Mar 21 17 6:40 AM

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Debunking the ‘gaydar’ myth.

I love a good article that debunks myths and bad science, and this is one of them. Do people truly have a "gaydar"? Blanchard-supporter Bailey definitely believes so. His transgender research is based on the idea of androphilic gay men (and trans women) being effeminate performers of a kind.

I lost my belief in my own gaydar when the day I actually had it confirmed! A gay male friend of mine and I had a good dinner in a restaurant, and I was so proud when I noted that our waiter was gay. My gay friend had not noticed. Then it struck me: I did not actually know that the waiter was gay. I only supposed so because of the way he looked and presented himself. Moreover, given that some 1 to 5 percent of the population is believed to be gay, there should at least be five more gay men in that restaurant, and I hadn't noticed any of them. In fact, I hadn't know that my gay friend was gay before he told me so.

So there you go.


//But as we’ve been able to show in two recent papers, all of these previous studies fall prey to a mathematical error that, when corrected, actually leads to the opposite conclusion: Most of the time, gaydar will be highly inaccurate. How can this be, if people in these studies are accurate at rates significantly higher than 50 percent? 

There’s a problem in the basic premise of these studies: Namely, having a pool of people in which 50 percent of the targets are gay. In the real world, only around 3 to 8 percent of adults identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual. What does this mean for interpreting the 60 percent accuracy rate?

Think about what the 60 percent accuracy means for the straight targets in these studies. If people have 60 percent accuracy in identifying who is straight, it means that 40 percent of the time, straight people are incorrectly categorized. In a world where 95 percent of people are straight,

60 percent accuracy means that for every 100 people, there will be 38 straight people incorrectly assumed to be gay, but only three gay people correctly categorized. Therefore, the 60 percent accuracy in the lab studies translates to 93 percent inaccuracy for identifying who is gay in the real world (38 / [38 + 3] = 92.7 percent).

Even when people seem gay – and set off all the alarms on your gaydar – it’s far more likely that they’re straight. More straight people will seem to be gay than there are actual gay people in total. If you’re disappointed to learn that your gaydar might not operate as well as you think it does, there’s a quick fix: Rather than coming to a snap judgment about people based on what they wear or how they talk, you’re probably better off just asking them.//

Last Edited By: jackmolay Mar 21 17 6:42 AM. Edited 1 time

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#2 [url]

Mar 21 17 6:44 PM

It seems like gay signals and trans signals got combined in your gaydar ability, Jack. Since learning about trans theories (I call it being hit with the transgender stick), I only notice trans traits, thus I only have a trans-dar. Orientation, or the letters other than T in that acronym I choose to ignore, means little to me. So, how's your trans-dar of non- transitioning and non- cross dressing people? It takes a while. I have gotten right a few trans people though. I'd have to see them a lot and observe what they say and do.

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#3 [url]

Mar 21 17 11:35 PM

My wife tells me that she has become better at seeing gender variant and gender queer people since she learned to know about my other side. And I guess there is something to that. That is not the same as being able to identify trans people, though. Many may be transmasculine women or transfeminine men, and that might have little to do with gender identity per se (or sexual orientation, as you point out).

What is interesting about this increasing visibility, however, is that many gender variant people actually do express this side of themselves in public, but they are not "caught" by other cis people. It is as if they are still on the straight side of some invisible border of sorts. As long as you do not cross the brains of cis/straight people filter out the violation and classify them as "normal."

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#5 [url]

Mar 23 17 2:56 AM

I made that same point many years ago....statistical nonsense...but social scientist are always idiots in that area.

Everyone with no stats knowledge forgets the false positive issue. Everyone who has real skills thinks about them first.

But what do you expect from someone who trawls around gay bars and approved people for GRS on the basis they would go to bed with them...Me thinketh 'Michelle Bailey', as I prefer to call them, has some issues.....

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#6 [url]

Mar 27 17 3:16 AM

I'm not sure I'd write off 'gaydar' as a myth; Mine isn't foolpoof but then I'm not living life as a gay man so I've had no reason to develop it.... as for the restaurant, OK so you have not been able to pick out the other 5 gay men who are - given the probability - there... but you were not watching or studying them, which it what I'd need to do to have any chance... I know a few gay people; some conform to the 'stereotype', some don't.... and stereotypes are not 100% made up; they are based on how some people are

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#7 [url]

Mar 27 17 11:37 PM

 I know a few gay people; some conform to the 'stereotype', some don't.... and stereotypes are not 100% made up; they are based on how some people are

Absolutely.  But what I have come to question is that their behavior is uniquely associated with being gay. 

I have a few male friends and acquaintances who seem femine and even make use of the stereotypical effeminate hand gestures associated with gay "queens". But they are not gay. I know they are not, not only because they are married and have kids, but because they are pretty open about sexuality and gender. They may be bisexual.  I suspect that they may be somewhere on the crossdreamer spectrum, but I am not sure.

But they are not "gay" in the traditional sense of the word.

This is where Jaimie Veale's ideas start to make sense to me. She argues that gynephilic and bisexual male bodied gender variant people are more likely to suppress such gestures and gestures, exactly because they are associated with being gay. They do not want that association, because they are attracted to women.

In other words: The typical effeminate gay behavior is not exclusively gay at all, but it is not seen:

1. Because we do not see it in "straight" men because we do not expect it to be there
2. Because "straight" men are more likely to suppress it.

But the fact that I now notice these expressions in straight men is probably a sign that my "femmedar" has been finetuned after 10 years of crossdreamer activism :)

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#8 [url]

Apr 16 17 2:51 PM

I could take you into many gay bars in Melbourne and the majority would not trigger any 'gaydar' in anyone. In fact when I first started out being part time and went to such places I was struck by how ordinary they all looked. So much so that the 'stereotypical' gay man stood out.

After a lifetime of people watching several things stand out...straight 'masculine; men are all acting. They quite deliberately suppress certain actions (such as hand movements, at least in Anglo Saxon culture, others cultures ones don't) and over emphasise things like how they walk.

In fact the biggest difference I see in body language is that females are more natural and relaxed, whereas men are stiffer..
We tend to focus too much on the extremes and miss the averages. We look at women , see the one that 'cat walk' like a model and totally ignore the 95% that don't and never have. In fact there is incredibly variation in how women walk and move.

Hence my advice to trans women starting out on what their body language should be like ...first relax and just stop self censoring yourself...like a friend of mine who used to sit on their hands all the time. Many will find if they do that they will quickly fall into the range of female 'norms'.

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