Features Australia

Gender identity is bollocks

The trans agenda is not for me. And I’m trans.

4 April 2020

9:00 AM

4 April 2020

9:00 AM

Trans women are women and trans men are men must be in contention for the defining statement of our age. In little more than five years, transgender awareness has burst into the public consciousness to the extent that the recent International Transgender Day of Visibility seems to be a relic of history. Maybe it could be replaced by a day of understanding? Because, while transgender people – like me, for example – have become very visible, the reasons why we are transgender are still hidden in the shadows.

Current orthodoxy insists that trans people have a gender identity inconsistent with our biology, which can then lead to something called gender dysphoria. But that explains nothing. Gender identity cannot even be defined without recourse to circular reasoning, ‘the gender we identify with’ and sexist stereotypes. It is unprovable, unfalsifiable and unhelpful. Transgender people need better than this – something that is not only grounded in reality but is also consistent with other aspects of our personality. According to Occam’s Razor, the correct hypothesis is usually the simplest, and with the fewest assumptions. Gender Identity is pure assumption – an assumption that gender identity exists. This is not only Orwellian, it is worthy of Lewis Carroll. It needs to be consigned to the bin. Rather than invent new terminology, we should start with what we know. It is clear that some people have an insatiable compulsion to transition. The evidence of 50 years and more suggests that hormone therapy and gender reassignment surgery can improve their lives following counselling and psychiatry to screen for co-morbid psychological issues. My life was certainly better.

But what could cause gender dysphoria if not an inconsistent gender identity? Gender identity is often asserted as self-evident,  but models based on identity are relatively recent. Behaviours, on the other hand, have been discussed for generations. Putting aside female-to-male transsexualism for the moment, male-to-female transsexualism falls into two main categories.


Firstly, a group of males who are observed to have stereotypically feminine traits from a very young age. Attracted exclusively to men, they appear to transition to make themselves sexually attractive to straight men. Secondly, a quite different group whose childhood behaviour is not typically feminine. Usually attracted to women – like most males are attracted to women – their transitions can provoke astonishment from their family and friends. What is going on here follows a quite different pattern. But what might cause it if not gender identity? A generation ago, the sexologist Ray Blanchard suggested that they are sexually and romantically attracted to themselves. He coined the term autogynephilia – an attraction to oneself as a woman. Many other personality traits can be extroverted or introverted, why not sexual orientation? It matches the narrative: otherwise unremarkable males who report a desire to be the other sex from early childhood: as soon as they were aware that there were two sexes. That was certainly my own experience. I couldn’t explain it to myself, let along tell others about it. But by the age of five, I knew it to be so shameful that it became a huge secret that I had to keep hidden at all costs. At puberty, the problems intensified when the testosterone that filled my body tried to find a focus. While my male friends started seeking out girls, my focus was inverted. I needed to be a girl but that was impossible so I struggled with frustrated fantasy in my head. Heaven only knows what I would have done if I had access to today’s internet, with every kind  of pornography at hand. I worry desperately about the impact on today’s autogynephilic teenagers. But rather than confronting the nature of their sexuality – something so unacceptable that it cannot be verbalised – they are told that they are really the opposite sex, real females, even. It is nonsense but it is persuasive nonsense, just as long as the rest of society can be compelled to go along with it.

Then there are middle-aged transitioners who have struggled with autogynephilia for years. It’s no surprise that the huge increase in prevalence has coincided with the rise of social media. People who have suffered a lifetime of shame and guilt about their compulsion to think of themselves ourselves as women, dress as women and finally change their bodies to resemble women find role models in each other. That happened to me in 2011. Within months I did believe that I was some kind of woman and if others were transitioning, why not me?

The compulsion became overwhelming and less than two years later – in the autumn of 2012 – I transitioned. It brought palliative relief. Being able to present to society more typical of women matched the way I had always wanted to see myself. Hormone therapy reduced the male sex drive that had troubled me since puberty. Finally gender reassignment surgery left my body looking like one I was naturally attracted towards. But although it may be a palliative solution, it’s hardly a satisfactory solution. My wife was left without a husband – she was attracted to my body as it was when we met, not as it is now – and my children worried desperately about the reaction from their friends. It was a huge mess.

Was it the right thing to do? At the time, yes, my mental health was in such a poor state that a desperate remedy was needed. Would I do the same thing now, knowing what I do? I don’t know. I now know that the prize I thought I had won – becoming a woman – was always magical thinking. I could never be a woman; merely look a bit like one. And it is true, there is nothing I can do as a trans woman that I could not do as a man, apart from breach women’s boundaries and appropriate their sex-based rights. I don’t do those things so arguably I have gained nothing. Should I detransition, therefore? No. I do like my body as it is now, and what is done is done, it can’t be reversed. I have found peace as a transwoman – a biological male who prefers my body to resemble a female body. But this is a peace that seems to elude many other transwomen who are still chasing rainbows, and are hurt by the things I say. Maybe my words are close to the bone?

Female-to-male transition seems to me to be quite different and needs to be discussed by someone who has gone through it. We share something – we transition from one gender to the other but the assumption of a common reason is merely that – an assumption.

Understanding is controlled by language, and the assumption of gender identity has created a lot of misunderstanding, and seemingly unhappy people. It really is time to bin the idea. Because, to put it crudely, gender identity is bollocks; you either have them or you don’t.

You might disagree with half of it, but you’ll enjoy reading all of it. Try your first 10 weeks for just $10


Show comments
Close