On the Science of Changing Sex

I’ve Done My Research…

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on July 18, 2017

20106662_827148660781856_9051171404874056968_nOr… Bringing a Plastic Picnic Knife to a Gunfight

If one were to trust the discussions on various internet fora, and even occasionally a direct email, one would think everyone in the trans* community was an expert on trans* sexuality and experience.  One would think that they all have read the science papers and have considered the evidence.  One would be very wrong.

One transwoman told me on a forum (my own facebook page of all things) that she had read all of Blanchard’s papers and knew that they were all bogus.  I then mentioned another paper by Freund… whereupon she jumped down my throat about how stupid I was to use psychoanalytic arguments.  Oopies… “Gee,” says I, “I thought you said that you had read of all Blanchard’s papers.  If so, you would know that I was referring to Blanchard’s early mentor and collaborator, co-author of his early papers on trans*, Kurt Freund, NOT Sigmund Freud!”  I had caught this individual in a flat out lie.  She had never actually read Blanchard’s, or anybody else’s, papers on the science.  No, she was regurgitating what she had read about Blanchard, from authors who had written about Blanchard after having read about Blanchard from other authors who had written about Blanchard, etc., many suggesting that Blanchard and his cronies are in a conspiracy to defame transwomen.  (Hint:  No, they are not.)

Of course, it is not just Blanchard’s papers that need to be read and understood if one is to understand the hypothesis and evidence involved.  One also must read the papers that followed up on Blanchard’s papers.  And one must also read the papers that preceded his, of which Blanchard was following up upon (for example, Freund’s).  There are literally hundreds of papers that one must read and understand, deeply understand.  It helps if one has a very strong background in psychology, biology, and neurology.  (Did I mention that I have a degree in psychology, strong minor in biology, as well as the degree in physics?)

Oh, for certain there are a few who have actually read the papers… but mostly in an attempt to refute, rather than understand.   Many, perhaps most, don’t actually read the papers, but just skim the abstracts.  This is understandable since many of these papers are behind paywalls.  But this is not a useful means of understanding the evidence, since many of the abstracts were written with the intention of ‘spinning’ the evidence, either into something more exciting than the data actually supports, or attempting to downplay what it actually supports.  From this, a number of trans* commenters have created a mountain of misrepresentations of the papers.

For example, that most risible of “papers” that purported to demonstrate the existence of autogynephilia in non-trans women put out by Moser, if you trust the abstract, one gets a completely different conclusion than what one gets when one reads the actual paper with an understanding of how such science should be conducted, and know that in this case, it wasn’t.

But another example I was confronted with by email just recently, was a part-time cross-dresser angrily contesting my use of the Nuttbrock study as further evidence that supported the two type taxonomy of MTF transgender.  Unwinding the misconceptions that he had, it became clear that he based his contention that Nuttbrock did not support the two type taxonomy on the title and abstract of the paper.  He had never actually read the paper, nor had bothered to follow the links I provide to essays I wrote that quote and organize the DATA from the Nuttbrock study.  The data I had because I wrote to Nuttbrock asking pretty please for a copy of the paper and was graciously provided one.

inah3Another problem is trusting the authors of papers when they cite other papers to correctly interpret what those cited paper’s data actually support (or refute).  For example, I keep seeing papers (and transwomen on internet fora) citing Swaab’s earlier papers on transsexual brain studies as though they supported the brain sex hypothesis for gynephilic transwomen, when in fact, they do not.  (As a reminder, all of the subjects had been on HRT for years and we now know that HRT causes shifts in brain structure.)  To spot these errors, one has to understand the entire corpus of published papers and carefully, and yes, skeptically, construct a picture of what the collective evidence does and does not support.

Unless one has done that, coming at the so-called “Blanchardists” ( including myself ) saying that you have done your research… well, that’s just bringing a plastic picnic knife to a gunfight.

Further Reading:

Essay on Moser’s purported study on autogynephilic in women

Essay on Swaab’s BSTc and INAH3 papers

Essay on Nuttbrock study



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