November 15, 2013

Autogynephilia: Bad Science Revisited

Part 3 of the "Gay" vs. "Straight" Crossdreamers Series.

In my two previous blog post I have documented that gay men and lesbian women may indeed crossdream (that is: get aroused by the idea of being the the opposite sex).

I have also  pointed out that there are trans women attracted to men out there who -- like XX women -- get excited by exploring their female sexuality.

Fixing the numbers

But if there are androphilic (man-loving) transsexual women out there who experience crossdreamer fantasies, should not researchers like Blanchard have found them?  According to his autogynephilia theory, men or trans women who love men cannot have crossdreamer fantasies.

I see diversity. Others feel an incessant need to sort people into neat piles.
Photo: Jacob Wackerhausen

Well, I have already told you about how Blanchard is capable of denying the existence of female to male crossdreamers, even if he has witnessed one first hand. 

Frans de Waal puts it this way in his fascinating book The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates.

"Scientists are human, and humans are driven what by psychologists call 'confirmation biases' (we love evidence that supports our view) and 'disconfirmation biases' (we disparage evidence that undermines our view)."

"Dogmatists have one advantage," de Waal concludes: "they are poor listeners". Blanchard does not listen at all, not even to his own research.

Blanchard has documented the existence of androphilic MTF crossdreamers

It turns out Blanchard's own studies, based on questionnaires given to patients at his clinic, does document that MTF androphilic trans women crossdream.

Indeed, many studies based on the typology of Blanchard reports that between 15 and 23 percent of the so-called "homosexual transsexuals" (a misleading term for heterosexual transsexual women) do report crossdreaming.

The number for Blanchard's 1985 study was 15 percent. The similar number for Blanchard-supporter Anne Lawrence's 2005 study was 18 percent.

The corresponding number for gynephilic and bisexual male to female trans people in these studies varies between 56 and 75 percent.

The difference between gynephilic and androphilic trans women is more than significant, and requires an explanation.  (More about that in my next post.)

The problem is, however,  that researchers like Blanchard and Lawrence are not really looking for an explanation. They already have one, and that explanations requires that androphilic crossdreamers do not crossdream.

Because of this they try to reclassify all crossdreaming trans women attracted to men as gynephilic. These trans women are not really attracted to men, Blanchard and Lawrence say; they are lying to themselves and/or the researcher.

Bad science

An neat trick is to redefine any MTF trans woman who reports attraction to men as "autogynephilic" if she has experienced crossdreaming fantasies and she has had sex with a woman, while living as a man. Implicitly this means that any male bodied person who has ever had sex with a woman is gynephilic ("non-homosexual" in their parlance).
"Hey you, sexy autogynephile!" Photo: Stockbyte

You would expect that they, in accordance with this principle, would count all male bodied persons who have ever had sex with men as androphilic. They do not, of course, as this would make mockery of  their theory.

Lawrence does not even check whether some of the presumably non-crossdreaming androphilic trans women have had sex with women, again because it would undermine her research.

It is quite common for both homosexual men and androphilic trans women to have had sex with women, as many of them go through phases were they try to adapt to the requirements of a homophobic society. Some also do this out of curiosity.

This makes the sex partner history of a person a completely unreliable indicator for sexual orientation. But Lawrence and Blanchard ignore this, as they need this dichotomy to "prove" their theory.

Blanchard-supporter Cloudy has made some amazing attempts at fixing the numbers which are well worth reading, but even she does not manage to eradicate the unpleasant fact that some androphilic trans women do indeed report sexual arousal while crossdressed.

And yes, that means that Blanchard's theory has been falsified -- by himself!

Gay men and androphilic trans women may crossdream. As may lesbians and gynephilic trans women.

Disregarding age

Madeline Wydzen has pointed out another interesting flaw in Blanchard's argument. He does not take age into consideration when interpreting his data.

In Blanchard's database gynephilic transwomen are -- on average -- older than the androphilic when they seek surgery. His does, after all, follow in the footsteps of many others who have pointed out that "late onset" transsexual women are more likely to be predominantly attracted to women.

Older people have, well, lived longer, which means that their chances of having experienced "autogynephilic" fantasies in one time in their lives is much larger. Because in Blanchard's universe one such fantasy is all it takes for you to become labelled  a perverted "autogynephile". Really! This is the same as saying that any man who has ever felt some attraction to another man is gay, and believe me: Most men have (including me).

I would argue that the age of the gynephilic respondents makes it more likely that they understand the question correctly. They have had time reflecting on their identity and sexuality and have heard it all before. They understand what Blanchard is aiming for and does nothing to hide the truth.

That is the problem: Not that they are lying, but that they tell the truth to people who want to harm them.

But why do not more androphilic trans women report arousal from imagining themselves as women before transitioning, and from being women after?

Ah, that is the topic of the final post in this series. Don't go away!

See also my post on Moser's critique of Blanchard and his autogynephilia theory.

This blog post is part of the following series:
  1. When men loving men crossdream
  2. On crossdreaming lesbians and sexy trans women
  3. Autogynephilia: Bad Science Revisited
  4. What explains the difference between the two types of MTF transgender?

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!