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Where Anne Lawrence goes wrong

In the concluding paragraph on her essay entitled "Do Some Men Who Desire Sex Reassignment Have a Mental Disorder? Comment on Meyer-Bahlburg (2010)" which can be found on her website Anne Lawrence writes:

"In short, autogynephilic eroticism, as evidenced by erotic cross-dressing, precedes cross-gender identity by years or decades in nonhomosexual MtF transsexuals. These transsexuals do not have female core gender identities, nor do they have well developed cross-gender identities that precede and act as the driving force behind their desires to turn their bodies into facsimiles of women's bodies. Rather, nonhomosexual MtF transsexuals gradually develop cross-gender identities after years or decades of erotic cross-dressing, accompanied by the autogynephilic wish to turn their bodies into facsimiles of women's bodies. In this sense, cross-gender identity in nonhomosexual MtF transsexuals is a secondary phenomenon or epiphenomenon. Emphasizing this point in the text discussion of gender identity disorders in the DSM-5 would help to correct many misconceptions among mental health professionals."

The presumption here is that many years of erotic crossdressing have preceeded and caused the invention of a false female identity. There are several things wrong with this conclusion but the primary problem is its gross generalization of the experience of gynephilic trans people.

Most of the gynephilic transgender people whose blogs I read and am in contact with date their gender issues to early in prepubescence. They are also perfectly aware that they are not women but have gender dysphoria which acts upon the psyche and instills the desire to be female. They were aware very early on that they were different and needed to hide in order to be accepted. Hence Lawrence is trying to make the same shoe fit everyone in order to make a false hypothesis work. If there are too many exceptions then the theory falls apart.

The crossdressing that takes place in early childhood is innocent, playful and devoid of sexual intent. I can certainly attest strongly to this in my own case and it was the advent of sexual overtones that became problematic and the start of my years of dealing with a conflict which is now resolved.

Lawrence is a self-admitted body conversion fetishist and I have read all of her work as well as Andrea James's personal experiences with her. I now understand why she identified strongly with Blanchard and why so many of us do not. I don't have any doubt that there are other people in the world who also fit into her category but it becomes a problem when you try to paint everyone else into a universal theory with little more than interview data.

It is human nature to want personal narratives to explain our natures to ourselves. To try and do that while applying it to everyone else via unscientific methods is another matter altogether.


  1. I suspect that Dr. Lawrence is unaware of her need for confirmation, perhaps carrying lingering questions about her own dysphoria and transition. Or, as Felix Conrad suggested, she's fallen into the trap of the know-it-all, gaining self-esteem not so much by putting others down as by raising herself up. But intentionally or not, she's hurting the very people for whom she says she speaks.

    Given that context, I wonder what drove Ray Blanchard to his conclusions and positions on transgender and transsexuality? Perhaps he's like a Ponzi Scheme perpetrator who found himself in a trap of his own making and was too proud or scared to admit his wrongdoing.

    Regardless, as you say, Joanna, especially for so-called medical professionals, it's very disturbing that they come out with these positions that only serve to confirm the bias of others who are desperate for that confirmation. It's a vicious cycle.

    Without objective knowledge all of this is hard to judge. I fully admit that when I read just about anything that confirms my own bias that I was born this way, or at least born with a predilection for my gender dysphoria, I feel a little better about myself. But I'm still left starving for a more objective test or study.

    So for now and perhaps forever I somehow have to achieve an acceptance that regardless of what anyone says, I am what I am. My feelings, needs, and self, are perfectly valid. This is hard to achieve maybe for anyone transgender, gay, or whatever. Oh well, rambling a bit now...

    Thank you for your post! I love the way you get me thinking. I'm off for a long bike ride now which offers a couple of hours of solitude to consider all this some more.

  2. Emma read up on Kurt Freund and his penile obsession to understand this. I have dealt with him in a previous post. He was Blanchard's mentor and his work with sex offenders and homosexuals inspired the pseudoscience...

  3. Thank you for your referring me to Kurt Freund, your writings, and learning about his "techniques" for lack of a better word. For me, arousal comes on at times when I feel a visceral sense of well-being and congruence in the world. So I suppose for Freund and Blanchard I'd fail their test while from my perspective it would be a clear indication of success.

    Isn't it odd that they felt such confidence in their theory that they evidently didn't ask or listen to their patients? That, and worse, ignored the "outliers" that didn't fit their model.

    I hope we are moving past this kind of thinking. I believe we are but the war is far from over.

  4. Ignoring the ouliers was a huge and pivotal error for Blanchard and why the work has not stood the test of time.


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