Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
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Trans and Gay terminology musings

Psychologists need to clean up their parlance

I want to plead for us sharpening the terms we use in the area of sexuality. I’m not seeking a discussion — who has time for that? Not you.

Nuances are important in therapy but not so for our discussion about better basic phrases so I’ll talk in broad terms. Let’s acknowledge though, that adopting the crude categories Cis/Trans and Straight/Gay/Bi can be liberating to some, but oppressive to others.

A. Trans

I would like to request that you stop (co-)using the term “gender dysphoria” since there are two wrong words in this two-word phrase.

1. It’s not the gender that gives displeasure, but rather a deviating biological sex does. So, if anything, it should be called “sex dysphoria.” (Or to distinguish it from sexuality, “biological sex dysphoria,” BSD.)

Using “gender dysphoria” says that the essence would be the biological sex and that if there is a difference with the gender, the gender is the trouble-maker, makes trans people unhappy. That is untrue because trans-gender identity can’t be changed while sex appearance can be.

2. Who says that a difference between gender and biological sex must give unhappiness? When someone’s body doesn’t look like the way they see themselves, this may give others confusion and potentially stress. But are they “obligated” to be stressed about that themselves? Some people hate Jews but that doesn’t make me “dislike” being one.

Please, instead, (suggest to) use: “Gender Sex Discrepancy” (GSD). It’s pure and truthful, I believe. It also makes clear that much of the stress around Trans comes from Transphobia, not from any GSD.

NB: The whole idea that trans people should look like either female or male is a dictatorship of normalcy all over again. For more: Is It Rational to Be Transgender?, Thinking About Policy – Hormones and Operations.

B. Gay

Much of the confusion around the term Gay comes from it being used indiscriminately for two completely different things: 1. Sexual preference (dreams, wishes, self-identification) and 2. Sexual practice.

It’s not true that all gay practice betrays gay sexual identity (like in a case of a straight guy with an addiction to or habit of gay sex or in case of “situational” or “pseudo-homosexuality”). And, reversely, sexual preference may not always translate into matching sexual action.

It seems that therapists and researchers almost exclusively use Gay for sexual action. This obfuscates the deeper issue of sexual preference. Sexual habits can be changed, to a certain degree, but sexual orientation cannot. It is neuro-anatomically imprinted from a young age.

I understand that action is easier to measure, especially because so many people lie about their sexual preference (but also about their sexual activities). But still, using Gay mostly for action makes one miss the essence, that there is immutable sexual preference/orientation.

NB: In case of Trans people, the words Gay and Straight can be very confusing. Shall we popularize the terms androphile and gynophile? These words could also change our perspective by grouping Straight Cis Women with Gay Cis Men and Gay Cis Women with Straight Cis Men.

C. Bi

The same counts for the term Bisexual. Bisexual activity doesn’t always mean: no sexual preference. There is a world of difference between 1. the many Straight men who also enjoy Gay sex on the side, 2. the high percentage of Gay (wo)men who try their luck at Straight sex, 3. the small number of Straight women who want to get away from sex with men in favor of intimacy with women, 4. people who can have pleasant but calm sex with both genders, and 5. the tiny percentage of men and larger percentage of women who can have intense sexual feelings and attachment regardless of the gender/sex of their sexual partners.

For more on the difference between sexual action and sexual being, see point 1. and 2. in: There are four completely distinct reasons for outrage about reparative therapy.

D: Deep Attachment

The liberal attitude that therapists should espouse that in sexually all is possible, may make us forget that sexuality can help many people to bond deeply. I know that sex can be done in many ways, including outside of steady relationships. Yet, in steady sexual relationships, bonding through sex is a powerful possibility. Our awareness that sex can be done in endless numbers of ways may make us less aware of what really lies at the core of sexual preference: bonding. I’ll explain.

There is a major misunderstanding that neuro-anatomically ingrained sexual orientation would express itself quintessentially in a (partial) inability or dislike for sexuality with one gender. If this were true, there would not be such a thing as immutable sexual orientation since inability and dislike are for many people very much open to therapy and change.

Rather, sexual orientation towards one and only one gender must mean that one is capable of having intense sexuality leading to a deep attachment to sexual partners of the gender/sex of one’s sexual preference but not to the other. It seems that real love, commitment, and sexual satisfaction may still be possible with the other gender/sex but for that person not, cementing the relationship. (But if the other partner does have a partner in accordance with their sexual preference, s/he alone may bond alright.) This lack of sexual fusion leads many dis-orientated partners, sooner or later, to look for an appropriate partner, fitting their sexual orientation because the loneliness becomes unbearable, and not for lack of true love, commitment or sexual satisfaction.

I wonder if the terms sexual orientation and sexual preference should not be upgraded to sexual gender preference (SGP). Other preferences, like for body type or eye color, seem often modifiable by therapy or just change over time while sexual gender preference does not.

A sharper use of terms could help against confusions that could make us unhappy.

About the Author
MM is a prolific and creative writer and thinker, an almost daily blog contributor to the Times of Israel, and previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. He often makes his readers laugh, mad, or assume he's nuts—close to perfect blogging. He's proud that his analytical short comments are removed both from left-wing and right-wing news sites. * As a frontier thinker, he sees things many don't yet. He's half a prophet. Half. Let's not exaggerate. He doesn't believe that people observe and think in a vacuum. He, therefore, wanted a broad bio that readers interested can track a bit about what (lack of) backgrounds, experiences, and education contribute to his visions. * To find less-recent posts on subject XXX among his over 1550 archived ones, go to the right-top corner of a Times of Israel page, click on the search icon and search "zuiden, XXX". One can find a second, wilder blog, to which one may subscribe, here: * Like most of his readers, he believes in being friendly, respectful, and loyal. Yet, if you think those are his absolute top priorities, you might end up disappointed. His first loyalty is to the truth. He will try to stay within the limits of democratic and Jewish law, but he won't lie to support opinions or people who don't deserve that. He admits that he sometimes exaggerates to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quite a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * Sometimes he's misunderstood because his wide and diverse field of vision seldomly fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what some love about him. He has written a lot about Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (including basic statistics), Politics (Israel, the US, and the Netherlands, Activism), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, LGBTQIA+, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust, and Jewish Liberation), the Climate Crisis, Ecology and Veganism, Affairs from the news, or the Torah Portion of the Week, or new insights that suddenly befell him. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach, and, lehavdil bein chayim lechayim, Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff, and Rav Meir Lubin. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, and disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed. He aims to bring a fresh perspective rather than harp on the obvious and familiar. He loves to write encyclopedic overviews. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds should be disputed. In short, his main political positions are among others: anti-Trumpism, anti-elitism, anti-bigotry and supremacy, for Zionism, Intersectionality, and non-violence, anti those who abuse democratic liberties, anti the fake ME peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, pro-Science, pro-Free Will, anti-blaming-the-victim, and for down-to-earth, classical optimism, and happiness. * He is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (, born in 1953 to parents who were Dutch-Jewish Holocaust survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork. He grew up a humble listener. It took him decades to become a speaker too. Bullies and con artists almost instantaneously envy and hate him. * He holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam) – is half a doctor. He practices Re-evaluation Co-counseling since 1977, is not an official teacher anymore, and became a friendly, empowering therapist. He became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids non-violently. For a couple of years, he was active in hasbara to the Dutch-speaking public. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's being a strict vegan since 2008. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. He lives with his library in Jerusalem. Feel free to contact him. * His writing has been made possible by a (second-generation) Holocaust survivors' allowance from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. If you're a native English speaker and wonder why you should read from people whose English is only their second language, consider the advantage of having an original peek outside of your cultural bubble.
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