Wiki Contributions



This hypothesis seems like it should be at or near the top of the list. It explains a lot of Sam's alleged behavior. If she's exhibiting signs of psychosis then he might be trying to get her to get care, which would explain the strings-attached access to resources. Possibly she is either altering the story or misunderstanding about her inheritance being conditional on Zoloft, it might have been an antipsychotic instead.

On the other hand, while psychosis can manifest in subtle ways, I'm skeptical that someone whose psychosis is severe enough that they'd be unable to maintain stable employment or housing would be able to host a podcast where their psychosis isn't clearly visible. (I haven't listened to it yet, but I would expect it to be obvious enough that others would have pointed it out)

A variation on this hypothesis that I find more likely is that Annie is psychologically unwell in exactly the ways she says she is, and out of some mixture of concern for her wellbeing and fear that her instability could hurt his own reputation or business interests, Sam has used some amount of coercion to get her to seek psychiatric care. She then justifiably got upset about her rich and powerful family members using their financial power to coerce her into taking drugs she knows she doesn't want to take. You don't have to be psychotic to develop some paranoia in a situation like that.


This is somewhat unconvincing on its own, because clearly at the very least the trans community does some Motte/Bailey on it.

Yeah I bet that does happen. A more charitable lens that explains some of what might come across that way, though, is that "women trapped in men's bodies" is a neat and succinct way to explain trans women to someone who it would otherwise take too long to explain to, in situations where an extended lecture would be impractical, inappropriate or unappreciated.

I think autogynephilia is correlated with gender identity?

In extension, it's true that learning that someone experiences autogynephilic sexual fantasies should increase your credence that they will report a feminine gender identity.

What I mean is that the Blanchardian model and the gender variance model barely make reference to the same concepts. Orthogonal in theory space, not in people space. But another way of putting my point is that endorsing autogynephilia as an explanation for most trans women's motivation for transition in no way binds you to any position on whether trans women are women.


The reason autogynephilia is controversial is because it's an alternative to the "woman trapped in a man's body" trope, an etiological story that undermines the "trans women are women" slogan and makes MtFs seem more relevantly M than F, despite their/our efforts.

I don't agree that's the reason that autogynephilia theory is controversial! Not that it isn't part of the story, but I'm pretty sure the main reason for the controversy is that it contradicts trans women's own understanding of their motivations for transitioning, and is often presented as to imply trans women are either deceiving themselves or others

In reddit-tier discourse, people do get mad that autogynephilia theory contradicts "trans women are women," but I have no idea how to coherently interpret reddit-tier discourse. When people of the same ideological persuasion as the reddit "trans women are women" crowd want to be coherent, I've seen them often cite Julia Serano on the topic:

In recent papers, proponents of autogynephilia have argued that the theory should be accepted because it has more explanatory potential than what they call the “feminine essence narrative”—that is, the idea forwarded by some transsexuals that they are rather uncomplicatedly “women trapped in men’s bodies”. According to this argument, while the feminine essence narrative may hold true for androphilic transsexual women (whose feminine gender expression and attraction to men allows them to come off as sufficiently “womanly”), nonandrophilic and/or nonfeminine transsexual women fail to achieve conventional ideals of womanhood and, therefore, must comprise a different category and arise from a distinct etiology. However, pitting autogynephilia against an overly simplistic “feminine essence narrative” ignores a more nuanced view that I will refer to here as the gender variance model, which holds that gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and physical sex are largely separable traits that may tend to correlate in the general population but do not all necessarily align in the same direction within any given individual. According to this model, transsexuals share the experience of discordance between their gender identity and physical sex (which leads to gender dysphoria and a desire to physically transition) but are expected to differ with respect to their gender expression and sexual orientation (just as nontranssexuals vary in these aspects).

[source: The Case Against Autogynephilia]

As far as I can tell, "women trapped in men's bodies" hasn't been put forth as a serious model of transness since the theory of sexual inversion in the 19th century. In the ideological framework of mainstream trans activists, autogynephilia doesn't actually threaten "trans women are women," because what makes trans women women is "gender identity," which autogynephilia is entirely orthogonal to. I think the reason that redditors act like it does is because its proponents have a tendency to deny that (at least autogynephilic) trans women are women, not anything to do with the theory itself.

If the spooky number of dimensions I have in common with trans women (like being spectrumy programmers) aren't things we have in common with actual females, that still undermines the slogan

I have no particular attachment to the slogan or its metaphysical agenda, but I want to point out that in my own life, it's seemed like spectrumy trans women sure have a lot in common with spectrumy cis women. Most of my friends growing up were spectrumy cis women, and I think these friends of mine fit into the spectrumy trans woman stereotypes pretty well. I don't know to what degree this is peculiar to me and the people I encountered, but I'm not the first to observe it.


Not necessarily sexual fantasies themselves! Sexual fantasies are an indicator of the presence of an underlying sexual orientation towards that which is depicted in the fantasies

I see! This is something I associate with Ann Lawrence's contribution to the theory. I had Lawrence on my reading list last year, but I felt it was wise to pull back from that reading for a bit, so sorry if my criticism is a bit basic. I'll be going off just your comment here and what I've heard second hand from Lawrence's critiques, who might not be the best of rationalists.

I'll say that I've remarked before that "autogynephilia," if you looked at just the etymology and not its origin in describing cross-sex sexual fantasies (that's definitely how Blanchard used it initially), seemed like as good a description of myself as any. Mostly because it sounds pretty deflationary: I chose to transition because I... like myself as a woman (or more feminine, I'd prefer to say). The alternatives seem like they'd be either cynical-strategic or self-harm.

But "sexual orientation" sounds like it comes with a lot more baggage than that. What account of "sexual orientation" allows calling autogynephilia without concordant sexual fantasies a "sexual orientation?" I've heard people talk about "the desire to become a woman and fall in love with yourself" in the context of Lawrence (and Zack made reference to that here, so I assume it's not made up). But "desire to become a woman" without the "and fall in love with yourself" part doesn't sound like something you'd want to call a "sexual orientation," and the falling in love with yourself part... I don't think I fell in love with myself or that I'm likely to. From my second-hand impressions of Lawrence's work, I think that part is supposed to be involved in explaining why post-transition trans women tend to no longer experience much autogynephilic sexual fantasy, by analogy to a stale sexless marriage.

The classic autogynephile is a male who has a sexual desire to both be a woman and to have sex with other women. But the theory also has to account for asexuals like me, so it describes us as exclusively autogynephilic. So autogynephilia is a sexual orientation that can be present on its own, or in combination with homosexual or bisexual attraction (w.r.t. natal sex). If autogynephilia were something that people had in the place of conventional sexual orientations, then I could see the elegance of calling it a sexual orientation. But not if we've established that it can be found in the place of or in addition to other orientations.

I don't think we get any explanatory value out of this account of autogynephilia-as-a-sexual-orientation without necessary sexual components. Remember that we invoked it in order to explain why some males want to transition and live as women — if "autogynephilia" amounts to nothing more than a desire to be a woman, then we're just begging the question!

And again, if autogynephilia fails to provide an explanation for my desire to transition, then even if it seems to explain other people's it leaves unexplained why I seem so damn similar to them along a spooky number of dimensions, and that should cast the entire claim into doubt.

And there are hypotheses that perform better. Scott explains cross-sex gender identification as causally posterior to ASD:

My guess is something like joint issues → poor proprioception → all sensory experience is noisy and confusing → the brain, which is embodied and spends most of its time trying to process sensory experience, learns a different reasoning style → different reasoning style is less context-dependent (producing symptoms of autism) → different reasoning style when trying to interpret bodily correlates of gender (eg sex hormones) → transgender.

[source: Why Do Transgender People Report Hypermobile Joints?]

Or the hypothesized Meyer-Powers Syndrome, which purports to explain several of the observed commonalities among late-onset trans women, including gender dysphoria, in terms of a disorder of steroidogenesis. I'm skeptical of its empirical validity, but I bet that whatever the true explanation is, it'll involve a similar-looking causal graph.


I'm trying to make sense of this. If I'm not mistaken you claim:

  1. Autogynephilic sexual fantasies are causally responsible for late-onset not-purely-androphilic trans women's motivations for transition
  2. Some late-onset trans women have never had autogynephilic sexual fantasies

This obviously doesn't make sense as-is. You briefly went into a theory of early-onset HSTS, late-onset not-otherwise-specified gender dysphoria, and you raised internalized misandry as a possible alternate instantiation of that "not-otherwise-specified". And that could resolve the issue I'm pointing at.

This explanation makes a testable prediction. I've noticed that late-onset trans women tend to fall remarkably close together along a number of characteristics that aren't obviously related to gender dysphoria or autogynephilia. Let me know if you don't think that's right, and I can go into more detail, but as a basic example, this group has way higher rates of ASD, and more people who were excellent programmers at a young age, compared to the male baseline. If you're proposing that non-autogynephilic late-onset trans women have significantly different causal explanations for transitioning, then we wouldn't expect to find them also in this autistic computer-kid cluster.

I notice that when offering Ziz as an example of a non-autogynephilic late-onset trans woman, you chose to mention that she's "unusual along a lot of dimensions." So I'm hopeful that I'm on the right track in inferring your thinking here.

From my perspective as a late-onset, not-purely-androphilic trans woman who's on the spectrum and was an excellent programmer at a young age, but who lacks a history of autogynephilic sexual fantasies, I find the "not-otherwise-specified" explanation hard to believe.

Instead of supposing that most late-onset trans women were motivated to transition by their fetish, while I was motivated by some other factor, and that it's just a coincidence that we happen to also share a lot of peculiar features, it would be more parsimonious to say that among these characteristics that we share is some psychological factor that motivated all of our transitions, and which also causes most of us to develop autogynephilic fetishes.

Maybe I'm wrong, and what I perceive as a clear cluster of unusual traits isn't actually enough of a statistical anomaly to support my conclusions (I think it's really anomalous though). Or maybe I'm a victim of social contagion — I ended up friends with a bunch of autogynephiles because we share all these characteristics, then they transitioned because of their autogynephilia, and then I did because I wanted to be ingroup (I'm quite happy with my transition though).

My explanation also has the advantage of matching the reports by most late-onset trans women about the relation between their gender dysphoria and autogynephilic fantasies. I agree there's plenty of evidence that nobody is thinking sanely on this subject — motivated self-delusion is a believable explanation! But it does still incur a complexity penalty.


I worry that this doesn't really end up explaining much. We think that our answers to philosophical questions are better than what the analytics have come up with. Why? Because they seem intuitively to be better answers. What explanation do we posit for why our answers are better? Because we start out with better intuitions.

Of course our intuitions might in fact be better, as I (intuitively) think they are. But that explanation is profoundly underwhelming.

This might actually be the big thing LW has over analytic philosophy, so I want to call attention to it and encourage people to poke at what this thing is.

I'm not sure what you mean here, but maybe we're getting at the same thing. Having some explanation for why we might expect our intuitions to be better would make this argument more substantive. I'm sure that anyone can give explanations for why their intuitions are more likely to be right, but it's at least more constraining. Some possibilities:

  • LWers are more status-blind, so their intuitions are less distorted by things that are not about being right
  • Many LWers have a background in non-phil-of-mind cognitive sciences, like AI, neuroscience and psychiatry, which leads them to believe that someways of thinking are more apt to lead to truth than others, and then adopt the better ones
  • LWers are more likely than analytic philosophers to have extensive experience in a discipline where you get feedback on whether you're right, rather than merely feedback on whether others think you are right, and that might train their intuitions in a useful direction.

I'm not confident that any of these are good explanations, but they illustrate the sort of shape of explanation that I think would be needed to give a useful answer to the question posed in the article.


I think an important piece that's missing here is that LW simply assumes that certain answers to important questions are correct. It's not just that there are social norms that say it's OK to dismiss ideas as stupid if you think they're stupid, it's that there's a rough consensus on which ideas are stupid.

LW has a widespread consensus on bayseian epistemology, physicalist metaphysics and consequentialist ethics (not an exhaustive list). And it has good reasons for favoring these positions, but I don't think LW has great responses to all the arguments against these positions. Neither do the alternative positions have great responses to counterarguments from the LW-favored positions.

Analytic philosophy in the academy is stuck with a mess of incompatible views, and philosophers only occasionally succeed in organizing themselves into clusters that share answers to a wide range of fundamental questions.

And they have another problem stemming from the incentives in publishing. Since academic philosophers want citations, there's an advantage to making arguments that don't rely on particular answers to questions where there isn't widespread agreement. Philosophers of science will often avoid invoking causation, for instance, since not everyone believes in it. It takes more work to argue in that fashion, and it constrains what sorts of conclusions you can arrive at.

The obvious pitfalls of organizing around a consensus on the answers to unsolved problems are obvious.


I also had trouble with the notation. Here's how I've come to understand it:

Suppose I want to know whether the first person to drive a car was wearing shoes, just socks, or no footwear at all when they did so. I don't know what the truth is, so I represent it with a random variable , which could be any of "the driver wore shoes," "the driver wore socks" or "the driver was barefoot."

This means that is a random variable equal to the probability I assign to the true hypothesis (it's random because I don't know which hypothesis is true). It's distinct from and which are both the same constant, non-random value, namely the credence I have in the specific hypothesis (i.e. "the driver wore shoes").

( is roughly "the credence I have that 'the driver wore shoes' is true," while is "the credence I have that the driver wore shoes," so they're equal, and semantically equivalent if you're a deflationist about truth)

Now suppose I find the driver's great-great-granddaughter on Discord, and I ask her what she thinks her great-great-grandfather wore on his feet when he drove the car for the first time. I don't know what her response will be, so I denote it with the random variable . Then is the credence I assign to the correct hypothesis after I hear whatever she has to say.

So is equivalent to and means "I shouldn't expect my credence in 'the driver wore shoes' to change after I hear the great-great-granddaughter's response," while means "I should expect my credence in whatever is the correct hypothesis about the driver's footwear to increase when I get the great-great-granddaughter's response."

I think there are two sources of confusion here. First, was not explicitly defined as "the true hypothesis" in the article. I had to infer that from the English translation of the inequality,

In English the theorem says that the probability we should expect to assign to the true value of H after observing the true value of D is greater than or equal to the expected probability we assign to the true value of H before observing the value of D,

and confirm with the author in private. Second, I remember seeing my probability theory professor use sloppy shorthand, and I initially interpreted as a sloppy shorthand for . Neither of these would have been a problem if I were more familiar with this area of study, but many people are less familiar than I am.


I think there's some ambiguity in your phrasing and that might explain gjm's disagreement:

You seem to value the (psychological factor of having debt) at zero.


You seem to value the psychological factor of (having debt at zero).

These two ways of parsing it have opposite meanings. I think you mean the former but I initially read it as the latter, and reading gjm's initial comment, I think they also read it as the latter.


I'm attracted to viewing these moral intuitions as stemming from intuitions about property because the psychological notion of property biologically predates the notion of morality. Territorial behaviors are found in all kinds of different mammals, and prima facie the notion of property seems to be derived from such behaviors. The claim, then, is that during human evolution, moral psychology developed in part by coopting the psychology of territory.

I'm skeptical that anything normative follows from this though.

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