May 19, 2013

Ray Blanchard and the Missing Girlfag (The DSM-5)

Blanchard refuses to let transgender people
out of the DSM (Drawing by Jayna Pavlin)
Ray Blanchard denies the existence of female to male crossdreamers, in spite of including "autoandrophilia" in the DSM-5, and in spite of having described a girlfag in a 1987 paper on transsexual men and women.

Tomorrow the American Psychiatric Association is to publish the fifth edition of the American manual for mental illnesses (DSM-5).

(Update 1: The manual was presented at the APA annual meeting today, but the text has not been published online)

Unless there has been a miracle "autoandrophilia"will be included as a new mental disorder.

"Auotandrophilia" is, as some of my readers will know, Ray Blanchard's term for female bodied persons who get aroused by the idea of being men -- people I call female to male crossdreamers.

Many of them call themselves girlfags. Some, but not all of them, are transsexual. Others, but not all, are crossdressers.

Blanchard refuses to believe in girlfags

In a recent interview Blanchard, who is the leader of the "paraphilia" (perversion) subworkinggroup of the DSM, admits that he had been the one to suggest the inclusion of "autoandrophilia, not because he believes "autoandrophiles" exist, mind you, but because he would like to avoid attacks from feminists.

You read me right. The DSM is going to include a diagnosis for a new mental disorder the leader of the responsible working party, Mr. Blanchard, does not even believe exist.

This is also why he has not presented any scientific research that documents that this "non-condition" is a sexual paraphilia (perversion).

This is a scandal that undermines the legitimacy of the whole DSM-5 enterprise.

Girlfag disbelief

Blanchard's bizarre tactics made one girlfag make the following comment to me in an email:

"First this idiot tells me I am mentally ill. Next he tells me I do not exists. Is this man crazy?"

It would be tempting to include a new disorder for people like Blanchard in the DSM. His obsessive attempts to classify sexual perversions is more than a little disturbing.

However, this is not so much about madness, as it is about a scientific and mental lock-in.

The female to male crossdreamers threaten to undermine his whole autogynephilia vs. homosexual transsexual theory, so he has to deny their existence.


How can a so-called expert on transgender conditions not know about FTM crossdreamers?

Yaoi is a comic genre for female bodied crossdreamers
or "girlfags". The girlfags identify with one of the
gay men in the stories.
Several readers have asked me -- in comments and in emails -- how it is possible for Blanchard not to have heard about female to male crossdreamers.

There is after all, a thriving girlfag yaoi culture out there, and if he had read this blog, he would have found comments from a large number of what he calls "autoandrophiles" discussing their lives.

Moreover Uli Meyer has written extensively about girlfags, and Dr. Tracie O'Keefe have several case studies on FTM crossdreamers.

I decided to go back to some of Blanchard's early papers on transsexuals to see if I could find any references to FTM crossdreamers attracted to men.
It turns out he has heard about girlfags.

Blanchard's whole theory is at stake

But first, let me remind you that Blanchard's theory states that:

  1. All androphilic (man-loving) male to female transsexuals are effeminate homosexual men.
  2. All gynephilic (woman-loving) and bisexual male to female transsexuals are manly heterosexual men with a misdirected masculine sexuality.
  3. All female to male transsexuals are sexually attracted to women ("homosexual women" in his terminology). 
In the interview referred to above Blanchard admits that he believes homosexuality to be a disorder (in spite of it being removed from the DSM in 1973), so all of the above are sexual deviants.

The unbalance between male to female and female to male transsexuals is based on an archaic understanding of sexuality where only men are sexually agressive and where women are more passive and reactive. This is a way of thinking that has been used to present women as inferior to men for millennia.

If female to male androphilic, man-loving,  crossdreamers with a pro-active, aggressive, sexuality exist, he would be forced to interpret this as an expression of a typical masculine sexuality. But he cannot, as they only women "suffering" from a masculine sexuality in his book are lesbians. In his world only homosexual men and women can mirror the sexuality of the opposite sex.

He cannot interpret the aggressive FTM crossdreaming as an expression of a misdirected female sexuality either, as heterosexual women -- in his world -- are supposed to be sexually reactive.

The majority of girlfags are not "homosexual"  (defined in relation to their birth sex). Their existence tells us that  a typical male sexuality can be found in people whom he considers to be heterosexual women.

But if that is true, that would mean that his idea about male to female crossdreaming as an expression of a typical male sexuality would be wrong.  The "autogynephiliacs" would not be suffering from a erotic target location error, but from some kind of genuine female sexuality.

Some of Blanchard's supporters do not get this nuance, but he does, which is why he is why he denies the existence of FTM crossdreamers so adamantly .

(Please note that not all girlfags express a stereotypical masculine sexuality, in the same way there is much variation in the dreams and expressions of male to female crossdreamers. But those crossdreamers represent no threat to the sexist binary of Blanchard.)

Turns out Blanchard knew about girfags all along

It actually turns out Ray Blanchard has met female to male crossdreamers before. He has even written about one of them.

I am taking the liberty of quoting his 1987 paper "Heterosexual and Homosexual Gender Dysphoria" (Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol 16, No 2, 1987):

"The one heterosexual female [transsexual] was a single. university-educated woman in her early 30s who complained that the [sic] subjectively felt herself to be male and requested surgical sex reassignment. She was erotically attracted to homosexual males, particularly 'gentler, nonmacho gay men', in relation to whom she felt herself more masculine. 

"She expressed romantic fantasies of being a man in a homosexual relationship with another male whom she could protect and care for, and there were less obviously erotic fantasies of protecting a homosexual male friend from being assaulted and ridiculed in public. Unlike the many heterosexual male gender dysphorics [Blanchard's offensive term for gynephilic trans women] who relate fantasies of being, or becoming, a lesbian, she denied ever having been aroused erotically by cross-dressing. 

"It is possible that this patient was one of a type descirbed by Hirschfeld (1925): heterosexual women with strong masculine traits, who say that they feel as if they were homosexual men, and who feel strongly attracted to effeminate men."

If this is not a perfect description of a female to male crossdreamer or a girlfag, I do not know what is.

And please, do not get distracted by the fact that she did not get aroused by crossdressing. I am sexually turned off by crossdressing. That does not stop me from being a crossdreamer (or an "autogynephiliac" in Blanchard's offensive terminology).

In this quote Blanchard also confirms that he has read Hirschfeld's description of female bodied "transvestites". In other words: He is perfectly aware of the existence of female to male crossdreamers.

What did he do with this amazing insight in his 1987 paper?

This is what he did:

"We do not mention this very unusual case further, and she is not included in the statistics that follow."

You know what, I think this sentence says so much about Blanchard and the whole autogynephilia/autoandrophilia theory that I think I will repeat it once more:

"We do not mention this very unusual case further, and she is not included in the statistics that follow."

I am sure that there are those of you who will point out that in statistical regression analysis you leave out the outliers, but a good scientist never leave an anomaly like this one behind. Blanchard does. But then again Blanchard is an extremely bad scientist.

Let me repeat what Blanchard said in his recent interview with Motherboard:

Do you think autoandrophelia, where a woman is aroused by the thought of herself as a man, is a real paraphelia [sic]?

"No, I proposed it simply in order not to be accused of sexism, because there are all these women who want to say, 'women can rape too, women can be pedophiles too, women can be exhibitionists too.' It’s a perverse expression of feminism, and so, I thought, let me jump the gun on this. I don’t think the phenomenon even exists."


Fascinating, isn't it? 

He has, himself, presented proof of the existence of female to male crossdreamers, but somehow these examples fail to register.  And now he is instrumental in labelling  female to male crossdreamers -- for the first time in history -- as mentally ill, simply because he knows it is hard to keep a "paraphilia" in the DSM that is exclusive to men in this day and age.

This man is a walking disaster.

My next step will be to find out to what extent the chair of the DSM process, David Kupfer,  was aware of what Blanchard was doing, and why the APA did not stop this travesty  before it was too late.

Important note to new readers:

The fact that I point out that female to male crossdreamer exists should not be taken as support for Blanchard's DSM entry: That "autoandrophilia" exists.  

The autogynephilia/autoandrophilia theory is an explanation for crossdreaming that says that these men and women suffer from some kind of erotic target location error. 

I can assure you that what the truly sex dysphoric transsexuals are feeling cannot be reduced to a misdirected sexual desire -- or a simple fetish for that matter.  

It is only natural that transgender people get aroused from the fantasy of being their target sex. How else are they going to imagine the love life they wish for?

Crossdreamers exist, but this is not a sexual paraphilia, and the whole "transvestic disorder" with its "autogynephilia" and "autoandrophilia" should therefore be removed from the DSM.


For those of you who are interested in this topic, there are a lot of blogposts exploring this discussion in depth. 


Update May 23: From what I hear  it seems "autoandrophilia" did not make it into the DSM. See this blog post for more.

3 comments:

joannaS said...

I have altogether given up on people who have a lock-in mentality like Blanchard but the unfortunate thing is that he has some credibility with the psychiatric community due to his work with transsexuals. He has many detractors but enough supporters out there to make him still a viable authority in the minds of many. What I find most disappointing is the lack of scientific rigor and the attempt to try and fit the evidence to the conclusions he wants to project.

I as a so called autogynephilic cross dressing male understand through experience that there is much more than meets the eye than perversion in my own case. I am sure that applies to most crossdreamers as well. But yet there it is in black and white in the DSM to refute my own experience.

What I found is that when you couple preconceived ideas with bad science you typically get disatreous results which please no one. The people who are affected most disagree because nothing he says rings a bell with them at all. One possible exception might be Anne Lawrence of course.

Rayka Arian said...

this very unusual case ha?!
OK, lemme straighten my binder...better now!
"It is possible that this patient was one of a type descirbed by Hirschfeld (1925): heterosexual women with strong masculine traits, who say that they feel as if they were homosexual men, and who feel strongly attracted to effeminate men."
man, this is exactly me and I'm almost sure that I exist! I don't know how many people like me are here but I need to know them. the girlfag community is so inactive and science denies my existence, I feel so lonely!!!

Sean said...

Don't worry Rayka, that's why we are all here. And I am sure that you will find more girlfags on this site.

Join the Crossdream Life Forum!