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the lame duck of eroticism

Although I am no advocate of Ray Blanchard or Anne Lawrence, it is interesting to note their distinction between their homosexual and non homosexual subjects and how eroticism played into their findings.

I myself fit the non homosexual model proposed by Blanchard (autogynephilic if you will) and I have no argument with this observation but only propose that the originating disphoria forms part of a pre-existing condition. If it can be proven that paraphilias are pre-wired and rooted in biology then I would need to accept that Blanchard would be correct. This has not yet been proven however.

What is significant to note in the following article by Anne Lawrence is how the presence of eroticism is not a measure for legitimacy in a transition. Lawrence found that a significant portion of so called “classic” or homosexual transsexuals also experienced sexual fantasy before transition.

This is an excerpt from “Men trapped in men’s bodies" by Anne Lawrence:

“It would be a mistake to conclude that if autogynephilic transsexuality is in large part about sexual desire, then it is somehow suspect, or is less legitimate than homosexual transsexuality. Although the focus of this essay is not on homosexual transsexuality per se, I do want to say enough about it to dispel any mistaken notions that homosexual transsexuals are the "real" transsexuals, or that their motivations are exclusively non-sexual. Neither is true. By definition, transsexuals are those who undergo sex reassignment as a treatment for gender dysphoria. The gender dysphoria of autogynephilic transsexuals is every bit as real as that of their homosexual counterparts. And it matters not a whit if that dysphoria stems in whole or in part from an inability to achieve sexual satisfaction in one's existing body or role. Autogynephilic transsexuals have just as much claim to being "real" transsexuals as their homosexual sisters.

And homosexual transsexuals are not exactly devoid of sexual motivations themselves. Colleagues who have spent a lot of time interviewing homosexual transsexuals tell me that they can best be thought of as very effeminate gay men who do not defeminize in adolescence. Nearly all go through a "gay boy" period; and their decisions about whether or not to transition are often based in large part on whether they expect to be sufficiently passable in female role to attract (straight) male partners. Those who conclude they will not pass usually do not transition, no matter how feminine their behavior may be. Instead they accept, perhaps grudgingly, a gay male identity, and remain within the gay male culture, where they can realistically expect to find interested partners. This self-selection process explains the intriguing observation that transitioning homosexual transsexuals tend to be physically smaller and lighter than their autogynephilic sisters. (6) The bottom line is that in homosexual transsexuality, too, a sexual calculus is often at work. Transsexualism is largely about sex -- no matter what kind of transsexual one is.

Although Blanchard's research was rigorously performed, it is also important to understand its limitations. First, it was conducted on a clinical sample: a group of males sufficiently distressed or symptomatic that they chose to be evaluated. Second, in order to partition his subjects into categories based on sexual attraction, Blanchard used a deliberate seeding technique to ensure that four clusters would result.

While this may be useful and valid for statistical purposes, a look at the graphic data reveals that the clusters are not really that distinct. The bisexual and homosexual clusters are particularly arbitrary in their separation, which argues against any rigid typology, and suggests the hypothesis that at least some bisexual transsexuals might comprise an intermediate type.

Third, at the risk of stating the obvious, Blanchard merely found statistical correlations, albeit highly significant ones, between several of the variables he examined. This does not imply that the patterns he discovered will necessarily hold true in any particular individual case. There will always be exceptions.

Finally, none of Blanchard's subjects had actually undergone gender transition and sex reassignment surgery -- they were simply males who were gender dysphoric, and who said they felt like they were, or wanted to be, women. Blanchard has never tested his ideas in a group of post-operative male-to-female transsexuals.

I tried to confirm Blanchard's theories among a group of postoperative transsexual women at the 1996 and 1998 New Woman's Conferences, using an anonymous survey method.

In 1996, ten out of thirteen of the women, fully three-quarters, said that " self-feminization was erotic" for them. And over half of the women said that "self-feminization had been their primary erotic fantasy prior to transition." In 1998, somewhat better prepared, I asked a question specifically written by Blanchard.

In answer to it, five of eleven women, nearly one half, agreed that before surgery, their "favorite erotic fantasy was that they had, or were acquiring, some features of a woman's body."

Additional evidence for the importance of autogynephilic fantasy in transsexuals who have actually undergone surgery comes from Maryann Schroder's unpublished Ph.D. thesis, "New Women." Five of her seventeen postoperative subjects described having been aroused by autogynephilic sexual fantasies prior to surgery.

Why is it that autogynephilia, which is so readily reported in these small groups of postoperative women, has received so little attention? I think there are several reasons.

Among transsexuals, autogynephilia is not quite respectable as a topic for discussion. For one thing, many transsexuals have a passionate dislike for the Clarke Institute, and tend to dismiss out of hand any findings that have come from it. Therefore Blanchard's ideas are not often talked about; and when they are raised, they tend to get shouted down. Shame is undoubtedly another deterrent. It is probably just too threatening for many transsexuals to admit that they have had autogynephilic fantasies, and especially to admit that autogynephilic sexual desire may have been one of their motivations for seeking sex reassignment surgery.

People are understandably reluctant to admit to having a paraphilia -- more popularly known as a perversion. Most transsexual women want to be seen as a "real women," and it is widely understood that paraphilic arousal is almost exclusively confined to men. Transsexuals who admit to autogynephilic arousal may not be seen as "real women" -- and may not even be seen as "real" transsexuals.

Therapists and surgeons undoubtedly have their own reasons for ignoring autogynephilia. Most therapists are accustomed to thinking about transsexuality using more traditional, gender-based formulations. The idea that there may be sexual motivations for transition may seem to them "untidy," and not consistent with their paradigm.

Accordingly, they may think that autogynephilic sexual desire in transsexuals is rare and aberrant. And since their clients are often unwilling to talk about their autogynephilia, who can blame the therapists for thinking so? Moreover, most therapists and surgeons would probably find it difficult to acknowledge that when they give approval for sex reassignment surgery, or perform it, they are sometimes simply helping a transsexual woman act out her own paraphilic sexual script.

Personally, however, I do not find the idea that transsexual women sometimes seek SRS for sexual reasons to be especially problematic, even when that sexuality is essentially paraphilic.

The real question is not what one's motivation might be, but whether sex reassignment surgery improves the quality of one's life. The overall level of satisfaction following SRS is extremely high. And the evidence thus far seems to demonstrate that those transsexual women whom one would expect to be autogynephilic -- late onset, sexually attracted to women, etc. -- tend to do about as well after surgery as those who present younger and who are sexually attracted to men”

Comments

  1. Just more bunk and conjecture from a man who would be a queen.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yeah, I'm the worst and most suspect kind apparently -- although I don't know that being passable is more important to "homosexual" trans people, because that is the biggest obstacle for me. How can they know that the "autogynephilic" aren't similarly self-selecting? I don't know why the former type is supposed to be physically more passable in general than the latter type, but I do find it difficult to believe that this is because being passable isn't as important to them.

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