Men’s Rights hate site A Voice for Men has not exactly shown much of an interest in trans* issues in the past. Indeed, the only time I can recall founder Paul Elam ever even mentioning trans* people was in the context of a vicious attack on a Men’s Studies expert who happens to be a trans woman; he suggested she was a mentally ill man-hater whose “so hated the sex they were born with that it sparked a life long academic quest to deconstruct it into something that did not disgust them.”
So it’s a little surprising to see a post on AVFM now with the seemingly dispassionate, slightly turgid, title “Male/female discrepancies in transsexualism.” The post starts out as dry as its title, but it soon becomes clear that it is “scientific” in style only. It’s not an attempt to understand trans women or trans people in general; it’s an attempt to use the existence of trans women as a helpful prop in an old Men’s Rights argument.
After declaring that “the inherent,prenatal explanations for transsexualism are highly questionable” — without actually examining any of these explanations beyond mentioning one study — Jesse Folsom offers his own crackpot theory to explain why, in his words, there are more “male-to-female [than] female-to-male transsexuals.”
In short, he asserts, our society is so biased against boys and men that a lot of boys and men have decided that they want to become girls and women. And naturally, feminists are largely to blame.
[W]hy would a young boy associate more with the stereotypes assigned to girls? Well, one good reason would be because he wants to, because he regards his stereotypes of women as superior. For instance, in a feminist household, expressions of masculinity may be viewed with derision, or, when there is a father present, as a source of shame.
Also, in case you hadn’t realized this, most mothers are women as well:
Even without such associations, however, a child often just spends more time with his or her mother.
Oh, and so are teachers. It’s like there’s some sort of plot!
While it does not occur until after a large proportion of gender ideas are formed, school also exposes children, primarily, to female role models. Not to mention the fact that many behaviors typical of boys are frowned upon and even drugged out of them in modern school environments.
As a result, young boys have no real role models in society.
And where do boys find themselves today? Today, women can be anything they want. Women can be action heroes, happy homemakers, corporate executives, and powerful politicians.
Obviously there are no examples of men in any of these roles for boys to look up to.
There are two categories of fashion, fashion for everyone and fashion for women only. Women are the ones seen as beautiful and glamorous. Women are kind, gentle, empathetic, and allowed to freely express emotion. With the traditional strengths of men now seen as irrelevant or even negative, why wouldn’t a boy rather be a girl? Is this not as good an explanation as any for the discrepancies between MtF and FtM transsexualism?
Well, actually, no. But Folsom continues, insinuating that this evil feministy brainwashing does terrible damage to all the poor little boys who have decided that they want to be girls:
It is simply implausible that a child that associates with the opposite sex label has any real understanding of what that means, but unfortunately, such associations often stick. Further, this gender dysphoria is extremely harmful, frequently leading to severe depression and high suicide and poverty rates for transsexuals. As one might expect, researchers believe that male-to-female transsexuals are the hardest-hit by these problems.
Aside from all the general bullshittery of Folsom’s not-very-original theory here, it’s telling that he never refers to trans women as, well, women, preferring instead to refer to them either as male-to-female transsexuals — or to actually refer to them as male. Like Elam, clearly doesn’t see trans women as real women, but rather as men suffering from some sort of delusion, driven by internalized misandry.
And that’s really the only way that AVFM can have any sympathy for trans women at all: if they’re seen as male victims of feminism, and not as women at all.
Regular Man Boobz commenter Ally S ventured into the Men’s Rights subreddit to offer a rather more nuanced view of the subject. Some highlights:
This article is almost exactly like countless articles written by trans-exclusionary radical feminists. The only real difference is that the arguments are being used to further support MRA talking points rather than TERF talking points. …
When I was little, I didn’t identify as a girl because I associated more with femininity and stereotypes about girls. It was the other way around: I came to associate more with femininity and stereotypes about girls because I identified as a girl. Just as cis girls associate with stereotypes related to their own gender. …
I guarantee that virtually any trans woman will say that adherence to stereotypes and misandry have nothing to do with identifying as female. That’s because there’s a difference between gender identity and gender expression. Personally, I am a trans woman, but my clothing style is basically agender and I engage in what are often considered masculine activities, such as programming. And when I was a child, I actually saw feminine traits as inferior, not superior – yet I still identified as a girl. I have many friends who have had similar experiences. …
Lastly, deliberately misgendering trans women (you know, what the author does in every other sentence) is completely unacceptable, even if one is speaking about young children. We are not and never will be men.
You can see Ally’s entire comment here, as well as a number of detailed followups. Amazingly, they actually got upvotes in the Men’s Rights subreddit, where Folsom’s article received a generally hostile reception. Apparently some of AVFM’s bullshit is so bullshitty that even Men’s Rights Redditors can recognize it as such.