Entering the parallel universe of transactivism
When people say things like “transwomen are women”, “transmen are men”, and “nonbinary people are neither women nor men”, what do they mean? In my book Material Girls I suggested that many of them are immersed in a fiction.
As a trans person, there are different possible motives for immersing yourself in fictions of changing or escaping your sex. A well-known one is strong feelings of dysphoria. If you’re highly uncomfortable about the sexed aspects of your body - say, because they fail to fit prevalent bodily norms, or you think they do - you might experience relief to act as if you are of the opposite sex, or of no-sex. Worryingly high numbers of girls and young women are in this position at the moment. It’s reasonable to analyse this rise in the context of factors like the invention of the smartphone, the related spread of social media and pornography, and the over-sexualisation and objectification of young women in our culture generally.
A less well-known motive for immersion, specific to some but not all within the male trans demographic and also likely to be influenced by pornography, is the presence of a fetish known as autogynephilia (or “AGP”). In plain language: it’s a sexual turn-on for some males to enter into the fiction of being a woman. There’s a huge effort made by transactivists to deny this. [...] But numerous sources attest to it, and it’s important we recognise it clearly when it comes to discussing incursions into women’s rights. See, for instance, this Vice article from 2016, published before progressive media started to pretend autogynephilia could never happen, and frankly describing a club night where men go to cross-dress as women for sexual pleasure, sometimes also role-playing that they are being “forced” into “feminization” by a dominatrix. Residual doubters should also read Deirdre McCloskey’s transition memoir Crossing, where the sexual element is cheerfully admitted - or just look closely at this picture of a transwoman addressing the New York State Democratic Party.