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27 May 2009

Charlotte Bach’s theory of evolution

Sexual Deviation Is The Mainspring Of Evolution

Every member of any species 'divided' by sex, having to unite with a member of the other sex to reproduce, experiences to some degree the tensions inherent in its 'separateness' from the other sex, its inability ever to attain complete individual integrity as a member of the species. 

Her theory applied such observations, arguing that a group deviation from the norm of reproduction – thwarting, or self-thwarting – of the reproductory drive, will to some degree creates inner tensions in individuals, and those individuals may resolve them in different ways: for examples, an excessive drive to dominate the environment (including other individuals), to challenge or replace (for the 'good' of the group) established rituals and values, or to celebrate, or bemoan, the existential experience of being a member of the group, or even to withdraw from the life of the group as far as practicable. 

She argued that though expressing a deviation may for an individual be an evolutionary dead end, deviations create a repertoire from which a species may select behaviours advantageous to its survival, and reject others, in the way Darwin believed that ‘Natural Selection’ operated.

Thus, deviations from the reproductory norm are an essential part of the evolutionary process. In a complex dynamic involving the individual’s internal and external environment, the drive to express deviations is countered by the drive to resist them. Their expression will be channelled into the environment, in terms of established social rituals, or by the creation of new patterns or pieces of behaviour. The established patterns she termed ‘stable’, the novel expressions of behaviour she termed ‘emergent’, and creating them is what all of us are doing, all the time. Every man, she said, is a new Adam; every woman, a new Eve.

She believed this was the source of creativity. She also argued that deviations from the norm could be expressed negatively or positively - homosexuality, withdrawal into monasteries and nunneries or other forms of celibacy, but were often expressed within a context of reproductory behaviour - homosexuals having and rearing children, or people who do not want children of their own nevertheless acting in loco parentis (as teachers, carers, advisors) in the nurture and socialisation of the children of others.

Quoted from The Theory on

Central to Bach’s theory is an eight-box typology that is based on the old trapped soul concept. You may be a male soul in a male body, a female soul in male body, a female soul in female body or a male soul in a female body. Which gives four options. However the soul strives to become the other sex, and this striving can be denied or asseverated. Now we have eight options:

1. The stable options:

  1. Male positive denialist. The heterosexual male, physically and psychologically male, denying the pull to become female.

  2. Female positive denialist. The heterosexual female, physically and psychologically female, denying the pull to become male.

  3. Male negative denialist. A female soul in male body who denies the pull to the other psychological sex, i.e. male. This is a transvestite or drag queen.

  4. Female negative denialist. A male soul in female body who denies the pull to the other psychological sex, i.e. female. This is a butch lesbian
2. The changeable/creative options:

  1. Male positive asseverationist. The male, physically and psychologically male, accepting the pull to become female. (This is not properly explained. Would this be a metrosexual or a psychologically androgynous male who is accepting of his female side?)

  2. Female positive asseverationist. The heterosexual female, physically and psychologically female, accepting the pull to become male. (This is not properly explained. Would this be a psychologically androgynous female who is accepting of her male side? Would one type of this be a career woman?)
  3. Male negative asseverationist. A female soul in male body who accepts the pull to the other psychological sex, i.e. male. He will be masculine, and dress definitely so, and might be quite aggressive. (This is what others have called a homovestite. Would homophobia fit here?)
  4. Female negative asseverationist. A male soul in female body who accepts the pull to the other psychological sex, i.e. female. This is a femme lesbian who dresses extra femme. (Although surely a heterosexual femme or homovestite would fit here also.)
This, of course, is done in terms of 1960s stereotypes. There is no actual place here for a transsexual, nor actually for a non-op like Bach herself. 

In rereading Wilson’s Mysteries in an attempt to write this I found contradictions. Wilson first assigns a transvestite to 1.3, but two paragraphs later to 2.1 ! Wilson himself first accepted that he is a Male positive denialist. He is very much the cisgendered heterosexual. He later twigged that that would deny his creativity. Surely he would want to be a Male positive asseverationist? Perhaps being of his generation (born 1931) he does not do so. He leaves 2.1 and 2.2 unexplained.

I am not a fan of 4-box or 8-box typologies. They can be useful in laying out ideas, but they also restrict ideas to their simple forms. There are some good bits here:
  • the important idea that one can deny or asseverate the pull to be the other sex.
  • the incorporation of cisgendered heterosexuals into the schema.
  • the inclusion of the concept but not the word homovestity (Zavitzianos did not coin the word until 1972).
  • the ideas that a female soul in male body is in denial of her male sexual pull if she is transgender. This is of course contrary to what most transgender persons assume.
On the other hand:
  • where do transsexuals fit?
  • 2.1 and 2.2 would need to be much more clearly developed.
  • there is no comparison or correlation to other theorizing on sex and gender.

See also Charlotte Bach's biography.


  1. Anonymous4/9/10 17:14

    I knew 'Charlotte' and her system and you are quite right in saying that Wilson in effect contradicts himself. He leaves a very confusing impression for anyone trying to understand it for the first time and if they try to stick to the little that Wilson provides them with they will never understand it.
    Unfortunately you also have it wrong when you suggest that the drag queen and the transexual are Negative Denialists.
    The drag queen is usually a Negative Asseverationist if the female stereotype is being mocked.
    A sympathetic, or convincing Drag Queen is usually a Positive Asseverationist, as is the transexual.

  2. It is a pity that nobody has taken the good bits of Bach's schema and run with it to where-ever it may go.

    For example Ariadne Kane's typology appendix to Crossing Sexual Boundaries would be far better if he had read up on Bach.

  3. Anonymous5/9/10 13:05

    Zagria - I completely agree. It has been part of my thinking for the past 30 or so years. Before she died Charlotte was convinced that her work was going to have an enormous impact on a great many subjects, in fact on almost any subject you might care to name with a social, psychological, philosophical or theoretical aspects including theoretical physics.

  4. Anonymous6/9/10 19:13

    Looking closer at the description you have given above of the Negative Denialist I would have to disagree again.
    The Male Negative Denialist denies the pull to the opposite sex (female) but does so in a negative way. The degree to which they are pulled, together with the way it is denied, will determine how male or female you could describe them as being 'inside', or in their behaviour. But you cannot describe them as having the wrong body for their true sex.
    They are very common in the population especially among the intelligentsia and teaching profession as well as in the media and all cultural spheres.
    So to summarise, they are not 'females in male bodies' and they are not normally transvestites or drag queens.


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