DENVER, COLORADO, November 10, 2023:
Seeing Phil Illy under a hog pile right now, I feel I should tell this story.
Last week, while I was hosting a low-key party for people in town for the Genspect conference, a 60-year-old man with large breasts showed up at my house. He claimed to be a radical feminist woman who had been physically assaulted in Denver for expressing trans-critical views.
This alarmed Nina Paley, who swept Corinna Cohn upstairs to talk about what to do.
In the meantime, I chatted with the man and tried to find out if we had mutual friends. He had worked as a local journalist and had been a member of the Denver Press Club, he said. I was pretty sure he was trolling me. (Friends later combed public records and confirmed his biographical details.)
This guy. His eyes locked onto me and seemed to not blink. He spoke in an excited, high-pitched voice. He leaned close to my face when I tried to maintain polite distance.
“I can’t hear you,” he said. “Can we go somewhere private?”
I didn’t want to be rude, but I was concerned about the safety of my guests. I led him to the front door. I told him he should leave. He argued with me. I led him onto the front porch.
We stood on the porch for about two minutes (according to security video) as I explained why I wanted him to go. Some of my guests had received threats from trans activists, I said, and I suspected he was allied with them. He argued with me.
I asked him to sit on the front steps with me. We sat. I tried to be calm as I told him again why he ought to leave. Nina and Corinna saw us on the steps and joined us.
“We’re on the same team,” Corinna said.
“What team?” he asked.
“Team trans. We’re both trans.”
The man denied being trans. He said he was a woman. Corinna, Nina, and I advised him to go. I went inside to grab his coat and bag. He followed closely behind me, took his things, and left without incident.
He later sent emails to Nina and Corinna expressing dismay and describing sexual violence. Nina sensed from the start that this man fantasized about being an abused woman.
In other words, he’s an example of what some people might call “a creepy autogynephile,” or AGP.
I was upset by the episode, and I was disquieted by something more. Specifically, one of my relatives — a young man — says he’s a woman. I grieve and worry that one day he might be regarded by others as “a creepy AGP.” I’m horrified to think the guy on my doorstep serves as a role model for the next generation of AGPs.
I’m actively looking for positive examples among gay, AGP, and trans males to inspire my loved one to live a fulfilling, responsible, respectful life.
At the Genspect conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Phil Illy, author of Autoheterosexual: Attracted to Being the Other Sex. I have not read the whole book. I can’t say I agree with or even understand his premise. But I like Phil.
He wore robin’s egg nail polish and blue sneakers with a blue velvet gown. His dress emphasized the broadness of his shoulders. He looked similar to my young relative — taller than most people, more athletic than most, and unmistakably male — a man in a dress.
In the hotel bar, I asked Phil if he was trolling everyone. He grinned. “What do you mean?”
Phil claims to present “a superior model of transgenderism” — so superior, in fact, that it runs counter to prevailing trans narratives. Phil told me he doesn’t use women’s bathrooms. He doesn’t regard himself as female. He isn’t pursuing hormones or surgeries, he said, because he’s a realist. He knows he will never be a woman. He will never “pass” as one. This hurts, he said, but he has to accept it.
His position seems simultaneously pro-trans and counter-trans. Meaning, he’s getting everyone’s goat.
Phil alluded to being adept at performance art and circus acrobatics. He’s putting on a good show, I’d say. I bought him a drink. Pleasant fellow.
Now, some people online are accusing Phil of being a creepy AGP because he wore dresses at Genspect.
On the AGP creepiness scale, I award my doorstep AGP five out of ten stars for moderate creepiness. Phil, by contrast, wins zero stars. I felt no creepiness from Phil Illy.