Male-Born Femininity & Gender Inversion

Posted: December 27, 2009 in Autogynephilia 2008

Sexy Corset and Tights @wickedground | Dec 2009

Dec 27, 2009
Alison put me in her corset at Wicked Grounds, the San Francisco coffee shop and took this shot. The Barrista said, "Hell, if you can’t play dress up here, where can you do it?" As always I find it interesting how much of the feminine body is produced by fashion which exaggerates curves in females and hides curves in males.
I have worn these leggings on many occasions but the high heeled boots produce a constructed female legs and butt. Notice also how baring the shoulders is a total female effect, as though males do not have bare shoulders.
Polly said
I actually like what you do with gender a lot, because despite being a gender atheist, I think it’s genuinely subversive. And the extent of that subversiveness can be judged by the ruffled feathers elsewhere.
You are too kind sweetie. I agree that what I am trying to do is subversive.

  • I believe that Gender Inversion is common and (more or less) innate.
  • I think Mab (Male At Birth) femininity is very widely spread and ruthlessly suppressed/repressed.
  • Transexuality is a historically and culturally specific identity category for gender inverts
  • Feminine Gay Males are also gender inverts but the current gay male identity politics deny all link between gender inversion and the gay male identity category
  • Both homophobia and transphobia (in the sense of irrational fear rather than hate) are actually the same thing they are an irrational fear of gender inversion
  • in late modern America Mab gender inversion is much more taboo than Fab (Female At Birth) gender inversion, and elicits a more violent response
  • The Transsexual identity usually entails a radical disidentification with the birth sex, and from all inverts who do not radically disidentify
  • Disidentification of Transexual inverts from non-transsexual inverts and vice versa has had a divide-and-conquer effect, which keeps Mab gender inversion invisible and keeps its destabilizing effects contained
  • The transsexual narrative of gender inversion as illness or pathology is profoundly body-negative and is a form of internalized Invertphobia
  • The Transsexual Mab emphasis on passing as Fab helps to keep inversion invisible. It exchanges one closet for another closet
  1. Aria Blue says:

    This is great Jasper. If you keep this up, you’ll soon outshine all the drab gender-theorists that have been dominating the discourse lately. We need a dozen more just like you: You have a unique twist on the old-school deconstructionism that escapes the current crop of “TG” politicians, who merely use it to reinforce their tired conformist agenda. It doesn’t even matter to me that you don’t believe my birth condition really exists- you are just so entertaining!

  2. Jasper Gregory says:

    Hi Aria,
    How sarcastic are you being? Do you actually agree with a single point I made. The three sided debate between Transexual, Transgender and RadFem, I have always had strange bedfellows, but I cannot imagine that you would agree with me on resurrecting the category of Gender Invert as a supercategory of transsexual, transgender, transvestite, femmie gay man.
    Perhaps you enjoy me shattering the sacred cows of the trans-activists.

  3. polly says:

    Transexuality is a historically and culturally specific identity category for gender inverts

    I agree with this 100%. People taking on unexpected gender roles is a phenomenon that has existed for ever, or at least as long as gender roles have existed. What has changed, simply is the cultural interpretation of that.

    And yes femininity is HIGHLY constructed. Which is how I, an obviously female person if you look at my facial features, can pass as male simply by having short hair and baggy clothing.

  4. Gabriel says:

    I swear you are one of the few people I’ve ever found who can give a transgender narrative that doesn’t bring a new method of oppression or a list of behaviors that I must subscribe to. Thanks so much.

  5. Jasper Gregory says:

    @aria I do not actually use the term deconstruction. I associate that with Derrida, literary/film criticism and semiotics which were big in the 90’s, but I find that stuff to be completely relativist. A lot of Queer Feminist Theory like Halberstam has taken the deconstructionist line. A lot of it reads like propaganda.
    I am a fan of Foucault’s analysis, which seems to be eclipsing Derrida within queer theory and within academics in general. Foucault was really a historian and sociologist and in the History of Sexuality he tried to understand how the Identity Category Homosexual came to be constituted through medical discourse.
    Imagining Transgender: by David Valentine (2005) is an ethnography of the category Transgender and the different categories of Male-Born Femininity. I recommend it highly. I think you would find much in it to your liking.

  6. Jasper Gregory says:

    @polly I both agree with you and I don’t. Part of the transsexual activist politics is to deny the historicity of Transsexuality and to reinterpret all the gender variance of other cultures and times as Transsexuality.
    I also agree that Femininity as we practice it is constructed.
    However, I do not believe that a Butch can turn around and decide to be Femme. Male-Born Femmes have an “innate” inclination to Femme which is dissonant with Hegemonic Masculinity and can be expressed through Artificial Femininity Drag, by being a Nelly Boy or by adopting a transsexual woman identity.
    I believe that there is something underneath or before the social roles which I am calling innate. That may be through androgen sensitivity in the fetus, through the hypothalamus, object relational ego structures or even reincarnation for all I know, but I do believe in gender inversion that goes deeper than identity categories.

  7. Jasper Gregory says:

    @gabriel I am so glad you found my site. I dream of the possibilities of gay/straight femmeboy alliance, and would love to find someone in San Francisco to put together a support group with me. So please put out the word. We need to support each other before we can expect real support from others.
    I agree with you about the authoritarian tendencies of the Transgender Narrative. I feel that it lost its progressive potential almost as soon as it entered the stage in the nineties. Riki Wilchins abandoned the term for Genderqueer, but that has become reified as well. An interesting tidbit, all the way back in 1973 Foucault said that the term ‘Gay’ had lost its revolutionary potential. Valentine traces how ‘Gay’ used to include gender outlaws and no longer does. We exist outside the binaries, as soon as we name ourselves the name is appropriated by a binary identity category and we become nameless again. I guess we all just have to be our own unique little snowflakes.

  8. Warren says:

    I like the way you write and I applaud you in being yourself and speaking your mind.

    I would like to bring my transgender experience to the table as I believe it doesn’t line up with your perception of transsexuality as it is presented here. I am female to male physically transitioning. I do experience a body-negative pathological phenomenon usually called body-dysphoria. If I didn’t experience that day in and day out I never would have tried to transition physically. Body dysphoria is a very difficult experience to explain, but I know it exists because I do occasionally do my best to explain it to people and they get it and I’ve heard other people who experience it also explain it in a way that registers with me. It is not like other forms of body-negativity. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with societal constructions of gender at all. It is a the physiological sensation of having neural circuits wired for a body of a different sex. If you’d like to write to me at my e-mail I will give you concrete examples of what I’m talking about.

    I also identify as a femme gay man. I am in the middle of physically transitioning to male (check out my youtube vlog: sillyyetsuccinct or the collab channels I’m on MensRoomFTM and TMatesFTM) but anyone who meets me immediately clocks me as a fag and they are absolutely right. I’m homosexual and fey and wouldn’t ever want to be anything else.

    So how do people like me (and there are indeed many people out there just like me), femme FtM transfags, fit into your perception of the transsexual identity?

  9. polly says:

    Nature v Nurture is a good one Jasper. Although I have every single thing that scientists tell you will predict being a lesbian and- hey presto, I am! I am still deeply sceptical. When it’s proved I’ll believe it and not before. I believe we can have strongly constructed cultural desires/tendencies, which can feel innate, but there’s no evidence whatsoever for “brain sex”, and can’t be until we develop means of measuring brains immediately after birth.

    I think we go looking for biological causes for things at our peril, because next thing you know, they’ll be being selected out. There was once a notorious headline in the Daily Mail ‘Abortion hope after gay gene finding’ (particularly noteworthy since the Mail denounces abortion usually).

    But that aside, I don’t feel the need to justify myself. If being gay really is nothing but a choice, I’d choose it in a heartbeat, it’s a lot more fun. Never apologise, never explain.

  10. polly says:

    Hi Warren. Personally, I’m completely prepared to accept that you, and others, experience body dysmorphia, you know what is inside your head better than me. And if you really feel that you want to physically change your body, I don’t think anyone should stop you, it’s your body.

    The problem arises when we consider the origins of body dysmorphia. It’s impossible to say that there isn’t a biological cause (I’m prepared to accept that there may be, there’s no proof either way). But we now have a powerful cultural discourse which is constructed around the idea of individuals ‘trapped in the wrong sexed body’, and the solution to this being some kind of surgical intervention.

    If such a cultural discourse exists, you can’t say it doesn’t affect the way we perceive our own bodies.

    If you go back a hundred years sexologist such as Havelock Ellis were also representing lesbians as ‘inverts’, men trapped in female bodies. Thus explaining lesbians in heterosexual terms and leaving the heterosexual matrix undisturbed. This idea is most notably represented in Radclyffe Hall’s novel the well of loneliness. They had a bit of a problem fitting femme lesbians into this equation, but they managed it by representing them as passive, sexless creatures. Why such passive sexless creatures would choose a sexual relationship with a female rather than a male when the latter carried far more social advantages was not explained.

    A hundred years up the track, this idea is again gaining ground, with an explosion of FTM’s (I accept that this doesn’t include you, but bear with me). Butch lesbians are again being encouraged to ID themselves as male. The standard trans activist narrative is that these women were simply afraid to express their desire to be male before, I’m not so sure having seen the social pressure that is exerted to ID as male.

    Now personally I find it hard to believe that the number of female to male transsexuals has altered in line with whatever the predominant cultural explanation of non feminine lesbians is, so is the desire among this group to transition physically really so strong?

    What I am saying, in a very long winded way, is that it’s often difficult to identify the dividing line between exterior forces and our inner reality.

    This is problematic for those of us who are gender non conforming in any way, and ALL females, because we are the subject of these cultural meanings. Trans activists are always shouting to radical feminists ‘keep your theories off my body’. Well personally I’m shouting it right back at them.

    And to repeat my final question. Would you want to be explained biologically, if it meant you might never have existed at all? Because rest assured if a gay/transsexual gene is ever discovered, we are toast.

  11. Jasper Gregory says:

    @warren You give me a lot to think about. Are you familiar with Henry Rubin’s Self Made Men ? He explores Transexuality as a Historically contingent Identity Category while also stressing the kinds of body experiences that you are describing.
    I am wondering if it is possible to separate a neural body dissonance you describe from the cultural discourse of body negativity. Is it possible to feel your body dissonance and to change your body, without feeling body hatred.
    I say this because when I was exploring transsexuality I felt subtle societal pressure to talk about my body in terms of hatred, in order to prove my authenticity. I started to internalize a discourse of body hate. As a non-passing gender invert I experienced hostility in both straight and queer environments, and I started to direct my rage inward towards myself.
    You have a lived experience of neural dissonance and I have a lived experience of a society encouraging me to direct their hate of my gender inwards towards my own body. This is a body negativity that reminds me of the experience of fat girls and African American beauty ideals which devalue African American bodies.
    I do not want to undermine your experience but I also refuse to give up a fight against body negativity that says that Male-Born Femininity is ugly and must be hidden away.

  12. Gabriel says:

    @Jasper: No worries about spreading the word. Wish I were in San Fran but I guess I’ll just have to hold down the fort in Chicago. But finding femmeboys always makes me feel a little less alone in my “snowflakeyness”.

  13. Jasper Gregory says:

    @gabriel: We are really invisible. Are you part of Gayboy society? I can’t figure out whether it is easier to be a Gynophile or an Androphile. There is a place for femininity in San Francisco Gay culture, but you are required to pretend it is an act. A male identification is mandatory.

  14. Gabriel says:

    @jasper: I work in the gay ghetto, and am in and out of gayboy society. I’ve noticed that on the days I’m consciously performing gender, femme is interpreted as twink and seems acceptable because I’m still perceived as male. On days where I’m not paying attention to gender but pass as ambiguous or female anyway, I notice a lot of mixed reactions and some dirty looks from gay men. There is a lot of negativity towards feminine boys in the area, but it seems that the younger you look the more you can get away with, as that’s what’s expected of a twink.

    That’s my best interpretation, I guess.

  15. Jasper Gregory says:

    @gabriel | Gayboy attitudes towards Mab (Male at Birth) Femininity are very complex. We exist on the margins just like with Femmeboys in the Goth Scene and Transdykes in the Queer Scene. Even in San Francisco’s Fetish/Kink scene Crossdressers are always at the periphery. Mab Femmes share a common marginalization across the social spaces in which we are allowed to manifest.

  16. Aria Blue says:

    The problem with your theorizing is that you believe “gender” to be a real, tangible thing rather than a label placed on clusters of behavior. In trying to explain physical phenomena like transsexualism in terms of social theory, you reduce the issue to one of choice and therefore irrelevance. In the process, you also dismiss our condition entirely and erase who we are.

    You will always run into resistance from people when you tell them that their birth condition, or being a man or woman, is simply a matter of wishful thinking and choice. You try to group “transsexual” with chosen behaviors, such as male crossdressing, that have nothing to do with it. Thus fundamental lack of understanding is leading you to do the very things you claim you dislike.

    I find this dictation from an outsider to be simply more of the same colonization, and regard your categorization of me and others like me as mere “male femininity” to be highly insulting, as well as simply untrue. You have no insight into the transsexual condition, just as you have no insight into being a woman. If you can’t understand why, you are going to keep crossing lines and invading spaces where you are not welcome.

    Does it bother you that you are dictating identity to other people, and forcing your will upon minority groups over which you wield privilege?

  17. Jasper Gregory says:

    @aria | The problem with your theorizing is that you believe “gender” to be a real, tangible thing rather than a label placed on clusters of behavior.
    I actually do not think of gender as real. I think we are having a definition issue. It would be useful to have a dialogue to pinpoint where we disagree and where we agree like I am having with Polly.
    I actually consider Male-At-Birth (Mab) Femininity to probably be a physical phenomenon, I think gendered behavior and gendered sexual desire may be physical phenomena. I believe in a genetic propensity for Thomboys and Nancyboys. I just think that that that Transsexual is a Historically relative category on top of physically real gender inversion.

  18. Jasper Gregory says:

    @aria | I find this dictation from an outsider to be simply more of the same colonization,
    I find this to be an invalid Identity Politics argument. You label me an outsider because I do not adopt your Identity Category Transsexual. Your category marks me as other as “other”. and then uses the language of colonization, privilege and appropriation as a silencing tactic. Your claim of difference is ethically no superior to my claim of sameness.

  19. Jasper Gregory says:

    @aria categorization of me and others like me as mere “male femininity”
    I am using the term Male-At-Birth or Male-Born. This is not a synonym for male, man or masculine. It implies a shared origin at birth, nothing more. I consider the systematic suppression and repression of Mab-Femininity to be a fundamental aspect of repression in our society.

  20. Aria Blue says:

    Yeah, here’s the thing Jasper. I was born physiologically “different” than you, and your denial of that just makes you look silly. We have no “shared origin at birth”; your claim is an attack on my personal sovereignty as well as reality.

    Just so you know people like me have “trans-hoods”, not childhoods; we never develop that understanding of “male as self” that you did. Our experience of the world from birth until death is fundamentally different from yours. I share no experience of maleness with you in that sense. Are you starting to see why you are wrong about the transsexual birth condition?

    When you mocked those “MtF” people by telling them who they are, you committed an act of political and personal violence against them. The reason they deny being “male” is because, if they were born transsexual, they never were. Not in the sense you demand that they be, for your own purposes. You are fixated on genitals like most men, thinking that they absolutely define physical brain structure, if you think of that aspect at all.

    All this theorizing has as its goal to erase women and invade their space, using people like me as a battering ram. You do not have my permission to do this, nor any post-transsexual person’s as far as I know. This is another reason I oppose the TG political construct- it has become a weapon against women.

    You can try to turn it around all you like, as you have done in the posts above this one. That is known as “imposing your will”, something that you “MAB” people seem to be very good at. You don’t even see how aggressive and domineering you are, do you?

    That’s what is known as “male privilege”. I deal with that all the time from TG’s. And it seems you are going down that same route.

    You do not speak for me. You do not speak for “transsexuals”. You do not speak for anyone but yourself. If you want to invade women’s space, you do it all on your own with no excuses.

  21. […] Jan 17, 2009 Aria Blue has written a challenge in my comments. […]

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