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Please don't be fooled

Here is a post from Alice Dreger’s blog dated June 15, 2015 and how she addresses a question she is asked about Autogynephilia:

Q: “To what degree do you think that the trans experience can be divided into the two categories suggested by Blanchard: i.e., are transgender individuals either gay or autogynephilic?”

A: First, it’s important to point out for those new to this that Blanchard and Bailey were only looking at male-to-female transgender individuals, so we are only talking about transgender women. I also need to explain for novices that Blanchard suggested (and Bailey agreed) that there are two types of male-to-female transgender individuals, the one being autogynephilic and the other what Blanchard called “homosexual transsexuals.” These are natal males who are androphilic, i.e., attracted to males.

As I say in the book, I find Blanchard’s term “homosexual transsexual” confusing, because after transition, these individuals are women having sex with men. Calling them “gay” is even more confusing to me than calling them “homosexual.” If I had my way, we’d talk about androphilic and autogynephilic.
So let’s do that, and answer the reader’s question: To what degree do I think the male-to-female transgender experience can be divided into these two types—androphilic and autogynephilic?

I think it is certainly possible there are other ways you can get to be a transgender woman, but I think what I’ve seen from the scientific clinical literature and socioculturally suggests this division makes sense. I want to emphasize that I think both of these developmental paths are perfectly legitimate ways to become women, and regardless of how someone becomes a woman, if she identifies as such, we owe her the respect of recognizing her identity and addressing her appropriately.

It seems to me unfortunate that sexual phobias have caused many transgender people over the years to feel they must only talk about their genders and never their sexualities. This, I think, has been extremely oppressive and lacking in respect and understanding. My suspicion is that what happens for transgender women is true for almost all of us—namely that gender and sexual orientation are intimately related to each other. (When I’m having sex with my partner, I am doing so as a woman.) So I don’t think it should surprise us that there is an erotic component to gender transition decisions.

I hope that someday we can mature enough as a society to recognize that sexual orientations that are relatively less common don’t need to scare us or cause us to act in ways that are obnoxious. I think there is little evidence that anyone “chooses” his or her sexual orientation. For me, the moral question with regard to sexual orientation only comes into play when we are talking about whether a partner has consented in the way adults are capable of sexual consent. I don’t care if you are turned on by hanging from the ceiling and peeing on your partner from above after you’ve eaten asparagus; if your partner consents, from a moral point of view I’m fine with it.”

Ms Dreger attempts to sugarcoat her response in order to appear politically correct although towards the end of her response her analogy could be taken to be vulgar and dismissive of the transgender condition.

We need to understand two things:

1) Blanchard (and Dreger through acceptance of his work) considers that the cause of the transgender condition is paraphilic and sexual in nature (the latter only for androphilics)
2) Blanchard proposes that gynephilics experience target location error which forms an alternate sexual orientation in its own right; essentially taking the place of conventional heterosexual sexuality.

However, transgender people don’t have different sexual orientations than anyone else. They are either attracted to men or to women. What happens is that they also fantasize about being a female (for male to female dysphorics) which (for gynephilics) can compete with their normal sexual functioning.

Ms Dreger is not fooling me but her response might give the impression that she is trying to say something different than what Blanchard actually says in his writing. She is not.

For me she clearly conflates two separate issues. One is having sexual relations with your partner and the other is the fantasizing which a male to female pre-operative transsexual engages in when imagining themselves as a woman. The latter is being labelled a sexual orientation in its own right which is something I and a whole host of other transgender people don’t accept without question because it doesn't correlate with our personal experience. Essentially this is saying that your dysphoria originates and is driven exclusively by sexual motives which disregards all of your history of dysphoria prior to puberty.

Here is a simple question: Is it possible that the gender dysphoria causes the fantasizing instead of the other way around? Yes absolutely.

Again, the issue is not whether the eroticism is present; we know it is. The issue is about whether the motivation for a transition is a core gender identity that is misaligned with birth sex or is strictly sexual in nature. The burden of proof then falls on the folks coming up with the scientific- sounding but non-explanatory term autogynephilia.

I have no conclusive proof for my stance and neither does Ms. Dreger or Mr. Blanchard. But then I am not the one publishing my opinion in psychology journals and presenting it as if it were accepted and irrefutable fact while hand picking only the verbal evidence that suits my position.

My question for Ms.Dreger would be more succinct and to the point than the one she addresses in her blog: Could you please provide me with solid proof?

Somehow I don't think you could sugarcoat a response there.


  1. The reader of this blog posting is certainly made aware of your strong feelings on this subject. I haven't decided whether it is passion, anger, or potent combination of both. Good for you! I'm afraid I can't summon up any strong feelings on this particular topic; not because I am indifferent but because I am too ignorant. Ignorance has a way of evaporating strong feelings.

  2. I admit I can come off as a bit strident sometimes lol. I don't mean to. You need to understand that these people come off like they know everything when they don't and Blanchard who at one time had a lot of influence on certain parts of the DSM was God to many people when it came to this subject. There is no strong science in the area of gender dysphoria and we have absolutely no idea where it comes from. To suggest otherwise is to be a charlatan which is what this group is.

    You don't need to be as passionate about this issue as I am Katie. I just like to call a spade a spade!


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