It’s often been repeated by feminists, gay advocacy organizations, and even prominent detransitioners themselves that part of the process of detransition is to accept one’s own innate gender nonconformity, to embrace the desire to be weirdly feminine as a guy or oddly masculine as a girl. Often repeated, yes… but is it true?
No. No it isn’t. Not in my case, not in yours, not in anyone’s. It is a fiction that propels the gender-bending of the present further into the future.
When I began this blog over a year ago, the predominant take throughout all of the largest trans-focused gender-critical and emerging “dissident” or “politically homeless” spaces was that the girls are running away from being women while the boys are all trying to be girls. Allegedly, it never happens vice versa. Girls are surgically altering themselves not to approximate males, but to run away from their own sexed realities. Boys, on the other hand, are either gay and in denial or barely-closeted fetishists who are just trying to get off.
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I posit something else, something which is not novel in the slightest. In both cases, and indeed, in every case, regardless of the role of groomers or medical professionals, the answer is both. In order to run from something, you need a target to run towards. In order to run towards something, you need to leave behind everything keeping you from reaching your goal. No one can ever become a member of the sex they weren’t born into, and no one trying to do so is trying to be who they actually are, which makes this the ultimate exercise in nihilism. So too is the case with “embracing gender nonconformity."
So much is said about the need to tell feminine boys it’s okay to be feminine, masculine girls that it’s okay to be feminine, but little is said to those boys who struggle to accept their maleness and the masculinity inherent in it and the expectations that come with this (and vice versa). Virtually nothing is said to those feminine boys and masculine girls who need to get with the program and recognize that they can’t have it all, because regardless of anything else, men are men and women are women.
Indeed, what comes up time and again, in the PITT essays and the Genspect articles and in the malleable (but highly retweetable) takes of virtually identical Twitter therapists, is that it’s okay to be soft as a boy or hard as a woman. This constant reassurance that “being yourself” is okay, not unlike those who push drugs down children’s throats.
“Be yourself” is advice you give someone close to you, someone dear, someone in your family, a close friend, someone who you actually know on an intimate level, someone you can trust to make good decisions and to follow through on them, someone who already knows what their own best interests are and just needs to be reminded of them. “Be yourself” sold to a stranger can get them to act like anything but themselves, and while these actors aren’t necessarily selling drugs, they’re still selling cope.
People who grow up in these parasocial online spaces often have no idea who they are, and this is especially true of the kinds of personalities that end up becoming detransitioners. We have weak egos, not in the colloquial sense, but in the Freudian sense; that intermediary layer between our animal subconscious id and our conscious decision-making superego. We do/did not know, inherently, who we are, in part because many of us aren’t even old enough to have done anything to define who or what we are. This is why we were vulnerable to the psychic attacks of the trans community in the first place. Our guard was already down, we were trying to figure ourselves out, trying to pick something and make it stick just for the sake of knowing.
Which is why telling young people to just embrace their gender nonconformity is a terrible fucking idea. I, as a man, have the needs of a man. This is true regardless of how catty or flamboyant or emotional I am. Indeed, I am sensitive for a man, and have always been. Do you know what has helped in not allowing myself to be such a slave to my emotions, something effete about me which has always brought with it terrible decision-making and narcissistic self-sacrifice? Numbing them by doing what needs to be done at work and at home, engaging in a couple hours of physical activity, then retreating into a solitary cavern so I can sit with my thoughts before I rejoin the rest of the world. I don’t actually need to talk much about my problems, unless those problems involve other people I need to talk to in order to resolve them. Talking in circles about what causes me suffering just makes me feel it all the time. Sure, it’s nice to complain about a shitty day at work with someone who cares, but as a man, not many people really care. It’s just the truth. It’s how it’s always been. It’s reality, and luckily, it’s a reality we’re geared to deal with but only if we choose to figure out how.
For me and for most men, you just keep turning over the problem in your own head until you’re satisfied with having done so, even if you’re not producing the results that someone else’s ideas might have. It’s persistence, it’s perseverance, it’s pain, but it’s also constant growth, constant activity, constant struggle against opposing forces. Personal struggle, solitary struggle, but not necessarily for the sake of independence. Overcoming those forces, or at the very least making yourself stronger in the face of them, is the only thing that brings a man out of depression, and it doesn’t matter how effete that man is. It’s biological. It’s in our blood, our muscles, our gonads (apologies to those men who regrettably no longer have these). It’s something few women fully understand, even if they might pretend to.
“Surely,” I can hear many typing in the comments, “this is not only a masculine thing but a facet of the human experience!” Wrong. Everyone needs to feel needed and everyone has their own struggles that they come up against, but women have their own ways of dealing with them and don’t get the same kind of satisfaction out of them. Women discuss their problems with others in their social circle, requiring a multitude of opinions on how to handle something before finally deciding on one path forward. They still do the heavy lifting of exercising judgement themselves of course (unless it involves literal heavy lifting), but they don’t often have that masculine psychological need to be the one to come up with the solution themselves. What they need to remain healthy — far more than men — is social support, and it goes beyond just the psychological dimension. Psychology — however much the quacks on all sides of this debate might like us to think otherwise — is downstream from physiology, and nothing is more physiologically apparent than sex.
Women and men have different needs and abilities, regardless of the aesthetic preferences we have as men and as women. Overly emotional children of both sexes need to learn to control their own emotions, but boys especially, because a loss of emotional control for men can have homicidal consequences. Girls need to do this as well, however, since their own lack of emotional control can lead someone else to do something horrible on their behalf by leading them to believe they are acting in just defense. Boys must recognize and harness their comparative physical acuity and strength, their intense focus, and their prolonged solitary introspection for themselves so they may be of use to the people around them. Girls must recognize and harness their comparative advantages in emotional fluency, their strength at interpreting and sustaining social pressures, and their unique abilities in bearing and rearing human life for the same reasons.
Feminine men cannot expect to be babied by the people around them in the ways they perceive women to be babied. They are a drain on others’ resources, and unlike the women whom they envy, they very often lack the strengths women have that offset their weaknesses and relative dependence on others. There is greater emotional reciprocity between a circle of women than between a circle of women plus one man, not because of patriarchy but because men simply can’t compete. This is to say nothing of the fact that even among men, such a man would not pull his weight either. Likewise, women who expect to do it all on their own, who are cold and antisocial, who refuse to be taken care of and to take care of others, offer little to female social circles or to men who might ostensibly court them and expect themselves to be needed.
A man lacking in masculinity is not a woman, and a woman lacking in femininity is not a man; they are each the worst of both worlds. A feminine man is nothing but a weakling and a coward, not because women are weaklings and cowards (the standard for each sex in this regard is different depending on the circumstance), but because their strengths lie in dimensions unknown to the vast majority of even effete men. An insistently masculine woman is nothing but a scold and a shrew, not because men are cold-hearted and domineering (though they obviously can be), but because she lacks the physical strength and persistent disinterested rationalism to justify her inflated desire for control.
It’s been said before that feminists are the original transsexuals, and it’s not quite true. Eunuchs are the original transsexuals, both the physical ones and the spiritual ones, and eunuchs in the past have been men of high social ranking who existed only because there were entire populations of slaves toiling to keep them in their lofty positions (not that different from transsexuals today). Similarly, the real reason men of a certain social rank are so feminine these days is because there is nothing for us to do.
We live in decadent times, even with inflation in our midst and war on the horizon. The advent of industrial modernity has led to the greatest economic surplusses in human history, and it is that very surplus that weakens us because we don’t have to struggle to survive. We still have to work, we still have to do shit we don’t want to do, but the only difference between me and starvation is no longer my ability to out-hunt larger, stronger predators, but my ability to fill out paperwork and fulfil a set of bullshit metrics. It’s not even all that mentally taxing, just time-consuming.
There is still a struggle here, but it isn’t physical, it isn’t life-or-death. The same is the case for a substantial amount of work in today’s economy. Very few people are doing the labor that keeps the lights on, everyone else is just here making work for them. Likewise, the major struggle for women is no longer the rearing of the family, but utilizing maternal instinct and social intuition for purely extractive purposes, coming up with new ways to demoralize, assimilate, and civilize the few who materially provide for everyone else, making them amenable to our mode of production as it exists in this time and place.
That’s not the fault of women at large, not at all, but it is their function in today’s world, just as my function could have been to shoot at civilians and watch all my friends die over a mud village had I been conscripted to fight in some proxy war a world away. As modernity has developed, there is less of a need for the latter function and more of a need for the former, if only because the former makes roving bands of armed men more docile and predictable compared to the utter chaos of 1848 or 1914.
Whatever the case may be, we cannot escape our embodied realities regardless of our dedication to upholding progressive dogmas of inclusivity and self-love. The only way the gender dysphoric will find comfort in themselves is if they accept reality first, not themselves. They already exist in the real world; if they can accept that, they can accept themselves. Unfortunately, that means growing up. Fortunately, they just have to let it happen and it will.
I think you’re on to something very important here. I agree with much of your writing here and find it difficult for most people to acknowledge the truth in what you say. I acknowledge it and I agree with it and I am so glad I’m here reading your substack. Thank you for writing 🙏
This is a powerful piece. As a relatively GNC male, I started from a place of distrust and fear regarding stereotypical male qualities, and inevitably this became internalised as self-hatred. A big part of my personal development has been learning to value those qualities in myself and others. In my view, so many young men caught up in the current madness are indeed fleeing from their own masculinity, prompted by a society which denigrates our natural tendencies and inclinations, even while relying on those qualities to keep the lights on. How else are we to account for so many angry, obsessive, lonely, sexually frustrated young men (incels, basically) wanting to cut their balls off in order to feel loved and valued?