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17 May 2009

Did Virginia Prince have Harry Benjamin Syndrome?

I have elsewhere written on Virginia Prince.

Here I would like to pursue an unexplored position. In my essays on Prince and on autogynephilia, I proposed that Prince was the classic autogynephile. That is still my position. However let us see what happens when we line up the chief femmiphilic and the HBS side-by-side.

  1. Virginia Prince was an actual patient of Harry Benjamin, just as much as Sally Barry, Reed Erickson, Barbara Wilcox, Christine Jorgensen, Lynn Conway, Renée Richards or Diane Kearny. Benjamin prescribed female hormones to Prince.
  2. Of the three major criteria for a transsexual -- hormones, genital surgery and living full-time in the target gender -- Prince scores 2 out of 3. Benjamin did not recommend surgery for all his transsexual patients.
  3. Diane Kearny writes: “my brain gender of female was quite clear to me and others including family long before a hint of puberty. That in essence describes those born with HBS”. Prince passes this test easily.
  4. Prince urged privacy, stealth even closetry, for those in her groups. Surprise: the HBS people urge the same for their membership.
  5. Diane Kearny writes of “evidence that true transsexuals/HBS are born and not nurtured”. Much the same evidence supports the idea that femmiphilics are born and not nurtured.
  6. Prince was intolerant of most transgender persons, especially drag queens, homosexual transvestites, all gender queers, all transsexuals, and all non-ops who did not conform to her own transgenderist (a different word from transgender) or femmiphilic template. Surprise: HBS people are intolerant of most transgender persons, especially drag queens, homosexual and heterosexual transvestites, all gender queers, all non-ops, and the vast majority of transsexuals who did not conform to the HBS template.
  7. Trans men are totally ignored by Prince; while there do seem to be a few HBS trans men, you can easily read the HBS web sites without being aware of them.
  8. Prince was often domineering to the point of bullying and rudeness, often telling potential transsexuals that they were ‘delusional’. HBS persons are constantly telling people that they are ‘fetishists’ and ‘autogynephiles’.
  9. Prince advocated a false respectability of a dated concept of being a 'lady'; many of the HBS persons object to being described as gender variant, and are even proud to self-describe as gender conformist, which is also a false respectability.
  10. Both Prince and many HBS persons are indifferent or hostile to feminism.
HBS persons make the point that Prince did not desire a sex change. Of course that is what she said. But surely she protested too much. You don't need a PhD in psychology to understand that if you are fanatically against something, it is likely that you are actually attracted to that thing, but are unable to be honest about your attraction. It is now generally accepted that homophobes are actually aroused by their own sex. A self-confident heterosexual has no need to be homophobic.

In any case, Benjamin posits three kinds of transvestite, one of which is the transsexual. If there is such a thing as a "Harry Benjamin Syndrome", it surely covers all three kinds. To limit it to the third only, is tendentious.


  1. Oh Zagria I realy must protest.

    I know several HBS folk and they do not fit your criteria.

    I think your characterisation of HBS , is as generalised a prejudice as any I have come accross.

    So for my HBS friends I ask that you relieve them of bias and think of prince in terms of prince and not your projection of HBS identity onto H/er


  2. Anonymous3/6/09 11:13

    To many of us, HBS is actually about one thing: the neurological intersexed nature of "classic transsexuality" as now proven by a literal storm of studies. It's not a political position, a sexual orientation, a lifestyle, statement of socio-economic placement. It is unfair to say:
    "Surprise: HBS people are intolerant of most transgendered persons, especially drag queens, homosexual and heterosexual transvestites, all gender queers, all non-ops, and the vast majority of transsexuals."

    I am considered by many to be one of the primary spokeswome
    n for HBS. I have friends and welcomed into my own home drag queens, street girls, crossdressers (both hetero and homosexual) gender queers, non-ops and literally hundreds of transsexuals of all types. I maintain a friendship with Willow Arune.

    Further, I do not consider gender variant people who are not HBS to be deluded and recognize the right of others pursue whatever identity suits them.

    I have NEVER opposed the rights of gender deconstructionists to deconstruct their own gender, my sole problem with that is when it is applied to me, I have a 100% female identity.

    I am a lifelong avid Feminist, long time and active member of NOW.

    I do believe that those with a female neurology will eventually be compelled to reject a male anatomy, that is a far cry from rejection of the rights of non classic transsexuals gender variant people to do as they will with their bodies. I am supportive of LGBt rights personally, my sexual orientation is bisexual.

    Can we tune down the rhetoric here?

    BTW, I've been told by those in a position to know this that both Leo Wolman and Dr. Benjamin told Prince he was a transvestite and refused him clearance for SRS and this was the source of the lifelong crusade against transsexual women.

  3. Anonymous6/6/10 08:14

    interesting to see Zagria acts the same as those condemned?

    I think that the difference that separates HBS from all others is that only the HBS have the bit of brain that can respond to estrogen to bring about the second puberty and also makes the body make itself into an acceptable shell for the brain?
    This is why HBS will not want any maleness and all those crossdressers who calim to be HBS but reserve the right to keep and use their male bits and male clothing are obviously not HBS by definition.
    Even when a woman chooses to wear trousers she will be unmistakably a woman from her body and face language while most tvs and cd will be obviously male and seen and accepted by the public as blokes in frocks.
    Zagria's nonsense about HBS remaining in closet is rediculous as the essence of HBS women is that they want to live and work as woman with women...its crossdressers and transvetsites who don't.

  4. Hello Rose.

    You have very definite stylistic quirks, as I explained in review of your book.

    I will repeat the question? How do you know that you have a female sized BSTc?

  5. Hi Zagria, if you let me, i want to say two things:
    One is that actually, lots of transvestited persons claim to be HBS as if it is their own identity, as if it is their cultural identity.
    But, doing that, will never "construct" them a female biologic brain.
    So, if you´re presenting Prince here as if he maybe was a hbs, i must say that you´re looking for make society misunderstand what HBS is, and make me think you´re a HBSphobic person.

    The other thing is in response to your question on "how do you know that you have a female sized BSTc".

    For a female, or a male, making that question is irrelevant in certain moment of our lives, because we have not the same feelings of insecurity, cross-sex, or sexual trans-gressive wishes that transvestited people DO have, and that´s the main point on why trans (lgbt) people consider theirselves as trans-sexuals who stay "non-op" till the end of times.

    There´s NOT HBS (intersexed) people who reject GRS, even if we could DIE in the process.

    That´s why you will never understand a NEEDING of genital surgery, instead of sillycon implants, Botox , pink clothes, or a legal document finally saying that “we are what our documents say no matter what is between our legs”.
    Our needings DOESN´T COME from a radical erotic wish, Zagria. It´s a biological calling for repairment.

    We just simply are what we are, and the proof is: realizing a genital reconstructive surgery and a complete social integration in our original sex.
    A female (or a male, in the case) will look for a reconstruction of her genitalia if it´s not mirroring her female brain. The needing for a document that “mirror our brain sex” is irrelevant, or secondary because we know it´ll come once the external correction is made, so we don´t care for it at first instances, ok?

    Then, a transvestited male (or female, in the case) will ever "destroy" their genitalia because the fear to loose their main organ, and it traduces the terrific feelings toward GRS on the well known trans-propaganda “genital surgery it´s evil himself!!!”, as well as their erotic arousal on crossdressing.
    But they seek firstly for a “legal sex reassignment”, which is totally a cultural response, not a needing of genital correction due to being born intersexed.

    If you think that non-ops are really (really) what they´re affirming to be, so....can you explain to the audience why they USUALLY use their inborn genitalia as if they were of the sex they "reject to be"??

    Ooops, sorry: "how do you know that you have a female sized BSTc?"

    In the same way as you know that you DON´T need a genital reconstructive surgery.

  6. Short comments on the HBSists who have replied here.

    RadicalBitch, who unlike all cis women has a "100% female identity" has recently put a post on her blog pointing to a thread in Bilerico where she claims to have a simple "test that separates classic, neurological intersexed transsexuals from the fetishists and autogynophiles". That is, just like Goiar, RB is putting down non HBS TS women, the vast majority, as "fetishists and autogynophiles". And she accused us raising the rhetoric!!

    Rose White, the author of highly homosphobic, only book on HBS, recently made the international news with her attack on her local Pride march.

    Mora starts off in Harry Benjamin's footsteps by referring to trans women as 'he'. She does not seem to get it that if the criterion for being a transsexual is striving for the operation (which is my position) then wishful speculations about an occult BSTc are completely meaningless.

  7. Wow Zagria I am really really so impressed with your site and with your thinking. I have for the longest time had a huge problem with what I call transexual excepetionalists who seem to go out of teir way to delight in the fact that they are true women and everyone else a fraud. The tenacity and vitriol in the attacks is particularly telling I'm afraid.

    I have my own theory which basically states that a huge number of us suffer from essentially GID and the only difference is the degree and severity of the condition.

    Choosing not to have GRS is not definite proof of anything.

  8. Anonymous9/9/13 04:03

    Charlotte often makes the point that many who are not HBS wish to identify as if they are. Yes, at times she is angry and perhaps even rude but that can be forgiven knowing the pain of her circumstance throughout her life. She is correct in feeling that most trans people are not at all like her. They are but what they are.

    A person with HBS is one who knew long before puberty that they NEEDED to have a surgical correction so as to bring body (genitalia) into conformity with brain (gender). They never needed to trans their brains for that was a given from birth.

    NO, a non-op, a lifetime transvestite as per Charles (Virginia) Prince, gay cross-dressers, drag queens or those overwhelming numbers of hetero married with children who hide in the closet under the banner of trans something or other are not HBS. HBS is not a condition acquired though nurture or prompting by ones is an inborn anomaly and not a psychological transgender construct where all fit under the same label with only a bit of difference here and there.

    Anyone can claim to be transsexual although I may well argue most should correctly be assigned to the transgender camp of confusion.

    Every single HBS I met personally knew the truth about themselves long before the onset of puberty. And in fact two I knew, later were found to be physically intersex, one actually died of ovarian cancer. That is not to say all HBS will eventually be diagnosed as IS but I do deeply feel that in time HBS will be able to be clarified as neurobiological intersex not only through research such as that done by the Dutch in regard to HBS but with defined medical applications during a persons lifetime that will show a clear and unarguable distinction between the actual HBS and those who would falsely connect with that identity.

    In the meantime those not HBS and attack the concept will continue to rant and rage that 'those damn HBS' must conform to our standard or should not exist.

    I am the real Diane Kearny, not a trans something but a woman who is female, mentally and physically.

    1. Have you actually read my 5-part biography of Prince? She exhibited the urge to be female before puberty just as much as you or Charlotte. At Charlotte's current age Prince was writing to Christine Jorgensen declaring herself to be the same, and saying that only lack of funds stopped her from getting surgery. Yes she changed - for reasons that have not been revealed - in the next decade. But in 1953 she looked as if she would become a pioneer transsexual.

      Most HBSers have kept their biography private. Of those of whom we know something you, Diane, are rather an exception in never marrying a women, transitioning relatively early and then marrying a man. However Charlotte has been non-op for over 20 years, Courtney for almost as long, Jennifer has an ex-wife and daughter, as did Joanne, and Cathryn, Rose waited until her 60s before surgery, Tabatha has had three wives.

      Persons like Laura Amato and Suzane Cooke joined HBS but then left after encountering the negative attitudes that were common among the active HBSers.

      Is it true, as is speculated, that you and Charlotte split in that you wanted the group to be post-op only and of course Charlotte could not meet that criterion?

      Why did you close down your web page and forum?

  9. I mean I'm a "truscum", transmed/brain sex believer. However, I wouldn't say I'm *intolerant* of anyone, I have no problem with transvestites, I dislike the "transgender umbrella" lumping us together, and transvestites being placed as "trans activists" and speaking for all of us, they have the right to be transvestites and I have the right to be transsexual, and we both have our own (very different) needs.

    The prospect that Prince seemed to have once wanted SRS is fascinating to me, especially the possibility that she truthfully desired it until death, but merely had a case of sour grapes.


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