April 4, 2014

New Study Dismisses the Autogynephilia Approach to Transgender

Are there really two types of transgender people, or are there only different blends of characters and personality traits? This may seem like a purely academic question, but the answer has actually strong repercussions for how people look at both crossdreamers and transsexuals.
Different but the same
Illustration photo by Tomwang112/thinkstock.

In a new paper, Dr. Jaimie F. Veale, brings new evidence that the various shades of male to female transgender are indeed variants of something related, and not two distinct categories.

The two types of trans women

One common idea regarding male bodied transgender people (including transsexual women) is that there are two distinct types.

Since most of this research is on transsexual women the types are often referred to as late onset and early onset, referring to when they used to go to the heath system to get help transitioning.

Both health personnel and researchers noticed early on that the ones transitioning late in life where more likely to be sexually attracted to women, while the early onset were more likely to be attracted to men.

Since all healthy women were supposed to be attracted to men, the early onset ones soon became the model for the perfect transsexual woman. Indeed, as some transsexual women scrambled to get access to the group of real women, the two categories became more than practical descriptive categories used to discuss the different variations of transgender. Now they were referring to tow distinct phenomena, with completely different causes, an A team and a B team.

Are the differences categorical or dimensional?

In her new paper on Dr. Ray Blanchard's variant of the two type typology, Dr. Jaimie F. Veale refers to this as the difference between what she calls categorical constructs (as in the difference between cats and dogs) and dimensional constructs  (as in the difference between black and white cats). A categorical difference is one of either/or, while a dimensional difference refers to a continuum.

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