“Non-Binary” is not the same as “sissy boy syndrome”, and that matters

Back in the late 1980s there was talk of a phenomenon called the “sissy boy syndrome”, in large part stimulated by a book The 'Sissy Boy Syndrome' and the Development of Homosexuality (1987), by Richard reen, Yale University Press, 426 pages, ISBN , Amazon Link (used).   Immediately I am reminded of a 1968 book by George Alan Reeker (by Moody Press).  And there is also the notorious Facts of Life and Love for Teenagers by Evylen Millis Duvall, Association Press, 1952, which had introduced the term “latent homosexuality”.

The last of these books had influenced my thinking when I made that “statement” to the Dean of Men at William and Mary Thanksgiving weekend 1961, which I cover in my books.  In those days, confession of homosexuality was automatically presumed to be mental illness, because according to the norms of the day, self-acknowledged homosexuals could not be allowed in congregate settings with other young men (whether in college dorms or in the military). Right off the bat, I notice that Amazon still lists these books despite its claim (WSJ story) it would remove books that claim that LGBTQ people are “mentally ill” (which caused a book on transgenderism –“When Harry Became Sally”, by Ryan Anderson, to be removed about a year ago).

OK, I guess I need to get back to my subject, why ruminating about Tim Pool’s knocking the far Left for objecting to statements that “men aren’t women”, particularly in women’s sports. Yup, such claims have led to social media bans, sometimes (such as in Ethan Klein’s past)

What I am getting to is, would the “sissy boy syndrome” be equivalent to “non-binary” identity as claimed today?  The article about Green’s book in the GLBTQArchive would make it look so.

But I think the equivalence is wrong, at least in my case.

As I write my screenplay about the William and Mary 1961 fiasco (why in the middle of Thanksgiving weekend?) and its aftermath, I’ve had to ponder this claim a lot.  I definitely fit the paradigm for “sissy boy syndrome” as a youngster, but was slowly outgrowing it in high school years, perhaps.  I was a bit “cowardly” when it came to considering contact sports (avoiding football brain injuries sounds like a good thing) or getting into tribal fights and being expected to protect others physically.  And I was no very good at or interested in mechanical chores (like changing tires).  But I looked up to “masculine men” and soon found I could be “automatically” aroused in their presence sometimes, when I was post-puberty.  I wanted to identify with cis masculinity in others.  Some psychologists (as well as conservative writer George Gilder, who authored Sexual Suicide in 1973 and Men and Marriage in the Reaganesque year 1986) call this process “upward affiliation”.   As a young boy, I had played with blocks and electric trains, not dolls.  As a teenager, I attempted to close the athletic gap by making mechanical pinball carboard stadiums in Ohio summers, as well as invent new rules for backyard baseball.  I definitely had some ADHD, as well as mild asperger-like autism, which I manipulated within my own personality to become somewhat schizoid – that is, contemptuous of meeting “ordinary people” just “where they are” in significant (especially potentially intimate) relationships.  I would create my own world, hang out with only the best people; and found no point in (personally or emotionally) associating with people who needed lifting up, particularly now if their only sense of identity is claiming to be part of a victimized or marginalized group.  I realize I was not in a morally acceptable position to harbor such (evasive or hyperbolic) attitudes (and refuse to accept “the best I can do”).  It also seems as if my physical weakness and coordination problems for some activities may be a lack of brain capacity to carry on intellectual talents or savant skills like music.

Remember, too, that I grew up at a time when men were expected to “be real men” in order to share the collective responsibilities to protect women and children from external threats, even accepting their own fungibility   That fit into the organization of society into concentric but ultimately competing tribes capable of systemic exploitation (like racism). In those days, women took real risks with pregnancy (and some will say, they still do, especially given the reversal or Roe in June 2022 -- additional note).

So my physical “weakness” and clumsiness might have been considered a sign of a pathological “laziness”, or it might have been attributable to some sort of genuine medical problem.  Maybe that was epigenetic (my mother was told she could not have more children, although there is some question as to the reliability of that advice), or maybe having measles in 1950 before my seventh birthday (and a sickly period that followed — we know measles damages a child’s immune system for a couple years to follow) was a major factor (I started getting flak for my physical backwardness in the fall of 1951).  On the other hand, people who claim to be non-binary (which I do not!) often are relatively competent in the physical world with mechanical things (as a distant issue, consider the women’s sports controversy).

When I have met non-binary persons (particularly at a protest last summer at Nellie’s in Washington), I get them impression that they see classification by gender (or regarding gender polarity as a virtue) is simply burdensome.   They don’t want go be judged according to the hypothetical idea of becoming role models for their gender at all.  This is very different from how I saw (and still see) myself.

I do wonder whom (self-defined) non-binary people feel ‘physically attracted’ to (or who feel 'phyiscally attracted' to them). Yet that very supposition is said to be bigoted.  Indeed, the radical Left has sometimes made who someone is willing to date itself an issue of bigotry or discrimination. Dating sites now allow self-categorization as such, and omission of biological sex if desired.  Fortunately for me, I am too old to use these sites. Considerations of 'sexual attractiveness' expire as you reach my age. I will also add that earlier in my life there was pressure on me to pair with people I was not interested in, to make others around me more comfortable. This idea ('the best you can do') has always been divisive in the LGBTQ world, but now the 'chad' issue is pretty rampant in the straight world.

There is also the idea that various intersectional sub-categories of LGBTQ is building on identity through supposed group victimization, which for me is a turnoff when considering a particular person.  Yet our Equal Protection Clause (as compared to Due Process Clause) encourages people to collect in new groups and claim group marginalization and even view it as a legitimate part of personal identity (in conflict with the idea of personal agency).

This is still separate from true transgenderism (and earlier gender dysphoria), which requires medical follow up (whatever Amazon’s policy) to get the desired results.  The end result of a transgender (medical or surgical) transition is still identification with the other gender.

All this also fits around the general observation that most cis gay men do not have a history of being physically behind, at least since late teen or young adulthood years.  Maybe 10-15% of cis gay men would have a history like mine, but by no means most.  As an adult, in gay softball or outdoors, I found I was behind most cis gay men athletically. Many developmentally challenged boys suddenly catch up with puberty (which is not optional).

Finally, the polarities of Paul Rosenfels’s theories (as I encountered in the 1970s at the Ninth Street Center in NYC) seem to have little to do with the cis v. non-binary issue.  “Psychologically feminine men” could still look and act manly in Rosenfels’s world.

The video below by Mario Adrion in West Hollywood (Jan 18 2022), when viewed in terms of the responses in the comments, may uncover another subtle aspect of the system racism claims floating around.

Ironically, Communist China’s president Xi Jinping has banned “effeminate men” from public media (NPR story).

(Posted: Monday, January 31, 2022 at  1 PM by John W. Boushka )

Posted on January 31, 2022

CategoriesB-main, gender fluidity, LGBT, transgender