Satire: The 7DS Theory of Transsexuality

[editor's note: Because a college student wrote with a serious question believing this was a serious theory, let me be more clear: this essay is a joke. Satire. Humor. Comedy. It is a subtle parody of theories about transsexuals. It is not meant to be taken seriously, although as with any parody, it exposes the ridiculousness of similar theories like Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence.

Karen wrote the following in 2000 as a wonderfully tongue-in-cheek satire of "academic" attempts to categorize transsexuals. Within each of the seven categories, it fortuitously worked out that there were exactly two subsets, thus bringing perfect scientific symmetry and natural order to this insightful taxonomy. -AJ]


Why do some people choose to undergo the torments and tribulations, the pain, the marginalization, the ridicule, the financial and emotional expense of reassigning their gender? What could possibly impel someone to seek such an extreme body modification? Is gender identity innate, or can it shift over time? (Might some people have an innate gender identity that shifts over time?) The process is tedious, the outcome startling: why, in short, would anyone bother?

Recent academic theory has suggested that only the sex drive could provide a strong enough motive, and divides male-to-female transsexuals into two groups according to their sexuality. However, this perspective does not take into consideration the relative strengths of different drives in different people. I would like to suggest that it is therefore only one special case of a larger theory.


For the sex drive, of course, is only the least of the Seven Deadly Sins.

If it be strong enough to thrust its victims into gender dysphoria, then how much more could the other six do! Indeed, the Seven Deadly Sins, and their corresponding virtues, provide a very convenient framework for dividing all transsexuals into not two, but fourteen groups, depending on which aspect of which sin comprises their base motivation. Conveniently, this approach also imposes a set of implicit moral judgments, eliminating the need to consider any transsexual as an individual.

Naturally, I propose this theory only for the advancement of knowledge, and would be horrified to learn of any social rifts or human experimentation which may result.



Lust is the pursuit of excessive physical delights, and according to Dante, the closest sin to salvation. Specifically, it is the sin of excessive love for earthly pleasures, whose corresponding virtue is chastity. This is the psychological theory from which I have abstracted the other twelve categories.

People who transition from lust fall into one of two groups:

(1) "Autogynephilic" (or, presumably, "Autoandrophilic") transsexuals have fetishized the process of gender reassignment, and transition in order to satisfy their lust.

(2) "Homosexual" transsexuals are so attracted to members of their own biological sex that they cannot function sexually before transition. In effect, they are excessively chaste, and transition in order to express their lust at all.


Gluttony is the pursuit of unending quantities of the necessities of life, such as food and friendship, without valuing the quality of what one already possesses. It is the sin of excessive love for earthly sustenance. Dante circumlocutes the question of gluttony's corresponding virtue; in Purgatorio 24:151-54 he writes, "Beati cum alluma / tanto di grazia, che l'amor del gusto / nel petto lor troppo disir non fuma, / esuriendo sempre quanto giusto!" Roughly, this describes temperance.

People who transition from gluttony fall into one of two groups:

(3) "Teiresian" transsexuals find that having only one gender throughout their lives is simply not enough of a range. They transition in order to accumulate the experience of both.

(4) "Intersexed" transsexuals were born with indeterminate or absent sexual characteristics. Having neither gender to start off with, nor a surgeon who assigned them one at birth, they transition in order to normalize their gender experience and endocrine systems.


Avarice is the overweening pursuit of material wealth, without regard to the people one must tromp on to attain it. It is the sin of excessive love for earthly goods, whose corresponding virtue is justice.

People who transition from avarice fall into one of two groups:

(5) "Ulterior" transsexuals have something to gain on the side. They transition in order to secure an inheritance, or to win a large sum of money on a wager.

(6) "Outlaw" transsexuals transition as part of a political stand on gender issues. Unable to separate their personal and political lives, they change their sex in order to speak with authority on such topics as trans rights and gender socialization.


Sloth is the lack of desire to improve one's physical or spiritual lot in life. It is the sin of deficient love, whose corresponding virtue is zeal.

People who transition from sloth fall into one of two groups:

(7) "Therapeutic" transsexuals use obscure psychological disorders and support groups as an excuse not to have to deal with any of their real problems. Eventually they reach gender dysphoria, and transition in order to continue avoiding responsibility for themselves.

(8) "Impulsive" transsexuals simply cannot resist a new adventure. They transition because, after hang-gliding blindfolded over live volcanoes in the Amazon jungle, it sounds like fun.


Wrath is the desire to hurt people and destroy things, as though that would solve anything. It is the sin of perverted love for vengeance and harm, whose corresponding virtue is meekness.

Those who transition from anger fall into two groups:

(9) "Misanthropic" transsexuals cannot stand their biological sex. They transition in the belief that anything would be better.

(10) "Submissive" transsexuals have lost their genitalia to accident or disease, and do not want to argue with Fate by pursuing reconstructive surgery. They transition because it seems to be the way things are going anyhow.


Envy is the desire to share in the possessions and good fortune of others, or even to take them away. It is the sin of perverted love for the downfall of others, whose corresponding virtue is generosity.

Those who transition from envy fall into two groups:

(11) "Gramoviridious" transsexuals are convinced that the other biological sex has total control over society. They transition in order to exert male privilege, to enroll in affirmative action programs, or simply to visit the better washroom.

(12) "Codependent" transsexuals realize that their parents always wanted a child of the opposite gender, or occasionally that their spouse is gay. They transition to fulfill someone else's dream.


Pride is the excessive valuing of oneself. Dante holds pride as the deadliest of the deadly sins: that of perverted love for one's own aggrandizement, whose corresponding virtue is humility.

Those who transition from pride fall into two groups:

(13) "Stubborn" transsexuals came out as transsexual once in company, and cannot bear to admit they were wrong. They transition so that they will not have to eat their words.

(14) "Innate" transsexuals really do belong to another gender, and have done nothing more than identify this. They transition so that they may properly align their minds and bodies.


Diagnosing these various conditions must rely on a wide range of assessment methods. Very few subjects -- notably Impulsive (type 8) transsexuals -- are both open and honest about their motivation. Nevertheless, by turning the conversation to gender issues, the skilled interviewer can provoke distinctive rants from Outlaw (type 6), Misanthropic (type 9), and Gramoviridious (type 11) transsexuals.

Some conditions, such as Intersexed (type 4) or Submissive (type 10) transsexualism, are accompanied by obvious medical stigmata; while others, such as Homosexual (type 2) or Teiresian (type 3) transsexualism, reveal themselves in a standard psychiatric examination.

Autogynephilic (type 1), Therapeutic (type 7), and Stubborn (type 13) transsexuals all exhibit cognate psychological symptoms, which can be separately tested for: for instance, the Stubborn transsexual will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid being caught in an inconsistency. Codependent (type 12) transsexuals become evident when one observes their home life. Ulterior (type 5) transsexuals can usually be unmasked with standard surveillance equipment.

Perhaps the trickiest of all is the Innate (type 14) transsexual. Identifying such individuals is extremely difficult, as there are no clinical tests which infallibly determine a person's gender. However, since they probably make up no more than one fourteenth (7.1%) of the total, most researchers will seldom encounter one. In the initial assessment, it is always safer to proceed with an alternate diagnosis.

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