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.
- Transvestism is a paraphilia, a fetish. Cross-dressing was never so considered until the twentieth century.
- As classical transsexualism is considered to be extreme homosexuality, autogynephilia is extreme transvestism.
- 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.
- 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."
- A fetish is an illness, not a type of play. Psychoanalysts of course have nothing to do with self-proclaimed fetish clubs.
- 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):
- Transvestic – being aroused by the act or the fantasy of wearing women’s clothes
- Behavioural - being aroused by the act or the fantasy of doing stereotypical female things, e.g. knitting, or having one’s hair’s done
- Physiological - being aroused by the fantasy of menstruating or being pregnant
- Anatomical - being aroused by the act or the fantasy of actually having breasts and a vagina.
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 variablesAn HSTS is taken to be:
- An early transitioner
- Living on the margins of society without a regular job. Many are assumed to be prostitutes, performers or to work in gay bars
- A late transitioner
- Gynephilic, usually a husband and father
- Well employed. The stereotype is to work with computers.
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 menAs 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 PredecessorsIn 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).
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?
autogynephilicfemmiphilic type are erotically aroused by the thought or image of themselves as women.
++ 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".
AutogynephiliaFemmiphilia 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.
++ Kay BrownPreviously 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.
++ Rod FlemingThe husband of a Filipino trans woman, has endorsed Blanchard's binary, and written much on the topic. He broadens the discussion with his examples of early transition AGPs.
The Web PagesLisanne 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.
++ On the Science of Changing Sex
Probably the best defense of the concepts of HSTS-Autogynephilia.
Reification by InsultThe 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 termsAn 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.
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.
Harry Benjamin SyndromeThe 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.
ConclusionThe 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. www.autogynephilia.org.
- 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”. www.drbecky.com/raymond.html.
- 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: www.genderpsychology.org/autogynephilia/male_gender_dysphoria/index.html.
- Ray Blanchard. “Origins of the Concept of Autogynephilia”. Feb 2004. www.autogynephilia.org/origins.htm.
- Ray Blanchard. “Autogynephilia and the Taxonomy of Gender Identity Disorders in Biological Males”. International Academy of Sex Research. Paris 2000. www.autogynephilia.org/ColoredParisTalk_files/v3_document.htm.
- Ray Blanchard. “Theoretical and Clinical Parallels Between Body Integrity Identity Disorder and Gender Identity Disorder”. Third Annual BIID Meeting. June 2003, Columbia University. www.autogynephilia.org/NYPt1GIC&BIID_files/v3_document.htm and www.autogynephilia.org/NYPt2AcceptanceofSRS_files/v3_document.htm.
- Kay Brown writing as Cloudy. “The Invisible Transsexual”. Transkids. www.transkids.us/invisible.html.
- Kay Brown writing as Sillyolme. On The Science of Changing Sex. http://sillyolme.wordpress.com.
- 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. www.tsroadmap.com/info/autogynephilia.html.
- Andrea James. “A defining moment in our history: Examining disease models of gender identity.” Transsexual Road Map. www.tsroadmap.com/info/gender-identity.html.
- Andrea James. “Ray Blanchard”. Transsexual Road Map. www.tsroadmap.com/info/ray-blanchard.html.
- 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” http://home.swipnet.se/~w-13968/autogynephilia.html.
- Deirdre McCloskey. "Queer Science: A data-bending psychologist confirms what he already knew about gays and transsexuals". Reasononline. http://reason.com/news/printer/28928.html.
- Jack Molay. Crossdreamers. www.crossdreamers.com.
- Alice Novic. “The Two Types of Transwomen”. Though the Looking Glass. http://aliceingenderland.com/TheTwoTypesofTranswomen.html.
- 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. http://www.scientificblogging.com/joanroughgarden/the_bailey_affair_again.
- Betty W. Steiner (ed) . Gender Dysphoria: Development, Research, Management. New York & London: Plenum Press. 1985.
- Anne Vitale. “Primary and Secondary Transsexualism--Myths and Facts”. www.avitale.com/PrimarySecondary.htm.
- 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. www.genderpsychology.org/autogynephilia.
- “Autogynephilia”. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autogynephilia.