Cisgender People Have a Wide Range of Attachment to Their Sex

Pro-trans people often assume that gender dysphoria is just the natural result of having a brain of one sex in a body of another sex. Anti-trans people often assume that cisgender people are not attached to their sex at all. If we are to believe self-reports, though, there seems to be a wide range of attachment to one’s sex.

A reasonably consistent finding is that about 50% say that they care at least somewhat about staying their sex, whereas maybe 35% don’t care much either way, and 15% would rather be the opposite sex. This seems to be a continuum rather than discrete. The cis people who care enough that they’d try to medically transition back if they somehow magically had turned into the opposite sex are a minority, at least if you go by people’s introspection, but they are easily detectable in surveys.

Attachment to one’s sex is strongly negatively associated with sexually fantasizing about being the opposite sex. This may be an example of autogynephilia/autoandrophilia, but there are certain arguments against this (in particular, this’d imply that A*P is incredibly common).

From what I can tell, there are plenty of anecdotes of people who for whatever reason unrelated to gender dysphoria had to transition. Many of these people seem fine with it. Some were distressed initially, but eventually started liking it.

All of this does not seem like what we’d expect under Magical Innate Gender Identity.

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Gender Identity… Gender Aspiration?

Copied from a reddit post I did.


I’ve noticed that a common way for trans people to use the word “gender identity” could better be described as “gender aspiration”. For example, consider the recent thread asking what gender identity means. Here’s some responses:

In my opinion, “identifying as a woman” means that one has a need to transition.

I would guess that “gender identity” is generally less about identifying as/with something, and more a statement of what you want your body to be.

Having a positive relationship — whether as weakly as near-ambivalence, or strongly — with one’s body’s femaleness. I’ll note that this is not just including the physical state, but also the future or potential or ideal state. I.e. a male’s body has no femaleness in a physical sense, but it’s female in the realm of possibilities/ideas.

This seems more like a declaration of intent or desire than a belief, and I’ve started calling it “gender aspiration” instead as a result.

Do you think it makes sense to make a distinction between gender identity as a belief, and gender aspiration as an intent or desire?


In the reddit post, I phrased this as a question, but really it’s the way I’ve conceptualized it for a long time.