What is "Autogynephilia"?

Simply stated, Autogynephilia (or AGP for short) is a now debunked invented condition. Junk science passing itself off as authentic, the term was coined by CAMH sexologist Ray Blanchard in the late 1980's as "a man's propensity to become aroused by his own image as a woman" and attempted to label some transgender women as being motivated to transition solely due to a sexual perversion rather than wanting to legitimately take corrective steps to live in a gender role reflective of their self-perceived identity.

Blanchard's ideas regarding a two-type model of male to female transsexualism were largely founded on Kurt Freund's work with homosexuals and pedophiles in his native Czechoslovakia who he screened for what stimulated them sexually using a penile device before they were allowed to enter military service. Freund eventually emigrated to Canada and ended up working at the Clarke Institute (now the Center for Addiction and Mental Health) in Toronto where Blanchard took up many of his ideas in his work with transsexual patients who had sought medical assistance to transition. This intentionally malicious and mean-spirited theory is full of holes not the least of which is the contradiction in seeking a surgical correction which will reduce male libido, ostensibly partly destroying the supposed motivating factor for the desire to be female.

There are still a few crackpots out there actively promoting the theory which include Blanchard acolyte/apologist Anne Lawrence and "On the Science of Changing Sex" website author Kay Brown (ironically themselves both fully transitioned) as well as Michael Bailey (author of the painfully amateurish and deliberately salacious 1993 book "The Man who Would be Queen), sexologist James Cantor and intersex researcher Alice Dreger. The lack of conclusive evidence for Blanchard's ideas makes the unquestioned adoption by each of these so-called academics highly suspect and, if one looks into their personal histories, each has their own vested interest for helping to promote AGP as being indisputable fact instead of just a theory.

Does cross gender arousal exist? Of course it does, however it is part and parcel of a very complicated juxtaposition of sexual and gender identity which we cannot simplify with cartoonish gibberish very easily postulated but not so readily proven. A simple and elegant counter to AGP would be that the arousal is a symptom of dysphoria and not its cause and, to not concede this possibility, amounts to sheer intellectual dishonesty. Let's remember that a theory without bulletproof evidence remains what it is: pure conjecture.

The good news is that these peddlers of pseudoscience are not going to be around forever and support for AGP has been relegated to their tiny numbers while trans people continue to thrive and expand their presence in society. Thus, Autogynephilia will most undoubtedly wind up as a black spot in the historical record of sexology along with other invented conditions such as nymphomania. Additionally, most serious practitioners including an endocrinologist and a sexologist I have personally dealt with and who work extensively with transsexual women for decades, do not subscribe to Blanchard's ideas. They are, not surprisingly, among the solid majority of professionals who truly want to help transgender people find their way in society.

Over the years, I have written extensively on this subject and you will find many posts relating to it. Jack Molay author of the Crossdreamers blog has also written many scholarly articles which you should find highly useful should you find this topic interesting. If you are anything like me and possess an intellectual curiosity, I suggest you do some research and be prepared to be amazed by the disingenuous and unethical behaviour of some academics who, in a desperate last resort, must now increasingly turn to Twitter to spread the kind of poisonous bile which the right-wing fringe and extremist feminists just love to gobble up whole.

Unfortunately, I still catch the occasional older transgender woman fall into this guilt-inducing trap. They experience arousal and associate themselves with AGP while failing to understand that the theory postulates that it is the sexual perversion they suffer from which makes them think they are trans. Talk about putting the cart before the horse! I tend to favor the term "erotic imprinting" which ThirdWayTrans (a former transwoman) used in their now defunct blog and which helps label what we experience in a non-stigmatizing way. The causation of the imprinting is not well understood but the most important thing is what we do about our situation should result in us being happier afterwards; and shouldn't that be our ultimate goal?

In the meantime, if anyone possesses conclusive proof that some transwomen are motivated to transition solely due to a sexual fetish kindly send it my way won't you? I will then happily eat crow. I suspect however, that it will be a while before that happens because I don't need to disprove AGP but instead the burden is squarely on the shoulders of the true believers to definitively prove it.

And on that front, I wish them loads of luck.

Popular posts from this blog

Of your own making

Priorities

Language matters