Some questions for FtMs

Gosh, I’ve been watching tons of FtM videos. I really want to understand. But I’m always unsatisfied, because everyone stays on surface level. I like to get to the root of the issue and tackle the hard questions.

FtMs who make YouTube videos always say they knew they were trans because of vague feelings of “not liking my body” and “feeling like a guy.” But how is this different from every other woman not liking her body and how can someone who is female feel “like a guy,” exactly?

So here is a list of questions, complete with follow-up questions, that come to mind when I watch FtM videos. I don’t really expect to ever get these answered, but here goes:

  1. Please explain in your own words what a “man” is and what a “woman” is.
  2. What is wrong with having breasts, ovaries, a vagina, a clitoris, and a period?
    1. Many women find it uncomfortable having a period and having the equipment that can carry a pregnancy, because this comes with lots of difficulties (being responsible for preventing pregnancy, being targeted for sexual abuse, cramping and bleeding, etc) What is the difference between you being uncomfortable with having female parts and the discomfort that most other women experience? Is it a matter of degree or is it a qualitatively different feeling?
    2. Have you ever talked with other women about their discomfort and have you found similarities and differences?
    3. If the answer to question (2) is “because I’m a man and these are the wrong parts for a man” then I have two follow-up questions for that:
      1.  What is a man? and also
      2.  If you are a man, then aren’t your breasts, ovaries, vagina and clitoris a man’s breasts, ovaries, vagina and clitoris? Why do you need to change them if you are already a man? Gender does not equal genitals, so how can any genitals be the wrong ones for your gender?
  3. If you could choose how other people treat you, while staying in the body you were born in, would you still need to transition? Let’s say everyone was willing to treat you “as a guy” even without taking testosterone. Would you still need to take it then?
  4. What does it mean to be treated like a guy? And for that matter, what does it mean to be treated like a woman?
  5. What does it mean to “feel like a boy/man”? Do you think it’s really possible for a female human to know what it feels like to have a male body? Or is it more like you believe your mind or personality are male? If this is the case, then please move on to question (6).
  6. What exactly is a “male mind” or a “male brain” or a “male personality”? Please describe.
  7. What exactly is uncomfortable about hearing female pronouns? What do those pronouns represent for you?
  8. If you are attracted to women:
    1. What is wrong with being a lesbian, anyway?
      1. If the answer to (8)A is “Nothing is wrong with being a lesbian, I’m just not one, because I’m a man,” then please refer back to question (1), what is a man?
    2. What if there was no such thing as hormones or surgeries and you had to just live your life as a lesbian, how would your life be different?
    3. To ask that same question in a different way, in case I get a more thorough response by asking it this way, are there any measurable or observable differences between your life and a lesbian life? Let’s say you are FtM and you live with your girlfriend in an apartment with your cat, and you like weight-lifting in your spare time and you enjoy having strap-on sex. What is the difference between what you’re doing and what every other lesbian couple is doing? Is the difference just “I identify as a man,” or is there anything else?
    4. In regards to your life outside of home, how would your work life and family life and hobbies be different if you were a lesbian instead of an FtM?
    5. If you felt uncomfortable identifying as a lesbian or being seen as a lesbian, why? Have you ever tried to work on internalized homophobia? Why or why not?
    6. Have you ever spoken to other lesbians to find out whether they felt the same way you do about some of these issues? Why or why not? If so, what have you found out?

Let me tell you, I would love to know the answers to these questions!

112 thoughts on “Some questions for FtMs

  1. A great list fo questions. I would add, except I have no idea how to do anything in WordPress except read and comment: If you are in a relationship with a woman, what does she think about your being FtM? What does she thinks that makes her?

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      • Ah! I see. It really frightens me how much people live without questioning. I’m certainly not immune from this. my own experiences buying into a certain system of thought or pursuing drastic life changes without adequate forethought are part of what make me so frightened when I see this behavior in others. It inevitably leads to regret or a sort of dogmatic defensiveness around your decisions.

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  2. This is a over-simplification but my experience of FTM youth makes me think a lot hinges on appearance. They share a sense that they don’t physically meet the standard of female. Claiming FTM releases them from the pressure. If we could keep hormones and surgery out, lose the gender descriptive language, and make it more about fashion and feminism it would be healthy.

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    • This is a huge part of it. From my own experience, and what I have seen from others, a large portion of women who investigate transition come from a very misogynistic/homophobic environment. The internalization of all of this leads to the belief that the only way to exist is by attempting to escape this narrow view of being female that has been burned into the psyche. I know this was my experience. It’s not the body or gender that needs to be changed but the environment around the person, so that they can deprogram all the self-hate and learn to express themselves just as they are.

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    • The first female transitioner I ever became acquainted with online was really big, like 6’3″, and also very bright, and with some kind of depressive disorder. Also she was straight, and she got the idea she’d do better as a gay man. Really heartbreaking. We were friends for awhile, and fell out when I started reading about radical feminism. This war has casualties. 😥

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  3. I have a work acquaintance in the process of transitioning to man. Before starting T we had a conversation with some of these starter questions. The best answer I could get was around being able to walk into a bathroom and be thought of as a guy. This stuck me as superficial at first, until I realized two things. The restroom thing is the pass test condensed. Couple this with the mystery of what guys do in there and to this girls mind if she could get this right, she got all the guy magic right. The irony here is that outside the bathroom, in the world around, her accomplishment working in the construction field , doing a ‘man’s’ job as a woman, in all the way a man would do it, was not satisfying in itself. She wanted to pee standing up.

    There is a further irony in this story. She choose this construction company for the mentorship she received from my partner, a cross dressing, baby dyke of a women who had beaten the system in every way, as a woman. A woman who could not be bothered by meds and surgery, and never once felt she needed to be a man, because, well, she was all that and a woman too.

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        • It’s also because the answers are deep and personal and hidden. I think some of these women don’t want to look at the real reasons because it’s too painful. People who are traumatized are afraid to open the floodgates, for fear of what might come out, and for fear of never being able to close them again.

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        • When girls are referred to state cousellors like CAHmS there is a pressure to move them on to appropriate agency. If the box for Grnder Identity is ticked before anything else that is the train they are placed. In my experience CAHMS are ill experienced, under resourced, politically castrated and over whelmed. If it doubt about how they might help your child – DON’T. That advice came from a Psychologist who trains them.

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        • I did not know this was a post about CAHMS? I was speaking more generally. Also, not everyone is in the UK here. I had to look up CAHMS.

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  4. Appearance and environment…I suspect appearance and ‘feelings’ (not being rude here) are discussed in therapy sessions far more than environment, but they’re all connected. The biggest problem, I think, is that the environment is not going to change very much for a masculine woman, it’s all in how she is perceived. You can’t really change the attitude of the world, there’s always going to be prejudice and bigotry, but you can change appearance and travel that world in a way that allows you to move through it with little threat of violence or assault, ‘under the radar,’ as it were. Maybe that’s the real issue here, more than anything…to keep one’s body safe from the physical assault that men inflict on women every day, and I know that no woman deserves it, or ‘asks for it,’ but a butch woman, who by her very nature abhors the man…

    Hell, I’ve sat here for twenty minutes trying to finish that sentence and I can’t. Maybe that’s how it is for young women sitting in the therapist’s office trying to describe all the feelings that even I don’t have the words for.

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    • Some of the questions in my list will uncover the nature of the “environment” they’re in and how difficult it is. Some of these women might answer the question about their work life with “I literally couldn’t do my job if they knew I was female because they’d harass me/threaten me, etc.” If everyone was honest about why they transition we could uncover a lot of the hatred that is directed toward females and we could have a more useful conversation about what needs to be done.

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    • Hi B… I’m a butch lesbian. Have been one all my life.
      I’m going to qualify what I’m about to write by saying that I grew up before the interwebz. I also ‘came of age’ in the second wave of feminism in the 70’s-80’s …

      Have you ever played ‘spot the lesbian?’ It used to be quite the thing to do at Pride parades and other social events where we were wont to come out and play. That’s how ‘gay-dar’ came about.
      It’s the same thing with butches, and no amount of ‘protective colouration’ will hide our essential natures from those who seek us out. (either to pillory us or to praise us)
      Ironically, our best defense is to be our authentic selves. (and yes, it is a hard, hard path)

      Then you write this … ‘but a butch woman, who by her very nature abhors the man…’
      Our ‘very nature’ means that ‘the man’ is actually irrelevant. Who wants to waste time and energy (and certainly such a strong emotion as ‘abhorrence) on irrelevancies?

      Modern mainstream media practices have rendered authentic butches, (with a couple of notable exceptions) almost completely invisible, (except for a few slimy stereotypes that exist purely to make equally slimy males look good) so it’s no wonder we’re not seen as the wonderful ‘alternative’ to trans that we are.

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  5. I’d love to get answers to all those questions too. Pretty much all of the FTMs I’ve watched on YouTube talk about sexist stereotypes like coming to kindergarten with a superhero lunchbox and folders, dressing as Spiderman instead of some Disney princess for Halloween, liking skateboarding, crying when forced to wear a dress and take ballet, never wearing makeup, and playing sports. I can think of exactly one FTM (whom I’m still following), an incredibly lovely person, who speaks about overwhelming dysphoria from a very young age instead of bringing up or relying upon a bunch of stupid stereotypes as “evidence” of being trans. This person is also significantly older than the transtrenders who announced this identity out of the blue after a social media binge, and before getting the chance to have a sexual experience in a female body or live as an adult woman.

    I still have no idea what “feeling like” a man or woman is supposed to mean. I’ve always felt like myself, someone who happens to have female biology. No normal person is a collection of sexist stereotypes. I’ve never been very stereotypically girly (and quite pride myself on that), though my physical presentation is pretty obviously female. I was recently at a Friday night dinner where we actually had to go around and say what our pronouns were. I was so tempted to ask if they thought I looked like a man! One of the people in attendance there claimed male pronouns, though also claims a trans identity, and is involved with a lesbian who’s separated from her wife. I really wish I could ask what the real story is there! I suspect this person is a woman, and wonder if that relationship will continue if surgery and hormones are pursued.

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    • There’s a mixture of people on YouTube, some of whom definitely have dysphoria, and some who don’t seem to. It’s always interesting when FtMs say they don’t mind being penetrated vaginally (although they don’t actually call it a vagina.) This leads them to feeling like they have to explain themselves like “trans guys can like penetration, that doesn’t mean they’re not trans.” They understand on some level that if a person had sex dysphoria, rather than gender dysphoria, they wouldn’t want anyone to touch their vagina. But what they have is just an aversion to femininity and being seen as female, not to their actual body parts.

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      • I agree. An FtM who doesn’t mind getting banged or having a kid isn’t trans, full stop. I’d sooner die than get porked or get preggers. And I’m into (only very feminine and submissive) men.

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        • As a trans man, I can say that anyone who likes using their vagina or can imagine giving birth confuses me. I have huge dysphoria about that part of me, and I don’t get how any trans person can use it. I don’t even like the idea of tampons for that reason. I’ve also had the idea that it seemed like a lot of trans people base it on stereotypes. I might not agree but it’s not really any of my business so I ignore it. But it was something that confused me.

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    • Every time I see a girl on the street, skateboarding, hanging out with boys, acting like “one of the boys,” I feel worried about what she is facing, innocently thinking this is a choice she can keep following without coercive repercussions.

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  6. I’m a grown woman and I get pushback for not conforming in some ways. Everything from kids asking me why I’m so bossy and why I have “hair like a boy” to having to apologize for startling women in public bathrooms. But I have the confidence of a grown woman who has spent most of my life fighting back at the crap meant to hem me in.

    I worry about these girls – that they’re chasing a will o the wisp in the illusion that they can leave the disadvantages of womanhood behind by self declaration or full transition.

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    • Right. Like a girl can decide herself out of adolescence and all its implications. My adolescence was really traumatic, from start to finish, so this all resonates with me a lot.

      Instead of addressing how this can happen to girls, how this is so wrong and bad, medicine is encouraging them to transition. It’s all just so morally corrupt.

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      • Dysphoria sucks. It’s uncomfortable in the extreme and health professionals have a tendency to overinvest in a self image as stoppers of suffering. And transition seems at first glance to make the pain stop. Except that we don’t know the long term consequences. Except that the relief often doesn’t last. Except that society will continue to produce more suffering. Except that none of this even applies to the non-dysphorics. Except except except.

        My adolescence was very traumatic and I still have difficulties with body image, etc. sufficient that a trans man I know basically offered to support me through transition even at this point in my life. (And while she is convinced I would pass, I’m short, look like a particularly muscular Venus of Willendorf, and also have a lifetime of female socialization. I also don’t think it does enough good to justify the health risks.

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        • You’re right, it wouldn’t justify the risks and you’re too well informed not to know there’d be hell to pay for it eventually anyway. I’m sorry that it has appeal on a more personal level. That’s hard.

          I’ve gotten pretty good at transspotting and I’m certain a lot of the women who “pass” only do so in certain situations or populations. Passing isn’t the same as surrounding oneself with people who will indulge one’s identity. In order to pass a woman would need to not be so much as suspected of being really female by either trans or “terf”. I guess the other way to pass would be to live somewhere where there is very little lgbtwtf and where no one had a point of reference to even make a comparison..

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    • It’s amazing how all the critical thinking just shuts down. I have never been able to have an actual conversation with someone who holds the hail-the-trans view. It inevitably ends up in yelling and name-calling, on their part not mine.

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  7. Thank you for this list. It really gets to the heart of all of the logical inconsistencies in a very easy-to-follow manner. It actually inspired me to try and have some of these conversations with my ex (who is now FTM), although she got really upset because the questions were “triggering”. I think that’s a common response, as if the brain can’t handle reality-based concepts that undermine the trans delusion. And the truth is seen as “hostile” or “erasing” because it reinforces doubts that must already be there.

    Anyways I wanted to share her response to the question of “why do you see yourself as a man instead of as a lesbian” in case some people find it helpful. She is basically disgusted by the way lesbians are represented in the mainstream. It’s more or less mandatory for lesbians on TV and in the media ( with maybe two exceptions) to be just as conventionally fuckable/feminine as straight women. Representations of lesbian sexuality are either a fetish or a joke, just like the narrative of “lesbian” porn.
    My ex does not feel like she could have “dignity” as a lesbian; she didn’t feel like she was “allowed” to escape male objectification or femininity.

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    • It surprises me every time when a woman who seemed really aware of how patriarchy is shit and all, decides for some reason that she truly is trans.

      I mean, I would get socially transitioning. In fact, if it ever becomes possible in Germany, I will seriously consider changing gender, as it might result in better payment for jobs where people don’t actually see me.
      Fantasy literature is full of “woman disguises as man to achieve her dreams” plots.

      But those diguises are usually not very harmful. (Though authors were ignorant how how much even “good” binders harm the breasts.)
      Why harm your own body when you see so very clearly that your body is not the problem, patriarchy is the problem?

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      • I know what you mean. The idea of just passively passing as male in public is appealing. The idea of being cut up in order to do so, not so much. I hated my breasts for a long time, or at least saw them as a burden and a general negative, but never considered having them cut off. But then I run maverick, social contagion doesn’t work too well on me.

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        • Most of the FTMs I know in real life are able to pass relatively well and relatively quickly with just months of testosterone. Something we don’t talk about much is how many have serious eating disorders in order to get rid of “womanly” fat deposits. At this lower-level of medical transition, it doesn’t strike me as much more damaging or time-consuming than all the shit that goes into maintaining hyper femininity. Especially for people in their early twenties who don’t think twice about drinking heavily and doing drugs, etc. a few months of testosterone seems like no big deal. And more than just that, it’s a socially validated form of self -medication/self-harm.

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    • Your ex doesn’t feel “allowed” to escape objectification or femininity? What a nice girl, trying to secure permission! This feisty older woman isn’t asking for permission. Dignity is asserted, not negotiated. Your ex seems like just another insecure, confused young woman who hasn’t taken her place in the world. This doesn’t involve “allowances” or permission. I hope she will someday come into her own! Being a “man” won’t solve her problems, because no one 25+ yrs old, really thinks she is a man. Why does that matter? Because middle-aged and older adults still have most of the money, power, experience, and influence. Assert yourselves, women, and define your own lives! My generation of 2nd wave feminists fought for you to be able do that. Please honor our sacrifices and do it! Becoming a pseudo-man is a step backwards, and it fools no one.

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      • I agree, and it was very difficult and frustrating for me to hear, but I recorded the truthful answer of someone who feels comfortable enough with me to discuss her reasons for transitioning (which she did in high school). Even though it’s wrong, that’s how young women actually feel, and on some level I get it because the pressure to live up to femininity is so stifling.
        There is a part of this that comes down to individual responsibility. But that’s not even half the story. This is a huge manufactured medical crisis with a lot of corporate money behind it pushing for more transition, more hormones, more consumerist-conformity.

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        • Unfortunately, there is nothing new about the corrosive effects of Big Pharma. They have been manufacturing conditions that they need to “cure” for a while now, and there is certainly nothing new about Big Corporate Money. The real question is why this new generation is so prone to their marketing machines?

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        • Framing aging as a disease has been popular with them, especially aging in women. But HRT started diving in popularity once women started realizing how many potential negative side effects there were from it (including death). Gender “fixing” is a real cash cow. “You’re broken but we can fix you, otherwise you’ll kill yourself.” Men invented this.

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        • And in answer to your question, I’ve compared it at times to the Ghost Dance. Young people feel unable to plan or control their futures, there is a lot of big scary stuff going. Under such circumstances, humans have a tendency to invent magical rituals. Gender as it is currently playing out seems to me to be such a ritual.

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        • Miep, you may be right about gender transitioning being a modern day magical ritual. However, that doesn’t really answer the question about why now. Young people feeling unable to plan or control their futures is certainly nothing new. Can you imagine how much more strongly people who grew up during the Great Depression felt this? As far as “big scary stuff going” on— what about the Vietnam War and the draft? Less than 6,000 Americans have been killed in all of the USA involved wars in the last 15 years, but more than 58,000 were killed in Vietnam! 10x as many — literally! So, why did this magic rite not occur during the Great Depression or Vietnam era, for example— when uncertainty and scariness was much more amplified? I have been alive for a long time— 5 decades— and this is perhaps the LEAST scary era of my life. Even “ordinary” violent crimes and murders are down dramatically. My city has literally half the murder rate that it had just 20 yrs ago! Everything is so much safer now, yet young people are running scared? Wow.

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        • “The technology wasn’t there yet.” It still isn’t here. Science still has no way to make people truly the opposite sex. But, you are right that SRS did not exist yet. If memory serves, that came along in the late 1970s. However, beyond that, it never occurred to anyone that sex was a choice or even that it “should” be. We dealt with reality on the ground level, instead of trading in abstract “shoulds.”

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        • That’s where it started but it evolved beyond that to “better sterile than gay,” I gather from reading Jeffreys, who got that from yet another author. I’m not an expert on this but it’s obviously related to repressing homosexuality, if you look at how it plays out. This is more obvious in some countries than others.

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        • Yes, PSF, I think you are right about SRS being invented for “fixing” intersex infants. Of course, that procedure is not nearly as risky as performing major elective surgery on fully formed adults who are not intersexed. Off topic, but Money’s sex abuse of kids is creepy! Yikes!

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        • Ah yes, that John Money guy. According to the link, he performed his 1st SRS in 1966, so we were both off by a decade. However, I do not think that more than a handful were performed before the 1970s. Now, 50 yrs later, there is this HUGE explosion!

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        • I think you are on to something with your comment about the internet. Social contagion, and the ability of ordinary folks to transmit their ideas widely, were magnified more by the internet than anything else.

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        • Back in the 1970’s, we thought that if we could just get out of Vietnam, that we could stop this warmongering. You can see how well that worked.

          You may personally be safe, but climate refugees are only just beginning. And war is endless.

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        • No one is “safe” in this world, but objectively, we are safer than ever in the USA. Violent crime has gone way down, though the 24/7 news cycle makes it seem otherwise. As far as climate refugees… what do they have to do with transgenderism? Most poor, climate refugees have likely never entertained the idea that sex change is possible. That is a 1st World concern. Only people who have the luxury of having all of their physical needs met contemplate transition. (Emotional and psych needs are a different ball of wax.) Yes, war is endless, but my point was that casualties from the USA, were much, much higher during the Vietnam era than they are during our modern era of war, and that is a fact born out by the numbers.

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        • My point is that this world’s climate is reeling out of control and that young liberal people sense that because they can read about it on the Internet.

          Wars are always bad, the Cold War was especially scary, but what we’re looking at now is severe changes in the physical makeup of the entire planet, which will in turn drive a lot of bad stuff that will adversely affect many more people than any war ever did.

          North America is not getting hit first and hard by this stuff, even considering, say, California. But look at India, they are in big trouble and they have a population of over a billion.

          It gives people a sense of hopelessness, of doom, hence my reference to the Ghost Dance, which evolved as a cultural response to such a sense of hopelessness. Probably the best cure is action. People disagree on what sorts of action help, though some clearly are steps in the right direction. But without action, you’re stuck dancing faster and faster and faster.

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        • Yes, of course we need immediate action on climate change. Yes, India is in trouble. The Maldives are REALLY in trouble. However, this stuff has already hit the USA in a big way, as anyone who experienced Hurricane Rita and / or Hurricane Katrina can attest. We have very low lying areas in the USA as well. We should stop subsidizing rebuilding of houses on the barrier islands around FL as well. We already know they will flood again. NOLA will flood again.

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        • I could give so many other examples. This generation could easily witness the extinction of coral reefs, elephants, rhinoceruses, polar bears. And the Internet makes all this so easily available. It must be overwhelming to see all this coming down the pike and feel so helpless to stop it. Thus the attraction of various distractions.

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        • Ah, so trans is a “distraction.” That sounds viable. However, species extinction is nothing new, nor is environmental destruction. Most of this stuff took place on a large scale before the young generation was so much as a twinkle in their fathers’ eyes. You have answered how and why to my satisfaction, but the timing still makes no sense. Perhaps in an effort to shelter the younger generation from the harsh realities of our lives, our older generations coddled youngsters too much? They seem so soft! Trigger warnings, safe spaces, bubbles, and counselors for things that are just regular life. I climb mountains in the most treacherous regions of the world and I see so many young people give up so easily. I can outlast them despite their physical advantages and youth. Do young people think everything “should” be easy (there is that word again— “should”) because of how they were raised? Why NOW?

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        • Very interesting comments here, especially the points about the sense of hopelessness in the world and transition as a sort of “ritual” to distract from it. I’ve never thought of it like that, but then you could say the same about the obsession with social media and selfies, right? I think of it as a sort of religion, where the abstract “self”, the “identity”, becomes this idolized figure that must be understood, the way one would try to “commute with Jesus”. Hence the many, many references to transition being like a cult. Quite a few of the trans people I know come from homophobic religious backgrounds, so I think this hyper-conformist, us-them, agree-or-be-excommunicated thing that goes on is very much in line with that.

          To lovetruthcoutage @ 10:16pm. I also wonder, why now? I think a big part of it is social contagion through the Internet, and also the social acceptance transition is seen to offer. I imagine that a lot of gender-non conforming kids see people like Jazz Jennings on TV being lauded as brave and inspiring, and maybe it’s the first time they see someone they identify with get such a positive reaction for being different. And they don’t realize that it’s just the media riding it’s new show-pony, and that underneath the pc adulation is contempt/pity/disgust. To my knowledge, that level of media visibility for non-feminine women has never been available before this point. Also, it bears consideration that this wave of transition was really ushered in my middle-aged hetero white males with means. I think a lot of the younger LG kids jumping on the bandwagon are trying to get in on (what they see as) a good thing, with the wider society being only too happy to help them erase themselves.

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        • There is a whole tribal aspect to it, “one of us.” You see that all the time on the Internet, and in this case it can expand into the offline world (though mostly in urban areas, I expect).

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  8. It all has to do with identity. Men don’t have have female parts, so supposedly it’s discomfiting for trans men to have, by genetic accident, those same parts. At least that was the idea in the old days. Now man, woman, masculine, feminine, vagina/clitoris, penis/testicles, female, male are all descriptor words without external referents. The classes of gender, sex and sexual orientation have been eliminated as objective constructs, they are now only internal, incommunicable, unrelatable, unreferenceable states of being. This is the problem of using postmodern frames of meaning, eventually you strip so many layers off in your deconstruction that you reach a point where no further discourse is possible.

    What I want to know is how is this any different from me saying I have a Han Chinese “brain race” and am thus deeply disturbed by my nappy African hair and wide nose? Just like sex organs, these traits are genetically determined. Just like in transgender theory, no one can objectively confirm that some part of me is in fact Han Chinese. So why would it be odd if I went through extensive means including surgery to express my internal racial identity?

    When I ask this people say race is inherited, as if both sex and gender are not. If the baby’s genitals match the ones she just came out of… baby inherits Mommy’s sex and gender role. If baby’s genitals look like Daddy’s baby inherits Daddy’s sex and gender role.

    The truth is everyone is confused but they don’t want to be called bigoted so they refuse to say anything. No one wants to admit we went too far and it’s time to get back to the basics.

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    • I love your analogy. Why don’t trans supporters also support Rachel Dolezal, the white woman who pretended to be black with spray tans and “ethnic” hairstyles? Why is one (Dolezal) ridiculed and the other (trans) cheered? That is very inconsistent! If it is all based on unverifiable “identity” and the body / genetic inheritance can be literally “wrong,” than what is the difference really?

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  9. Has anyone actually answered these? If not I’ll make a post if you’d like. I’ve been out for about 6 years or so, currently living stealth. However, if you want to be educated about my view I’ll be down to answer.

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  10. I am repelled and nauseated at the very thought of having a part that is open, oozes things, horrified at even the thought of pregnancy, hate babies, despise penetration and refuse to ever have anyone or anything do that. I did not like the feeling of having extra flesh hanging on my chest, hips, ass, and thighs. did not feel like my center of gravity was right with the wide hips, felt like my ass was jiggly and stuck out in an uncomfortable way, felt phantom penis and balls sensations when I masturbated by humping pillows (I do not touch my parts EVER, I just hump stuff), I felt short and weak (I’m four foot ten), my voice sounded annoying in its high pitch to my own ears and alien when I heard it recorded. My skin felt to me that it was too soft and too thin. The period seemed appalling in what it represented and was physically disgusting in every way. The fact that there were these gross unwanted organs in me that could do something I find gross and make me sick and swell and then have a human painfully emerge made me angry. Testosterone, liposuction, and top surgery have helped but I still have dysphoria about many things: my genitals, my height, my small hands, not having a broad/long enough face or a long enough chin, having girly looking lips that one shithead probable future rapist in sixth grade called “bl0w job lips”, etc. I’m 40 so I also hate oncoming wrinkles but that’s cause I never got the boyhood and young manhood I should have had.

    I am not attracted to women. Maybe if I was I’d feel differently. As a kid, I had nothing in common with girls and was bullied relentlessly.

    I hate straight men and their masculinity and methods of having sex. The idea of being some guy’s “girlfriend” makes me want to puke and I would never do it. I am only attracted to very feminine, very submissive, very pretty men (both trans men and cis men) only.

    I am enraged that I can never have a penis. Because I can’t, I can never enjoy sex as the only sexual activity with my present hated genital configuration that appeals to me is topping with a strap on and obviously I can’t come from that.

    There has not, and has never been, anything about femaleness or womanhood that I find anything other than horrifying.

    I am not feminine at all, yet I am not hyper masculine. I’m sure there are butch lesbians more masculine than me. I tend to not get along with them. They act coarse and unfeeling, always challenging me to arm wrestling contests. Gender conforming women tend to dislike me too as I have absolutely no interest in normative female interests and, as I’m autistic, I come across as serious rather than bubbly. I’m incapable of small talk and female social niceties.

    I get along well with feminine or androgynous cis men as well as other trans people.

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    • Hi!
      Thanks for sharing your perspective. That sounds like some really severe dysphoria, and I’m sorry to hear that it’s so painful for you to be born female. I noticed that you talked about hatred for your body but didn’t directly answer the questions that I wrote in the post. I’d be interested in hearing your answers to the questions. Obviously the ones about lesbians won’t apply to you, which is fine. Some of the things you say here are similar for other females. There are women who don’t like penetration, who don’t want to get pregnant, and who wouldn’t want to be a girlfriend or a wife. There are even women who masturbate by humping pillows! That’s not unusual and masturbating that way doesn’t mean you aren’t a woman.
      My experience of butch lesbians has not been “coarse and unfeeling.” My partner is a butch and she is charming and strong and protective but certainly not unfeeling.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I know that there are empathetic and kind butch lesbians like your partner. I have had the misfortune to run into many of the more loud, ultra-extroverted, aggressive, misogynist “rate women from one to ten” types in my city and back in college, though. Prior to transition, I’m sure some strangers wrongly perceived me as one, as from an early age I have had very masculine body language, eschewed femininity, passed before T (despite my height!) up to a certain age, bluntly refused any and all irritating straight male attention, etc.

        One of my former boyfriends (we are still friendly), a trans man, has had a more positive experience. He said that before he knew FtMs existed, he found that the butch lesbians in his college town was welcoming towards him even though he (then she) preferred to date other gender non conforming females and sometimes, feminine bisexual men. In fact, it was one of his butch lesbian friends who told him about FtMs. So I think it’s the luck of the draw, and my bad for having my writing poorly express that.

        Yeah, dysphoria is hell. I have felt physically dysphoric from my earliest memories. I was socially dysphoric too, but I can’t see how any female born person with brains and without illusions couldn’t be given that being read as a woman in this society is to generally be treated as subhuman by males AND the majority of other females who just go with the program, eat shit and either pretend to like it or have had their taste buds numbed by decades of indoctrination. To be honest, I do not understand how someone can be trans without a substantial amount of dysphoria, PARTICULARLY for one’s genitals and other reproductive organs. I get especially angry hearing about “trans men” getting penetrated and having babies. How can they truly be trans to engage in these activities? Without dysphoria, a “trans man” is just someone who dislikes the feminine gender role/being a woman in a patriarchal society, like millions of other (smart) AFAB people, and dislikes feminine fripperies.

        I hate all porn that involves AFABs. It is really just filmed sexual torture of AFAB bodies, but penetration porn involving “trans men” has the additional factor of either torture by dysphoria or turning my identity and all the pain it has caused me (and other actual trans men) into a sick joke.

        I read your blog for ‘the opposing position’ that is not offensive the way other trans critical blogs are. Thank you for being respectful.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I wouldn’t say that considering the thought of one’s vagina as “open” disgusting necessarily means one is trans, either. I’ve never thought of my vagina as more open than my arsehole. The drawings in anatomy books are incorrect in that respect, I heard.
          And surely perfectly normal women can dislike the very thought of pregnancy. It is, after all, very uncomfortable and dangerous.

          But yes to transmen without dysphoria just being gender non conforming women. The only thing that makes women different from men is that we can have babies. Not “girl brain” or some shit, but the female sexed body that has broad hips so that a baby fits through, and breasts for feeding the baby, and a vagina to push the baby out.

          How women who have no problem with childbirth can fool themselves into believing that they are really male, I have no idea. (Okay, I have. Internalized misogyny. But it makes me want to scream)

          Liked by 1 person

        • “…being read as a woman in this society is to generally be treated as subhuman by males AND the majority of other females who just go with the program, eat shit and either pretend to like it or have had their taste buds numbed by decades of indoctrination.”

          This is deeply offensive. This is akin to blaming victims for being raped. No, the majority of other females do not just go with the program and eat shit. They just can’t pass as men and / or don’t want to. We want to change the world as women, not imposters. We do not feel ashamed of who we are, or less than, and we will challenge people who think we deserve bad treatment. It takes courage to live authentically and FtT don’t do that.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I think I know what she means though. There are women who go ahead and perform femininity and defer to male interests even though they don’t like it because they aren’t willing to challenge it.

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        • I know what she means too, but it’s still disgustingly misogynistic, as is the way it’s expressed and the things she’s saying about women’s bodies. This isn’t the first time I’ve seen that level of contempt towards women from FTMs either, and it would benefit them to consider how that attitude is contributing to their inability to get along with women in general. If you despise someone and they can tell they generally won’t want to be your friend. This does not indicate something wrong with that person, quite the opposite in fact – people with decent self esteem and a healthy sense of boundaries will always avoid socializing with people who hold them in contempt to whatever extent they can.

          TL;dr I’m not surprised that neither gender conforming women nor butch lesbians like this person, and it probably isn’t for the reasons that she thinks.

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    • You need psych help for your self hatred and internalized misogyny. You may be short, but you don’t have to be weak. Look at Simone Biles, who is 2″ shorter than you. She is a powerhouse of a strong gymnast, as are our other fantastic women gymnasts who made us so proud during the Olympics. They do not have extra fat or center of gravity dysphoria. Perhaps you should start working out, and start appreciating what your body can do. No doctor can give you that, though you should still see one about the psych issues, and I mean absolutely no disrespect when I say that. I hope you learn to love yourself and come to see that you deserve that, in the body you are in. Peace!

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      • I was forced to take gymnastics as a kid when I wanted to play Little League and take karate like my best friend (male). Believe me, I knew lots of strong short female gymnasts and figure skaters and horseback riders when growing up. It just wasn’t what I wanted to do. I was told I was too short–not too female–to do the activities I gravitated towards.

        I had growth hormone deficiency and my parents denied me treatment for religious reasons. I go to the gym almost daily and had for years pre transition. I acknowledge there are many strong women athletes. Look at Serena Williams. If I identified as a woman, she, along with WNBA players like Brittney Grimes and soccer players like Alex Morgan–not short gymnasts, would be my role models.

        Which does bring up an interesting point. Lots of FtMs are shorter than the average AFAB. Just like digit ratio between ring and index finger, this can’t be wholly based on sociocultural influences. As I have said, from my earliest memories I refused to do anything classified as feminine. This was in a comparatively gender neutral era for raising children compared to today. Though religious about altering one’s body, my parents were fine about my “tomboyhood”, and I spent many happy afternoons collecting bugs and playing catch with my dad.

        I was not shamed for who I was. My body just became horrifying at puberty. Is it so hard to imagine that what you call internalised misogyny is really just a young AFAB “tomboy” expecting to grow up looking like the people that feel like role models and then becoming appalled at resembling those that they do not relate to at all, whose very personality, priorities, and responsibilities–as well as their seeming enjoyment of same–seem like prison?

        That is the “nurture” view. The “nature” view is that my brain expected a male body, or I had too much testosterone when my mom was carrying me.

        In either event, I have been GNC from my earliest memories and desperately uncomfortable with being placed with “the girls” as early as kindergarten, before I knew the all encompassing matrix of misogyny and sexism. The girls knew something was off about me too. It got even worse in fifth grade when I couldn’t pretend to have a crush on any boys in my class, which made them– bizarrely–call me a “faggot”.

        I am old, over forty. I dealt with this for almost two decades before I transitioned. I got a Master’s in Women Studies to try to find my way out of it, to see if it was just internalized misogyny or biphobia (I dated other pre transition FtMs and never felt attraction to a straight male in my life). I tried everything, including years of therapy where the therapists didnt eve know FtMs existed (this was pre internet!) and counseled rich married people and stressed out students, not LGBT people.

        In short, I tried everything before transition. I am autistic, but aside from chronic low level dysthymia from puberty on, I thankfully have never suffered mental illness severe enough to take medication. Whether my body feels wrong because of my brain or society eventually became irrelevant after almost three decades of suffering. I just wanted relief.

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  11. Oh! I still didn’t respond to your questions. I have to work tomorrow so I need to go to bed, but I will respond to them. I am aware that while I consider myself gay (I like trans and cis men), you would consider me bisexual (since one is AFAB, the other AMAB). So instead of not answering the lesbian questions, can I answer for how things would be different if I was perceived as a bisexual female since I have some insight on this (prior to transition, I dated another pre-transition trans man, and how we were perceived ran the gamut depending on one or both of us passed/didnt pass) .

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      • This person seems to consider body dysphoria no requirement for transness, so not sure she’s in favour of genital mutilation as treatment for all trans. But she’s sure in favour of forcing others to pretend the dysphoric person is the other sex. Which is not how we treat psych issues, either.

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        • Agreed. People have freedom of thought — right or wrong. We do NOT force people to pretend men are women are vice versa in a free and open society.

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  12. Pingback: Layers of meaning: A Jungian analyst questions the identity model for trans-identified youth | 4thWaveNow

    • I’ll answer here because Blogspot rarely ever lets me comment. Its true that these questions “don’t work,” because FtMs will refuse to answer them. If they answered these questions honestly, they’d realize they don’t have an internal “gender identity,” they actually have a strong unease/hatred of being female, that is rooted in how people treat them as females and the beliefs they have about how females should look and behave. They won’t answer because in order to continue to believe in their gender identity, they cannot think about any of this. That’s why these questions are “transphobic,” because “transphobic” means “anything that makes me think about the reality of my condition.”
      A couple of FtM commenters have said they plan to answer these questions in a future blog post. None have so far, but I’m still open to reading if they ever do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I had written up a bunch of similar questions for my daughter who thinks she’s trans and brought them to therapy one time. She never answered any of them, had a fit, and the therapist defended her. That was the last time we went to any therapist.
        The question “How does it feel to be a male” is so key. I don’t even know how to explain how it feels to be a woman except that I know because of my physical genetalia. Every woman is different and I can’t say what others feel like.

        And you’re so right that ““transphobic” means “anything that makes me think about the reality of my condition.” That’s the answer my daughter gives me.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Sorry, I didn’t mean to be getting at you, You’re right they won’t answer the questions because it would make the carefully constructed illusion collapse. They then have to face all the things that made them vulnerable to trans in the first place. If they can’t find a better way of dealing with that they will cling on to trans all the stronger.

        I think this part of why I find myself rooting for radical feminism so much. I really do think it has to be part of giving them a framework that they can use to regain a sense of autonomy.

        Also its just plain right.

        I will always hold you in the greatest of respect. Its only thanks to my partner that I could see why we had to go around the logic and understand the emotion. Its hard because it leaves you with so little leverage.

        Liked by 2 people

  13. Someone made a similar thread with a lot of answers that cover most of your questions:

    A few of my replies (if I leave them out, either they’ve been covered on that thread or it’ll take more time than I have):

    Cii) Part of the dysphoria comes from the parts themselves, not for the gender they represent. Some of those parts would still feel wrong to me even if all men have them, though in such a world I’d think it was just something wrong with me or that everyone felt the same way and just didn’t say so (I used to think all females felt the same until I actually talked to them and learnt otherwise – their displeasure had more to do with the pain or what they represent in society, not the biological organs being there per se).

    3. Yes and yes. If I had to choose, I’d rather have a male body and be treated ‘like a woman’ than the inverse. Right now I’m far enough into transition that everyone sees me as a guy, but I’m still dysphoric about my body because it still feels wrong *to me* (though much less than pre-T). Even if I lived alone on a desert island or a post-apocalyptic world where everyone was dead, I’d very much prefer a standard male body. My present body, despite its many flaws, feels ‘mine’ in a way it never did pre-T. When I look in the mirror now I see myself and not a (fairly attractive) woman I struggled to understand as myself.

    4. This differs from culture to culture, but primarily it means being treated as the other men or women in that culture are treated. e.g. If in Culture X all men wear dresses, then being treated as a man would mean being expected to wear dresses. It’s about group identity, not the treatment itself.

    5. There’s some neurological evidence for sex-discordant mental body maps in trans people (akin to the phantom limb syndrome; in my case I have experienced phantom male genitalia before knowing it was a thing).

    7. It represents people wilfully ignoring my wishes in order to be rude and hurt me. It thus bothered me a lot less when pre-transition and they didn’t know better. Back then, the discomfort came from taking a while to realise they were referring to me, because when I hear ‘she’ I don’t think of myself, and that mismatch can be jarring, as well as upsetting in being reminded that how people saw me was so different from how I saw myself.

    8. I’m attracted to men, and having grown up in a very homophobic religious environment it was actually a large stumbling block in accepting my identity as a trans man and transitioning – because it would mean that I’m gay, which I’d been taught all my life was a severe abomination. Because of this I actually spent a long time trying to make myself like girls. That was what felt straight to me. (I find it fascinating that a previous poster mentioned being called a faggot when getting crushes on boys, because both me and another gay FTM friend had similar experiences pre-transition.)

    Going back to #1, the honest answer is that I have no idea. Like another person on that thread wrote, my sense of being a man stems from my strong physical dysphoria and the sense that I’m supposed to have a male body. This was reinforced by how going on testosterone felt *right* – like a drink of water after a long thirst, and how T gave me an immense feeling of calm and relaxation and of things finally settling down to a comfortable place. My mind and body feel a lot more comfortable and at ease on T, which is one reason I’d want to take it regardless of how society treats me. It’s not a gendered thing – if for some reason I had to go back to living ‘as a woman’, I’d ideally do so while continuing to be on T (with makeup, hair, dressing etc I should pass fine), even if in such a scenario it would make things easier if I stopped. It would bother me a lot less than if I were to continue living ‘as a man’ but had to stop T and have my body demasculinise.

    Presumably from the dysphoria emerged a male identity through a similar process that other males go through, the difference being that my body wasn’t externally male.

    (A sidenote addressing a comment higher up on trans men who get penetrated or get pregnant: this does not mean they aren’t dysphoric. I’m intensely dysphoric about my body and both those things are not things I’d ever do in an ideal world, and the thought of it makes me feel sick, but I also realise that it may be the only way for me to ever have biological children, which I still think about sometimes. Because of that it’s not something completely out of the realm of possibility. I’d really rather not, but that doesn’t mean I won’t, and it doesn’t mean my dysphoria is any less.)

    Hope that helped some!

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  14. I’m FTM (20 years old) and I’ll give these questions a shot. I don’t think my answers are representative of what other trans people would answer, because I don’t agree with the whole “gender identity” concept, but here goes.

    1. A man & a woman are defined biologically (chromosomes, genitalia etc). I’m very aware that I’ll never fit the definition of a man. Despite that, I feel a deep need to have a body that resembles a male one.
    2. A. I think there’s a qualitative difference, but then again we can never be sure. I don’t find periods unbearable because of the practical aspects. I mean sure it sucks to bleed and have cramps, but it sucks for all women (I presume) yet the majority of women don’t want their genitals surgically altered to resemble a penis. I don’t want ovaries or a uterus, I don’t want a vagina. Not because of the consequences of having them (period, pregnancy, etc) – I just find their mere presence very uncomfortable.
    B. I’ve had very close female friends who’ve told me things like boobs are annoying or it would be cool to be a guy, or that they aren’t comfortable with exploring their vagina. Yet they still don’t relate to my experiences at all, and they definitely don’t want to transition like I do. The difference between them and I is that I’d much rather look like a fat ugly balding guy than whatever I consider to be an attractive female.
    3. That’s already the case for me. I pass as a (young) guy and no-one in my circle of friends or acquaintances knows I was born female. And yes I still want to go on hormone therapy. Even if I was alone on an island and I’d never see anyone again, I’d still want to masculinize my body, I’d still feel like I was meant to have a penis.
    4. I don’t care, honestly. I’m not transitioning because I want to be “treated like a man”, whatever that means.
    5. I don’t think there’s such a thing as feeling like a man/woman. I’ll never know what it’s like to have been born in a male body. But I do feel the presence of my penis even though I don’t have one. I know that sounds a little nuts.
    6. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a male or female personality/mind/whatever. Different people have different personalities.
    7. I’ve become indifferent to them at this point. But basically I feel like what I imagine a man would feel like if he woke up one day with a female body, and with everyone referring to him using female pronouns, as if he’s always been a woman. I think it would be understandable for him to want to revert his body back to male and to insist that he is a man.
    8. A. nothing. If I could take a pill that would make me feel okay with having a female body, then I definitely would take it. I’m not against the idea of being a woman or a lesbian. If I could be reborn and choose whether to be born as a boy or a girl, I wouldn’t have a preference. As long as I don’t grow up feeling that my body is completely alien.
    B. I think I’d try to keep living as a male socially and eventually kill myself. Not because of the lesbian aspect, but because I don’t think I could bear living in this body for a lifetime.
    C. The difference is that my girlfriend is straight, and she’s attracted to masculine aspects of my body not the feminine ones.
    D. Not much.
    E. I’ve tried. But I can’t stand the idea of a woman being attracted to the parts of my body that I want to slice off.
    F. I don’t hang around LGBT circles, so no.

    I don’t reject the possibility that I’m completely delusional. But what if I can only find peace of mind by indulging in the delusion that I was meant to be born male and transitioning? I feel much better than I ever have, now that I’m living stealth as a guy.

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  15. Pingback: Some questions for FtMs answered – Omphaloskeptomai

  16. 1. Please explain in your own words what a “man” is and what a “woman” is.

    Imagine a Venn diagram. In one section you have you “Breasts, vagina, XX, Less Body Hair, Estrogen Dominant System, Uterus, Self-Identified Woman, etc.” In the other you have you have corresponding male traits. In a combo of having most of those traits, and having them sense birth, you are identified by other people as a man or a woman.
    This is independent from being masculine or feminine. Some people have a strong internal sense of being a man or a woman, others don’t (I will elaborate on this lower down).
    I am a trans man because having female traits and being perceived as a woman causes me intense distress, and I am changing both of those things. In essence, I am not a man yet, but am working to become one. I do have an internal sense of being a man.

    2. What is wrong with having breasts, ovaries, a vagina, a clitoris, and a period?

    This is a bit like asking “Why dose pain hurt?” and I suspect that’s why so many answers you get are unsatisfying. There is no reason, it’s just distressing, and the more aware and engaged with my body I get the more distressing it becomes. There isn’t any thought process or reasoning going on, it’s purely “when I look at my female body parts I feel agitation and revulsion, when I interact with people as a woman I feel depressed and want to withdraw.”

    2-A&B. Many women find it uncomfortable having a period and having the equipment that can carry a pregnancy, because this comes with lots of difficulties (being responsible for preventing pregnancy, being targeted for sexual abuse, cramping and bleeding, etc.) What is the difference between you being uncomfortable with having female parts and the discomfort that most other women experience? Is it a matter of degree or is it a qualitatively different feeling? Have you ever talked with other women about their discomfort and have you found similarities and differences?

    I have talked with multiple women about it, and it seems to be a qualitatively different experience. For my chest and genitals, looking at them without mentally distancing myself first feels similar to looking at pictures of wounds or gore. It’s viscerally distressing, and has been like that since puberty started.
    I remember when I was in middle school, I read about women who need a mastectomy to treat breast cancer, and how mutilated they felt afterwards. I felt horrible for them, and tried to imagine what it would be like to go through that. I could imagine needing surgery you don’t want and feeling violated, feeling fear that it might not cure you, but when I imagined not having breasts anymore – I felt completely calm. A deep, peaceful calm that I wasn’t a normal part of life for me. I also realized this was not the normal reaction, like many of the reactions I had, and did my best to bury it. I have sense started binding, and that peaceful feeling is part of my daily life now.
    Telling this experience to my mother and my aunt was a big part of helping them to understand what I was going through, and they both confirmed they did not experience anything like that.

    3. If you could choose how other people treat you, while staying in the body you were born in, would you still need to transition? Let’s say everyone was willing to treat you “as a guy” even without taking testosterone. Would you still need to take it then?

    I have already somewhat achieved this. I am 26, and starting around 19 my depression worsened and I withdrew socially, eventually leading to agoraphobia. I am only in contact with one friend who knew me when I identified as a woman, my social circle only knows me as a trans man. My family slips up, I can tell they still subconsciously think of me as a woman, but they try and are supportive. I work online under my old name, treating it as an assumed identity. I’m really good at mind games and selective disassociation to deal with people in daily life outside my bubble.
    I don’t want to downplay social transition, it’s been more helpful than two rounds of therapy were at treating my issues. I seriously considered stopping here. Ultimately, I don’t want to. I have to plan my life around managing my dysphoria, and while that’s doable, it’s a greater toll than testosterone and surgery would be. I realize that does not answer your question, but I hope it paints a better picture of life without medical transition.
    In the imaginary world, it would be a more difficult decision. I would absolutely, without a doubt, still need top surgery. I would still want to have a penis and be faced with all the same barriers to that I am now. Not knowing how T would affect me, I’d probably have held off on starting it much longer. Which would be a shame, because having been on it for 6 months, so much the more minor dysphoria about my face, voice, and body has gone away.

    4. What does it mean to be treated like a guy? And for that matter, what does it mean to be treated like a woman?

    It’s how people react to you based on their initial categorization of you as male or female. It can be subtle or very overt, positive or negative.
    For example, I feel very uncomfortable when women I don’t know seem to trust me/regard me as safe in a public setting. I know a man who looks similar to me would not get that reaction. I have the classic “feels intensely uncomfortable, like I’m intruding/doing something wrong” around changing rooms. A fun one from high school was being utterly baffled when straight guys would flirt with me. Intellectually it made sense, except my internal reaction was “but why?” This was true even if I was attracted to them.

    5. What does it mean to “feel like a boy/man”? Do you think it’s really possible for a female human to know what it feels like to have a male body? Or is it more like you believe your mind or personality are male? If this is the case, then please move on to question (6).

    I’ve already described my reactions to my own body, so while I can’t ‘know’ what it feels like to be male, I know that I become more comfortable the more male I get. This is the case with binding and dressing to minimize my hips, and with T changes. I no longer think look at my face and think “something is horribly wrong with me” (I’m starting to look pretty damn good), other than the voice cracks, I feel much more comfortable talking and laughing. I’m getting harrier. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to look like at the end of transition, but so far the changes have felt wonderful.

    6. What exactly is a “male mind” or a “male brain” or a “male personality”? Please describe.

    ‘Male brain’ should be a separate category. I would describe that as the physical brain of a non-dysphoric/cis man. When it’s referenced by trans people, it’s usually referring to research that has observed certain regions of trans people’s brains are closer to those of their target sex than their natal sex. However, bringing this up tends to result in dueling citations, so I’ll pass until more research is done.
    I think ‘male mind’ and ‘male personality’ are what you are more interested in. Earlier I referred to an ‘internal sense’ of being a man, and I would guess that is what other trans people are trying to get at. This is an incredibly hard thing to talk about because there are no words for it. It’s feelings and reactions that most people don’t seem to have, and for me they started at puberty, that beautiful time in life when even your easily understood emotions get written off as teen angst.
    I’ll give some examples:
    -My parents always encouraged me to cry, that it was healthy. Once I hit puberty, I knew that crying was pathetic and made you weak, and being weak was the worst thing you could be.
    -Growing up, my mom had this little story she’d tell me to show love: “Grandma always said she didn’t care if we were girls or boys, she just wanted 10 fingers and toes. But I always wanted a girl, and I’m so thankful I got you!” I’d feel crushed. It was hard to type that out, it brings back that searing feeling of disappointing the person you love most in the world.
    -I had (very) short hair since middle school, but I very often had the thought that if I was a boy, I’d love to have long hair.
    -I struggled to imagine myself getting married and being a mother, but longed to find a man who would be in love with me.
    -It took until I was 17 to ever imagine a child calling me “Dad” and I felt so giddy at the thought, to this day have happy day dreams about being a father.
    -One of my most painful memories is going to the movie theater with my dad, and a trailer came on that had two men kiss on screen. He said “Disgusting” vehemently; I wanted to die. My own father called me disgusting, and it took me years to deal with it.
    -The only romance stories I cared about were gay ones, and the characters I most identified with were feminine men.
    -My parents were really cool with me only wearing male clothes, but mom would still want me to only buy things that fit right. “That’s a men’s shirt, it’s just not flattering” and more baggy unisex T’s would go in my closet and I’d feel unbearably ugly and deformed.
    -I knew “I’m not like other girls” was passé and often misogynistic. I didn’t think I was better than other girls at all, I was wanted to be like them. Any of them, I had a huge and varied group of friends, but never felt like I belonged with them, and could never figure out why.
    -Around 14 or 15, I came across the word ‘eunuch’ and looked it up. My first reaction was “Oh, that’s what I am.”
    -One time I was out with my ex, it was at night, I’d just gotten a near buzz-cut, and was wearing an army jacket. I said something like “Hey, maybe someone will think we’re two guys” and he laughed at me. I almost broke up with him on the spot, the comment hurt that much.
    I could go on! But I’ll end with this, transition has been more than anything about learning to listen to my own feelings. I spent the last 15 or so years trying to figure out what I was supposed to want, that it was a struggle to even know what I was feeling. But, I’m getting better, the last year has been about taking stock of my life and what I want out of it, and then pursuing it.
    Final note, this is all completely separate from personality traits, by the way. I’ll be the first to admit I’ have a personality that many people would consider feminine; I’m shy, not competitive, artsy, nurturing, and I was going to school to become a social worker. But I think we both agree those traits don’t make you a woman, any more than traditionally masculine traits make you a man.

    7. What exactly is uncomfortable about hearing female pronouns? What do those pronouns represent for you?

    It’s a reminder that the person I am talking to has selected the female check box rather than the male one, when looking at me.
    This gives me an opportunity to talk about social dysphoria, so I’ll do that. Starting around the time puberty really got going, life became very painful. I didn’t know why. I couldn’t even tell you what the pain felt like only that it was pervasive and seemed to get worse when I was around other people. This was coupled with feeling like an imposter, like I was somehow lying to everyone around me without knowing what I was withholding from them. I felt like I was acting out a part in a play without knowing my own lines. I knew my thoughts and feelings were abnormal, but I didn’t know what they were supposed to be either.
    Fast forward 10 years, I’m agoraphobic, and dealing with an intense daily desire to kill myself. It was completely crippling. My family could see I was circling the drain, and I went through two attempts at therapy a couple years apart. It didn’t help. I keep trying to struggle through school, one class a semester at a time. Can’t keep a job, I have one friend who is okay with meeting briefly once a week at home, and I don’t want to subject a significant other to this shit. At one point I read about the experiments on learned helplessness conducted by Martin Seligman, and I never related to anything more in my life. I was in pain, seemingly at random, and had no way to understand or escape it. Of course I wanted to die.
    Then, I had that ‘aha!’ moment that I was probably trans. This comment is already the great American novel, so I’ll spare you the emotional ups and downs that came with that realization.
    The important part is my reaction to realizing that being gendered female hurt me: I started getting better. It was slow at first, and didn’t pick up speed until I had decided on my new name, but my depression lessened. The overwhelming anxiety and fear that came with being around people slowly went away. It was still uncomfortable to be gendered female, but knowing when I needed to “brace for impact” and when I could let my guard down made all the difference. I found the pattern, and that made all the difference in managing my pain.
    I’m not suicidal anymore, I don’t even have the death wish of my early teenage years. I see being around people who misgender me as a currently unavoidable unpleasantness, something I have to endure for now to get my life back on track. I go shopping in the daytime, I have friends and go new places, I’m dating, I’m trying to get my education back on track. I couldn’t imagine life being like this even two years ago.

    8. If you are attracted to women:

    Full disclosure so this section makes sense: I am bisexual, and more strongly attracted to men. However, the man I am dating is also trans, and pre medical transition. To people who don’t know us, we look like a pair of butch lesbians (or possibly lesbians who got dressed in the dark) I’ll use lesbian to mean “in a committed romantic relationship with a woman”.

    A. What is wrong with being a lesbian, anyway?

    Absolutely nothing, for other people! But being referred to as a lesbian has the same result on me emotionally as being gendered female in other situations: discomfort, feeling distant, fake, wanting to withdraw.

    B. What if there was no such thing as hormones or surgeries and you had to just live your life as a lesbian, how would your life be different?

    I apologies if this is upsetting, but I would commit suicide. If I had to undo the progress I’ve made with social transition, and had no hope of relieving physical dysphoria, I’d be faced with crushing depression and agoraphobia. That was my life for years, and it’s not a life I consider worth living.

    C. To ask that same question in a different way, in case I get a more thorough response by asking it this way, are there any measurable or observable differences between your life and a lesbian life? Let’s say you are FtM and you live with your girlfriend in an apartment with your cat, and you like weight-lifting in your spare time and you enjoy having strap-on sex. What is the difference between what you’re doing and what every other lesbian couple is doing? Is the difference just “I identify as a man,” or is there anything else?

    The difference is my mental health would degrade to the point where I couldn’t hold down a job, have friendships, live independently, or maintain a relationship. If you take dysphoria out of the equation I’d be living a completely different life any way, and I have no idea what that life would look like. This question may as well be “If you were never mentally ill and never had to consider it, how would your life be different?”
    Because I suspect someone will ask: yes, I tried stopping the social transition/ wore my old clothes and referred to myself as my old name at one point. Like most fools who get their symptoms under control and decide to stop treatment, I thought I might be fixed and could go back to living as a woman. It had the completely predictable result of self-harming for the first time since I started transitioning, and now I’m on T.

    D. In regards to your life outside of home, how would your work life and family life and hobbies be different if you were a lesbian instead of an FtM?

    This is once again “Imagine you aren’t mentally ill”, but assuming I still dealt with agoraphobic tendencies for other reason: I don’t think my life would be much different. I’m looking for a social work masters program that will take me with my abysmal gpa, I play board games and generally hang out on weekends with my friends (mixed gender and sexuality group, only difference is I wouldn’t have to do the pronoun song and dance when I meet new people), my boyfriend is bi and we’d probably be the same. No difference what so ever with my current work, it’s all under my old name. My hobbies are video games, painting, and reading nonfiction, so no change there. Things might be less awkward with my family? I came out as bi a long time before I came out as trans, so that got smoothed over and didn’t involve and name and pronoun change. I could wear clothes I find prettier and have a hairstyle other than “short, hide the hairline” one I’ve sported for the last year and a half, probably.

    E. If you felt uncomfortable identifying as a lesbian or being seen as a lesbian, why? Have you ever tried to work on internalized homophobia? Why or why not?

    I think I covered this a bit under question 6, but if anything I’ve had to work on internalized male homophobia. I spent a lot of time and emotional energy trying to not be a gay stereotype when I was younger (when I still identified as a woman), even when this ironically made me something of a lesbian stereotype. I still struggle with letting myself be feminine when I want to be.

    F. Have you ever spoken to other lesbians to find out whether they felt the same way you do about some of these issues? Why or why not? If so, what have you found out?

    I’ve never had a lesbian friend who I am close enough with to have these kinds of conversations.

    I hope this has been informative, and if you have more questions, or would like an elaboration on anything I’ve written, please ask.
    I have a question and a comment of my own to add: Why are the last several questions only addressed to straight trans men? I would guess it’s looking for similarity of experience to your own, but I’m curious.
    Finally, I’m not surprised you haven’t gotten many satisfactory answers to these questions. While the questions themselves are asked reasonably, it becomes very clear in the comments they are in bad faith. A few people in comments mention asking them irl (one person to their child, in a therapy session! How the hell did they expect that to go over?) – with less than stellar results. People don’t like being asked deeply personal, hard to articulate, difficult questions that they themselves are probably struggling with, only to be met with “Gotcha!” when they can’t immediately provide an answer. Not everyone has the ability or inclination to obsessively introspect like I do, and that shouldn’t be a prerequisite to transition.
    However, these are important questions. If you ignore the comment section they are presented respectfully. Doing your level best to answer them is one way to find out why you are transitioning, and what you hope to get out of it. I hope other trans people who come across this post find them as useful as I did.

    – Dan

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I consider myself AFAB nonbinary, rather than FtM, but I’ll have a go. (Yup. I’m the dumbest fish in the world, because witness…. I’ll bite.)

    1. Please explain in your own words what a “man” is and what a “woman” is.

    “Man” and “woman” are confused and ambiguous words. (This makes them similar to most other words of the English language, I guess.) One way of understanding them is about clusters of biological characteristics (called “sex”): what size gametes a person makes; what the chromosomes in their somatic cells look like, what their androgen and estrogen levels are; what shape their genitals are; how much body hair they have. Another way of understanding them is about non-consensual clusters of gender stereotypes (sometimes called “gender attribution”): whether the people someone typically them to wear dresses, nurture, use the women’s bathroom, and so on, or whether the people around them expect them to wear dull colors, fight, use the men’s bathroom, and so on. A third way of understanding them is about the person’s inner feelings regarding sex and gender attribution (called “gender identity”): of the available sex characteristics and gender stereotypes, which make the person feel most at home? With most people, these three things line up, which is why a lot of English speakers can get away with conflating them.

    2. What is wrong with having breasts, ovaries, a vagina, a clitoris, and a period?

    Some people don’t want these things. (I am personally fine with my ovaries, vagina, and clitoris, have complicated but mostly negative feelings about my breasts, and think periods are utterly pointless and awful.) People should get to live in bodies that make them feel comfortable. My breasts feel sometimes like part of my body and often not. Periods are messy and painful and I see no upside to them, though you are welcome to keep having your own if that’s what floats your boat.

    A. Many women find it uncomfortable having a period and having the equipment that can carry a pregnancy, because this comes with lots of difficulties (being responsible for preventing pregnancy, being targeted for sexual abuse, cramping and bleeding, etc) What is the difference between you being uncomfortable with having female parts and the discomfort that most other women experience? Is it a matter of degree or is it a qualitatively different feeling?

    I think there are some for whom it’s a difference in kind, and some for whom it’s merely a difference in degree. There’s a lot of variation among cis women in how they feel about their bodies, and among trans people in why they want to transition. I support cis women’s right to modify their bodies however they choose. Bodily autonomy is for everybody!

    B. Have you ever talked with other women about their discomfort and have you found similarities and differences?

    I talk about this stuff obsessively with anybody who’s willing to have a conversation. I’m curious! There are both similarities and differences. It’s pretty clear to me that nobody likes being treated in a misogynistic fashion: not cis women, not trans women, not trans men. A lot of women (cis and trans) have some kind of emotional/spiritual/erotic connection to their bodies as female that I seem to lack, though. I think also that for cis women, the discomfort comes more from thinking about how their bodies appear, rather than how their bodies feel from the inside. I have both kinds of discomfort.

    C. If the answer to question (2) is “because I’m a man and these are the wrong parts for a man” then I have two follow-up questions for that:
    i. What is a man? and also
    ii. If you are a man, then aren’t your breasts, ovaries, vagina and clitoris a man’s breasts, ovaries, vagina and clitoris? Why do you need to change them if you are already a man? Gender does not equal genitals, so how can any genitals be the wrong ones for your gender?

    N/A. I am not a man.

    3. If you could choose how other people treat you, while staying in the body you were born in, would you still need to transition? Let’s say everyone was willing to treat you “as a guy” even without taking testosterone. Would you still need to take it then?

    I have not medically transitioned yet. I am considering it. I am simultaneously eager to be perceived more often as ambiguous or male, and terrified to be perceived. When I look like a woman, I often feel invisible, and I’m a little reluctant give that up for the conspicuousness of being nonbinary in a public space.

    I don’t know for sure how I will feel about my body’s responses to testosterone. A lot of them sound really great when I contemplate them (unf, I want the facial hair and the voice thing), but who knows how they will be in practice? How can anybody know something like that for sure in advance?

    4. What does it mean to be treated like a guy? And for that matter, what does it mean to be treated like a woman?

    This varies from place to place, and mostly occurs below the level of conscious thought. When I am perceived as a man, I get more deference from people but also more low-level aggression.

    Being ambiguous-looking is fascinating and instructive… you can sometimes see when people switch over, and you sometimes have no idea how they perceive you until they pull you up for going in the wrong restroom.

    5. What does it mean to “feel like a boy/man”? Do you think it’s really possible for a female human to know what it feels like to have a male body? Or is it more like you believe your mind or personality are male? If this is the case, then please move on to question (6).

    This question always makes me think of that story about Zhuangzi and his friend. They are walking by the river, and Zhuangzi says, “how happy the fishes are.” His friend replies, “how do you know they are happy? You are not a fish.” Zhuangzi shoots back, “how do you know I do not know they are happy? You are not me.” I believe that this illustrates the fundamental impossibility of one conscious being really knowing what is in the mind of another conscious being. I can’t know what the typical man or the typical woman feels; I can only know what’s in my own mind.

    I do know this: I’m overall more suited overall to life as a hairy, flat-chested, ambiguous-looking person than life as a hairless, curvy, feminine-looking person. I don’t know if there’s an essential maleness or nonbinariness in me that explains that. It’s just… all the little things add up.

    6. What exactly is a “male mind” or a “male brain” or a “male personality”? Please describe.

    I think a “male brain” or “male personality” is any brain or personality had by a man.

    7. What exactly is uncomfortable about hearing female pronouns? What do those pronouns represent for you?

    Someone who uses female pronouns for me does not know or does not care about how I perceive myself. That shows a certain lack of consideration for my feelings and preferences. I don’t always care (sometimes I just want to have an uneventful commercial transaction and don’t require personal recognition), but it is kind of a buzzkill if I was hoping for friendship or something.

    8. If you are attracted to women:
    A. What is wrong with being a lesbian, anyway?

    My understanding is that lesbians are not supposed to have sex with men? I’ll stick with being bisexual, thanks.

    B. If the answer to (8)A is “Nothing is wrong with being a lesbian, I’m just not one, because I’m a man,” then please refer back to question (1), what is a man?

    N/A.

    C. What if there was no such thing as hormones or surgeries and you had to just live your life as a lesbian, how would your life be different?

    There would be the whole pesky “no sex with men” rule, which would make me sad. I also think that the group of women I would date would be somewhat different. Right now, I guess I date people I would broadly describe as “queer women”, who tend not to be exclusively attracted to women, and who have less Goddess Energy than lesbians somehow, at a cultural level. I am slightly allergic to Goddess Energy, though I would probably cope if it were the only way to get laid. I don’t know how interested lesbians would be in me.

    D. To ask that same question in a different way, in case I get a more thorough response by asking it this way, are there any measurable or observable differences between your life and a lesbian life? Let’s say you are FtM and you live with your girlfriend in an apartment with your cat, and you like weight-lifting in your spare time and you enjoy having strap-on sex. What is the difference between what you’re doing and what every other lesbian couple is doing? Is the difference just “I identify as a man,” or is there anything else?

    I’d probably be willing to date a lesbian. Then as a couple, we would sort of have 50% of a lesbian life and 50% of a nonbinary queer life. That sounds nice. Probably there would be cats and weightlifting and strap-ons.

    E. In regards to your life outside of home, how would your work life and family life and hobbies be different if you were a lesbian instead of an FtM?

    Probably coming out would be simpler because I could just expect people to have the concept of the thing I was coming out as, instead of having to explain it every time. (Thank you to the lesbians of history who made this a possibility. Radclyffe Hall is my genderqueer lesbian hero(ine). Maybe I can make life easier for the nonbinary people of the future; that would be awesome.)

    F. If you felt uncomfortable identifying as a lesbian or being seen as a lesbian, why? Have you ever tried to work on internalized homophobia? Why or why not?

    I have worked hard to overcome internalized biphobia, and have achieved what I see as a great deal of success. Bisexuality is a real orientation, it is not something I do for the amusement of men, and it is not a phase.

    G. Have you ever spoken to other lesbians to find out whether they felt the same way you do about some of these issues? Why or why not? If so, what have you found out?

    I’ve talked to lots of lesbians and queer women about how to overcome externalized homophobia in social settings that we share. I’m actually not so interested in finding a single queer identity that all AFAB people must share. I think the important part of solidarity is about fighting people who harass and belittle queer women, and about getting legal and institutional protections for queer people so that if someone tries to hurt us or fire us, we have recourse. For that, it doesn’t matter whether I’m trans or cis or bi or straight or a lesbian. All that matters is my ability to stick up for what’s right.

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