Capitalist Patriarchal Gender Dysphoria

There is a kind of gender dysphoria that I often see proposed in radical feminist groups. In a sense, it’s not really one kind of dysphoria, so much as a “many roads lead to trans” amalgamation of different sorts of dysphoria, but there seems to be a unified philosophy behind the proposals, and none of them are really mutually exclusive, so in some ways it makes sense to treat it as one “kind” of dysphoria…

I’ve decided to name it Capitalist Patriarchal Gender Dysphoria, because this seems to be the philosophy behind it: that societal sexism causes many women to feel profound discomfort with being female, which leads to Big Pharma trying to trans them for money, turning them into permanent patients. All the while, autogynephilic “transactivists” cheer on and try to accelerate this machine.

The exact aspects that function as the source of the dysphoria can vary. In some cases it may be trauma from male violence, in other cases it may be prejudice against gender nonconformity. I’m not sure I can give a full list, but here’s some other examples: body image issues, lesbianism combined with internalized homophobia, negative views of the female sexual roles caused by porn, periods and other problems with the female body, and autism. Quite often, multiple causes are thought to combine to ultimately become the dysphoria.

Curiously, there’s one cause that’s never seriously considered: autoandrophilia. This is despite the fact that AAP is probably the factor that has the most evidence going for it (not that this says a lot). The reactions to proposing autoandrophilia varies; sometimes they completely reject that it exists, while other times they attribute it to be a mere artifact of some of the other causes. The approach seems remarkably similar to autogynephilia-deniers who try to say that AGP is an artifact of gender dysphoria. (Interestingly, many of the CPGD proponents also seem to attribute autogynephilia to gender roles… but that’s a story for another time.)

I’m able to reject some of the proposed causes right now. For example, body image issues seem to only have a tiny effect on women’s gender feelings. In general, CPGD proponents often think that women hate being women, whereas in reality that is obviously not the case. On the other hand, I find some of them plausible, at least to a degree. It seems imaginable that trauma could cause a form of gender dysphoria, and I seem to have an easier time showing that autism is associated with negative gender feelings than that it’s associated with autoandrophilia. The complete rejection of AAP seems like a major problem, though, when it is likely the biggest cause.

CPGD is associated with “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (i.e. dysphoria caused by social contagion) and many people say ROGD when they really mean CPGD. The theory is that perhaps being a masculine lesbian with trauma from men isn’t itself enough to cause gender dysphoria, but when you then catalyze it with messages that the discomfort with being female is because she is Really A Man, then you can quickly transform relatively-minor experiences into severe gender dysphoria and permanent patienthood.

Basically, the difference between ROGD and CPGD is that while ROGD is proposed to often come from literally nowhere but social contagion, CPGD comes from all the things that radical feminists dislike. Of course, ROGD proponents probably wouldn’t rule out that some of the factors proposed by CPGDers are relevant (and this would be unwise, because nothing about ROGD prevents other factors from affecting things), but they likely don’t consider them necessary or primary.

The evidence on CPGD is… lacking. The concept seems to mostly have been constructed through wild speculation and anecdotes in radical feminist groups, rather than through unbiased gathering of evidence. Unfortunately, I haven’t been working enough on examining the evidence for CPGD, because whenever I’ve engaged with CPGD proponents, we’ve ended up focusing on whether women hate being women or not, or debating the validity of my surveys.

CPGD can also be difficult to study because CPGD proponents tend to actively work to obstruct me from getting into contact with and surveying young CPGD desisters. They have their stated reasons that makes sense to them, but it’s not something that makes me especially sympathetic to their claims. For example, it is difficult to know how to interpret the desisters without knowing whether they still have significantly different gender feelings from the female baseline, whether they in the past have experienced autoandrophilia, and whether this autoandrophilia persists currently.

I think the best evidence against CPGD is that the trans men that they assume transition because of it seem pretty damn autoandrophilic. Of course, this argument doesn’t help much when they think of autoandrophilia as an artifact of CPGD, but there’s not much else to go on.

masculine-embodiment-fantasies

AAP results from my Transmasculine Narratives Survey.

From the perspective of a believer in AAP, the CPGD proponents often have huge model errors. When they see two trans men dating each other, for example, then this is because they are really “lesbians”, rather than because A*P trans people have unusual sexual preferences for being with trans people. They also often rhetorically ask what CPGDs have in common with AGP trans women, and in those cases I want to reply “everything”, even though others might think it’s obviously nothing.

At the same time though, my AAP-based models must seem completely bizarre to people who’re used to thinking about things with CPGD models. In the end, though, the side that ends up right is the one that looks at the facts, and I don’t see many CPGD proponents spend much time working with real data.

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What Evidence is Informal Internet Surveys?

One of my primary ways of learning about this gender stuff is by posting self-made surveys to various places, usually /r/SampleSize. Inevitably, this leads to people complaining that my surveys aren’t “real science” and should therefore be disregarded. But is that fair?

The main problem with this is that the way to learn about things isn’t to require that all information must meet some arbitrary standard of quality before you update your beliefs. All data must be taken into consideration for maximal accuracy, not just the best data. Since we often don’t have data in high quality, this is a very important thing to note, since otherwise you will get stuck with…

With what? What do people do if they don’t use my surveys? Usually, they seem to go with vague anecdotes, personal experiences, and their own political priors. This approach is hardly more accurate than informal internet surveys. It’s much more convenient, of course, because it lets you make up whatever you need for your politics. This is a great way to win, but it’s not going to put you any closer to the truth.

Of course, if there’s quality scientific evidence on some question, then I’m fully willing to use this in addition to my surveys. However, it’s worth noting that most cases I’ve seen people cite science that supposedly contradicted my findings, it turned out to mostly agree. For example, I was once debating with someone who argued that women hate their sex organs, so I mentioned that this contradicted what I’d found in my surveys. She then cited several papers which found… that women are ambivalent-or-happy about them. Which is exactly the same as I found.

There’s also the problem where scientific evidence isn’t necessarily as good as people assume. Take for example Littman’s study of ROGD. I’m sure it follows all the best standards of science and has been made by experienced people. However, Littman never gets data directly from the actual subjects she’s trying to study, and instead collects it from parents that have been recruited on websites that are biased against the claims of the subjects. She doesn’t examine highly relevant factors like AAP, and she doesn’t seem to even consider that the places she’s recruited people might caused bias.

There are all sorts of things that could go wrong with my surveys. There are also all sorts of things that could go wrong with actual science, though perhaps a bit fewer. On the other hand, if you get rid of my surveys, you’re not going to get science, you’re going to get baseless speculation, which is much worse. So I say, let’s do some surveys!

You’re not going to be satisfied with that, right? The followup that always comes after this is that maybe my surveys do provide more accurate information than wild speculation, but the fact that this information is numbers means that we need to hold them to higher standards, because people will respect numbers much more than wild speculation.

It’s possible that this is the case, but then we need to change how people treat numbers, not whether we use my surveys. Numbers are not this magical unquestionable substance, they’re just a useful way to summarize information, and it’s insane to avoid them.

Autoandrophilia Survey Results

In order to get more info on what autoandrophilia usually looks like, I went through all my surveys to find autoandrophilic women who had said that they would be interested in doing a follow-up survey. This gave me a list of 44 women to send the surveys to. Of these, 14 have responded to my survey thus far, giving me the data on this page. Here is a summary of what I’ve found:

The autoandrophilia experienced by the participants seems to take many forms. This include imagining being a submissive man, imagining being a gay man, imagining having a penis and using this in various dominant ways, and imagining being a man in an orgy. I’m sure there are many other ways it could present, considering how few responses I’ve gotten. It also seems unclear whether all of these constitute the same paraphilia, as the women seem to find different aspects of them appealing. This may be an interesting research direction for the future.

The participants were generally pretty happy about being women. To explain this difference from AAP trans men, I think we merely have to look at the amount of AAP. Here’s the results from the women in the survey:

aap-frequency

Contrast this with what I have previously found for AAP trans men in another survey:

masculine-embodiment-fantasies

The fact that they are happy with being women means that they probably don’t have any strong bias towards presenting themselves as being very masculine, being “trutrans”, or similar things that we might worry about when examining groups like AAP trans men.

The autoandrophilia often started early on, with 8 of the 13 respondents being autoandrophilic from the beginning of their sexuality. For example, one respondent wrote “I remember from a very young age (under 10) imagining i had a penis and being turned on by that. I don’t feel like i want to be a man, but in my fantasies, I usually am.”; another wrote “After touching my first hard penis, I wanted to know what it felt like to have one. So I’d read fanfiction to try to imagine it myself.”. This early onset seems similar to the patterns we see in autogynephilic men, which is evidence that autoandrophilia constitutes a genuine paraphilia.

Some of the respondents reported a later onset of AAP, but they did not seem to remember anything notable about this onset. The AAP did not seem to be caused by social contagion or obsession with sex change, since the onset was very early. Only one participant related to social contagion as an explanation, and the main thing she wrote as an argument for that was “I do have a lot of trans and or non binary friends”.

Despite the fact that the autoandrophilia seemed like a genuine paraphilia, it was common for the participants to know transgender and/or nonbinary people, with them on average knowing 4.1 such people. Compare this with Littman’s findings that trans men tend to have about 3.5 friends come out at as trans at a similar time as them. Littman attributes this to social contagion, but the fact that this sample of AAP women knows 4.1 trans/NB people despite not being affected by social contagion shows that it is likely instead caused by AAPs clustering together in similar social groups. (Perhaps because of shared interests?)

The participants reported a variety of sexual orientations, with the most common being bisexual. However, even those who reported monosexual orientations generally reported some degree of flexibility.

Some of the women tried to repress their AAP, but it didn’t seem to work. However, this doesn’t mean much due to survivorship bias; we wouldn’t have heard about it if it did work. I found one of the responses about AAP repression interesting, though: “I watched pornography without any men or realistic phallus. If these things appeared in my fantasies I would replace them. I began to feel that men were disgusting and I idolised women.”. This woman was also the only person in the sample who identified as a lesbian, and her response makes me wonder if the lesbian identity for some AAPs is caused by attempts to repress the AAP? This seems like an interesting research direction for the future. Her feelings that men were disgusting also sound like a mirror image of misogyny that stereotypically appears among some men who try to repress their AGP (though it is worth noting that I found no statistical evidence of such misogyny in other surveys, so it may be a myth).

There didn’t seem to be any consistent patterns in the causes that the participants proposed for their autoandrophilia.

Most didn’t have strong opinions on the idea of it being an erotic target identity inversion. The ones who disagreed with it as an explanation mainly seemed to do so because of their lesbian orientation.

It was common but not universal to feel that a desire for control was a contributing reason for the AAP; however, some participants had a more submissive variant that they didn’t feel could be explained this way. I think it would be interesting to examine the differences and similarities between dominant and submissive AAP further. They did not seem to have especially negative feelings about being around men, but I don’t have a baseline to compare with, so I don’t know for sure. Those who did have bad experiences with men generally didn’t feel that these were the cause of the AAP, despite feeling that the AAP was related to a desire for control; one participant even wrote the opposite: “I would not link my experience to my autoandrophilia. If anything, that experience made me more feminine (non-androphelic)”.

It wasn’t uncommon for the participants to have instances of childhood autoandrophilia or gender nonconformity. For example, one participant wrote “I used to ask my older brother and dad why I didn’t have a penis. One time my brother got so annoyed he told me my penis was ugly so the doctors chopped it off at birth. I was a young kid but still cried extra heavily about it” (she seems to feel better now); another wrote “I would dress as a boy and pretend that I was someone else. Some nameless boy part of the male groups. I dreamed of participating in their male exclusive activities (roughhousing, sleepovers, talking about girls)”. This seems similar to the anecdotes of autogynephiles who have AGP childhood experiences.

The participants reported varying degrees of gender nonconformity. It’s unclear how it compares to the baseline, though in my surveys I haven’t found much of an effect of AAP on GNC, so there might not be much here either.

Most participants hadn’t ever acted on their AAP in a sexual situation. Some participants had a lot of other paraphilias than AAP; others didn’t. There didn’t seem to be any clear themes in what people liked.

There’s a lot of interesting things in the survey that I haven’t covered yet, but going into more detail will have to wait for another time.

Lesbian Autoandrophilia?

For natal females, attraction to women is associated with transness due to the HSTS etiology. This makes it tempting to assume that all gender feelings among women who report preferring women is HSTS-spectrum. However, this is dangerous, as it seems possible that some women identify as lesbian due to autoandrophilia.

lesbian-aap

(This diagram is based on data from my Survey on Gender and Valued Experiences, Personality and Miscellaneous Questions Survey, Micro Gender Survey+, Survey On Traits You’re Attracted to or Would Like To Have, Broader Gender Survey, Gender and Psychology Survey, Thorough Genderbending Survey, and Amazon Mechanical Turk Survey.)

In the above diagram, I’ve plotted the amount of autoandrophilia (normalized to standard deviations from female average) that I’ve found in lesbians, with each point representing one group recruited for surveying, using two separate definitions of lesbian. “Strictbians” are women who report SOME attraction to women and NO attraction to men. In the surveys where I’ve asked about attraction to androgynous men, I have also required NO attraction to androgynous men. Meanwhile, “broadbians” are women who report more attraction to women than to men.

Strictbians are much rarer than broadbians; on average in the surveys above, I’ve only had 3.4 per survey, whereas I’ve had 18.3 broadbians. This makes them very difficult to study, but aggregating the data this way suggests that they are genuinely different, and that I can’t just assume they will be similar. Strictbians seem less AAP than the average woman (my weighted average suggests d~-0.21), whereas broadbians are more AAP (d~0.37). This leads to a total difference between the groups of d~0.59 (which is really an underestimate, because strictbians are a subset of broadbians, and thus drag down their average).

How does this tie into practical things? Unfortunately, I don’t usually ask people about their sexual identity (i.e. whether they consider themselves to be lesbian or not). This is a problem, because it means it is difficult to apply either of these two categories to the cases you most often encounter, where you merely know their identity label rather than knowing the specifics of their attraction patterns.

I have sometimes asked people about their sexual identity labels, so I do actually have something to work with for that. One source of data suggests that the broadbian concept is the closest match:

female-sexual-identity

(From my Personality and Sexuality Survey.)

There are only four exceptions in this case; three asexuals who’d be considered strictbians, and a gay woman who’d be considered a flexbian. This data suggests a pretty good fit, but… it assumes people will only have one sexual identity label! Since people were asked to pick only one label from a list of identities, it cannot take into account women who identify as both bisexual and lesbian depending on the context. Here are the results from a survey where I had a more-flexible system:

lesbian-id

(From Thorough Genderbending Survey.)

The responses here suggest that strictbian is too strict but broadbian is too broad. Of course, this threshold leads to an entirely different result than the other two, namely that the lesbians are as AAP as the women in general.

Let’s try to better approximate people’s identity better by making the following changes:

  • We exclude the asexuals by requiring more attraction to women than just a little. In practice, this cashes out to requiring them to report “sometimes” or “frequently” being attracted to women.
  • We do not allow more than “rare” attraction to men.
  • Those who do have “rare” attraction to men must be “frequently”, rather than merely “sometimes” attracted to women.

How does the lesbian AAP situation look then?

lesbian-aap2

Still elevated rates! The average is d~0.3, though I suspect this may be an overestimate. For example, perhaps AAP women are less likely to identify as lesbian given the same reported degree of attraction to men and women. Still, this has practical implications, in that AAP is likely also important for understanding women who report being attracted to women.

AGP in Cis Women is a Distraction

Some people claim that some cis women experience the same sort of autogynephilic things that trans women do. This claim has some serious problems, but so does its negation. However, let’s suppose cis women do experience such things. Does that mean the typology is bunk?

No. To some degree, autogynephilia in cis women threatens certain aspects of the model, such as erotic target identity inversion as the explanation of AGP, since this means we would not expect it to be possible to straight women to experience autogynephilia. (That said, women seem more bisexual in some sense, so it’s not a disproof of ETII…) However, ETII is only one aspect of the typology, and many useful things can still be derived without it.

However, what about everything else? Does it suddenly prove that AGPs and HSTSs are somehow the same? Or that AGPs are feminine? Not really. We could imagine any number of reasons for why cis women might experience autogynephilia. For example, consider Michael Bailey’s model of female sexuality. He argues that women don’t truly have a sexual orientation, so that they can be attracted to women if coincidences permit it, and he argues that this lack of orientation extends to the auto/allo dimension of sexuality. I doubt he would buy the argument that cis women are autogynephilic, but if cis women are potentially-gynephilic and potentially-auto(andro)philic, then it seems like there’s nothing that would prevent potential autogynephilia.

We could imagine lots of other models. Perhaps the causes of AGP in natal males and natal females isn’t even the same. However, there is one model that seems dubious, and it is the model which asserts that femininity is the cause of AGP in both natal males and natal females. Why is this problematic? Well, HSTSs and gay men don’t seem especially autogynephilic, despite being unusually feminine.

So, why do some people care so much about arguing that cis women experience autogynephilia too? I think they feel that the autogynephilia argument goes “Some MtFs experience AGP, therefore they aren’t women!”, and I’m sure some people use an argument like that, so it’s not an entirely unjustified reaction. However, the goal for me isn’t to decide whether trans women are women or not (my takes on that can be summed up as “transition is legitimacy”); instead, I’m trying to understand and predict people’s gender feelings, and by far the best model for this is autogynephilia.

The alternative model that some propose is that “trans women are women, and this explains both the autogynephilia and the desire to transition”. That’s not a real answer, though! What aspects of womanhood causes this? How do we know? Autogynephilia is a much more effective and justified explanation here.