failed, they will succeed — and all who oppose them are bigots.
We don’t know what causes transsexualism, let alone transgenderism. It seems likely there are multiple causes; that, like gender dysphoria, transgenderism is not one thing. Most of the underlying reasons for it may be fairly innocuous, but not all. Surely there are meaningful differences between a trannymaxxed incel who regards women as vermin, a feminine heterosexual man who cross-dresses as a coping mechanism for trauma, a sissy fetishist, and a feminine gay man? A reliance on the doctrine of ‘gender identity’ obscures this diversity and prevents further investigation, forcing us to treat every case the same way.
Transgenderism relies on the concept of ‘gender identity’ to explain everything away as normal human diversity, and end the discussion there. It allows any person, for any reason, to announce their ‘gender’ — which can be anything at all, including the moon.
We are supposed to accept whatever they say, though we have no means of knowing whether or not they are reporting this ‘gender’ accurately, and no way of finding out what they mean by it.
What is the difference between a male person who claims to be a woman, and one who claims to be the moon? Is it rooted in their biology, or their psychology — or is it all to do with what hat they like to wear on Tuesdays? The theory of gender identity provides no answers to these questions. It is an empty concept; it explains nothing at all.
And yet this empty concept has become popular, even among those who pride themselves on being ‘rational’. When a person claims to be Jesus or Napoleon, we tend to dismiss them as crazy. So when a man claims to be a woman, why do so many people choose to take them at their word?
One reason could be that many people want simple answers — they don’t want to embark on a major investigation of why a person would claim to be something they are not. Either they are crazy, or they are telling the truth — for many people, it seems, there is no middle ground.
(Thanks to Jane Clare Jones and Kayla Jolie for their invaluable comments on an earlier draft of this essay. All stupidity remains my own.)