“There have always been trans people”

I was reading a new article by Chris Hedges, which attempted to balance the views of trans activists with the views of women, by quoting both, and what I noticed is the quotes by trans activists contained a lot of blatant misinformation. One quote in particular I wanted to discuss:

“Being transgender is not a consumer identity pushed on us by a capitalist system,” Snow said. “Transgender people have existed long before capitalism and will continue to exist. Pushing the narrative that trans identities are simply a ‘consumer’ rather than an authentic identity only reinforces rigid standards of what it means to be female. Trans women are often dismissed, marginalized and attacked for failing to meet these rigid standards of what it means to be female. So-called ‘feminists’ who wish to label trans identities as being inauthentic are actually doing the patriarchy’s work of enforcing rigid standards and ideas of what it means to be female.”

The speaker is Misty Snow, an American transwoman, and he is responding to the accusation from feminists that transgender identities are being marketed to people.

I think if you are going to argue that transgender identity is not being sold to us by capitalism, your proof should necessarily involve demonstrating that there is no money involved in selling a transgender identity, that transgender identity is not being promoted, and that trans identity is an authentic human trait not related to culture. I predict you’d have trouble proving any of these premises.

Snow’s sentence “Pushing the narrative that trans identities are simply a ‘consumer’ rather than an authentic identity only reinforces rigid standards of what it means to be female” doesn’t make sense. Women are reporting that trans identities are being marketed because we can see the marketing, and reporting the marketing that we can see is not at all related to “reinforcing rigid standards” about femaleness. Feminists are in fact against rigid standards about what it means to be female, which anyone would understand if they read anything we write. This is another one of those thousands of instances of trans activists literally making shit up and projecting it onto feminists as if it’s the truth. I’m getting seriously tired of all the lying they do.

Reality TV shows such as this one and this one and this one promote transgenderism to the masses. Books, dolls, and more dolls, are being created to teach kids about being trans, endless news stories tell us the “brave” tales of trans people who come out after realizing they identify with the stereotypes assigned to the opposite sex, videos such as these and these specifically promote gender identities as something cool to have. Entire companies exist to sell transgender clothing and supplies, and of course all the doctors and surgeons and pharmaceutical companies are making money off of hormones and surgeries.

As a result of gender identity being marketed, the numbers of people wanting transgender body modifications are skyrocketing and new gender clinics are opening to keep up with demand. The purpose of marketing a product is to increase the number of people buying it. The marketing of gender identity has in fact increased the number of people wanting costly body modifications. I’m not sure how you’d set out to prove that this marketing and profiting is not happening.

Gay and lesbian identities have also been taken up by media, however, there is no profit to be made as a result of people being lesbian or gay, and you can’t increase the gay population by promoting it. Being gay doesn’t involve purchasing supplies or clothing, getting plastic surgery, or becoming lifelong medical patients, so there is no more money to be made from us than there is from the general population. Tell me this: when we started seeing gay characters on TV shows, did the number of gay people in society skyrocket at rates of “several hundred percent” as they have with gender identity? I have not seen that.

The reason you can increase the number of people identifying as transgender is partly because transgenderism is a socially-constructed identity and partly because the definition of transgender is so wide open that anyone can claim it. Transgender doesn’t just mean male-to-female transsexuals and female-to-male transsexuals anymore, it is a variety of different labels that mean whatever the person says they mean and any of which could involve body modifications if the person desires. It’s an identity buffet where new flavours can be invented any time and anyone can choose their choices, especially where they involve buying things.

Trans activists, like the one above, will argue that there have always been trans people and that being trans is an innate characteristic. When you are going to argue that, you first have to narrow down what you mean by “trans” and what characteristic, specifically, people are born with. In my post, What does it mean to be trans, I talked about the problems with defining trans people as “everyone who challenges the boundaries of sex and gender” because this could include almost everyone depending on what criteria you set. This definition in fact includes radical feminists under the definition of trans, something that is rather funny and ironic in this political climate. If you are going to talk about innate characteristics you’re going to have to define them as something a little more concrete than “feeling male” or “feeling female” because these concepts don’t hold any water since there is no specific way that males and females feel.

When your definition of who is trans is so broad it can include almost anyone, and when your alleged “innate” characteristics amount to nothing other than personality and feelings, then you can indeed claim that trans people have always existed, because as long as people have existed we have had our own unique personalities and feelings that don’t necessarily coincide with what society expects of men and women. However, it’s not a useful argument to define trans people as “everyone” and then say that “everyone” has always existed. Who, exactly, has always existed?

I have been reading Trans Gender Warriors by Leslie Feinberg and she included a lot of research into societies and cultures in which there were gender nonconforming people, with a focus on the fact that they were generally respected by their societies. The purpose of this exercise is to prove that there have always been trans people, and they haven’t always been hated as they are now. Some of the people discussed are Native American two-spirited people (and this is a large and varied group by the way), women who lived as men to fight in battle, (such as Joan of Arc), male-to-female priestesses and shamans across many countries, intersexual deities among African and Asian societies, and more.

I don’t doubt for a second that gender nonconforming people have always existed. The expectations and roles about how men and women should behave have never been applicable to all people. Nature always creates exceptions. However, the phenomenon of “trans kids” today who are being put on the dangerous drug Lupron because they are playing with toys marketed to the opposite sex is in no way comparable to cross-dressing shamans and warriors from ancient societies. There is no evidence of kids before the second half of the 20th century demanding to have their puberty blocked or else they will commit suicide. If it is comparable at all, it’s the opposite of the acceptance that GNC people used to have. Now, instead of accepting that some boys are girly and some girls are boyish, they are considered to have a medical defect which has to be corrected using an off-label and non-FDA approved drug that sterilizes them and has unknown long-term medical effects. I think that if GNC people were accepted today as the shamans and warriors were then, then parents would be delighted to have daughters who play with trucks and sons who play with dolls, and such kids would be celebrated as-is without the need for harmful medical intervention. In addition, the influx of misogynist heterosexual men into the modern “trans” movement shows how different the modern trans identity is from those early cross-dressers. When I consider that fake-antifa woman-hating white men like this are being compared to Native American two-spirit people, due to all being under the “trans umbrella,” I cringe. When I think of how autogynephiles who discover their love for dressing like a female porn star after masturbating endlessly to sissy porn can be compared to women like Joan of Arc who bravely fought in battle to save their countries, due to all being under the “trans umbrella,” I cringe. Comparing the early cross-dressing warriors and shamans and the two-spirit people to today’s modern Western trans phenomenon is an insult to those cultures.

One of the interesting things about Feinberg’s research into the history of GNC people is that they were often homosexual. She did name this fact when it came up, but she didn’t seem to place a lot of significance on it, preferring to call them trans rather than gay.

One of the quotes Feinberg included, which notably came from Gay American History by Ned Katz, was this:

“Strange country this,” a white man wrote in 1850 about the Crow nation of North America, “where males assume the dress and perform the duties of females, while women turn men and mate with their own sex!” (p22)

Feinberg also quoted a Spanish official who had this to say after going on an expedition across Panama:

“saw men dressed like women, learnt they were sodomites and threw the King and forty others to be eaten by his dogs” (p23)

Feinberg also tells of an occasion when she was invited to a gathering of two-spirit Native people in Minneapolis. She says:

“I laughed easily, relaxed with old friends and new ones. Some were feminine men or masculine women; all shared same-sex desire. (p26)”

(All page numbers refer to Trans Gender Warriors.)

What it looks like to me is that Feinberg found a lot of evidence of gays and lesbians, who have always existed, have often been GNC, and were respected in early societies. I’m disappointed that she placed so much emphasis on them being trans rather than being gay.

Same-sex desire is a real thing, and gender nonconformity going along with same-sex attraction is also a real thing. However, the way we conceptualize and name the identities of same-sex attracted people varies from culture to culture and from time period to time period. The words “gay” and “lesbian” are 20th century Western inventions, and interestingly, we are even seeing the Western conceptualization of same-sex attraction change right before our eyes, as many same-sex attracted young people today are identifying as trans, including nonbinary and genderqueer as well as trans men or trans women. I wouldn’t have a problem with language changing, as it’s not the labels that are important, except for this new way of thinking comes with a complete denial of biological sex, and a medicalization of the bodies of same-sex attracted people, which is unnecessary and nonsensical and which ends up hurting us in the long run.

We know that children diagnosed as having “gender dysphoria” by the modern Western medical establishment are more likely to grow into happy gay, lesbian and bisexual adults than persist in gender dysphoria. We also know that most kids who persist in gender dysphoria into adulthood are same-sex attracted, which has serious implications for what gender dysphoria really means. We also know that early examples of GNC people, as Feinberg documented, were often same-sex attracted.

The claim that “trans people have always existed” is made in a context in which people are conflating very different lived realities under one umbrella which obscures what is meant by the identity “trans” and in which people are deliberately hiding the fact that many of the people considered to be “trans” by trans activists are actually gay. Unfortunately, even trans activists who are themselves homosexual and otherwise appear to be in favor of gay rights often hide or minimize the fact that trans people are often gay. This results in gay people being hidden under another identity and medicalized so they no longer appear to be gay, which looks a lot like homophobia.

Getting back to the quote from the trans activist quoted above, he believes that feminists who are pro-gay and against traditional gender roles are “reinforcing patriarchy” because we do not believe that male humans can be considered female and because we have noted the promotion of a modern, medicalized trans identity that is being promoted by those who profit from it. He couldn’t be more wrong. Identifying the biological differences that human beings are born with and which allow us to reproduce does not enforce cultural standards of femininity or masculinity. However, the belief that boys who like pink and sparkly things are really girls, and that girls who play with trucks are really boys, does enforce cultural standards onto boys and girls. It is a patriarchal reversal that feminists who are against gender are the ones reinforcing gender, while those who worship gender are freeing us from it.

Here are some things that are demonstrably true: same-sex attraction has always existed, exceptions to cultural ideas about how men and women should behave have always existed, gay men appearing to be “feminine” and lesbians appearing to be “masculine” have always existed, we are born with a certain personality which normally cannot be changed, and it is patriarchy that reinforces rigid gender roles and compulsory heterosexuality.

11 thoughts on ““There have always been trans people”

  1. This is on point, and I am glad you talked about the difference between historical gender non conforming people and modern trans. I will take it a step further: in no culture in the history of the world have the sex categories of male and female been erased and considered mutable. Gender non conforming people were never considered to be the literal opposite sex. The idea that men can become women and vice verse is a culturally bound Western idea. The third and fourth genders were not considered literal women or men. They were not third and fourth sexes, they were different categories of men and women. I think it is important to highlight how gender non conforming people were often gay, too, because that is so.not the same as what modern trans ideology is pushing.

    Liked by 11 people

  2. OMG I came across some ridiculous click at article the other day talking about “transgender” people from history, and when I saw that Joan of Arc was on that list I was beyond irritated.

    Seriously – to say that a young woman adopting the battle armour typically worn by men in order to do some incredible things for her country must have ACTUALLY deep down been a man inside reinforces the idea that women are naturally incapable of doing such incredible things. How could it NOT imply that? You’re taking one of the few female heroines we have that hasn’t been written out of history, and you’re assigning this ideology to her that says her soul was really male all along, with zero evidence to support such a claim aside from the fact that she wore clothing that was appropriate for battle instead of clothing that was appropriate for cleaning the kitchen!

    Fuck that!

    Liked by 13 people

    • An interesting point about Joan of Arc is that she was deeply religious and believed that God was instructing her to lead the army to defend her country. We don’t know if she would have felt more comfortable in men’s clothing even if she hadn’t been following “God’s orders” in being a soldier. Maybe? Maybe not? Today, a strong belief in patriarchal religion and devotion to one’s country are considered right-wing.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I guess today one would consider that right wing, yes, but I’m not sure there’s really much to be gained in applying the modern day politics of liberals vs republicans to a figure from the 1400s… It was SUCH a different time; any one of us could had been deeply religious if born we’d been born back then.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. FIRST, let me tell you that this is an awesome piece of writing! YOU educated me today, and you explained and said things that I have been personally searching for the words to say/explain. I am disheartened by the number of young people deciding to “transition” today, it seems to be the new “in-thing” if you are Butch, you automatically are asked “when are you going to transition?” While I do think that it’s really a millennial issue, and they are the ones who will have to deal with the repercussions – both good and bad – of these early transitioning decisions, I also think that many Butches my age are now considering transitioning as well. I don’t always “get it” or understand like I am “supposed” to understand. I try to be supportive of my friends, but I have more than once said “are you SURE?” And I have had some very deep conversations with them surrounding their new choice to go from Butch to FTM at 50+. Personally, I think it’s a bit crazy. THAT IS MY PERSONAL OPINION and does NOT mean that I am against transition, but that I think we are often being “pushed” to transition or at least to consider it in today’s modern medical world where it’s now an “option” – which it really wasn’t in the 60’s/70’s when I was growing up. I never really encountered all of this transitioning stuff until well in to the 2000’s. It’s a realative NEW thing on the scene. It hasn’t “been around forever” as that other author stated; where females being masculine, and males being feminine HAS been around forever. And being lesbian or gay has also been around since evolution. All mammals have community members who are lesbian or gay…maybe even bi-sexual! (I have a hard time just SAYING that particular word…another of my internalized homophobic issues). So, once again you have given me very delicious food for thought! AND you have changed my mind completely about TERF’s….I used to think they were ALL evil, but I am discovering otherwise, I’m discovering that people can lovingly hold opinions – that differ from my own – and I can STILL love and care for them!

    Now, I am SURE that my followers will read this comment, and subsequent writings I am planning to do on this issue, with mouths open, jaws dropped and eyes bugging out of their pretty little heads. No, this CAN’T be coming from MainelyButch – super Butch, and an outspoken Trans ally / activist! This is what I will hear I am quite positive of it. But if everyone who questions me will READ your post first, they will understand where I am coming from. I am not denying ANYONE the right to choose his/her identity. I’m NOT saying one is better than another (although standing up to pee is one righteous task to be able to do!) I am going to Re-Blog this on my site…if that is okay with you? Please let me know. My email is mainelybutch@yahoo.com if you would like to send me a DM. Now, I will sit back and try to field the numerous questions and comments that my opinion here is bound to bring to me. You please be well, keep writing and inspiring us all, and love like there is no tomorrow! Peace! ~MainelyButch

    Liked by 4 people

      • GRRR…I wrote the most awesome introduction to your page, for my post on my page and LOST the damned piece! Clicked out before hitting re-blog! I am going out for a bit now, but am going to work on this later. I believe that this piece of writing of yours, here, is VERY IMPORTANT to share with as many people – especially younger Butches who may be considering transition – as possible. Thanks for being a continuous inspiration to me! Peace! ~MB

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Some parts of this post tingled my spiders sense, as I just finished reading the infamous “The Man Who Would Be Queen”. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you add it to your pile, because though it focuses on males, it talks a lot about the history and complexities of gender-nonconformity, and its association with homosexuality and transsexualism. It’s a little out-of-date for some parts, but mostly I found a lot of his hypotheses have actually been strengthened with newer data.

    (I found most of the book obvious and completely non-offensive, and was confused about why transpeople found it so terrible….until I reached the part where he says AGP transwomen are frequent liars, because it is necessary to their psyche to believe they are “real” women. Ah ha.)

    As you know, I think transsexuals are a totally different category than “transgender”. I’d argue that transsexuals have probably existed historically, and that they are a type of homosexual, but that obviously not every cross-dressed historical person is a transsexual, and so we shouldn’t automatically assume in retrospect. Bailey essentially says the same thing. I’ll see if I can find a good quote about it.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Is there *any* evidence that Joan of Arc was a trans man? I thought she wore the more practical clothing: in battle, to be able to ride a horse, and in prison, to be less vulnerable to sexual violence.

    I don’t think there’s any way to know, now, if James Barry and Billy Tipton were trans men, or were passing as men for their careers and their social acceptance.

    I think it’s easier to show that there were trans women and enbies, and, therefore, that there probably were trans men and enbies. Helen Savage cites Ovid to suggest that the Scythian Enarees may have used pregnant mare’s urine. And there’s evidence of self-castration. K.A. Lucker notes that Martial condemns one galla, who he calls “Baeticus Gallus,” for sex with women. Athanasius condemns one of his critics for marrying Eustolia, a subintroducta.

    As for the Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence-Zucker theory…

    I am not a sexologist, so can 3 and 4-year-olds actually develop fetishes?

    I think two-type theories imply a clear distinction between the types. So in the Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence-Zucker theory, there’s supposed to be one type (“homosexual transsexuals”) of exclusively androphilic trans women transitioning for social reasons, and a second type (“autogynephiles”) including some exclusively androphilic, bi/pansexual, exclusively gynephilic, and asexual people transitioning for fetishistic reasons.

    I think one-type theories imply a continuum. So in born-trans theories, there would be gradual overlapping differences, such as between “early,” “middle,” and “late transitioners,” with both orientation and expression affecting when people are able to transition.

    Unfortunately, most of the studies listed in Pubmed are behind paywalls… Veale’s “Evidence Against a Typology” seems to be an exception.


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