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Culture War Roundup for the week of December 19, 2022

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I am trying to understand the standard policy on transphobia in online LGBT communities - that making a distinction between women and transwomen is transphobic and as a consequence results in a ban. At present, it is utterly bizarre to me, grotesque even, but I'll try to charitably present their position. Here is a paragraph explaining the rules of the lesbian subreddit, which is in line with most subreddits and forums I've been researching:

Things which are transphobic:

  • Not being interested in, or not dating, a specific woman because she is trans.

Trans women are women. They are often indistinguishable from cis women. They can't get pregnant, but neither can almost 10% of cis women, and fortunately in a lesbian couple there's usually a womb to spare. (With enough forethought you might not need a sperm donor!) Saying you're "not attracted to trans women" as a blanket statement cannot have a basis in empirical reality, but purely in prejudice. It's not like not being attracted to redheads or blondes or butches, it's like not being attracted to immigrants, children of blue-collar workers or survivors of cancer. "Trans" is, for the numerical majority of trans women, a history which says nothing about the person.

There's also an elaboration that since not all transwomen have a penis, and since not all transwomen can easily be detected as having male features, then saying that you are categorically opposed to dating transwomen (because of either a penis or male features) makes you a transphobe.

So their argument is that since (1) there are some transwomen who are physically indistinguishable from women, and (2) there are also women who cannot get pregnant but you would have no problem dating, then (3) your prejudice towards transwomen must be based on the principle that women and transwomen are ontologically different, and therefore this makes you a transphobe.

The main objection here is that there are in fact zero transwomen who are indistinguishable from women with a womb. The paragraph above was written by a transwoman and is, to me, wishful thinking. They link to an Instagram of a transwoman who is supposed to illustrate how women-like their appearance can be, but even with the best filters and makeup there is something off about them, and in person this would be easily spotted. Even if there are some who would realistically pass a first-impression test, their body (hips, jaw, Adam's apple, "vagina", body odor) would soon give them away, and possibly also their behavior would seem incongruent. And all of this is based on the premise that people's sexual preference are based on formal logic as opposed to general trends in a group's appearance - most transwomen are not even close to passing and that's why many men have a categorical aversion to transwomen.

I tried asking this question on a few different subreddits but my post doesn't even show up and I received one ban as well, so here I am. Can anyone try to justify the transphobia policy above?

One minor point: lesbian subreddits have a disproportionate number of trans woman mods. You shouldn't take what they say as representative of the broader community. The very fact that we see it declared a bannable heresy is an indication that there are heretics. A majority of lesbian women prefer to date natal women.

The main point: as a thought experiment, suppose it were possible to transplant a consciousness into a body grown in a vat or something. That body is indistinguishable in every way from a natal body of the same sex. And then you start dating someone who has one of these bodies and you like them more than anyone you've ever dated, but a month later they tell you their natal body was the opposite gender of their current ones, and you react with revulsion and end things. Is it "transphobic"? I don't love that word because it carries with it an overly negative connotation, but it does seem like it would be a psychological issue that wouldn't serve your own interests well. (Although the harm here would be to yourself, not to the "trans community").

Of course, it's a very relevant point that in the reality we live in we're currently far from creating bodies that don't leave a trace of their original sex.

This idea that consciousness and body are somehow separable is sort of mainstream especially around here, but it deserves more scrutiny. You are your body and vice versa.

That is a wider debate around transhumanism which would be fun if we could make it happen.

Seems to me that transhumanism is for those who are ashamed of their bodies.

There's a flavour of reddit type person who is smart, so of course believes that people's status should be derived from that alone. They are often ugly and have poor social skills. This person loves transhumanism.

Seems to me that transhumanism is for those who are ashamed of their bodies.

You don't need to be ashamed of your body to recognize that you can improve upon it.

What's your take on walking canes and reading glasses?

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Improve upon it by getting some sort of robotic implant, magic smart pill: you're trying to escape the normal hierarchy, denying its legitimacy

That's not the same as being ashamed of it though. My heart will at some point give out, wanting a mechanical replacement is entirely within the normal hierarchy because it will be made by humans, created by our brains and our hands. Might as well complain about antibiotics and surgery surely? Eating properly requires your mind actualizing change into the world. Same with surgery and prosthetic limbs and replacement heart valves and beyond. Almost by definition anything we do is part of the normal hierarchy of the world. It cannot be otherwise.

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We've spent much of our evolution path as a human society denying the legitimacy of the jungle hierarchy.

People I disagree with are ugly

Yes. But for that one scenario just say it is a brain transplant. They had that in a Ghost in the Shell episode. Some guy would put his cybernetic brain into female artificial bodies and have sex with men.

Or a literally gender fluid person? That character in the show was a masculine male politician and on the side had (staight?) sex with men as a woman. Some future person enjoying their favorite parts of publicly socially being a man and privately sexually being a woman.

They are people who have their brains surgically removed, cybernetically enhanced and placed in armored shells. They install their brains into artificial partially-robotic partially-biological bodies. With a few minutes and a bit of help someone could swap to a new body.

At that point I suppose that counts as real of a woman as any. Given that the real-real women are similarly artificial. But I know not everyone would be cool with that. I certainly wouldn't fuck my male friend if he swapped into a female body for a bit, like in that episode of that show. That's too weird for me.

Which series was this, specifically? I don't remember it in SAC.

Season 1 episode 1 of Stand Alone Complex. "SA: Public Security Section 9 – SECTION-9"

Major: This next footage is of the Minister and a geisha going into the bathroom.

Aramaki: With a geisha?

Major: Apparently, he sometimes likes to swap bodies with geishas when he gets drunk.

First episode of SAC season 1, the foreign minister is "into body swapping" with geisha androids and given the context some sexual activity is implied. That's the background for the opening hostage scenario and provides the window for a foreign intelligence agent to put the foreign ministers brain in a suitcase and his own in the minister's body. Maybe crosswired with the SAC season 2 episode 3 CASHEYE where the VIP has some sort of fetish of having sex with androids (or full cyborgs) and the major offers to up the ante by letting him experience it from her perspective at the same time. The foreign minister from S1E1 gets a minor call back in that episode as well. Haven't seen the Hollywood movie but it borrows a lot from SAC including a geisha robot hostage situation so it might have featured there as well.

I agree in part (i.e. that your body is part of your consciousness), but that doesn't imply that separation causes a new consciousness or identity. On a small scale, transplanting a kidney or losing an arm doesn't destroy a consciousness but at most transforms it (by changing the I/O patterns the consciousness experiences). If my magical technology actually existed, you could have a locker of bodies identical to your own and, in the case of a serious accident, have your consciousness switched to a new one and leave the destroyed body behind. Has your consciousness somehow suffered in the process?

There can actually be something important to a potential partner about the psychology of someone who would step into that lab grown body and the framing is doing a lot of work. It's like in the same scenario but instead you find out they have made all of their life decisions by consulting an aggressive psychic who they refuse to stop consulting the psychic or agree that psychics are not purveyors of truth.

I suppose a variation of the framing would be to compare whether you'd judge a transwoman more harshly than a natal female who just took on a hotter synth female body.

You can still imagine there's just something off about someone who really didn't like their birth sex, in a way that's deeper or more problematic than someone who just wants to look hotter. But I'd want to see evidence of that (in that hypothetical world). Would gender swappers generally have worse outcomes or behavioral patterns than regular people?

This discussion would probably at some point call for an examination of Blanchard's autogynephilia hypothesis, i.e. that some men are sexually aroused by the thought of themselves as a woman, and that this is the motivational mechanism behind some trans sexuality. Now I am not the person to have that discussion because I know way too little about it. Autogynephilia sounds like the kind of thing psychologists would make up, honestly, but I am not qualified to make that claim on any proper foundation.

Many people are sexually interested in excrement, imagining yourself as the object of your desire seems like the kind of philia you'd be surprised if it didn't exist.

I think there's two different claims that need to be distinguished here.

It is undoubtedly true that some men have a "forced feminization" or "sissyfication" fetish. One only need google those two phrases, and you'd be presented with a ton of examples of this.

And at least some of the trans women online are open about formerly being AMAB with such fetishes.

However, the question is one of causality. Do the transwomen with sissyfication fetishes have them because they are trans, or are they trans because they have sissyfication fetishes?

I could easily imagine a world where people who are trans happen to like sexual fantasies where they magically get turned into women. It wouldn't be that different from women with rape fetishes - their guilt is a turn off, so a scenario that takes the control out of their hands and bypasses their guilt is incredibly attractive.

Right, and my possibly slightly spicy take on this is that this is a much more understandable and reasonable justification for identifying as a woman than most I hear from trans advocates. I'm not surprised it's what many people assume is going on in most MTF cases when they called MTF Trans women perverts. I can't figure out the internal logic on transgenderism without a motivation like this. The only other reasonable alternative is that there is some internal sense of gender that I and people like me are blind to, and this is really hard for me to believe.

The only other reasonable alternative is that there is some internal sense of gender that I and people like me are blind to, and this is really hard for me to believe.

Even Blanchard's typology allowed for "homosexual transsexuals" ("gay men" who transitioned young in order to score straight men), so even in his theorizing there's more reason than sissyfication fetishes to explain being trans.

That said, I'm not sure I think one needs a bespoke "sense of gender" to explain trans people either. I doubt people evolved a specific biological mechanism to become true "weeaboos", and yet some subset of American youth immerse themselves in Japanese culture and entertainment all the same. I think this can easily be explained by more general mental mechanisms - autism-like special interests, being an outcast from mainstream culture, being extremely online, etc.

I suspect that sex is such an obvious social trait, that there would always be a non-zero number of people who get a trapped prior that their life would be better if they had been born the opposite sex (or could start living as the opposite sex), or who have general feelings of body dysphoria or feelings of social ostracism that get channeled through envy of the opposite sex in some way.

The question then becomes the best way to deal with this trapped prior. Unlike with a phobia, where the person is going to keep living in a world with, say, dogs, and it is probably best to use a reliable, evidence-based therapy to lessen or eliminate the person's trapped prior, I suspect that the existence of hormone treatments and surgeries make it more difficult to remove this trapped prior.

Supposedly, people's pain tolerance is lower if they know they can get a pill that will block their pain. This makes sense to me - if your only option is to endure pain, better that your baseline biology pony up with natural painkillers or distractions that make it easier to endure. But if you now know that there's a quick fix, your strategy naturally shifts to convincing the gatekeeper of pain pills that you deserve pills to block your pain. You'll subconsciously convince yourself that your pain is unbearable, because truly believing that your pain is unbearable is the best strategy to convince a gatekeeper of that fact.

Maybe the trapped prior of sex or sex role dysphoria is the same thing? You think the grass is greener some way (your soft male physique would be better received with boobs and make up, people would treat you more nicely, etc.), that your current life sucks (possibly true), and that your best option is to jump through all the hoops the local doctor sets up for you and get some hormones (or to just acquire some hormones from the black/grey market.)

In this model, the "social contagion" would just be the simple knowledge of the fact that semi-reliable treatments exist.

I don't know what the most responsible thing to do if the trapped prior model is correct. Do we have reliable ways to move trapped priors? Somehow, what gets called "conversion therapy" by opponents doesn't seem like a very likely way to work, but I don't know what the evidence actually looks like on that front.

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Right, and my possibly slightly spicy take on this is that this is a much more understandable and reasonable justification for identifying as a woman than most I hear from trans advocates.

Understandable to who?

Because the US political milieu and arguably legal system is biased towards claims about inherent characteristics (i.e. you can't discriminate against me cause I was born this way!). I don't think the "trapped in the wrong body" position is really carving reality at the joints (at least not in the normative sense people want - someone with a foreign limb could claim they feel "trapped" in their body - nobody thinks this validates their "identity", we just think they're delusional).

But that doesn't mean that it isn't useful, politically.

Edit: removed for potential consensus building, repetition.

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Seems like bog standard fetish drift to me. Didn't that come up some while ago in a discussion about conversion therapies? But yeah, fetishes tend to get more extreme over time, and you can absolutely meme yourself into having one. Combined with all the aggressive trans-propagandising going on where people say things like "if you're even asking the question of if you might be trans, then you probably are"...

It's a whole can of worms, it would also be very important how they framed it. I find most of the current thought justifying transgenderism to be pretty vacuous and would be much more receptive to someone just saying they did it because they reviewed their options, maybe tried both and pragmatically decided that they'd prefer to be the opposite sex rather than all this mysticism around some immeasurable innate gender. Which I think is where your hypothetical breaks down, people care quite a bit about what their prospective partners think/believe. Someone who is convinced on psychics would make a bad partner for me regardless of their body. I do think there is also some matter of a lot of path dependent psychological development happens on one side of the fence or the other that can't be undone, and if it can that machine starts seeming a whole lot more like something that kills someone and then creates a new person.

I just want to point out that using irrational means to make difficult decisions isn’t necessarily wrong.

In traditional matchmaking, the irrationality of astrology was one of the best aspects of it. The matchmaker had knowledge of parental preferences and their broader social standing, so it wasn't fully random. But choosing one match over another was often considered a slight against the losing family and could result in a loss in standing. Astrology's opaqueness gave plausible deniability so everyone could walk away from the encounter while saving face.

Contemporary people sometimes use it now to soften the blow of rejection: blame it on the fact that the suitor is an Aquarius, and the suitor can just walk away mumbling to himself that the rejector is just crazy.

Point deer make horse. Denial of reality as obvious as this makes for a strong signal of loyalty. Lesbianism is more political than biological anyway. You don't even have to sleep with a man dressed as a woman, you just have to agree it's a woman while other people are around.

[citation needed]

I can guarantee you that there are women out there who only fuck other natal, XX women.

I can provide citations but most data supports the idea that the vast majority of lesbians have had sex with men. This is in sharp contrast to gay men who generally only sleep with men, ever, suggesting true lesbianism is exceedingly rare

Not that I disagree, but maybe group sizes? If women generally are more 'fluid' in what they claim, there could be a "actual lesbian" population and a "college lesbian" population that is larger, and the former could be woman-exclusive while the latter would have sex with men.

"College lesbians" definately exist. I guess the question would be whether the "actual lesbians" exist, though I'd expect this to be one of those fraught questions that people just sort of give up on asking.

Probably a lot of (maybe all? idk) 'real lesbians' are such because of complicated environmental and intentional factors as opposed to 'born that way', but they are much more committed to it than the more casual lesbians are.

For being a lesbian? Source/explanation?

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Do you also mean grooming?

There are situational homosexuals. Prison, military, boarding schools, etc.

Also I'm mostly convinced that much of the 'experimenting' and binge drinking in my peer group in the 90's was largely due to lack of female companionship.

Alternatively, it's far easier to have sex with men than women. A lesbian woman can have sex with a man on a whim, while a gay man would need to exert some effort to have sex with a woman. The data you describe would arise naturally from that.

Maybe, but I doubt it’s about ease. Prostitution exists after all, if they were really wanting to try it.

I'm not actually sure prostitution is "easy" for people, even when they have the ability to pay and a legal environment favorable to prostitution.

Some combination of religious guilt, and social stigma would be more than enough to dissuade men looking for a good time from seeking out prostitutes.

A lot of incels who are terminally unhappy not only about their sexlessness but also about their virginity never go to prostitutes. Taking that kind of hit to your self-worth and become the kind of person who would solicit a prostitute (on top of other risks, such as legality and STDs) does not seem worth it for a lot of people.

A significant proportion of gay men (almost half) have had female sexual partners at some point. This dovetails with my ancedotal experience wrt to the gay men I know personally. The number is higher for lesbians, but not that much higher and it seems to be a difference of degree not of kind.

Yes I agree, what did I say to the contrary?

Oh...what did you mean by “lesbianism is more political than biological?”

I think lesbians are more motivated by dislike of men [they can attract] than attraction to other women. There's even a whole wiki article on Political Lesbianism, in which the proponents themselves assert this is a political choice. The corresponding article does not exist for gay guys, whose commitment nobody doubts. It also fits with the whole "lesbian dead bedroom" phenomenon. These things can all be true while there are many women who only have romantic encounters with other women.

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Lesbianism is more political than biological anyway.

Your comment is a bit... curt, I guess I want to say, given the strength of its claims. To much heat, not enough light. Which is not to say there's no light there, but if you're going to assert that lesbianism is "more political than biological," that seems like the sort of thing you should say with evidence, at least a bit. You didn't even hyperlink the idiom--some amount of shibboleth-slinging is bound to crop up in any community, but still it would be better to speak a bit more plainly.

m, and in person this would be easily spotted. Even if there are some who would realistically pass a first-impression test, their body (hips, jaw, Adam's apple, "vagina", body odor) would soon give them away, and possibly also their behavior would seem incongruent. And all of this is based on the premise that people's sexual preference are based on formal logic as opposed to general trends in a group's appearance - most transwomen are not even close to passing and that's why many men have a categorical aversion to transwomen.

My biggest problem is it's false advertising. You are not really hooking up with a woman, but only an approximation of one. Even if it could 100% pass a blind test, it's still categorically not the same thing. This is a such a messy subject that it's pretty much off-limits anywhere...if you think race & IQ is contentious, the trans issue is even worse.

You say "false advertising", but I wonder how far this goes. Suppose we get to a point that with minimal effort that all trans people undergo, they all start to pass as the gender they identify with to the point where, as far as hooking up goes, you fundamentally could not tell if they were cis or trans. Is this "false advertising" still?

This sounds like an argument that attributes what it means to be a "real woman" to something non-material in nature.

Well, for some people the deception is most of the problem. The idea that someone could so casually lie about something so huge. I don't think that needs overmuch explaining.

For others it's revulsion at the particular mode of femininity that seems to be adopted by those attempting to become female. They just do things normal women basically never do. "Dress go spinny!" and all that nonsense. The very stereotypical things they choose to wear and do, and the experiences they claim to have and enjoy. It all comes off as a man acting like what the thinks a woman acts like, instead of how women actually act. I don't know if those things would go away in the case of a magic perfect gender swap machine. The brain would still lack the socialisation and experience. Dressing it in a more appealing shell might blunt some of the disgust people feel, but I don't know...

Anti-TRA people like to bring up the "very male" responses these female aspirants come out with when challenged -- threats of rape and violence, fantasies about forcing themselves and their genitalia on unwilling lesbians. I don't know how much stock I put in that, I think pretty much everyone has the capability to be absolutely terrible, but it's possibly another point in the same vein.

Well, for some people the deception is most of the problem. The idea that someone could so casually lie about something so huge. I don't think that needs overmuch explaining.

If a person believes themselves to be a woman because they think you can self-identify into the category, this is a case of miscommunication, not a lie.

And if someone doesn't believe that, then it's a lie no matter how earnestly the speaker believes it. Confidently incorrect is still incorrect, and genuinely believing a lie doesn't make it true.

"God is real" is a lie to me, no matter how genuinely some people believe it to be truth.

"God is real" is a lie to me

the key point here is the "to me" part. I would argue that if two people hold different definitions on something, we cannot meaningfully call it a lie when one uses their definition in a way that contradicts the other's.

If I didn't think the opposite was a lie, how could I be meaningfully said to hold that my own opinions are true, when the two are mutually exclusive? If I truly believe that god is not real, then it stands to reason that I must also think the statement that god is real is a lie, no?

Common usage of the word "lie" would entail an intent to deceive i.e speak in bad faith. But two people who hold different definitions are not speaking to deceive the other, they're speaking from their own actually held beliefs. That you perceive it as a lie suggests you make no distinction between people who wish to actually mislead you and others who simply disagree.

No, that does not follow. You must also think that the statement that God is real is incorrect, but if the person offering the statement is sincere and without the intent to deceive, then it is not a lie.

Suppose we get to a point that with minimal effort that all trans people undergo, they all start to pass as the gender they identify with to the point where, as far as hooking up goes, you fundamentally could not tell if they were cis or trans. Is this "false advertising" still?

Probably, although you would never know it I suppose. But the point is that we very much do not live in that world. The idea that "a trans woman is indistinguishable from a woman" is a blatant lie, unless you're using something like the circular "a woman is anyone who says they're a woman" definition.

In the transhumanist future, we may get to the point that it's actually indistinguishable. At that point it's maybe false advertising in the sense that some people may have a disgust reaction if they found out they were sleeping with a trans woman, but they'd never know so the point is moot then.

Oh for sure, we don't live in that world right now. But we should be clear about what exactly would make someone reject a trans person as a suitable sexual partner. I think any argument that firmly rejects trans people as partners even if they could perfectly pass on every biological level is an argument rooted in some notion of a non-material essence inside a person that corresponds to gender.

I think any argument that firmly rejects trans people as partners even if they could perfectly pass on every biological level is an argument rooted in some notion of a non-material essence inside a person that corresponds to gender.

This is related to why most people fight hypotheticals.

It's all fine to talk about hypothetical situations as hypothetical situations. But this kind of hypothetical is used as a way to sneak in assumptions about the real world. Answering "sure, I'd accept trans people who were biologically identical to cis examples of that gender" is likely to be followed up with "well, how big are the differences really" or some other suggestion which tries to use the hypothetical example as a step towards saying something about the real world.

Even if the pizza hut meme is no longer true, and they're now indistinguishable from a natal woman. They still may be rejected because whatever is was that made them need to be a woman, is undesirable in a partner.

Based on Canada I think we'll have suicide booths before sex-swaping machines.

People form their attitudes based on the world that actually exists. Any reasoning involved would be based on central examples, not on edge cases.

In a transhumanist world full of casual, perfect, sex changes, where the central examples are nothing like they are today, the attitude towards dating trans people would be different from today.

Is this "false advertising" still?

Yes, some people would like to have children.

"Hooking up" and "trying to have kids" are two separate things. I agree that if you are looking for children, lying about the ability to have kids is a bad thing.

I don't think most people compartamentalize dating and hook-ups to that degree. The latter often leads to the former.

This sounds like an argument that attributes what it means to be a "real woman" to something non-material in nature.

Isn't this the exact problem the trans advocate camp runs into? If gender as non-material nature is off the table doesn't that collapse the whole concept before we even need to consider the body swapping stuff?

We may someday get this theoretical full gender swap machine, albeit very very far into the future, but the justification for using it and the subsequent question of whether someone would want someone who had done so is going to look totally different to modern day trans theory.

When people propose this thought experiment I think a whole lot of really load bearing stuff is getting papered over. Just the fact that we'd actually be able to use it to run experiments both as individuals curious about how the other side lives and collectively on gendered phenomenon is a huge game changer and if you're making assumptions on how those experiments would have gone those assumptions hide all the actual interesting implications of the thought experiment.

If a cis person went through the procedure do you think they'd have dysphoria? why or why not?

When people propose this thought experiment I think a whole lot of really load bearing stuff is getting papered over. Just the fact that we'd actually be able to use it to run experiments both as individuals curious about how the other side lives and collectively on gendered phenomenon is a huge game changer and if you're making assumptions on how those experiments would have gone those assumptions hide all the actual interesting implications of the thought experiment.

Thought experiments used in this manner are trying to get at what the root argument is. You can't say something like "We can't make trans woman perfectly pass" as your argument in this case because the hypothetical assumes that we can. It's a way of getting around the surface-level arguments some people co-opt. We had a discussion back in the subreddit about whether race-swapping in media is bad, and some people very clearly used "It's not being done well" as a reason to reject the idea as a whole.

If a cis person went through the procedure do you think they'd have dysphoria? why or why not?

Insofar as they identify with a particular sex, I think they would. If it's not a big part of your identity, I think you might just shrug it off like a minor irritant.

Suppose we get to a point that with minimal effort that all trans people undergo, they all start to pass as the gender they identify with to the point where, as far as hooking up goes, you fundamentally could not tell if they were cis or trans.

I bet that in such case they would have no problem with saying "I was born male, then rebuild myself as a giraffe and now I morphed to female form". But we are far away from this level of bioengineering no matter what would people claim.

The entire trans stuff is caused by uncanny valley of being able to imperfectly migrate - but extremely imperfectly with small minority achieving anything close to a success. Even if they do not care about fertility.

.if you think race & IQ is contentious, the trans issue is even worse.

I don't think this is true. I have a lot moderately conservative libertarianish friends and family. When the trans issue comes up we can all laugh about it and go "wow those woke people sure are crazy". But if I bring up race and IQ I get a lot of concerned looks and comments like "you better not say that in public".

I don't think it's just my social circle either. Look at mainstream Republican politicians and commentators. Many of them have come out and took a stand on the trans issue but they're all scared to even mention race and IQ.

I mean the left is more likely to ban or censure you for posting about trans stuff compared to race & IQ. both topics are radioactive. However, IQ alone is not too bad.

I think you're mistaking level of vitriol in online discussions for likelihood of banning/censorship. The trans discussion invites a high level of angry comments because it is, by and large, a tolerable discussion. The actual discussion is being had, and while leftist spaces might ban you for questioning whether trans women are actually women, right wing spaces will ban you for discussing race/IQ. There's no heat in those discussions because it is vastly outside the public's Overton Window. It is a socially acceptable position to hold that trans women are not really women. It might not be super popular, and it might not win you any DIE awards, but you can hold that position in a discussion with the average American and not come out the other end with your proverbial tailfeathers on fire. If you were to start discussing the correlation between race and IQ with the average American, you would be dismissed as a racist nutjob best ignored entirely.

@aqouta more or less has the right of it.

Trans communities have a vested interest in avoiding dysphoria. That usually includes a level of politeness which you might describe as “playing along,” just like any other social interaction. I’m not going to tell my cousin that his career choice is stupid, or my friend that her boyfriend is an asshole. Not without an invitation to frank and probably-painful discussion. Trans communities are generally not giving that invitation.

It’s hard to talk about these dynamics without bringing up “triggers” or “safe spaces” and their legitimacy. There’s a reason gender politics has aligned so well with Internet leftism. The steelman, there, is that trans people have the right to associate with those who will accept a certain brand of politeness. (And yes, there is equivocation between lacking the power to extend that space of acceptance and having the right to do so, but that’s kind of beside the point.)

Your observations about edge cases, Chinese robbers, and general motte-and-bailey are downstream of accepting this premise. Like every other social dynamic, politeness invites rationalization, if only to deal with outsiders. And like every sexual dynamic, saying basically anything without dissembling is gauche.

Trans communities have a vested interest in avoiding dysphoria.

What does being trans have to do with dysphoria? This sounds like transmedicalism; the truscum lost that internal conflict.

Has the distinction between transmedicalists, truscums, and tucutes ever been articulated on here? I would have assumed that due to the dominating market share of trans-accepting places on the internet that now default to the Gender Euphoria model of transness, Motte posters would be generally unaware of the 'battle' between older transgenders/transsexuals who fundamentally view gender dysphoria as a medical issue necessary of medical care (transitioning to the other sex) and a new wave of Extremely Online trans teenagers who think anyone who experiences Gender Euphoria (for which there are multiple definitions of) counts as transgender and that they are 'Too Cute' (hence the name) to be cisgender.

As for if there's a distinction between the terms transmedicalist and truscum, I keep finding conflicting opinions. Some people claim transmedicalist is the group's self-chosen name and truscum is an exonym placed upon them, others claim the two groups have different opinions on non-binary people and whether it is necessary for someone who is trans to transition completely to the opposite sex, and yet others claim the terms differ in that everyone can be a transmedicalist, but trans people who go against the Gender Euphoria model of transness get labeled as truscum. As with most terms created and spread by the internet, the history of the terms is unclear and more time will be necessary to see if the terms are going to mean the same thing, if they are going to end up with different definitions, or it one term will overtake the other completely in usage.

they are ‘too cute’ (hence the name) to be cisgender.

TIL that there are people with a stereotype of transgenders as cute. Do they mean cute as in ‘oh my gosh, look at this kitten’ or cute as in ‘she’s cute, I wonder if she’s taken’, I wonder? Neither fits my impression of trans people at all.

Cute like a girl's friend's new outfit is irregardless of the outfit itself.

So it’s becoming trans for social approval?

I try to avoid using the word grooming in relation to the trans debate, but, well…

The trans community seems to do pathological affirmation for allied groups. I've known people who did it like a mental tick. Something would remind them that group X existed, and then they would just start saying "X are cute and valid" like "Peace be upon Him". The really wild, schitzo part was when it would just chain off in free associations, all of whom are Heckin' Cute And Valid.

I tried working through with this post a bit, one of the things that does derange me about the whole topic is that you often needs to exchange several questions before you can peg which type of trans activist you're talking to and any individual trans advocate will shift between the different camps at will despite the many contradictions.

To be honest, I’ve never quite figured out what a truscum is. I gather there were some tumblr flame wars over the issue.

Contrary to the other response, though, I’ve heard a loooooooot more mention of dysphoria than euphoria, even in the modern Internet. Maybe the harm-based model just dominates relatively utilitarian rationalist forums?

A truscum is (roughly) a transperson who thinks gender dysphoria is necessary to be trans, and argues many 'new' trans people/nonbinary people, maybe without dysphoria, are just pretending/not really trans/stealing valor

A few years ago (or less?), there was a...we'll call it a debate...within the trans activist community that pitted the so-called "truscum" vs. the "tucutes."

The first group maintained that dysphoria was the essence of trans-ness, since the entire point of social transitioning was to leverage the trauma of dysphoria into a minimizing-harm obligation on the part of others to avoid "deadnaming," "misgendering," and other potential triggers of a painful downward emotional spiral for the trans person. Various types of dysphoria had already been recognized as real phenomena, so leaning hard on the trauma angle would maximize how much the activists could push for in terms of changing social norms.

The second group responded that gender expression is individual, infinitely variable, and unknowable outside of the lived experience, so relying on external validation made no sense. Besides, without the limits of a dysphoria diagnosis--which had always been vanishingly rare--the "trans" community could broaden the reach of its umbrella by orders of magnitude, increasing the size of the marginalized group that the activists claimed to represent.

The second group won, comprehensively. Going forward, trans identities could not be externally policed; they were strictly a matter of identification which would not be questioned. Naturally, the activists weren't going to give up the rhetorical advantages of the truscum position--"deadnaming" and/or other forms of "misgendering" is still literally violence that drives trans people to suicide, even without any form of dysphoria being present. "Transmedicalism" is a dismissive term of the truscum argument that trans identities derived from dysphoria--that they could be affirmed or negated by a medical diagnosis.

The steelman, there, is that trans people have the right to associate with those who will accept a certain brand of politeness. (And yes, there is equivocation between lacking the power to extend that space of acceptance and having the right to do so, but that’s kind of beside the point.)

Given the colonizing tendencies of that specific type of ideology (as a catch-all term for a world view with accompanying social norms and modes of enforcement), I don't think the freedom-of-association argument holds much water here. Keep in mind that the above quote was scrapped from what was originally a meeting place for lesbians.

Now I can't help but feel an immense amount of Schadenfreude that the identity group that has historically been the main driving force behind authoritarian progressivism and all its underhanded, discourse-destroying memes - namely, white upperclass women [1] - is finally getting a taste of that particular medicine now that the T faction has gained cultural traction. But if I step once again behind the veil of ignorance, the behaviour reminds me more of Albrecht Gessler rather than somebody genuinely concerned with politeness.

[1]NAWUCWALT [2], of course, but if I have learned one thing from identity politics over the course of the last two decades, it's that it doesn't matter.

[2] Not All Upperclass White Women Are Like That. Some, I assume, are good people.

The group in question here is lesbians, though, not heterosexual WUCW. It's not a coincidence that political progressivism has started policing who lesbians have sex with and not the broader group of WUCW.

WUCW are affected via the loss of privilges in other areas though. Exclusive sports leagues, for example.

And hopefully, soon, the erosion of female-exclusives scholarships, mentorship programmes, preferential hiring practices, etc. But I fear the straw fire that is the T debate will burn out before it comes to that on a larger scale.

I’m not going to tell my cousin that his career choice is stupid, or my friend that her boyfriend is an asshole.

It's useful and interesting when people say such blunt things to me personally - it either surfaces correct and incisive criticisms, surfaces glancing but still interesting criticisms, reveals the existence of deeply incorrect criticisms or grudges (which is also interesting), or even if it's just a joke can be very funny. The 'hurtful' nature of it is - if the accusation is true, correct and worth understanding (if you have a physical wound you didn't notice and someone points it out, the problem is the wound, not the person pointing it out!), and if the accusation is false, ignorable, and corresponding combinations thereof. Naturally, many of the close-ish friends I've had who are trans were of a similar mind, and regularly made very "transphobic" jokes and found them funny, and didn't mind genuine anti-trans philosophizing.

I would like to see the original context. Can you provide a link, or at least give the actual name of the subreddit in question? There's more than one lesbian subreddit.

I think it's from here.

Thank you so much!

This makes me pretty unimpressed with OP. For one thing, this isn't a post "explaining the rules of the subreddit," as OP claims. It's an opinion from an ordinary user. It's also preceded by several important caveats that make it less inflammatory than if it had started from the place where OP begins their quote. Also, it's from nine years ago -- how far did they have to dig in order to find something they could quote out of context in order to make it sound suitably threatening?

@KingKong, I don't think you posted this in good faith. You omitted important context. You didn't provide a link so people could check. And you lied about what the post actually was.

You should be ashamed. The culture war is hot enough without misrepresenting things deliberately in order to cause drama.

If there are existing rules posts by subreddit mods that say this, then OP should have posted one of them! Then calling it a post "explaining the rules of the subreddit" would not have been a lie, and we could have had this conversation on a sound, truthful basis.

This nit-picking reminds of the "law vs commentary" legal case where some US state didn't make clear if commentaries on its laws are legally binding, but still considered them non-public domain.

Here, there is no ambiguity, as @gattsuru points out, and expecting leniency from reddit mods, particularly of a sub as politically charged as the one under discussion, is misguided.

Just because a distinction doesn't matter to you, that doesn't mean it couldn't possibly matter to anyone on a forum like this, where we aim for breadth of worldviews. Accuracy matters. I like to know exactly what I am commenting on.

With that said, I was unaware that this post had in fact been officially linked to, and have therefore apologised for jumping to an unflattering conclusion. I'll be posting a longer reaction to the substance of the matter at hand in a bit, now that I've been able to get the details I needed.

To be fair, at least on the old.reddit configuration, this page is linked under "Policy on Trans Women and Dating" on the right side bar under "Important things to read!"; on new!reddit, it's available from the "Friendly Reminder: Please Read AL's Policies Before Posting", under "AL's Official Policies" header, right after the "Self-Picture (Selfie) Policy", again as "Policy on Trans Women and Dating." which implies it was accepted at least as of three years ago. I think it's reasonable to take it as the official rules of the subreddit, and I would genuinely expect it to still be enforced.

On the gripping hand, the third Official Policy notice is to a long-deleted "Please Read: Labels and Sexual Orientation Policy" (original), so there's clearly some link rot going on. And I do agree that it's chopped at least a bit out of context and limitations.

Oh, I see! That makes a bit more sense, then. Thanks for clarifying, and sorry to @KingKong for assuming the worst.

Wow, it's amazing reading the histories of those accounts. Most are still active 9 years later (none I've checked have been suspended, which is a first), and literally every single one is ranting about how only mass murders will crush capitalism to solve the climate crisis. If they really are the trendsetters for the modern internet, we're in for an even worse decade.

Why is "the Trans Question is an infohazard that is bound to damage the community in one or another if its discussion is allowed" not a sufficient justification for having a policy like that? If I were in charge of running a space like that, I'd impose the same rule, just for that reason.

The more interesting question, to me, is once again the exclusive focus on women. From what I've seen of various statistics, the number of FtM transitions and the number of MtF transitions is basically on the same order of magnitude everywhere; yet, if I looked at the internet, I would get the impression that "trans" is a category completely dominated by MtF. Do similar rules to the above exist in gay subreddits? Do gay subreddits need rules like that? The only context in which I've seen anyone complain about FtM transitions were claims of the type "our underage daughters will be brainwashed into mutilating themselves by social contagion", so, once again, concern for women. It seems that people on almost all sides of this debate are fundamentally in agreement that women are the only category that matters ethically and aesthetically.

Many worries about MtF are about males getting access to females spaces and overpowering them due to psychical power greater than woman have (sports have the least emotionally charged and the most objective case of that).

This does not apply to FtM.

Also how many FtM and MtF are there?

Also how many FtM and MtF are there?

FtMs outnumber MtFs 3:1. The mainstream doesn't talk about it because it raises too many uncomfortable questions and possibilities.

How many of those who pursue medical changes?

They don't seem to be that keen on sharing that data.

It seems that people on almost all sides of this debate are fundamentally in agreement that women are the only category that matters ethically and aesthetically.

Men have agency with no inherent value and women have inherent value with no agency as the default assumption in society is not that spicy of a take. The 'F' on a driver's license entitles you to aid, scholarships, segregated spaces, special prizes, uneconomical programs to support you, general praise for even the most commonplace achievement, a benefit of the doubt, shorter criminal sentencing and much more; The 'M' on your driver's license entitles you to being forced to die in some god forsaken shithole and a lifetime of being held in suspicious or contempt. This is like asking why there is so much less security preventing Americans from going into Mexico than Mexicans going into America. And yes, gay guys are much much better at telling people they don't want to sleep with to pound sand, "No rice" is still incredibly common on gay male dating profiles.

I repeat myself, but generally, among the middle and upper classes in the West, women are the privileged group. They have access to provision, protection, and social concessions that men do not have access to and they are exempt from male duties. A man wanting to switch social categories is in dereliction of those duties and is seen as someone claiming privileges they are not entitled to. The reaction to MtF AND to FtM becomes quite understandable in that light. Nobody cares if a woman wants to live on hard mode.

It seems that people on almost all sides of this debate are fundamentally in agreement that women are the only category that matters ethically and aesthetically.

The world starts making a lot more sense when you just accept traditional gender roles, and see nearly everyone denying them as engaging in an elaborate social ritual.

And it's not that men don't matter ethically, but there's the protectors, and the protected. What else do you expect to see in that case?

I can't really justify it aside from aspirational thinking. One day you'll be able to add "become woman" to cart and click checkout and that will work perfectly and completely and tracking cis or trans will be meaningless. But until that day comes we'll just have to pretend really hard that it's already here, is the quiet part of those policies, IMO.

How aspirational can one get about this?There's a little mini lesson for kids where you tell them if they're ever lost, find a police officer for help. But that's not helpful because most of the time there are no police around. So, it's been modified to: find a woman and ask them for help.

That seems fairly uncontroversial. Women are less likely to be predators and more likely to help, by just the power of statistics.

Ever since I've heard this I've been deliberately sizing random men and random women up in public and trying to imagine how they'd react to my lost 4 year old going up to them. Seems to pass the sniff test. To be clear, overall even most men give me the sense they'd be helpful and not predators, but women even moreso (I run into zero homeless insane looking women, for example).

But, does this still work if it's a trans woman? I've never met a trans woman who has given me the sense that they'd react anything like the median cis woman would if they came across a lost child. I just don't believe saying you're a trans woman makes you less dangerous than a random male is to a small lost child. If anything I would move slightly in the opposite direction because of all of the other unfair associated baggage that comes with being unlucky enough to be trans in our society.

I am genuinely curious what a trans inclusive feminist would say here.

It does sound like a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy, doesn't it?

OTOH here's Gavin de Becker arguing for it.

https://gdba.com/best-advice-for-a-lost-child/

Is what I’ve said politically incorrect? Maybe so, but the luxury of not running for office is that I don’t care if it’s politically incorrect. The fact is that men in all cultures and at all ages and at all times in history are more violent than women — and facts are not political.

I was always told as a child that if I was lost and couldn’t find a police officer, I should ask a woman with kids for help, because moms were presumed to know what to do. This seemed to have loomed large, in my childhood memories- I don’t recall the lesson that I was supposed to think myself safer with random women than random men(and I was raised by a fairly strong sex negative feminist who had no problems talking badly about men in other ways), but that moms would know what to do and be able to help a child better.

I would consider it almost certain that trans of whatever description is more likely to fail the latter test than cisgender women or men, on average.

Women are less likely to be predators and more likely to help, by just the power of statistics.

Very dangerous comment here, both insulting and misandrist. But you can be insulting and misandrist if you back it up with evidence.

However the stats (see e.g. conjugal violence ratio estimates would surprise you as the difference is not that major, or that much more men than women are beaten up in the street) supports that men should rationally fear more a stranger than a woman should fear.

Secondly this is utterly pointless as the statistics of criminals or "predators" shows that it is an extremely rare event. The extreme majority of men and women are harmless, the hysteria of the fear of the stranger and of the fear on men is potent mental degeneration and I would say a modern instance of cognitive pandemics a la https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_plague_of_1518

(I run into zero homeless insane looking women, for example)

Women are much more likely to be helped hence it seems likely than less would spend enough time alone in misery to eventually become insane.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women-are-wonderful_effect

How can someone lack the empathy to not realize insane people are extreme victims?

As a reminder men have 3 time the suicide rate.

However the topic on the conservation or not of gender specific advantages/inequalities upon gender transition is interesting.

The rule is don't say something that someone might get offended by irregardless of the truth and if you're really good you can avoid anything that could even imply something offensive. Taken in the context of a place trans people have made their presence known and where it is known that trans people are offended at any implication that they are not the same as cis people of their chosen gender this means to be polite one must deny that there are differences. The truth value doesn't matter at all, this is 100% about feelings(I don't mean this as a sneer, I'm just describing how the social pattern works).

They don't say this outright because it would be required to explain that the truth isn't important which itself would break this rule by implying that trans people are only being humored. This doesn't just apply to trans people, it's the same basic pattern as healthy at every size or not telling libertarians at the conference that they'll never be elected if they can't fit public roads into their policy positions. If you've ever done the dance itself it all is pretty intuitive, especially in person.

It’s not just trans people, women in general and feminine men tend to value feelings over truth (on average). Since these spaces are dominated by lesbians and feminine men (gay men) they tend to focus on feelings and social harmony over truth value or free speech

valuing not visibly upsetting or insulting others isn't "valuing feelings", it's a specific dynamic. Women don't value "feelings" generally more than "facts" (how would that even work, feelings come from facts), they value social appearances and ideas more.

No, you’re wrong. Visibly upsetting someone or invisibly upsetting, it’s the same. In other words, it’s feelings.

I also never said facts, I said truth. When two truths collide, the emotional truth wins out in these spaces, that is incontrovertible

My point is that 'upsetting' != 'feelings'. 'Feelings' ... there are a lot of definitions/meanings for that term, none of which really make sense as a separate thing, but it almost always is seen broadly - the classic idea is that "happy", "sad", "mad", "tired", "bored" are relevant. "Upsetting people" is bad, yes. But that isn't because women value feelings, it's a specific dynamic involving upsetting or insulting or demeaning people. Same for emotional - 'avoiding upsetting people' is not "the emotional winning", that's proves way too much, racist or sexist or offensive 'strong emotions' do not win out against opposing less-strong emotions!

feelings come from facts

I've found this to be true for myself, and other straight men.

In my experience this is much less true, with straight women and a type of homosexual men. In many situations they'll experience an emotional response to a set of perceived facts, or their lived truth. Later they'll remember the feeling, in spite of their facts being a poor fit for reality.

My model is that they are predators: Mixing them with real women provides camoflague to stalk and pick off their sexual prey.

Like another poster says, point deer make horse but actually point tiger make sheep.

Wolf/sheep was right there for you and you missed it. Wolf in sheep's clothing, boy who cried wolf, point wolf, make sheep.

I deliberately avoided wolf because tigers are stripey which fits the topic better I think. Rainbow stripes.

Imposing a cost on a) noticing and b) not noticing is a good way to keep the membership sharp.

I don't think the position is right -- a lot of people care about fertility enough to torpedo in cis-cis relationships, a lot of people make romantic decisions on statistic matters as much as empirical reality, and there are 'non-physical' concerns that matter -- but :

The main objection here is that there are in fact zero transwomen who are indistinguishable from women with a womb.

I don't think this is right, either, or at least not arguing the same thing from their perspective as from yours.

Now, admittedly, I'm a bi furry, so my scales are probably not anywhere near the typical. And there's some blurry lines between "can easily be detected" and "indistinguishable". And the links from the actuallesbians post you're quoting is more highlighting trans woman the poster thought hot, more than thought especially undetectably trans. But I think there's a couple meaningful underlying threads that aren't in the obvious read:

  • The exact definition of 'indistinguishable' is not a bright line. There's probably some activist who'd make arguments about a XX transwoman, but even if such a person actually identified as trans rather than intersexed or something anyway, the more meaningful bit is that most people don't do random karotype checks of potential dating partners to avoid the one-in-fifty-thousand complete androgen insensitivity case.

  • There's a tendency to compare the most visible trans women to a platonic ideal of feminine beauty (and, to a lesser extent, trans men to masculine stereotypes). Even outside of the direct problem where out people are out by definition, and that a lot of the most visible trans women are not exactly central examples for a variety of reasons, a lot of actual women are pretty butch! This doesn't even have to be a Weird Gender Thing; 'she's just tall' or 'she's just butch' predates a lot of modern trans discourse. But there's a perception of all trans woman as 6-ft tall Adam's Apple-and-five-o'clock-shadowed pink dress wearers that's not really a good model.

  • The actual sex stuff isn't great, but it's also come a long way, in ways that aren't well-understood from outside. That's even truer in the lesbian field, where some of the limitations (not getting as wet, needing a lot of exercise to take a moderate-sized dick) are likely to be important. Even for trans guys, there's still a long way to go, but something like reelmagik (cw: if you google this, you will get pages of silicone dicks) aren't going to get the full feel of heat or the splatter, for obvious reasons, but they've got options that either wouldn't stand out or would only stand out in good ways in a crowded locker room.

  • (And, conversely, a lot of people who object to relationships with trans folk won't be pacified were we talking something like magical cloned replacement organs; cfe the discussion in the rest of this thread.)

I don't think I'm sanewashing the position. From original context:

It's valid to be not into penii. this is, possibly, the only context in which anyone is allowed to care about a trans woman's genitalia.

So there's at least some recognition that there's going to be practical differences.

That's not to condone the model, or to say that it's complete, but more that a lot of the disagreement is over definitions rather than point deer make horse problems.

It's valid to be not into penii. this is, possibly, the only context in which anyone is allowed to care about a trans woman's genitalia.

Is it also valid to not be into what I believe is called a neo-vagina (i.e. the result of bottom surgery)?

I'm off the market so it's not really a concern for me, but I do have a preference for some vagina shapes over others, and some I find unappealing. From the (probably biased) selection of pictures of the results of bottom surgery I have seen, neo-vaginas very much fall into the latter category, especially when we also take some of the medical complications into account that come with them - those of the olfactory kind, for example.

I can't speak for other people, but the linked thread starts with a pretty general :

Not being interested in, or not dating, a specific woman who does not currently have the genitalia you prefer.

And there are specific trans women in that thread who share your specific opinion ("intricacies like shape, smell, taste, mechanics") and didn't get a ban-hammer over it.

Well, speaking for myself I can say that even if I did meet a man who I felt physically attracted to but who I later found out was a transman, I would probably decline to pursue them because I have a categorical aversion to dating natal females. And I do suspect that many people feel similarly, i.e. that many straight men wouldn't date a transwoman they felt attracted to specifically because they have a categorical aversion to dating natal males, ditto for straight women not wanting to date transmen, lesbians not wanting to date transwomen, et cetera. So I think there is something to the notion that a refusal to date trans people isn't always based purely on physical attraction or lack thereof, and has something to do with not wanting to date people of certain categories/identities.

I don't think attitudes like that are transphobic though, it's not like I don't want to date natal females because I have something against them. Nor is the fact that I group transmen with natal females some kind of value judgement. Nowadays simply not validating a trans person's gender identity is considered transphobic, but I don't agree with that. I think there's a world of difference between having contempt for trans people and simply not agreeing with them about which gender category they fall under, and we should draw clear distinctions between these attitudes and describe them using different words.