On the Science of Changing Sex

Etiological Conjectures, Part 3

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on February 14, 2013

androgynous faceAs I related in Part 1 and Part 2 of my discussion regarding etiological conjectures, there are still more questions than answers about how early onset gender atypicality and dysphoria develops.  However, there are some very intriguing clues from the biodemographics of transkids.  As I discussed in an earlier essay on how MTF transkids may be a subset population of the larger exclusively androphilic, gender atypical, but not gender dysphoric children who grow up to be conventional gay men, the biodemographics of MTF transkids seems to be very similar, if not identical, to that of at least some gay men.

Simply put, MTF transkids have more brothers than sisters, far more than one would expect comparing them to the general population.  They tend to have more older brothers than would be expected, showing that for each older brother, the likelihood that a given male would be an MTF transkid is increased by 40%.  Note that the absolute likelihood of being an MTF transkid is still very, very tiny, but the more older brothers that one’s mother had given birth to, the more likely this tiny chance is increased.  This effect is also found in conventional gay men, but only those who were feminine as children.

From this statistical anomaly, Blanchard suggested that at least some gay men and MTF transkids have an etiological cause that is effected by their mother’s prior pregnancy experiences.  His conjecture is that prior male pregnancies challenged their mother’s immune system such that they developed anti-bodies to “maleness” in some, as yet to be discovered, fashion.

I would offer a different conjecture.  It is fairly well established that placentas from each fetus a women bears releases cells that migrate to all parts of her body.  In effect, she becomes a genetic chimera, carrying the DNA of each of her children (including those who miscarried).  This means that she also carries cells in her body which are genetically “male”, that have a Y chromosome and have supposedly been epigenetically tagged as being “male” during gestastion, prior to escaping via the placenta and migrating into her own body.  I conjecture that the mother’s own epigenetic gene regulation mechanisms are invoked to bring these “male” cells in line with her female body.  If these mechanisms become especially strong, they may tag her own germ cell line prior to oogenesis with epigenetic tags that push the later born male children toward neurological femininity.

Perhaps someday, we will see which, if either, of us guessed right.


Sebastian E. E. Schagen, Henriette A. Delemarre-van de Waal, Ray Blanchard, Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, (2012) “Sibling Sex Ratio and Birth Order in Early-Onset Gender Dysphoric Adolescents”

Blanchard, R., & Sheridan, P. M. (1992). Sibship size, sibling sex ratio, birth order, and parental age in homosexual and nonhomosexual gender dysphorics. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 180, 40–47.

Blanchard, Bogaert, “Homosexuality in men and number of older brothers”

Anthony F. Bogaert, “Biological versus nonbiological older brothers and men’s sexual orientation”

Green, R. (2000). Birth order and ratio of brothers to sisters in transsexuals. Psychological Medicine, 30, 789–795.

Blanchard, R., Zucker, K., Cohen-Kettenis, P., Gooren, L., & Bailey, J. (1996) “Birth order and sibling sex ratio in two samples of Dutch gender-dysphoric homosexual males” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 25, 495–514.

Johannes Bohacek, Katharina Gapp, Bechara J. Saab, Isabelle M. Mansuy, “Transgenerational Epigenetic Effects on Brain Functions”

Miranda P. Dierselhuis, Els Goulmy, “We are all born as microchimera”


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Posted in Confirming Two Type Taxonomy by Kay Brown on November 4, 2010

critical-thinkingIn one of the most misunderstood of Blanchard’s papers, he and his colleagues, Clemmensen and Steiner, explored the likelihood and areas in which MTF transsexuals might selectively ‘color’ their presentation of their sexual and gendered behavior history.  Many people on both sides of the debate have assumed that Blanchard was making a judgment upon “non-homosexual” transsexuals, saying that they were more prone to lying than “homosexual” transsexuals.  Actually, the data says just the opposite, that neither group is more naturally inclined to such distortion, generally.  However, the data does say that the more an individual is inclined to color their responses to questionnaires in such a way as to present as more socially desirable, the more likely that they will answer questions regarding sexual history and gendered behavior is such a way as to increase the likelihood of being accepted for SRS.  Is that so shocking?  That ‘trannies’ might ‘enhance’ their chances of getting past the gate keepers? (Gasp!)

But there is more detail to the study, that is important to note;  While both AGP and androphilic transsexuals were just as likely to color and shade their history, the AGP  transsexuals did so along all eight of the study’s scales, while HSTS did it only on one of the scales.

But, before we get to that, I think we need to explore how we know this, how Blanchard, et al. determined this.  They sought correlations between their sexological scales and the Crowne-Marlow Social Desirability Scale.

The Crowne-Marlow scale is a set of 32 statements that are answered true or false for one’s self.  Each statement is scored with either a zero or a plus one, depending if the answer indicates a tendency to color one’s socially desired behaviors.  Thus, the scale goes from zero to thirty-two (0-32).  The statements are very clever in that each statement, if answered in the non-socially desirable fashion, would still not be indicative of any pathology, and in fact might indicate self-honesty.  For example, one of the statements reads, “I have never intensely disliked anyone.”  If one answers “true” this is a socially desirable answer, most saintly indeed.  However, how many of us can honestly answer that there has never been someone, some time, that pissed us off so badly, that we still hold an intense and personal hatred for them?  (I can think of several such individuals instantly.)  The statements are also chosen to be “graded” from not likely to be that good, to likely to be that good, in that some statements might be honestly answered in the socially desirable manner by many, if not most people, for example, “I would never think of letting someone else be punished for my wrongdoings.”

Thus, the Crowne-Marlow scale has the unusual property that an honest saint may give the same high score as a dishonest sociopath.  So, a high score in no way indicates that one is a liar per se.  In fact, the scale is nearly useless as an individual test.  It is only in groups, large groups can we use the scale to look for meaningful inferences, in either the mean scores or in the correlations with other scales.

In his chapter comparing various scales of social desirability Paulhus noted that:

Crowne and Marlowe (1964) reported a mean of 15.5 (s.d. = 4.4) in a sample of 300
college students. In a more recent study of 100 students, Paulhus (1984) reported means of 13.3 (s.d. = 4.3) and 15.5 (s.d. = 4.6) in anonymous and public disclosure conditions, respectively. In a sample of 503 students, Tanaka-Matsumi and Kameoka (1986) reported means of l4.0 and 12.3 for normal and depressed respondents, respectively. In a sample of 650 Peace Corps volunteers (90% college graduates), Fisher (1967) found means of 16.1 (s.d. = 6.8) and 16.4 (s.d. = 6.5) for males and females, respectively.

Thus, we see that Peace Corps volunteers, probably the closest sample that we will ever find to saintly people, give scores in the range of 16.1-16.4.  But, Paulhus found that college students gave mean scores of 13.3 in an anonymous situation and 15.5 when they knew that someone they knew would be reading their answers.  So, folks tend to ‘color’ their answers when they feel that they might be judged in some manner by their answers?  Not much surprise there!

Compare these scores to the mean scores of the two types of transsexuals in Blanchard’s study of 17.68 for the “heterosexual” (non-homosexual) and 20.02 for the “homosexual” transsexuals.  Given that the scores for female Peace Corps volunteers was only 16.4, do we really believe that these transsexuals were more saintly?  Are we surprised that these transsexuals would be assuming that their answers to the other eight scales would be used to judge them, possibly used to deny them essential medical services, that they might wish to color their responses?  Also, please note, as did Blanchard, that if anything, the HSTS group was more likely to color their answers than the non-hsts group.

It is in the correlations with the individual scores on the Crowne-Marlow scale and the scores on the other eight scales used in the study that we learn something really interesting about each group (taken verbatim from the paper):

Correlations of Demographic Variables and Questionnaire Measures with
Social Desirability Scale ~
–                                                                                      All                Hetero        Homo
Variable                                                                  r           p            r       p           r      p
Age                                                                        -.04       NS     -.13     NS      .23  NS
Education                                                             .01       NS     -.04    NS      .18   NS
Item: Felt like a woman                                  .30     .001    .29   .011     .26  .034
Item: Rather live as female                           .27     .002    .34   .003   .01  NS
Feminine Gender Identity Scale                 .35     .001     .37  .001    .16   NS
Modified Androphilia Scale                          .28     .001     .25  .022    .02  NS
Modified Gynephilia Scale                           -.30    .001   -.38   .001    .18   NS
Cross-Gender Fetishism Scale                    -.35    .001   -.48   .001    .08   NS
Item: Aroused by cross-dressing              -.29    .001   -.34   .003    .02   NS
Item: Masturbated cross-dressed             -.27   .002   -.34   .003    .06   NS

~The abbreviations Hetero and Homo refer to heterosexual and homosexual subjects.
Columns headed r are correlation coefficients; columns headed p are their associated one-tailed probabilities. The abbreviation NS means that the associated correlation coefficient was not statistically significant at the 0.05 level. (The smaller the number, the more “statistically significant; that is to say, that it is more likely to be “real” and not just chance.)

Looking at the two groups and correlations, one notices that on all eight of the sexualogical scales, for the “heterosexual” group the correlations are all statistically significant.  Further, the single highest correlation was on the Cross-Gender Fetishism Scale (a measure of autogynephilia) at -0.48.  For those familiar with psychological research and statistics, this number screams!  (No correlation would be 0.00 and perfect, one to one, correlation would be 1.00; so this number is half way between.)  That is a very high correlation telling us that this group, as a group, would like to color this scale.  That is, that the more likely that an individual is to have a high score on the Crowne-Marlow scale, the more likely they will have a low score on this autogynephilia scale!  Ok, this can be interpreted that individuals who wish others to see them as having socially desirable traits are more likely to minimize or deny experiencing autogynephilia.

Similarly, scores for gynephila and androphilia are colored to minimize their attraction to women, while maximizing their attraction to men, and so on down the line, to seem more “classically” transsexual (more like HSTS) perhaps?

In contrast, for the “homosexual” transsexual group, there was only one scale that has a statistically significant correlation, “Felt like a woman”, and only just barely “significant”.  This was a scale from one to three that indicates under what state of dress that they felt like a woman, with three being dressed as either a man or a woman, to never, which excluded the subject as not being “transsexual”:

Item: Have you ever felt like a woman?
a. Only if you were wearing at least one piece of female underwear or clothing (1)
b. While wearing at least one piece of female underwear or clothing and only occasionally at other times as well (2)
c. At all times and for at least one year (3)
d. Never felt like a woman (exclude subject)

But… BUT… do the math… there were only fifty-one “homosexual” subjects (N=51) which gave a mean score of 2.96 on this scale.  That would come from two subjects giving a score of 2, while the rest, all forty-nine of the others, scored 3.  Also note that that one other correlation almost reached the threshold for statistical significance: age, at 0.23.  That is to say, that a weak correlation was found with older subjects being more likely to have a higher score on the Crowne-Marlow scale.  This suggests to me that age will have a weak correlation with higher scores on the “felt like a woman scale”… thus… we might guess that those two subjects that answered “2” instead of “3” were younger than the average of the “homosexual” group… perhaps they were more tentative in their answers?  Overall, this isn’t much of a strong signal.  In spite of the higher mean score on the Crowne-Marlow scale, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence for coloring their answers.  Perhaps that’s because they didn’t feel that they needed to?

Addendum 1/15/2018:

Study after study has shown that around 80% to 85% of “non-homosexual” transwomen readily acknowledge experiencing sexual arousal to cross-dressing, at least in adolescence.  This leaves 15% or so who say that they didn’t.  As we’ve seen, social desirability bias is strongly operating.  At least some percentage of the population is not being honest.  Interestingly, there is a new study exploring the subject of honesty and dishonesty.  It was discovered that there are three types of people that I shall paraphrase as “always honest”, “mostly honest”, and the “never honest”.

Guess what the percentages were?

“always honest” = 50%
“mostly honest” = 35%
“never honest” = 15%.

Wow, what an interesting coincidence.

Many transwomen who are critical of the two type taxonomy have specifically called out Blanchard and any who accept and advocate the taxonomy as being ugly transphobes for having called transwomen liars.  But are we to suppose that transwomen, as a population, are somehow more saintly and honest than the general population?  Phhfft !


Addendum 2/16/2019:

I found another paper dealing with dishonesty in research studies that showed that around 10% to 20% of people were willing to lie in a survey just to make a few bucks, even as little as $5.  Wow, that’s an interesting coincidence; around an average of 15% of people are willing to lie for so small an incentive.  Can we really believe that transwomen, as a population, are somehow more saintly and honest than the general population?



Ray Blanchard, Leonard H. Clemmensen, Betty W. Steiner, “Social Desirability Response Set and Systematic Distortion in the Self-Report of Adult Male Gender Patients

Douglas P. Crowne, David Marlowe, “A New Scale of Social Desirability Independent of Psychopathology”

Delroy L. Paulhus, Chapter 2: “Measurement and Control of Response Bias”
J. P. Robinson, P. R. Shaver & L. Wrightsman (Eds), Measures of personality and social psychological attitudes (pp. 17-59)., Academic Press, Inc.

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The Gostak Distims the Doshes…

Posted in Science Criticism by Kay Brown on January 5, 2010

… or context is everything.

`When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’ — Lewis Carrol

Context in language is everything.  When we compose a message, the context in which it is used must be considered.  The goal of communication is to chose symbols that elicit the same meaning in the receiver that they do in the sender.  The sender chooses their words, while imagining how the receiver will interpret them, the receiver examines the words and interprets, as best they can, the most likely meaning that they had been intended to connote.  But, if context is not considered, this may not occur.  Consider the following short dialog:

“Do you like football?”

“Oh, yes, I love football, its a great game.”

So, we can see that there was proper communication?  That the sender in each case was understood by the receiver?  Perhaps not.  Consider that the first speaker was an American, and the second speaker was from the United Kingdom.  Does that change what happened?  We now see that the first speaker was discussing a game where the ball is kicked only a few times an hour, while the second was discussing a game where the ball is kicked many times a minute.  They haven’t communicated anything at all!

OK, I can hear you thinking, of course, that’s because of the different cultural meaning of the word “football”… but that can’t happen in the same culture.  Well… context for men and women may be quite different.  But lets consider another set of words first; I’ll even provide the context:

A new car owner hears a funny noise in the engine compartment and the car smells funny, so pulls into the dealership where s/he asks the mechanic to look at it.  The mechanic opens the hood, fiddles with something and says, “That your problem.”

Has the mechanic:

A) sympathized with the owner and acknowledged which component is at fault.

B) disavowed any responsibility for the problem, noting that the part was misused.

We can’t tell, can we (?), not until we learn yet more of the context, as a question or two… or be very good at detecting perhaps a contextual inflection:

That’s your problem.”

“That’s your problem.”

Context is everything… and so is asking for clarification as to what is being asked, and what is being answered.  Without that:

“What we have here is a failure to communicate”

This is the case with Moser’s recent study of autogynephilia in women.  Seriously, can we really expect to get the same meaning in the receiver, in a message whose original intended receiver had a completely different context, namely, that message having been intended for males who were requesting somatic feminization, to be understood in the same way by a group of random women?  We can expect even those who weren’t themselves seriously AGP to have at least heard of it, and possibly observed it, in others, in a gender clinic!  Can we say the same for a group of random women, who may not know the context in which the original instrument was used?


The test instrument (questionnaire) he devised was cleverly (re-)written to obtain positive answers to ambiguous questions that only superficially resembled questions used in Blanchard’s original instrument that are only valid for gender dysphoric males.  For example, one question asked if one fantasized about having a “sexier” body?  (One would hardly expect that women would fantasize about having an uglier one!)  Another question asked about becoming aroused while preparing for a sexual encounter with a lover.  (Such arousal would arise due to anticipation, not the mere fact of getting dressed in womens’ clothing!) The results of the questionnaire point out a difficulty that exists in all such instruments, that of “validity”.  Does the instrument measure what we want to measure?  One way to find out is to test the validity of the instrument against a known group, use a set of those who we know have the condition for which we would like an easy-to-administer survey, and a control group that do not.  The validity of Blanchard’s survey instrument (or was it originally Freund’s?) was developed against a group of known autogynephilic males and a control group of men that was known not to be so.  Thus, the validity has only been made for males, in a gender clinic setting.  But, this instrument was not thoroughly validated with random women, in a completely different setting.

Does anyone doubt that there is a difference between a man answering, in the affirmative, the question, “I have been aroused by wearing womens’ underwear?”  A man who is likely to be thinking of the first time he snuck into his sister’s underwear drawer, slipped into his own bedroom, and posed with panties and bra, observing how he has made his body look more like the girls he daydreams about at school, and ends up masturbating… compared to a woman, likely to be thinking of how she grabbed the stuff to put on this morning, while thinking about how much she is looking forward to that night with her boyfriend?

Now, consider that same question being answered by a male who has never even worn womens’ underwear!  Not going to have a false positive with that man!  But… we can easily imagine many false positives for women who wear such underwear everyday… after all, even a stray thought might have some erotic meaning and be arousing… but was it *caused* by the mere presence of their own body being female, or of wearing items culturally associated with being female?

We can reverse that, how many men will answer, truthfully, “I have been aroused while wearing mens’ underwear”?  Actually, if they have not the contextual clues that they are being asked about possible fetishist use of mens’ underwear, then, yes, they answer, “I’ve gotten aroused while being dressed… and somewhat undressed… I don’t have to be fully nude with my girlfriend before I find myself saluting her.”  He may have a completely different interpretation of the sender’s intended meaning.

Context is everything.

(Addendum 10/31/2015:  Given that I’ve been seeing this so called study remaining to be popular among autogynephilic transwomen, I thought I should share some factoids about it.  First, it was published in the Journal of Homosexuality a journal with such a low impact factor one would have trouble finding one lower.  The impact factor is only 1.364.  For comparison, the impact factor for Nature is 41.456 and for Science is 33.611.  The impact factor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, where most of the serious papers on transsexuality are published is 2.589, about twice that of the Journal of Homosexuality.  Oh… and second, Dr. Charles Moser is on the journal’s editorial board.  Now, do you think that might have an effect on whether a really weak paper that he himself wrote could get published there? Can you imagine any scenario where the journal would NOT publish a paper by one of its own editors?  Third, where in the study is the validation data?  What is the alpha value (test-retest correlation)?  Where is the control group?  Where is the clinical observations of autogynephilic behavior in women that led to the trial construction of the instrument?  In fact, where in all of the voluminous studies of female sexuality has there been ANY hint that women experience sexual arousal to the thought of or contemplation / examination of their own female bodies?)

(Addendum 11/10/2017:  Anne Lawrence in a recently published paper covering the issues dealt with Moser thus,

“Moser (2009) reported the responses of 29 female hospital employees to his Female Autogynephilia Scale, which used items modified from scales originally devised by Blanchard (1985, 1989b) to measure autogynephilia and related traits (Lawrence, 2010b). About half of respondents reported at least occasional “autogynephilic” arousal. But Moser modified Blanchard’s original language on the advice of female colleagues and friends, to better investigate the specifics of their self-reported arousal or to provide “needed context” (Moser, 2010a, p. 694). Consequently, Moser’s modified items arguably did not adequately distinguish between being aroused by wearing sexy clothing or by imagining that a potential romantic partner finds one attractive — which natal women apparently do experience — and being aroused simply by the idea that one is wearing women’s clothing or has a woman’s body — which natal women probably rarely if ever experience (Lawrence, 2010b). Moser (2009) conceded that “It is possible that autogynephilia among MTFs and natal women are different phenomena and the present inventories lack the sophistication to distinguish these differences” (p. 544). Lawrence (2010b) argued that this was probable, on the grounds that Moser’s items “fail[ed] to adequately assess the essential element of autogynephilia — sexual arousal simply to the thought of being a female” (p. 3).”

Emphasis on “needed context” is mine… sadly, this context was misinterpreted.  Note also that Moser concedes that the inventory is invalid to detect autogynephilia in women!)

Further Reading:

Critique of a new instrument to measure autogynephilia in males showing validity testing against a control group.

Clinical description of autogynephilia in males.



Lawrence, A., “Autogynephilia and the Typology of Male-to-Female Transsexualism: Concepts and Controversies”, European Psychologist, 22, 39-54. (2017)


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Phenomena and Theory…

Posted in Transsexual Theory by Kay Brown on December 31, 2009

…or how to confuse fact and fiction

narcissusOne of the things that drives me nuts in trying to have a conversation with anyone on the topic of the two type taxonomy of transsexual etiology is those who oppose it confuse theory and phenomena, often trying to paint the presentation of autogynephilia, which is an observable phenomena, as “merely a theory”.  This reminds me greatly of the tactic of Creationists, to paint the observable phenomena, “evolution” as “only a theory”!  Seriously, one first observes phenomena, then develops a theory that places this phenomena into a greater picture of how it operates and interrelates to other observed phenomena.

For example, we observe that all mass objects here on earth “fall down”.  We observe that big objects in space orbit each other.  Two phenomena, one theory, gravity.  Through much observation, testing, calculation, etc.  Newton developed his “Universal Theory of Gravity” which stated that all masses attract all other masses proportionally to their masses and inversely proportionally to the square of their distances.  The theory has a predictive power.  This is an important point of science.  A theory should have both the ability to explain the already observed phenomena and to predict other, potentially as yet, unobserved phenomena, so that we can test this theory.  In the case of Newton’s gravity, that seemed to pass all tests until the early 20th Century when the orbit of Mercury didn’t agree perfectly… but a new theory of gravity, called “General Relativity” proposed by Albert Einstein, did explain all previously observed phenomena, including the issue of the orbit of Mercury.  Plus, it made a rather startling new prediction, one that could only be observed when a solar eclipse was observed, that the light of distant stars would be bent by the intense gravity found near the surface of the sun.  This was observed, and General Relativity became the new and improved theory to understand how gravity behaved.

So, back to autogynephilia.  This is an observed phenomena.  NOT a theory.  I’ve already explained how one hypothesis has met several tests… that there are two types of transsexuals who have been shown statistically to have certain common traits with-in each type and two correlated and mutually exclusive traits.  As a reminder, those traits that correlate are gynephilia and autogynephilia.  The traits that are anti-correlated are exclusive androphilia and autogynephilia.

This correlation leads to proposing another hypothesis, namely, that for autogynephilia to exist, there must be an underlying gynephilia.  For someone who is androphilic, there is no existing gynephilia to lead to autogynephilia.  The data would support this hypothesis extremely well.  In fact, as I have shown in my earlier post, analyzing Leavitt and Berger’s study, that correlation is very, very high… perhaps showing an effect size that is higher than many experimental results in psychology that are accepted and not considered in any way controversial.  Just to remind ourselves just how strong the effect size is, let’s revisit the data, looking at only the issue of reported autogynephilia and a history of sex with females:

AGP:         6.7%         33.3%          50%

Sex w/f:  0%            33.3%         58%

This data, as all real data sets, is expected to have some “noise” in it.  That is, real human lives are messy.  We all have things that make us a little different than anybody else in the world.  But, this data set is amazing in that the groupings were made on an entirely different basis, yet we discover, that the more transsexuals that are in a group that have had sex with women, the more that group will have transsexuals that also report being autogynephilic.  Further, the ratio, from the data, is nearly one to one.  Again, given the noise, and the relatively small number of subjects  (n=81), this is an amazingly strong correlation.  I feel perfectly confident that we can now create the “formula” that for a transsexual to be AGP, they must also have gynephilia.  As I already pointed out in my earlier post, another hypothesis is that for a gynephilic male to be “transsexual”, that male must also be autogynephilic.

So, that’s a testable and now tested hypothesis.  But not quite a theory.  The theory which has been developed is that autogynephilia is related to another phenomena in a theory called “Erotic Target Location Error”.  Although, perhaps the word “error” is both unnecessary and potentially judgmental.  I would have suggested “auto-mapped”, that is that the erotic target is mapped back onto the self, which is both accurate, descriptive, and free of pre-judgment.  So, how does this larger theory fit?

The theory of Erotic Target Location Error states that there is an independent dimension to erotic desire in which for each erotic target that is observed in the human population, there will be those minority of people who will remap that erotic target back onto themselves.  That is, if there are men that are attracted to women, there will be a small minority of them that remap that image onto themselves, i.e., exhibit autogynephilic arousal.  That also means that if one is attracted to something as esoteric as amputees, there will be a smaller group who will also remap that onto themselves, and exhibit the erotic desire to appear to be, or actually be, amputees.  This is in fact observed.

Shown below is a table of a few possible erotic targets and their associated Erotic Target Location Error  behaviors:

So, according to this theory, we can explain the appearance of apotemnophilia, the erotic desire to become an amputee.  It also explains the appearance of pedovestism (erotically dressing as children), and the erotic desire to surgically alter one’s appearance to more closely approximate that of a child’s (Michael Jackson comes to mind).  It also predicts the appearance of autoandrophilia in men.  This last one was suggested as possibly being found in body-building gay men, but it would be difficult to detect and differentiate from simple desire to better one’s sexual appeal to other gay men.  However, Lawrence has found an example and published his case history:

Lawrence, A. A. (2009). Anatomic autoandrophilia in an adult male. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 38, 1050-1056.

This theory also predicts the existence of autoandrophilia in female bodied people.  It has been noted that female bodied people are much less likely to show any sort of “other” sexuality, when compared to male bodied people.  However, in large numbers, we should be able to find examples… and in fact we do.  There have been any number of documented cases of female transvestism, erotic cross-dressing in very masculine clothing.  There is also the interesting phenomena of “transfags”, Female-to-Male (FtM) transsexuals who are primarily interested in men.  Although considerably less numerous than gynephilic MtF TS, they do exist.  Further, studies show that they, in an exact mirror parallel with their autogynephilic MTF counter-parts, show greater femininity in childhood than their gynephilic FtM compatriots, etc.

On a personal note, I have personally met and conversed with over a dozen such autoandrophilic FtM transsexuals since first encountering one in 1977.  Although the plural of anecdote is not data, these conversations have convinced me that they are indeed the mirror of the far more common AGP MTF transsexual.  And in the case of two of them, in a conversation in 1996, in company with a masculine gynephilic FtM,  independently noted the similarity of themselves to AGP MTFs, and the similarity of the gynephilic FtM and myself, using the terms, “early” vs. “late” transitioning, how refreshingly honest and insightful, compared to today’s near universal denial found in the AGP TS community.

Further Reading:

Essay on Apotemnophilia and Autogynephilia Co-morbidity



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Pick a card, any card…

Posted in Science Criticism by Kay Brown on December 29, 2009

…or slight of hand with statistics

critical-thinking“Lairs, Damn Liars, and Statisticians,”  — Mark Twain

One of the critics of Blanchard’s work, Madeline H. Windzen, challenged his research by misrepresenting how statistics works in science.  Most people are rightly suspicious of statistics, not having been exposed to it as part of their education, save perhaps, learning to calculate simple odds.  Goodness knows how many times is it misused to mislead consumers in commercials for example.  However, Windzen mislead by playing to that suspicion, by setting up a false straw man to be knocked down:


On the linked page, she sets up a hypothetical data set that has easily differentiable clusters on a two dimensional graph.  After explaining how easy it would be to differentiate them in her hypothetical graph, she then shows us Blanchard’s actual data, then, with a slight of hand, asks us to draw the wrong conclusion, that there are no clusters, nor differences between categories in the data!

“But, wait!  Isn’t she right?  That seems to make sense to me,” you might say.

No, it isn’t right.

Let’s set up another case… a real world case.  Let’s consider a histogram, a graph of how many people are a given height.  If we were to plot this, we would find a classic “bell curve” centered on 5’7″ tall (at least for adults living in the U.S.).  There are no obvious clusters present in the graph, as only one peak is present.  But consider, people come in two sexes.  If we plot the two sexes on the same graph, we find that we now have two new bell curves centered on 5’4″ for women and 5’10” for men.  These two curves also over lap a great deal.  Also consider, that if we add those two graphs together, we, by definition, get the first curve.  In other words, those two curves are “hidden” in the first.  but we know its in there.

Knowing something about these hidden curves, we can make some statements about using the first curve.  For example, if we know that someone is 5’7″ tall, the probability, the odds, that someone is a man or a woman is exactly half, 50%.   We know that if someone is taller than 5’7″, the odds that they are a man are greater than 50%, if shorter than 5’7″, the odds are less than 50%.  The further away from 5’7″, the greater the odds for one sex over the other.

Thus, mathematically, statistically, we can use the original curve to create statistical correlations with other data, that can be correlated with yet other data.  For example, if we find that the shorter a human being is, the longer they live, as a group, we can also say, with some statistical probability that since shorter humans are more likely to be female, then we can also say, that female humans are more likely to live longer.  Thus, we can use a data set that would appear to have no discernible clusters to learn something about two very real categories of people… even though we can’t draw neat little boxes around the groups.

This is the case with Blanchard’s data set.  We actually have two very real and different groups, that overlap in the graph.  There is one group, whose scores center on +12, -6 on the graph, while the other group is quite literally all over the map!  The scores of the autogynephilic category is very very noisy, while the feminine androphilic category is tightly clustered.  So, if we make an arbitrary grouping, centered on +12, -6, we will find that we have a higher chance that individuals with that score are feminine androphilic type than any other area on the graph.  We know that we will get some individuals who are AGP inside of the cluster, and we know we will leave some feminine androphilic transsexuals outside of the cluster.  But, we know that we have a higher probability that a given individual will be feminine androphilic inside, and a higher probability that a given individual will be AGP on the outside.  Thus, we can now, statistically learn things about the two groups, differentiate their characteristics.

From the differences between the groups thus determined, we learn that only 10% of the individuals scoring near +12,-6 reported erotic cross-dressing and autogynephilic ideation, while those outside of this cluster in all three of the other quadrants, a much much higher percentage reported autogynephilic arousal.  Thus, we know that the instrument is not that good at separating the two types, just as height is not that good at separating the sexes, but both instruments, Blanchard’s Modified Androphilia & Gynephilia Scales and the yard stick work well enough to let us statistically say things about the groups in question.

So, back to Windzen.  She clearly is an intelligent and knowledgeable educator.  So, why did she not explain, properly explain, how statistics is used in general, and how Blanchard used them in particular, to learn, about the two types?  Instead, she questioned why he didn’t use another method, letting the reader wonder if it was really Blanchard who was pulling the statistical slight of hand?  In fact, she knows, but failed to report, that Blanchard had actually used a another, equally valid software tool that is designed to find such “latent clusters”, to find the best way to draw the lines around possible clusters in the data.  He did the best he could with the data he had… but Windzen suggests otherwise.   Why did she pull such an intellectual sleight of hand?

Perhaps it is because she thinks she can?  How many people understand that their chances of being struck and killed by lightning are greater than their chance of winning their state’s lottery!

So, far from bringing Blanchard’s work into question, and certainly even further from “debunking” it as I’ve read some bloggers claim, Windzen has only made us question her.

(Addendum 11/21/2013:  Blanchard’s observations discussed here have been repeated by several more recent studies, which I have written about else where.  You may wish to read further on my essay What is a Transsexual?)

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Blanchard, Bailey, and Lawrence…

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on December 27, 2009

Cloudy… or how to lose friends and not influence people.

Seriously.  Mention anything that sounds like you support any of the science performed by Ray Blanchard, Michael Bailey, or Anne Lawrence and you will instantly be on everyone’s hate list.  Why is that?  Why are the ideas and the replicable experiments that they have performed not been given serious thought?  Even asking this question will generate a firestorm of either invective or derision.

But it shouldn’t be that way.

Many of the ideas explored by these and other researchers, most notably Kurt Freund, seem common sense to anybody who aren’t themselves transsexual or transgender, or what ever new term seems to be in vogue.  Further, the data itself is simply that, data.  We might have a different interpretation of the data, in fact, this is how science works, reinterpretation of the data based on new facts that join the old.  But, we can’t dismiss facts.  And we certainly can’t dismiss the facts or conclusions because they are uncomfortable, or we don’t like who studied them!

OK, to deal with the Elephant in the Room.  I’ve read nearly all of the papers written by these three authors dealing with TS/TG issues.  My opinion.  I couldn’t agree more.  There, I said it.

This is often questioned.  “How can a woman with your history agree with them?”  The answer, simple.  They are right.

Oh, perhaps the fact that I’m 35 years post transition, nearly 30 years post-op, married to a wonderful man, and well past any drama over making tough decisions about my life has something to do with it.  But, quite simply, the real reason is that the science is solid.  The data fits.  In fact, both the data and my own personal observations of literally many hundreds of transfolk for my entire adult life agree.

So what is the conclusion that is so controversial?  Simply put, that there are two types of people who may call themselves “transsexuals” or “transgender”.  They have two different etiologies, two different medical conditions, both equally real and valid, two different life arcs, and two different sets of medical needs.  The only thing they may have in common is that they both may benefit from similar, though not necessarily identical, medical procedures, namely Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) and somatic feminization or masculinization surgery, including genital Sex Reassignment Surgery SRS.

Note that here I include both MTF and FtM individuals.  Although most of the science has been conducted on MTF populations, as being more numerous, I will explore FtM types, which show a similar pattern of there being two types.

So, what are these two MTF types?

The first group is obviously feminine from an early age and remain so through puberty. The are primarily interested in men. They have limited, if any, sexual intercourse with women. They transition fairly young, typically before the end of adolescence. They have never experienced autogynephilic ideation.

The second group is typically not obviously feminine (but may not be super butch either) in childhood. They may be primarily interested in women, bisexual, or asexual. (Though, as a group, even the asexual has had more sexual experience with women than the first group). They have had or even continue to have, autogynephilic ideation w/ or w/o erotic cross-dressing. They tend to transition later, often in middle to late-middle-age.

These two types have been observed by clinicians and researchers for decades.  They have been called many different things over the years:

Primary vs. Secondary
True vs. Pseudo
Early vs. Late Onset
Homosexual vs. Autogynephilic

These two types had been noted as early as 1920 or so, described by Magnus Hirschfeld, who was Harry Benjamin’s friend and mentor.   Robert Stoller simply called the first group, “transsexual”, while calling the second group, “Non-transsexual men who seek sex changes”.  So, once upon a time, not long ago, the second group was not considered transsexual.

This led to a myth in the TG/AGP Transsexual community that only the obviously more feminine and androphilic types were accepted by the clinics of North America and Europe in the ’60s and ’70s.  Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.  Most of the clients of these clinics were AGP.  But, these clinics weren’t stupid.  They tended show-case their more socially acceptable clients, the androphilic, feminine type.  Further, it has always been this way; AGP transsexuals have always gotten surgery in larger numbers than the androphilic type, but only the most socially acceptable appearing, of either type, were show-cased in the media, save for shock television, which often sought out the “freaks” of every sort.

In other posts, I will delve into the science and what it might mean.  But, at no time will I pull punches or use euphemism where direct language can serve.

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