- It is inborn and immutable.
- An individual whose 'gender identity' conflicts with their biological sex is a trans person.
- Trans women have female brains in male bodies, while trans men have male brains in female bodies.
- Gender identity is independent of sexual orientation. An individual can be born of any gender identity, and any sexual orientation.
- There is no cure for being trans except medical, social, and/or legal sex reassignment.
Are these beliefs correct? No.
They are not scientifically accurate, though they contain elements of truth.
Gender identity is one's "social identity" as a man, woman, or neither. This identity may be influenced by biological factors. But it is also influenced by cultural expectations of men and women. Because you cannot divorce 'gender identity' from culture, you cannot claim that it is inborn. It is also false to claim that it is immutable. The very process of gender transition involves changing one's social identity from one gender to another.
An alternative definition of gender identity defines it as the "personal sense" of one's gender. This definition is particularly insidious, as it is harmfully vague and subjective. It fails to account for schizophrenics, autistics, and other mentally disordered people. These people may not subjectively "feel" like men or women, because they struggle with male/female socialization and identity stability. This definition also fails to consider childhood development, where exploration is key to identity formation. Children and mentally disordered people can be misled into believing that their subjective "feeling" as a boy/girl/neither is inborn and immutable. They can easily latch onto the idea that they were "born in the wrong body", and that hormones and surgeries are the only cure for their condition.
Whether you define it as a "social identity" or a "personal sense", gender identity is not inborn or immutable. No one is born in the wrong body. To really understand gender identity formation, you have to distinguish the different types of transsexuality. The following types of transsexuality are completely distinct phenomena, with different processes for gender identity development.
HOMOSEXUAL TRANSSEXUALS (CHILDHOOD-ONSET)
Homosexual transsexuals (HSTS) tend to act like the opposite sex from a young age. Male-to-female (MTF) HSTS are unusually, consistently girly as children. They remain feminine in adulthood. They are, essentially, exclusively attracted to males. Female-to-male (FTM) HSTS are unusually, consistently boyish as children. They remain masculine in adulthood, and are predominantly or exclusively attracted to females. Despite being attracted to the same biological sex, HSTS tend to identify as "straight", because they do not identify with their biological sex.
When it comes to HSTS, there is half-truth to the concept of inborn gender identity. Gender identity is not inborn, but 'psycho-sexual inversion' is. 'Psycho-sexual inversion' seems to be a neurological phenomenon, where features of the brain are unusually feminized or masculinized. It makes a person psychologically and sexually similar -- but not identical -- to the opposite sex. 'Psycho-sexual inversion' is characterized by same-sex attraction, and appears to occur on a spectrum of intensity. The milder form is associated with homosexuality or bisexuality. The more extreme form is associated with transsexuality. This condition is both inborn and immutable, and it is the closest thing to the concept of inborn 'gender identity'. But it only applies to HSTS.
Psycho-sexual inversion is a similar concept to gender identity, but it is not the same thing. In psycho-sexual inverts, gender identity depends on the intensity of the condition, additional psychological factors, and one's cultural environment. The greater the intensity, the more likely one is to adopt a cross-gender identity. Psychological makeup also contributes to one's gender identity outcome. Lastly, cultural views of gender and sexuality are extremely important. In Western society, inverts generally pick between a "gay" or "trans" lifestyle -- live as a man or a woman. Local attitudes towards homosexuality, transsexuality, men, and women influence this choice. In some non-Western societies, inverts live as third or fourth gender -- "bakla", "tom", "hijra". Even for psycho-sexual inverts, gender identity is not completely inborn or immutable.
Autogynephilics (AGPs) are heterosexual males, who are sexually aroused by the thought of being female. Autogynephilia is best understood as an unusual sexual orientation, where male heterosexual desire is mapped onto the self instead of another person. AGPs are not psycho-sexually inverted. They may show occasional interest in girl's activities and/or clothing, but they are not consistently feminine in childhood. During puberty, they discover their sexual attraction to themselves in female form. This sexual fantasy conflicts with the reality of their sexed bodies, which can result in severe gender dysphoria. That dysphoria can drive AGPs to undergo sex reassignment. AGPs are sexually attracted to trans women and biological women. Upon adopting a trans identity, AGPs tend to identify as "lesbian", "queer", "bisexual", "pansexual" or "asexual". Some attempt to be "straight" for a period of time, but are dissatisfied by relationships with men. Many are in denial about being AGP, or unaware of its existence.
Cross-gender identification is driven by gender dysphoria and the development of a feminine alter-ego. Like most heterosexual men, the core personality of an AGP is masculine. But most AGPs create an artificial, feminine personality to go with their sexual fantasy. This alter-ego is constructed by incorporating various traits from attractive women, and is brought to life through cross-dressing and role-play. Old-school AGPs often maintained a dual-personality throughout their lifetimes. They would don a "girl self" at times, then revert to the "guy self". Today, these transvestites might be described as "genderfluid" or "non-binary". Some AGPs seem to integrate their male and female personas into a cohesive being. But the dual-personality phenomenon is still common.
As a general rule, sexual orientation cannot be changed -- only sexual behavior. Because autogynephilia is a feature of one's sexual orientation, it is probably impossible to stop the erotic desires for good. There's no evidence that AGPs have feminized brains, like psycho-sexual inverts. But there is some evidence of brains differences between AGPs and normal, heterosexual men. This suggests that inborn factors predispose an individual to becoming an AGP. The autogynephilia itself is probably immutable and possibly inborn. But that's not the same as one's gender identity.
The feminine alter-ego is the closest thing AGPs have to notions of inborn gender identity. But the concept is completely different. It is less similar to those notions than psycho-sexual inversion is. The feminine alter-ego is not inborn at all, but is constructed by the AGP some time after the first sexual fantasy. Moreover, the gender identity of an AGP is prone to fluctuation. This is because the gender of the feminine alter-ego conflicts with the core, masculine personality. As the two personalities battle for control over the psyche, it can make one's 'gender identity' unstable.
I am concerned that gender identity ideology is harmful to AGPs. It reinforces their denial about being AGP, and can lead them down the path to irreversible body modification. An AGP should be extremely cautious about sex reassignment, which should only be considered as a last resort. They should be completely honest to themselves about being an AGP before pursuing it.
AUTOANDROPHILIC TRANSSEXUALS (AUTOHOMOEROTIC)
Autoandrophiles (AAPs) appear to be the female counterparts to AGPs. They are heterosexual females who are sexually aroused by the thought of being gay men. Like autogynephilia, autoandrophilia is essentially an unusual sexual orientation, where heterosexual desires are mapped onto the self instead of other people. AAPs are not psycho-sexually inverted. They might be tomboyish in childhood -- even gender dysphoric -- but do not display the extreme behavioral masculinity that characterizes FTM HSTS. Around puberty, they become obsessed with gay male erotica, and develop sexual fantasies about being gay men. These sexual fantasies conflict with the reality of their sexed bodies, which can result in severe gender dysphoria. This dysphoria can drive AAPs to undergo sex reassignment. AAPs are primarily attracted to males, but might display secondary attraction to females. Upon adopting a trans identity, AAPs tend to identify as "gay". But other non-straight sexualities are possible, like "queer", "bisexual", or "pansexual". Many are in denial about being AAP, or are unaware of its existence.
There is significantly less literature about autoandrophilia than there is about autogynephilia. Most of my knowledge about it relies on anecdotes, and the Lou Sullivan diaries. It does seem that AAPs have a harder time acting masculine, and have to "force" it more than FTM HSTS. They have no chance passing for straight men, and don't attempt to. But they don't seem to have the dual-personality phenomenon that is common in AGPs. I am not sure whether this is due to biological sex differences, cultural factors, societal acceptance of female gender non-conformity, or the relative ease AAPs have passing as gay "fairies". Or maybe they have it, and I'm just ignorant.
Like autogynephilia, autoandrophilia could be immutable, because it is a feature of one's sexual orientation. The erotic fantasies seem to be really persistent -- hard or impossible to get rid of. I don't know of any research on the brains of autoandrophiles, so I cannot tell you whether it is inborn or not. I suspect that it really is the female equivalent of autogynephilia: probably immutable and possibly inborn.
In any case, the gender identity of an AAP is not inborn. A lot of AAPs are just regular girls as children. Cross-gender identity does not manifest after the first sexual fantasies about being a gay man. AAPs should be extraordinarily cautious about sex reassignment -- even moreso than AGPs. There is significantly less information about autoandrophilia than there is about autogynephilia. Cross-sex hormones and sex reassignment surgeries seem more dangerous for biological females than biological males. AAPs should only consider sex reassignment as the very last resort.
RAPID-ONSET GENDER DYSPHORIA
Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphorics (ROGDs) differs from the other types of transsexuals. Psycho-sexual inversion is definitely inborn. Autogynephilia and autoandrophilia are possibly inborn. But Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria is not inborn at all. It is spread by social contagion, and affects a heterogeneous group of people. An ROGD can be any sexual orientation or biological sex. But most are teen girls and young women.
It is very harmful to teach ROGDs that their gender identity is inborn. Sex reassignment is contraindicated for those with ROGD. The odds of regretting it are very high. ROGDs are better off managing their dysphoria by other means. Psychological factors often play a key role in the development of ROGD. The specific factors vary from person to person. A skilled and experienced therapist can be extremely helpful.
- The idea of 'inborn gender identity' over-simplifies reality, and conflates the different types of transsexuality with each other.
- This idea can endanger children and mentally disordered people, when it convinces them they were "born in the wrong bodies".
- Psycho-sexual inversion is the closest thing to 'inborn gender identity', for it is both inborn and immutable. It only applies to Homosexual Transsexuals (HSTS). Even then, their gender identity outcome is not entirely inborn.
- Autogynephilia (AGP) and Autoandrophilia (AAP) are variations on male and female heterosexuality respectively. It causes one to be sexually attracted to oneself as the opposite sex. The sexual desires are probably immutable and possibly inborn. But the gender identity of an AGP or AAP is not.
- Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria (ROGD) is not inborn at all, but spread through social contagion. The idea of inborn gender identity is particularly harmful to ROGDs, because they do not benefit from sex reassignment.