Why Blanchard was listened to
This is now 2022 and there is still plenty of vitriol to go around for trans people. Now imagine it's the 80's and along comes a researcher working with transsexuals willing to tell the world they are mentally ill. It's positively a fringe right winger's wet dream.Back then we were still working with archaic ideas about sex and gender and even shoddy and unscientific work by someone with some degree of credentials would draw attention especially if at first the ideas seemed plausible. There was then and even today plenty of pushback in some circles that transsexualism is not a biologically normal and expected variant of nature; a fact that would not fly well in many a Sunday school even today.
One the great discoveries of my lifetime has been that more people than I would like are dim and disinterested and also easily manipulated into hating what they don't understand. That reality produced the perfect breeding ground for someone like Blanchard whose work now looks very outdated and certainly coloured with bad methods as well as intent.
Today he could do speaking tours in Russia and be welcomed with open arms by Putin and certainly TERFS and right wing bigots still cling to him as a source for "scientific" proof that the transgender agenda is invented to upend moral values. But I find that today most intelligent and well meaning people believe us, which is why I still hold on to hope that things will only improve into the future.