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Apr 18 2012

HAUNTED SHAPESHIFTING RING TRANSGENDER HORMONE SPELL! Buy it now: $46.00 USD

“Become the opposite sex and finally be at peace”

So I was poking around on e-bay looking for a little trans pride flag button to go with my Die Cis Scum jacket, now on the way in the mailsies (thanks Dallilama!) and happened to stumble across an enormous number of items being sold under the pretense of having the magic power to change their wearer (or caster?) into the “opposite sex”, or simply into a woman. And not just one or two little items. “Metaphysical” is one of the most densely populated categories for the search term “transgender”.

What spooks me perhaps the most is how many of these sellers have highly positive feedback ratings. What breaks my heart the most are little comments like “Great product! Can’t wait to see the results!”

Poking around, it seems the item descriptions are very, very carefully worded. They imply the magical ability to turn you physically into your identified sex but nonetheless can be interpreted to have only explicitly offered “guidance” or confidence or whatever on the journey through transition.

This fits in with one of the common ways that magic will be justified as having worked. That it uses what’s available in the world. So, if you buy this product, it obviously does nothing whatsoever, but the experience somehow pushes you a little further along in your process of accepting the need to transition, and you eventually DO actually transition (through sciencey things that actually DO stuff, like dissolving candy-tasting estradiol tablets under your tongue), the magic can ultimately be said to have “worked” but simply through “mysterious means”. Or the seller can simply say the item just “magically” gave you a greater sense of clarity in your gender identification, or helped in the process of your “female spirit” gaining the strength to someday be embodied.

Or hell, if they were really, really awful (and stooping to such vile depths as to actually sell such a product, and make a regular business of doing so, kind of already establishes that), they could claim it DID work. Just rather than turning from you a man into a woman what it did was turned you from a woman into a man and altered the world so strongly to accommodate this change that it also gave you the memories of having always been a man. Ta-da!

The ring I mentioned above doesn’t even bother with these rhetorical loopholes, though (other than the usual “you must genuinely believe” get-out-of-jail-free card). This is what’s in the item description:

This magickal item is cast with an amazing Transgender Hormone Spell. This spell is extremely potent and only for those who want to make serious changes physically and mentally! If you feel like you are trapped within your own body, as if you were meant to be born the opposite sex, this spell can help you become the man or woman you always felt like you should be. This spell works equally as well for both sexes. If you are a man wanting to become a woman; the powers of this spell will give you a higher production of Estrogen in your body — your voice will become softer and you will lose facial hair. You will began to grow breasts and your male anatomy will get smaller, eventually forming a full female vagina. For women, your Testosterone will increase — your voice will become deeper, you will grow hair on your face and on your chest. Your breasts disappear and your vagina will grow into a penis. You will have full sexual ability and your partners will never be able to tell that you were once a different gender. Most importantly, this spell will give you self-confidence and self-esteem. You will become happy with yourself and feel comfortable within your own skin. Please understand this is a process, you cannot simply put the ring on and change your entire gender. This spell is extremely powerful and to be handled with care and caution.

(ummm… estrogen doesn’t raise a deepened voice, affect facial hair, or turn penises into vaginas, nor does testosterone make breasts disappear or cause vaginas to grow into penises- though a degree of clitoral growth is common)

But you know what’s really creepy? The number of items suggests this is a common, successful and profitable practice.

I don’t think I really need to go too much into how absolutely vile and disgustingly exploitative this kind of thing is. To deliberately target a group who are extremely vulnerable, going through intense suffering, terrified of the risks and shame and stigma associated with the only established options, possibly intensely hating themselves for having these feelings in the first place, and feeling utterly completely hopeless and desperate for any answer, and then seek to profit from the degree to which that vulnerability, pain, fear and desperation compromises their ability to think critically about the con you’re offering them?! The level of avarice and casual willingness to exploit some of the absolute worst suffering a human being can endure (and often fail to endure), often thereby deepening and perpetuating that suffering, either miring them in false hopes or slapping them across the face with a reminder of the impossibility of any of the answers they want, and taking their money in the process, is absolutely sociopathic. You could do better to simply mug someone. At least then you’re not twisting the knife in their deepest wound.

From the ring-seller, Lotharian Magick, again:

We pride ourselves in being Honest Sellers that you can Trust! If you ever have any questions or concerns, please send me a message right away! We promise to work with you to resolve any issues you may have until you are completely satisfied. Customer service is my number one priority! I truly care about ever single one of my clients. Upon the purchase of any one of my items, you will not only receive a great treasure with true powers and energies, but you will also gain a friend who will be happy to help you with any of your concerns to the best of my abilities. 

But who would actually believe this kind of tripe? Who would allow themselves to be so exploited? We all know that our world doesn’t work like Ranma 1/2, Whateley , Switch, Zerophilia or Misfile. So how could someone allow themselves to believe in such a possibility to the extent that they’d hand over $46.00 (or, as in some of the listed spells, $99.00) without realizing it’s an obvious con?

Well, we all could.

Skeptics have a bit of a bad habit of viewing gullibility as an innate characteristic, typically viewing people as being in varying degrees either skeptics or suckers, with people towards one end of the spectrum easier to fool than people towards the other end. But that’s REALLY not how it works. Rather gullibility, and related things like taking a given concept on faith, intuition or “common sense”, willingness to accept a presented idea uncritically, or reluctance to question an existing belief, are all contextual matters, directly relative to the degree to which someone either wants or needs that belief. Rather than certain people being simply more critical thinkers than others, all human beings will hold or reject beliefs on the basis of the psychological (or socioloogical) rewards of maintaining it and the psychological or sociological costs of abandoning it.

Even the most critical, skeptical, cynical, untrusting of people will become eager to accept an idea when she’s desperate enough for it to be true. This is why it becomes especially dangerous when cults or religions (not that I see much difference between them other than degree of cultural approval) target for conversion people who are in particularly emotionally vulnerable states, and why these organizations know this is a winning strategy, and have a marked preference for such targets. But it’s not always an either / or scenario. It occurs in degrees.

Nonetheless, a situation like gender dysphoria presents on the very extreme end of this spectrum. Contextually speaking, it is the perfect vulnerability, and mocking or deriding someone as “gullible” or “stupid” for buying into something that would be heartbreaking to reject is extremely callous, arrogant, and ignorant of the ways that belief operates in all of us. Truthfully speaking, I did make wishes- on stars and birthday cakes and 11:11 and every other possible context, as did I pray, for exactly the easy answer to my desires that these cons offer. I honestly can’t say that if my 15 year-old self had had an ebay account and a little disposable money that “he” wouldn’t have bid on one of these.

Little gullible desperate me.

Understanding the process of belief, how and why human beings arrive at belief, should be one of the principal areas of inquiry for any movement calling itself Skepticism. But sadly we ourselves are exactly as quick to base our beliefs upon what is preferable or more psychologically and socially rewarding to believe: that we are inherently less susceptible to such deceptions, regardless of context, and implicitly more clever and rational than their victims. If we have any genuine claim to the term “skeptic” and our rickety sense of superiority, we should be able to abandon this self-congratulatory belief and recognize that under the right conditions, we’re also susceptible to the simple human processes of finding our comforts where we can, and abandoning critical inquiry when it becomes synonymous with heartbreak and hopelessness… or alienation and loss.

It’s easy to laugh at those who are victimized by those who do understand how human belief operates, and how “gullibility” is contextual and exasperated by vulnerability, fear and need. It’s easy to position ourselves as above their “bad decisions”. But calling oneself a skeptic should be explicitly dependent on not simply engaging in the easy analysis of a situation. Not allowing the privilege of being welcomed easily into the medical establishment to point and laugh at a victim of pumping and ask “why would they do that? Why not just see a real doctor?”. Nor allowing the privilege of never having experienced a burning, pressing, consuming, inescapable desire, passion and need that seemed literally impossible, only realizable through magic, to allow us to consider ourselves smarter than those who would be taken in by the promise that magic is literally real and can indeed answer that desire, passion and need.

That’s kind of what privilege does. Makes you fail to consider context, and take the way a given issue operates for you and use it to project simplistic, biased prescriptions and condemnations onto those whose circumstances cause the issue to operate differently.

It’s not a very good example of critical thinking. In fact it’s quite the opposite. But I understand, and I know that’s hard to accept. Accepting that your ability to avoid being exploited like this is at least as much about good fortune as perceptiveness, accepting that under the right circumstances you could be just as easily exploited, and accepting there’s nothing about you inherently more skeptical or rational than anyone else, exacts high psychological costs, and ignoring it presents nice psychological rewards. The simplified world of skeptics and suckers offers us what we need to believe. We buy the ring. What’s $46.00?

137 comments

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  1. 1
    OverlappingMagisteria

    I’m confused. The ring will turn a man into a woman and a woman into a man. If you leave it on too after you transition once, will you transition back? Could you cycle back and forth between the two genders indefinitely? That could be very interesting.

    1. 1.1
      genuinely curious

      you might undergo some form of gender rabi oscillation-

      But really- the concept of selling faux magic transgender rings-

      Who thinks of that? I’d be first to admit that as cis, the idea seems absurd- but that’s privelidge talking.

      Looking at what Natalie says it’d be like selling magical cancer curing rings- (is there a market for those on ebay?)

      But to recognise that buisness opportunity you’d have to be strongly connected and/or assoicated with the trans community.

      and still, you’d either have to

      a) empithise readily with trans people, and STILL choose to shamelessly exploit their desperation

      or

      b) genuinely belive that this stuff works.

      I hope it’s option b)

      1. Sebor

        Would gender rabi oscillation allow you to replace the gender binary with a gender Bloch sphere? So in order to get back to your original gender you would have to transition three times, and not just once?

      2. Natalie Reed

        Yes, Lotharian Magick also sells things like anti-aging and physical-ailment rings.

        And no, I REALLY don’t think you have to be all that in touch with the trans community to see a business opportunity. All it takes is the basic understanding that some people really, really want to change their sex. And perhaps hang around the “magick” community long enough to notice people requesting such spells.

        A search term I’ve gotten a couple times has been “transitioning by magic” (or similar). It’s not exactly kept in the Secret Vault Of Tranny Wisdom.

        1. genuinely curious

          yeah okay that makes sense- I donno- I suppose I never associated ‘magic’ with major measurable effects (such as transition or curing physical ailments etc)

          Whenever I’ve come across it before it’s always been stuff like “improve your confidence” or “become slightly better at attracting women” or something really placebo-ish.

          I guess the idea that somone would sell something like this with no possibility of it even being *mistaken* to work seemed a little ‘out there’ for me. I guess I’m sheltered.

          I mean I’d heard of tings like faith healing- but that always seemed like something ‘far away’ wheras ebay is a site I can log onto right now and purchase as many magical transition-rings as my bank account can handle.

          1. Natalie Reed

            I’ve got a slight temptation to order it to either keep as a memento reminder of how horrible people can be, or to give away as a prize for whoever solves my next set of puzzles or something.

          2. Caravelle

            @Natalie : I hope you don’t allow this temptation to increase. Those people don’t care that the buyer is a true believer or being ironic; they just want to sell something near-worthless for 46 dollars. If even a single person buys a single one of those rings, they’ve won. And I’d say this is a case where if they win, we all lose. They wouldn’t do this if it didn’t make them money after all.

            I’d suggest getting some rings that look exactly like that one. It’s nice-looking enough after all, not that I have any taste in those matters. On the one hand you’d think you lose the irony points because it isn’t the actual ring, but really I’d say it doubles the irony points, because the actual ring isn’t the actual ring either, in that it isn’t magic as it claims to be.

            Actually make that triple irony points, because when giving the ring out for prizes you’d be giving out a fake of a fake, which you’ll agree is a much better way of memorializing that object than giving out the authentic one.

          3. Natalie Reed

            I’m not actually going to act on the temptation, no. $46.00 is a fairly significant sum to someone in my position, and not the kind of thing I should throw away on a whim.

    2. 1.2
      Anders

      It oscillates with the energy frequencies of your subconscious desires and and thus changes your form. You see, humans exist in a superposition between male and female and by applying the right energies to the quantum net that makes up our soul we can force the superposition into another state. A state better resonates with your soul.

      tl; dr I don’t know what I’m talking about but I’m good at making shit up and I don’t really care about the suckers.

      1. Emily

        Wow, it looks like you just made up a nice bit of Quantum Woo there…

        1. Anders

          It’s the new paradigm, baby. The world is a quantum wave and all we need to do is think the right way and things will come to us. So how do you know if you’re not thinking right? Well, if your life isn’t perfect that’s a clear indication. Fortunately, I have a book that can help you…

          1. Emily

            Life’s going quite wonderfully, actually, but I think that’s the Estrogen ;)

  2. 2
    Sebor

    Maybe I should start selling macigal rings that make the wearer less gullible. That way I could make a living until actual results can be observed…

    1. 2.1
      Natalie Reed

      If actual results are observed, then clearly your rings DID work, and they can’t get angry for having been conned. ;)

      1. Sebor

        Time to draft a business plan, now where did I leave my crayons …

        1. Natalie Reed

          Oooh! I want to invest! Let me get my piggybank…

          1. Erin W

            Yeah, I’m afraid my next SNR donation is gonna have to go to the Sebor Kickstarter now. Sorry, Natalie!

  3. 3
    Azure-

    Only 46 dollars? How did I not know about this! Gosh, and here I was worrying about how on earth I’d ever pay for (or even recieve!) conventional medical treatment!

    Life = solved.

  4. 4
    Miri

    My 15 year old self would have totally bought this crap. I was really into Wicca, and magick (I had the totally legit Necronomicon, downloaded from the interenet), and such and such bullshit. All because I thought (hoped) that I could either transform by body through magic, or use it to swap bodies with someone else… I can easily understand the desperation that would bring someone to buy something like this. I probably would have bought it, and then blamed myself when there was no effect, you know “maybe I’m just no supposed to be a girl…”. I would have been better served by stealing estrogen pills…

  5. 5
    Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

    I’m with you there on the fact that a 15-year old me would’ve bought one of these in a heart beat. Added onto the fact I was closeting myself ridiculously well, I was also a fundie non-skeptic moron back then, so I’d have thought it would be working on me.

    Clearly I was a fool. A desparate, gullible fool.

    1. 5.1
      Natalie Reed

      No. Just desperate.

      1. Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

        I was also a fundamentalist Christian.

        1. Anders

          And you would have bought a magical ring that would doom you to Hell? That’s some serious desperation…

          1. Xanthë, Amy of my threads

            I hope this gives a sense of the level of desperation that is being exploited by these peddlers of shite. (And for trans people – some of them at least – clutching at any remedy is a bit “any port in a storm”, i.e. if it works, we don’t care how it works until the consequences outweigh the benefits.)

            Is Lotharian Magick brazenly cynical enough to sell magical artifacts to cancer sufferers, or is that too close to being prohibited by regulation?

          2. A. Person

            Oh yes. I grew up Catholic, not fundamentalist, but I was trying supernatural methods left and right. I figured it was one of those things that confession was there for. Now that I think about it, if I had succeeded, I’m not sure what I would have done if the priest told me to transition back as a part of the penance.

            More broadly, there is quite a bit of fiction about the religious conflict of being presented with a magical/Satanic solution for gender dysphoria.

          3. Anders

            IIRC, they can’t promise cures for any recognized medical condition. But GID is a recognized medical condition, so if anyone would care to you can probably shut them down. Don’t expect any thanks from the trans people who are earnestly bidding on the ring, though. How would you have reacted?

  6. 6
    Brittany

    It’s a little hard for me to believe that this ad is actually an attempt to trick Transgender people into buying the ring. Instead, I think the entire point is to MAKE FUN of Transgender people instead by some idiot (possibly anti-trans) cis person trying to make a “point” on just how stupid/impossible it is for someone to really change their “God-given” gender… I don’t think this is really aimed at TG people at all, but instead like-minded bigoted idiots who feel we are “completely ridiculous”…

    1. 6.1
      Natalie Reed

      That’s more than a little naively optimistic. Look HOW MANY of these items are being sold. There’s not THAT MANY ebay sellers all constantly having the same idea for a joke. Also read the item description. And visit the Lotharian Magick store. This is one of many successful, thriving businesses.

      1. Anders

        Over at the SGU someone posted about breast enhancement and penis enlargement spells. “A fool and his money are soon parted”, And we’re all fools from time to time. And if it’s something we want and need to be true…

      2. Brittany

        I still don’t really believe that it is totally aimed only at TG people – but I will admit that I have always been the very worst kind of skeptic. They have sold many items, but most of those items were described as “gender changing” but for something else — like ‘win the lottery’ or ‘get the perfect figure’ — or other obvious BS that very few people would actually ever believe. After looking at all the other items they sell, I have to say that this probably was NOT aimed as a “joke” against TG people either. I think the reason they HAVE sold so many items is NOT because of their obvious false promises, but because the jewelry is nice. People buy the rings (or whatever) for the rings. I just can’t believe that many people would really believe their obvious false promises — but then again, I’m sure there ARE a few who do — but VERY few…

        I guess being the skeptic I am also makes me “naively optimistic”…

        1. Brittany

          Sorry, I meant “were NOT described as “gender changing” but were for something else…

        2. Caravelle

          I can’t really empathize with the idea that those things ARE actually magic and WILL actually work.

          What I absolutely can empathize with, as a skeptic, is the idea that those things might work.

          After all, we can never be certain of anything. Every piece of knowledge has a confidence interval associated, even if it’s at the basic “…we might be in the Matrix!” level.

          Of course every skeptic knows this isn’t a reason to believe anything – you should judge how likely something is, weigh the consequences of something being true/false with the likelihoods in some appropriate manner and then behave accordingly.

          The problem is that knowing how unlikely something is is quite hard. Having an emotional “gut feeling” of how unlikely something is that matches your intellectual judgment is hard as well, and “gut feeling” plays more in such decisions than intellectual judgment.

          Even when you have all the information at hand, it sometimes takes a kind of epiphany or special effort of really thinking it through before you realize that something you thought was quite unlikely is actually very very VERY INCREDIBLY unlikely.

          I’ve studied and read a whole lot about science. I’ve also thought of it thoroughly and related what I learned to my own life. I relate it to metaphysical questions. Thanks to this knowledge I can look at that ring and think “there is no fucking way a ring can change your gender”. More lately I’ve also read a lot of skeptical sources, and learn about all the different scams that are out there and how we know they’re scams. So I can look at that ring and think “this is clearly and obviously a scam”.

          If I didn’t have all this information, and I think most people don’t, what I would think would be “wow, a ring changing my gender sure sounds unlikely”. Or “huh, I bet that’s a scam”.

          Now if I had this level of uncertainty, and it also happened to be VERY VERY VERY VERY important to me to change my gender, and I couldn’t see any other way of doing it (or ways that were much harder and more expensive than 46 dollars on ebay), what I would think next is “Well, I’m pretty sure a ring won’t change my gender, and odds are this is a scam, but what if it isn’t? 46 dollars isn’t that much… it’s worth a try !”

          Where I went wrong was in overestimating the odds of the thing being true. And while that alone won’t hurt anybody, if you multiply that with a very high utility placed on the unlikely outcome, you get your irrational behavior. But the thing is, the only way to correctly estimate the odds of the thing being true is to have A LOT of knowledge about the world, skepticism and scams. And that’s not something people are born with.

          1. Brittany

             “…the only way to correctly estimate the odds of the thing being true is to have A LOT of knowledge about the world, skepticism and scams. And that’s not something people are born with.”

            While it is true that people are NOT born with a knowledge of scams, MOST people who are over the age of 10-years old do NOT believe in “magic.” I realize that there ARE a few who probably do, but out of that very small percentage there is probably an incredibly small percentage of those who are Transgender – and out of THAT small group even less who would identify as Transsexual (who actually want to change their bodies). Out of that INCREDIBLY small number of Transsexual people who believe in magic AND also believe the ring “might” actually work – how many of those would ever chance their way onto eBay to SEE this ring and buy it?! I can’t even imagine what a small number of people that would be in the end, but I would be surprised if it was even ONE! THIS is why I say that MOST (if NOT damn near ALL) of these rings are no doubt bought by people (Trans or not) who like them as jewelry — and NOT Transsexual people who would be stupid/ignorant enough to actually believe that the magic in them “might work” and “only cost $45 so why not”…

            Maybe I AM just being “naively optimistic,” but I still still believe the VAST majority of these rings are being sold for reasons OTHER than how they are being advertised. I also give the VAST MAJORITY of Transsexual people more credit than to be naive enough to fall for this…

          2. Anders

            $46 is not a trivial sum. At least not to me. And if people are desperate enough to inject cement then they can surely be desperate enough to buy into this.

            Who knows? It might work. Sure, it’s incredibly unlikely, but it might work. And even if it doesn’t it’s not an ugly ring. Maybe I can wear it later. Also, it might work.

          3. Caravelle

            MOST people who are over the age of 10-years old do NOT believe in “magic.”

            But what does “not believe in magic” mean ?
            The question is, how unlikely do they think it is that magic exists ? 49% ? 1% ? 0.1% ? 0.0001% ?

            I’m going to bet there’s a fair amount of variation in the number, and most of it is fairly uninformed. And as I said it isn’t just about a dispassionate evaluation of the number – it’s about whether their emotional certainty matches it. After all I’m sure tons of people who play the lottery would be able to accurately tell you the mathematical odds of them winning – yet they still play. They’ll give reasons for it I guess (“it isn’t that much money”, “it gives me hope”, “I have no better options” (cf http://foreverinhell.com/wordpress/?p=3330“)), but I think the main thing is that they feel the odds of them winning and the costs for them playing are higher and lower than they know them to be, intellectually.

            how many of those would ever chance their way onto eBay to SEE this ring and buy it?!

            Actually I’d guess those are pretty high. You’re treating the probabilities as independent when they aren’t : someone desperate to get something is MORE likely to look on the internet for it; someone who’s predisposed to go for quick and easy solutions is MORE likely to look for quick and easy solutions they could get on ebay (and anyway, Natalie was just talking about getting hormones off the internet, aren’t they getting those from ebay too ?).

            THIS is why I say that MOST (if NOT damn near ALL) of these rings are no doubt bought by people (Trans or not) who like them as jewelry

            … if someone is looking for jewelry, how likely is it they’ll look for “magic” jewelry on ebay instead of just going to a normal jewelry store ? In fact, how would you find magic trans jewelry on ebay in the first place if you weren’t using a search term with “magic” or “transgender” in it ? (i.e. you were either looking for something magic, or something to help you with transition)
            I’m sure some of those would show up if you also searched for “jewelry”, but they would probably be swamped out by the jewelry being sold as jewelry, and at equivalent quality the actual jewelry would probably be cheaper too. Otherwise why slap on the “magic transgender” label, if it’s not going to make you money ?

            I’m sure the prettiness of the jewels as jewels plays too – like, the reasoning becomes “It might work, and it’s only $45, and if it doesn’t work I’ll end up with a nice piece of jewelry for my trouble”, but if the “magic” claims had no effect whatsoever I doubt people would make them. Of course they could be true believers themselves, but if we assume a true believer seller then we should also assume true believer buyers.

            I still still believe the VAST majority of these rings are being sold for reasons OTHER than how they are being advertised.
            Well, I won’t argue that ALL of those rings are bought by people who think they’re magic, or are buying them “just in case”. Those that do might even be a minority. But I don’t think they’d be a VAST minority as you suggest. But that’s getting into fuzzy territory.

          4. Brittany

            Sorry, I just don’t believe that anyone in their right mind would be stupid enough to actually BELIEVE (even that it’s remotely possible)that a “magic ring” will enable you to “Become The Opposite Sex and Finally Be at Peace!”

            As for eBay, you search on “ring size 9″ and that ring will eventually show up – I have searched for many rings on eBay this way(though none were magical…).

            I completely realize how desperate people can be to change their bodies and I know a lot of TS people, but I know of NO ONE who would ever be (or would have been) stupid enough to have believed this ad!

            And don’t try to make a “desperation comparison” with “pumping” either — with “pumping” at least people can actually SEE the results that many of their friends had, so they KNOW for a fact that it will work. How many people do you know who claimed to have changed their sex by using a magic ring?… NONE!

            And I see that there are NO bids on this ring either. Still, there ARE three days left — but if they do sell it I would BET that the person who buys it is NOT a TS person who was foolish enough to actually believe that it would magically change them to the opposite sex…

          5. Natalie Reed

            “but I know of NO ONE who would ever be (or would have been) stupid enough to have believed this ad!”

            Um… I think at least five of us confessed in this very comment thread that we would have been duped by this.

            I think you’re just seeing what you want to see, and bending over backwards to support it.

            And really, Brittany, it’s not just this ONE ring. LOOK AT THE MULTIPLE PAGES OF RESULTS FOR TRANS “SPELLS”.

          6. Caravelle

            Sorry, I just don’t believe that anyone in their right mind would be stupid enough to actually BELIEVE (even that it’s remotely possible)that a “magic ring” will enable you to “Become The Opposite Sex and Finally Be at Peace!”

            As for eBay, you search on “ring size 9″ and that ring will eventually show up – I have searched for many rings on eBay this way(though none were magical…).
            It looks to me like I addressed both those points, twice now for the first one. One of us isn’t really reading the other very well or we’re talking past each other; in either case I think I’ve said my piece so I’ll leave it at that.

          7. Miri

            “Anyone over the age of 10…”

            Uh, Brittany, even though I had given up, at 20 I still held on to a small shred of hope that various sorts of magick might do what I desperately wanted. I’m not stupid, but I was VERY VERY VERY desperate…

  7. 7
    Michael

    “Please understand this is a process, you cannot simply put the ring on and change your entire gender.”

    There’s a lot to despise in this sort of thing, but the implication of the above statement is “if it doesn’t work, it’s your fault for not Doing It Right”.

  8. 8
    Anders

    I’m cis. I want a magical ring to keep me from suddenly changing gender.

    1. 8.1
      Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

      I found this ring in a Cracker Jack box. It’s blue. Might not fit on your finger, but no one I’ve given it to has turned into the opposite sex, so it’s yours if you can name a price.

      1. Anders

        And you tested it? I’ll send you $100 immediately! Safety first, after all. Do you have one that will keep me from turning into a gigantic beetle? Because I read this book and it was really frightening. These things happen all the time, and the government is hushing it up.

        1. Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

          Sadly I don’t have a ring to protect from turning into a giant beetle, but I do have this talisman. It will not only stop you from turning into a giant beetle, but it will save you from tiger attacks, give you fantastic breath, and do your taxes.

          1. Anders

            WHERE DO I SIGN?

  9. 9
    Fern

    The “Feedback” there is from people like “Danielle, I’m a 32nd degree Scottish Mason” …. and the Masons don’t let women in.

    1. 9.1
      Natalie Reed

      Maybe she was Daniel until getting one of these magic rings…

    2. 9.2
      James K

      Maybe she builds things out of stone blocks?

    3. 9.3
      kagerato

      This is an important point being stated indirectly. Beware of “buyer” feedback. It’s often astroturf lies being committed or otherwise instigated by the seller.

    4. 9.4
      Blabbering Buffoon

      Scottish Mason might be referring to the Scottish Rite, followed by almost all Masonic groups all over the world.

      And there is such a thing as Co-Freemasonry, which has allowed women and atheists for over 130 years. While not the mainstream Masons you might think of when watching the Da Vinci Code, they are still fairly numerous.

      Google Le Droit Humain if you want.

      1. Blabbering Buffoon

        Oh and I forgot to mention there are a few women only Lodges.

      2. Arctic Ape

        Deep Rifts in masonry?

  10. 10
    Eristae

    Ah, yes. I remember this phase for my PTSD/depression/cyclothymia. I, too, was willing to do whatever the fuck it took to make all the pain stop. I didn’t buy rings (I didn’t have a credit card, and ebay wasn’t a big thing when I was younger), but I did try religion. The Christians assured me that if I just opened my heart, Jesus would come in and help me, just like he had helped that drug addict/sex addict/thief/drug dealer/murderer/etc. “Look!” they shouted, “Look at all these people who have been transformed from a terrible, suffering person to a happy, functional person with the power of JESUS!” And so I bought their snake oil, and when it didn’t work, they blamed me for not applying it right.

    Desperation is a powerful thing. You start trying things that you don’t even think will work because there’s that slim chance that you’re wrong. “What if it DOES work but I never try it?” you ask yourself. You find yourself staring down into the black maw of unending agony, and you’ll try anything, ANYTHING, no matter how foolish, because the alternative is death, and you don’t want to die.

  11. 11
    Ace of Sevens

    An honest seller would stick to rings that prevent lycanthropy and ward off vampires.

    1. 11.1
      kagerato

      It would be too ironic if someone wearing one of those was bitten by a vampire bat.

      I’d love to have a ring which would successfully ward off mosquitos, though. Vicious little vampires, they are, and hard to kill, too.

  12. 12
    Emily

    As I’ve commented elsewhere, what I find most despicable about this scumbag — and it takes a very special kind of scumbag to exploit those struggling with intense medical/personal issues, like the ‘my special golden amber oolong tea cures cancer’*. It is too easy to be dismissive of the buyer in such an instance, to casually invoke the P. T. Barnum clause about suckers, and the frequency with which they fill the maternity wards.

    I have no doubt the target buyer for this item is a teenager, in his or her early adolescence, at a painful nexus of fear, desperation, silence, and some disposable cash from a birthday. The $50-$100 sounds right: just enough to make the asshole seller’s time worthwhile, but not priced so far out of the reach of the the demographic to exploit.

    If I were 14, naive and terribly, terribly closeted — haunted by impressions but committed to external coverups — I might very well have bought an item like this in a moment of suicidal ‘please help me!’ outcrying. I was playing D&D at the time and reading books about Merlin. I wanted magic to work. I’m not sure I would have REALLY thought that my personal anatomy would mysteriously remould itself — that I would wake up the next day and my mum would say, “Oh, Emily? Well, nice to meet you. Did you iron your blouse for school?” I would have convinced myself that the djinn/dybbuk would have ‘healed’ me in some way. Anything would have been worth a try. Mainly because I had *no idea* that transsexualism is a medical condition with a successful and effective form of treatment.

    Anyone who makes money off the backs of the isolated and resigned deserves a grue-kicking.


    * Incidentally, I’m a tea fanatic. Tea does many incredible, incredible things. But curing cancer isn’t one of the,.

    1. 12.1
      Emily

      Off-Topic: I see another Emily as popped up while I was gone from the comment threads. How delightfully confusing!

      1. Emily

        You’ve got the anime-girl avatar covered, so I’ll leave my pic blank. Some days I still think I should have gone with ‘Aoife’ as my first name, rather than middle.

  13. 13
    Emily

    While I didn’t buy anything ( I didn’t have money. I was a poor High School student who’s job paid just enough to pay for gas ), I did go and do the free magic wish-granting websites, even though I knew that those sites didn’t work and couldn’t work.

    That’s not gullibility, that’s desperation.

    1. 13.1
      northstargirl

      I know that desperation. When I was a child my mother mentioned the old line about “if you kiss your elbow you’ll turn into a girl.” I remember wanting more than anything else in the world to kiss my elbow and make that happen…but knowing if it did, I’d be in a *lot* of trouble. There just aren’t words for that kind of desperate longing.

      Years later when I read “Conundrum” by Jan Morris and read about how she would end her childhood prayers with “and please let me be a girl,” it hit home because I did that too.

      1. Emily

        I never heard the “If you kiss your elbow you’ll turn into a girl” thing.

        I grew up in a pretty non-religious family, so I was never really religious to begin with. That didn’t stop me from praying to be a girl. Of course, it didn’t work. ( And once again, I did this while fairly sure it wouldn’t work. )

      2. Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

        I only heard of the kissing your elbow thing recently, I probably would’ve tried it all the freakin’ time.

        Wishes, prayers, magic spells – I tried it all.

        Jesus I was really closeted as a kid, wasn’t I? And it’s stunning that I denied being trans for all those years too.

        1. Miri

          I didn’t know about the elbow thing until this blog, actually, but yeah, if I had…

          But then again… maybe not. I prayed every night (and as I was raised Catholic, I figured the big guns were needed and went full rosary every night…), I wished for it, I searched in endless books for spells to change or swap bodies, or for things that could be twisted that way… but, I think, if I had believed there was something that would work, and every one would know… I think I would have freaked out and not tried, though I would have ached to do so…

          Just like my mother’s HRT pills… I wanted to take them so badly, I knew they would help, I knew what they would do (I had read and re-read a university anatomy textbook we had more times than I can count)… But I was so scared that people would know, that my mother would find her pills missing, that I would grow breasts and people would see… but no one must know… best to keep it in my head, safe and private…

          1. northstargirl

            I would be brave every once in a while and steal one of my mother’s estrogen tablets. I can even remember trying to wipe the dust out of the empty pill bottle with my finger in hopes of getting even just a tiny bit. That’s how desperate I was, and that’s why it was so special when I got that very first bottle of estrogen tablets with my name on it. It wasn’t a dream any longer.

          2. Miri

            Wow… you were braver than I was… I just sat hold them and crying for ages, and then put them back… over and over…

  14. 14
    Caravelle

    Wow, you’re like a ninja of argumentation and this article is the ultimate example. I totally didn’t see the point coming although I agree with it. Well done; if I had a hat I’d take it off to you, Madam. (I need to get me a hat)

  15. 15
    embertine

    It is seriously weird to read you describing yourself as “he”, even in inverted commas.

    *shivers*

  16. 16
    Erin W

    I’ll admit to doing all of the wishing, magicking, praying and what have you as well. Interestingly, it’s what gave me the final push to atheism. I’d been skeptical of the Bible for a very long time, but when I figured out that God had made a terrible mistake and couldn’t fix it when ‘creating’ me, it was the beginning of the end. I couldn’t believe in something that cruel.

  17. 17
    Movius

    Skeptics have a bit of a bad habit of viewing gullibility as an innate characteristic, typically viewing people as being in varying degrees either skeptics or suckers, with people towards one end of the spectrum easier to fool than people towards the other end.

    I thought “anybody can be fooled” was a stock phrase amongst skeptics. I’m not sure which skeptics you’ve been listening to? (Maybe it’s the same ones who can hear the controversial ghost Rebecca Watson?)

    Whether they actually believe what they say is another thing entirely of course.

    1. 17.1
      Natalie Reed

      Paying lip service to an intellectual concept doesn’t mean people don’t maintain their bad habits in how they view and frame certain issues.

      1. Movius

        You’re right of course. I was just thinking this post differs from the pumping one in that it’s about an ‘obvious’ scam with zero results, similar to power bands, magnetic bracelets or homeopathy. Most skeptics are (or should be) familiar with the human cost of those products and the understandable motivations of the people who use them. Hopefully they would be able to relate those situations to this.

        1. Natalie Reed

          The comparison wasn’t between pumping and magic rings, nor even those who do pumping and those who buy magic rings. It’s between those who laugh at pumping and those who tsk-tsk at magic rings.

  18. 18
    William Burns

    I’ve sometimes thought that in an actual D & D universe, treating trans people would be one of the common uses of the Girdle of Masculinity/Femininity, but the manuals insisted on calling it a “cursed” item.

    1. 18.1
      Anders

      And using Remove Curse would be one of the worst curses you could do. Sorry, back to pre-transition for you!

      1. Caravelle

        To be “fair”, if the vast majority of people are cis then the Girdle of Masculinity/Feminity would almost always induce gender dysphoria, which I gather is unpleasant.

        (“fair” is in quotes because that doesn’t justify calling it a curse; just because something is true of the majority doesn’t justify erasing the minority experience)

        Although now this is making me want to create a trans character whose aim could be to acquire a Girdle of Masculinity/Feminity. Except that I’m playing Traveller and Cthulu Invictus at the moment, I don’t know that those worlds have a mechanic for changing genders… (or conversely it might be too easy, if the futuristic world has perfect gender reassignment surgery and everyone who wants it has it done before puberty…)

        1. zoebrain

          I could never see why a Girdle of Sex Change (as it was then) was a cursed item. I’m not saying I sought them out, just most of my characters ended up with one.

          Having transitioned, NOW I understand. To go back would be worse than nightmarish.

          1. Caravelle

            That’s interesting. I personally never played D&D much so my only experience with the Girdle of Masculinit/Feminity was with the Order of the Stick. If you’d told me about the girdle just a few years ago I would also have objected to its being cursed, but out of feminism (“obviously this is taken from a male point of view, and it implies that being a woman is a curse !”). Ignoring that I still wouldn’t think it should be a curse, because who cares about the gender they are ?

            Now knowing a bit more about transgender issues I paradoxically understand better why it would be a cursed item. (Although to be unfair, it’s still more likely the creators of the item were thinking in terms of “oh no not a woman !” than “gender dysphoria is terrible”)

          2. Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

            Wrote it below but it’s not necessarily the effect that’s the reason it’s a cursed item (though most cursed items do tend to have negative effects.) A cursed item is one that cannot be removed and looks almost if not entirely identical to another item which has a beneficial effect. So that Cloak of Charisma +2 turns out to be a Cloak of Horse Calling, and when you wear it you get followed by horses everywhere you go, and they whinny at innopportune moments.

          3. Caravelle

            I’d seen that comment, and still went with “cursed is bad” because why else would it be a curse for something to be unremovable ? But thinking on it a bit I can see a rationale – it would hardly be any fun in a role-playing sense if you could just take off a girdle of gender change now would it ?

            Though having said that… I’m still not so sure I do see it. Why not have a belt of gender change you could put on and off at will ? Roy certainly found it useful in OotS, I’m sure there’s still roleplaying potential there. Looks to me like you’d make it cursed because you assume nobody would willingly wear it for a prolonged time… which makes the “cursed” description appropriate, whether you agree with it or not.

          4. Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

            I’m thinking it’s for the secondary part of that. Not just the “can’t be removed” but more for the “it doesn’t do what you expected.” Seeing as girdles in DnD tend to be Giants’ Strength, your average Fighter / Barbarian would get a girdle with all the appearance of a Girdle of Giants’ Strength and put it on and poof – opposite sex.

            So instead of getting their bonus to strength they get their bonus to boobs.

            Oh, and they can’t put on that nice Girdle of Giants’ Strength in their inventory anymore.

          5. Caravelle

            Okay, that makes sense.

      2. Emily

        Cloak of Detransitioning (cursed item)

        The wearer immediately loses all xp gained over the last few years of adventuring and charisma drops a dozen points.

        1. Anders

          Level drain is bad enough. Taking the magical ring is just pouring salt into open wounds.

          1. Anders

            Magical items, not ring. I’m listening to Wagner’s Ring cycle ATM.

          2. Anders

            And I would just add that the first seven minutes of the 3rd act of the Valkyrie is sheer bliss.

          3. Xanthë, Amy of my threads

            *Puts on horned helmet and chain mail, goes for a ride*

            Hojotoho!

          4. Anders

            Siegmund’s refusal to leave Sieglinde for eternal bliss is one of the strongest love scenes I’ve seen.

    2. 18.2
      Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

      Well, a “Cursed” item just means you can’t remove it and it looks identical to another item that you may actually want to wear.

      A crafty wizard could always make a non-cursed item of gender-changing, something far less constrictive than a girdle. Maybe an earring or a ring of some kind.

    3. 18.3
      Sas

      I thought about that, too, but there’s just a lot of logistical problems with having the treatment tied to an item, so it would be more like a band-aid rather than a secure solution. Like Anders said, if you get Remove Curse cast on you, you lose your transition! So what if you get an actual curse cast on you, and you have to have Remove Curse cast, will it also take away the girdle’s power? Something like Phlyactery of Change or a non-asshole-GM’d Wish spell would be way better (but probably too costly), or hell, I can imagine a trans mage creating their own magic item that grants just this specific effect (so it wouldn’t be as costly or difficult to make). Then just set up an easily-accessable place for trans people to come use it, and put a tip jar by it.

      1. Anders

        Could be a good roleplaying moment, though. Although from what I understand that would have to be one serious curse for it to be worth de-transitioning.

        1. Sas

          Depends, I guess. I don’t know that much about cursed items in D&D. If you cast Remove Curse on someone with a cursed item, is the curse in the item destroyed, or just the cursed effects on the person? ‘Cause if you could just put the girdle on again after the spell removes the actually-harmful curses, that would be different.

          1. Anders

            It’s been a long time since I studied the books, but I’m fairly certain the magic disappears.

          2. Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

            If I recall correctly, a remove curse spell will allow you to remove the item as if it were no longer cursed (since cursed items cannot be removed.) I cannot recall if the item will function as an uncursed item with the same effects or if the item will be completely removed of magic or if it will re-curse the wearer if they put it back on though.

      2. Kevin, Youhao Huo Mao

        See, now I want to start researching DnD spells to find out what I’d need to cast into a ring (Permancy and some kind of Polymorph) to be able to transform a physically male character into a female one, and have that item always available.

        Of course the benefit of DnD is being able to play characters of different genders anyway.

        1. Emily

          My understanding is that Permanency can’t be applied to disguise self or any sort of polymorph.

          It may require a custom spell in order to make the item. ( Or a wish spell, though those are hugely expensive )

        2. Anders

          Remember, you need to live two years FT before anyone can cast the spell on you. Sorry, says so in the spell’s descriptions. I’m powerless to change it.

          I wonder what the material components for such a spell would be?

          1. Sas

            Pregnant mare urine or bull testicles, depending on which way it’s going.

        3. A. Person

          Polymorph Any Object. Sor/Wiz 8; Trickster 8

          Since you are only altering gender, it has a permanent effect according to the duration table.

          1. Anders

            An 8th level spell seems overkill, though. You could probably research a lower-level spell. Since it has such an extremely narrow utility I would probably not put it at more than 2nd level.

          2. A. Person

            Yeah, 8th level is overkill, but when I checked the hypertext D20 SRD I couldn’t find anything available at lower levels that had permanent duration. I could have sworn I had found a much lower level spell when I went looking through the core rulebooks during high school, though I don’t think I ever found one that wasn’t affected by dispel magic.

            The one and only time gender-changing came up was in our very first campaign at the beginning of freshman year of high school. It was an unknown “cursed” side-effect of a potion of invisibility. The DM intended it for my character, as I was the party rogue, but I missed a session and another player had gotten greedy and used it.

            I played with a fairly insecure group of people and that player ended up getting a lot of grief. As a result, we had to end the campaign.

            I sometimes wonder what would have happened if the session played out as originally planned.

        4. Miri

          You know, I think that all the countless hours I spent as a kid obsessively reading and re-reading RPG rulebooks, most of the time I was trying to find new and novel way I could imagine becoming a girl…

  19. 19
    Lucy

    I didn’t know such things existed, but I too would have been very tempted as a teenager, even though I’d have been 95% sure it wouldn’t do anything.

    I can’t decide if this is more or less abhorrent than the pseudo-medical frauds (e.g. http://goo.gl/nIWpa Warnings: angry-making scam artists and NSFW pictures of breasts). I guess that between them they’re covering the target market’s potential range of beliefs. Oh, and *how much*? Proper hormones are much cheaper!

    Oh and yes, I did the wishing and asking and longing to wake up as a girl, long after I knew it was silly. I still don’t know who I was asking though, as I’d pretty much dismissed the idea of God by that time. The mind is an odd place, and I don’t think it’s just mine ;-)

    1. 19.1
      Caravelle

      Hey, whenever I come up to a deadline I’m not well-prepared for I routinely wish I could time travel back to yesterday (when I fooled around instead of working on said deadline), or stop time.

      Or I really wish I were dreaming, which isn’t that unreasonable given I do dream about coming up on deadlines I’m not prepared for, in which case all of the above can work. Yay for lucid dreaming :)
      (unfortunately said dreams don’t usually inspire me to stop fooling around, so I eventually arrive to the deadline in real life and I’m stuck wishing for the impossible again)

      Yeah, as a skeptic it would probably be more productive of me to figure out how to stop fooling around in comments in the first place…

      1. Anders

        This is the best post on Hyperbole and a Half:

        http://hyperboleandahalf.blogspot.se/2010/03/procrastinator.html

        The procrastinator wheel is sheer genius.

        1. Caravelle

          OH. EMME. GEE. I love Hyperbole and a Half but for some reason I’d never seen that one ! THANK YOU FOR SHOWING ME THIS.

          I especially love the inbox. I think I do actually have an email or two in my inbox from my parents whose subject line is literally* “Are you alive ?”

          OH GOD THERE’S A PROCRASTINATOR AWARD

          Seriously, and me who was here naively thinking that the “CLEAN ALL THE THINGS” comic spoke to my situation.

          Thank you Anders. Thank you again. (And Thank Allie of course. I think I should make her my patron saint and pray to her every evening from now on)

          *modulo translation

        2. kagerato

          That is hilarious beyond words.

  20. 20
    Anders

    Where there any products to turn a person into a man? Or are trans women more tempting prey?

  21. 21
    zoebrain

    One problem: certain Intersex variations can actually cause what is apparently such a change.

    The most common, well-studied ones are 5-alpha-reductase-2 deficiency (5ARD) and 17-beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase-3 deficiency. Both changes go from apparently-female to apparently-male, and degrees of change differ from almost undetectable to complete.

    From The ‘Guevedoces’ of the Dominican Republic:

    In an isolated village of the southwestern Dominican Republic, 2% of the live births were in the 1970′s, guevedoces (actually male pseudohermaphrodites). These children appeared to be girls at birth, but at puberty these ‘girls’ sprout muscles, testes, and a penis. For the rest of their lives they are men in nearly all respects. Their underlying pathology was found to be a deficiency of the enzyme, 5-alpha Reductase.

    Depending on the neurology, this can either cause or cure Gender Dysphoria. See Gender change in 46,XY persons with 5alpha-reductase-2 deficiency and 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-3 deficiency. Cohen-Kettenis PT. Arch Sex Behav. 2005 Aug;34(4):399-410.

    The 3-beta-hydroxysteroid-dehydrogenase deficient form of Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia can cause a change either way, and even some instability (but usually doesn’t). Cases of X0/XY mosaicism sometimes change from mostly-M to mostly-F.

    Nothing magical about it, you either have one of the requisite mutations or you don’t. There are significant health issues as well, this is (unfortunately) Reality not Fantasy.

    My transition was due to 3BHSD. But I’d picked the name “Zoe” at age 10. I thought I was just Trans, it came as a shock to start transitioning without medical intervention. I took a lot of convincing before I truly believed I wasn’t delusional, I thought the stress had finally gotten to me, and I was psychotic. I thought such changes were biologically impossible, rather than being merely very rare.

    1. 21.1
      Anders

      You can go from woman to man, but going the other way… I don’t know of any condition that does that. But yes, you’re absolutely right.

      I also find it amusing that your source seems to think that girls need to ‘sprout’ muscles. There are actually women who manage to grow those on their own… :)

  22. 22
    Anders

    Would it be worse if the person selling these was a trans person hirself?

    1. 22.1
      Miri

      I think it would be. Someone who has been through all that pain and desperation would know, intimately, how easy a scam like this would draw people in.

  23. 23
    Not Jennifer

    I wouldn’t touch this piece of crap unless it came bundled with those X-Ray glasses. Then – totally !

  24. 24
    Bill Door

    We all know that our world doesn’t work like Ranma 1/2, Whateley , Switch, Zerophilia or Misfile.

    Says you. You’ll be looking pretty foolish when I come back from China with the ability to change into a panda.

    1. 24.1
      Miri

      Be careful. You’ll look pretty foolish if you jump in the wrong pool and come back with the “ability” to change into a piglet every time it rains…

    2. 24.2
      A. Person

      If you do, you better bring back lots of instant Nyanniichuan packets from the Amazons and the Ladle of Locking. ;)

  25. 25
    ruolbu

    For mentioning Ranma 1/2 I could kiss you.
    For mentioning Misfile I truly utterly adore you. Since it was one of my first deeply intriguing experiences, to better understanding myself. And I never heard anyone saying that name anywhere on the Internet. I actually can’t say whether it was good, just that it was important to me.

  26. 26
    cami

    Tha ring kinda reminds me of this time when I was begining my transition. I went to a laser hair removal place to see what they offered. I’m pale and blonde and my beard was a flaming scottish red. In other words, laser doesn’t work on me. But they were more than happy to inform me that I could ‘throw away my razor’ after buying a thousand dollars of their services. Which they wanted in-full and up front.
    There are plenty of people who try to make money off of desperate trans folks. They will take your money while they promise you the moon. Hell, even people who do actually provide proper treatment do it at a premium. It’s not like any SRS surgeons are declaring bankruptcy. They get wealthy by taking the life savings, inheritances, and 401ks from girls who deserve necesarry medical procedures.
    I recently visited with a friend who just got out of prison. She tried to rob a bank to get money for the surgery. It didn’t work out so well for her to say the least. And she was, at the time of her botched robbery, an educated software programmer with a decent job. Desperation can lead to horrible ends. After all, isn’t suicide an act of desperation?

    1. 26.1
      Anders

      Why wouldn’t laser work on you because your blond and have red hair?

      And I’m sorry about your friend.

      1. Lucy

        They need to find a wavelength that goes through the skin without being absorbed much, but is absorbed lots by the hair. Blonde and red hair absorbs wavelengths which are too similar to those absorbed by the skin and/or we can’t yet make lasers of the wavelength needed.

        Laser works well if you’re pale and have dark hair.

        1. Anders

          Ok. I love finding out how things work. Thanks!

  27. 27
    Louis

    So, now that I’ve finished banging my head on my desk… I’m not sure that 15 year old me would have bought this ring, but I was a big fan of Aleister Crowley.

  28. 28
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    On the one hand, I’m kinda sad that people are suckered into spending money on this stuff. (Why not cast the spell/do the ritual yourself? It’s cheaper…)

    On the other, part of working the magicks is reaching out and pursuing your intent in other ways. You reach your goal all on your own — the magick and ritual is just a “prop”, something to motivate you into action and increase your focus on your goal.

    So, umm… I guess if someone wanted to waste money on a magickal transgender shape-shifting ring, I wouldn’t stop them. Yes, as silly and pointless as it is, if it gives someone the focus and/or motivational boost to do what they need to do, and it’s not, like, poisonous or something harmful, it’s of the good.

    1. 28.1
      Anders

      Given the price, I think it would be a choice between magic and medicine for many. I like medicine better. It does not promise as much, but on the other hand it works.

      1. WMDKitty -- Survivor

        Of course real medicine is better, I’m just… if someone theoretically had the money to burn, and it helped nudge them that last little bit into having the confidence to transition (instead of treating the ring as a “*poof* you’re a woman now” thing), I can’t see that being a bad thing. (Again with the concept of a psychological “prop”.)

        I mean, I do think that if you’re short on money, you should definitely put it towards the non-frivolous real medical treatment. Please. Less misery is good. But I’m not going to sit here and dictate to another person how they can or should spend their money. If I’m asked, I’ll offer my guidance, but that’s it.

  29. 29
    Jake Hamby

    There’s a really fun old-school dungeon exploration game that’s been ported to all sorts of systems (including the Amiga 500 I had in high school) called NetHack which has tons of different kinds of scrolls and potions and amulets, along with all sorts of monsters.

    The scrolls and potions can only be used once, and unless you have a spell or scroll to identify the other items that you find in the dungeon, the scrolls have gibberish names and the potions/etc. are random colors and you have to try them to find out what they do.

    I remember distinctly that there was an amulet that would change your gender when you put it on. I never tried taking it off and putting it back on, but it appears from the spoiler that you could do that to change yourself back (exactly like the 5-minute sex change machine from the last episode of the hilarious Look Around You spoof science show).

    Those may be the only two examples of trans humor that I know of that I thought were funny without being transphobic. It’s more like, “wouldn’t it be really cool if something like that existed in our universe?” Because I’m sure that 90% of people would try it out if it was that easy to switch back. I know I would. But in our universe, I agree it’s absolutely appalling that these snake-oil sellers would take advantage of vulnerable people like this.

    From NetHack spoilers:

    amulet of change

    When either worn or eaten, it toggles your character’s gender between male and female. Gender has the following effects in the game:

    Only female monsters can lay eggs.
    Males are seduced by succubi, females are seduced by incubi.
    Nymphs “seduce” males and “charm” females.
    The Cave(wo)man and Priest(ess) classes have different names.
    It determines how you are addressed (purely cosmetic).
    If you are polymorphed into a single-sex monster, your base gender will be altered but not your current one, with the exception that an incubus will change into a succubus and vice versa.

    “You are suddenly very feminine/masculine!”
    “You don’t feel like yourself.” (polymorphed into single-sex monster, but character’s base sex has changed)
    “The amulet disintegrates!”

    P.S. My first post on this blog. I came here for Pharyngula, stayed for Greta and others, but this is by far the most interesting blog to me. I’d been reading so much about misogyny ever since Elevatorgate and other incidents forced me (and a lot of others) to realize how bad misogyny had gotten and become accepted in some corners of the Internet, and how that’s a bad thing. This blog really ties a lot of pieces together, and I really like Natalie’s writing style and the comments.

  30. 30
    Anders

    Three rings for the qenderqueer high above the binary
    Seven for the trans women with their wonderbras
    Nine for the trans men who inject themselves with T
    One for the kyriarch on his dark throne
    One ring to rule them all
    One ring to find them
    One ring to bring them all
    And in the darkness bind them
    In the lands of the kyriarch, where the cis rule

    1. 30.1
      Caravelle

      And in the darkness bind them
      In the lands of the kyriarch, where the cis rule

      … and the grues roam…

      1. Anders

        That may be even better, although mine is closer to the original.

        Also, I’m not sure what the genderqueer want their rings for – IIUC they’re not looking for a transition. Presumably they bought them because they thought they looked nice. :)

      2. Arctic Ape

        One does not simply transition.

  31. 31
    Jen

    What’s the US equivalent of the Trade Descriptions Act?

    Surely this sort of thing is illegal, just as illegal as selling a tin labelled baked beans that actually contains horseshit?

    I realise it’s more horrible than that on variety of levels. But surely at the most simple level the sellers are breaking the law?

    (I know there could be a ‘you must believe’ get out, but surely that has no legal force? If I get a tin of horseshit labelled baked beans, the cornershop can’t tell me I failed to believe hard enough in the beans and that’s why I got horseshit instead.)

    1. 31.1
      kagerato

      Yeah, I’m ~98% sure selling a product with this advertisement is illegal. However, the climate in the USA at this time is extremely hostile to even obvious regulations [*], so getting anything done on that front takes a long time. You would probably be very lucky to get any response for reporting this scam.

      In terms of getting it pulled, reporting it to Ebay might work better. Then again, Ebay’s reputation is roughly somewhere between scum-sucking parasite and dark lord of evil, so maybe not.

      [*] Though sadly I must make a sub-note about it being open season on regulating women’s bodies.

  32. 32
    Vicki

    I want to change my gender, but I certainly don’t want this ring. It’s HAUNTED! G-G-G-GHOSTS!

  33. 33
    rodneybartlett

    Nobody needs a sex-change ring. He or she only needs, as a wise person once said, sciencey things that actually do stuff. This same wise person also pointed out that sciencey things cannot change a penis into a vagina. So present sciencey stuff can’t perform an actual sex change. To really change, we have to rely on FUTURE sciencey stuff.

    The material and immaterial worlds are united because material matter is, at the most basic level, composed of “wave packets” formed by the mixing of immaterial gravity with immaterial electromagnetism such as light (electromagnetic waves are actually modified gravitation). (Forget the endowment of matter with mass by the Higgs field/boson, which even Professor Stephen Hawking doesn’t believe in.) Further, sex change is possible because all things in space and time form one unity (think of unity’s beginnings in Einstein’s Unified Field Theory and the Theory of Everything being sought by modern physics’ string theory – this not-merely-mathematical (as it will be found to be) unity unites everything in space-time with the immaterial mind.)

    I think last century’s great scientist Albert Einstein agrees with the sciencey things in the previous paragraph. The title of one of his papers “Do Gravitational Fields play an Important Role in the Constitution of the Elementary Particles?” suggests this; as does the fact that from 1929 til his death in 1955, Einstein worked on his Unified Field Theory with the aim of uniting
    electromagnetism (light is one form of this) and gravitation – nearly every scientist in the world today thinks Einstein’s quest failed, but my opinion in http://vixra.org/abs/1201.0089 is that he succeeded. His belief in the material and immaterial being united is also indicated by this – When forced to summarize the
    general theory of relativity in one sentence, Einstein said: time and space and gravitation have no separate existence from matter.

    1. 33.1
      Natalie Reed

      Oh neat. One of those “Magic. Because quantum.” people. On my own blog!

      Sciencey things WORK because sciencey things actually try to understand how the world works, rather than just taking what we don’t presently understand and extrapolating wild theories from the gaps. There is no “immaterial world”. Not in any sense meaningful to scientific realities. Relativity (special and general) and quantum physics occur quite entirely in the “material” world, as they ARE natural phenomena. They simply operate under laws we don’t presently understand just yet.

      But on the macro level of the human body? Newtonian physics works just fine. And as a matter of fact, sciencey things based on everyday understanding of molecular biology, biochemistry, endocrinology, urology, gynecology, pharmacology and so forth have been very, very good at adapting morphological sex. We CAN fashion fully functional, aesthetically indistinguishable vaginas from penises. Really, we can. And do. And the people who developed that surgical process to the medical triumph it presently is did so by practicing REAL science and REAL medicine, not by hoping that magic would somehow emerge from quantum indeterminancies. We don’t need to bend space-time to adapt the sexual features of the human body. The genetic potentials for all sexual characteristics (except gonads) exist in ALL human cells, regardless of assigned sex. Which potentials do and do not get expressed can relatively easily be manipulated through the use of exogenous hormones.

      If you want to talk sciencey here, come with ACTUAL science. Not just the same hopeless magic sold in the ring dressed up in the LANGUAGE of science. At least they don’t make a pretense of knowing what they’re talking about.

    2. 33.2
      sc_69fc3053efe3b6d2893944ca582d740c

      Actually, if the genital reconstruction uses an inverted penis to form a neo-vagina, the tissue becomes mucosal vaginal tissue over about a year, even at the cellular level.

      Just a nit being picked, cervix and womb are beyond our current capabilities. Vagina though we can do now.

    3. 33.3
      Rasmus

      Rodney Bartlett:

      “DOCTOR EINSTEIN DOES SUPER SEX CHANGES”

      :D

      Seriously, though. Your writings are complete and utter worthless bunk.

      You’re basically saying that Einstein was right, that there are hidden variables in quantum mechanics and that you don’t have the math done, but that you can conceptualize it in other ways. You don’t propose any experiment or empirical test that could support or falsify your ideas.

      We’ve heard this before. Typical physics crankery.

      Here’s how you (no physics education needed!) can debunk a good fraction of all the “physics papers” that guys (why is it always guys?) post on the internet: Any good paper about physics has at least one previously unknown diagram or graph or equation in it. A paper about physics should make zero vague statements. If a paper does not contain new formulas or diagrams, or if it makes vague-sounding statements, it’s crap.

  34. 34
    liz

    hi

    I admit I was googling haunted rings when i came across your article. I don’t have anything to add to your arguments but just wanted to say how much I enjoyed reading your wonderful blogs. Do you write for a living?

  1. 35
    The case for the godless church « SINMANTYX

    [...] by virtue of being atheists (and possible no one at all) is immune to that sort of behavior.  A great piece by Natalie confronts how arrogant it is to assume that one is immune to such [...]

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