On the Science of Changing Sex

SAGE Lies

Posted in Book Reviews by Kay Brown on April 24, 2017

Book Review: The SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies

When I was a young teen in the early ’70s, I scoured our home library (larger than most middle-class households) for anything that could help me with my horrible feelings that we now label “gender dysphoria”.  We had a number of college psychology, biology, human anatomy texts, and one medical encyclopedia.  I found exactly one reference of interest, but it declaimed, “There is no such thing as a ‘sex change’.”  That’s it, one line reference in the negative.  Of course, it was both a true statement and a lie of omission.  It failed to explain that there was medical help, if only superficial.  But superficial or not, hormones and SRS were good enough to make my life worth living.  But before I found much better, and truthful, references at our local public library, that one reference left me despairing and despondent for my future.

As I’ve researched our collective  LGBT history and science (especially when I was teaching my class on Transhistory through the Harvey Milk Institute), and of course, through my decades of LGB – and especially – T activism, I’ve read and collected many books and references.  So one could imagine my delight in finding the SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies.  But that was very short lived.

The first thing I do when I look at such purportedly comprehensive works is to see how they treat transsexual and transgender subjects.  In this case.  OMG!  What a &^%$#@! mess!  It is more than simply disappointing.  It is deja vu.  Consider the section on “Controversies”, the only section that deals with the central nature of transgender etiology,

Autogynephilia  –  The term autogynephilia was first used in 1989 by Ray Blanchard, a sexologist, to describe a purported class of transgender women.  Classifications of transgender women prior to this time tended to divide this group into those who were sexually and romantically interested in men as “homosexual transsexuals” and those who were sexually and romantically interested in women were classified as “heterosexual fetishistic transvestites.”  Critiques of these classifications noted that the “homosexual” and “heterosexual labels were applied incorrectly, failing to recognize the gender identities of transwomen themselves.  –  These classifications also reflected mainstream stigma around transgender identity as they resigned many transgender women to little more than sexual fetishists.  The autogynephilia label only intensified this view of some transgender women as sexual fetishists.  The theory of autogynephilia asserted that many of the trans women classified into the “heterosexual fetishistic transvestites” category were primarily attracted not to women but to the idea of themselves as women.  In this way, autogynephilia was proposed as a type of primary sexual-identity category for transgender women.  Subsequent research has found little empirical basis for such a classification, and many researchers have criticized the classification as transphobic.  –  One particular critique of this classification system concerns its failure to recognize the way in which all sexual attraction depends on one’s own gender identity.  For example, a critical component of both homosexual and heterosexual attraction among many cisgender men involves an erotic charge around one’s own manliness or manhood.  To assume that such attachments to (and sexual desire motivated through) one’s own gender identity and expression, in relatation to another’s, exists only among transgender women, is misguided.  Despite a relative lack of empirical support for the diagnoses of autogynephilia among transgender women, some segments of the radical feminist community endorse this diagnostic category in their own writing as well.  …  The most outspoken critiques of the theory of autogynephilia ahve emerged from self-identified transfeminist academics (e.g. Julia Serano and Talia Mae Bettcher), who have highlighted not only the lack of empirical support for these theories but also the underlying biases and assumption revealed in the very foundations of the theory itself.”

I highlighted three phrases as they demonstrate a rhetorical trick, repeat a lie three times and people will tend to believe it.  Yes, I bolded the text because these are bald faced lies.  The material claims that there is no empirical evidence for autogynephilia in transwomen.  But we have numerous studies that put the lie to these statements, some of which were conducted by transwomen ourselves.  To make this assertion is academic misconduct of the worst sort.

Because I know that most readers will only read this one page, I feel I need to point out that we have such empirical evidence in abundance, both prior and subsequent to Blanchard coining the term “autogynephilia” to replace the earlier terms “fetishistic femmiphilia” and “fetishistic transvestism”.  Science depends upon repeatability, and these results regarding sexual orientation and autogynephilia have been replicated by Buhrich (1978), Freund (1982), Blanchard (1985, 1987, 1988, 1989), Doorn (1994), Smith (2005),  Lawrence (2005), Veale (2008), and Nuttbrock (2009), in separate studies spanning four decades, collectively involving over a thousand transsexuals to date.  In fact, this is one of the most repeated and reconfirmed scientific finding regarding transsexuality.  The largest study, Nuttbrock et al. found that fully 82% of gynephilic transwomen acknowledge being autogynephilic, specifically, being sexually aroused by wearing women’s clothing.  I have essays on this blog that extensively survey and discuss these papers and their abundant empirical evidence supporting the “assertion” that many transwomen are autogynephilic.   Let me say this again in another way, we have empirical study after study after study that shows that the vast majority of gynephilic (attracted to women) transwomen fully admit to being autogynephilic.  How much more plain empirical evidence do we need, proof using phallometry to measure the amount of sexual arousal?  We have that too!

The section also includes misleading statements regarding the nature of autogynephilia, trying to confuse the issue with non-autogynephilic sexuality.  With deceptive cleverness this writer has substituted the usual “women are autogynephilic too” meme by referencing men instead.  But here too, we see that they use the classic rhetorical trick of confusing the map for the territory.  Here, they suggest that non-transmen, both homosexual and heterosexual, experience autoandrophilia.  But in fact, this deliberately conflates, or rather confuses, pride or even vanity in one’s masculinity with sexual arousal to one’s own maleness.  This can only be done because the casual reader doesn’t know the exact nature of autogynephilia and autoandrophilia.  These men are not getting turned on by simply being men.  They are not being turned on by simply wearing men’s clothing, although autogynephiles do exactly that.  (As I pointed out, the vast majority fully admit to sexual arousal to wearing women’s clothing.)

So, we’ve caught them out in a outright lie, in misleading statements meant to confuse the issue, but what about lies of omission?  Oh yes, this they have done as well, in that they totally fail to include any mention of transsexual and transgender scientists and writers who support the two type taxonomy and the role that autogynephilia plays in the etiology of one of the types.  Where in all of this encyclopedia is Dr. Anne Lawrence?

Actually, they do reference her.  But in safety, only mentioning her letter regarding the need for better transgender medical care.  But where are her papers, book chapters, and even a book discussing the nature and role of autogynephilia in transwomen’s lives?  How can they simply make such an important transwoman’s work on the subject disappear and call this work “encyclopedic”?

(This is especially ironic in that Lawrence has written material, currently in press, entitled, “Gender dysphoria: Overview; Gender dysphoria: Diagnosis; Gender dysphoria: Treatment; Sex reassignment surgery. In A. Wenzel (Ed.), The SAGE encyclopedia of abnormal and clinical psychology)

There is one other lie of omission… where in this “encyclopedia” is the voice of the exclusively androphilic and known to be non-autogynephilic transwomen?  By printing this disinformation the editors of this work have given voice to only one of the two types of transsexual, and only the minority that are in denial of their autogynephilic nature at that, completely silencing the other.  For an academic work that purports to give voice to the LGBTQ communities, this is a very serious cultural and political offense.

Finally, not content with outright lies, misleading comments, and lies of omission, they top it off with calumny, “underlying biases and assumption revealed in the very foundations of the theory itself.”  That is to say, that this supposed academic work tops it off with character assassination of those of us, scientists and transsexual activists, who recognize the abundant (and socially obvious) empirical evidence for the theory, by implying that we are “transphobic” and “biased”.

I cannot condemn this work in any greater terms, knowing how deeply distorting it is of an area in which I have some knowledge.  It leads me to distrust any areas where I may not have the in-depth knowledge to recognize any other lies it may contain.

I have to wonder, is deep disgust, how many transfolk are going to read this material in despair.  As M. Taylor Saotome-Westlake, an autogynephilic and gender dysphoric (but not yet transitioned) individual wrote in reference to his own experience,

“A brief note on why all this matters. Independently of whether the two-type taxonomy is in fact taxonic, there are obvious political incentives to dismiss the explanatory value of autogynephilia, because it could be construed as invalidating trans women. I get that.

But here’s the thing: you can’t mislead the general public without thereby also misleading the next generation of trans-spectrum people. So when a mildly gender-dysphoric boy spends ten years assuming that his gender problems can’t possibly be in the same taxon as actual trans women, because the autogynephilia tag seems to fit him perfectly and everyone seems to think that the “Blanchard-Bailey theory of autogynephilia” is “clearly untrue”, he might feel a little bit betrayed when it turns out that it’s not clearly untrue and that the transgender community at large has been systematically lying to him, or, worse, is so systematically delusional that they might as well have been lying.”

For more information:

READ MY WHOLE BLOG !!!

List of publications by Anne A. Lawrence, M.D.

Book Review: Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies Narratives of Autogynephilic Transsexualism by Anne A. Lawrence

Website written by exclusively androphilic / non-autogynephilic transsexuals about the negative social, political, and medical impact of autogynephilic transsexual denialism

References:

https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/the-sage-encyclopedia-of-lgbtq-studies/book244331%20

Two clinically discrete syndromes of transsexualism. Buhrich N, McConaghy N. British Journal of Psychiatry. 1978 Jul;133:73-6.  Abstract online

Two types of cross-gender identity. Freund K, Steiner BW, Chan S. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 1982 Feb;11(1):49-63.  Abstract online

Typology of male-to-female transsexualism. Blanchard, Ray. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Vol 14(3) Jun 1985, 247-261.  Abstract online

Heterosexual and homosexual gender dysphoria. Blanchard, Ray; Clemmensen, Leonard H; Steiner, Betty W. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Vol 16(2) Apr 1987, 139-152.  Abstract online

Nonhomosexual gender dysphoria. Blanchard, Ray. Journal of Sex Research. Vol 24 1988, 188-193.  Abstract online

The concept of autogynephilia and the typology of male gender dysphoria. Blanchard, Ray. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease. Vol 177(10) Oct 1989, 616-623.  Abstract online

Nonmonotonic relation of autogynephilia and heterosexual attraction. Blanchard R. J Abnorm Psychol. 1992 May;101(2):271-6.  Abstract online

Varieties of autogynephilia and their relationship to gender dysphoria. Blanchard R. Arch Sex Behav. 1993 Jun;22(3):241-51.  Abstract online

C. D. Doorn, J. Poortinga and A. M. Verschoor, “Cross-gender identity in transvestites and male transsexuals” http://www.springerlink.com/content/u63p723776v57m11/

Transsexual subtypes : Clinical and theoretical significance Smith Yolanda L. S.; Van Goozen Stephanie H. M.; Kuiper A. J.; Cohen-Kettenis Peggy T.; Psychiatry research (Psychiatry res.) 2005, vol. 137, no3, pp. 151-160  Abstract online

Anne A. Lawrence, “Sexuality Before and After Male-to-Female Sex Reassignment Surgery” 2005  http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-005-1793-y

Jaimie F. Veale, Dave E. Clarke and Terri C. Lomax, “Sexuality of Male-to-Female Transsexuals”  http://www.springerlink.com/content/bp2235t8261q23u3/

A Further Assessment of Blanchard’s Typology of Homosexual versus Non-Homosexual or Autogynephilic Gender Dysphoria, Nuttbrock, et al. Archives of Sexual Behavior
http://www.springerlink.com/content/b48tkl425217331j/

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Here Be Dragons

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on April 3, 2017

female_scientistOr, Confusing The Map For the Territory

There has been a long tradition within the transsexual and transgender communities of trying to argue away the key role that autogynephilia plays in the development of late onset gender dysphoria.  Some simply deny it’s existence.  But this has lately fallen out of favor in the more realistic segments of the late transitioning MTF community in recognition of how obviously prevalent it is.  Though not new, it has become au currant to insist that it is either a normal part of female sexuality or that it is a natural consequence, an after effect, of gender dysphoria.  Both efforts confuse the map for the territory.  Both efforts ignore the logical consequences of their assertions and how they fail to match the evidence, the data collected over the years, concerning the phenomena.

First, there is the wonderfully creative, if fallacious, redefinition of autogynephilia, the softening of the language, more than simple euphemism, of calling it “female embodiment fantasies”.  How delightfully it allows one to then state that, of course, women naturally see themselves as female embodied as they have sexual fantasies.  See, women are autogynephilic too.  Or, as some twist it around, “Blanchard is defining normal female sexuality as a paraphilia!”

But this is confusing the map for the territory.  The phenomena being described are not the same, though they are deliberately described using the same words.  Women are not sexually aroused by, nor become romantically enamored with, their femaleness (nor the thought of, contemplation of, their femaleness or femininity).  But that is what autogynephilia is… sexual arousal and/or romantic attachment to the contemplation of becoming or being female in and of itself.  Where women only incidentally see themselves as female, because they are female, in their erotic imaginings, the autogynephilic individual is specifically and deliberately seeing themselves as female/feminine as that is a key element to which they sexually and romantically respond.

Just because someone labels a portion of a map, “Here be dragons” doesn’t mean there are.

If autogynephilia were an effect of gender dysphoria and a female gender identity, we would predict several consequences from that effect to show up in the data.  We would expect that those who were the most gender dysphoric from an early age, those who are the most naturally feminine from an early age, those who transition the soonest, to report the most autogynephilia.

But this is not the case.  Early onset / early transitioners have the lowest reported autogynephilia.  We can see this in study after study.  In Lawrence (2005), those who self reported being exclusively androphilic only 18% reported experiencing “hundreds” of autogynephilic episodes of erotic cross-dressing compared to 52-58% of non-androphilic, which division also showed correlations with age of transition and self-reported childhood gender atypicality.  In Nuttbrock (2009), those who had begun Hormone Replacement Therapy as teenagers only 14% reported having any autogynephilic arousal to cross-dressing compared to 82% of the gynephilic subjects (of whom only one had started HRT as a teen).

Just because someone labels a portion of a map, “Here be dragons” doesn’t mean there are.

Further, if it is an effect of gender dysphoria and of a female gender identity, we would expect that only those who experience gender dysphoria and claim a female gender identity, to experience autogynephilia.  But this too is not the case.  Post-transition people (both MTF and FTM total) only make up one in four thousand people, yet studies have shown that 4.6% of men, that’s nearly five out of a hundred, experience autogynephilic arousal to cross-dressing.  That is to say, significantly less than one out of one hundred males who are autogynephilic develop gender dysphoria and a female gender identity.

Just because someone labels a portion of a map, “Here be dragons” doesn’t mean there are.

Can we please stop with the erroneous rationalizations?  It’s time to recognize not only the Two Types… but the underlying autogynephilic etiology of one of them.

Further Reading:

Essay on Statistical Reality of the Two Type Taxonomy using Lawrence 2005 study

Essay on Nuttbrock 2009 study

Essay on Autogynephilia in the general population

Essay on Census of Post-transition transgender population

Essay Showing Autogynephilic Causation of Late Transitioning MTF Transsexuality

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Dangerous Thoughts

Posted in Science Criticism by Kay Brown on August 15, 2016

critical-thinkingIt has long been noted by sexologists, and folk in the “kink” scene, that if one has one paraphilic sexual interest, the likelihood that individual will have other paraphilic interests is dramically increased.  Some of these paraphilic sexual interests tend to cluster.  It is these clusters that help sexologist delve into potential underlying common sexual functions that are distorted (hence the the common term “kink”).  One of these clusters is that of Voyeurism, Exhibitionism, Frotteurism, and Paraphilic Rape, that are grouped together as Courtship Disorders.  Another cluster is Autogynephilia & Autoandrophilia (most often found as “transvestic fetishism” = “erotic cross-dressing”),  Autopedophilia, and Apotemnophilia group together as Erotic Target Location Errors.  But there have also been many observations of of clustering of other paraphilias that don’t have obvious connections of an underlying common function (other than sexualility in general).

Given the current political climate and some rather pointed and ugly recriminations and insinuations regarding transgender people and the safety of women & children in sex segregated facilities, it behoves us to seek real data rather than polemical rhetoric.  In a very timely study involving nearly 6,000 subjects chosen because they are members of a twin birth, the incident rates and co-occurances of various paraphilic sexual interests was explored, including “transvestic fetishism” and “sexually coersive behavior”.

As has been known for decades, most people with an Erotic Target Location Error are male.  Males are about nine times more likely to have autogynephilia as females are to have autoandrophilia, with 4.6% of males aroused by cross-dressing and only 0.5% of females.  Please note, the number of females was not zero… only small.  Compare this number to the estimated 3% to 6% of females being exclusive gynephilic.  This ratio also fits the data we have on the relative numbers of gynephilic FTM transmen vs. androphilic/bisexual FTM transmen, adding statitical support to the hypothesis that androphilic/bisexual FTM transmen are autoandrophilic.

First, the good news for transfolk.  There was no independent correlation between transvestic fetishism (both autogynephilia and autoandrophilia) and sexually coersive behavior.  That is to say, that neither autogynephilia nor autoandrophilia alone has any effect on the likelihood, one way or the other, on whether an individual would be sexually coersive.

On the other hand… that’s not the whole story.  As I mentioned above, the likelihood that one will have a co-occuring paraphilic interest is increased with autogynephilia or autoandrophilia, as the data from this paper showed.  And with THAT OTHER paraphilic sexual interest, there WAS a correlation with an interest in sexual coersion.

But, before going deeper into the data, it is important to explain a bit about the study and what constituted interest in sexually coersive behavior in this study.  The question asked whether the thought of persuing a range of behaviors from deliberate deception (not simple dating exageration) to acheive sexual contact, forcing contact, taking advantage of an incapacitated individual, to forcable rape was sexually arousing.  The raw numbers in the population at large were to be honest, more than a little disturbing; They were in fact horrifying.  The number of men who had an interest (not neccessarily actualized / committed such an act) in being sexually coersive was 18.5%.  That’s nearly one in five men indicated that the idea of performing a sexually coersive act was sexually arousing.  The percentage of women who found the thought of performing (not being the victim of) such an act was significantly lower at 3.6%.

Again, while autogynephilia and autoandrophilia alone were not independently correlated with an interest in sexually coersive behavior, when controlling for other paraphilias, this only meant that they were no more likely to have an interest in such coersive acts as the general population.  That is to say, that 18.5% of autogynephilic males without a co-occuring paraphilia is interested in sexual coersive acts.

So the good news isn’t that autogynephilic only males are less likely than other males… only as interested as other males in sexually coersive acts.

The bad news is the fact that paraphilias cluster and that there is an increase in the likelihood of co-occuring paraphilias and that as shown in this paper, sexual interest is some paraphilic behaviors correlates with increased interest in sexually coersive behavior, which in turn would suggest that autogynephilia and autoandrophilic people in general would be more likely to be interested in such acts.  And, sadly for transfolk, this is the case.  The number of autogynephilic and autoandrophilic people (the study lumped male and female “transvestic fetishism” subjects, but given that males are nine time more likely than females to experience transvestic arousal, most of the subjects are male) that are sexually interested in sexually coersive behavior is a disturbingly high 28.3%.  That is to say, that one in four finds the thought of performing a sexually coersive act to be sexually arousing.  Remember, this does not indicate that transfolk are more likely to actually act on such desires, only that they find the thought of it arousing.

Paraphilic Interest          Males          Females           AGP/AAP
Transvestism                     4.6%             0.5%                  100%
Voyeurism                          18.2%             6.3%                 39.8%
Exhibitionism                   4.3%              0.6%                  12.4%
Sadism                                 2.7%             2.3%                   11.5%
Masochism                         4.9%             8.6%                  24.8%
Sexual Coersion               18.5%             3.6%                  28.3%  (AGP/AAP alone: 20%)

What is surprising in this data is that the % of autogynephiles/autoandrophiles that were also interested in voyeurism is so high.  I personally hadn’t seen this suggested in the literature.  We see lots of references to the high co-occurance of sexual masochism.  It may be because of the relative ratios; AGP folks are about twice as likely to be interested in voyeurism as men in general, while they are five times more likely to be interested in masochism as men in general.  Perhaps I shouldn’t be as surprised as I am considering the oft noted intense interest in pornography among AGP transgendered people?  Perhaps pornography could be considered a watered down version of voyeurism?

Going back to risks of paraphilic sexual interests causing actual sexually coersive acts, the authors estimated from this and other data that perhaps one in three sexual assaults may be averted if all paraphilic individuals were identified and provided treatment interventions aimed at keeping them from acting on their sexually coersive interests.  This would, conversely, suggest that two thirds of such assaults are mediated by other factors including Rape Culture in a misogynistic male privileging environment.

Further Reading:

Essay on Erotic Target Location Errors

Essay on Autogynephilia

Essay on Autoandrophilia in Androphilic/Bisexual Transmen

Reference:

Baur, E., et Al, “Paraphilic Sexual Interests & Sexually Coersive Behavior: A Population-Based Twin Study” Archives of Sexual Behavior:  DOI:10.1007/s10508-015-0674-2

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Four Out of Five…

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on February 2, 2016

female_scientist… Gynephilic Transwomen Openly Acknowledge Autogynephilia

Or, Which Came First?  Chicken Or Egg?

Not too long ago, I got an email from a transwoman, and ‘older transitioner’ who acknowledged without reservation that there was a “correlation” between later transition / gynephilia (non-exclusive androphilic) transwomen and autogynephilia, while tacitly acknowleging that exclusively androphilic early transitioners do not.  This was great, but not too surprising, since four out of five such transwomen acknowledge experiencing autogynephilia either currently, or in the past.  But she asked, does it mean causation?  That is to say, is autogynephilia the prime mover in causing gynephilic (and bisexual / asexual) transwomen to become gender dysphoric and develop a ‘female identity’?

I would have thought it was obvious that it does, and that we don’t need to explicate why.  But, no, Sillyolme, nothing in science is self-evident.  One really does need to explore the question fairly, making the assumption, the null hypothesis, that it does not, then look to see if the evidence supports that null hypothesis.  Only if the data fails to support the null hypothesis should we state that it does.

Let’s start at the begining shall we?  First, does autogynephilia exist?  Yes, we need to ask this first, as it can’t be a cause of gender dysphoria if it doesn’t exist.  And, indeed, many ‘older transitioners’ insist that autogynephilia does not exist.  Well, that one is easily answered, because we have at least 100 years of sexologist observations of a minority of males who definately become sexually aroused when wearing women’s clothing and/or when thinking of themselves being or becoming female.  Consider this typical description of a teenaged male experiencing an autogynephilic episode from Richard Ekins book Male Femaling – A grounded theory approach to cross-dressing and sex-changing,

“… 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.  …”

We can find hundreds of such examples, very often showing that this behavior is most noted in early adolescence, but continues into adulthood. In fact, we have an entire genre of erotic fiction and images (still and motion picture porn) dedicated to the tastes of autogynephilic adult male individuals.  These examples and the males that experience it are common enough that they also form organizations to join together to support each other emotionally and even politically.  So, no, we can’t say that autogynephilia does not exist.  The null hypothesis is easily proven wrong.  Autogynephilia in some males exists.

OK, now that we know that autogynephilia exists in some males, we can take a known group of autogynphilic males, conduct in depth interviews into just what sorts of things they erotically respond to that the majority non-autogynephilic males don’t.  From that we can construct trial psychometric inventories, test items (questions), for an autogynephilia scale, so that we can measure the degree of and autogynephilic factors (types) present in, autogynephilic males.  Then carefully test and validate it against known autogynephilic males and a set of control males.

However, some transwomen insist that autogynephilia can’t be the cause of their trans identity, because autogynephilia is common, perhaps near universal, in females.  Thus, that would demonstrate that autogynephilia is just part of normal female sexuality.

Does autogynephilia exist in females?  Now, remember, we START with the null hypthesis.  So, assuming it does NOT exist, can we find (credible) evidence that would disprove the null hypothesis?  First, how many sexologists have observed, documented, and remarked on autogynephilic sexual arousal in females?

Wow… I’m hearing an empty, hollow echo in that department.  Not one observation, study, or anything… oh wait, I hear some tiny voices outside the hall?  Could it be?  Why there ARE some folks saying that females do experience autogynephilia… but… what?  Oh, yeah… that… ALL of them are autogynephilic males who are claiming that their autogynephilia is the same as what women feel when they wear women’s clothing… after all, wearing “sexy” panties gets them all going, so it must get women going too?  Right?  Ummmm no.

Seriously, where in the many thousands of diaries, autobiographies, and now online social media blogs published, is there ANY (credible, not catphishing by an AGP male) female individual accounts of anything remotely like the autogynephilia so easily found in a minority of males?  Seriously?  Where are the copious accounts of how, when they were pre and early teens, that they became intensely sexually aroused upon trying on their big sister’s bra and panties?  Or looking in the mirror at their blossoming breasts and become intensely sexually aroused?  Or examining their genitals and finding them so arousing that that they masturbate while examining them… cause being female is just so sexy?  No?  Again that hollow echo.

Oh, but wait, I hear a rising chorus (of autogynephilic males) saying that a Dr. Charles Moser created an autogynphilic inventory for females and tested a group of women.  So we ask, as we must assume the null hypothesis, where did he find the known autogynephilic females to interview to create a valid test?  How did he validate it? What are the psychometric properties of the instrument?  What?  No?  He did none of that?  Well, then what did he do?  He carefully rewrote questions from an instrument intended for and validated only for males in a gender clinic setting?  Well, looking carefully at the rewrite, they don’t seem to have even a passing bearing on what autogynephilia would theoretically look like in women, or even in androphilic transsexuals. The questions were very carefully written to get positive answers from heterosexual females, as that was the intended (political) goal, to “prove” that straight women were also autogynphilic… but they have no meaning.  They don’t measure autogynephilia, they measure mostly anticipatory arousal before dates with men.  Well that was dissappointing.  One and only one demonstrably invalid study.  We still have no evidence to disprove the null hypothesis.  So, for now, we must accept that females do NOT experience autogynephilia.

OK, so now we know that autogynephilia exists in males, but there’s no (credible) evidence that it exists in females.  But are there really two types of MTF transsexual?  Does autogynephilia exist equally as much in exclusively androphilic transwomen?  Let’s assume the null hypothesis, that there is only one type, not two.  We can use the previously developed and validated, instruments to measure any putative autogynphilia in both exclusively androphilic and non-exclusively-androphilic transwomen and see if there is a difference.  Here, we have a number of studies done over the years, Buhrich (1977), Freund (1982), Blanchard (1985), Doorn (1994), Smith (2005),  Lawrence (2005), and Nuttbrock (2009).

These studies all clearly indicate a strong correlation with non-exclusively androphilic reporting a high, nearly universal, percentage of individuals acknowleging autogynephilic arousal, either currently, or in early adolescence, and a strong anti-correlation with exclusive androphilia.  Diving deeper, consider that in the largest and most recent of these studies by Nuttbrock (N=571), the grouping that had the highest percentage reporting sexual arousal to crossdressing was the gynephilic at 82%, while the group with the least non-exclusively androphilic was those who had begun Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) as teenagers, who had the lowest percentage reporting sexual arousal to cross-dressing at 14%.

To support the null hypothesis, there should have been no correlation with sexual orientation.  The null hypothesis is NOT supported, there is NOT one group, but two.  Futher, the null hypothesis regarding autogynphilia not being correlated with gynephilic/bisexual/asexual transwomen, and only these transwomen, is not supported.  Androphilic transwomen and natal female women do not experience autogynephilia.

But this only brings us back to where we started, with my correspondent fully conceding to the above.  But she still has a valid question, does this mean causation?  After all, we all know that correlation does not imply causation.  But here we need to bring up a point, actually, it doesn’t imply it… but causation does require correlation.  So, we have our first step toward answering the question.  With correlation, we may have causation.  But we need to explore further.

One of the most accepted methods of deducing whether there is a cause and effect relationship in medicine, including psychiatric epidemiology, is found in Bradford Hill’s Criteria.

The list of the criteria is as follows:

  1. Strength (effect size): A small association does not mean that there is not a causal effect, though the larger the association, the more likely that it is causal.
  2. Consistency (reproducibility): Consistent findings observed by different persons in different places with different samples strengthens the likelihood of an effect.
  3. Specificity: Causation is likely if there is a very specific population at a specific site and disease with no other likely explanation. The more specific an association between a factor and an effect is, the bigger the probability of a causal relationship.
  4. Temporality: The effect has to occur after the cause (and if there is an expected delay between the cause and expected effect, then the effect must occur after that delay).
  5. Biological gradient: Greater exposure (dosage or intensity of cause) should generally lead to greater incidence of the effect. However, in some cases, the mere presence of the factor can trigger the effect. In other cases, an inverse proportion is observed: greater exposure leads to lower incidence (as found in vitamin deficiencies).
  6. Plausibility: A plausible mechanism between cause and effect is helpful (but Hill noted that knowledge of the mechanism is limited by current knowledge).
  7. Coherence: Coherence between epidemiological and laboratory findings increases the likelihood of an effect. However, Hill noted that “… lack of such [laboratory] evidence cannot nullify the epidemiological effect on associations”.
  8. Experiment: “Occasionally it is possible to appeal to experimental evidence”.
  9. Analogy: The effect of similar factors may be considered.

Taking each in turn:

  1. Strength of the correlation is very high.  Four out of five gynephilic transwomen acknowlege experiencing, currently or in the past, autogynephilia.  Considering that autogynphilia is very rare in the general male population and non-existent in the female population, this correlation is very, very high.  But it gets even higher when considering the experimental results of phallometry of those cross-dressers experiencing gender dysphoria who claim that they did not experience sexual arousal to cross-dressing, did in fact demonstrate mild sexual arousal to cross-dressing narration (autogynephilic erotic fiction) compared to control males.
  2. Consistency of the correlation is easily shown by looking at the literature referenced above, in which study after study, over four decades, involving around a thousand transwomen, consistently shows the same data, even using different measures of sexual orientation and autogynephilia.
  3. Specificity is shown in that it is only non-exclusively-androphilic males who experience autogynephilia and that a subset of those males develop gender dysphoria.
  4. Temporality is demonstrated in that the majority of non-exclusively-androphilic males who become gender dysphoric and come to identify as women report autogynephilia in adolescence which seems to mellow even as their need to cross-dress and their gender dysphoria increases, reaching a threshold, a crisis point, most commonly in their mid-30’s.  As Prince (herself an autogynephile) and Doctor documented, “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.”
  5. A gradient effect is easily found in autogynephilia in that men who have only very mild autogynephilia typically are content to cross-dress in private, never developing severe gender dysphoria or a female gender identity.  There are individuals with partial autogynephilia who only wish to have breasts, who are content with mildly feminizing HRT, cross-dressing in public only occasionally.  There are those who come to identify as “Bi-Gendered” or “Gender Fluid” who go back and forth.  And finally, there are those whose autogynephilic ideation was intensely focused on being completely female and develop intense and all consuming gender dysphoria who go on to live full time as women, obtain HRT, and SRS.  A number of studies have found that intensity and the specific nature of their autogynephilia correlates with these differential outcomes.  Further, these effects seem to indicate both a continuum and a progression (criterion #4).  There is another dosage effect that though subtle, is of high importance to the question of causation and the nature of autogynephilia itself found by Blanchard in “Nonmonotonic relation of autogynephilia and heterosexual attraction”, from the abstract, “the highest levels of autogynephilia were observed at intermediate rather than high levels of heterosexual interest; that is, the function relating these variables took the form of an inverted U. This finding supports the hypothesis that autogynephilia is a misdirected type of heterosexual impulse, which arises in association with normal heterosexuality but also competes with it”.  This non-monotonic relationship was questioned in the Nuttbrock study, as they hypothosized that autogynephilia was a classic conditioned sexual fetish that had arisen as a consequence of cross-dressing and gender dysphoria, and not the cause.  But Lawrence easily demonstrated that Nutbrook missed the relationship due to improper mathmatical treatment of the data… and thus the dosage relationship evidence remains valid.
  6. Plausability.  This is almost self-evident.  If one’s sexual ideation is exclusively autogynephilic, if each time such an individual sees herself as obligatorially female during sex, that would be strong drive towards gender dysphoria and an incentive to adopt a female gender identity, over time.
  7. Coherence with laboratory tests are found by looking at brain sex research which shows that non-exclusively-androphilic transwomen are different than exclusively androphilic transwomen AND females, as expected by the theory that autogynephilia is the cause, not the result, of gender dysphoria and a female gender identity.
  8. Experiments with animals are not possible as we have no animal models of autogynephilia.
  9. Analogy is found in the amazing similarity of autogynephilia and its effects are found in males with apotemnophilia, the sexual desire for limb amputation, and autopedophilia, the sexual desire to be a child.  In fact, a very high percentage of heterosexual apotemnophiliacs are also autogynephilic, experiencing an Erotic Target Location Error in which they wish to become female amputees.

So, we can see that we meet nearly all, saving only experimental evidence, to support the conclusion that autogynephilia is the cause, and not the result or merely a co-occuring factor, of gender dysporia and female gender identity in non-exclusively-androphilic transwomen.

Additional Reading:

Essay on the development of an Autogynphilia Instrument in Males

Essay on the Non-Validity of Moser’s “Autogynephilia in Women”

Essays on evidence to support the two type taxonomy of MTF transsexuality

Essay on the Origins of Cross-Gender Identity in Transsexuals

Essays on Brain Sex in Transsexuals

Essay on analogy between autogynphilia and apotemnophilia

References:

Textbook of Psychiatric Epidemiology, 3rd Edition, Wiley Press

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Flipping the Bird

Posted in Book Reviews by Kay Brown on March 22, 2015

Flip_the_birdBook Review:  Galileo’s Middle Finger – Heretics, Activists, And The Search For Justice In Science, by Alice Dreger

Dr. Dreger’s latest book could be described as a coming of age story as it chronicles her journey from naive graduate student to a world class activist historian, seeker of Truth, Justice, and the American Way.  She truly is a super-hero, if any real, live human being can be.  Hers is a journey into social justice activism, only to find that many of the self-styled activists were searching for anything but social justice.

Dreger’s introduction to activism was the result of meeting modern examples of the very injustice that she had previously documented had occurred to people in the 19th Century when their bodies didn’t conform to the expected norms for males and females, the so called “Hermaphrodites”, which today we called “intersexed” or “people with Disorders of Sexual Development” (DSD).  Writing about her academic work on 19th Century treatment of intersexed people,

“…It ended up pushing me into two unfamiliar and intense worlds: contemporary sex politics and contemporary medical activism.  That’s because, thanks to the Internet, by the time I came to this topic, in the mid-1990s, something was going on that the Victorian doctors would never have imagined: People who had been born with various sex anomoalies had started to find each other, and they had started to organize as an identity movement.  Labeling themselves intersex, many gather under the leadership of Bo Laurent, the founder of the Intersex Society of North America, and after reading my Victorian Studies article, some of these intersex activists, including Bo, contacted me.  A couple wrote me simply to complain that they found some of my language offensive, apparently not realizing I was relaying Victorian rhetoric in my article.  By contrast, Bo got my work.  And she asked for my help in changing the way children born intersex were treated in modern medicine. … I hastened to tell Bo, “I’m a historian; I study dead people.”  However, once I understood what was really going on at pediatric hospitals all over the nation – once I understood that Bo’s clitoris had been amputated in the name of sex “normalcy” and that this practice was still going on – I felt I had to assist in her efforts.”

Dreger rose to that challenge, taking on a leadership role in the fight to end medically unnecessary surgeries on children with ambigous genitalia.  This entailed taking on the medical establishment, confronting them, insisting that they re-examine their protocols in the light of real damage to real people.  It took a while, years, but the work of these activists with whom Dreger worked, began to seriously effect the desired change.  While the work is not truly complete, it is well on the way.  In her book, she details the long hours, the difficulties encountered, but most importantly, the need for such evidence based activism, that the work of these activists was based on demonstrating the real outcomes of these surgeries, which diverged greatly from the view previously held, that these surgeries helped.  If the book went no further, it would be worth buying it.

But Dreger’s work, and her life, as she took a new position at Northwestern University would take another turn,

“It was shortly after this time that I took on a new scholarly project, one that without warning forced me to question my politics and my political loyalties … This was a project that suddenly changed me from an activist going after establishment scientists into an aide-de-camp to scientists who found themselves the target of activists like me.  Indeed, this project soon put me in a position I would never have imagined for myself; vilified by gender activists at the National Women’s Studies Association meeting and then celebrated at the Human Behavior and Evolution Society by the enemies of my childhood hero, Stephen Jay Gould.”

In 2003, J. Michael Bailey had published his book on femininity in males, The Man Who Would Be Queen.   This had set off a firestorm among a group of autogyenphilic transwomen who took exception to Bailey’s effort to popularize Ray Blanchard’s research which had shown that there were two etiologies leading to gender dysphoria, that there were two (and only two) types of transwomen, as different as night and day, one that was gynephilic, autogynephilic, and gender typical until they announced their intention to transition –  and the other that was exclusively androphilic and gender atypical since birth.  This led to a number of serious accusations of wrongdoing by Bailey, to which Dreger was asked by her friend Paul Vasey to investigate.  As Dreger expresses her initial reluctance,

“Still, I thought I knew from my background in science studies and a decade of intersex work how to navigate an identity politics minefield, so I wasn’t that worried when in 2006 I set out to investigate the history of what had really happened with Bailey and his critics.  My investigation ballooned into a year of intensive research and a fifty-thousand word peer-reviewed scholarly account of the controversy.  And the results shocked me.  Letting the data lead me, I uncovered a story that upended the simple narrative of power and oppression to which we leftist science studies scholars had become accustomed. – I found that, in the Bailey case, a small group had tried to bury a politically challenging scientific theory by killing the messenger.  In the process of doing so, these critics, rather than restrict themselves to argument over the ideas, had charged Bailey with a whole host of serious crimes, including abusing the rights of subjects, having sex with a transsexual research subject, and making up data.  The individuals making these charges – a trio of powerful transgender women, two of them situated in the safe house of liberal academia – had nearly ruined Bailey’s reputation and his life.  To do so, they had used some of the tactics we had used in the intersex rights movement. … but there was one crucial difference: What they claimed about Bailey simply wasn’t true.”

Here, I have to break from the usual traditional book review to share my own experiences in this story.  I personally know most of the players.  I was an active participant in Bo Laurent’s work, meeting with her on several occasions, donating money, and helping her in a minor way to raise funds from the transsexual community.  One of those transwomen who donated was at the time, also a friendly acquaintance of mine, Lynn Conway, one of the “trio of powerful transsexual women”.  The other two were Andrea James, who I had never heard of before, and Deirdre McCloskey, who my good friend (and college roommate) Dr. Joy Shaffer, had spoken of highly.  It was reading Dreger’s lengthy paper on the Bailey affair that upended MY life, led me to become friends with Kiira Trea and eventually to write this blog at her encouragement.  This blog is the direct result of Dreger’s history of the Bailey affair.  I can think of no greater testament to the power of a scholar’s work, than that it should inspire others to action.

But Dreger’s story is only just beginning,

“You can probably guess what happens when you expose the unseemly deeds of the people who fight dirty … Certainly I should have known what was coming – after all, I had literally written what amounted to a book on what this small group of activists had done to Bailey.  But it was still pretty uncomfortable when I became the new target of their precise and unrelenting attacks.  The online story soon morphed into “Alice Dreger versus the rights of sexual minorities,”  and no matter how hard I tried to point people back to documentation of the truth, facts just didn’t seem to matter.”

I must share, that I too was vilified by these same transwomen, when I openly supported Dreger, Bailey, Blanchard, and Lawrence.

Because of her experiences, Dreger set out on a new scholarly journey,

“Troubled and confused by this ordeal, in 2008 I purposefully set out on a journey – or rather a series of journeys – that ended up lasting six years.  During this time, I moved back and forth between camps of activists and camps of scientists, to try to understand what happens – and to figure out what should happen – when activists and scholars find themselves in conflict over critical matters of human identity.”

The result of those journeys is her new book.  It explores intersex, transgender, indigenous peoples of the South American rainforest, back to intersexed people again.  Its quite a journey, of which I can only barely touch upon in this review.  While I read the entire book with great pleasure, here I chose to focus on the section dealing with transgender and Bailey’s book and its aftermath.

In delving further into the book, one finds gems like this,

“When people ask me how transgender is different from intersex, I usually start by saying that intersex and transgender people have historically suffered from opposite problems for the same reason.  Whereas intersex people have historically been subjected to sex “normalizing” hormones and surgeries they have not wanted, transgender people have had a hard time getting the sex-changing hormones and surgeries they have wanted.  Both problems arise from a single cause: a heterosexist medical establishment determined to retain control over who gets to be what sex.”

She even has a very insightful explanation of why the “trio”, and many others in the autogynephilic transwomen’s community, went to war against Bailey,

“To understand the vehemence of the backlash against Bailey’s book, you have to understand one more thing.  There’s a critical difference between autogynephilia and most other sexual orientations; Most other orientations aren’t erotically disrupted simply by being labeled.  When you call a typical gay man homosexual, you’re not disturbing his sexual hopes and desires.  By contrast, autogynephilia is perhaps best understood as a love that would really rather we didn’t speak its name.  The ultimate eroticism of autogynephilia lies in the idea of really becoming or being a woman, not in being a natal male who desires to be a woman. … The erotic fantasy is to really be a woman.  Indeed, according to a vision of transsexualism common among those transitioning from lives as privileged straight men to trans women, sex reassignment procedures are restorative rather than transformative… For Bailey or anyone else to call someone with armour de soi en femme an autogynephile or even a transgender woman – rather than simply a woman – is at some level to interfere with her core sexual desire.  Such naming also risks questioning her core self-identity … When they felt that Bailey was fundamentally threatening their selves and their social identities as women – well, it’s because he was.  That’s what talking openly about autogynephilia necessarily does.”

There’s a wonderful bon mot moment in the movie, Desert Hearts, when a lesbian scholar vows that she will have her revenge on a homophobe when she writes her memoirs.  In this book, one could say that Dreger takes her revenge on McCloskey, Conway, and especially James by revealing evidence that they are not only autogynephilic, but knowingly so, as Dreger reprints text from an email from Andrea James to Anne Lawrence in 1998,

“A definition is inherently inclusive or exclusive, and there’s always going to be someone who doesn’t feel they belong in or out of a definition.  I got body slammed by the usual suspects in 1996 for recommending a Blanchard book.  Sure, he’s pretty much the Antichrist to the surgery-on-demand folks, and I’ve heard some horror stories about the institute he runs that justify the nickname “Jurassic Clarke.”  However, I found many of his observations to be quite valid, even brilliant, especially in distinguishing early and late-transitioning TS patterns of thought and behavior.  I’ve noticed in most TSs, and in “surgery addicts” especially, a certain sort of self-loathing, a drive to efface every shred of masculinity.  While I readily admit to my own autogynephilia, I would contend that my drives towards feminization seem to have a component pushing me from the opposite direction as well.”

Dreger goes on,

“OK, THIS WAS FASCINATING.  A prior admission to autogynephilia from James and what seemed to amount to the same from McCloskey – plus something very much like an ongoing tacit admission from Conway? – lying behind the attempts to bury Bailey.  All that spoke to motivation on the part of Conway et al.”

Personally, I find this damning, as James has made a special point of defaming a number of individuals in the transcommunity for supporting Anne Lawrence, Bailey, or Blanchard.  She writes scurrilous material on her website against Dreger, Bailey, Blanchard, Lawrence, and many other notable transwomen, including myself; all for writing about a phenomena of which she admits she experiences.

Dreger recounts her year of research on the Bailey affair, detailing the ways in which Conway and James attack Bailey and how she was able to discover the truth of the matter, setting the record straight.  She also recounts how these two transwomen then turned on her, attempting to blacken her name with the same tar filled brush.  In the end, it becomes clear, that though the experience was unpleasant, it lead her to connect with a number of other scholars who have wrongfully been attacked and vilified by other groups, in other fields.

At the end of the book, Dreger lays out recommendations for society and especially for social justice advocates, to follow an evidence based approach.  I would like to think that I would qualify as an exemplar of her recommendations, in my conduct of this affair and of my previous, and definitely of my future, activism.

I highly recommend purchasing and carefully reading this book:

http://www.amazon.com/Galileos-Middle-Finger-Heretics-Activists/dp/1594206082

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Triumph for Whom?

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on March 1, 2015

CloudyIn a recent popular magazine article, intellectual essayist, Charlotte Allen wrote an extensive and deep exposition on the events of the past 15 years of the increase in visibility of the Transgender community.  Encouragingly, it was unflinching in its exploration of not only the pop-psychology, but also the REAL psychology and politics.  Of neccessity, this also means that she explained about the two type taxonomy, Blanchard’s role in researching it, Bailey’s role in popularizing it… and of the disgraceful behavior of the autogynephilic transwomen who attempted to shout down those who, in their research, came to support the scientific recognition that “late transitioning” transwomen are on the same continuum as transvestites / cross-dressers.  Ms. Allen writes,

“Blanchard’s theory is that transgenders fall into two distinct categories whose sexual orientations, interests, choice of careers, and even, to a large extent, social class are violently different from each other. One of those categories he calls “homosexual” transgenders, whose sexual attraction, from childhood to death, is strictly toward members of their own genetic sex. Among males, they’re the extremely effeminate boys who identify as girls in early childhood, play with dolls and other girls’ toys, and shun the rough-and-tumble play typical of boys their age. Studies at Vanderbilt and the University of London have shown that 70 to 80 percent of those trans-children grow out of their trans-identity at puberty and become, simply, gay adolescents and, later, gay adult men. The 20 to 30 percent who do take formal steps toward transitioning, Blanchard believes, are a self-selected group who, thanks to their more delicate looks, can function fairly successfully as women. “They’re people who might be unsuccessful as men,” Blanchard said.  —  Homosexual transgender men transition early in adulthood, typically during their twenties, Blanchard observed. They account for the vast majority of transgenders in the non-Western world: from the “two-spirits” of indigenous North American tribes, to the fa’afafine of Samoa, to the kathoeys of Thailand who can easily fool Western sex tourists into misidentifying them as women. In those societies there is typically a recognized and thoroughly integrated social niche for men who identify and dress as women. The fa’afafine typically work as secretaries, nannies, and housekeepers​—​stereotypically female occupations. In that respect, they’re not unlike the flamboyant gay men of Western culture who carved out a recognized social niche for themselves in such occupations as hairdresser, dancer, makeup artist, interior decorator, couturier, and fashion consultant (Queer Eye for the Straight Guy). Boys and men in drag played women’s roles on stage from classical times to the 17th century, and they continue to be popular entertainers for both gays and heterosexuals to this day, as the demographics of the Kit Kat Lounge attest.  — By contrast, Blanchard discovered that the predominant form that trangenderism takes in the West today involves men who, as men, have never identified as homosexual in their erotic attractions, but rather as heterosexual, bisexual, or asexual. Those men, his research revealed, tended to make their transitions in their mid-to-late thirties, or even later​—​at least a full decade on average after the homosexual transgenders did. Furthermore, many of those men were married and fathers before they came out. The paradigm might be travel writer Jan Morris, now 88, who spent the first 46 years of her life as James Morris, the journalist who covered Edmund Hillary’s ascent of Mt. Everest and who fathered five children before undergoing transition surgery in 1972. And many in this heterosexual population​—​in contrast to the homosexual transgenders on the drag scene​—​worked in stereotypically hypermasculine professions: They’d been parachutists, Navy SEALs, engineers, policemen, firemen, and high school football coaches. The billionaire philanthropist James Pritzker, who became Jennifer Natalya Pritzker in 2013, in his early sixties, is a retired much-decorated U.S. Army lieutenant colonel with three children by his former wife. “They’ll say that they chose those professions in order to suppress their feelings as females,” Blanchard said. “But no one put a gun to their heads to choose those jobs.” Many late-transitioning transgenders (Jennifer Finney Boylan, for example) insist, contra Blanchard, that they were aware from early childhood that they were born into the wrong body—​but Blanchard thinks they aren’t being honest with themselves.”

Ms. Allen then goes on to explain how certain members of the autogynephilic tranwomen’s community took umbridge with Bailey’s attempt at popularizing Blanchard’s work,

The Man Who Would Be Queen inflamed transgender activists. It did have certain inflammatory aspects. There was the jacket photo of the man in high heels. Blanchard’s coinage “autogynephilia” (extensively used by Bailey in the book), with its connotations of fetishism, deviance, and mental disorder, has never sat well with transgenders. Bailey was even more adamant than Blanchard that autogynephilic transgenders often lied about their erotic fascination with cross-dressing. Furthermore, Bailey observed, drawing on his previous studies, that homosexual transgenders tended to come from lower socioeconomic classes than autogynephiles, and that they tended to have short time-horizons that often led them into streetwalking, shoplifting, and other petty crimes. “Prostitution is the single most common occupation,” Bailey wrote. His book also, perhaps inadvertently, included details about “Cher” that made her real identity quickly discoverable to those in the know: Anjelica Kieltyka, a Chicago transgender woman who, although disagreeing with Bailey about his characterization of her as autogynephilic, had made frequent guest appearances in his classes and had introduced him to other figures in the city’s transgender scene.  —  Bailey’s book caught the immediate​—​and hostile—​attention of Lynn Conway, now 77, a pioneer of computer-chip design during the 1970s, a longtime engineering professor at the University of Michigan, and a leading transgender activist who figured as one of Time’s “21 Transgender People Who Influenced American Culture” in its May 2014 cover story. Conway was close to Andrea James (both had been patients of Dr. Ousterhout and touted his facial-feminization techniques on their websites). James, best-known for counseling Felicity Huffman, the star of the film Transamerica (2005), on transgender voice and mannerisms, underwent transition surgery in 1996. She and Conway teamed up with Kieltyka, and with Deirdre McCloskey, to make sure that The Man Who Would Be Queen would not receive a respectable academic hearing. McCloskey’s participation in this enterprise seems odd. For one thing, her memoir, Crossing, describes her pre-transition self as having been “sexually aroused” as a young man by accounts of cross-dressing​—​a classic Blanchard-esque theme.”

She also notes that the science does not support the contention that “late transitioners” have female brains,

“The medical evidence for a mismatch between brains and bodies is ambiguous. The two studies cited most frequently by transgender activists, published in 1995 and 2000, examined the brains of a total of seven male-to-female transgenders and found that a region of the hypothalamus, an almond-shaped area of the brain that controls the release of hormones by the pituitary gland, was female-typical in those brains. But those studies have been criticized for not controlling for the estrogen​—​which affects the size of the hypothalamus​—​that most male-to-female transgenders take daily in order to maintain their feminine appearance.”

If I had any serious criticism of her essay, it would be in the way that she hews to the stereotype that transkids, “homosexual transsexuals”, are stereotyped as being prone to becoming petty criminals, prostitutes, and drag performers.  I also found her take on the recent improvments in medicine and law regarding the treament of transchildren and teens to be unsympathetic.  She gives one the impression that too many gender variant pre-teens are being pushed into iatrogenic trauma via puberty blockers, etc.  While it may be true that autogynephiles may overvalue transition, most transkids and our caregivers are careful not to push children who are more likely to become gay and lesbian adults into wrong paths.

It may be uncomfortable reading, but I highly recommend that you do.

Reference:

http://m.weeklystandard.com/articles/transgender-triumph_859614.html?page=3

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The Measure of…

Posted in Science Criticism by Kay Brown on November 4, 2014

…Autogynephilia.

narcissusOver the years, certain aspects of autogynephilia and its expression have caused both confusion and consternation in the transgender world.  Some of the quirks found in the data, such as the now well documented (slightly) lower level of reported erotic cross-dressing in “bi-sexual” transsexuals, suggested that perhaps some bisexuals weren’t autogynephilic, etc.  But a new paper, though VERY tentative, give some credence to the idea that there are different subsets of autogynephilia, different expressions of it, that correspond with sexual behavior, specifically, that in addition to the previously well documented four types of autogynephilic expression, a fifth expression exists, that may explain these quirks.

Hsu, et al. have created a new instrument for experimental purposes and did a validity and factorial analysis of a population of known autogynephiles against a control group of men.  The known AGP men were from an internet AGP erotic sharing group, as the authors explained,

“Participants were 149 adult men (M age=34.40 years, SD=11.20) recruited from Internet forums dedicated to sharing and discussing erotic fiction and media depicting autogynephilic fantasies, including cross-dressing, transforming into a woman, and body swapping with a woman. Most of the participants identified as heterosexual (80.54%) although a substantial minority identified as bisexual (14.77 %). Four other men identified as homosexual and one as asexual; the remaining two men selected‘‘Other’’but did not specify their sexual identity. Because participants were recruited from Internet forums catering to men with autogynephilia, all participants were included in the analyses regardless of their sexual identity.  In addition to the 149 participants considered to have autogynephilia, 112 adult heterosexual men (M age=32.63 years, SD=10.88) who reported having never cross-dressed were recruited as a control group from Amazon Mechanical Turk, a website used by people who want to earn small sums of money quickly by taking online surveys.”

However, this study was not directly meant to learn about how AGP and non-AGP men differed, as the authors explained,

“Specifically, our study did not address the issue of whether autogynephilia represents a dimensional or taxonic difference from typical male sexuality. In order to explore that issue, it would be necessary to obtain a representative (and presumably large, given the likely rarity of autogynephilia) sample from the general population (Beauchaine, 2007). Rather, we explored differences among autogynephilic men, assuming that such differences are dimensional, and we focused on describing their dimensional structure. Thus, the primary empirical question that we addressed was not ‘‘How do autogynephilic men differ from other men?’’ but ‘‘How do autogynephilic men differ among each other?’’

The study was most especially NOT about the differences between AGP transsexuals and MTF transkids.  In fact, as I will explain below, this new instrument has several items that make it invalid to such a task.  But in studying autogynephilia in AGP males in general, it is a very good start.

The most exciting thing that can happen when conducing science is to hear this phrase, “That’s odd…”  It means that something unexpected has been found in the data, something new.  In this case, we may have found something, two somethings actually.

It has always been mooted about that ‘transvestic’ autogynephilia is the most commonly found form of autogynephilia, along with ‘anatomic’, ‘behavioral’, and ‘physiological’.  Sometimes, a fifth type is discussed, ‘interpersonal’.  The usual explanation for bisexual or “pseudo-androphilia” sexual behavior is that ‘behavioral’ autogynphilic ideation includes acts of having sex with a man as a woman.  But this paper supports the notion that the fifth type, ‘interpersonal’, is responsible.  The central concept of ‘interpersonal’ autogynephilia is that of narcissistic desire to be admired by other people, as an attractive, sexually desirable woman, emphasis on being a woman.

It has also been suggested that gender dysphoria, the desire to “change sex” is most motivated by ‘anatomic’ autogynephilia and that most Cross-Dressers, who do not have such strong gender dysphoria experience less ‘anatomic’ and more ‘transvestic’ autogynephilia.  But in this study, the reverse seems to hold!

Those interested in the details should read the paper carefully, but to summarize, the authors explored four factor models and five factor models to explain the variance of the data.  They also explored the idea that a single factor underlay the whole.  The best model seemed to be the five factor model with a single factor, “autogynephilia” underlying the whole.  Thus, a generic ‘autogynephilia’ does exist, but also that there are variations on a theme, with (at least) five types identified.  The newly identified type is indeed interpersonal’ and is very strongly correlated with both identifying and being behaviorally bisexual.  The ‘behavioral’ type did NOT correlate with bisexuality / androphilia.

However, a note of caution needs to be introduced here, as two of the four items that had high loading for the ‘interpersonal’ factor specifically relate to dating and having sex with men… thus is essentially measuring the same construct.  It might be interesting in the future to redact these two items to see if the high correlation remained.  I’d even like to add another item to the ‘interpersonal’ set (see below).  Yet another caution needs to be observed… and that is finding EXACTLY who (or rather, what) these men were finding attractive and having sex with.  The “men” these individuals may be having sex with are very likely to be other Cross-Dressers!  IF so, this puts a rather different interpretation on their putative ‘androphilia’.

In looking at the correlations, both zero order and partial regression coefficients, ‘anatomic’ autogynephilia did NOT correlate with gender dysphoria, counter to previous report (Blanchard).  Instead, the highest correlation with gender dysphoria was ‘interpersonal’ !!!  While it may have made some theoretical sense to believe that ‘anatomic’ autogynephilia would be a powerful motivator for “changing sex”, given that both involve anatomic features.  This data suggesting that ‘interpersonal’ autogynphilia would be even more motivating makes sense when one considers the required “real life test” before one may obtain SRS, that social transition and the ‘real life test’ are all about interpersonal aspects of life.  But, again, we need to introduce a note of caution here.  The sample used in this study were NOT sufficiently gender dysphoric as to actually proceed to transition and SRS… only that they might have wished that they could have been born as girls, etc.  This may be more a measure, in this population, of such weaker desires.  This study needs to be repeated with a sample of AGP transwomen to confirm or disconfirm this unexpected result.

The fact that ‘interpersonal’ correlates so highly with both an interest in sex with men (even with the caution of the items I mentioned above) and gender dysphoria might explain why so MANY post-transition APG transwomen experience a “change in sexual orientation” from exclusively gynephilic to being bisexual / (pseudo)androphilic.  Lawrence showed that perhaps 38% experience such a change.  The two may go together, transition and “orientation change”.

Over all, this study suggests ‘anatomic’ autogynephilia may be just as common, if not more common than ‘transvestic’.  Most importantly of all, as the authors explain,

“The finding that a general factor of autogynephilia underlies the five types among the sample of autogynephilic men was not predestined to be true. For example, autogynephilic men may engage in or be invested in behaviors or fantasies of one type of autogynephilia at the expense of those of other types. In contrast, the general factor accounted for a much greater amount of the total variance of the 22 items than did the group factors, suggesting that there is an overall tendency for some men to be more autogynephilic than others. Indeed, scores on the GAS, a measure we constructed by adding all 22 items,were normally distributed. From these results, it appears that the types of autogynephilia that a man has are less important than the degree to which he has autogynephilia.”

To explore their new instrument’s validity as a measure of autogynephilia, they compared the scores of their putatively known autogynephilic men with heterosexual control men:
Scale/subscale                                             AGP                         Controls         Cohen’s d

General Autogynephilia Scale (SD)      3.32  (0.89)        1.16 (0.38)       3.33

The absolute range for the General Autogynephilia Scale was 1–5.   My guess is that most people would find the fact that the scale is from one to five confusing, so if we made the scale from zero to four, the numbers would be 2.32 for AGPs vs. 0.16 for the controls… being more intuitively obvious that the scale works to differentiate AGP from non-AGP males.  And, for comparison purposes, making the scale from zero to eight, like Blanchard’s Core Autogynephilia scale, would be very useful.

As to my earlier comment as to why I believe that this new instrument is not valid for exploring the differences between putatively autogynephilic transwomen and putatively “homosexual” transwomen is the construction of three of the items in the instrument:

How sexually arousing would you find each of the following activities?

9. Having a stranger mistake me for a woman.
10. Picturing myself as a woman having sex with a man.
11. Having a man take me out for a romantic evening.

Item number nine, as constructed, is very likely to be interpreted in a rather different manner than that intended by the authors.  The term “mistake”, in someone who is extremely gender dysphoric and presently identifying as a woman, would have a very negative emotional valence.  Even if that individual might find having strangers who accept / perceive her as a woman as sexual arousing, she is unlikely to endorse this item as she will not experience that act of “passing” as a “mistake”.  This item would need to be modified to have a more acceptable valence.

Items 10 and 11 are problematic in that a truly androphilic and extremely gender dysphoric transwoman would also endorse these items, even in the total absence of autogynephilia, as would any heterosexual natal female for that matter.  The context of the question is not self-evident.  In fact, the construction of 11 doesn’t even specify “as a woman” or “dressed as a woman”… and even if it did… they still would not be interpreted as describing an autogynephilic motivation.  Context is everything.

In the same vein, but on the flip side, I would, for the purposes of strengthening the measure of ‘interpersonal’ autogynephilia, suggest a companion question of,

23. Picturing myself as a woman having sex with another woman.

This, I believe, is a VERY common ‘interpersonal’ autogynephilic fantasy.

And speaking of common fantasies.  The authors also explored correlations between their factors and paraphilic sexual interests.  Not unexpected, there was a slightly increased interest in sexual masochism in the AGP sample.  The correlation was highest with ‘interpersonal’ and ‘transvestic’ autogynephilia.  To explore this better, I would add another item to the instrument:

24. Being forced to wear women’s clothing by another person.

This might answer a question regarding “forced feminization” fantasies, that of which of the two competing hypotheses is correct.  Is “forced feminization” a convolution of ‘transvestic’ autogynephilia and simple sexual masochism?  Or… Is “forced feminization” a means for reducing the guilt and shame of ‘transvestic’ autogynephilia, without experiencing masochism.

Hypothesis were meant to be tested.

 

Reference:

Kevin J. Hsu, A. M. Rosenthal, J. Michael Bailey, “The Psychometric Structure of Items Assessing Autogynephilia”
Archives of Sexual Behavior, DOI 10.1007/s10508-014-0397-9

 

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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.  She also published a book that touched in on the topic in 2015.  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

Further Reading:

Book Review by Rod Fleming

Book Review by S. Alejandra Velasquez

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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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