On the Science of Changing Sex

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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

mtimbBook 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” male-to-female transsexuals.  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.

Download complete book here: Men-trapped-in-mens-bodies_BOOK

You can purchase the book through Amazon.com

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