On the Science of Changing Sex

A Grounded Theory…

Posted in Book Reviews by Kay Brown on February 8, 2014

Book Review:  Male Femaling – A grounded theory approach to cross-dressing and sex-changing

malefemalingRichard Ekins’ 1997 book is not light reading, especially Part II, which is rather densely written in “grounded theory” method of sociology.  But it is an important book for sexologists to read and understand since it delves into the world of what Ekins has termed, “male femaling”.  This is a wonderful way of putting it, since it succinctly pulls together catagories that are often treated separately and instills ‘agency’ (if I may be allowed to use post-modernist cant) to these practitioners, placing the phenomena as a verb, rather than treating these people as nouns.

Before I read this book, I was completely unaware of “grounded theory”.  I think it is worth reading up on it at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grounded_theory

There one may read that,

“Grounded theory method is a systematic methodology in the social sciences involving the discovery of theory through the analysis of data. … If the researcher’s goal is accurate description, then another method should be chosen since grounded theory is not a descriptive method. Instead it has the goal of generating concepts that explain the way that people resolve their central concerns regardless of time and place. The use of description in a theory generated by the grounded theory method is mainly to illustrate concepts.”

Thus, this book is not simply a travel guide, but a serious attempt to discern the social and introspective means of “meaning”.

To give you a flavor of the denseness of the text, in part of the book, Ekins explores what he calls, “masked awareness”.  This is what most of us would call, “information management”, or simply, secrecy or disclosure, passing or being read.  I’m simplifing here of course, but neccessary to translate this to a more lay reader.  He also makes indiscriminent reference to philosphers, scientists, and pseudo-scientists (e.g. Freud).   He makes a point of showing the “umbilical” relationship between sexologists, their theories, and “male femalers” without explicating how these theories have evolved as the science has moved forward, or how “male femalers” dissimulations have historically distorted some of those theories.  He simply isn’t interested.  He cares more about how these individuals resolve their search for “meaning”.

As I read the book, each and every word, from begining to end, I searched for references and examples of transkids (HSTS).  I found only hints, like Hamlet’s father’s ghost, whispering offstage.  I was dissappointed, as I had hoped that Ekins would compare and contrast transkids from AGPs.  It was only at the very end of the book that I learned that this had been deliberate, as his concluding notes on where he thought others should pick up on his research explains in recommendation 4:

“In my detailed illustrative material, the focus was on male femalers who consider themselves heterosexual or bisexual.  Although homosexual male femalers were quoted, such material is sparse.  The emphasis is, in part, a feature of the arena, but was also, once again, of my own predilictions, training, and abilities.  Certainly, the gay studies literature is a vast one and it largely fell beyond the scope of this study.  I leave to others the possibility of applying the conceptual framework developed here to predominately homosexual male femalers.”

Thus, two conclusions may be drawn from this.  First, Ekins, though he never mentioned it anywhere else, is keenly aware of the profound differences between “homosexual” and “non-homosexual” types.  And second, that though he never mentions the word, this book is ALL about autogynephilia, which he only obliquely refers to as “male femaling impulses” and “erotic femaling”.  The proof of this is found in the very descriptions of what these individuals do in the course of their careers as male femalers, in search of “meaning”.

Ekins divides the “ideal” path into five phases.  Where Ekins used “ideal”, I would have used “prototypical”, as “ideal” would seem to imply a normative value to this sequence, which may or may not apply.  The phases are:

Begining Male Femaling

Fantasying Male Femaling

Doing Male Femaling

Constituting Male Femaling

Consolidating Male Femaling

IF this repetitive use of the term “male femaling” feels odd… it certainly did to me… especially as though it seems to constantly screem, on every page, “MALE … MALE … MALE!”  As though to say, “Get it… these people are forever MALE!!!  Don’t you forget it!”

The illustrative examples used for “Begining Male Femaling” were universally autogynephilic, as this example shows,

“… I was 13 when I stepped, quivering with excitement into a pair of French knickers belonging to my sister.  I ejaculated almost immediately… The feeling was glorious and yet quite alarming and I felt as though I was leaking urine. … Some three days after this first ‘event’ I got home from school to find my mother out.  I went upstairs to do my homework and through the half-opened door of my mother’s bedroom I saw, hanging over a chair, a pair of her pink directoire knickers, obviously discarded in a hurry as she changed before going out.  That soft gleaming bundle turned my whole body and senses into a jelly-like state of desire and longing.  I had to wear them, to try and see if I was all right.  Would it happen again?  My answer was there almost immediately in my swift gathering erection as I struggled out of my clothes.  …”

Likewise, the later phases involved autogynephilic fantasy and enactments, sometimes very overtly erotic, sometimes more genteel, but still recognizably autogynephilic in substance.  In many of these fantasies and enactments, they were scripted, ritualized even.  I think this is a very important aspect of autogynephilic experience that can and does impact how autogynephilia will develop and express itself in the “real world”.  The examples were manifold and various, deeply detailed.  For me… I found myself skimming the pages, as there is nothing more boring than reading about someone else’s erotic scripts, which one does not share.  I suppose that for Ekins this isn’t an issue, given his own self referenced “predilictions”?

I found the section on ‘Private Networking and the Constitution of Meanings’ to be very informative and enlightening.  This may be the most important part of the book, as Ekins demonstrates that peer interactions and the ‘umbilical’ relationship between sexological theories and male femalers influences how one comes to identify oneself and how that subsequently influences one’s career as a male femaler.  Specifically, how does one come to think of oneself as a transvestite / Cross-Dresser or as a transsexual.  Ekins as much as states that there is no substantive or essential difference between them, to which I whole-heartedly must agree.

In the final phase, Ekins lays out three possible paths that a male femaler might take, in typical fashion, ignoring that we already have names for these paths, he calls them, “aparting”, “substituting”, and “integrating”,  I would have called them “closeted cross-dresser”, “transition / transsexual”, and “out / gender fluid”.

“It is instructive to organize the major modes of consolidating around three possible ‘solutions’ to the problems posed by disjuctures between male and male femaling selves and worlds.  I call these ‘aparting’, substituting’, and ‘integrating’.  In ‘aparting’ the emphasis is upon maintaining rigid boundaries between male worlds and male femaling worlds.  In ‘substituting’ the male femaling world increasingly takes over from the male world.  It is in fact, to a greater or lesser extent, substituted for it.  Finally, in ‘integrating’, the attempt is made to transcend previous positions which entailed disjuctures between male and male femaling selves and world, in order to foster the emergence of an ‘integrated’ position which seeks to transcend the conventional arrangement between the sexes.”

This book is mildly dated in that it was written in 1997, before Blanchard’s work become as widely known today.  I would recommend this book for sexologists and therapists, to explicate more fully the lives and search for meanings of autogynephilic cross-dressers and transsexuals.  But I would not recommend it for either the general public or for cross-dressers and transsexuals themselves, unless they have a strong interest in theory.  It just doesn’t read very easily.

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Queen…

Posted in Book Reviews by Kay Brown on December 25, 2013

Review:  The Man Who Would Be Queen – The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism

TMWWBQ CoverJ. Michael Bailey’s book was written ten years ago, in 2003; So I thought this last month of 2013 was a good time to review and look back on the book and its aftermath.  The importance of a book is measured in how it encourages people to think about and discuss, even if they don’t agree… maybe especially if they don’t agree… on its thesis.

The main thesis of TMWWBQ is that homosexuality and gender atypicality are highly correlated.  Most of the book is about the scientific research that has shown that the folk-wisdom (sounds better said that way than “stereotype”) that gay men were usually notably “sissy” or “effeminate” as boys and that most “sissy” boys grow up to be gay men.  Of course, also as part of this thesis, is that there is a continuum of femininity, and that the most feminine of such “homosexual” males grow up to live as women, to seek out hormone and surgical interventions to feminize their bodies to match their feminine personalities and natural manners.  But to explain who he meant, he also had to describe and delineate those who were not on that continuum, but are often conflated and confused with them, namely, autogynephiles, especially, autogynephilic transsexuals (AGP).

This set off a firestorm that quickly became a witch-hunt against Bailey, led by several noted transwomen.  I needn’t explore that episode, as it was well documented by Alice Dreger in 2008.  Instead, I want to explore how the science regarding transsexuality that Bailey touched upon has evolved since then, in part because of TMWWBQ and the fuss that those transwomen made, and continue to make.

But first, I should point out that it is very likely that Bailey understood that his book might upset some in the AGP transsexual community, as in his closing notes on suggested further reading made clear, “For an article that angered many autogynephiles – but which provides a sympathetic portrayal of both cross-dressers and their wives – See Amy Bloom’s “Conservative men in Conservative Dresses, “… ” or when he suggests reading Anne Lawrence’s website,

“Anne Lawrence maintains an awesome website for transsexuals, Transsexual Women’s Resources, (www.annelawrence.com/twr), and one section of her site is devoted to autogynephilia. … Not only does she have clear explanations of autogynephilia, but she also includes testimonials of transsexuals who have visited her site and read about the concept.  Most of them are thankful that someone is finally talking about the sexual side of transsexualism.. Some say that the finally understand themselves.  A few are angry with Anne for embracing Blanchard’s “wrongheaded” ideas. … “

But Bailey could not foresee that he would be vilified and deliberately defamed as he was in the aftermath of the book’s publication.  Many of the people who continue to do so have never read his book, even though they can read the key chapter regarding AGP transsexual women online, or even know that Bailey was sympathetic to transfolk, speaking warmly and openly, that they should be respected and supported.  For example, after quoting Paul McHugh, the &^%$#@! (expletive deleted) who shut down the Gender Clinic at John Hopkins, “[The focus on surgery] has distracted effort from genuine investigations attempting to find out just what has gone wrong for these people – what has, by their own testimony, given them years of torment and psychological distress and prompted them to accept these grim and disfiguring surgical procedures.” Bailey rebukes McHugh,

“One problem with McHugh’s analysis is that we simply have no idea how to make gender dysphoria go away.  I suspect that both autogynephilic and homosexual gender dysphoria result from early and irreversible developmental processes in the brain.  If so, learning more about the origins of transsexualism will not get us much closer to curing it.  Given our present state of knowledge, saying that we should focus on removing transsexual’s desire to change sex is equivalent to saying that it is better that they should suffer permanently from gender dysphoria than they should obtain sex reassignment surgery.”

Bailey is being too polite, but basically spells it out, McHugh has no sympathy for transfolk, saying to us instead that we should suck it up and be men, or more colorfully, that we should “eat $#!+ and die”.  I doubt it would surprise many of my readers to learn that McHugh is a conservative observant Catholic, who substitutes religious intolerance for pragmatic palliative medicine.  It astounds me that Bailey, friend as he was to the trans-community, should be vilified and hounded, while the likes of McHugh are barely noticed.  But then, I think an observation made by one of the original 2004 authors of the transkids.us website explains it all, it wasn’t that Bailey was wrong, but that he was too right.

When Bailey wrote his book, Blanchard’s papers were the latest thing in transsexual research.  It summed up and explained the confusion of the past researcher’s work, most notably Person & Oversey, Stoller, and Meyer.  It brought together and explicated, in a concise way, what had been coming together already, but slowly, and sadly, under the burden of psycho-analysis.  Blanchard swept away the unscientific notions and put the study of transsexuality on a firm scientific foundation.  But, as all will admit, much of his original research had yet to be properly replicated.

Ironically, I believe that the transsexual community’s violent objections to Bailey’s book, and by extension, his defense of Blanchard’s work, inspired others to replicate his research.  Most of the key data showing that there are two (and likely only two) types of MTF transsexual have been very convincingly replicated by Lawrence, Smith, and Nuttbrock.  The only paper that no one has attempted to replicate yet has been the one where Blanchard tested “non-homosexual” transwomen who denied being aroused by autogynephilic ideation on whether that was really true.  His paper showed that they did become sexually aroused by listening to spoken narratives of cross-dressing, while control (non-AGP) men did not.  I sincerely hope that this study is replicated, as it would answer the only remaining possible question as whether there was a “third” type of transsexual as some claim.

As well as being Blanchard’s “Bulldog”, Bailey also speculated about the nature and behavior of the two types of transwomen.  The most disturbing to me was on the relative paucity of marriages or even just long term relationships among “homosexual” (feminine androphilic / MTF transkid) transsexuals.  This hit home, as I myself had trouble finding a suitable long term partner.  In my younger days, I came to the conclusion that I may never find a husband, so I lived in communal housing with other transwomen and/or ally lesbian/bisexual/straight women.  These women became my “family” (platonic, though a few of them most definitely wished it had been more), even as I continued to date men, who never seemed to stick around more than a few months after they learned of my medical history… until my husband surprised me by asking me to marry him.  I still insisted upon a long engagement, because in my cynical and wounded heart, I feared that he would be like all who came before, and would wake up one day and say to himself, “WTF am I doing?”.  Bailey reports,

“Do transsexuals find partners?  Certainly, homosexual transsexuals find sex partners after their surgery, but do they find steady partners?  Do they get married?  I have already mentioned my impression that homosexual transsexuals are not very successful at finding desirable men willing to commit to them.  In part, this reflects the difficulty that men have with the notion of coupling with women who used to be men (no matter how attractive such women may be), as well as the difficulty most transsexuals have keeping their secret.”

So far, I could agree totally with Bailey.  It is difficult, but not impossible, as Green documented decades before him.  However, he goes on,

“But it also reflects the choices that homosexual transsexuals are prone to make.  My impression is that they would rather have a relatively uncommitted relationship with a very attractive man than a committed relationship with a less desirable partner.  Although the homosexual transsexuals I have met are all searching for “Mr. Right,” perhaps in vain, their sex lives have all clearly improved after surgery.  They can hide their past identities for a while, at least, and no longer have to worry about how to respond to attractive men who hit on them in bars.”

Here, I suspect that Bailey means, that MTF transkids would rather have a physically attractive partner… but he does understand the reality that those men who are most likely to want a transsexual wife are themselves transgendered, closeted cross-dressers, who transkids rarely find truly desirable.  So, he is partly right, but massively wrong.  He goes on to admit that he has only known street transkids, the type who work as “escorts”.  Thus, he has the classic issue of a “sampling bias” in that at the time he wrote the book, he had never had contact with the more respectable, “invisible transsexual” population of transkids who had managed to stay off of the street, and out of bars.  (For myself, I rarely went to bars, as I found the selection of men there to be of very low quality, and never of my own socio-economic or educational background.)  It is important to note that two thirds of transkids have never been ‘escorts’.  (Elsewhere in his book, Bailey notes that although common, around half of the transkids in one of his studies were never prostitutes.)  For this, less street wise population, their difficulty in finding husbands is not related to any putative desire to continue to date other handsome men when they already have a fine man in hand.

“When I asked Jaunita [...] about the best, and worst, reactions she had had from lovers after she revealed that she used to be a a man, she replied, “I have really never had a good experience.  The men always leave.” …  All the homosexual transsexuals I have talked to say that they wish they could find a man they could tell and who would love them anyway, but they all worry that such a man does not exist.  And they are all deeply suspicious of men who prefer transsexual to real women.  (These men have something similar to “sexual interest in she-males” and transsexuals find them weird.)  There is little incentive for the postoperative homosexual transsexual to be honest.”

Bailey’s book, because he fully understands and acknowledges that transkids are different than AGP, is one of the few books that really discusses the the problems that MTF transkids face.  It was refreshing… and at the same time… very disturbing and sad, to read what is essentially a tour guide to both my life and many of my past transkid friends and acquaintances.

“They [HSTS] are outcasts as children because of their extreme femininity.  They mostly come from poor, broken families, and family rejection is common.  … They have, in fact, had to cope with rejection and disapproval since childhood, because of their extreme femininity.  And they have not had the advantages that tend to instill respect in the social order.  The early chaotic backgrounds of so many homosexual transsexuals might help explain why they do not defeminize the way that most very feminine boys do.  A feminine boy from a middle-class or upper-middle-class family has more motivation to “hang in there” until he normalizes his gender role behavior, because he has a good chance at a conventionally successful future.”

I should note, that I was subjected to just such “disapproval” from an early age… and that I am from an upper-middle-class family that was extremely homophobic, and also very dysfunctional, though outwardly appearing normal.  Nothing less than being totally straight would have satisfied my mother, though my father actually tried to convince me to live as a closeted gay man when I was a teen (in essence, to live like his gay brother did).  I am estranged from my mother and all of my siblings… but my father, who was unwillingly divorced from my mother when I was a teen, is very supportive and proud of my accomplishments, both personal and professional.  Although I’m not at all convinced that Bailey is right, he is onto something, as it is likely that socio-economic status is one of the important factors in transkid decision making about whether to transition or not.

Bailey remarked upon the ethnic background of the transkids, noting that most of them were either Black or Latina, while the opposite is true of AGP transsexuals.  He related some speculations from his transkid informants about why this might come about, which didn’t seem to satisfy him.  Since the book was published, his observation has been confirmed in the Nuttbrock study of the trans-scene in New York City.  But more importantly, Lawrence has shown that the percentage of AGP transsexuals in a country is highly correlated with that country’s Hofstede Individuality Index.  I wish to point out here that the Black and Latino/a communities are both subcultures in the US, which have much lower Individuality Index scores… and thus are less likely to have AGPs transition within them.

In writing about transkids and AGPs, Bailey found himself having to educate his readers about the differences between them.  He wrote a somewhat tongue in cheek quiz, which I earlier blogged about, which is useful in learning the differences.

Bailey remarked upon and speculated on the general intelligence of “homosexual” transsexuals, saying he thought that they were below average intelligence generally.  As we now know, this is simply not true, as studies in the Netherlands show that as a group they have average IQ (98.86 to be exact, where 100 is by definition, average).

Thus, all in all, Bailey’s book has helped spur further research… and has largely been shown to have been prophetic and insightful.  I recommend that this book should be read, carefully read, by transsexuals and their allies, with an open mind and heart.  Don’t let a few unhappy, and very loud, individuals tell you what is “wrong” with Bailey’s book.  Find out for yourself.  I predict you won’t find that is it “wrong”, but “too right” for comfort.

Addendum 10/2/2014:

When I first read Bailey’s book six years ago, it was via a .pdf that he has on his website.  He asked me NOT to publish the link.  However, I just discovered that he posted a link to the file in comment on another’s blog.  Thus, to me, this indicates that he now wishes to allow such links to this file.  You may read The Man Who Would Be Queen here:  http://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/JMichael-Bailey/TMWWBQ.pdf

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Pervert !!!

Posted in Book Reviews by Kay Brown on November 7, 2013

pervBook Review: PERV – The Sexual Deviant in All of Us

Jesse Bering’s latest book is very ambitious, attempting to cover nearly the entire gamut of sexual orientations and paraphilias known to science.  But this is not a text book.  It is written in a conversational style that at times (unfortunately) uses modern pop culture references that date the book even as it reaches the book stores.  At its heart, this book is a plea for understanding and tolerance for sexual minorities and paraphiliacs.  The title promises to show that we are all “deviants” of one sort or another, but ultimately fails, as he attempts to draw upon misguided ideas from our pre-scientific and sexually prudish past as his evidence.  As he delves into modern sexology, it becomes clear that most people are really quite boringly vanilla.  Oh… but those wonderfully “perverted” erotic outliers that he describes make the book worth the read.

Reading the book was like ‘homecoming week’, as Bering references and mentions many of my favorite (and not-so-favorite*) sexologists:  Anne Lawrence, Michael Bailey, Ray Blanchard, Meredith Chivers, Milton Diamond, James Cantor, Kurt Fruend, Richard Green, Ken Zucker, *John Money, and *Charles Moser.

Given that Bering attempts to cover the full range of modern research into sexual orientation and the paraphilias for a wider lay readership, his text necessarily skips along the surface, never dipping too deeply, like a stone skipping over the surface of a pond.  I found the book fun to read, but often wished it went deeper into each of the subjects.  But then, this book wasn’t really written for me, though there were a few hints of deeper import.

One of those deeper ideas, was a restrained, yet clearly scathing underneath, criticism of the trend in modern psychiatry to evaluate the paraphilias based on its supposed “normality” or lack of it.  Digging deeper, he criticizes Wakefield’s ideas of dysfunction and pathology based on evolutionary selected function.  (My reader may recall this from my essay on Anne Lawrence’s exposition on why autogynephilia was such a dysfunction.)  Instead, Bering would see an evaluation of paraphilias, especially by our larger culture, based on a metric of harmfulness.  (Here, I totally agree… as I already touched upon in the essay I referenced above.)

In keeping with his plea for understanding, in the hopes of generating tolerance in his readers, Bering touches upon the nature of intolerance, how we find sexual interests that don’t match our own to be “disgusting” and why that comes about.  The book would be worth reading for this alone.  I have to admit, I thought I was inured to just about every paraphilia out there… but Bering managed to squig even me.

No book so broadly covering sexual orientation minorities and paraphilias would be complete without covering transsexual and transgender experience and the research concerning them.  Gratifyingly for me, he gets it (mostly) right.  Bering takes note of the two types of MTF transsexuals and their relative percentages in different cultures, “There’s one big difference between male-to-female (MTF) and female-to-male (FTM) transsexuals, however, and this is the fact that whereas the vast majority (around 75% in the West) of the former are “heterosexual,” nearly all of the latter are “homosexual”, referencing Anne Lawrence’s research in a footnote.

Bering also takes note of the other differences between the two, briefly discussing the two types of MTF transwomen and the controversy surrounding Blanchard’s research and Bailey’s book, “The Man Who Would Be Queen”.

Here’s where that considerable conflict I spoke of earlier rears its ugly head (and really, it’s all gotten quite brutal, complete with harassment and social-media wars between the opposing theoretical camps).   Whereas it’s clear enough to most researchers that homosexual transsexuals aren’t erotically motivated to permanently transform themselves into women (or men, in the case of FTM individuals) but simply want to rid themselves of the horrible gender dysphoria that has gnawed at them their entire lives (more often than not, these are individuals who’ve lived as very effeminate males or very masculine females since their early childhoods), some prominent sexologists believe that it’s a different story altogether for heterosexual MTF transsexuals (who tend not to have as many stereotypically “effeminate” characteristics as their homosexual MTF cohorts).  Thus, although it’s often misunderstood, the controversial theory that I’m about to describe applies only to one specific subcategory of transgender individuals: those born as biological males, who have a female gender, and who’ve only ever been attracted to females.

The controversy over the “real” motivations of these biological males who are attracted to women dates back to 1989, when the psychologist Ray Blanchard postulated the existence of a paraphilia involving “a male’s propensity to be aroused by the thought of himself as a female.”  He called this “autogynephilia.”  To Blanchard and others, heterosexual MTF transsexuals want to become women not so much to relieve their gender dysphoria as to actually incarnate their erotic target. … But Blanchard didn’t just pull his autogynephilic theory out of thin air.  …  In any event, if Blanchard is correct, then autogynephilia is basically a more pronounced form of transvestism; it’s not the clothes alone that arouse such men but the entire character and essence of the woman they seek to bring to life. … Blanchard’s theory of autogynephilia is one of the most battle scarred in all of modern sex research. … But valid or not, the very idea of autogynephilia is about as benign a paraphilia as I can possibly think of.  (Essentially, one is aroused by oneself as an idealized member of the opposite sex.)  Whether their “real” motives are erotic or the result of gender dysphoria, the personal distress so often experienced by any transsexual is the result of living a life ensconced as a harmless minority among an intolerant majority.

Thus, Bering makes it clear that the science has shown that HSTS, both MTF and FtM, clearly do not have (directly) erotic motives to transition, and expounds on how autogynephilia paraphilically motivates non-HSTS MTF transsexuals, but makes it abundantly clear that all transsexuals are deserving of respect and tolerance.  Importantly, it is in the footnotes that we see Bering supporting the theory, as printed on the bottom of page 163:

In her memoir, “Mirror Image – The Odyssey of a Male-to-Female Transsexual” (… 1978), the now-adult MTF Nancy Hunt describes her adolescent feelings as a boy in this way: “I was feverishly interested in girls.  I studied their hair, their clothes, their figures… brood[ing] about the differences between us.  I seethed with envy while at the same time becoming sexually aroused – I wanted to possess them as I wanted to become them.  In my night-time fantasies, as I masturbated or floated towards, sleep, I combined compulsions, dreaming of sex but with myself as the girl” (60).  And in her rather deliberately titled book, Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies: Narratives of Autogynephilic Transsexualism (… 2013), the self-described autogynephilic transsexual therapist Anne Lawrence provides many similar anonymous accounts of an underlying erotic motivation as shared by her heterosexual MTF patients.

I would recommend PERV for my readers, to gain a broader perspective on paraphilias.

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Don’t Shoot the Messenger

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on May 30, 2013

♫♫Did Galileo pray?♫♫  – Ellis Paul

I’ve received a number of emails from a number of folks who have read and understood the implications of the science that I report on here, many of whom thanked me for writing about it in such a way as to allow it to be accessible and understandable.  To them, I’m glad you found the material of use.

On the other hand, nearly everyone one of them also reported that they had noticed that when discussing the science, they find that many disagree with the theory, and often deny that the phenomena that led to it even exists!  I will never be able to reach outright denialists.  If one does not even acknowledge that there are male  individuals who are autogynephilic, then one can’t begin to consider a theory of how that leads to gender dysphoria and transsexuality, and even less to the observation that exclusively androphilic MTF transwomen do not experience autogynephilia!  But, I do think it would be instructive to catalog, deconstruct, and respond to many of the objections to the two type theory.

{NOTE:  If you are coming into the middle of this and are not familiar with the two type theory please start with my FAQ}

The most common objection that I have heard is that “everyone” has rejected this theory.  Of course, by “everyone”, when queried, turns out to be most MTF transwomen on their discussion board.  This is the weakest argument one could imagine.  Consider that when Nikolai Kopernik (Nickolaus Copernicus in Latin) first proposed the heliocentric model of what we now call the “solar system”, and when Galileo Galilei’s observations supported it, it was vehemently rejected since “everyone” knew that the Earth was the center of the universe.  Truth by Popularity is  a common logical fallacy.

One commenter on a Reddit discussion had the temerity to pronounce that the scientific community and examined the theory and shown it to be wrong.  Fortunately, a very world wise woman answered simply, “Liar!”.  The scientific community that has any interest in the field has been steadily testing and showing that the data supports the theory and has been suggesting further studies to test Blanchard’s prediction concerning brain morphology.  {See my essays on Brain Sex}  Lying about the science isn’t considered a valid debating tactic.

Another common gambit is to say that their own personal story, their narrative, proves the theory is wrong.  Sorry, but sexology scientists aren’t terribly interested in what individual people’s narratives are, but what they, collectively, actually do.  Fans of the TV show “House” will recognize the eponymous character’s favorite catch phrase, “Everyone lies.”  Science depends on data; the plural of anecdote is not data.  The data clearly shows that the majority of non-exclusively androphilic MTF transwomen readily admit to having experienced autogynephilia while the majority of (self-reported) exclusively androphilic do not.  {See my essay on Social Desirability Bias for further info on unreliability of individual narratives}

Another tactic I’ve seen is to call into question the character and motivations of those who are doing the research or those that are writing about the science.  {See Alice Dreger’s research into the disgraceful persecution of Prof. J. Michael Bailey}  This is a combination of the ad hominem attack and the Genetic Fallacy, wherein one attempts to refute an augment based on who supports it.  Sorry, but shooting the messenger won’t change the reality underneath the science.  Once a hypothesis is known to the scientific community, the proposer is given credit for having done so, but after that, s/he no longer “owns” it.  Anyone can attempt to refute it, test it, and even modify it to fit reality.  That is exactly what has been happening the past three decades.  The Kurt Freund/ Ray Blanchard two type hypothesis has met every test that has been conducted to date.  {See my essays on supporting the Two Type Hypothesis}

An odd comment made on one of the Wikipedia pages regarding the theory made much of the language that Blanchard used in describing the process by which a scientist makes observations of a phenomena, makes a hypothesis, and then submits it to tests, perhaps by themselves, but certainly by others, and how that develops into a theory.  But the commenter deliberately distorted Blanchard’s acknowledgement that in science, ALL hypothesis and even theories are considered tentative, subject to ongoing tests and modifications, and even outright replacement, if found wrong, as somehow evidence that Blanchard was backing away from the theory, as though he may no longer support it.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  He believes that the theory is solid.  However, this is actually another example of the Genetic Fallacy, one arguing (if wrongly in this case) that the originator no longer supports the argument’s premise.  Again, once a hypothesis is proposed, no one “owns” it.

The most amazing argument that I’ve heard tell is that the theory is “pseudo-science”.  Most of those that utter this do not actually have a clear idea how to define what is and is not good science much less what would constitute “pseudo-science”.  But for the reader that wants to seriously consider this question, I strongly recommend the Wikipedia entry on the subject.  In it not only will one read what philosophers have suggested as solutions to the “demarcation problem”, one will also read the observation that many times when this accusation is made, it is groundless and motivated by a desire to devalue real science that is unacceptable to the accuser.  This clearly applied here as many who would be recognized as fitting the typical profile for autogynephilic transsexuality vehemently deny both being autogynephilic and the theory that describes how it operates to motivate non-exclusively androphilic males to seek somatic feminization.  However, the accusation can and should be directly refuted.

The most popular marker cited to argue that the Freund/Blanchard two type theory is “pseudo-science” is Karl Popper’s test that valid scientific hypothesis should be refutable.  Popper pointed out that Sigmund Freud’s theories of mind couldn’t be refuted because by definition his subconscious mind’s parts could never be directly accessed.  But the Freund/Blanchard hypotheses are based on directly observable phenomena, namely sexual arousal behavior.  Autogynephilia, gynephilia, androphilia, etc. are all observable sexual arousal patterns that may be observed both internally, and externally.  We can refute the theory (in theory) by simply finding that it isn’t true that most non-exclusively androphilic MTF transwomen experience autogynephila and/or that exclusively androphilic transwomen do experience autogynephilia.  This has been tested by a number of investigators and found to support the hypothesis.  But even if these investigators had not found support for the hypothesis, the mere fact that they can attempt to refute it puts the lie to the accusation of it being pseudo-science.

Addendum 6/4/2013:

I find it interesting to learn that researchers and educators in other fields have had similar experiences.  You may wish to read a wonderful blog entry by another scientist and educator, Steven Novella M.D., “Science by Intimidation

Many researchers get out of or stay away from controversial topics to avoid such attacks. These thuggery tactics have an effect – they stifle research and public discourse.

At the very least when people do engage in such activity they should be called on it. They should be made to answer for their thuggery and intimidation. Further, institutions need to recognize what is happening and stand by their scientists and educators.

I also hope that by discussing this phenomenon people will understand the psychology better and perhaps be less susceptible to being sucked into such groups.

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What is a Transsexual?

Posted in Science Criticism by Kay Brown on April 14, 2013

♫♫She Blinded Me with…  Science…♫♫

Science vs nonsense

In this entry, I’m going to try, real, hard, to explain the science behind what I’ve been writing about here for the past three and some years.  I’m going to try to break it down, telling the story of how it all works… and answer the various questions of the two type taxonomy doubters.

The story begins some years ago, when medical and psychology researchers tried to make sense of those individuals who were requesting ‘sex changes’.  They kept getting confused because the Male-To-Female transsexuals didn’t seem to have just one clinical presentation, one life story.  So, some of them tried to create profiles and categories, usually trying to squeeze them all into an already familiar theoretical framework.  A few people found several “types”, some found only two.  But why?  Shouldn’t there be only one?  Some decided that one of the types was a “true” transsexual, and the others a “pseudo” transsexual, or there was one “primary” and the others “secondary”.  Others found two, but called one type “early onset” and another “late onset”, almost as though there were only one type, but with two different symptomology patterns.

For more information see my essay on this early confusion.

But what was the meaning of this?  Many researchers agreed that one set was strictly “homosexual” with respect to their natal sex, transitioned very young, was feminine since childhood, and the other group was heterosexual, had “fetishistic transvestism” and transitioned much later in life.  Thus was born the hypothesis that was first fully articulated and tested by Kurt Freund, that MTF transsexuals always present with one of two unusual sexual interests, “homosexuality” or “femmiphilic fetishism”.  His concept of “femmiphilic fetishism” was that transsexuals “fetishized” both wearing female clothing and other aspects of simulating being like a woman.  He conducted a study in which he divided the MTF transwomen into two groups based on a questionnaire that statistically separated them into mostly heterosexual and mostly homosexual.  Then asked the BIG question, “Do you find wearing women’s clothing sexually arousing?”  He got a very strong statistical signal that said, yes, the mostly heterosexual group was far more likely to be sexually aroused by wearing women’s clothing than the mostly homosexual group.  This was the state of affairs in the late ’70s.

Enter a very bright and personable younger protegee of Kurt Freund’s, Ray Blanchard.  Starting with Freund’s basic hypothesis, he tested a further hypothesis using a modification to Freund’s questionnaire that placed androphilia on one axis and gynephilia on another axis, rather than as polar opposites along a single line.  This allows one to separate the asexual and bisexual individuals from the strongly heterosexual and homosexual, following up on a hunch that Freund’s method tended to lump half the asexual and bisexual individuals into each of the two other groups.  Thinking about it ahead of time, there is no reason to believe that bisexuals or asexuals would be more or less likely to be sexually aroused by wearing women’s clothing, cross-dressing.  But Blanchard had been talking to a number of candidates for surgery and noted that some who reported that they were not sexually aroused by cross-dressing were aroused by imagining themselves to be female.  So he asked about this same behavior of those who did report sexual arousal to cross-dressing and found that it was universal.  Freund was right, but it wasn’t simple fetishism… but something else… for which Blanchard coined the term “autogynephilia”.  In talking to individuals who were, using this new term, autogynephilic, he developed a new hypothesis, that if a male was gender dysphoric and not exclusively “homosexual” with respect to natal sex, then that individual would be autogynephilic.  This sounds like it is the same as Freund’s, and in a way it is, but it expands it slightly because it predicts that asexual and bisexual MTF transwomen would be autogynephilic.  Interestingly, he found that it  was true.  The data supported this hypothesis.

Having outlined the basic hypothesis, lets describe the two types of MTF transwomen.  If we take these differences between the two groups, and the similarities within each group, we can create a description of the “prototypical” member of each.  While no one individual will conform to the prototype in all respects, it still has explanatory value to describe each.

The prototypical MTF transkid / feminine androphilic (“homosexual”) MTF transsexual (HSTS) was called a “sissy” by her peers growing up.  She avoided rough & tumble activities.  Her primary social circle consisted of one or two girls.  She actively participated in girls games and imaginary play.  Her parents were embarrassed by her femininity, and may or may not have sought professional help in trying to discourage her behavior.  As a young teen, she became interested in girls fashion and make-up, often exploring how she might look as a girl by dressing up and experimenting with make-up, with occasional trips out shopping or hanging out with her friends.  This did not, of course, involve erotic cross-dressing.  She had crushes on boys at school.  Her peers thought she might be homosexual.  She was hassled, perhaps even bullied, by homophobic boys, but otherwise was reasonably popular in her chosen circle.  She was considered very neat and well dressed in boy’s clothes.  She sought out opportunities to interact with small children and infants, taking on babysitting jobs.  As she approached adulthood, looking at her own nature, her potential future, both romantic and economic, made a rational decision to transition to living as a girl so as to grow up to be a woman socially.  Her family may or may not have disowned her in late adolescence.  As she is naturally feminine and passes quite well, she found that she was socially and romantically more successful as a woman.  She actively dated men while pre-op, but assiduously avoided direct contact with her penis, finding that emotionally uncomfortable.  Being young and lacking capital, she lived several years as a woman, taking feminizing hormones, before having SRS to improve her sex life, replacing genitalia that she didn’t use with those that she did.  She may or may not have found a husband and adopted children.

The prototypical autogynephilic transsexual (AGP TS = non-HSTS) was accepted as a boy as a child.  She was often a “loner”, finding her hobbies and reading to be more rewarding, but still willing and ready to participate in rough & tumble play.  She often envied girls and observed them more often than most masculine boys.  As she entered puberty, she began erotic cross-dressing in private, often masturbating while dressed, usually with lingerie.  She found this shameful and hid her cross-dressing as best she could.  She entertained thoughts of living as a woman, often in very idealized situations.  As a young adult, she dated women, often finding it necessary to imagine that she was female to “perform”.  She typically hid this fact from her dates.  In an effort to deny her autogynephilic desire for femininity, she may have chosen to pursue a stereotypically masculine, or even hyper-masculine, career such as the military.  She fell in love and found that the previously growing desire to live as a woman abated for a while.  She married and had children.  Her need to cross-dress and use autogynephilic ideation then grew, as the first blush of their romance matured into committed love.  She agonized about it obsessively, trying alternatively to push it out of her thoughts and trying to appease it by cross-dressing.  She chose to dress and groom herself in stereotypically and unmistakably masculine fashion, with perhaps even a full beard.  At one point, perhaps in her early 30s, or in her late 50s, a set-back or other significant personal change brought all of these feelings to the fore… and she made the fateful decision that she could no longer ignore her sexuality.  After having tried to ignore the cognitive dissonance between her successful social identity as a man, husband, and father, and her obligatory autogynephilic image of being female, concluded that the female image is her “true” self.  She then made steps to begin counseling with a gender therapist, obtained prescription for feminizing hormones, began electrolysis and other procedures to effect a more feminine appearance, and then began the painful steps to living full time socially as a “transsexual”, since she didn’t pass very well and had too many social connections who know of her previous status as a man to be truly stealth.  She had SRS within a short time of nominally living as a woman, as she was impatient, feeling like she had waited long enough in her previous life as a man.  Her wife may or may not have demanded a divorce.

From here on in, rather than try to keep to a linear timeline, a history of the science, it may be more instructive to ignore the actual history and imagine a group of scientists who support the theory and a group of doubters, who like the disclaimer in the movies, are all fictional and any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.  These groups may interact and have a dialog, along the way to discovering and testing the hypothesis and theory so far presented, and perhaps discover more detail and corollaries.

Every new discovery should have a new theory to explain why it works that way.  So Freund and Blanchard searched for one.  The theory that resulted is that autogynephilia is part of a set of phenomena, that when grouped together, is called Erotic Target Location Error (ETLE).  This lumps autogynephilia in with autopedophilia and pedovestism, sexual arousal at the thought of being a child and dressing like a child respectively, known in the ‘scene’ as “age play”.  It also lumps autogynephilia with amputation “wannabees” and “pretenders”, people who are sexually aroused by the thought of being or becoming an amputee or of pretending to be an amputee.  The basic theory of Erotic Target Location Errors is that for every conventional erotic target, there is a subset of people who also find the thought of being or becoming a member of that class of erotic target to be sexually arousing.  Thus, an individual who is attracted to amputees, a “devotee” who also has an ETLE will also “pretend” and if it is very strong, will also be a “wannabee”.  In this theory, the ETLE is both dependent upon and in competition with the conventional erotic target.  If the ETLE is stronger at the moment, the individual will be “asexual”, uninterested in other people.  Conversely, if one falls in love with someone, the ETLE may abate, at least for a while.

For more information, see my essay on Erotic Target Location Errors.

This theory also makes another prediction, that gynephilic “pretenders” and “wannabees” will also be very likely autogynephilic, as their erotic target is female amputees, they will want to become female amputees.  This is in fact what was found; fully 50% of “wannabees” were also autogynephilic.

For more information, see my essay on Autogynephilia in Amputee “Wannabees”.

Every valid scientific hypothesis and theory should be repeatable.  An independent group of scientists should be able to repeat a given experiment or observation and find the same result.  Doubters of the two type hypothesis insisted that it couldn’t be repeated, that the data was a fluke.  Some even wondered aloud if the data was cooked up by Blanchard, saying that he was a charlatan, a fake, a liar, with an ax to grind, that he didn’t like transsexuals and was out to hurt them.  But theories were meant to be tested and repeated.  So a number of scientists, both supporters and skeptics, repeated the studies of MTF transsexuals, asking if they experienced autogynephilia.  Here are the results:

“Type”     Nuttbrock  Smith    Lawrence     Blanchard

Year                  2009     2005         2005           1985

HSTS                    23%       15%           18%             15%

Non-HSTS         73%       60%          56%             75%

Each study was not identical in their method of categorizing someone as either ” exclusively homosexual transsexual” or “non-homosexual” nor identical in the questionnaire that was used to ask about autogynephilia.  For example, Lawrence, in the data above, made the autogynephilia cut at “hundreds” of incidents of arousal to masturbation during cross-dressing.  When she counts all such incidents, 87% of her non-HSTS respondents indicated that they were autogynphilic.  But all of them had roughly the same trend in the data, most “non-homosexual” transwomen acknowledge experiencing autogynephilia while only a few self-reported “homosexual” transsexuals do.  Blanchard’s original data was repeatable.  Blanchard didn’t make up the data.  No one was in any kind of conspiracy, as some doubters have claimed.  In fact, the Nuttbrock group would have loved to have proved him wrong.

Oh, but now our doubters point to the data and show that it isn’t 0% vs. 100%.  So… this theory can’t be right!  Some suggest that there might be another type of transsexual, one that is neither “homosexual” nor autogynephilic.  Others suggest that autogynephilia occurs in both “homosexual” and “non-exclusively-homosexual”.  Those scientists who are familiar with psychological, especially sexological, studies know that not everyone answers the questionnaires accurately, for different reasons.  So they could accept these strong, repeatable, trends on face value.  But, a curious scientist digs deeper.

Anne Lawrence looked at the answers she got from her questionnaires very carefully, suspecting that not everyone answered fully honestly, especially about their sexuality and found,

“six participants classified as homosexual based on their pattern of sexual partnering before SRS reported experiencing autogynephilic arousal before SRS. Two of these participants, both of whom reported “hundreds of episodes or more” of autogynephilic arousal before SRS, had been married to women and had been biologic parents before SRS, suggesting that their reports of no female sexual partners before SRS were inaccurate. Two other homosexual participants, both of whom also reported “hundreds of episodes or more” of autogynephilic arousal, had not been married and had not been biologic parents; one, age 33 at time of SRS, reported only one male partner before SRS; the other, age 44 at time of SRS, reported multiple male partners before SRS. The remaining 2 homosexual participants, both ages 38, reported autogynephilic arousal only “once or twice” before SRS; both reported multiple male partners before SRS and one also reported MtF transgendered partners.  Seven other participants who were classified as homosexual based on their self-reported pattern of sexual attraction before SRS but not on the basis of their pattern of sexual partnering before SRS also reported autogynephilic sexual arousal before SRS. Four of these 7 participants had been married, and 2 of these 4 had been biologic parents; only 1 reported any male sexual partners before SRS. Of the remaining 3 participants, 2 reported no sexual partners before SRS, and 1 reported multiple male, female, and MtF transgendered partners before SRS.”

For this reason, Lawrence looked at the original Smith data and recategorized those who had been married to women but reported their sexuality as “homosexual” to “non-homosexual” and got a stronger statistical signal, which I reported above.

For more information see my essay on Lawrence recategorizing subjects.

Thus, respondents were not accurately reporting their true sexual orientation.  Blanchard had similar suspicions about the reported sexual orientations and about the less than 100% reported autogynephilia in his non-HSTS group, so he did a study to look at the issue of social desirability bias, the tendency for people to respond to questionnaires with answers that they personally believe will make them “look good”.  Using the Crowne-Marlow Social Desirability Scale he found that in non-HSTS subjects, there was a high correlation with wanting to “look good” and down playing autogynephilia and sexual attraction to women, while simultaneously over stating sexual attraction to men.  Knowing this, we can get an increased signal strength when we limit the non-HSTS group to only self-reported exclusively heterosexual and the HSTS group to only teenagers, which in the Nuttbrock group gives us 82% vs 14% respectively.

For more information see my essay on social desirability bias in transsexuals.

There are of course, transwomen, who clearly fit the autogynephilic profile, who deny that they ever felt autogynephilia, but most DO own up to it when questioned.  This denial of sexual arousal to cross-dressing is not limited to transsexuals, it is also found in heterosexual cross-dressers, where only 85% of them admit to arousal, the same percentage as exclusively heterosexual transsexuals.  Blanchard wondered if the ones who denied arousal might simply be mistaken, or denying it due to social desirability bias, so he did a study using a device to measure penile erectile responses.  The results clearly showed that those who denied arousal, DID in fact become aroused when listening to erotic cross-dressing narratives.

Thus, the ‘wriggle room’ for there being a “third type” of transsexual is reduced to ever diminishing possibility as one looks ever closer at the actual people. But then a new group of doubters bring up the idea that perhaps autogynephilia is not the cause of their transsexuality, but an after effect.  But not all autogynephilic males identify as women, in fact, the majority don’t.  Even in those who later transition, female self-identification usually occurs only years after intense erotic cross-dressing or other autogynephilic ideation surfaces in childhood or adolescence.  The case histories, though not necessarily their narratives, of AGP transsexuals strongly suggests that autogynephilia causes gender dysphoria and subsequent female self-identification, not the other way around.

One of the best documentations that autogynephilia is the root cause of non-homosexual transsexuality was done by Doctor and Prince, who showed that cross-gender identification was most commonly preceded by years of autogynephilic cross-dressing, that transvestism and non-homosexual transsexuality are both a continuum and a progression,

“Among our subjects, 79% did not appear in public cross dressed prior to age 20; at that time, most of the subjects had already had several years of experience with cross dressing. The average number of years of practice with cross dressing prior to owning a full feminine outfit was 15. The average number of years of practice with cross dressing prior to adoption of a feminine name was 21. Again, we have factual evidence indicative of the considerable time required for the development of the cross-gender identity.”

Further, consider that those MTF transsexuals who transition earliest, who are the most innately and spontaneously feminine, who one would expect would have the greatest gender dysphoria and strongest “female gender identity” from early childhood,  “homosexual” transsexuals, never develop autogynephilia.

For more information on how the two MTF transsexuals each have different developmental routes read my essay on the Origin of Cross-Gender Identity in Transsexuals.

Faced with ever mounting proof of the fact that autogynephila is a universal and prominent attribute of non-HSTS, a group of doubters put forth the very radical and odd notion that autogynephilia is a normal part of female sexuality.  One doubter, Charles Moser, M.D., whose other scientific and therapeutic interests include bondage, dominance/submission, sadomasachism (BD/SM), etc. did a very small study asking natal women to respond to a questionnaire that was cleverly written to obtain positive answers to ambiguous questions that only superficially resembled questions used in instruments that are only valid for gender dysphoric males.  For example, one question asked if one fantasized about having a “sexier” body?  (One would hardly expect that women would fantasize about having an uglier one!)  Another question asked about becoming aroused while preparing for a sexual encounter with a lover.  (Such arousal would arise due to anticipation, not the mere fact of getting dressed in women’s’ clothing!)  Thus, the paper is of no scientific value in exploring the nature of women’s sexuality.

On a curious side note, there is a correlation between BD/SM in which about one out of three autogynephilic males is also into BD/SM and vice versa.

For more information about this study, see my essay on the lack of validity of Moser’s paper.

While it may be comforting to autogynephilic individuals to imagine that their very unusual and intense sexuality is the same as, or at least similar to, natal women, it is not.  Most women are sexually attracted to their sexual partners.  They are aroused by sexual ideation in which their partner is the significant figure, not themselves, their own appearance, nor their mode of dress, which, if present, is of a supporting, rather than leading role.

Finally, another hypothesis is put forth by doubters, despite their obvious lack of naturally feminine behavior, that they are still neurologically “female-like”, at least in some important way, the so called, “feminine essence” or “brain sex” hypothesis.  Blanchard, in response, made the prediction that brain studies would show that BOTH populations would be different than control males, but in different ways.  He further made the prediction that HSTS brains would be shifted toward the female morphology in sexually dimorphic areas of the brain, while AGP transsexuals would not.

The first major paper that was hailed as “proof” that late transitioning, non-homosexual, transsexuals had female-like brains was Swaab’s study that showed that the BSTc was feminized in such transsexuals.  But Swaab himself later showed that the BSTc was only sexually dimorphic in adulthood.  That is to say, that this area is very plastic, responding to sex hormones, the sexually dimorphic structure being an “activation effect”, casting serious doubt on the value of the entire study, that it was very likely that years of HRT was fully responsible for the feminization of the BSTc.  The next “proof” was the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus, INAH3, that also was feminized in non-homosexual transsexuals.  However, as I personally showed, this too was caused by HRT.  Other studies, too numerous to list individually here, are beginning to show that Blanchard’s prediction is correct.

For more information, see my list of essays on Brain Sex.

There will always be doubters and outright denialists.  But to those who read the literature carefully and yes, skeptically, the growing evidence that the Freund/Blanchard two type taxonomy is correct far outweighs the doubts.

You may wish to continue reading about answering the doubters and denialists in my essay, Don’t Shoot the Messenger.

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An Embarrassment of Riches

Posted in Confirming Two Type Taxonomy by Kay Brown on March 21, 2013

I hadn’t covered this earlier, and perhaps I should have, but, never too late.  In 2005, Dr. Anne Lawrence published a study in which she canvased a significant number of MTF transwomen that had had SRS from Dr. Toby Meltzer.  This paper is a true treasure trove of data, only a smattering of which I will explore here:

Characteristics of Participants by Reported Pattern of Sexual Attraction
Attraction before SRS/Attraction after SRS:                                                        F/M              F/F                  M/M
Participant characteristic                                                                                         (n = 30)      (n = 50)         (n = 17)
Mean age at SRS (SD)                                                                                                   45 (8.4)      44 (9.1)          34 (9.2)
Mean age at living full-time in female role (SD)                                               42 (11.3)     42 (9.6)         28 (8.8)
Mean duration of real-life experience before SRS, in months (SD)          21 (18)        21 (18)           63 (63)
Mean number of female sexual partners before SRS (SD)                            12 (16)        15 (21)           0.3 (0.8)
Mean number of male sexual partners before SRS (SD)                                0.7 (1.3)    0.8 (1.8)        6.6 (8.8)
Very or somewhat feminine as a child, in own opinion                                41%              45%                 76%
Very or somewhat feminine as a child, in others’ probable opinion       21%              24%                 76%
Autogynephilic arousal hundred of times or more before SRS                 52%              58%                 18%
Married to a woman before SRS                                                                              70%             74%                 12%
Biologic parent before SRS                                                                                        53%              42%                   6%
Mean number of female sexual partners after SRS (SD)                                0 (0)            1.5 (2.6)        0.4 (0.9)
Mean number of female sexual partners after SRS                                          0 (0)            1.0 (1.7)        0.3 (0.8)
in last year (SD)
Mean episodes of sexual behavior with female partners after SRS          0 (0)              21 (48)         0.1 (0.5)
in last year (SD)
Mean number of male sexual partners after SRS (SD)                                   2.9 (3.1)      0.7 (1.6)       6.9 (10.7)
Mean number of male sexual partners after SRS in last year (SD)           1.9 (2.3)       0.4 (1.5)       2.9 (3.9)
Mean episodes of sexual behavior with male partners after SRS             30 (63)         1 (4)                67 (128)
in last year (SD)
More than one male sexual partner after SRS                                                  60%                16%                 65%
In stable partnered relationship after SRS, at any time                               40%                74%                 71%
In stable partnered relationship after SRS, at time of survey                    27%               62%                  29%

Notes:
F/M = Exclusively or almost exclusively attracted to females before SRS, exclusively or almost exclusively attracted to males after SRS.
F/F = Exclusively or almost exclusively attracted to females before and after SRS.
M/M = Exclusively or almost exclusively attracted to males before and after SRS.

This paper has clearly documented the phenomena of autogynephilic pseudo-androphilic shift in sexual behavior after SRS, showing it is fairly common.

Looking at the data for autogynephila, we note that the stably “exclusively” androphilic included 18% that reported extensive autogynephilic arousal.  This would seem to contradict Blanchard’s taxonomy that exclusively androphilic MTF transsexuals do not experience autogynephilia.  However, there is strong evidence that a number of these individuals inaccurately reported their actual sexual orientation as Lawrence dug deeper,

“six participants classified as homosexual based on their pattern of sexual partnering before SRS reported experiencing autogynephilic arousal before SRS. Two of these participants, both of whom reported “hundreds of episodes or more” of autogynephilic arousal before SRS, had been married to women and had been biologic parents before SRS, suggesting that their reports of no female sexual partners before SRS were inaccurate. Two other homosexual participants, both of whom also reported “hundreds of episodes or more” of autogynephilic arousal, had not been married and had not been biologic parents; one, age 33 at time of SRS, reported only one male partner before SRS; the other, age 44 at time of SRS, reported multiple male partners before SRS. The remaining 2 homosexual participants, both ages 38, reported autogynephilic arousal only “once or twice” before SRS; both reported multiple male partners before SRS and one also reported MtF transgendered partners.  Seven other participants who were classified as homosexual based on their self-reported pattern of sexual attraction before SRS but not on the basis of their pattern of sexual partnering before SRS also reported autogynephilic sexual arousal before SRS. Four of these 7 participants had been married, and 2 of these 4 had been biologic parents; only 1 reported any male sexual partners before SRS. Of the remaining 3 participants, 2 reported no sexual partners before SRS, and 1 reported multiple male, female, and MtF transgendered partners before SRS.”

Some of these self identified androphilic individuals who were clearly having sex with female partners before SRS, are just as clearly STILL having sex with female partners after SRS.  This would suggest that they were in fact bisexual in behavior and sexual orientation, which as Blanchard demonstrated, are autogynphilic.  Thus, we don’t really see any exclusively androphilic transwomen reporting autogynephilia and thus the Freund/Blanchard two type taxonomy hypothesis is supported by this data.

Note that even with these older transitioning AGP transsexuals inadvertently included in the stably androphilic group, the mean age of transition is still significantly younger than the originally (and in truth, still) gynephilic transwomen.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the raw data that would allow me to back these individuals out to determine a better value of the mean age of transition, but it is certainly less than the 28 years old found here.  The data also supports an assertion I have long made, that AGP transwomen usually have greater access to capital which allows them to move quickly from full time transition to SRS, while transkids often remain “pre-op” for far longer; a little more than five years on average compared to less than two for AGPs.  (Again, likely to be longer if we backed out the bisexuals.)  Also note that sizable difference between the childhood femininity between the stably androphilic and the originally and stably gynephilic groups.  I’m personally amused that when asked what others might have perceived, that some in the gynephilic groups seem to have sheepishly admitted that others would not have considered them to have been feminine as young children.

On a sad note, the data shows that truly androphilic transwomen have trouble keeping long term partners.  What this data doesn’t show is why.  From personal experience and from having spoken to many others, I can attest that it is due to straight men having difficulty accepting our transsexual medical history.  Straight men fall in love with transkids readily enough… but after the blush of infatuation passes, the fear of friends and family discovering their lover’s transsexual status far too often over-rides their pair bond.

When reviewing this data, we should always keep in mind that we are looking for trends in the data, since people don’t always accurately report their sexual behavior, especially autogynephilic transwomen.  But still, the data clearly supports the Freund/Blanchard two type taxonomy hypothesis.

(Addendum 12/20/2013:  Using a technique I successfully used before, we might be able to make an estimate/SWAG at the age of transition for the exclusively androphilic transwomen in this sample by estimating the number of AGP transwomen from their reported erotic cross-dressing (18%), assuming that they report it at the same rate as those transwomen who reported that their orientation had changed from gynephilic to androphilic (52%) who they most resemble… 0.18/0.52 x 17 = ~6  So, our estimate is that six non-exclusively-androphilic transwomen incorrectly identified themselves as exclusively androphilic.  Thus, of 17 transwomen who collectively averaged 28 years old at full time transition, only 11 were likely to have been actually exclusively androphilic.  So we need to subtract six individuals who likely were 42 years old on average, when they transitioned.  So, ((28×17)-(42×6))/11 = ~20 years old.  This is more in keeping with other studies that show that the median and average is 20 years old. )

Reference:

Anne A. Lawrence, “Sexuality Before and After Male-to-Female Sex Reassignment Surgery”
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-005-1793-y

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Going to the Chapel… ♫♫

Posted in Book Reviews, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on March 13, 2013

♫♫… and We’re Going to Get Married…♫♫

Greens bookDr. Richard Green in his 1974 book on transsexuals, “Gender Identity Conflict in Children and Adults” wrote,

“The men who fall in love with and perhaps marry women who are themselves former males, by and large, have known their partners only as women.  their prior sexual experiences have been only with females.  They consider themselves heterosexual and their relationships heterosexual.  To varying degrees they are consciously and unconsciously aware of the biologic status of their partners, but it would be simplistic and would furthermore blur generally accepted definitions to call these men homosexual.  Rather they are men who respond to the considerable femininity of male-to-female transsexuals, ignoring the dissonant cues of masculinity.”

Those very words, read when I was 17 years old, gave me hope that my dearest wish, to find and marry a straight man, hopefully to also adopt children, just might be possible, in spite of my own mother’s words of encouragement that “No man will ever love you, you know.”  Fortunately, Dr. Green was right, and my mother quite wrong.  Although there are few references, and almost no serious studies, that specifically look at the men who marry transwomen, either “early onset” or “late onset”, I believe from my own observations that most MTF transkids who marry, do find husbands who are straight and narrow (but not narrow minded), because gay men just aren’t interested in transkids.

As by negative proof, Green describes a married couple in his book, a pre-op transwoman and a putatively, self-described, straight man.  In quoting this man, he describes the day he met his ladylove,

“The first time I ever remember was she was walking across the street, and one of the fellows I work with said, “Hey, that looks like a guy wearing capris.”

Thus, this man knew she was a transwoman from the very start, as she was just barely beginning to transition.  From the description given both by Dr. Green and by this man, it is clear that this transwoman was a classic transkid.  This transwoman, in the same section, lamented that she very much wanted SRS, but was getting serious resistance from her husband,

“My marriage is not doing so good.  It’s not good because my husband more and more has turned to — now he’s turned to more and more to homosexuality.  It’s something I’ve found very difficult to live with.  I could understand his turning to another woman, because of my position, but not another man.  It really tears me up.”

Thus, we see that this transwoman has married a gay man who used her as a stepping stone in coming out.  It seemed clear reading the book that this marriage would soon end, because when asked if she thought her husband was possibly against her transitioning she replied,

“Yes, I do, because were were closer before I started dressing as a woman regularly.  The point was when I got my breast  operation.  It was one thing I didn’t understand.  It meant so much for me to get this operation, and when I did get it, he was very cold for about two months afterwards.  He was very nasty to me. and he told me that as time goes by I’m getting more womanly and more adjusted and this is bugging him.”

Thus, he showed that MTF transkids’ husbands are by and large heterosexual, because gay men lose interest as we transition.

Green interviews a number of other men who are either married or engaged to MTF transkids, who were all clearly straight.  Green was mostly right… but in some respects he missed a few nuances.  Back in the early 70’s he failed to differentiate between transkids and autogynephilic transwomen, and the nature of the men who married AGP transwomen.  But we still find hints.  In his book he writes about a candidate for surgery who detransitions when he falls in love with a post-op transsexual.  This individual is in fact gynephilic, and as a man who detransitioned, would be described as heterosexual, but he is also autogynephilic and gynandromorphophilic.

While it is obvious why MTF transkids, who are, after all, genuinely androphilic would wish to find and marry heterosexual men.  It has always puzzled me as to why obviously autogynephilic, and just as obviously, truly gynephilic, transwomen would chose instead to marry men.  Further, just what motivates such men to marry these autogynephilic transwomen?  Lawrence, in her 2013 book speculates,

“… some of them go to great lengths to maintain a facade of “heterosexual normality.”  One can observe this phenomenon on a few internet web sites belonging to MtF transsexuals who fit the autogynephilic demographic (formerly married to women, male-typical occupational history, etc.) and have found men willing to marry them.  On their web sites, these transsexuals clearly convey their pride in their status as married women; sometimes they even display their wedding photographs…”

I can almost see this… but it doesn’t explain the men involved, nor why these transwomen are able to maintain such relationships.  Perhaps we saw a hint of who these men are, and what dynamic maintains the relationship in Green’s book, mutual gynandromorphophilia and autogynephilia?  Consider that Green’s detransitioned transgendered individual likely still experiences autogynephilic arousal to cross-dressing?  Could it be that such men who AGP transsexuals marry are themselves autogynephilic and gynandromorphophilic?

About twenty years ago, a young transwoman in her mid-20’s called me up because she wanted me to meet her new boyfriend.  This news very much surprised me because I had never gotten the impression that she was terribly interested in men.  She had, after all, been in the Navy, on board submarines, for months at a time, and never felt any desire toward her shipmates (me?  I would have gone nuts trying to keep my hands off of them!).   We discussed our conflicting schedules and finally agreed that the best time would also coincide with her support group meeting time.  So off I trudged to an AGP transgender support group meeting.  When I finally met my friend’s new boyfriend, all was made clear… her “boyfriend” was also her “girlfriend”… as he was a classic and typical cross-dresser, fully dressed in women’s clothes for this CD/TG/TS support group meeting. To the outside world, they were a heterosexual couple.  To TG ‘insiders’ it was known that they were a pre-op TS woman and a semi-closeted cross-dresser.

Some time ago, when I was still single, I was introduced to a man who sounded like a potential mate.  He took me to classical music concerts, romantic drives in the country in his sports car, cooked a fine meal… seemed ideal… yet I wasn’t attracted to him, though he was to me, strongly.  He broached the idea of marriage.  It couldn’t have been described as a proposal, likely because he “knew” I would turn him down,   because included in his reasons for why the match was perfect was the idea that we could share the same wardrobe, as we wore the same size 12 dresses.  Although this was personally repugnant, we know for a fact that many autogynephilic transwomen would find this to be ideal.

In the Daskalos paper purportedly about changes in sexual orientation after transition, we see two more examples of exactly such relationships.  In combination with autogynephilic pseudo-androphilia, this makes a potent brew of mutual sexual attraction.  Exactly how many AGP transwomen have found such a mutually agreeable relationship with a cross-dressing man is uncertain.  That such relationships exist is beyond doubt.  This would make for a very interesting research paper.

You may wish to read more from Green’s book here.

References:

Richard Green, M.D., 1974, “Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults“, Basic Books

Anne Lawrence, 2013,Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies, Springer

Daskalos CT., “Changes in the sexual orientation of six heterosexual male-to-female transsexuals.”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/pu44808u15q78k21/

Anne Lawrence, “Letter to the Editor” (in response to Daskalos)
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023/A%3A1018725518592

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Posted in Book Reviews by Kay Brown on December 14, 2012

Book Review:  “Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies”

From Seattle, the wonderful Emerald City, Anne Lawrence has published what I hope will soon become the most talked about book on the topic of autogynephilic transsexuality, “Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies“.  I just finished reading Chapter 2, which is available for free download.  None of the material she includes will be a surprise to those that have read my blog in its entirety, but she presents the material in a very cogent and compellingly straight-forward manner.  I will be buying the book and look forward to reading the rest.

http://www.annelawrence.com/mtimb.html

You may read Ray Blanchard’s poignant forward to the book here:

http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/bfm%3A978-1-4614-5182-2%2F1

Addendum 1/30/2013:

I just finished reading the book, cover to cover.  It was well worth the read.

BRAVA!  BRAVA!  Anne, BRAVA!!

Over the course of a little over a decade, Dr. Lawrence had been collecting personal narratives from 249 AGP TS informants.  From these, she analyzed and presents in the book, a breakdown on the common themes found in those narratives.  From them, one can get a sense of both the wide range of expression, yet the common underlying theme of the longing to be feminine and the confusion and pain of these transwomen as they struggle as individuals to come to terms with their sexuality and changing gender identity.

This book is clearly aimed at the clinician whose clients include “late transitioning” transsexual males.  After reading it, I strongly recommend that this book should be read and reviewed by every gender therapist, physician, and surgeon.  Hopefully this will serve to dispel the mistaken belief that at least some clinicians have about the suitability of AGP transwomen for HRT and SRS, which from some of the narratives still exists, as Dr. Lawrence explains,

Other autogynephilic transsexuals similarly concluded that the safest approach to take with the psychotherapists was to present themselves as “textbook cases” of MtF transssexualism, not only refusing to disclose their history of sexual arousal with cross-dressing or cross-gender fantasy but lying about this if necessary.  Their attitude is consistent with data from Walworth’s (1997) survey of 52 MtF transsexuals, who reported that sexual arousal with cross-dressing was the single most common topic about which they had lied to or misled their psychotherapists.  … Explanations like these might partly explain why many psychotherapists who specialize in gender issues report that they rarely encounter clients for whom autogynephilia is a significant issue.

For the older transitioning transsexual, reading this book may also help in understanding oneself, and more importantly, know that despite others’ denial, autogynephilic sexuality and motivation for transition and SRS is not only common, but  are found in the majority of transsexuals in the Western countries, that quite literally, they are not alone.

One of the themes common among the narratives was the need to downplay, rationalize, or reinterpret autogynephilic experiences.

One such belief would be that he really has a “woman’s brain” in his male body.  Another would be that autogynephilia is not a paraphilia at all but merely a normal element of female sexuality.  Yet another would be that he really had been destined to be attracted to men all along, but that his natural inclinations were suppressed by social conditioning and homophobia.  Still another would be that the cross-gender fantasies that he found so exciting earlier in life no longer hold any erotic interest for him, but were merely a temporary mechanism for coping with his gender dysphoria.  A final such belief would be that autogynephilia is merely an effect of his cross-gender identification, not the cause of that identification.  Personally, I consider such explanatory beliefs to be implausible at best, but I understand their appeal.

In the end of the book, Dr. Lawrence makes a plea for more transwomen to come out as autogynephilic, to own their sexuality, to stand as role models for self-honesty.  I too would encourage such.  Yet, and I think this may surprise many of her critics, she doesn’t demand that all autogynephilic transsexual women face and acknowledge their sexuality, who use alternative defense mechanisms that downplay or even deny autogynephilic motivations and experiences, saying,

I’m not ordinarily an advocate for self-deception, but if explanatory beliefs like these make it easier for autogynephilic men who are good candidates for sex reassignment to move forward, I’m willing to condone them.  …  If implausible explanatory beliefs make it easier for these transsexuals to justify sex reassignment to themselves or others, I’m not inclined to argue too strenuously.

I came away with a greater appreciation of the uninvited dilemma that faces autogynephilic transfolk.  Even for the androphilic MTF transwoman, FtM transman, and even gay, lesbian, and bisexual, I recommend buying and reading this important book.  We can’t say that we embrace and support our diverse community until we truly understand that diversity.

You can purchase the book through Amazon.com

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We’re freakin at the freakers ball…

Posted in Editorial, Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on March 24, 2012

Where all the fags and the dykes, they’re boogyin’ together
The leather freaks are dressed in all kinds of leather
The greatest of the sadists and the masochists too
Screaming “Please hit me, and I’ll hit you”

-Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show

Last summer, I had dinner at a restaurant in the City with a transactivist friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in nearly a decade.  It was pleasant enough, until she started on a rant about Anne Lawrence, with whom we have both been acquainted for many years.  My friend wanted me to agree with her that Anne was doing the “community” a horrible disservice, “She’s trying to turn us all into paraphiliacs!”  I replied, quite honestly and ironically, “No, she isn’t…”  But left the rest of my thought unsaid: “… she can’t make you be what you already are.”  But, although I didn’t voice my real opinions, she kept up her rant.  She argued that Anne was wrong because it would harm the community. She never asked me about this blog, nor did I volunteer that I was writing it.  She seemed to take it for granted that I, as a long time transactivist, would agree with her that we should all fight against Dr. Lawrence’s work, ignoring my personal history, and what that might mean regarding my personal views on the subject.  What struck me later about the evening’s discussion, that while always friendly, despite our not agreeing, was that my friend, though a biological scientist herself, never once tried to argue her point based on the science, but rather on the politics.  That it was wrong to do the science, if the science itself would lead to certain knowledge that most transwomen were autogynephilic, and that autogynephilia was the cause of their gender dysphoria and cross-gender identity, as that would lead to the public no longer seeing MTF transsexuals as “women in men’s bodies”.    I countered that science is what it is, and the truth is what it is.  I made it clear that I support science, and that the truth is always a good thing to know.  I came away with the certain knowledge that among the transactivist community, it was very well understood that the science did, and would continue, to support the Freund / Blanchard two type taxonomy of MTF transsexuality.

There are several elements to this story.  First, is Anne Lawrence really demonstrating that non-homosexual transsexuality is a manifestation of a paraphilia, to wit, autogynephilia?  Second, is autogynephilia a “mental disorder”?  Third, is that really so bad?

First, is Lawrence demonstrating that non-homosexual transsexuals are autogynephilic?  Yes, but her work is largely redundant to the science that has been so meticulously done by Freund, Blanchard, and even, if unintentionally, Nuttbrock.  Further, one of the best documentations that autogynephilia is the root cause of non-homosexual transsexuality was done by Doctor and Prince, who showed that cross-gender identification was most commonly preceded by years of autogynephilic cross-dressing, that transvestism and non-homosexual transsexuality are both a continuum and a progression.

Among our subjects, 79% did not appear in public cross dressed prior to age 20; at that time, most of the subjects had already had several years of experience with cross dressing. The average number of years of practice with cross dressing prior to owning a full feminine outfit was 15. The average number of years of practice with cross dressing prior to adoption of a feminine name was 21. Again, we have factual evidence indicative of the considerable time required for the development of the cross-gender identity.

So, MTF transactivists can hardly blame Lawrence for merely adding to what has already been very convincingly demonstrated.  The real value of her work has been to expand on the theme, adding weight to the need for compassionate therapeutic and surgical intervention to allow AGP transsexual women to live fulfilling lives.

Does Lawrence consider autogynephilia, and by extension, autogynephilic transsexuality a paraphilia?  Again, Yes, as her 2004 paper states that explicitly in its title, “Autogynephilia: A Paraphilic Model of Gender Identity Disorder”, and in the text,

…Blanchard’s autogynephilia theory helps explain why transvestism and transsexualism are often associated with other unusual erotic interests. Sexual scientists have observed for decades that unusual sexual interests— sadomasochism, bondage, autoerotic asphyxia, interest in leather and rubber, exhibitionism, voyeurism, infantilism, pedophilia—frequently do not occur in isolation, but instead tend to co-occur. Males who have one unusual sexual interest are far more likely to have one or more other unusual sexual interests than would be expected simply by chance (Abel & Osborn, 1992; Wilson & Gosselin, 1980). And other unusual erotic interests are very common among transvestites and some MtF transsexuals. Wilson and Gosselin (1980) found that 63% of their sample of transvestites and transsexuals also described fetishistic or sadomasochistic interests. Blanchard and Hucker (1991) reported that transvestism accompanied many cases of autoerotic asphyxia. Abel and Osborn (1992) documented the co-occurrence of transvestism and transsexualism with other paraphilias. If transsexualism and transvestism are purely gender-identity-based phenomena, then these associations makes no sense. But if transsexualism and transvestism sometimes represent unusual sexual interests—as Blanchard’s autogynephilia theory proposes—then their association with other uncommon sexual interests does make sense.

So, I believe that Lawrence convincingly demonstrates, from prior studies, that autogynephilic transsexuality is most definitely a paraphilia.  But is it a “mental disorder”?  Again, from another, more recent paper from Lawrence,

Does the desire for sex reassignment in autogynephilic MtF transsexuals represent a mental disorder? I contend that it does. To meaningfully address the question, one must attempt to define the term mental disorder, an obligation that writers who discuss this topic — including Meyer-Bahlburg (2010) — too often neglect. For purposes of discussion, I will use the definition proposed by Wakefield and First (2003), in an article cited by Meyer-Bahlburg; similar definitions have recently been proposed by Stein et al. (2010) and First and Wakefield (2010). According to Wakefield and First, a mental disorder is “a ‘harmful mental dysfunction,’ with harm being determined by social values and the word dysfunction referring to the failure of a mental mechanism to perform its natural (i.e., evolutionarily selected) function” (p. 28). Wakefield and First recognized that an evolutionary analysis created potential epistemological challenges but argued that often “one can judge with some plausibility the functions and dysfunctions of a [mental] mechanism (or at least that a function or dysfunction likely exists), with no need for detailed direct knowledge of the evolution of the mechanism.” (p. 39). They added that, in many cases, “one can make such inferences without knowing anything about the actual mechanisms. . . . Indeed, many of the DSM’s categories (e.g., sleep disorders, sexual and gender identity disorders) clearly correspond to types of inferred designed mechanisms that have gone wrong.” (p. 36). Wakefield and First considered a dysfunction to be harmful if it carried significant “negative implications for the individual’s overall well-being” (p. 34), or perhaps sometimes for the well-being of others (p. 41). They also emphasized that the dysfunction must be “in the individual” (p. 34) and “cannot be due only to social deviance, disapproval by others, or conflict with society or others” (p. 34). Although Wakefield and First’s definition may not be perfect, it provides a starting point for discussion, and the analysis that follows is not highly dependent on its specific details.

In autogynephilic MtF transsexuals, it is reasonable to infer that the mental mechanism responsible for accurately “locating erotic targets in the environment” (Freund & Blanchard, 1993, p. 558) has failed to perform its natural function: Specifically, there has been a partial or complete failure of the evolutionarily selected mechanism that keeps heterosexual erotic interest (i.e., gynephilia) directed toward erotic targets external to the self. Autogynephilic MtF transsexuals experience a powerful erotic interest in turning their own bodies into facsimiles of their preferred erotic targets (females), an interest that competes with and sometimes completely overshadows erotic interest directed toward external female partners (Blanchard, 1992). It is easy to understand why evolutionary selection might favor the development of a mental mechanism that would keep gynephilic men’s erotic interest focused on external female partners. When a gynephilic man’s erotic interest is instead directed primarily toward his own feminized body, one can reasonably infer that this putative mental mechanism has wholly or partly failed. If the foregoing analysis is correct, then the desire for sex reassignment in autogynephilic MtF transsexuals — that is, in many or most nonhomosexual MtF transsexuals — represents a genuine mental dysfunction.

Again, Lawrence convincingly argues that autogynphilic transsexuality is a “mental disorder”?  But is this a “bad thing” in and of itself?  That is to say, it it morally reprehensible?  Who is harmed?  No one.  As Cantor poignantly states regarding all human beings with paraphilic sexualities,

It is here that I must draw an important, but usually unmarked, distinction: I personally agree wholeheartedly that everyone with atypical sexual interests deserves respect and full recognition of all their civil rights; however, I disagree that answers to scientific questions can be identified by presuming the desired outcome and then backwards-engineering one’s interpretation of the research data to guarantee arrival at that outcome. Moreover, and perhaps more importantly, questions of rights fall outside the purview of science. People deserve respect and civil rights regardless of the scientific classification of their sexual interests.

Herein lies an important point, an atypical sexuality, per se, should never be the cause of unreasoning stigma or discrimination.  But, it often does.  In point of fact, homosexuality itself, though generally not thought of as either a paraphilia nor a mental disorder, has still a very negative stigma and even legal sanctions against it.  So, whether a phenomena is officially, or unofficially, recognized as a paraphilia has no bearing on whether it will or will not be stigmatized.  Transsexuality, like homosexuality, is stigmatized regardless of whether it is understood to be a paraphilia or a mental disorder.

Anne Lawrence, and all of the scientists and clinicians working to better understand the transsexual phenomena, are not responsible for the stigma and discrimination.  But, hopefully, with better understanding of our two, separate, conditions, both autogynephilic and homosexual transsexuals will each be better off, with appropriate and compassionate medical care.

References:

Lawrence, A., “Autogynephilia: A Paraphilic Model of Gender Identity Disorder”
http://www.annelawrence.com/autogynephilia,_a_paraphilic_model_of_GID.pdf

Lawrence, A., “Do Some Men Who Desire Sex Reassignment Have a Mental Disorder? Comment on Meyer-Bahlburg (2010)”, Archives of Sexual Behavior (in press)
http://www.annelawrence.com/desire_for_sr_a_mental_disorder.html

Cantor, J., “Is Homosexuality a Paraphilia? The Evidence For and Against”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/00311501070l6321/fulltext.pdf

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And the Beat Goes On…♫♫

Posted in Brain Sex, Confirming Two Type Taxonomy by Kay Brown on December 8, 2011

♫…Drum keeps pounding rhythm to the brain… La di da di dee…♫

James Cantor recently published a letter to the editor in the Archives of Sexual Behavior pointing out nearly the same point that I had made earlier, that recent MRI scans of transsexual brains show clear evidence that Blanchard’s two type hypotheses is supported.  One of the papers he referenced is one that I had earlier referenced; The Rametti study in Spain, which showed that MTF  transkids have partially feminized brain structures.  The other paper is new to me; The Savic paper clearly adds yet another confirming MRI study that when combined with the Luders MRI study, shows that gynephilic MTF transsexuals do not have feminized brains.  On top of it, true to another speculative prediction that Blanchard made, the new study confirms the other paper’s finding that gynephilic (AGP) MTF transsexuals show other, non-sexually dimorphic structures, are different from both non-transsexual men and women!

These two papers both noted that the putamen of gynephilic MTF transsexual are different from both non-TS men and women.  This may be the main area to research in the future?

For more essays on trans-brains see Brain Sex

References:

Cantor, James, “New MRI Studies Support the Blanchard Typology of Male-to-Female Transsexualism”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/b52p04306u076623/

Reply to Italiano’s (2012) Comment on Cantor (2011)
JamesM. Cantor  http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2Fs10508-012-0011-y

Rametti G, Carrillo B, Gómez-Gil E, Junque C, Zubiarre-Elorza L, Segovia S, Gomez A, Guillamon A., “The microstructure of white matter in male to female transsexuals before cross-sex hormonal treatment. A DTI study.”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21195418

Ivanka Savic, Stefan Arver, “Sex Dimorphism of the Brain in Male-to-Female Transsexuals”
http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/04/05/cercor.bhr032

Luders E, Sánchez FJ, Gaser C, Toga AW, Narr KL, Hamilton LS, Vilain E., “Regional gray matter variation in male-to-female transsexualism.”
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2754583/

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