My next big project will be Detrans Guide for Guys, but this Substack essay by a UK-based gender-critical feminist caught my eye.
In it, she uses her trans-identified gay son as a paramount example of why toxic masculinity is really to blame for all of the gay men transitioning, and downplays the importance that some detrans men (explicitly mentioned is Tullip R, the author of the very excellent Lost Boys series, and implied is myself and Tree, author of Purification Rites) have ascribed to feminism and to toxically feminine traits (one could call it female narcissism, Cluster B, etc.) in their decision to transition. She encourages us to reconsider our positions, lambasts us by saying “Women Exist,” and that we must take accountability for the violence men perpetrate against women.
I have several problems with this, which I will outline briefly. This won’t be a deep-dive.
In her piece, STILLTish ascribes her son’s trans identification to traumas associated with being bullied for effeminacy and gayness. While neither myself nor Tree are gay, we also faced abuse at the hands of other boys for being effete, which did also contribute to our desire to transition. However, we don’t talk about that as much as we do the role that female bullying played. It’s not that it didn’t affect us — it did, it made us fear men — but it wasn’t men who convinced us that transition was the way out. It was women. These women used feminism as the justification to carry out their abuse, up to and including chemical and surgical castration. The men actually in our lives did not want this for us. Internet groomers getting off to child porn often do, but arguing that a vaguely defined “toxic masculinity” or patriarchy is to blame for male-on-male sexual abuse just makes the victim that much more ashamed and afraid of his own innate sexual characteristics. Ordinary men, the vast, vast majority of men who don’t spend their time jerking off to kids in Pokémon web forums, realize the extent of the trans movement’s degeneracy, and have since the beginning. The same can’t be said for many otherwise ordinary women.
Indeed, and this may be controversial, the social function of male bullying is to toughen up boys who are perceived as too emotional or weak. Some bullying is genuinely dangerous and crosses the line from mere automatic social regulation into antisocial psychopathy, but for the most part (though the internet and new zero-tolerance school disciplinary practices are changing this) it performs the function of molding the weak into the strong, into someone who can fight his own battles. Indeed, the reason male victims of bullying are targeted is precisely because they lack these essential masculine traits, and the harassment often lets up once he proves himself.
Whether or not a boy is effeminate or gay, he is still a boy, and he will still grow up to be a man. He needs to be able to navigate in this world as a man, as someone confident in his physical prowess and mental acuity. Everything else is little more than affect or personality; this confidence is key to securing it. He needs to have his instincts to defend himself and others honed, and a moderate level of bullying provides an early avenue through which to do that. Either the lesson is learned, and battles are fought, or they are not, and the weak run and hide in the comfort of the girls who are spared the brunt of the physical abuse, and who will lick any emotional wounds of the aggrieved and non-threatening victim (though this comes at a price). This stunts much-needed masculine development.
I wouldn’t sing the praises of bullying, though it can be and is a source of serious emotional pain for the victim, if I didn’t learn something from what I went through, both when bullied by boys and by girls. I didn’t grow a spine because I was told that fighting back was toxic. I had the urge, I had the instinct, but I had to suppress it in order to be “good.” This made me hate the urge whenever it bubbled up at the depths of my misery. I held in all the hate and directed it at myself.
Female bullying is more sophisticated, more drawn-out, more insidious, and more invisible than male bullying. Male bullies are crude and physical; they taunt you on the basketball court, foul you intentionally, harass you physically and sexually, and, in general, everyone can see it happening. It’s not subtle.
Female bullying looks more like a girl seemingly being taken into a group of other girls, encouraged to participate in their activities, and then subtly undermined emotionally. Her appearance is criticized, her body is scrutinized, her interests torn apart. She’ll be invited to specific social functions and then very intentionally left out of others, all while her “friends” post pictures and send snaps to the target to highlight just how much fun they’re having without her. It doesn’t happen all at once; it’s slow, piecemeal. Long and drawn out. There is a period of gaining trust, followed by love-bombing, followed by cruel abandonment and harsh criticism. Male bullying will leave you with bruises and a wounded ego; female bullying will leave you cutting and starving yourself.
Female bullying serves its own role among girls. It encourages the weird antisocial girl to act normal, and punishes those who don’t know how to perform healthy social roles. It teaches young girls to be wary about their social surroundings and not to trust so easily in moments of weakness. It has its own positive social functions, but just like male bullying can be harnessed for destructive ends, so too can female bullying.
In both male and female bullying, adults need to set the bounds of the harassment. Bullies who go way too far do need to be punished. Victims, however, need to learn how to break free of being a victim. That latter bit is nonexistent today because one is rewarded socially by portraying him- or herself as a victim.
In schools, the social groups bullying and later encouraging each other into transitioning are female. I have never witnessed — ever — a high-school-age group of boys adopt trans identity in clusters. I have seen one or two boys identify as trans within a group of other boys, but the most that happens from here is the boys just affirm the afflicted’s chosen identity. More often, boys are slightly hostile and wary towards the boys who identify as girls. The sacredness of the act among adolescents garners a certain amount of trepidation when it comes to open hostility towards trans-identifying boys, but the wariness and social exclusion still takes place, usually because it was already there in the first place. It very rarely spreads in the fashion that it does within female social circles. The boys transitioning either have all-girl IRL social groups, or none at all, and live their lives completely online.
Most often, I see girls encouraging each other to transition and to undergo other types of body modification. I recall a conversation I eavesdropped while substituting a class wherein a gaggle of 14-year-old girls were listing off all the cosmetic procedures they thought they needed to be pretty, and began offering “advice” to each other on how to get them done sooner, at 16 instead of 18. I shut them down by telling them they were too young to be talking about this, that they were still growing and would feel awkward for only a few years more, and that early body modification could leave them sick and disabled. They insisted it was innocent; I held the line.
This is toxic femininity. This is how social contagion spreads, be it the anorexia/bulimia epidemic, the self-harm epidemic, or now the trans epidemic. It is subtle. It is insidious. You don’t know it’s happening until it has you, and by the time it does, you’re already addicted to the validation of your peers. Adults are supposed to put up guardrails to make sure bullying doesn’t spiral into situations like this, but the laws surrounding “gender identity” discrimination make this feat nearly impossible to achieve.
Obfuscation of the Political
STILLTish pointing the finger at toxic masculinity (behind a rhetorical veil she treats like an invisibility cloak, as if we were all stupid) for the reason her son wants to transition conceals the very real political machinations which brought the present iteration of trans into existence in the early 2010s. “Toxic” masculinity, whether truly toxic or just perceived as such, has always been around, and until recently, exceedingly few people of either sex have transitioned. Toxic masculinity may provide a foundation of negative early social experiences, but it does not, in itself, drive people to transition. Toxic femininity does, although it also didn’t always used to.
There is an entire state apparatus — spanning several sovereign states actually — geared towards capturing these kids and converting them. This apparatus is distinctly feminine in character. It is cutesy, childish, the flags are pastel. It’s emotionally-driven, it happens in schools, and, most importantly, it encourages effeminacy in boys specifically because it makes them amenable to transition. The goal is not homophobia, is not misogyny, is not misandry. The goal is mass sterilization, party discipline, and the creation of a political class that will ardently defend the interests of the many co-occurring industries that created and sustain it.
The public freakouts by TRAs, both male and female, are hyperfeminine whining. They are a permanent victim narrative to justify their domination over others. Ordinary men don’t need to pretend to be victims to dominate others, they just do. Women, on the other hand, do require this. A trait commonly associated with abusive Cluster B women is “administrative violence,” i.e., playing the victim to get the authorities involved, whoever those authorities may be. Administrative violence is the mechanism by which we have virtually eliminated due process rights for sexual harassment, accusations of bigotry, offhand comments, etc. on campuses and in the workplace. It’s also why one might be wary of noting their political affiliations at work if they do not align with the goals of the civic religion. It’s what a Karen does when she calls the manager because her coupon’s expired and she wants free shit. It’s also why every time I open my mouth on Twitter I get reported by women I’ve never interacted with who are incapable of letting comments criticizing their ideology pass. Embodying these traits does not make male trannies female, but they do have highly effeminate characteristics (especially in how they attack in mob waves) which is in part why most ordinary observers find them so grotesque.
This may seem harsh but there is a reason gender nonconformity generates an innate level of disgust in people who do largely conform, and it is because it warps reality and dulls one’s instincts. It breaks social rules that exist for a reason. The problem is not that gender nonconforming people exist, the problem is that gender nonconformity is presently mandated, enforced, and sanctified. Many gender-criticals suggest that transition is a means of eradicating gender-nonconforming people; not true. It is a radical extension of gender-nonconformity via the biotechnological industries. It is the required veneration of gender nonconformity on a mass scale, to the point that we must outright lie about what our eyes are seeing in order not to offend the nonconformists.
I’m not calling for any reimposition of harsh traditionalist policing of gender norms. I’m uninterested in that, and I doubt that would help anything. I doubt most people would want it. That I choose now to be a more traditionally masculine man is my own choice, and I’m content with it. However, we need to stop pretending gender nonconformity is normal. It’s not. 90% of people conform. What you’re seeing is an explosion of young people who don’t want to conform, who are told it’s shameful and sinful to conform, to be normal. What made the effeminate traits of gay men and the masculine traits of lesbian women so endearing in an earlier time was that they were idiosyncratic, different from the norm, highly personal, often quite personable, and rooted in a deep-seated confidence that they knew they were different and they were happy to be different.
Then the NGO industry started heating up in the 2000s and accelerated in the 2010s, and all these various identitarian — but intersectional — social movements started and took HR departments by storm. Women in the managerial class were often at the forefront of them, advocating on behalf of themselves or other idealized, morally perfect victims, until they came upon the most perfectly aggrieved victim of all: the impoverished trans black woman sex worker. Men who spoke out against these as hysterical, destructive, and possibly skirting democratic norms were smeared as toxic, racist, and homophobic. Women who felt the same way were also smeared in some of the same ways by other women sympathetic to these activists.
Blaming cultural manifestations of “toxic masculinity” is a convenient way of obscuring these coordinated political networks and the radical changes to legal and corporate governance that took place in the 2010s. It also downplays the kinds of propaganda teens are seeing all over the internet, their phones and laptops literally being treated an extension of themselves, their personalities, their innermost thoughts, their emotional regulatory centers.
Male and female bullying both perform important social functions in adolescence, and it is the responsibility of the adults to regulate the extremes and encourage the victims and bystanders to stand up for themselves. Trans bullying takes place predominantly in female social circles. This particular manifestation of female bullying cannot be regulated by the adults in the room because of an integrated legal and medical architecture designed to facilitate the mass sterilization of vulnerable youth. Female-typical bullying is far more useful to this end than male-typical bullying, which is the only reason it is favored. This architecture was in part adopted following the seeding of dark-money NGOs and radical left-wing media outfits pushing every last pernicious victimhood myth from the alleged college campus rape crisis, police brutality, “institutional homophobia,” etc. in order to justify radical changes to the legal system, facilitate a rapid and upward transfer of wealth, and alter society to make it more amenable to a new and fragile post-Recession, post-Internet world order. Petit bourgeois women occupying management roles were, and historically have always been at the forefront of social reform movements such as these in the US and UK since the mid-19th century, especially during economic depressions. Today, men at large and conservative women have consistently pushed back on many of these reforms, and are consistently demonized as hysterical or toxic or bigoted, then brutally censored by left-wing activists. This push for censorship began with feminists and continues on GC Twitter today.
In blaming her son’s transition on toxic masculinity, STILLTish conveniently obscures the real political calculations made that led up to this infrastructure she now finds herself a part of, and suggests the only solution is men becoming more feminine. This cultural argument benefits no one, especially not her son who is actively attempting to feminize himself. It is a lazy, thinly-veiled attack on detrans men whom she finds offensive for attacking feminism and correctly pointing out the role that feminine abuse and manipulation tactics played in encouraging us to transition. It provides fodder for feminists to continue to push their narrative and their political goals on the burgeoning detrans/ex-trans/anti-trans/whatever movement, and to accuse the men affected by this of being toxic, dishonest, and therefore undeserving of being heard.
And on a personal level, I find it disgusting that she would trot out her son to use as a prop. Vicarious victimhood is a specifically feminine means of coercion and domination. The Munchausen moms transing their kids do that all the time. I’m not accusing her of mistreating her son, not by any means, but I’m throwing that out there because it’s true, and feminists often deny the dynamic, especially when it’s their own doing it.
Update 5/16/2022: I have been made aware that STILLTish (I’ve gotten the caps wrong in the essay; it’s fixed now) believes that I have misrepresented her views, in that she believes her essay is actually against the pushing of the “toxic masculinity” concept. While it’s true she’s said her son was affected by the concept of male privilege, I provide to you specific quotes which show she actually very much agrees with the existence of the concept while attempting to downplay her attachment to it. These are both excerpts from her piece and comments on it. The last one is not from her, and it was not endorsed by her, but it was not challenged either. I include it only because this is not an uncommon sentiment in feminist circles. Suggesting it’s only men who need to sort themselves out when girls are just as guilty of pushing this ideology (if not more so) plays into the “toxic masculinity” smear.
Amazing work, Limpida. This is so important to talk about.
This is powerful and very much accords with what I've seen with my son and with what I've heard from other parents of trans-identifying sons. Very much looking forward to your next essay.