The COGIATI "gender test"

COGIATI is an acronym for Combined Gender Identity And Transsexuality Inventory, named to sound like a standardized psychology test (even though it is not).

First off, I like and respect Jennifer, who created the COGIATI. I think her site is great. However, I disagree in the strongest and most respectful terms with her on the usefulness and validity of her COGIATI test. Because it is based in part on Brain Sex, the COGIATI is as troubling as the book that influenced its creation.

Description: The COGIATI was written by Jennifer Diane Reitz. It is composed of questions purportedly based on neurological or social sex differentiation and scored thus:

-650 to -390 Class 1 (Definite Male)
-389 to -130 Class 2 (Feminine Male)
-129 to 129 Class 3 (Androgyne)
130 to 389 Class 4 (Probable Transsexual)
390 to 650 Class 5 (Classic Transsexual)

Some questions are reworkings of Bem and Moir-Jessel questions. As Jennifer writes:

The COGIATI is a prototype. It was designed for only one target: the curious, unsure, pre-operative POTENTIAL Male-To-Female transsexual (not a post-op, not someone who is already certain, not a Female-To-Male, not anyone else who fails to fit the stated definition target). Further, it was constructed for that given target only because no scientifically and medically based test for such people exists. None. Anywhere. I saw that there was a void, no physicians were filling it, and so I set to work. The COGIATI is a challenge to the scientific and medical community to follow my example, and do a better job than I.

While this is a noble cause, I believe the danger of this amateur attempt is the fundamentally sexist premise on which it is based. Jennifer's rationale for using stereotypes [emphasis mine]:

"Women are better at some skills, on average, and men are better at some skills, on average, but there is some crossover too. There is crossover, because mistakes happen during development in the womb. Males and females are clumsily constructed, because Nature is not perfect. Nature is sloppy. So there is crossover, and sometimes, occasionally you will have a female mathematical genius with superb spacial [sic] skills."

Source: http://transsexual.org/wordoncogiati.html

First, I think "mistakes" is a very loaded term and a value judgment about the diversity of humanity. Second, stereotypes and scientific precision do not mix well. Stereotypes fail when you try to apply them to individuals, which is why the COGIATI fails when applied to individuals. As Anne Lawrence notes: "According to Ms. Reitz, typical male-to-female transsexuals are hopeless at math and science, love to sit close to strangers and be hugged by them, can't park cars, can't tell directions, get lost easily, suffer from migraines, are not assertive, and (of course) do not eroticize their own femininity."

People will see what they want to see. Those who swear to the test's accuracy are the ones who got the result they wanted.

Anne Lawrence states: "I think that both the COGIATI and the Moir-Jessel tests are little more than pseudo-scientific nonsense, and that anyone trying to figure out his or her gender identity issues would be well advised to ignore both."

I agree with this assessment. Because this test takes Brain Sex to be a valid scientific platform upon which to base its premise, it is as flawed at its core as the Brain Sex book is.

For a little comic relief, I recommend taking the DIANATI, a very funny spoof on the COGIATI.

Next: The Bem Sex Role Inventory

<--  Previous page  |  Index  |  Next page  -->