Transphobia vs. Manphobia

Discussion about transgender identity is all the rage, with many people railing against what they view as a Frankenstein fad, and yet others who are encouraging the trend beyond what anyone would consider reasonable limits – e.g., gender-affirming surgery for children. A third approach is that of the social phenomenologist which accounts for people (including myself) who are more interested in making sense of the phenomenon before screaming blue murder to the sky.

Most people appear eager to discover what Aristotle called the “efficient cause” that might lead men to become transwomen — with the most popular ’causes’ being those of gender dysphoria, and autogynephilia which both end up falling short of sufficient explanations, for reasons I’ll discuss below.


Autogynephilia is defined as a male’s propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female. It’s a paraphilia that is theorized to underlie transvestism and some forms of male-to-female transsexualism,1 as showcased in the below tweet by a transwoman.


If ‘getting off’ by appearing as the opposite sex were the only motive we might reasonably assume that occasional cross-dressing and/or erotic roleplay would scratch the itch, but transgender individuals are clearly seeking a more permanent goal. Moreover, many transgender individuals experience a loss of sexual arousal after medically transitioning, indicating that the securing of permanent autogynephilic pleasure is not a sufficient explanation for making the change.2

Gender dysphoria

Gender dysphoria is the favorite go-to for advocates of traditional gender roles who pretentiously claim the body and psyche can only be exact Xerox copies of each other. As tidy as this formula sounds on its face, even people with a rudimentary understanding of human psychology will see its failings; failings demonstrated by the fact that everyone has an imaginative and psychological identity that is, at least in some ways, at odds with bodily reality:

  • A stunningly beautiful woman identifies as plain, or ugly.
  • A fat guy identifies as muscled and skinny.
  • An old man identifies himself healthy, as fit as a teenager.
  • A little girl identifies as a world-class singer.
  • A little boy identifies as the best violinist in the world.
  • A feminist identifies as more caring than others.
  • A person identifies as more intelligent than others.
  • A person born of privilege identifies as restricted.
  • An underprivileged person identifies as someone who can be and do anything.

The psyche tends to ramble off in fanciful ways that do not match seamlessly with physical reality, and it has done this since way back in our evolutionary history. Psychological identity is not, and never will be, a faithful replica of physical reality…. and yet human civilization has continued to thrive in spite of this propensity.

With that human capacity for imagination in mind we can set aside those who champion seamless sex-and-gender identities, and associated social roles. We can also find some fault with Matt Walsh’s recent insistence that there can be one, and only one definition of a woman.3 While Matt is 100% correct in stating that there is only one definition of a biological woman, he conveniently omits the possibility that there may be a definition of ‘woman’ applying to a person’s psychological identity, thus essentially giving us two definitions of woman corresponding to the soma/psyche split.

To reiterate, we all see the obvious XX woman of the body, and then there’s the woman of psychological/imaginal identity which can operate somewhat independently of the former (hence transgenders, intergenders, etc). To illustrate this, Matt Walsh could have a body that looks like Matt Walsh but, hypothetically speaking, in his imaginative and psychological identity he might be more like Napoleon Bonaparte; when it comes to the human psyche anything is possible.

While all this might sound like a recipe for confusion, it isn’t really. Dictionaries attest to the ability of the human mind to accept multiple definitions of a word. I can be stoned to death by literal rocks, and I can be stoned after smoking weed. I can suffer a physical pain, or alternatively I can be in psychological pain – and those ‘two pains’ might not be seamless pains going on at the same time; they might be completely unrelated.

When it comes to the public furor around this topic, the comical part is watching traditional conservatives argue there is only soma, and the progressives argue there’s only psyche. The stupidity of these two partial arguments – and the debate between them – make for the best Punch and Judy show on offer.

If I wanted to take a more strictly phenomenological approach to our topic, I might be forced to say transwomen were both male and female. For example being a woman in one’s imaginative identity will never mean that the chromosomal body has also changed, which indicates there are two identities running concurrently, one male and one female. That said, I appreciate that imagination can override the phenomenological approach to the point of absurdum.

What we can conclude from the more narrow arguments is that they are reductionist and kneejerk responses to a complex phenomenon, and so they provide insufficient explanations for the rise of transgender identity. They may be partially correct but it may help to consider more complex equations, not to mention the approaching of each trans person as possessing a unique biography that led them to become who they are. Following this line of thought I’d like to offer two more factors below that might help to complicate the picture.

Internalized misandry, and gyneolatry

I’ve observed in the rhetoric of many transwomen both an externalized and an internalized misandry. This appears in descriptions of the men they know, and in descriptions of themselves, and they also tend to rehearse feminist depictions of maleness that portray narrow and denigrating descriptions of masculinity. Conversely, transwomen tend to idealize women and femininity (i.e., gyneolatry),4 leading to a conclusion that the feminine grass is of a greener hue.

The sense of internalized misandry was reinforced by a 1991 study which found that mothers of young boys with gender dysphoria frequently suffered psychiatric disorders and that these boys exhibited chronic suffering that was often expressed directly by them as self-hate. One such boy at age three said:

“I hate myself. I don’t want to be me. I want to be somebody else. I want to be a girl.”5

When a man’s potential masculinity is felt as toxic due to the operation of internalized misandry, it’s only natural that such a person would have a dysphoric reaction to masculine selfhood. This might be understood as a pathological reaction, but it can be equally viewed as a healthy adaptation to an unhealthy, male-denigrating environment — for if I renounce maleness I protect myself from corrosive states of imposed self-hatred, along with de-personalizing those attacks directed at me from a misandric world.

Hence gender dysphoria is in some ways adaptive.

The position I have been leading to can be stated simply this way: Internalized misandry + gyneolatry + autogynephilia = transwoman. Of those three factors, I would consider autogynephilia somewhat more variable than the other two, and while often present, it is not always.

In order to render this triplicate formula more palpable, I encourage readers to watch the following Benjamin Boyce interview with former trans individual NJada6 who masterfully illustrates the operation of internalized misandry and gyneolatry in his own experiences.

In conclusion, this article claims that autogynephilia, and gender dysphoria prove insufficient as “causes” of the desire to transition but may nevertheless operate as one factor among many. As a student of gender politics I have expanded the causa efficiens to three:

Internalized misandry + gyneolatry + autogynephilia = transwoman.

Lastly, and on a more general note Kara Dansky,7 a trans-exclusionary radical feminist who is leading the charge against transgender individuals, recently tweeted“It is, in effect, a men’s rights movement intended to objectify women’s bodies and erase us as a class. It is left-wing misogyny on steroids. I say this is as a leftist and a Democrat.”

In response I feel it important to clarify that the transgender movement is not a cause célèbre driven by men’s rights advocates, but rather the current support for transgender individuals/rights is derived from the power of government administrations and global regimes playing “freedom one-upmanship” – ie., the feigning of moral purity to position themselves at top of the global hierarchy.

Feminists were the ones who cleared this forest path for the global elites to walk on, and Dansky is right in the sense that it opens a window to become of benefit to men’s rights movement – ie. it dissolves customary culture privileges that have accumulated around the female sex, making those privileges available to all humans, including men and boys, for the first time.8


[1] Ray Blanchard, Autogynephilia: an underappreciated paraphilia, (2019) ; See also: C. Moser, Autogynephilia in Women (2009), which shows that autogynephilia also exists in large numbers of natal women, negating Blanchard’s thesis that it is peculiar to transwomen.
[2] Autogynephilia | ContraPoints (2018)
[3] Matt Walsh: What Is A Woman? (2022)
[4] Gyneolotry | Gynocentrism And Its Origins
[5] Sonia Marantz and Susan Coates, Mothers of Boys with Gender Identity Disorder: A Comparison of Matched Controls (1991)
[6] Benjamin Boyce, Transition and Redemption | a Detrans Story, with NJada (2022)
[7] Kara Dansky, The Abolition of Sex: How the “Transgender” Agenda Harms Women and Girls (2021)
[8] Peter Wright, Unintended Effects Of Transgender Activism On Men’s Issues (2021)

Nothing Envy and the Fascration Complex – by David L. Miller

The following excerpts are from David L. Miller’s 1991 essay Why Men Are Mad: Nothing Envy and The Fascration Complex. At a time when multiple sexualities are now topical, including transgendered identities, Miller’s essay provides an imaginative springboard for contemporary audiences. In this article Miller emphasizes men’s adherence to ‘patriarchal’ fantasies while simultaneously harboring a wish to be free of same, and while ‘patriarchy theory’ was a feminist invention of 1980s-90s when the author penned these thoughts (now considered an imaginary artifact that holds questionable explanatory power), the essay itself contributes new and complimentary layers to Freud’s ‘penis envy’ theory. He does this by posing that men, too, may envy the un-membered state of womanhood. Whether this perspective aids in better understanding the dynamics of transgender and other sexualities will be left to the imagination of the reader.


NothingEnvy and the Fascration Complex

By David L. Miller

One clue to the hurt men feel, to their crazy rage, can be discerned in an essay entitled “Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction Between the Sexes” (1925), where Freud describes a traumatic moment of childhood, the discovery of penis envy. The little girl “has seen it and knows that she is without it and wants to have it” (252).

But, according to Freud, the little boy’s experience, or at least the screen-memory of the experience, is different. Only later when confronted with the threat of castration does the boy or man recall the sight of the little girl. Then he knows of the real possibility of losing a part of his body. There arises an anxiety — the so-called “castration complex” — together with two possible reactions to women: either “horror of the mutilated creature” or “triumphant contempt for her” (Freud, 1961: 252; 1959; 1964b; Du Bois: 10-11). The neurotic consequence of childhood trauma for the woman is envy and inferiority; for the man, anxiety and superiority.

There is an asymmetry in Freud’s theory. Why has he not moved to observe envy in the man as in the woman, and anxiety in the woman as in the man? Is there no complex in the woman to correspond to castration in the man? And is there no envy in the man to correspond to the envy for the penis in the woman?

A few theorists and therapists have wondered about these questions. Bruno Bettelheim thought that “penis envy in girls and castration anxiety in boys have been over-emphasized” by psychoanalysis, and that there is “a possibly much deeper psychological layer in boys that has been relatively neglected.” He called this deeper matter “vagina envy” (20). Karen Horney, also, has spoken of a “femininity complex” in men and has raised the question of “why no corresponding impulse to compensate herself for her penis envy is found in women” (61; also 21, 60). But in this theorizing, the envy noted in the male has to do with the woman’s ability to bear children, “pregnancy envy,” as Eric Fromm calls it (233). This focuses on only one aspect of woman, an aspect which a patriarchal tradition is eager to totalize.

* * *

If the little girl sees something, and then envies this thing, one could say that the little boy sees nothing and envies that nothing. The traumatic physical moment produces psychological “nothing-envy.” Nothing-envy is the desire lurking as the diabolical other-side of the castration anxiety. The fundamental ambivalence of the psyche demands that a person face the two-sidedness of fear. There is a latent wish in the symptom of anxiety. Castration is what a man wants as well as what he most fears. What does a man want? Nothing.

* * *

Similarly, men have no desire to be deprived of their penises. This is not what nothing-envy is about. The penis, besides being an efficient piece of plumbing, gives a good deal of pleasure. But the phallus is a different thing. The very patriarchy which has connected dominance, power, aggression, initiative, rational meaning, thinking and commitment to maleness, that perspective which has deprived women of a phallus, has also loaded more on men than they wish to bear. What a relief it would be to be rid of this thing, to have nothing.

Ernest Wallwork has called my attention to evidence of this nothing-envy in men. A bit of play familiar to all men from their days in school locker rooms is that of pulling the penis back and holding it between one’s legs so that one looks like a woman. The play is the symptom of a wish. The little boy looking upon the little girl in wonder experiences both fear and desire. The trauma produces not only a castration complex but also nothing-envy. Mysterium Tremendum et fascinosum: I am afraid of nothing, of losing something, and, at the same time, I am drawn to nothing. Freud noticed the former, but he missed the latter.

* * *

There is a long litany of female affirmations of women’s weavings, and they have little or nothing to do with envy of men. Rather, these testimonies and expressions have deep archetypal rooting in Athena and Arachne, in Persephone, in Philomela, and in Charlotte’s Web (see Gubar: 74, 89, 91). What is the missing female complex to which weaving points? I propose to name it “the fascration complex,” drawing upon a Mediterranean word having to do with weaving. Fasces is a bundle of twigs woven together, a bit of wicker work, the work of the wicca (who is by no means a witch). The term fasces gives us our word “basket,” as well as “fasten,” “fascination,” and “fascist.”

What the little boy sees when he gazes upon what is non-a-thing is the female “basket” and later he will come to admire the webs and tapestries a woman can weave with it. She is anxious about losing her basket, her weaving, her fasces, for this, not the penis, is her power.

* * *

An erotics of male desire discloses a projection of a wish based on lack… a lack of nothing. It is a desire for nothing because men ‘don’t got plenty of nothing.’ The irony, of course, is that that is exactly what they have plenty of — which is why they are mad. The return of the repressed is the return of something that never went away. A man never did not have nothing. If a man could withdraw his projection onto women of nothing, he could be who he is, one-in-himself, male and female, something and nothing. There is nothing of which to be envious. We are always and already nothing.

* * *

Why Men Are Mad: NothingEnvy and the Fascration Complex, by David L Miller, Spring Journal 51, Spring: Dallas, 1991. [FULL TEXT pdf made available by permission of the author].