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22 March 2009

What is Autogynephilia?

++=added later: August 2011

See also: a Blanchard-Binary Timeline.

The term 'autogynephilia' was coined in 1989 by Ray Blanchard of the then Clarke Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto (now the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health = CAMH).

The term means ‘love of oneself as a woman’. At first glance this seems innocent enough. Any parent will recognize that most teenage girls go through a phase that could be so described, and many women continue to love themselves in this way well into maturity. And of course many boys/men have a ‘love of oneself as a man’. This would be ‘autoandrophilia’. Sexual orientation is not an issue here. Gay and lesbian teenagers are just as likely as heterosexuals to be happy to be the sex that they are.

Except of course parents, teenagers, teachers, sexologists etc do not use the term. No studies at all have been done re the prevalence and cause of autogynephilia/ autoandrophilia in the cisgendered population. If such studies had been done we could refer to them as the base studies, and use them for a comparison when studying the phenomenon in transgender persons.

The most obvious phase of autogynephilia/autoandrophilia is immediately post-pubertal. The most unusual thing in the lives of transsexuals is that we undergo a second puberty as we transition. The effect of new hormones in the body is just as dramatic as the standard puberty in early teenage. It is noted that transitioning and early-post-transition persons are often in a phase that can be called gender euphoria. One of the first sociological studies of transsexuals was done by Thomas Kando at the University of Minnesota in 1972, overlapping the time that Jan Morris was in Casablanca for an appointment with Dr Georges Burou. Kando found his 17 subjects to be more stereotypically feminine than other women, and referred to them as ‘reactionary’ and ‘the uncle toms of the sexual revolution’. They were between two weeks and two years post-operative. Yes the sample is too small, the post-operative period is too short, and also it later came out that Kando thought that his project was ‘stupid’, ‘grotesque’ and ‘boring’. In addition, no other sociologist replicated his findings. However his work did have one fan: The later graduate student, Janice Raymond, working in Boston on her thesis that she would later publish as The Transsexual Empire, found Kando’s work to be excellent grist for her mill. She also read and relished Morris’ autobiography, Conundrum, which, also being written within two years of surgery, reflects the same kind of gender stereotypes.

What does Blanchard make it mean?

Blanchard of course never mentions Raymond, Kando or Morris. Nor does he acknowledge cisgendered autogynephilia.

Nor does he define it as we have done above. His definition is: “a man's paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman". Thus it is a) a perversion b) a type of sexual arousal.

He proposes autogynephilia as a second type of transsexualism in addition to classic transsexualism, which he calls ‘homosexual transsexualism’ (HSTS), and which he applies to what we would call heterosexual trans women. This usage is in line with sexological and psychoanalytical usage. The Introduction to the CAMH’s Gender Dysphoria says: “A postoperative male-to-female transsexual living as the wife of a heterosexual male would still be regarded as a homosexual transsexual if she reported that she had been erotically attracted to male prior to the full development of the transsexual syndrome. (p3).” Neither arguments based on common sense, nor those referring to the feelings of the transsexuals themselves, have shaken the CAMH and other sexologists from their resolve to continue this usage.

Blanchard’s supporters applaud that he has increased the types of transsexual from one to two. His detractors are appalled that the wide variety of transsexuality has been reduced to two stereotypes and note the high percentage of rejections at the CAMH ( as high as 90%).

He accepts a few unquestioned axioms from the psychoanalytic tradition.
  1. Transvestism is a paraphilia, a fetish. Cross-dressing was never so considered until the twentieth century.
  2. As classical transsexualism is considered to be extreme homosexuality, autogynephilia is extreme transvestism.
  3. Women are not paraphilic, they do not have fetishes. Long a fantasy of the psychoanalytic movement, this misconception has been decidedly refuted by Emily Apter’s Feminizing the Fetish, Louise Kaplan’s Female Perversions and Lorrain Gamman & Merja Makinen’s Female Fetishism. As Blanchard does not perceive female paraphilia, he does not propose that there are autoandrophiles.
  4. Trans woman are men, and trans men are women. In 2004 Blanchard wrote: "This is not waving a magic wand and a man becomes a woman and vice versa… It's something that has to be taken very seriously. A man without a penis has certain disadvantages in this world, and this is in reality what you're creating."
  5. A fetish is an illness, not a type of play. Psychoanalysts of course have nothing to do with self-proclaimed fetish clubs.
  6. Homosexuals do not have good jobs. While to come out as gay was career suicide 50 years ago, prospects have changed enormously since.

Four Types of Autogynephilia

Blanchard distinguishes four types of autogynephilia (AGP):
  1. Transvestic – being aroused by the act or the fantasy of wearing women’s clothes
  2. Behavioural - being aroused by the act or the fantasy of doing stereotypical female things, e.g. knitting, or having one’s hair’s done
  3. Physiological - being aroused by the fantasy of menstruating or being pregnant
  4. Anatomical - being aroused by the act or the fantasy of actually having breasts and a vagina.
Surely there is one type missing here:

5. Sexual - being aroused by the act or the fantasy of receiving intercourse from a man.

Compare this to statements by trans women that being a woman involves (4) having a female body, (1) having a woman’s freedom to wear skirts or trousers as per circumstance and mood, and (2) being treated as a woman at work and in social life. Of course there is no equivalent to (3) in reality.

There is a world of difference between the fantasy of knitting=being a woman and the reality of being passed over for a promotion by male bosses. The difference in wording is highly significant. The wording of Blanchard’s four types suggests a male fantasy of femininity such as that for which the Princian crossdressers are criticized.

In addition, we should also remember that Blanchard’s major research was done on applicants to CAMH, but did not include any post-operatives, not even immediate post-operatives as Kando had done.

Conflation of variables

An HSTS is taken to be:
  1. An early transitioner
  2. Androphilic
  3. Living on the margins of society without a regular job. Many are assumed to be prostitutes, performers or to work in gay bars
An AGP is taken to be:
  1. A late transitioner
  2. Gynephilic, usually a husband and father
  3. Well employed. The stereotype is to work with computers.
In a way, this is the psychiatric version of the cliché that if you are a gay crossdresser you must be a drag queen, and if a straight one you must be a transvestite.

Of course there are many trans persons for whom the variables do not line up like this. How many of the persons rejected at CAMH were rejected because they do not fit the pattern? I myself was so rejected. I was in my mid-30s when I applied, with a career as a computer consultant (thus AGP), but I had a husband (HSTS) whom the CAMH was very reluctant to interview.

Trans men

As Blanchard does not acknowledge female paraphilia, and as he thinks that trans men are ‘women’, he assumes that they are all ‘homosexual’. In our terms, then, they will be heterosexual men after transition. Although Lou Sullivan wrote to Ray Blanchard in the 1980s explaining that gay trans men existed, and FTM groups report that up to a third of their members intend to be gay men, Blanchard is still denying their existence. In the CAMH’s Gender Dysphoria, 1985, Kurt Freund wrote: “To my knowledge, only one case of cross-gender identity in a heterosexual woman has been reported (J.B. Randell, 1959). Such a seeming exception could well be the result of the patient’s misrepresentation of facts.” Although Blanchard and Freund would categorize Sullivan as a ‘heterosexual woman’ if they noticed him, they were determined not to notice him.

Like many sexual categorizations, it is easy to get the impression that the system was designed around trans women and trans men are only an afterthought.

Confusion of phase and destiny

In constructing terminology it is sensible to name the categories by enduring traits. The HSTS person may have been a gay male before deciding to transition, but she is quickly becoming a heterosexual woman. This is easily remedied by calling such persons androphilic rather than homosexual. The fact that Blanchard refuses to use the word ‘androphilic’ is another reflection that he regards trans women as men.

Blanchard says: ”[We] were accustomed to referring to the erotic preference for adult women as gynephilia rather than heterosexuality, because the former denotes both the gender and the age of an individual’s preferred partners, whereas the latter denotes only the gender”. He does not seem to see that it is desirable in that it does not denote the gender of the desiring individual. And he does not use ‘androphilia’ even in parallel.

Another usage that predates Blanchard is to talk about ‘Primary Transsexuals’. Blanchard claims that Margaret O’Hartigan has brought the term into disrepute. The term appears to be neutral, but unfortunately what is Primary in Person and Ovesey (1974) is Secondary in Stoller (1968) and vice versa. Stoller’s ‘homosexual early transitioner’ came to be the more accepted usage.

Of course not all early transitioners are androphilic. Some are too young to have committed between men and women, and others know from an early age that what they are is lesbian, which has nothing to do with being a husband and father before transitioning.

If AGPs are indeed fetishists, rather than simply late transitioners, then it would be a logical conclusion that they should remain non-op, so that they can continue to do fetishistic things. If they can leave the fetishism behind, then a name implying fetishism is just confusing.

What is a Fetish?

Fetish is from the Portuguese feitico, a word that the Portuguese used to describe the objects revered in west African religions, which of course were different from the objects revered in Portuguese Catholicism. Later in time, Protestant critics realized that they could use the concept against Catholicism, especially its use of consecrated hosts and the relics of saints.

Sigmund Freud appropriated the concept to describe a displacement of sexual arousal to a part of a person or to an object, e.g. clothing associated with the person. However when this is done as part of heterosexual love, it is not labelled a fetish.

In the same way as a promiscuous person is one who has had more partners than I have had; kinky sex or fetishistic sex is sexual behaviours that I personally do not do.

What does Blanchard make it mean?

Actually he simply means that one of his subjects is sexually aroused while cross-dressed or fantasizing being female. While he goes on to associate sexual arousal with heterosexual transsexuals and deny it for homosexual transsexuals, his own research results (Autogynephilia and Taxonomy) show about 15% of the latter being sexually aroused, and about 15% of former not being aroused. This is interesting. So one can be HSTS and AGP, both in the same person. The HSTS/AGP distinction is a statement about averages in two groups selected by Blanchard. It is not two mutually exclusive types.

What is real sexual fetishism?

We could take the attitude that it is just an insult term for other people’s sexual activities.

However there are self-declared fetishists and fetish clubs. I suspect that the members of such clubs would regard the typical Blanchardian AGP or the Princian cross-dresser as rather square, but I would not be surprised if there are persons who go to fetishistic social events and also to cross-dresser clubs.

Are there Fetishistic Transvestites?

The assumption by Freund, Blanchard and generations of psychoanalysts that transvestites are fetishistic because some of them are sometimes sexually aroused, and some even masturbate, is more a reflection of the out-of-touch ivory-tower approach of these doctors. Humans masturbate: transvestites masturbate. Big deal. This is no basis for a taxonomy.

If we are looking for a fetishistic transvestite, I nominate Pierre Molinier. One can find such behaviour if one looks enough. But the average Princian cross-dresser hardly counts.

Blanchard’s Psychology Predecessors

In his essay on the “Origins of the Concept”, Blanchard lists Magnus Hirschfeld, Havelock Ellis, Otto Fenichel, and H.T. Buckner as having a partial grasp of the concept. He gives full credit to his colleague Kurt Freund, who had proposed the label ‘cross-gender fetishism’, and in fact the concept was developed full-blown by Freund except for the word ‘autogynephile’.

Hirschfeld had divided transvestites into homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual and asexual, and labelled them according to their ‘biological sex’ – this at a time when there were no post-operative trans women (until Hirschfeld arranged for the creation of two such), and so it was too early to think of “homosexual transvestites” as heterosexual trans women. Blanchard, despite working in the sex-change business, cites Hirschfeld as the authority that psychologists should still use the same labelling, and ignores the fact that it has become insulting to modern generations. In addition, despite the claims of his followers that he had increased the number of types, he collapsed heterosexual, bisexual and asexual into one type, which he called non-homosexual.

He is mired in the approach that the taxonomy must be based on sexual orientation, rather then on early vs late transition, or gender identity vs body modification.

Blanchard is mute on his psychologist predecessors, e.g. Stoller and Person & Ovesey who use the terms Primary and Secondary, although they did as he did and tied their types to sexual orientation. (See Vitale’s paper for details).

An Unacknowledged Predecessor

A predecessor whom Blanchard does not mention is Virginia Prince. She also thought that the most important division was between gays and straights and she banned both transsexuals and gays from the groups that she ran. However she and some others in her group, e.g. Susanna Valenti, went full time and became in effect non-op transgender, although they did not use this phrase (using instead ‘transgenderist’ which has never caught on, and which by her definition excludes most transgender persons).

The official line at the meetings of Prince’s group was one of non-sexuality, but Richard Docter’s biography of Prince shows that masturbation and other sexuality was a big part of her identity.

I propose that if ‘autogynephilia’ means anything, then Virginia Prince is the classic case. The fact that she has remained non-op seems quite logical.

Let us take sentences by Blanchard, and replace autogynephilia by Prince’s femmiphilia. Does its meaning change at all?
The autogynephilic femmiphilic type are erotically aroused by the thought or image of themselves as women.
Autogynephilia Femmiphilia takes a variety of forms. Some men are most aroused sexually by the idea of wearing women's clothes, and they are primarily interested in wearing women's clothes. Some men are most aroused sexually by the idea of having a woman's body, and they are most interested in acquiring a woman's body.
++ In addition Prince wrote a paper in 1978 for the Archives of Sexual Behavior in which she proposed that the only true transsexuals are asexual, socially-inadequate men who would function better as women, as "less is expected of women".   She presumes that bisexuals (Kinsey 2,3,4) of their nature do not become transsexuals. She also proposed two kinds of 'pseudotranssexual' based on sexual orientation.   "The preoperative homosexual group (Kinsey 5,6) gave much higher scores on all questions dealing with sex and lower scores on those questions dealing with gender, while those in the heterosexual group (Kinsey 1,2) gave high scores to gender type questions and much lower scores on the sex type questions". 

Blanchard’s Acolytes

Anne Lawrence

Previously an anaesthesiologist at Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center. She completed transition in 1996, and lost her job the next year over an allegedly unauthorized vaginal inspection. She has become the most prominent self-declared autogynephile. Her PhD thesis was supervised by Michael Bailey. She often appears at conventions with Ray Blanchard.

J. Michael Bailey

Professor of Psychology at Northwestern University. His 2003 book, The Man Who Would be Queen, retained Blanchard’s terminological disparagements, and reinforced them with his book title and cover. His major research on the topic was a sample of six (6) transsexuals, all found in the same gay bar.

Alice Dreger

A professor of bioethics, also now at Northwestern University, she became a major mover in the Intersex Society of North America (ISNA), although she is not herself intersex. She has proposed that the term Intersex be dropped and replaced by Disorders of Sexual Development (DSD), a term opposed by most intersex persons. She wrote a 60-page paper that was published 2008 in the Archives of Sexual Behavior (where Bailey is on the editorial board) that exonerated Bailey and his book.

Maxine Petersen

Unlike the Vancouver, Stanford, Charing Cross and Monash gender clinics, and unlike the Gender Recognition Panel, and the Free University in Amsterdam, the CAMH actually has a transsexual staff member. It is not stated whether she is regarded as HSTS or AGP. Petersen was quoted in Bailey’s The Man Who Would Be Queen as saying: “Most gender patients lie”. When Blanchard resigned from HBIGDA (now WPATH) because it criticized Bailey’s book, Petersen did so also.

Kiira Triea

A protean character whose birth date has varied between 1951 an 1964, who was previously claiming to be an intersex person treated by John Money, was active in the ISNA and identified as a lesbian. In 2007 she was active in and proclaimed herself as a heterosexual woman (that is HSTS).

++ Kay Brown
Previously the author of Transsexual, Transgender, and Intersex History which was online 1997-2007, and did not feature anything about HSTS-Autogynephilia, or use the binary.  In 2009, using the name Cloudy, she revived the Transkids site and and started a blog On the Science of Changing Sex.

The Web Pages

The Autogynephila Resource

Edited by Lisanne Anderson, this is a collection of articles about autogynephilia and autogynephiles. Anderson says that she is neutral about the concept, but included only pro-autogynephila papers on the site. It includes several papers by Ray Blanchard, and one each by Michael Bailey and Willow Arune. Note that some of Blanchard’s papers are Power Point presentations and may not show in all browsers. It offers a link to the full text of Bailey’s book which no longer works.

Transsexual Women’s Resources

Anne Lawrence’s site. It includes papers written by Lawrence, and also consumer information useful for prospective transsexuals whether they are AGP or not.

Despite its name, this site is written by adults, that is adults who claim to have been transkids. “Transkids: Non-technical term for homosexual transsexual, used mostly for political reasons to have a non-clinical way to refer to hsts as a population rather then a condition. It does not refer to agp children because they are not identifiable as potentially transsexual as children.” The major mover behind the site is Kiira Triea, who had previously claimed to be intersex. They are very supportive of Blanchard, Bailey and Dreger. It offers links to the full texts of Benjamin’s and Bailey’s book (of course the second one no longer works). They criticize those who say ‘androphilic’ rather than ‘homosexual’.

A Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence clearinghouse

Edited by Andrea James, this site is the most comprehensive site on the subject. It differs from the other three in being critical of the concepts. It has links to pages written by many authors, both transsexuals and doctors, on many different web sites. It covers Lawrence, Bailey, Dreger and other colleagues of Blanchard.

Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Autogynephilia: but Were Afraid You had to Ask

Edited by Madeline Wyndzen, this site attempts balance and hopes that transsexuals and psychologists can work together.

++ On the Science of Changing Sex
Probably the best defense of the concepts of HSTS-Autogynephilia.

Reification by Insult

The term 'Autogynephilia' is now popping up all over the place. Its most common use is for a late transitioner whom the writer does not like. Thus, as it is thrown as an insult, it becomes a word in the English language.

Attempts to rewrite the HSTS/Autogynephilia concept in politer terms

An obvious rewrite that many commentators and even critics have adopted, but which Blanchard and Bailey reject, is to say Androphilic Transsexual (AP) instead of Homosexual Transsexual, as discussed above. A further improvement is to disconnect the two types from sexual orientation.

Alice Novic

Alice Novic is a bisexual crossdressing psychiatrist. She proposes that the two types should be called:

Cross-dressers and late transitioners. a) enjoy being women b) not spontaneously effeminate c) basically gynephilic d) business or technical careers

Drag queens and early transitioners. a) act like women naturally b) don’t automatically love being women, but if it works they go with it c) androphilic d) people-oriented or creative careers.

She has no words about trans men.

++ Frederick Whitam

One year after the Clarke Institute published Gender Dysphoria, Whitam based on his sociological studies in Latino countries proposed that gay transvestites are significantly different from heterosexual ones.   This was before Blancaghard rewrote Freund's work using the term Autogynephilia.  Neither Blanchard nor his acolytes ever mention this book.

++ Jack Molay

A self-described autogynephiliac, Molay has proposed the term 'Crossdreamer' instead.  His blog explores the concepts critically and with empathy. 

Harry Benjamin Syndrome

The Harry Benjamin Syndrome (HBS) deserves a paper of its own.

While the criteria for being HBS have wobbled and changed, in the original conception a MTF HBS person was an early transitioner and androphilic, much like an HSTS, but without the implication of living on the margins. The nonsense of referring to heterosexual trans women as ‘homosexual men’ has of course been dropped. Later even the requirement of androphilia was also dropped. Some HBS people actually use the word ‘autogynephile’ to designate non-HBS transsexuals, but it is a vaguer use without the Blanchardian baggage.


The WPATH Standards of Care assume that all transsexuals are motivated by an inner personal identity. The sole good thing in Blanchard’s typology is to recognize that there are others who are motivated differently. He has constructed a second type that appeals to a few, and some persons are doing a good job of autogynephile impersonation to get approval at CAMH. But there are still others. Those who desire to be a man with a vagina get short shrift at CAMH, as do those whose self concepts are more in line with the body-modification crowd or the transhumanists. It is difficult to conceive of Genesis P-Orridge being approved at CAMH or any gender clinic.

The sex-based rather than identity based concept of Blanchard is okay in principle, but he pathologized it by taking on the baggage of almost a century of psychoanalysis, and having an ivory-tower dismissal of other discourses such as feminism, queer studies and even Princian crossdressing. His insistence, built into his terminology, that trans women are not women and trans men are not men, makes his system deeply insulting. Bailey of course was pleased to keep the insulting terminology in place.

To then harness the two types, identity and sexual, to specific sexual orientations based on averages in a selected and not a random sample, has produced a taxonomy that distorts reality and appals anyone who analyzes it from a scientific, philosophic or humanitarian viewpoint.
  • Lisanne Anderson (ed). The AutoGynephilia Resource.
  • Emily S.Apter. Feminizing the Fetish: Psychoanalysis and Narrative Obsession in Turn-of-the-Century France. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1991.
  • Becky Allison. “Janice Raymond and Autogynephilia”.
  • J. Michael Bailey. The Man Who Would Be Queen: the science of gender-bending and transsexualism. Washington: Joseph Henry; Oxford: Oxford Publicity Partnership. 256 pp 2003.
  • Ray Blanchard. “Research Methods for the Typological Study of Gender Disorders in Males”. In Steiner.
  • Ray Blanchard. “Gender Dysphoria and Gender Reorientation”. In Steiner.
  • Ray Blanchard. “The concept of autogynephilia and the typology of male gender dysphoria”. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177, 616-623. 1989. Online at:
  • Ray Blanchard. “Origins of the Concept of Autogynephilia”. Feb 2004.
  • Ray Blanchard. “Autogynephilia and the Taxonomy of Gender Identity Disorders in Biological Males”. International Academy of Sex Research. Paris 2000.
  • Ray Blanchard. “Theoretical and Clinical Parallels Between Body Integrity Identity Disorder and Gender Identity Disorder”. Third Annual BIID Meeting. June 2003, Columbia University. and
  • Kay Brown writing as Cloudy. “The Invisible Transsexual”. Transkids.
  • Kay Brown writing as Sillyolme. On The Science of Changing Sex.
  • Kurt Freund. “Cross-Gender Identity in a Broader Context”. In Steiner.
  • Lorraine Ganman & Merja Makinen. Female Fetishism. London: Lawrence & Wishart 1994. New York: New York University Press 1995.
  • Andrea James. “’Autogynephilia’: a disputed diagnosis”. Transsexual Road Map.
  • Andrea James. “A defining moment in our history: Examining disease models of gender identity.” Transsexual Road Map.
  • Andrea James. “Ray Blanchard”. Transsexual Road Map.
  • Louise J. Kaplan Female Perversions: The Temptations of Emma Bovary. New York: Doubleday, 1991. London: Penguin 1993.
  • Anne Lawrence. “’Men Trapped in Men's Bodies:’ An Introduction to the Concept of Autogynephilia”
  • Deirdre McCloskey. "Queer Science: A data-bending psychologist confirms what he already knew about gays and transsexuals". Reasononline.
  • Jack Molay.
  • Alice Novic. “The Two Types of Transwomen”. Though the Looking Glass.
  • Virginia Prince: "Transsexuals and Pseudotranssexuals", Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 7, No. 4, 1978.
  • Janice Raymond. The Transsexual Empire. Boston: Beacon Press. 1979: Chp III.
  • Carol Riddell. “Divided Sisterhood : A Critical Review of Janice Raymond's 'The Transsexual Empire' “. Liverpool: News from Nowhere 1980. Parts 2,3,5 reprinted in Richard Ekins & Dave King (eds). Blending genders: social aspects of cross-dressing and sex-changing. London and New York: Routledge. 257 pp. 2002; reprinted in Stephen Whittle & Susan Stryker (eds). The Transgender Studies Reader. Routledge. 752 pp. 2006.
  • Joan Roughgarden. "The Bailey Affair, Again". Scientific Blogging. Aug 30, 2007.
  • Betty W. Steiner (ed) . Gender Dysphoria: Development, Research, Management. New York & London: Plenum Press. 1985.
  • Anne Vitale. “Primary and Secondary Transsexualism--Myths and Facts”.
  • Frederick L. Whitam and Robin M. Mathy. Male Homosexuality in Four Societies: Brazil, Guatemala, the Philippines, and the United States. New York: Praeger, 1986.
  • Frederick L. Whitam “Culturally Universal Aspects of Male Homosexual Transvestites and Transsexuals”. In Bonnie Bullough, Vern Bullough & James Elias (eds). Gender Blending. Amherst, New York: Prometheus Books. 1997.
  • Madeline Wyndzen. “Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Autogynephilia: but Were Afraid You had to Ask”. All Mixed Up.
  • “Autogynephilia”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


Erinia ( said...

being myself a "femmiphilic", I must thank you a lot for the clear explanations on the debate you gave in your paper. Our condition is wonderful and terrible, because of giving love and hapiness as a man, waiting for being loved as a "mentally completely normal" woman. Kisses. Erinia

Jaye Schmus said...

This is the most complete explanation of autogynephilia I've ever seen. I read a newspaper article some years ago, and nothing since. I also didn't know about this sort-of anti-trans movement. Very eye-opening. Thank you.

Anya said...

Thanks for mentioning Alice/Richard Novic and his/her wacky concepts of gender. When I heard him/her in an interview, my mouth dropped open because their ideas were so similar to Blanchards (aka b*llsh*t). However someone wishes to identify is fine with me, I just don't appreciate being tagged with it because of some academic's intellectual laziness or their unspoken political/social agenda. This theory is immeasurably harmful to transwomen (and transmen) but it's had the positive effect of bringing our community closer together in reacting against it. No longer will we allow this nonsense to shoved down our throats. - ginasf

Lisanne Anderson said...

The major problem for many transsexual women with the existence of this theory is that it could be seen as stigmatizing. A cold reading of Blanchard's writings would definitely be discomforting. But this is the language used in that field. One would need to rewrite the APA Manual of Style. The convention has been, and still is, to refer to transsexuals in a clinical discussion as members of their birth gender. The word paraphilia is correct in the context that Blanchard uses it. It is a unfortunate word in that its connotations are negative in the minds of laypersons. But practitioners and theorists are not perceiving such terms in a judgmental fashion.

I'm not insensitive to the wounded feelings of other transsexuals in this matter. I do believe, however, that such expression is used merely for the sake of clarity.

As for my own views on the theory, they are precisely the reason I decided to involve myself in the controversy surrounding it. I came into this wondering why I wasn't particularly concerned about the theory itself one way or the other. A considerable number of people I knew were quite perturbed by the theory, some almost violently so. I quickly reached the conclusion that theories don't define individuals. Whether the theory of autogynephilia is sound or not does not change how I perceive myself. Additionally, not having a scientific background, I had no way of determining whether the theory is fatally flawed or not. However, I found it significant that there were no attempts by other sexologists to refute the theory in an absolute sense.

I believe in letting scientists work such things out among themselves. If a theory is problematic some other researcher will challenge it in the proper forum.

I should add that Dr. Blanchard is well aware of my neutrality on the issue, and respects it. Perhaps it is because I believe strongly that the process of scientific exploration should encouraged, and not subject to the limitations of what we call political correctness.

The activist community had been seeking for a number of years to find the means of exacting some of sort of penalty on Dr. Blanchard for publishing the theory, but was unable to do so. So Professor Bailey's book was a godsend to them. As he had interactions with members of the transsexual community that could be described as friendship, all that was needed was to pressure these people into turning against him. With that accomplished they could use these people as tools in an attempt to destroy his career and sabotage other aspects of his life.

Those who participated in this campaign to destroy Michael Bailey's life asserted that their actions were done as representatives of the transsexual community as a whole. The implication was that they were supported in whole by most transsexuals. Unfortunately such a contention can't be easily disproved because those who spoke in defense of Bailey or questioned the viciousness of the tactics used to discredit him were subjected to vicious attacks themselves. This had the effect of silencing many of those who felt that certain persons had gone too far and have actually harmed, rather than helped, the community as a whole.

I have no interest in having a dialog with those who have been a party, directly or indirectly in writing a very ugly chapter in our history. The web site I set up was an attempt to achieve balance. The websites of those who are discomforted by the theory of autogynephilia are quite easily found. It is a pity, however, that most of them can't merely present an objective refutation of the theory.

Five years after the publication of "The Man Who Would Be Queen" most of those who have been the targets of the attacks of some transsexual activists have moved on from that point of time and continued their productive careers without any ill effect. Unfortunately, the legacy of these events is that many researchers now wonder whether their efforts will also raise a maelstrom if their area of interest is a sensitive population. This may not be of concern to those who are responsible for this environment but it still bothers me greatly that members of our community have irresponsibly precipitated this outcome.

Lisanne Ferne Anderson

Zagria said...


Your claim to neutrality would be more plausible if you had included articles critical of the concept on The Autogynephilia Resource. The web site by Madeline Wyndzen has a much better claim to balance.

As I said in my posting on Michael Bailey, he went looking for a fight and he found one. He has nothing to complain about.

Blanchard's refusal to use the word 'androphilia' is just simply rude. If he had attempted to be polite in his terminology, his theory would have met less resistance.

Likewise his refusal to concede the existence of gay trans men is simply perverse. As I pointed out, Lou Sullivan was attempting to communicate with Blanchard, and was continually rebuffed.

Lisanne Anderson said...

The web site was set up as a counterbalance to web sites that simply presented a negative view. My personal views on the subject were irrelevant in making this decision. The scope of the material presented was decided on the basis of need and practicality. Websites that presented arguments against the validity of the theory already existed at the time the web site was planned. As this is Dr. Blanchard's theory, I thought that he should be given the opportunity to explain it.

The central article of the site is Dr. Blanchard's "Origins" piece. While I am not a scientist I do have an understanding of process. Most ideas have their antecedents, there is little that is totally new. That the work of certain theoreticians were left out does not mean that their work was not influential. In some cases their work was considered and rejected. In others the influence was more subtle in nature.

Having spoken with Michael Bailey about his motivations and expectations for the book I know that he was quite surprised by the intensity of the reaction to the book. He certainly wasn't looking for a fight. But he wasn't going to back down from one either.

There can be no justification for the malicious acts that were taken in an attempt to inflict damage on Bailey career and ruin his personal life as well. Had these events not occurred it is possible that a true dialog could have taken place. That is, if such a interaction was respectful and truly an exchange of ideas.

Michael Bailey did in fact attempt such a discussion, and found that his expression was being constantly challenged in terms of tone and intent. It's rather frustrating when an exchange of opinion become a pedantic and hostile exercise. No one benefits from that.

Science does not have a affect. Writing for scientific publication requires the use of terms that are definitive, rather than sensitive. On a personal level it makes reading papers somewhat difficult, papers written on psychological subjects in general can be perceived as coldly judgmental.

There are, however, a number of theorists whose personal biases show through, even in clinical writing. I do not perceive the existence of such a bias in Dr. Blanchard's writings. I do, however, see a intense concentration on the matter at hand. Thusly, broader considerations such as the existence of female autogynephilia do not enter into the presented material. Why he has not chosen into specifically look into this possibility is a question I cannot answer at this time. I have some idea of why this is so, but conjecturing on this would be irresponsibile unless I had absolute confidence in the veracity of my information.

I also cannot comment on Lou Sullivan's correspondence with Blanchard, not having access to its contents. I do know that Dr. Blanchard is extremely busy, and tends to communicate in a brief but precise fashion. This can be perceived as a curt dismissal if one is expecting a negative response.

Achieving objectivity is quite difficult when one is presented with a concept that may be in conflict with one's self-definition. No one likes to feel invalidated. So the question is whether scientists should consider such sensitivities in their reporting of various phenomena. My take on this is that such a practice places an unreasonable restraint that hinders the quest for knowledge. In most cases laypeople will never read the results of these endeavors. If it hadn't been for the vociferous reactions of a group of trans-activists autogynephilia would remained solely in the realm of diagnostics and research. And no harm would have come to the community if that had remained so.

Zagria said...

Both the title of and the picture on the cover of Bailey's books are such that it is obvious that he was looking for a fight. If not he would have chosen differently.

Both Blanchard and Bailey are highly privileged tenured university professors. In choosing to be rude in their terminology, in insisting that trans women are really men, they have contributed to the right-wing and Christian agenda to deprive us of basic rights. Even more seriously they contribute to the practice whereby trans women prisoners are put in male prisons and indigent trans women are refused entry into shelters. The slight inconveniences inflicted on Bailey are minor in comparison.

Of course Bailey was challenged in terms of tone and intent. These are central issues in the discussion. Until he talks about why he chose to be rude in his terminology, there cannot be a true discussion. Otherwise you are saying that those who disagree with him must use his terminology. That would hardly be fair.

You use the word 'objectivity' as if Bailey and Blanchard even attempted to be objective. This again is an attempt to insist that we must discuss this on their terms.

Anonymous said...

My main critique of these theories: What do they accomplish?
How do they help trans people?

They just give us heated arguments and help theorists build their careers off the backs off of trans people, and help trans people stigmatize each other.

They do not help stop violence, increase access to housing and jobs, and do nothing to better the health outcomes.

Can't we bother having this discussion once those more important issues are addressed? ;)

Jack Molay said...

There are several points in your article I have found very interesting:

1. Autogynephilia and autoandrophilia are natural phenomena, also among "normal" cis-gendered people. Men and women who are not alienated from their own bodies do from time to time experience what I would call healthy narcissism, they get turned on by the idea of being attractive sexual beings.

Unfortunately being an "autogynephiliac" myself, I am afraid that I experience autoandrophilia very seldom, being rather alienated from my own body, but I know enough to make the conclusion.

2. You write: "If AGPs are indeed fetishists, rather than simply late transitioners, then it would be a logical conclusion that they should remain non-op, so that they can continue to do fetishistic things. If they can leave the fetishism behind, then a name implying fetishism is just confusing."

This is a very important point. I still cannot understand why Blanchard would reward a fetish with SRS, and although I can sympathize with Lawrence's need to recommend transitioning for autogynephiliacs, I find it hard to understand, given that she -- in fact -- considers autogynephilia a paraphilia. However, if we stop categorizing autogynephilia as a fetish, it all makes sense.

(That does not mean that all autogyenphiliacs are psychologically "healthy". It is hard to be, given the cultural circumstances...)

3. You rightly refute Blanchard's underlying understanding of feminine and masculine traits in your presentation of the four types of autogynephilia. They cannot make much sense in the life of a M2F transsexual living as a woman.

Still, for once I find myself wanting to defend Blanchard here (which does not happen often :-). As far as I see it Blanchard is in fact describing sexual fantasies among pre-ops, and they may perfectly well be very stereotypical. I have made no secret of the fact that I have read and written TG erotica as a way of getting to know my own psyche, and I see the categories given by Blanchard all over the TG fiction sites, including fantasies of pregnancy and menstruation.

And even if the cross-dressers and "cross-dreamers" (as I call the ones that fantasize of having a woman's body) intellectually abhor stereotypes, there is no doubt in my mind that many of the fantasies of us autogynephiliacs are driven by cliché ridden scenarios, the sissy tale being one of them.

That does not me that we would act on these clichés in real life, no more than an enthusiastic BDSM practicer would torture his boss on a bad day.

I also found your category 5 very interesting.(5. Sexual - being aroused by the act or the fantasy of receiving intercourse from a man.) This is definitely a part of autogynephiliac fantasies. It could be that Blanchard omitted this as his strict adherence to the hetero/homo divide leads him to believe that autogynephiliacs do not want to be taken by a man in real terms. They just want to be taken by themselves, which does not amount to the same thing. I believe he is wrong. Just read Alice in Genderland!

Still, I am not fully convinced that this is fifth category, as I would guess that autogynephiliacs within all the four categories may have this fantasy. But then again, there already is a significant overlap between the four, so maybe one more would not make much of a difference.

To conclude: Your article has been of great help to me, both for its content and for the survey of members of the Blanchard school.


LLLookAtYouHacker said...

I feel I'm being pathologized/marginalised every time I encounter contempt towards "Autogynephilia." In pertinence to Blanchard’s definition, I (as a man) nearly exclusively fantasise about taking the role of women in abstract sexual situations (either involving men or lesbians.) However, I'm not homosexual. I know the concerns relate to other issues, such as the controversial suggestion that transsexuals fall into two categories (homosexual or paraphilic.) Perhaps someone could inform me of a more legitimate, conventionally accepted classification for my mindset?

Zagria said...

I don't see that you have actually read what is written above. What you ask for is there.

You claim a) to have sexual fantasies about men b) not to be homosexual. I suggest that you consider the contradiction in making these two claims. That may help you to understand yourself better.