March 26, 2010
March 23, 2010
UPDATE ON TERMINOLOGY
Since this blog post was written I have stopped using the terms "autogynephilia" and "autoandrophilia" to describe people. The reason for this is that the terms implicitly communicates an explanation for why some people get aroused by imagining themselves as the opposite sex . This explanation, that this is some kind of autoerotic paraphilia, is both wrong and stigmatizing. Instead I use the neutral term "crossdreamers".
Click here for a discussion of the dark side of the autogynephilia theory.
March 14, 2010
March 12, 2010
March 11, 2010
The guests are:
- Dr. Alice Dreger, associate professor of Clinical Medical Humanities and BioEthics at Northwestern University. She is the author of "The Controversy Surrounding The Man Who Would Be Queen: A Case History On the Politics of Science, Identity and Sex in the Internet Age".
- Dr. J. Michael Bailey himself , professor of Psychology at Northwestern University
- Joan Roughgarden, professor of Biological Science at Stanford University and author of "Evolution's Rainbow". She is the one having promoted the social selection paradigm in evolutionary biology. I have written about her and her work in my Sex, Gender, Nature series. She was the one who drew my attention to this radio show.
- Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality
March 8, 2010
- The "auto" of autogynephilia points to the "self" in "loving one self as a woman". I know for a fact that "AGPs" are capable of loving real women. I do so myself.
- I do not accept that autogynephiliacs are "paraphiliacs". The erotic fantasies are most likely the result of an underlying gender identity or a combination of biological and psychological factors. Blanchard has no explanation for his "target location error" theory, and it does not capture the complexity of the experience of being a "crossdreamer".
- I know for a fact that autogynephilia is not something that appears at puberty. It cannot therefore be reduced to a mere sexual phenomenon, or at least no more so than any other gender expression.
- It makes no sense to have a term that only applies to biological men, when we know that there are female to male crossdressers and "crossdreamers" as well. Blanchard's reluctance to include F2M transmen pretty much proves that he is caught up in gender stereotypes.
- The autogynephilia theory is reductionist to the point of becoming absurd. Sexuality and gender identity involves many more factors than a binary system of sexual orientation.
March 6, 2010
"Let’s backtrack a little to talk about Transvestic Fetishism. This is what we used to call Transvestism, and is used to be an 'illness' only if it caused distress. Under the draft of DSM-V it is now an illness regardless of whether the patient is distressed or not. It is also gender-specific. Only men can be diagnosed with it. So if a woman wears clothes that the psychiatrist deems appropriate to a man that’s fine, but if a man wears clothes that the psychiatrist deems appropriate for a woman then he’s automatically diagnosed as crazy, even if he exhibits no other symptoms."
The DSM-V does give transsexual autogynephiliacs the chance of having sex reassignment surgery, but the price is high. Cheryl puts it this way:
"I should note that Blanchard & Zucker are prepared to allow people that they diagnose with Autogynephilia to go forward for surgery. However, that is at the price of having been labeled a narcissistic sex pervert, and with no option for being declared 'cured' as there is with Gender Incongruity."
"So, to return to Autogynephilia, here we have a definition of something which could easily be classed as Gender Incongruence, but isn't because some cis male psychologists have decided that the only real gender incongruence is heterosexual in nature. If you're a [male to female] trans woman and you want to fuck men, Roberta's your auntie. But if you're male assigned at birth, feel gender incongruence, but want to get it on with other ladies...that's not real Gender Incongruence. That's just a paraphilia. That's just sexual deviancy (don't worry if you're a [female to male] trans man who wants to fuck other fellas, though. Ray Blanchard doesn't consider gay trans men in his definition of Autogynephilia. Perhaps, like Queen Victoria on lesbians, he doesn't think they really exist)."
March 5, 2010
Some of you have asked me what I think about the proposal for DSM-V, the the fifth edition of the US Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) , which is to be published in 2013.
Gender Incongruence (in Adolescents or Adults)
A. A marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender, of at least 6 months duration, as manifested by 2* or more of the following indicators:
1. a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and primary and/or secondary sex characteristics (or, in young adolescents, the anticipated secondary sex characteristics)
2. a strong desire to be rid of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics because of a marked incongruence with one’s experienced/expressed gender (or, in young adolescents, a desire to prevent the development of the anticipated secondary sex characteristics)
3. a strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender
4. a strong desire to be of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)
5. a strong desire to be treated as the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)
6. a strong conviction that one has the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)
"Furthermore, in the DSM-IV, [the present edition] gender identity and gender role were described as a dichotomy (either male or female) rather than a multi-category concept or spectrum (Bockting, 2008; Bornstein, 1994; Ekins & King, 2006; Lev, 2007; Røn, 2002). The current formulation makes more explicit that a conceptualization of GI acknowledging the wide variation of conditions will make it less likely that only one type of treatment is connected to the diagnosis. Taking the above regarding the avoidance of male-female dichotomies into account, in the new formulation, the focus is on the discrepancy between experienced/expressed gender (which can be either male, female, in-between or otherwise) and assigned gender (in most societies male or female) rather than cross-gender identification and same-gender aversion (Cohen-Kettenis & Pfäfflin, 2009)."
A. Over a period of at least six months, in a male, recurrent and intense sexual fantasies, sexual urges, or sexual behaviors involving cross‑dressing.
B. The fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
With Fetishism (Sexually Aroused by Fabrics, Materials, or Garments)
With Autogynephilia (Sexually Aroused by Thought or Image of Self as Female)
As i noted in my previous post on the DSM Blanchard is using his own unscientific prejudices as regards what's normal and what's not as a basis for medical classifications, in effect labeling a lot of people as perverts in the process.
March 1, 2010
"There is evidence that biological factors, especially prenatal androgen exposure, play a significant role in the etiology of gender-variant identities. While there is also evidence for other biological correlates, this does not necessarily imply more than one biological factor plays a role – it is likely that they are related and share a common precursor. For instance, it is entirely plausible that there is a causal pathway from genes causing atypical prenatal hormone levels causing neuroanatomical differences and an adult gender-variant identity.
In short: psychological and social factors may influence the development of gender identity, but there is most likely a biological basis.
- "First, but probably least likely: The Zhou/Kruijver findings might reflect the chance selection of a sample of MtF transsexual brains with unrepresentative BSTc volumes and neuron numbers.
- Second, and somewhat more likely: Because all six MtF transsexuals in the Zhou/Kruijver studies were probably nonhomosexual, their atypical BSTc volumes and neuron numbers might be markers for nonhomosexual MtF transsexualism specifically, but not for MtF transsexualism generally.
- Third, and most likely: The Zhou/Kruijver findings might reflect the effects of feminizing or masculinizing hormone therapy, which all six MtF transsexuals and the one FtM transsexual received."
They say that the most pronounced differences were found in the INAH3 subnucleus.
And yes, they have looked at gender orientation. That is: they are aware of the fact that some believe that M2F gynephilic transsexuals may be fetishists or paraphiliacs and for that reason cannot have an innate femininity. Still, they have found no difference between man-loving and woman-loving M2F transwomen:
"In male-to-female subjects the number of neurons in the INAH3 does not seem to be related to sexual orientation, nor to the onset time of transsexuality, but rather to atypical early female-biased gender."
In other words: all the M2F transsexuals seem to suffer from a misalignment between their brain sex and their body sex.
The researchers believe that these are the brain structures are responsible for gender identity formation:
"The differences observed between the INAH3 structure, its innervation in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity and its putative connection to the BSTc suggest that these two nuclei, together with the SDN-POA (= intermediate nucleus, = INAH1 and 2) and the SCN (Swaab et al.,1985) are part of a complex network involved in various aspects of sexual behaviour."
Again: This is not the final proof for the brain sex theory. This kind of brain research is in its infancy, and new research may go in another direction. Still, it seems to me that current neurological research is accepting that gender identity formation is based in the brain and that it has a genetic or pre-natal (before birth) hormonal explanation.
Note of 2013: Since this blog post was written I have stopped using the word "autogynephiliac" to refer to people who get turned on by picturing themselves as the other sex.
The word entails an explanation for the condition that is not only wrong, but also highly stigmatizing. I am now using the word crossdreamer, which has no such connotations.
For a second opinion, see Cloudy's post over at On the Science of Changing Sex: The Incredible Shrinking Brain.