Male Privilege Dies Hard

This Tuesday’s New York Times Op-Ed offerings included a piece by a college professor, Jennifer Finney Boylan, who has taught and lived as both a man and a woman. I’ve been pondering a reference in the column to

“…having gone from a world of male privilege to being a member of one of the most marginalized groups in the country…”

In my experience, male privilege dies hard. Since publishing my own story, I’ve heard from the wives of transitioning husbands who tell me they see their own experiences reflected in mine: men they once loved, trusted and admired transformed into aggressive, narcissistic bullies in their quest to become women. Perhaps even more telling, I’ve also heard from a handful of transgender women who say that they’ve encountered these same qualities of self-righteous belligerence in the trans world, and have chosen to distance themselves from what might otherwise have been their community.

Trans people have historically endured many adverse circumstances, including instances of violence that make marginalization look like the least of their troubles. I don’t know what sort of marginalization the writer, a white, middle-class professional, has endured as a result of joining this group. Economic? Social? A struggle to access health care? Those are three of the kinds of marginalization I have experienced as a single mother. Many people in our country are marginalized by race, class, ethnicity, disability, and other factors. I wonder if transsexuals who find themselves cast to the margins of society are losing a life of privilege because of their choice to transition – or if maybe, due to factors like these, they never had such privilege to begin with?

One thing’s for certain: marginalization, can’t, in this case, mean no one speaks your name. These days there seems to be upbeat media coverage of trans issues daily. 

29 Comments

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29 responses to “Male Privilege Dies Hard

  1. Tobysgirl

    “…having gone from a world of male privilege to being a member of one of the most marginalized groups in the country…”

    If you are a member of the one of the most marginalized groups in the country, it means you consider yourself marginalized. Let’s avoid sophistry. Of course, the election of Obama did not mean the end of racism. It brought right-wing racism out in the open and it reeks of white liberal racism.

    • Boo

      So Julie Bindel, who gets articles published in leading newspapers in Britain all the time and thus by your view can’t be marginalized, proves that women aren’t marginalized? Or is she not a member of the group women any more?

      Obama is a member of the group African Americans. Obama is not by any stretch of the imagination marginalized. Yet African Americans as a group are still marginalized and I’m pretty sure he considers himself African American.

      Jennifer Boylan has racial and class privilege while simultaneously being a member of the group that has one of the highest per capita rates of unemployment and violent crime victimization in the country. A group as a whole being marginalized does not mean that each and every member of the group must be equally marginalized. Especially since she could have had everything she has taken away a lot more easily than the average person who is not transgendered.

  2. Kaethe Voherden

    I just wanted to add something for the benefit of Mr. Bailey. Transsexuals (and I mean real ones not the transvestic fetishists and gender variant types you seem to attract in your practice) will never say they are women born in a man’s body. It’s a false narrative both scientifically and from a self experience perspective. The inability of your approach to a correctly executed psychiatric and medical anamneses of your patients is highly visible in your discourse in the book. The work you undertake with patients creates a fiduciary obligation. Your book is replete with story telling. Because you interpret before the fact, the information you then provide is really not so much the description of a phenomenon but rather the telling of your own most beloved story in the guise of the story of one or more of your patients. How will you address this in the future?

  3. Of course non-White persons will generally perform IQ tests with lower scores. Because: The test are skewed and written with White privilege. American white privilege in fact. Has nothing to do with intelligence.

    And I agree with Tobysgirl. Marginalized? Class White Male is never marginalized, unless by some other factor, such as disability. And yes, I’m saying these transing men… are male.

    • Tobysgirl

      I am trying to think of a single op-ed piece I have ever seen in the NYT that was written by someone who was actually marginalized. As soon as you have the economic and social clout to gain space on their op-ed pages, you have left marginalization behind. Plenty of disabled people, of whom I am one, are not marginalized if they are white and have plenty of money.

      A college professor does not qualify as marginalized. Boylan presumably has the time and money to pass, and would be unlikely to be targeted for abuse and assault.

      • Boo

        Despite everything you said being true, the article didn’t say she was marginalized. It said that she is a member of a group that is marginalized. Again, the election of Obama did not herald the end of racism.

      • farishcunning

        Have you seen a photo of Mr. Boylan? He doesn’t pass.

      • Boo

        Do you think attacking a person’s appearance qualifies as a valid argument? Why?

  4. D.B.

    As someone who would like to be taken fully seriously by my family again, I wish anti-androgen therapy (coincidentally a rule for people like me) had a remission rate for my “paraphilia” as it does others. Given that so many of us take the same drugs used to treat and manage the effects of paraphilias on men’s lives and who they harm for cross-gender treatment, is there anything published on the drugs’ uses managing our dysphoria preventing or reversing the need for transition, rather than being a part of our transition?

    Of course, I don’t see autogynephilia as the golden answer, I find it more part of tendency of people to sexualise what disgusts them (as how misogynistic men often parody fat women as frothing at the mouth for them) or are otherwise upset by (like the cases minority groups accused of sexual deviance by moral entrepreneurs throughout history, or on the more personal less severe level, the type of things people say about their exes).

    Given my view, you may dismiss my question as being in bad faith but again, since I don’t see how this would be incompatible with science and a majority of us take these drugs, do you have anything to cite wrt any remission rate, and coherently connects who do not transition or who detransition to response to antiandrogenic therapy? If you don’t have anything, can you answer why, when now the sample size one could collect for a study would now be gigantic, and has been for some time, and with researchers who find people willing to have disputed machines strapped to their genitals for this research in a country that uses what’s often considered the strongest antiandrogen one could take for HRT and is a favourite for the chemical castration of sex offenders? (cyproterone acetate, available in Canada, the origins of modern autogynephilia theory, but not the US) How have we avoided a finding we could just as easily stumbled upon that would help us so much simply pursuing our own treatment?

    For people comparing Bailey to a Nazi, please keep it to relevant facts, like his belief in “The Bell Curve”-like racist pseudoscience, that races are distinguished by IQ findings, and his participation in “human biodiversity” politics (also often termed “scientific racism”)

    I apologise for poor articulation, I am neither an author nor a scientist.

  5. Boo

    There has been “upbeat” media coverage of blacks, latinos, all kinds of other minorities. Would you seriously argue none of those groups are still marginalized? The existence of relatively privileged members of marginalized groups doesn’t somehow erase the marginalization of the group, any more than Obama’s election meant racism was over.

  6. J. Michael Bailey

    To “Anonymous 1 Again”: I do not want to use Christine Benvenuto’s blog to address things that are largely irrelevant to it. What is relevant is the real reasons why men with families become transwomen and the impact that has on their families. I will say “no” I think that pornography cannot make a man into a crossdresser, which is an expression of the fundamental condition of autogynephilia. I think that it is consistent with Christine’s blog, and with her book, to wish that this condition were recognized more widely and earlier, by both men with the condition and by their potential romantic partners, in order that the tragic consequences of marriage then regret be avoided. That said, there are clearly some autogynephilic men who do not transition and who seem to be happy staying with their families. It’s quite a risk to take though.

    • Mr Bailey

      Just so you know the facts I began hormones when I was not quite 14 and I was never gay and have never met a gay transsexual. I was one of the original participants in the Person-Ovesey interviews and was qualified as not autogynephilic and was extremely upset with Dr. Person and did confront her at her office at Columbia University was simply told that was where I fit because I did not fit the other group.

      The simple truth is one does not “become” transsexual and one does not “grow” into transsexualism. You either are or you are not and that is the simple fact people like Mr. Bailey completely miss. If the facts deny their false truths they simply claim the individual must be lying which is hardly scientific. Mr Bailey does this multiple times in his book. There was a reason you lost the Chair at Northwestern and it was not voluntary.

      I was initially harsh with you because I had read snippets of your book but having read it completely it is apparent to me that Mr. Bailey is more confused than most of us were as children. Gay feminine boys do not decide to become transsexual. That is an absurdity and has no basis in either fact or science.

      I do admit that I found parts of your book interesting and when discussing autogynephiles you have nailed it quite well but you also generalize, your biggest fault, that position into assuming all are autogynephilic. You are also unaware of the harm you cause by classifying transsexual children as homosexual.

      I seriously doubt if you have ever met a truly transsexual child but then there are not a lot of us in public and with your views why would they meet with you? Then you turn around and say you feel it is good if transsexual children get hormones early. You are a walking contradiction.

      • I want to add one more thing. Personally I believe any attempt to prevent Mr Bailey’s book or views from being heard are silly. He has a right to his views and censorship or any attempt at it is contrary to my beliefs. I would rather argue with him and discuss it than deny him the right to his views.

      • Boo

        No one ever attempted to prevent Mr. Bailey’s book or his views from being heard. People did attempt to hold him accountable for his unethical conduct. I’m not sure how you would go about denying someone the “right to their views” even if you wanted to.

  7. margeaux

    Why do these men think that when they transition at age 50– they’ll some how magically look like much younger women? They want to get all gussied up and demand that we all pretend along with them.

  8. Tobysgirl

    Hmm, that’s a new kind of marginalization to me, having an op-ed in the NYT.

  9. Pingback: “I don’t care if male privilege dies hard”- Free PDF of J. Michael Bailey’s ‘The Man Who Would Be Queen’ | GenderTrender

  10. Mr Bailey

    You are a quack and that is why you lost the chair of your department at Northwestern. Your book is based on your “intuition” and the incorrect “facts” of others. Because you have some valid points about autogynephiles does not make your book relevant and is akin to a fool reading Mein Kampf and deciding paragraph 4 in chapter 2 is relevant and thus Mein Kampf has value.

    You believe in eugenics which for the uninformed means you believe in controlled genetics where if it were possible to abort a fetus that could be proven gay you would do it. You and your pals are basically one step short of the Nazi’s in Germany before and during WWII and quite bluntly you would have joined them. Your philosophy is very similar to theirs and although I detest using the reference it does fit in your case.

    Your hubris in assuming that some that are gay will actually turn into a transsexual has absolutely no basis in fact. The simple fact is you either are transsexual or you are not. If you are truly interested in discussing your views and positions rather than pontificating, Christine’s blog is not the place to do it. I will give you a free place to discuss and argue with the people you have wrongly categorized.

    http://ben-girl-notesfromthetside.blogspot.com/

    If you have the courage of your convictions then please do come on down.

    elizabeth

  11. J. Michael Bailey

    Regarding “Cassandraspeaks”‘s comment:

    I have known plenty of transsexuals, of both types. But one of the fundamental insights of the best science on transsexualism is that there is nothing fundamentally different between heterosexual crossdressers (as which many future transsexuals begin) and autogynephilic transsexuals (the kind that is motivated by the erotic desire to become women).

    An excellent short summary of the insights is here:

    http://aliceingenderland.com/twotypesoftranswomen.html

    Autogynephilic transsexuals often have a strong desire to distinguish themselves from their cross dresser sisters (and former selves) in order to emphasize the idea that their transition was inevitable due to their fundamental difference. But both the fundamental difference and the inevitability of transition are false. I support transition among autogynephiles, if they want it. But I also support honesty, which is difficult for so many. And I don’t care if male privilege dies hard.

    • See, I told you that you don’t get it, do not understand transsexuality. Your premise begins at the wrong point and therefore concludes in error. I do not doubt that you have grasped transgenderist aspirations and what it is that motivates them. I have read your book and as I said before with AGP you have nailed that group perfectly. Where I believe you are in error is the insistence that those for whom this begins at the earliest moment of self awareness your theories simply do not apply. Especially do not apply if the individual happens to be heterosexual. Many people in the TG fraternity believe you are evil I just think you have arrived at a conclusion and are refusing to look further for whatever reason. What you write and practise cannot affect me I will never be your patient I’m cured! Home free. I do care that the young and confused and the kids get labelled and treated for a condition they don’t endure.

      I do not believe this is the appropriate venue for this discourse and I thank you Christine for being so gracious to allow this much. I will leave my comments at this. I wish you well Christine and Hope you have found peace enough to move on.

      • J. Michael Bailey

        Actually I think that a careful (or even an ordinary without blinders) reading of Christine’s book shows how inaccurate her husband, then ex-husband, seemed regarding his history and motivations. Inaccurate enough to have helped inspire Christine’s book. Was this conscious dishonesty, unconscious dishonesty, delusion, or what? I suspect a bit of each.

        Autogynephilic men who transition to become transwomen deserve some sympathy, and they have had mine. But their plight is much more akin to a normal heterosexual man’s midlife crisis decision to leave his wife for another woman than it is to their preferred narrative. The heterosexual man in midlife crisis also deserves some sympathy. But so does the family he is leaving.

        I encourage anyone interested to read my book (free pdf linked above).

    • Anonymous 1

      What do you see as the alternative to transition for the people you consider to have autogynophilia? Is there any alternative treatment?

      • J. Michael Bailey

        I believe that males with autogynephilia are often happier when they transition. But some are happier not doing so, due to the desire not to disrupt their families and other aspects of their lives.

      • Anonymous 1 Again

        J. Michael Bailey – in response to your comment below –
        For a younger guy who doesn’t have a family to consider, are there any disadvantages to transitioning?
        For an older guy who doesn’t transition because of his family, is there any treatment or relief possible?
        Do you know of any treatments for people who try transition and find that it doesn’t work for them either?
        And, to change focus a bit:
        Is it possible that Internet porn might lead someone to develop a taste for crossdressing? I have read that Internet porn is very different from regular porn because it can be watched so much and provide a strong, kind of addictive reinforcement. And that people who use it get bored and need more and more unusual thrills. Also, since pretty much all teens now see it before they actually have sex, could it change them? Could Internet porn change an older man? Is anyone researching this?

  12. J Michael Bailey you have never met a genuine transsexual in your life or if you have you have either not known you have or have ignored them because they do not fit your theories. You have transvestism nailed but transsexuality seems to escape your understanding. You will never find a genuine transsexual in a gay bar or a “support group” for that matter. You are far more likely to find us where you find other women. The problem YOU have is that personally I would never talk to someone like you and I would never reveal to ANYONE never mind someone like you that I was once transsexual. I have never asked for more than to be left alone to take my chances along with every other woman on the planet and to be judged or not by the same rules and on the same basis as every other woman. Christine you have it right, your ex husband is a transvestite who has become obsessed with and by his transvestism.. Transvestism is very like an addiction to drugs like narcotics and should be treated in much the same way.

  13. J. Michael Bailey

    I loved your book. So refreshingly honest and insightful. You had the courage to keep your eyes open. In contrast, in the NY Times this week there is a lukewarm review of a sister’s account of her financier brother’s transformation. Sounds like the same ol’.

    If you are interested in learning more about the motivations of heterosexual men who become women, you can read my book (third section most relevant) here:

    http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/JMichael-Bailey/TMWWBQ.pdf

    Some transsexual women tried to suppress the book by attacking me. (Talk about male privilege dying hard.) You can read about their attempts to ruin my life here:

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10508-007-9301-1

    I could not figure out how to email you. But hope you find this comment relevant.

    J. Michael Bailey
    Professor

    • Boo

      Slightly off topic, but one would think that after being so completely taken in by a fraud like Kiira Triea, Dr. Bailey would be a little more reticent about asserting his claimed expertise. Apparently not.

  14. Kaethe Voherden

    There is marginalization and then there is marginalization. I have always been suspect of claims of marginalization coming from those whose life is privileged. It is easy to attribute such claims of victimhood to being born transsexual. The countless factors that contribute to marginalization in the lives of transsexuals are masked by such claims. And the perceived victimhood is then used to gain a position of privilege. It is, if you will, the privilege of expecting to be entitled to special consideration be it in love or employment or the use of public facilities. You know of what I speak.
    All too often this is done to cling to male privilege, to retain a position of power in a society in which women are still considered less. Apparently being a woman is not enough. So the majority of the transgender world has created the trans woman, the one with male privilege, with the privilege of victimhood, the one that is oppressed by cis-gender privilege.
    And of course it’s all a construct to cling to what you don’t want to lose. Because being a woman is not enough (or so they say).

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