On the Science of Changing Sex

A case of mistaken identity…

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on December 28, 2009

… or at least of mistaken theory.

phrenologyCase histories are often used in the medical, psychological, and therapeutic literature to explore and illustrate more general concepts.  Reading such case histories sometimes allows us to reinterpret the case, come to different conclusions.  Consider the case histories posted by Anne Vitale, a therapist specializing in gender issues:


In this first case history, her client, “S”, had been living as a woman for approximately twenty years, but recently entered a relationship with a straight woman.  To please the new girlfriend, this AGP transsexual ‘de-transitioned’ to living as a man and began taking male hormone, testosterone.  The use of testosterone is known to increase libido, which was the desired effect.  However, with the use of testosterone came the desire to cross-dress, largely defeating the purpose for taking the testosterone, that of increasing his partner’s approval of him.

In case #2, an internet correspondent reported essentially the same effect:

“That’s the third time I’ve taken testosterone and every time I’ve had overwhelming desires to present myself as a female.”

In both cases, testosterone increased the libido, which in turn increased autogynephilic desire.  These cases are very easy to interpret and understand if one understands the nature of autogynephilic desire and arousal as an essential part of their sexuality.  Increasing libido simply increases the expression of their sexuality which is autogynephilic.

However, quite inexplicably, Dr. Vitale, who clearly knows about the autogynephilic model from her reading of the literature, proposes a new model of “testosterone toxicity” to explain the effects.  All jokes about “testosterone poisoning” aside, this model fails Occam’s razor;  Autogynephilia easily explains these two cases.

This brings us to the topic of gender therapists in general.  Given the natural predisposition of the type of people who enter this field to want to help relieve the suffering in their clients, there is a danger that they may begin to accept, uncritically, the narratives that their clients present.  It is doubtful that the therapists are completely fooled, but over time, failure to directly question AGP individuals on the nature and consequences of their sexuality has led to unquestioned acceptance of the “hidden feminine gender identity” model, and even of the more unlikely model of female brain sex etiology for clearly masculine, heterosexual male’s desire for somatic feminization.  This unquestioning acceptance does not serve their clients’ best interests.

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