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the death of an outdated model

You can think of this as part 2 from yesterday's post because it is all related.

The two-type model of transsexualism proposed by our dear friend Ray Blanchard in the late 1980’s is not aging very well. Postulated during a period in our history when those who were romantically drawn to females (gynephilics) were mostly in the closet regarding their cross gender feelings and perhaps married while man-loving androphilics were transitioning young, there seemed to be a massive gap between two types which turned out not to be distinct types at all.

Today one only needs to view the YouTube videos of transgender millennials to see how things have changed just a tad over the last 30 years.

The gap in transition age between the two orientations is rapidly closing mostly because gynephilics are coming out of the closet much sooner and they are not subject to the ravages of testosterone that those from previous generations were exposed to. Hence, they make for very attractive women post transition. We also need to note that many of these young transgender people are experimenting with their sexuality and some even reverse orientation (we know this happens for a fact through HRT treatments although not to everyone).

The result is that the old Blanchard model just doesn’t hold up under scrutiny any longer.

What we do know is that transgender people experience dysphoria and that sexual orientation served more than anything else as a filter. In the past, woman-loving types would deny their feelings and find partners until all exploded on them in mid-life, while those who were man-loving would transition younger due to a perfect alignment between gender identity and their orientation. This should not be rocket science but apparently it was for Blanchard who was blinded by his Kurt Freund inspired fixation to assign exclusively sexual motives to all transitions.

What is now occurring is that the gender revolution has freed everyone to be more themselves and simply closed the gap in the age of transition.

Harry Benjamin was very wise not to have focused on sexual orientation and instead concentrated on strength of cross gender identification which has far more relevance. Under this universal model we can simultaneously explain drag queens and crossdressers and their mild cross gender identification versus that of transsexuals. Thinking only about dysphoria also fits in female to male transsexualism rather nicely (something largely ignored by Blanchard's clumsy model). What it all boils down to is dysphoria and its potency which makes far more sense.

Where the cross gender identification is sourced and how the child is affected from fetus through adolescence is another matter entirely and something still waiting to be discovered.

So, is transsexualism a mental illness? Absolutely not as we're too high functioning for that. Rather, it is an anomaly in a bioligical process that must necessarily contain them.

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Wishful thinking

Comments

  1. My my. That's quite the tweet. Ray, we get it. You're just an empiricist following the evidence wherever it leads. You are dispassionate about your conclusions, from which you are surely not working backwards, and you have no personal stake in your hypothesis' becoming proven theory. Neither pro-trans nor anti-trans sentiments derive any benefit from your purely clinical observations, and sentiment has no place in your lab. Except, of course, that it has somehow eluded you that you are beginning from assumptions about *normal* that are themselves based upon cultural and political sentiment, you raving jackass.

    In our culture, classifying a deviation from "normal" as a "disease" or "disorder" is often the first step toward destigmatization. Differences once dismissed and derided as failures of moral character are rebranded as illnesses with which the sufferer is unwillingly afflicted. This paradigm shift is itself political, and always has been; it transforms condemnation into compassion. Eventually, it begins to dawn on us that we might just be fixing what isn't actually broken. We are forced to reevaluate the very concepts of "normal" and "order."

    Not every culture goes through these same political throes. Some cultures in the history of humanity have revered what we call the transgender condition as a kind of spiritual genius. And our culture's means of shifting its paradigms is hardly limited to trans folk. We had the puritanical audacity to stigmatize left-handedness as a character flaw, which became a "disorder" to be cured before we finally began asking ourselves why it even matters.

    Perhaps I'm naive, but I foresee a future where, as psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience begin to merge, the concept of "disorder," (itself already a tad disorderly) withers. Different types of neurophysiology coincide with different subjective experiences, and each is better suited for some real world situations than others. As we examine our differences, our medical ethics should not be about imposing order on the abnormal. Instead, if we see suffering, we attempt to alleviate it; if we see well being, we attempt enhance it.

    For all I know, Ray, if you could just get past your stubborn preconceptions, and be more willing to reevaluate them - you know, like a *scientist*? - you might have had something valuable to add with some of the meritorious observations you actually have made. But whatever. You are increasingly a pariah in your field, and the world is moving on without you. Order is understood differently, and you are the deviation.

    -Caryn Bare

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Caryn, blanchard worked from the preconceived idea that this was not an anomaly of birth but rather an entirely sexual problem. Hence he had to invent theories that were only about that even if he had no idea what he was doing. Asking people about their sexual pleasuring so he could prove his crackpot theory was the plan. The problem was that the "science" was so weak you could propose alternate explanations. Benjamin wisely refrained from saying he had proved anything but speculated this must be a preexisting condition given the young age at which these patients knew something was different about them. He was also full of empathy for them unlike Blanchard who merely used them to prove the unprovable. His time was up while ago.

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