Antonia D'orsay

Making Trouble: Useful Information

Filed By Antonia D'orsay | February 28, 2010 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: child care, Gender Conformity, Gender Incongruence, LGBT, making trouble, People wrong on the internet, science!, The Queer Agenda, Trans, transgender, transsexual

Being a maker of trouble often has its own set of requirements.

Among those requirements is a willingness to rely on factual information. That is, data that can be relied on so one can look at things with an eye on factual understandings of the world.

So while I am learning from all of you, I am also mindful of several facts. And I thought I would share some of these facts with you.

Since space is always at a premium, I'll limit it in the same way I've limited my questions: 10 basic facts.

  1. In a meta-analysis of 48 studies, it was shown that the strongest predictor of Homosexuality was childhood gender variance -- that is, gender Identity Dysphoria in Childhood. Among the many studies was one done by two people who are, notably, not very friendly to trans folk in general, but very friendly to cisGLB folk.

    Childhood sex-typed behavior and sexual orientation: A conceptual analysis and quantitative review
    Bailey, J. Michael; Zucker, Kenneth J.
    Developmental Psychology. Vol 31(1), Jan 1995, 43-55.

    Bem, D. J. (2000). Exotic Becomes Erotic: Integrating Biological and Experiential Antecedents of Sexual Orientation. In A. R. D'Augelli & C. J. Patterson (Eds.), Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities and youth: Psychological perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press.

    In a Kinsey Institute controlled study of 1000 gay adults, 63% of those adults indicated they were gender non-conforming in childhood, versus 15% of the control group (hets).

    The Kinsey study did not include trans folk.

  2. There are trans gay and bisexual men. Transsexual ones, transgender ones, cross dressing ones, transvestite ones, and more.

  3. There are trans lesbians and bisexual women. Transsexual ones, transgender ones, cross dressing ones, transvestite ones, genderqueer ones, "tranny bois" and more.

    I can personally vouch for the bisexual women part, having recently come out as such.

  4. Reparative therapy on gender non-conforming children is allowed. Especially if it stops them from growing up gay or trans. And gay is preferred to trans by the leading practitioner of it. (Research Kenneth J. Zucker, one example cited above.)

  5. Nobody knows what makes a kid who is gender variant either gay or trans. They scan the same. There is no way to tell what they will be until they reach puberty and they tell the people around them.

  6. The first "modern" understanding of what we know of today as homosexuality was developed in the mid-1800's. One of the terms was Urning -- described as a woman's mind in a man's body. By gay men, about gay men. That was adapted into English as "Uranian" and was a "third sex." See Karl Heinrich Ulrichs.

  7. This is used against cisLGB children in science.

  8. Research is being done in the area of sexual orientation that is challenging the dominant pattern as new research has shown that the older system is not accurate. What's coming out of that is a much simpler form of SO that is not based on same, opposite, both, neither, or other, but rather on just plain old men, women, both, other, or neither. "Homosexual" is a term that doesn't work then.

  9. Civil and political rights are not applicable to a single group.

  10. The LGBT community is extremely diverse.

There ya have it. I'm still learning from you, though, the context of that stuff, and soon enough I'll be asking a few more questions...

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Excellent list.
When scientific research moves from the "shoulds" to prove an argument (dominating the 14th-20th centuries) into the "what is" to explain reality, it always gets better.
I think we're catching up.

Slowly but surely, and what I find most interesting is that the research has shifted over the last 15 years because most of the answers that we don't know are coming out of the trans research.

But research is always problematic in, um, more public contexts such as this, lol. Seems some folks just don't always want to believe it.

SarasNavel | March 1, 2010 4:16 AM

Nice list! I would add that the distinction must be made that those answers are not coming from psychology. They are coming from neurology and endocrinology and biochemistry and genetics. They track their results over sex, gender and sexuality. And they are showing that gender and sexuality are separate, and multidimensional, and not binary, with cold hard data. The APA refuses to acknowledge results from hard science when it comes to transsexuals. Instead they proffer up hypotheses that are unprovable and based on bad research (AG) and treatments such as Zucker's conversion therapy, which rests on the premise of Masters & Johnson's falsified gay conversion work.

Very informative list. I would disagree with one thing though Bailey may be friendly to cis LG folk but he is not friendly to bi folk at all neither cis nor trans. This is the guy who claimed that bi men don't exist after a seriously flawed psuedo-study.

I'm going to wonder out loud here a bit and most likely piss some people off. Won't be the first time but it really is not my intention. I wonder how many of us who are cis LGB are having trouble understanding or accepting trans folk simply because our experience with gender nonconformity as children cast us up on a different shore. So is it harder for me to accept or understand another person who was also gender nonconforming to some extent as a child but who grew up to be trans while I grew up to be cis? Is the trouble there simply generalizing personal experience and expecting similar things to produce similar results? Do some of us somehow feel threatened by another person having a different result from the same sort of input? We are talking identity and self concept here and maybe some of us are seeing these things as challenges to our own identities.

Maybe like the the way i have been told "I used to tell people I was bi too but I got over it, you'll eventually admit you're gay" ....
To what extent may the tension between cis LGB people and trans people be stemming from this?

Rob, I have to agree there, and I apologize for not being more clear on that.

Among the things I am still learning about myself is what it means for me to be Bi, as I'm really new at it, and only very recently ran into what is def my first crush, girl wise.

So expect to see stuff that gets better over time, and don't hesitate to educate me -- I've got a lot to learn :D

way to step up to the plate and hit a home run. you've been just GREAT on this website, and we owe you say it like you mean it and back it up, too. this is turning into a great multi-part series of columns.
great job....can't wait to see the next parts...


(ps: and as said,
one of the next obvious steps is figuring out where 'T' GLB folks
stand as far as the Cis GLB's go.
if we are "allowed", by them, to define that way.....or not.....)

More to come, Javier. More to come.

When you break all the rules, you need to take some time to create new ones...

Correct me if Im wrong , but weren't you married to a 'girl"? Thus, you would be considered most.

Technically, I still am married to a girl, Barbara. Legally so, and recognized as such by state and federal government.

And neither of us like that, lol. I expect divorce papers by Summer of this year, and a fairly nasty divorce as I'll want visitation if I get assigned child support.

However, yes, I can be considered Bi by many people, yet I didn't see myself as such as I had not interest in men until after my transition, and since then I've been predominantly attracted to men. My attraction to women went from 100% to about 5%, and is back up to about 15 to 20% now.

But my attraction to men hasn't changed.


I really appreciated your research and the information you have provided.

As a member of the LBGT community (Gay male), I am also dyslexic. In your research have you
ever seen any study/information regarding dyslexia and homosexuality?

Personally no, and while I kinda doubt there's been any study on it (there is, despite all the science done so far, a deep and abiding lack of research still), I could be wrong.

However, I will look around and if I do find something, will report on it.

Tori, I'm curious to hear your objections to the Bem paper. I don't know anything about how it's been used politically or to bolster other theories, but it actually seems like just as reasonable a theory as the other random things floating around and to not be particularly stigmatizing towards GLB or Trans kids or adults. In fact, this seems fairly parallel with what I consider the most plausible other theory hanging around, which is that many GLB folks (along with many trans folks) are in some way physically intersex (cross-sexed neoranatomy, etc).

Personally, I think the whole search for "causes" is politically suspect because it might end up with a way to identify people's "true" classifications, thereby reducing our hard-fought ability to identify ourselves and remove our identities/behaviors from constraints, but that's just my politics, not any reasonable science.

Actually, I don't have many personal objections to the Bem Paper. Professionally, I am rather distant from it as I'm more in the Festinger group around cognitive dissonance than his group around self perception. Both are useful, mind you, but there's still too much crossover and I'm kinda "fency" about it, preferring the CogDis format.

Since his paper requires you to look through a lens of his focus on self perception, I find it's problematic in that fails to account for the developmental aspects of the human species.

Human development doesn't actually finish until after puberty, and that includes the brain as a whole, so I'm more inclined to accept that model over the one he proposes.

That said, I do find a great deal of accuracy int he paper as it pertains to some of the attractant aspects of the complex relationships between "chasers" and transsexuals. In the limited work I've done in that field (unpublished and therefore not reviewed) I've found that there is indeed a high correlation of the overall theory with reality.

It also jibes very well with some older, less affirming ideas in feminism, so there is an attraction there, and I suspect that it has certain limitation that are based culturally -- it works great for straight folks in the US, but not so great once you step out of that limited structure.

His wife's work, on the other hand, I strongly favor. Go figure.

I'm more interested in his work in retrocausality, which may have some impact and bearing beyond the field of social psychology.

Hi Toni, thanks for getting back to me with such an an informative comment (with leads I can follow up to learn more!), and sorry I screwed up your name in my earlier comment--serves me right for posting when I'm overtired!

SarasNavel | March 1, 2010 4:45 AM

Antonia, thank you for stirring things up and getting people talking.

I have to take minor issue with #5, "Nobody knows what makes a kid who is gender variant either gay or trans. They scan the same. There is no way to tell what they will be until they reach puberty and they tell the people around them."

This is not quite accurate. They do know which areas of the brain are sex-dimorphic and that they are flipped in transsexuals (non-binary, overlapping bell curves), although I'm guessing that a tally of the different areas and degree of flip would likely correlate with the many flavors of trans. And some structures are keyed or primed, if you will, but don't visibly develop cross to the assigned gender until puberty, just like other body structures. They just can't scan them while alive, yet. But objective differences do exist.

As far as not being able to tell, you haven't been around enough trans kids. There is a grey area of gender fluid and gender variant kids, but there are also those that have made it clear since five or six that their bodies are wrong and are "supposed" to have the characteristics of the other sex. I have yet to hear of one of them later changing their mind and not transitioning. Of the rest, some may not have quite enough dysphoria with their bodies or social gender until they hit puberty and dimorphic development kicks in. Or they may never reach that point. And then there are those kids that, if allowed to do so freely without being force-fed gender expectations, prefer the same things and sometimes roles as the opposite sex but have no body or gender dysphoria and won't develop it at puberty; they can typically emerge as cis-LGB when sexual urges kick on in their teens. Of course these are gross generalizations, but just as there are different hues of the adult rainbow, the children also vary greatly but follow certain patterns.

Again, great work bringing these mostly unspoken differences between factions to the light of day. I hope that through the discussions you foster, we can all learn to respect the various subgroups and work together.

Well, keep in mind that although we know the development is different, that development isn't finished until shortly after puberty is entered.

Furthermore, the research proves duplicative when gender variance in youth is shown -- adult trans women and adult gay men are extremely similar -- too much so for mere coincidence, no matter how much we, as adults, may dislike that knowledge.

Since kids is generally the 3 to 12 set, there's no physiological way of discerning that difference, and since I'm referencing prof pubs, I'm staying in terms of the professional studies, as opposed to more anecdotal and less empirical experiences which vary greatly.

SarasNavel | March 1, 2010 1:57 PM

Point well taken about anecdotal evidence, we need behavior based classification studies by people other than Zucker and the like.

"Furthermore, the research proves duplicative when gender variance in youth is shown -- adult trans women and adult gay men are extremely similar -- too much so for mere coincidence, no matter how much we, as adults, may dislike that knowledge."

I see no reason to dislike the knowledge; if something stands up to scrutiny and time, it would be crazy not to weigh it heavily regardless of personal preferences. That said, the neurological research shows that gay men and trans women are very much not alike. It's great proof that gender and sex and sexuality are separate. A few good examples are reactions to pheromones and specific brain structures. Oddly enough, for at least one of those, transwomen appear to be more extreme (i.e., larger structure/more neurons) than the male end of the spectrum, sort of "super-male" measurements. I'd love to see the correlation with AS/Theory of Mind/social anxiety on that one...

Please, could you expand on how we are alike in the research? It seems so paradoxical especially when transmen both straight and gay are taken into account...

Hi Sara

Research on kids shows no such difference as we see in adults -- as you noted, that whole dimorphic thing. In adults, those differences magnify out, but as kids, there's simply not enough of them that are actively visible.

And remember as well, these are studies done by generally cis/straight folks -- they lack the inherent insights that we have, and generally still wrap themselves in privilege, intentional and unintentional.

So that colors the understandings.

My point here being that the LGBT all come from the same basic roots as far as the rest of the world sees us.

Toni likes girls! Toni likes girls! (giggle)

(Sorry. I just couldn't resist.)

Saras Navel,
One of my bio relatives was extremely gender variant and always thought that she should have been born a boy during her childhood. To the point of becoming excited upon hearing that a sex change operation was possible. During her teen years she thought that she would end up transitioning this way. Eventually she realized that she was truly female but that she just had many masculine traits and fewer feminine traits.
She has always been surprised as an adult that she is not bi.
But she has happily spent her adulthood as a cis female though she was often an extreme 'tomboy' as a child. She ended up married once and has one bio kid who is bi and was gender variant and adopted another who was a niece and who also has a queer history.

SarasNavel | March 1, 2010 6:47 PM

I think that is *wonderful*! That's the kind of diversity that shows gender, sex and sexuality to be a dynamic sum of multiple spectrums.

I wasn't trying to erase anyone's story or identity and if it came across that way I apologize. My point was only that the extreme cases do exist. There are kids that, if allowed, do not question their identity and experience strong body dysphoria at a young age.

I would love to know if she felt cultural pressure to fit into a binary or possibly only had a binary definition available into which to fit herself (or try!). That is the narrative that I've heard repeatedly from non-trans LGB folks that at one point thought they needed to transition...

You know, you could simplify two and three by simply stating the obvious, that gender and sexuality are separate. If you're male, you're not automatically going to be attracted to women. This holds true for transgender/transsexuals and others within the gender variant spectrum.

Also, about six. It's often cited as the creation of the idea of "transgender," but as you've mentioned it was actually conceptualizing homosexuality. In Victorian Europe, the idea of a man being in love with a man was so absolutely crazy, they had to come up with wacky obtuse logic like this.

The first person to actually deal with transgenderism, and not actually homosexuality, was Magnus Hirschfield. He was a pretty cool guy.

If you really want to get into the mess of trans history, I'd suggest this. It's fairly comprehensive, and while it's not exhaustive, it is pretty titillating... and other big words.

I'm enjoying your stuff so far, good job!