Modernity is supposed to be about Progress, progress being made possible by Science, which discovers the Truth about nature. This is so unlike the obscurantism of the old days, where religion blinded and oppressed humanity with dogma and sheer nastiness. The funny thing is that the intellectual elite of modernity didn't come exclusively out of those opposed to the Church(es). To some extent yes, and traditional Catholics in Europe like to tell the tale of the evil Masonic lodges waging a centuries long war against the Church. But if you check the historical record, a big part of the intellectual elite of modernity was composed of the children of clergy, and some rebellious parts of the clergy itself.
As we know, all human traits are inheritable, so if you have a movement made of the children of the enemy, what do you think will happen here? You're obviously not going to get something much different from that you're fighting against. It might be superficially different, but the odds are the children of the clergy are eventually going to build a church which is pretty much identical from their fathers'. And that's precisely what happened. That's what the term "Cathedral" is supposed to capture; the fact that the Progressive intellectual elite is not only similar to the old Christian churches; it is actually descended from them, in part physically so. And even if it weren't, you could trace its descent just by a simple functional analysis. They just work the same way.
The latest fashion of Progressive agitation, the present phase of the Permanent Revolution is World War G, which is almost finished (sweeping the countryside to shoot fleeing enemies in the back, mostly), and World War T, which started a while ago and it's starting to get momentum. Now I won't get into why exactly our government is so invested with promoting sexual deviancy; American Kremlinology (Cathedralogy?) is quite a complex matter by itself. The point here is that progressives aren't interested in the scientific truth behind sexual deviancy; some are actively hostile to studying it, and most people just don't give a damn. And you'd think we'd need to know something before starting a massive war against disgust of sodomy.
You'd also think we'd need to know whether Saddam actually had nukes. It doesn't work like that, does it? The fact is we have a lot of good science about homosexuality and gender dysphoria, but it had been long thrown into the memory hole before talk of letting homosexuals marry each other started to get traction. Although fortunately, the American Kremlin hasn't found it necessary to actually throw things into the memory hole; it just makes people not care about it. But for those who do, the data is out there. The books are on Amazon. There's even Wikipedia pages.
One of the interesting things you get out of this line of work is the realization that people think they're entitled to have opinions, opinions that are somehow respectable, on subjects of which they know nothing. Not every subject, mind you: I never meet people with passionate, uninformed opinions about the relative merits of Rayleigh-scattering beacons and sodium beacons in adaptive optics, or blue versus red giants as targets for Trident's II's star sensor. But when it comes to evolutionary biology, every man's a King.
This comes to mind too. Thing is, sexuality isn't "malleable" in any animal, period. And why would it be? There's no benefit to that. A total lockstep heterosexual individual is always going to outbreed any pansexual bohemian animal. For obvious reasons. And if it were all susceptible to random psychological quirks, you would find much more variation than actually exists. In reality, only 3-5% of men are homosexual, transexuals are 1 in 20,000+, and the manifold paraphilias have similar prevalence. These figures are consistent in most of the world. Bisexuals don't appear to actually exist, and sexual orientation appears to be impossible to change. Some malleability that is.
The best book out there on the topic is Michael Bailey's The Man Who Would Be Queen. It's intelligent, thorough, and very well written. Hilarious at times. It reads itself; easily readable in a weekend. The very title tells you that Bailey has a good sense of humor. It shows during all his book; I'd love to have some beers with this guy. He sounds like a really cool man.
In fact he's too cool: he keeps his cool in a sort of topic that would cause paroxysms of disgust in any normal person. The guy talks of decades of going to gay bars, talking to trannies, reporting the most bizarre and revolting paraphilias; and yet he has nothing but detached scientific curiosity; even when talking about really inflammatory stuff such as homosexual couples raising kids. He calls himself "pro-gay", doesn't see it as a big deal, and apparently it amuses him to no end. The book is a masterpiece of non-judgmentalism. And he never even intended to make a career on it; he mentions how he just stumbled upon it while thinking what to write his dissertation about. Yet he did make a career on gays and trannies with all that it entails, and he became a world-class scholar in it. Bailey makes a number of claims in his book. The first part of the book is focused on gays. I’ll make his points briefly:
- Gays are feminine men. They were sissies as children, liked to play with girls and dress like them. Over time, through social pressure most stop acting like girls; but they are still attracted to men and overwhelmingly choose feminine professions. There is ample proof that gays have a particular way of talking, walking and even facial expressions, which are easily explainable by acting feminine in a male body.
- Gays lie, deny being feminine because they dislike feminity. They are attracted to manly men. Unfortunately for them manly men won’t have sex with them; so they are stuck with each other. Consequently they must feign being manly if they want to attract sexual partners.
- Gays aren’t totally feminine though. They have the same sex drive as heterosexual men, the same focus on the physical appearance of their sexual partners, the same lack of interest in children and nurturing.
- Whatever makes gays feminine, it appears to be inborn. Nurture effects are demonstrably ineffective in changing gender roles. Babies with cloacal exstrophy are born with malformed genitals among other things. The standard practice has been to cut off the malformed penis, and force gender reassignment therapy. Male babies thus were raised as girls since birth. They never knew they were genetically male. Nonetheless most of them grew up to identify as boys, and those who didn’t are severely depressed. Cutting off the penis, constructing a vagina, putting them on pink dresses and telling them they are girls for 15 years since birth didn’t deter them from being boys attracted to women.
He amusingly calls nurture theories of sexual orientation “looked at’em funny theories”. It’s just against the evidence, and it just makes little sense. If subtle cues from the parents attitude were all it matters, there would be much greater numbers of gender dysphoric children, or at least a much more random distribution of them. Gays are quite consistently around 4% of the population in the developed world.
Now, the nature theory cuts both ways. You can’t make a boy attracted to men even if you cut his penis and call him Amanda since the day after birth. But you can’t straighten out a feminine boy even if you beat the crap out of him every time he tries one of his sisters dresses. He’ll probably stop wearing the dresses, but he’ll still be attracted to men when he grows up. There is no evidence that this can be altered either way.
No causes of homosexuality have been identified. There seems to be some small family clusters, but nothing conclusive. The correlation in identical twins appears to be in the 20-50% range. As Cochran says here, the correlation for leprosy in identical twins is 80%. So it’s certainly not genetic, at least not only genetic. And it’s nothing about the environment in the womb. Studies about prenatal stress haven’t found any correlation. He also quotes Ray Blanchard’s birth order theory, although the evidence is being contested. So we have no idea. Steve Sailer interviewed Bailey before the publication of the book, and he gives some credit to Greg Cochran’s gay gene theory, although he doesn’t seem totally convinced. Some interesting quotes:
Psychologist Sandra Witelson has hypothesized that the brains of homosexual people may be mosaics of male and female parts
For about 30 years, from the late 1960s until the late 1990s, it was de rigueur to scoff at these stereotypes and look askance at those who believed them. But recently, science has provided support for the stereotypes, in the only way that stereotypes are ever true: on average.
Earlier in this chapter I suggested that having been mistreated as feminine boys is not the only reason gay men tend to react uncomfortably to the implication that they are, or used to be, feminine.The other reason, which I hope is now obvious, is that gay men themselves dislike femininity, or at least they find it sexually unattractive. To call a gay man “feminine” is not only to say that he is a target of many straight men’s ill will, but also that he is less attractive than he would be otherwise. It is certainly an unfortunate state of affairs that gay men tend to be feminine, tend to be less attracted to femininity, but tend to be stuck with each other. There are similar ironies in straight relationships. The designer of the universe has a perverse sense of humor.
AIDS patients with an average age of 35 years reported an average of 60 sex partners per year, or approximately 1,000 lifetime partners.
On average, gay men have their first homosexual experience at about age 14.
A gay male must be careful about approaching other males sexually, but very feminine boys are a safer bet. I would wager that among the many highly publicized cases of predatory men having sex with adolescent boys, a non-trivial percentage of the boys were recognizably feminine.The older men had reason to think that their advances would succeed.
The second half of the book is about transexuals. Now, given the massive attention behind World War T, you’d think there’s a transexual in every neighborhood. But the figures he gives are about 1 in 20,000 males changing their sex. That’s about 15,000 people in the whole USA. But these figures aren’t very important, and can be very variable. You’ll see why. He explains the research of Ray Blanchard, and puts it succintly:
The two types of transsexuals who begin life as males are called homosexual and autogynephilic. Once understood, these names are appropriate. Succinctly put, homosexual male-to-female transsexuals are extremely feminine gay men, and autogynephilic transsexuals are men erotically obsessed with the image of themselves as women
Let’s start by the most familiar type. Homosexual transexuals are in other words consistent gays; feminine boys who actually change into women. They tend to change their sex relatively young, usually as young as they can afford to. And they tend to look pretty good. There have been actresses, playmates, and many actually marry heterosexual men. He writes some hilarious stories about them:
Terese lived as a woman for three years before she got enough money together (about $10,000) to get her operation. Part of the money was a loan from Cher, who had become one of her best friends. In July 1997,Terese (then 25) flew to Belgium and over a four-day period, had sex reassignment surgery, learned to care for her new vagina, and recovered sufficiently to leave the hospital. Within three months, her neo-vagina had healed, and she lost her neo-virginity soon after.
In many ways Terese has blossomed since her surgery. She looks great. Not only do people fail to notice that she is a transsexual, but most men find her sexy and attractive. Depressed and in self-imposed isolation when I first saw her, she is flirtatious, energetic, and socially busy now.Among other things,she models lingerie.She has dated and had sex with several heterosexual men, none of whom knew about her past life. (She is still looking for a serious boyfriend.)
Why do they look good? The obvious answer is that only the ones that look good change their sex. Transexuals are gay men who could have just continued being gay man. That they went through all the cost and trouble to physically change their bodies means they had reason to think they could pull it off. As he puts it:
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="170"] Not really[/caption]
homosexual transsexuals are better looking because homosexual men who want to be women tend not to enact that desire unless they can pull it off.The standard transsexual story implies that the transsexual is so dissatisfied with her incorrect male body that she cannot wait to discard it, regardless of how good she will look as a woman.This is another place where the standard narrative is wrong, at least about homosexual transsexuals. I have begun asking the homosexual transsexuals I meet whether, if they had looked awful as women, they would have transitioned to full-time females. Most have said “No,” and no one has answered with an unambiguous “Yes.” Extremely muscular and masculine looking homosexual transsexuals probably choose not to transition, but instead remain among gay men, who value their masculine looks. (…) As men, the homosexual transsexuals look and act extremely feminine, and that presentation is not very marketable among gay men.They are far more fetching as women.
There’s also a social aspect to transexualism. One often hears talk about how the idea of “gays” is a social construct unique to Western culture; the idea of men who are attracted to men and have a particular feminine lifestyle doesn’t happen anywhere else. In academic circles that’s called “egalitarian homosexuality”. But most foreign cultures do know of transexuals, which are often conceptualized as a “third sex”. This is called “transgender homosexuality”. He gives some examples:
The hijras are paid to perform at weddings and the celebration of male births, but this service is actually more extorted by the hijras than solicited by families. If a family does not pay, the hijras make trouble, perhaps even flashing their mutilated genitalia. Many of the hijras also engage in male prostitution
When he visited Tahiti, Captain Bligh (commander of the Bounty) noted that the mahu participated in the same ceremonies as women did. At first, their feminine behavior and speech led him to believe that they were castrated, but he learned otherwise. He observed with disgust the practice of men rubbing their penises between the mahus’ thighs.The contemporary mahu fellate the men they have sex with, who do not return the favor.
The xanith perform women’s chores in highly sex-segregated Oman and are classed with women for many social purposes. Their clothing and physical presentation is a mixture of male and female, perhaps because they are denied by law the right to dress as women. Their attractiveness is judged by female standards of beauty (white skin, large eyes, and full cheeks, for example), and they serve as homosexual prostitutes.
in the Philippines many straight adolescent males have their first sexual contact with bayot, or members of the transgendered gay male tradition there. Sexual liaisons with bayot are thought of as adolescent peccadilloes no worse than smoking and drinking. They are certainly more acceptable, in certain respects, than spoiling the virginity of “nice girls.”
Surely more homosexuals in Thailand or the Philippines choose to identify as women because their society does not allow the idea of girly men having their own society where they have sex with each other. Girly men are thought of as girls who can’t have children. And they’re often quite useful as that, especially given that in most traditional societies, women aren’t very accessible for casual sex. Another interesting point that Bailey makes is that homosexual transexuals are the perfect prostitute. Gays, remember, have male sex drives, and absolutely no qualms about casual sex. He puts it very clearly:
Nearly all the homosexual transsexuals I know work as escorts after they have their surgery.
He even writes about a transexual who actually got to marry a heterosexual man and live with him as the closest thing to a real woman. 1 year later they separated, and “she” was back as a hooker. Allegedly, monogamy wasn’t very fun. In the end, homosexual transexuals are easy to spot. If a man has changed his sex to female, and has sex with men, he’s just a homosexual transexual. Which as we’ve seen is a common occurrence in many cultures. What about transexuals who aren’t attracted with men? These are the autogynephiliacs, the likes of Donald McCloskey, Linn Conway (who tried to destroy Bailey’s carreer for writing about it), the Navy SEAL Sailer often talks about, Jennifer Pritzker, and all those eerily looking cross-dressers who one always feels weird about when reading the news. These are easy to spot because they are invariably older, on average older than 40, and they just look like dudes. Autogynephiliacs are often very masculine men, married and with children, that some day suddenly come out wearing a dress and say they are now to be called Jennifer. After their sex change, they often stop having relationships of any kind. They of course claim the old story that they always felt like a girl inside, in effect claiming to be homosexual transexuals. But a careful look at their life paints a different story:
Honest and open autogynephilic transsexuals reveal a much dif- ferent pattern.They were not especially feminine boys.The first overt manifestation of what led to their transsexualism was typically during early adolescence, when they secretly dressed in their mothers’ or sisters’ lingerie, looked at themselves in the mirror, and masturbated.This activity continued into adulthood, and sexual fantasies became in- creasingly transsexual—especially the fantasy of having a vulva, perhaps being penetrated by a penis. Autogynephilic transsexuals might declare attraction to women or men, to both, or to neither. But their primary attraction is to the women that they would become.
While gays might have some reason to claim they are functional human beings (letting aside their sexual practices), autogynephilia just sounds like plain mental illness.
Blanchard noticed different forms of autogynephilia in the different patients he saw. Some patients were sexually aroused by cross- dressing, others by the fantasy that they were pregnant, others by the fantasy that they had breasts, and others by the fantasy that they had vaginas. One patient even masturbated while fantasizing about knitting in a circle of other knitting women or being at the hairdresser’s with other women.
He mentions amputee fetishes, and it sounds similar.Transexuals of this sort, and Blanchard here includes also people who don't end up chopping off their penises i.e. masculine cross-dressers, just have a very weird fetish. They are not feminine, don't have feminine hobbies, have generally been attracted to women, and for all observers lead absolutely normal lives as heterosexual men. If anything, they are more stereotypically masculine than normal:
Autogynephiles rarely have stereotypically female occupations. On the contrary, many have served in the military. I even met one who was in the Green Berets.Technological and scien- tific careers seem to me to be over-represented among autogynephiles. (Ray Blanchard remarked to me that he saw a seemingly close relation between autogynephilia and computer nerdiness.)
These explains theiroverrepresentation in LW! Autogynephilics have what seems to be a combination of extreme narcissism and attraction to women. For some reason their attraction is not towards actual woman, but towards themselves, as a woman.
Autogynephiles are not “women trapped in men’s bodies.” (Anne Lawrence, a physician and sex researcher who is herself a postoperative transsexual, has called them “men trapped in men’s bodies.”) Homo- sexual transsexuals, so naturally feminine from early on, can make this claim more accurately, but as we shall see, it is not completely true even of them.A utogynephiles are men who have created their image of attractive women in their own bodies, an image that coexists with their original, male selves. The female self is a man-made creation. They visit the female image when they want to have sex, and some became so attached to the female image that they want it to become their one, true self. This explains the name of the transvestite organi- zation “Society for the Second Self.” It also explains the maddening tendency of some autogynephilic research subjects to put down two answers to every question—one by the female self, and one by the male self. Homosexual transsexuals do not do this.They have one self that is a mixture of masculine and feminine traits, and not alternating selves. No, autogynephiles are not women trapped in men’s bodies. They are men who desperately want to become women.
First, all paraphilias occur exclusively (or nearly exclusively) in men. Second, paraphilias tend to go together. If a man has one paraphilia, then his chances of having any other paraphilia seem to be highly elevated.The best established link is be- tween autogynephilia and masochism.There is a dangerous masochistic practice called “autoerotic asphyxia,” in which a man strangles him self, usually by hanging, for sexual reasons. Although autoerotic asphyxiasts arrange an escape hatch—for example, a well-placed stool they can stand on before it’s too late—sometimes things go wrong. Perhaps 100 American men per year die in this way. About one- fourth of the time, these men are found wearing some article of women’s clothing, such as panties. There is no obvious reason why autoerotic asphyxia should require cross-dressing. Apparently, these men are both masochistic and autogynephilic. Cross-dressing has also been linked to sexual sadism—although most autogynephiles are not sexual sadists, they are more likely to be sadists compared with men who are not autogynephilic.
Many of the transsexual people who went to Mexico for gender reassignment surgery in the seventies and eighties wound up mutilated, with genitalia looking like they belonged to one of the creatures in the bar scene in “StarWars,”and not like something likely to be found on a human being of either gender. Some of these people, expecting vaginoplasties, received simple penectomies, leaving them looking somewhat like a Barbie doll. Others ended up with something that looked like a penis that had been split and sewn to their groin—which is essentially what had been done. Some ended up with vaginas which were lined with hair-bearing scrotal skin; these vaginas quickly filled up with pubic hair, becoming inflamed and infected. Some ended up with peritonitis, some with permanent colostomies. Some ran out of money and were dumped in back alleys and parking lots to live or die. Some died in those parking lots or back in the States, of complications from the surgery.
And all for what? For the chance to live as a fake woman. Which can't work well, at the very least because men have male sex drives, which are a very dangerous thing when not constrained by women. Males just want to have sex, and males having sex with males allows the sort of free impulse, short-term pleasure seeking that has led to them becoming a massive reservoir of nasty STDs.
The doctor likes to flout political correctness, he can’t resist an off-color joke, and his ideas about gender and sexuality are archaic, even by the standards of the peddlers of pathology at the APA. It has been 40 years since homosexuality was removed as a mental illness from the DSM. But given a clean slate, Blanchard said he would still classify homosexual sex as abnormal.
So you don’t see a male-to-female transsexual as being female?
I think that a transsexual should be considered as whatever their biological sex is plus the fact that they are transsexuals. That’s how you would do research on them. There’s no other way to do it. If you’re interested in whether the brains of transsexuals are different in some way, you’re interested in seeing if they differ from other individuals with the same biological sex.
So in a way psychiatric research is inherently gender normative?
I would say medical research is inherently gender normative.
You wrote in a blog post the word normal has been effectively off limits for describing erotic interest for decades. Why do you think people object to the word “normal”?
I always say "normal" is the other n-word. You just aren’t allowed to say it. I would say I have almost never written the word normal because for decades now, since I was a graduate student, and I’m an old man, normal has been a dirty word.
So why do you keep using it?
I guess because I think it’s a perfectly good concept. I don’t aggravate people if I don’t have to, but I’m not going to say that there is no gold standard of what sexual behavior’s purpose is.
So, in your point of view, science rules. Scientific inquiry is the first priority, whatever it might mean for social justice?
If you put it in abstract terms, it makes me sound vaguely lunatic.
Blasphemy! Social justice is the first priority. Of course. Scientific inquiry is evil. Thankfully there are still people like Ray Blanchard and Michael Bailey, willing to be tarred, feathered, and deemed witches by the media, and try to bring the truth to light.
As an epilogue, I'd like to suggest some further areas of research. On the interview, Blanchard says:
Do you think autoandrophelia, where a woman is aroused by the thought of herself as a man, is a real paraphelia?
No, I proposed it simply in order not to be accused of sexism, because there are all these women who want to say, “women can rape too, women can be pedophiles too, women can be exhibitionists too.” It’s a perverse expression of feminism, and so, I thought, let me jump the gun on this. I don’t think the phenomenon even exists.
Which does sound right because you never see heterosexual women cross-dressing regularly, let alone actually getting a sex change operation. But then I remembered this by Scott Alexander's girlfriend: