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Transmaxxing: the Incel-To-Transwoman Pipeline
why a community of depressed young men with nothing to lose is convinced the only way out of their misery is gender transition
Imagine you’re a depressed young man in a developed country. Maybe you work long hours for low pay, maybe you’re unemployed. When you were in school, you didn’t fit in with other boys; girls acted like you weren’t even there. You spend most of your free time playing video games and shitposting with online friends you’ve never met in real life. You rarely have sex without paying for it. You consider suicide regularly. To the left, you’re a threat: a woman-hating incel with latent violent tendencies. To the right, you’re a degenerate: a porn-addicted, weak “virgin” who struggles to impose himself on the world.
So where do you go from here? Do you ingratiate yourself with SJWs, or with the chads? Do you succumb to the temptation to commit suicide?
For some men, the solution to the despair of living as an isolated, unhappy male is straightforward: become a woman. They call themselves “transmaxxers” and they believe gender transition can be an effective tool for escaping the misery of involuntary celibacy, social isolation, and professional mediocrity. More broadly, they see transition as a potentially revolutionary response to a world where the combination of industrialization and biomedical technologies such as in vitro fertilization and sperm donation have eroded the financial and reproductive opportunities previously available to most men. Like many revolutionary movements, they operate semi-clandestinely, preferring Discord to Twitter and YouTube, and express their beliefs primarily in the form of manifestos. The latest, a 73-page document published in April 2022 includes chapters like:
“How society benefits from people transitioning”—“[incels] will become less likely to develop or maintain problematic political beliefs or become violent, they will instead benefit from accelerated hypergamy and gynocentrism”
“How to transition”—a 13-step process that involves, among other things, watching anime and sissy hypno porn to induce dysphoria, banking your sperm, and beginning hormone replacement therapy
“Transwomen have way better sex than ‘chad’”—“[on estrogen] you will experience multiple full-body orgasms”
The 1,200+ member transmaxxing Discord includes men who have transitioned, those who are merely interested, and everything between. Some men in the Discord are there simply because they have a kink for “forced feminization,” a form of fantasy roleplay in which a man is forced to assume a stereotypically feminine appearance and sexual role. But Vintologi, an admin of the Discord, and the compiler of the transmaxx manifestos, told me that “most active members seem to be on HRT [hormone replacement therapy].” And though he insists that “most of the incel community are against transmaxxing and incels do not participate in our spaces much,” the manifestos and Discord chats suggest that many transmaxxers previously identified as incels. The “Transmaxxing success stories” chapter in the manifesto attests to the existence of an incel-to-transmaxxer pipeline:
“4 years ago I was an edgy, right-wing, anti-SJW teen who was borderline MGTOW [Men Going Their Own Way1]. Now I’m a gay catgirl dating an anarchist transgirl.”
“I was more an incel-ish transphobe than anything. Looking back at my past kinda disgusts me, but now I’m good with myself. Honestly makes me wonder how many incels are in trans denial.”
“I used to run in neckbeard 4chan incel circles. Now my name is Rebecca and I’m a girl. When did that happen?”
Here in the manifesto, and elsewhere in transmaxx spaces, one often finds a strange mix of irony and seriousness. The manifesto is equal parts sober advice about procuring and dosing estrogen, and erotic descriptions of feminization. From the text:
[Y]our pants will be pulled down and soon you will feel a needle inside your muscle and soon the injection, estradiol valerate, it will be slowly absorbed by your body. At first it was just pills given orally, now it's injections and at this point hiding the breasts is very difficult.
Where does the fetish end and the identity begin? It is often difficult to tell. Kat_the_Vat, a YouTuber and member of the transmaxx Discord, suspects the manifesto’s porn talk (and, particularly, fantasies about forced feminization) may serve a practical purpose for would-be transmaxxers.
“[Some] incels need to be, like, forced into [pursuing transition] because they have all of these mental constraints from people around them saying ‘you can’t be a girl, because you’re a man’ [or] ‘you can’t do this because of your penis,’” she told me. “But as [they] transition, [they’re] like, ‘I don’t need to read [the porn part of the manifesto] anymore, let me just skip to the medication section.’”
Mainstream progressive discourse around the nature of dysphoria and trans identities doesn’t take kindly to the idea that porn could convince people to transition, or that gender dysphoria could be induced. If for some men transition could be, as Kat put it, “a route to deincelization”—or, practically, a way for “two young incels [to] transition and then date each other,” as Vintologi described it—then what becomes of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health’s insistence that gender identity is “a person’s intrinsic sense of being male (a boy or a man), female (a girl or a woman), or an alternative gender (e.g., boygirl, girlboy, transgender, genderqueer, eunuch)?” That trans people really just are the gender they claim to be underlies many core contemporary practices related to gender, from prescribing puberty blockers to dysphoric children to declaring pronouns at the start of meetings.
Nor is transmaxxing necessarily amenable to a gender critical account of transgender identities, at least if this account rests on the claim that transition is always a physical and psychological disaster for those who pursue it. The manifesto and Discord are full of personal narratives from people who claim to have radically improved their lives by taking hormones and undergoing feminizing surgeries. As one transmaxxer put it, transition “was like going from watching a movie without colors and sound to watch[ing] a 4K movie with nice audio. I love how orgasms feel now when i am a girl, i didn’t think sex would be this good [sic].”
For Tina, a 23-year-old German transmaxxer who’s been living as a woman for the past year, transition has been a “solution to inceldom.” After suffering a “particularly hard [romantic] rejection” on the heels of “a series of rejections,” she began to investigate “certain patterns in the relationships between men and women.” Tina came to two crucial conclusions: first, that men are replaceable from a reproductive standpoint, and second, “one in 20 men are doomed to become incels” because of the imbalance in the birth sex ratio (on average, 105 boys are born for every 100 girls, though this ratio varies between countries). At this point, Tina felt that she herself was an incel, and decided she needed to “remove the sexual power that women had over [her]” by reducing her sex drive. When she learned that anti-androgens, which suppress testosterone production, are often prescribed to trans women as part of hormone replacement therapy, she decided to fake gender dysphoria in order to access the drug.
“I had never concerned myself with any kind of trans stuff before,” Tina told me, referencing her mindset prior to her decision to transmaxx. But after going to several trans-specialized psychologists and telling her “completely fake” dysphoria story — “the general gist of it is, ‘I’ve had gender dysphoria since I was 14… I’m uncomfortable around women and I envy them for their femaleness and all that kind of shit’” — she received a diagnosis of gender dysphoria and prescriptions for anti-androgens and estrogen.
“It was uncomfortable dressing up like a woman for the first time… but now it’s just normal,” Tina says. “I no longer consider myself an incel… the sex drive reduction worked, the dependency-on-women reduction worked, the self-worth-crisis relief worked. And I even met some nice trans people along the way.” She’s been living full-time as a woman for the past year and recently traveled to Spain for a consultation with a facial feminization surgeon. Since she has been clinically diagnosed with dysphoria, the German government will cover all costs associated with her transition. She estimates these will total around €80,000.2
Where the progressive attitude is that gender identity is innate and has nothing to do with your sex, and the gender-critical attitude is also that gender identity is innate, but has everything to do with your sex, transmaxxing suggests a range of factors might influence a person’s decision to identify as trans and/or pursue transition: gender dysphoria (induced or otherwise); sexual fetishes (e.g. autogynephilia, which the manifesto encourages would-be transmaxxers to develop); a lack of certain highly valued male physical or social traits (having a large penis, being tall or strong, being assertive, being financially successful). It takes a transhumanist approach to transition, suggesting, in Kat’s words, that unhappy men ask themselves “is estrogen going to improve my life, are anti-androgens going to improve my life… it’s not about ‘oh am I innately a boy or a girl?’ or ‘am I stuck [in the wrong body]’… it’s like, ‘do I want to take estrogen and grow boobs?’”
Interestingly, most transmaxx discourse has little to say about women transitioning to men. Vintologi says that he would “ban FtM [female-to-male] transition completely… for the good of society,” citing five reasons why —
In some ways, transmaxxing seems like a possible, albeit extreme, response to what Mary Harrington, taking a note from N.S. Lyons—who in turn takes a note from Christopher Lasch—calls the “class and culture war between ‘Physicals and ‘Virtuals.’” That is, between those who work in the material world and those who work “at a layer of abstraction apart from the physical world” (e.g. finance, media, tech, academia). On Harrington’s reading, deindustrialization has given the Virtuals a decisive upper hand over the Physicals and, in many cases, deprived Physicals of opportunities for financial and social mobility.
Similar analysis seems to underlie the transmaxxing manifesto’s claim that “most males are already obsolete” because “their bodies are no longer needed for physical work and males as a group do not have any major mental advantages over females." But while some (like Harrington and Lyons) consider the triumph of the virtual world over the material world a problem to solve, the transmaxxers see it as inevitable. How should we adapt to a society where the immaterial takes precedence over the concrete? The transmaxx response goes something like this: embrace the abstractions, “drop down the pink vortex,” and remake yourself with the help of technology. As one Discord user put it to a lonely, depressed new member considering whether to transmaxx, “u might as well transition, nothing to lose.”
Editor’s Note: A few superficial details of this story have been altered per the request of subjects.
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Men who eschew relationships with women and separate themselves from mainstream society, which they see as corrupted by feminism.
I verified Tina’s story on a video chat with her where she showed me her German national identity card, a valid prescription for estradiol from a pharmacist that lists her old name, address, and contact info, a letter from a psychologist recommending hormone treatment that lists both her old name and her new name, and proof of her recent visit to a facial surgeon in Spain: the consultation folder, a liability waiver with her new name on it, and a CT scan of her head, with her new name on the scan. In addition, I noted that her appearance did match that of a trans woman who had been taking estrogen for at least several months.