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Inaugurating my participation at themotte.org with a new handle because I'm not sure I want the following post to be connected to me in real life.
Every time the psychology of trans stuff comes up at ACX or here I want to write this essay; this time I finally did.
Toward an Etiology of Trans
Part I: Two Stories
Our first story is about a boy who we will call Sam. From well before puberty, Sam had thoughts about wanting to be a girl. A favorite passage in his children's books was the one in The Land of Oz where the enchantment on the hero Tip is undone, transforming the boy into the princess Ozma. He didn't much like the things that motivated other boys: sewing and crochet were more interesting than sports. And his sense of aesthetics was (and remained) more feminine than masculine -- pastel colors and flowers, not bold colors and cars. He especially liked cut gemstones, and wanted to wear rings.
As he got older, Sam would frequently fantasize about being magically transformed into a girl; in puberty, his very minor gynecomastia (just little nodules under the nipples) provided fuel for these fantasies. As a teen, he discovered in an old development textbook a description of "transsexual reassignment", which occupied his attention for a while, though it seemed no more realistic than his fantasies of magical transformation. A sexual side to his fantasies was emerging, too: autogynephilia (though he had no word for it); but the fantasies were not only sexual ones. As well as a female body, Sam wanted feminine traits: beauty and sweetness and the freedom to adorn oneself with dresses and jewels.
Sam observed that his fondest nighttime dreams were ones where he was a girl. He practiced lucid dreaming and experimented with self-hypnosis largely in order to encourage these dreams, and to better imagine and better half-believe, in that partly-conscious realm at the boundary to sleep, in his feminine transformation.
These fantasies continued, more-or-less, into his young adulthood. He practiced less deliberate lucid dreaming, but savored the dreams when they came. But he kept them secret -- how weird it would be, for a man to confess to wishing he could become a woman, much less that these fantasies were often arousing. And in any case, they were impossible desires for what could only happen by magic; Ozma and Tiresias don't exist in the real world.
Our second story is about another boy; we will call him Hilary. Hilary was a typical boy of the nerdy type. He liked dinosaurs and astronomy and collected rocks and coins. He was especially good at math, and liked to spend time playing video games and learning to program in Basic.
When Hilary hit puberty and middle school, he had his first intense crush on a girl, which of course went nowhere. That didn't stop; his life from then on was a series of such crushes, of course on all of the smartest girls he knew, and each of them life-shattering (hah). In the meantime he excelled at math competitions, learned more programming, and played Civ and Starcraft and similar games. He fantasized about someday being a great mathematician.
Hilary finally had a girlfriend in college, though it didn't work out. A while after college, he found a woman who was pretty and smart and who consented to marry him. He has a happy marriage, a satisfying life and community, and a job in tech.
Sam, of course, seems like a clear example of the MtF trans type. /r/egg_irl would have a field day. Hilary, on the other hand, is pretty clearly a standard, well-adjusted man, though in the "nerd" rather than the "jock" mold. Pretty different, right?
The reader will have guessed that, of course, Sam and Hilary are one and the same person, whose story is simply told from different points of view.
The astute reader will have also guessed that they are both me.
Part II: Trans is not a Fundamental Category
The trans movement, to the extent to which it can be said to have a coherent philosophy and not just a number of disagreeing proponents, appears to assert two things:
Male and Female, Man and Woman, are not fundamental, biological things. Whatever their specific theories, the "trans X are X" formulation and all manner of similar things imply that one can "really be" a man or woman according to one's choice, perhaps with some hormonal help, not subject to the diktat of mere biology.
Being Trans, on the other hand, is a fundamental part of one's identity. One can see this by the typical reaction to statements to the effect that social transition, hormone treatments, and surgeries are misguided and harmful to the people undergoing them: the immediate outcry is that the speaker wants to "harm Trans people", or is "transphobic", or worse.
The first part of my thesis is that this is the reverse of the truth. Male and Female are fundamental, biological things; notwithstanding edge cases like intersex conditions, and social dimensions to behavior and dress, there really are fundamental differences between men and woman. Many of these differences are gross physical ones associated with sexual reproduction. Others are secondary, but highly, highly correlated (I'll leave the obligatory discussion of clusters in high-dimensional space to the reader's imagination). In the vast majority of these ways, the vast majority of trans people fit their natal sex better than their desired/chosen one, and the medical treatments provide at best poor facsimiles (the dreams of an actual transformation from man to woman or the reverse remain fully in the realm of fantasy).
On the other hand, Trans as an identity is largely chosen and a social matter. Now, let me make clear what I am saying and not saying here. Taking the example of MtF, I affirm that the following are real things:
Desiring to have a female body, whether this desire is sexual (autogynephilia), nonsexual, or (more likely) both.
Desiring to be feminine (in other ways).
Having some key interests or tastes which are more typically feminine than masculine.
Feeling uncomfortable in one's male body.
Having distaste for masculine things / feeling unsuited for a masculine role.
(I am avoiding the term "gender dysphoria" -- it's a vague description, covering multiple of the above items, which frequently masquerades as an explanation.)
But the choice to label having some assortment of these feelings as "Trans" is a choice, not a natural category or fundamental identity, and is highly subject to social norms and pressures, as evinced in the recent explosion of Trans identification.
While both positive (wanting-to-be) and negative (wanting-to-not-be) feelings do frequently co-occur (and from the movement rhetoric, there is the expectation that they will always co-occur), I get the impression, partly from anecdotal evidence and partly from introspection, that often one set is primary and the other is secondary -- with the secondary one perhaps caused by fixation on the primary. Much has already been written about the etiology of negative-primary trans, particularly in FtM cases, where young women who are depressed and generally uncomfortable with their bodies due to puberty and for social (or other) reasons become convinced that their femaleness is the problem and that they would be happier if they were male or sexless.
The other major case, positive-primary in MtF, seems stuck in either the Blanchard-Bailey categorization, which asserts that most of these are driven by autogynephilia, or in its emphatic denial.
(Continued in reply)
Part III: On Desire
Let's take a step back and do a little philosophy.
Desire is a funny thing. It seems to refer to several different things, but these things are connected and bleed into each other. At the least, I can identify four different types:
Desire-as-passion: thus the desire to eat when hungry, to have sex when horny, to engage in violence when angry, and so on. The 'animal' level, so to speak.
Desire-to-experience: thus the desire for beautiful scenery, like a waterfall or a sunset, or to see a great painting.
Desire-to-possess: Not necessarily as property, but being able to call that which is desired one's own, in some sense. Thus a man might desire a wife (or to marry a particular person); or someone might desire to have a best friend. But ownership, too, as one might desire to have one's own house and to put one's own stamp on it.
Desire-to-be: Thus a person who desires strength wishes to be strong; a person who desires virtue wishes to be virtuous.
Some things are properly (up to you whether this refers to natural law or merely to normal psychology; it works either way) desired in one way or another, and some in multiple ways. Thus it is proper to desire-to-experience a beautiful waterfall, a little silly and quite selfish to desire-to-possess it, and ludicrous to desire-to-be the waterfall. On the other hand, particular skill is something that one might reasonably both desire-to-experience (to see the master at work) and desire-to-be (to become a master one's self).
The above may not be the best possible classification of desire, but it will do for our purposes.
Part IV: Bleeding Desires as Etiology of Positive-Primary Trans
When I had my first crush, at around age 11, I was fixated on the object of my affection in all the usual awkward ways that a boy having his first crush does. I'll spare you the embarrassing details. But one thought, so potent and so strange that it has stuck with me for the decades since, was this: "I want to be her; but failing that, being with her is a good second-best."
Which is to say, my normal desire-to-possess had thoroughly bled into an unusual desire-to-be.
The thing about the Blanchard autogynephilic typing is that it is obviously true. A lot of MtF trans people were, apparently, highly masculine (c.f. Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner) before transitioning, and a lot of them seemed to have sexual fetishes around being a woman. The other thing about the Blanchard autogynephilic typing is that it is obviously false. A lot of MtF trans people that the Blanchard typology would categorize in that way report that there was a lot going on other than autogynephilia, and that the autogynephilia was not the primary consideration.
The standard Blanchardian answer, as I understand it, is that (a) autogynephilia is an "erotic target location error", and that (b) the other feelings reported by the autogynephilic types are sublimations of this erotic feeling. While this is not entirely implausible, it seems like too much of a false-consciousness hypothesis and gives too little credence to the internal reports of the people themselves. Moreover, it is rather contradicted by my own experience, to which I am inclined to give a good bit of credit.
Instead, I propose that the real source, of both the autogynephilia and the other parts of the often intense desire to be female (to posess a female body, to have feminine qualities, to present in a feminine way), is this bleeding of desire. A man will properly desire-to-experience and desire-to-possess femininity, to see and touch a woman, to call her his wife, to admire her, and so one; he will properly desire-to-be some masculine qualities and virtues (strength, stoic steadfastness, etc.). But what happens if these desires bleed and mingle; if desire-to-experience and desire-to-possess are also experienced as desire-to-be? "I want to be her." Or, more generally: "I want to be female, with a female body and feminine characteristics."
Now, say that these are your feelings. You dive a little too deep into these desires; take them a little too seriously; allow them to shape your self-image and identity (and the "trans" label and memeplex certainly encourages that! though it can absolutely happen in its absence) -- and now, maybe, you start to believe in them; to believe that you really are, deep down a woman or girl, not a man or boy; to believe that you will be fundamentally unhappy if your desires are unrealized; to be horribly uncomfortable with your maleness and male body because it means that you are not female with a female body...
Part V: A Self-Indulgent Epilogue
So, given that the egg_irl bait story at the beginning was me, how is it that I didn't fall down the trans slippery slope I just described, and am happy and successful as a mostly normal (albeit very nerdy) man?
I grew up in a setting where "trans" was not in the water. It wasn't until I found that brief treatment in a textbook that I even knew anything in that vicinity was a thing.
I correctly identified my fantasies as fantasy. That my desire to be female had the same likelihood of being fulfilled as the childhood desire to magically fly under my own power as in Peter Pan; which is to say, none at all.
I had (and have) religious beliefs that preclude acting on these desires.
Eventually, introspection on my feelings and thoughts led me to the above assessment of their source. Knowing why I have this disordered desire is a great step to overcoming it.
Even still, the desires and fantasies were sometimes overwhelmingly strong (see the part about lucid dreaming and self-hypnosis). I don't think I'm at risk anymore, but in the absence of the above factors, I think that younger-me could have, to his massive detriment, gone the other way.
Frankly, I think I dodged a bullet.
At the end of the day, from my experience, gender identity is downstream of self esteem and our ability to disentangle our desires for ourselves, from our desires for our partners, from what we believe we're capable of being for someone else.
Personally, I lacked self esteem growing up and had a lot of anxieties surrounding my ability to be masculine. (I'm a gay man.) So I was drawn to doing feminine things, which I also believed in my adolescent brain would attract a man (men are attracted to femininity right? Or so I thought.) But as I aged I realized that it's extremely gratifying to me to have my masculinity affirmed by other masculine men, and I don't really feel the gender anxiety I used to feel when I was younger. It is a matter of being more comfortable with myself than I was when I was younger. I too could have been trans, though I also felt physical horror at the thought of having my penis removed which helped me realize that perhaps it wasn't for me.
I wanted to see myself as an object of mens' desires, and I thought that being feminine would do so. If I was straight, perhaps I would want to see myself as the object of a woman's desires, and perhaps conflate the traits of femininity with what women desire, and so want to become feminine so as to possess those traits which women find desirable and become an autogynephile.
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Beautiful and confident women have a certain cachet or status, or perhaps a certain experience of life, that even the Bruce Jenners or, say, Harry Styles’ of the world don’t. Consider that Styles is rich, recognisable, relatively attractive, beloved by the opposite sex, famous etc.. His objective lived experience, his life, is better than that of the average stunningly, ethereally beautiful woman who, even in the 99th percentile, is still one of thousands in any major city. But there’s something special about pure, absolute beauty in a woman, which is something that even the most beautiful men don’t really experience. Of course, 99% of women don’t either. So as humans in large societies, we know that the treatment of this tiny minority of extremely beautiful women is unique, and we’re curious about it because these people have nothing, own nothing special, have accomplished nothing, they are, and often glide through life because of it.
People are drawn to that beauty and the imagination of it. “I want to be her” is common among women too. It’s common because the experience is unique, impossible to replicate, impossible to learn, impossible to buy (unless you’re very, very close and can finish the job with cosmetic surgery in your mid teens). And that impossibility of attainment (if you’re not already there) is true for men and women alike. A lot of autogynephilia that transwomen experience seems, to me, to be this almost gender-neutral impulse. It’s not sexual, although sexual interest and attraction is often part of it. It’s purer and more meaningful than that. It’s “I could become rich, and powerful, and have a beautiful wife, and achieve all my dreams, but I will never have what she has, or live what she experiences”. And because beauty is special among the great traits, that feeling hits differently to jealousy over been born into high status or getting lucky in some other way.
I think some part, deep inside the psychology of the vast, vast majority of transwomen is built around this tiny minority of beautiful women and the lives they lead (or that they are imagined to lead, more accurately). Even if they know that they’re 6’2 and 51 and will never lead such a life, it’s the idea of that life, and what it represents in the human imagination, namely to be a beautiful woman, that is most attractive. The problem is that this has nothing to do with what being a woman is like in general.
This is actually a really astute take that I've never considered or even seen implied before. But it rings very true.
It also kind of reminds me of my weird opinion on drag queens. I can't stand drag queens because I instinctively feel an aggressive competitiveness when I see them. They are basically men performing femininity in a competitive (masculine) way. They make me mad because I feel like I could be a better drag queen than them, which is a really masculine response to have, but simultaneously it implies that I am good at performing femininity, which is an irritating realization I have to contend with.
If an MTF trans woman wants to join the 1% of beautiful women, in my mind, that is an essentially male/competitive worldview bulldozing the reality of the 99% of femininity and what it is to be female, in a way.
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I'm not quite sure how to respond to this, so forgive me if I come off as too defensive, but...
There's clearly some truth in what you're saying, in that no boy who wants to be a girl, or man who wants to be a woman, really knows what it's like to be the other sex, and fills in their lack of knowledge with rosy fantasy in their imagination. But I don't think that this is (usually) an implicit comparison to the 99th percentile, just some amount of generic idealization. My first crush, the one I had weird thoughts about wanting to be, was just some sweet-but-awkward girl who went to my church; and maybe I was just relatively oblivious but I doubt an 11-year-old has any concept, accurate or not, of what kind of life a spectacularly beautiful woman would lead.
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This seems very analogous to a similar and mirrored phenomenon I've been noticing in a non-trans context. Which is, feminists looking at the lives of extremely successful men and ascertaining that but for the patriarchy keeping them down, women could all live lives like those 99th percentile men. When, in fact, the lives of a 99th percentile man is just as out of reach for basically every man as it is for every woman.
One particularly acute example of this I saw recently was in the show Velma - which I haven't watched but watched this clip of - which involved the title character, an Indian-American girl, dressing up as a man and immediately being considered attractive by all the women in school while doing gross things like burping or eating garbage, getting a job over a woman by handing in a paper scribble resume saying "I'm male," winning an art competition over a woman who painted an intricate beautiful painting by rubbing "his" butt over some paint and then over some canvas, and immediately being listened to when taking over a stage during a dance party to order people to go home. The idea that a short, chubby, effeminate Indian boy would enjoy such social/professional advantages in such settings is... something I would consider delusional at best, and the delusion is understandable if the thinking is that every man goes through life like a 99th percentile man.
More broadly, these just seem like the Apex Fallacy.
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FYI, some of my comments (Including the OP and a reply to @07mk) have taken / are taking many hours to appear for me when I'm not logged in. Possibly it's a new account thing. Edit: all my earlier comments have now appeared.
I wanted to add a few notes that didn't really fit in with the original essay, or that occurred to me afterwards.
I'm not sure how much "autogynephilia" is supposed to overlap with what I've described. Certainly in the "it's a fetish" sense (which seems is the plain meaning, since as far as I'm aware that's how "-philia" is used in this context) it is much more narrow, to the point of being wrong. I suspect some of its proponents might claim that it covers all of the feelings I described, but I disagree, for exactly the same reason that I disagree that affection and "being in love" are the same thing as lust; they are related, but not identical. And at any rate the "it's a fetish" sense seems to be how it is present in popular consciousness.
I hope I did not imply that my analysis is exhaustive. The same end result can have disparate causes, and I can't read others' minds. I do suspect it accounts for a lot, though, and in a better way than the dominant narratives.
I think our culture has a terrible narrative around desires, which seems to be something like, "Desires are good! They are also a fundamental part of you, so if you have especially strong desires, you should build your identity around them! Unless your desires are just obviously evil, in which case you are a bad person for even having them." I find the approach found in ancient Christian thought (and elsewhere) to be much better: "You can have rightly or wrongly ordered desires. You can desire something good, but in a bad way; you can desire something that is good, but less important, more than something that is better and more important; you can desire something that is in fact bad, because you erroneously feel it is good. Having disordered desires is bad, but it's bad in the way that being sick is bad; it's not morally equivalent to acting on those desires. You should strive to rightly order your desires, and in the meantime to not act wrongly on account of them; this will make you better off in the long run."
Rereading, I may have created the false impression that my experience was of this as an all-consuming thing. In reality, though it was a big part of my inner life (I wouldn't have gone out of my way to engage in fantasizing if it wasn't) for a number of years, it was not the biggest or most important part.
Based on a couple of the comments, apparently I was miscalibrated about how obvious my twist at the beginning was. If I'd known, I would have written the reveal differently! For whatever it's worth (and at the risk of overexplaining the joke), here's why I thought people would guess it: (a) the tone of the "stories" was that these were archetypes or composites, created for the sake of illustration, but (b) there were too many incongruous or unique details (at least in the first one), suggestive that these stories were of real people, and that the tone was for the sake of producing a twist; then (c) the details that were included or left out were somewhat complementary, but not technically contradictory, suggesting the "it's the same person" reveal over other twists, (d) the details, at least for the first, are rather intimate and indicate that the author knows the subject really well, so probably it's autobiographical.
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Thank you for sharing your experience. I've never actually looked at /r/egg_irl, but everything I hear about it makes it sound pretty terrible. I agree that many people right now are too quick to act as though being trans is an immutable and easily recognisable category. There are edge cases who are sort of in between being trans and not; there are odd cases (meaning no judgment) of people whose sense of gender simply fluctuates. Treating gender nonconforming people well requires acknowledging this complexity.
I only perused that subreddit once; perhaps unsurprisingly when it was linked from the Motte a few years back. The impression I got was that the users would interpret every little thing as proof that the author was trans (overwhelmingly MtF). Posts were either in the "I wanted to wear pretty dresses, and I thought about being a girl. I just realized that means I'm 100% trans!" vein, or were point-and-laugh at some internet content and deciding that the creator was totally trans but in denial, with the same standards of evidence. (I think that second one was the purpose of the sub. I don't know why so many subreddits not only engaged in point-and-laugh behavior, but made it their raison d'etre; it's invariably toxic.) The result was trans-maximalist groupthink, I guess?
I hope I didn't create the impression that my experience was the only possible one; I can't see into everyone's heart, of course.
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I had a somewhat similar experience, though probably not quite so strong. The emotional reasoning chain went something like [I like her] leads to [I admire her] leads to [I want to be like her], the last of which bleeds through into all aspects of being similar to someone, including physical aspects, rather than sensibly stopping at things like "I want to be charismatic and funny" and "I want to be graceful and competent." So I wouldn't agree that my "desire to possess" bled into a "desire to be", rather I had a perfectly reasonable "desire to be" which just bled outwards a little bit.
I think actually the phenomenon you are describing is more common in reverse. People notice positive qualities in their same-gendered friends, and rather than interpreting that as desire-to-be they interpret that as homosexual desire-to-possess.
I was never really at risk of transitioning at all for many reasons, but perhaps the most relevant to this discussion is just that I had (and still have) much bigger priorities than my own comfort. There are things which are both more fun to think about and more important, so they naturally pushed any disordered admiration entirely to the wayside.
That's an interesting thought about desires bleeding in the other direction. One thinks of the phenomena of hero-worship, or parasocial relationships, which might have something of that in them? I'm not sure about that being a common source of homosexual feeling -- my sense is that there's something else going on, there, at least in the central case. I'll try not to speculate about that, though; I am in agreement with C.S. Lewis here: "I have a reluctance to say much about temptations to which I myself am not exposed."
I'm definitely in agreement that having bigger priorities makes things less of a big deal. I don't think that's always sufficient, though; people can have sincere bigger priorities and still be tormented by contradictory desires (and even act on them, c.f. St. Paul: "For the good that I will to do, that I do not do, but the evil that I will not to do, that I practice.") for a long time.
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Actually, I did not - I took you at your word when you said that Hilary was "another" boy. If you're going to try and do something sneaky like that, you are at least obligated not to lie outright.
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How does it feel to share tribulations with Theodore Kaczynski? It seems you picked the same path with the same help of spiritual resolve on this particular road.
I've delved in this topic before on the old website, but it feels appropriate to again here recommend Anne Lawrance's Men Trapped in Men's Bodies which, while not exactly a light read is a rarely authentic and unbiased account of the experience of autogynephiliacs.
I feel like anyone who is honestly interested in improving their lot ought to have deeper knowledge of this experience than the dangerously trite memes that ended up producing egg_irl.
I wasn't aware of that episode in Kaczynski's life. The Wikipedia article makes it seem like his response was rather different than mine, though -- is it misleading on this?
(I share other things with Kaczynski too, like fascination with mathematics. It doesn't really bother me; I have things in common with people whose actions I abhor as well as with people I admire...)
I haven't read that book, though I had heard of it. The title is absolutely genius. I might give it a look, if for no other reason than to see to what extent others' stories support my analysis or not.
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I actually didn't see this coming at all. I thought the twist would be that Hilary transitioned at some point MTF later in life, hence the choice in name, rather than that Hilary and Sam were the same person.
I want to say, your experience is somewhat similar to mine, though of course most of the details are different. I recall when I learned about what "autogynephilia" was, probably about 5-10 years ago, I immediately knew it was a real thing, because I knew I had it or at least had had it. It was never particularly strong, not enough to want to be my childhood/teenage crushes rather than being with them or dreaming about being a woman, much less seeking out lucid dreaming to do more of it (though I did get into lucid dreaming at one point for more generic reasons). But I recall being fascinated by sex-change surgery when I was growing up and fantasizing sometimes/often about living in a scifi world where that was actually possible in a truly "passing" sense, and how much I wished I could do that.
I never had any force like religion pushing me away from trans-ness, and living in some of the bluest of blue areas in the US, I probably encountered trans people earlier, more often, and more normalized than most people. But I also didn't grow up in an environment like now, where there are many powerful and popular forces trying their best to pull trans kids "out of the closet," so to speak. I simply "outgrew" it, and like you, I think I might have dodged a bullet, given the permanent changes that I might have gone through in a different environment. Then again, given that my autogynephilia never seemed that strong, perhaps even in an environment like now, I wouldn't have been pulled into transitioning. But the likelihood of it having happened certainly seems non-zero and significant, and it makes me wonder how many boys right now might be being pulled into transitioning when they would have grown up to be perfectly fine with being a cis male like me.
This, of course, ties in pretty neatly with the post below about Scott Alexander's book review of The Geography of Madness; having "MTF Trans" as a neat little groove that one can slot right into will almost certainly push people on the margins (which I might have been, or at least I was close to the margins) with autogynephilia into identifying as MTF Trans. Particularly when it's clear that there's status to be gained within certain circles from doing so. This is one reason why I think all the pretty words about "empathy" and "acceptance" from the activists claiming to support trans people rings hollow for me; there's clearly a cost to this as well, and it's not at all clear to me that these people even recognize this cost, much less have done the incredibly difficult work of doing an attempted rigorous cost-benefit analysis to figure out if what they're asking for would actually be of benefit to people. It just looks to me like it's a bunch of people for whom transitioning was beneficial projecting that onto anyone who could possibly be on the margins and doing their darndest to take out every brake and barrier on the way in the misguided notion that because that would have been helpful to themselves, that will be helpful to everyone. Someone linked this blog post here about a week ago, and the line "It felt like I was talking to an AI designed to maximize the number of trans people" really resonated with me (this post seems to have been written 5 years ago; given where ChatGPT is now, such an AI might actually become reality soon).
I'm not even convinced it's that. I think a bunch of them are profoundly miserable in a way they wouldn't have been if they had tried to make peace with their reality. I think there's a subset of them that just wants company for their misery, to drag others down the path they were guided down.
From observing some of my acquaintances who have gone down that path, the desire to evangelise has appeared in every single one of them, making "jokes" about slipping pills to people and asking "so when are you going to come out too?" Frankly it absolutely disgusts me.
There are a lot of accounts from trans people who transitioned who say it's made them much happier. I think calling people en masse liars and secretly miserable is usually wrong. I think 07muk's analysis sounds a lot more accurate.
Most of the ones I see on, say, reddit, especially in the places like egg_irl where conversion of people is attempted, are profoundly depressed. It's not really a secret to anyone. Their post histories are public.
And they'll say that they were even unhappier before transitioning. That seems perfectly plausible to me.
Also I think a lot of trans redditors who're depressed probably post that they're depressed, where as very few trans redditors who're doing alright post explicitly that they're doing alright
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I think I agree with this.
They do say that "misery loves company," and I wouldn't rule out there being some people like that, but... that seems uncharitable? Like, I'd find it more likely that these people have an ideological commitment to a mistaken idea of what's good for them and others than that they are being actively malicious.
Joking about slipping pills to people is pretty concerning. The evangelizing thing is interesting; I guess (loose categorization here) there's 3 major (not mutually exclusive) reasons people evangelize for something:
They love it and are super excited to share it.
They think they have a moral imperative to evangelize.
They are themselves uncertain of or insecure in their decision, so they evangelize partly to convince themselves that it's a good idea.
Without, hopefully, trying to mind-read too much, your acquaintances sound like number 3.
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That's funny; I didn't actually think of that interpretation at all. I chose the name "Hilary" (an ancient name, almost always male until the 20th century) because of its meaning, since "Hilary's" story had a happy ending.
I suspect the answer is pretty large, and it's one of the things that frankly makes me most angry about trans activism. It's part of why I felt compelled to write my thoughts down.
I'm almost certain I read that blog post shortly after it was published, when it was linked back on Reddit. And yet somehow I missed this line:
which echoes my own experience so much (though the blog author's actions... don't) that I can't fathom how I didn't latch onto it the first time. Another data point for my theory, I guess?
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