January 10, 2016

Felix Conrad Unmasks the Autogynephilia Theory in New Book on Transgender

Felix Conrad has written a new book on crossdreaming and being male to female transgender. It is definitely worth the read!
Felix Conrad argues that we will have to leave the
autogynephilia and fetish theories behind.

Photo: Ron Chapple Stock


Three years ago Felix Conrad launched his Transcend Movement site with a discussion of crossdreaming.

Since then there has been a wide variety of interesting blog posts, controversial video podcasts, and a book on how to survive as a male to female transgender/crossdreamer when not transitioning. He has even interviewed me.

And he has done all of this with a sense of style and flair previously unheard of in this corner of the web.

Serious humor

He is the master of what I call -- for lack of a better word-- a Catalan-British sense of humor. His use of irony has caused some bewilderment in crossdreamer and transgender circles, but no more than is needed in this field of gender confusion.

As soon as you move beyond the provocative headlines and  imagery, you find  deep, serious, thought-provoking analysis of the various myths and misconceptions found in the world of crossdreaming, crossdressing and gender variance.

He calls himself a philosopher, and has every right to do so.

(I am using male pronouns here, as he is presenting as male publicly, and is using them himself.)

Transgender: Fact or Fetish

A couple of weeks ago he published a new ebook called Transgender: Fact or Fetish - Reality or Delusion? 

While his previous book was more of a practical guide for living as a male to female non-transitioning "late onset" transgender person, this one is a bit more philosophical.

Felix, being a male to female transgender person himself, is cleaning out his closet, so to speak, realizing that he has to understand the main theories of what makes crossdreamers crossdream, before finding his own answer to the ultimate question: Who am I?

This could have become a very dry and theoretical book. It is the exact opposite. Conrad writes in a way that will make perfect sense to people who do not have a Ph.D. in philosophy.
Felix Conrad's book on transgender.

He is using everyday language in a way that helps us see through the convoluted jargon of -- for instance -- Ray Blanchard, the sexologist who has most strongly tried to define male to female (MTF) crossdreamers, crossdressers and transgender women as "paraphiliacs" or sexual perverts.

Indeed, this book can be considered Felix'  final farewell to the autogynephilia and fetish explanations of what causes transgender feelings and identities. He has tested them and found them seriously lacking.

Debunking the Autogynephilia theory

Ray Blanchard does, as many of my readers will know, divide trans women (and non-transitioning male to female gender variant people) into two distinct categories:

(1) "Homosexual transsexuals" (i.e. MTF trans people who are attracted to men), who -- according to Blanchard -- are hypefeminine gay men.


(2) "Autogynephiliacs" (i.e. MTF trans people who are attracted to women or are bisexual), who are considered sexually perverted straight men. These -- and these only, according to Blanchard -- get aroused by the idea of being a woman.

This means that all trans women are men in Blanchard's book, and he rarely miss an opportunity to say so.

The emperor has no clothes!
From The Happy Reading App.
Felix is like the child in H.C. Andersen's tale "The Emperor's New Clothes." He is the little kid that  breaks the spell by pointing out the obvious: Ray Blanchard "has no clothes".

Philosophically and scientifically speaking the theory is just a mirage based on old-fashioned prejudice.

The trans women who do not crossdream are proof

Felix does this by turning quite a few commonly held beliefs in the crossdreamer and transgender communities on their heads.

To give one example:

In Blanchard's world the existence of transgender women who do not experience cross-gender arousal prove that there are two distinct and unrelated types.

Blanchard is not the only one saying this. For some hundred years or so sexologists have distinguished between "classic transsexuals" (who love men and never crossdream) and "transvestic fetishists" (perverted heterosexual men who get a kick out of wearing lace and frills).

To Felix, however, the very existence of trans women who do not fetishize their transgender longings, and who have never experienced cross-arousal of the crossdreamer kind, is overwhelming evidence of there being only one type of trans women:

"...imagine we have a line of a thousand people who are transgender, and you tell me that their condition is caused by a fetish. I then find out that half of the people of this condition caused by a fetish don't fucking have the fetish."

The smoking egg-nogg
Detective Felix Conrad to the rescue!


This is the smoking gun in Felix' detective story. And he actually presents this as a detective story, where the detectives Conrad and Blanchard are out to identify the cause of an outbreak of serious food poisoning:

"[Detective Blanchard] -- impetuous and keen to make a name for himself -- rushes to the scene, finds out twenty people ate chicken and insists that it was the chicken which caused the outbreak.

Conrad -- the handsome, more intelligent one -- discovers there's a whole bunch of people who ate veggie burgers instead of chicken, but still got food poisoning. Obviously, it's impossible the food poisoning was chicken, and so he switches the investigation to the egg-nogg as it was made with raw eggs."

Detective Blanchard does not admit defeat in Felix Conrad's episode of CSI, however. Instead he argues that some got food poisoning from the chicken and the others got "non-chicken" food poisoning from the veggie burger, ignoring the poisoned egg-nog.

When you put the story this way, it become why Felix finds Blanchard's theory forced and contrived.

What MTF trans have in common

In the transgender case Felix insists on focusing on the many factors the two groups have in common.

Felix lists them up:

"Both of these supposedly different types of transgender person present at their physicians with exactly the same 'desire to live as a member of the opposite sex', suffering from the same degree of dysphoria, with the same 'sense of discomfort with their anatomic sex,' and the same desire to have surgery and/or hormones. Why in the name of God would we start trying to say that they were different types of transsexual?"

Conrad's logic leads to there being an underpinning, common, cause for the dysphoria of all trans women, and that one cannot be "the chicken" (effeminate homosexuality in men) or "the veggie burger" (a fetish-like "erotic target location error"). It has to be something else, and that makes it so much harder to reduce the identity of trans women to some kind of male sexual aberration.

Indeed, as Felix points out, if the transgender impulse came from a paraphilia, a trans woman "would lose interest the second she castrated herself -- chemically or literally." But she does not lose interest.

Truegender
Does a crossdresser
dressing up feel
sexy as a man or as
a woman?
Photo: Discovod


For Felix, this analysis has clearly helped him come closer to a view of himself that makes sense to him.

I am not going to present the arguments here, but he believes his gender variance is caused by biological factors. He has a core gender, a "truegender", that causes him to dream about being a woman.

As I have noted elsewhere, I have also come to the conclusion that "the egg-nogg" at least has some important biological components, even if I tend to stress the covariance between biological, psychological and cultural factors more clearly than Felix does in this book. But then again, this is a book written to cut through the crap of sexist sexology, so I do get Felix' need to simplify.

In the same process he also undermines the arguments made by those who think that transgender identities and/or crossdreaming are caused by some kind of fetish. The autogynephilia theory and the transvestic fetish approach have so much in common that arguments debunking the first effectively debunk the other.

The trans boogieman

Then why do we spend so much time discussing these theories? Why don't we move on, and leave all the shame and stigma behind?

Felix describes Blanchard as "a canvas on which gender variant people project emotions about the desperate need to affirm their inner woman or the desperate need to bump her off." We are driven by shame, stupidity and anger.

Shame, because so many consider feminization fantasies embarrassing, and because they have been used to invalidate "any non-sexual cross gender desire".

Stupidity, because we are, as Felix points out, "not designed to assimilate complex explanations, and in our quest to understand something we will always go for sequential causes, child-like logic and the blaring obvious."

The following logic is irresistible to someone in desperate need for an explanation:
  1. I had a sexual desire to be a woman.
  2. Now I desire to be a woman all the time.
  3. That desire must come from my sexual desire.
"What would you say to Ray Blanchard if you
saw him in a bar?" (Question for further
consideration in Felix Conrad's book.
(Photo: University of Toronto)
Anyone who really knows something about the complexity and systemic nature of nature, mind or society, will know that this is too simplistic, but as human beings we feel angst when we do not know who we are. It is easy to believe that it is better to have a simplistic explanation than none at all.

And yes, Blanchard's theory makes us angry: 

"Casting a theory based around the Neanderthal logic outlines above (they are women in their fantasies... that's why they want to be women) is outrageous. If it was a theory about the lesser spotted chaffinch or why people like trainspotting then that would be fine, but a speculative theory on an entire sector of society is irresponsible, unless you describe it for what it is: speculation."


The failure of sexology

Felix argues that from transvestic fetishism to autogynephilia, sexologists have consistently failed to understand transgender sexuality and have "thrown it in the paraphilia pot with all the other behaviours it doesn't understand."

I am actually not so sure this is only about failing to understand. I think this strand of sexology is driven by people who have inherited and absorbed the sexist stereotypes and who now look for ways of disciplining men who violate the gender clichés.

A real radical feminist would call them "tools of the patriarchy". Felix puts it this way:

"Blanchard represents that Victorian strain in twentieth century thinking with respect to sex and the moralising terminology that underpins it: fetish and paraphilia."

Autogynephilia is definitely a pseudo-science, but I will not go as far as Felix and dismiss all of sexology.

There have been several trans-positive sexologists, including giants like Magnus Hirschfeld and Alfred Kinsey, and the idea of combining the knowledge of several disciplines in order to understand sex, sexuality and gender makes sense to me. Besides, much of the violence of conversion therapy was not carried out by sexologists, but by regular Freudian psychiatrists and psychologists.

Unfortunately sexology as a discipline has attracted a large number of bigots obsessed with sex, and it has clearly not had the number of ethical champions needed stop their persecution of LGBT-people. The fact that autogynephilia remains in the DSM psychiatric manual, attests to this.

Nature more than nurture

Felix also spends much time discussing the most likely causes of crossdreaming and transgender conditions as well as the interaction between biological and psychological factors. He argues well for why he believes the main driving force behind both crossdreaming and transgender identities is biological.

This is clearly the only explanation that makes sense to him, given the extreme forces involved in gender dysphoria:

"Once the walls of repression collapse and your truegender emerges, a force has been unleashed which will, if not expressed and assimilated correctly, kill you. Maybe it'll be metaphorical -- you'll die inside -- and maybe you'll end up as another trans suicide, but whatever happens, havoc of one sort or another will be wreaked."

But Felix' truegender is not based on a simplistic "female brain in a man's body" model:

"Although you have a female gender core, it's soaked in male hormones and male socialisation. That's why it takes some people so long before they actually listen to their gender core: it has to compete with a shedload of male neurology, plumbing and brain-washing. The result is it may take years before truegender dominates."

If I understand Felix correctly, the core gender is not the sum total of gender stereotypes, but rather an underlying urge to see and express yourself as a woman, whatever that may be in your cultural and personal context.

He also discusses the role of fetishes in both cisgender and transgender people, and presents his own explanation for why crossdreaming is most likely found among MTF transgender people  attracted to women.

Felix is clearly open to the idea that crossdreaming may vary in intensity and that some male to female crossdreamers are not gender dysphoric and will not identify as women. But the focus of this book is on those who experience a strong dissonance between their assigned gender and gender core.

All crossdreamers and people interested in transgender lives will benefit from reading it, however.

Felix Conrad: Transgender: Fact or Fetish - Reality or Delusion?

See also my interview with Felix: "Felix Conrad Talks about Transgender Research, Crossdreaming and Beach Clubbing"

The Transcend Movement site

23 comments:

  1. What a fantastic book to look forward to reading! Many thanks for your post, Jack. These take a lot of time and consideration and I greatly appreciate your efforts.

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  2. It has been entirely obvious and logical to me for quite some time now that AGP theory is the worst kind of disaster and based entirely on a combination of very bad pseudoscience wrapped in prejudice. The emperor indeed has no clothes is obvious if one just sits down and contemplates the writings of Blanchard.

    At best all you can say about Blanchard's work is that he played a game of false categorization. He put people into little boxes based on their sexual orientation and called it science when in fact it is nothing of the sort.

    Felix has a way to express things with more panache than the rest of us do and I find his use of irony very effective here. I completely intend to read the book cover to cover.

    Of course I take great solace in the fact that organizations like WPATH and the rest of the transgender research community entirely disregards the work of the BBL school as wild speculation and most reasonable minded and rational people know there is much more than meets the eye.

    Its nice to know that one of us has the intellect and the ability to present the material in such a solid and digestible format.

    Bravo!

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  3. //Of course I take great solace in the fact that organizations like WPATH and the rest of the transgender research community entirely disregards the work of the BBL school as wild speculation and most reasonable minded and rational people know there is much more than meets the eye.//

    Yes, and this is what gives me hope as well. Admittedly Felix hasn't high hopes for sexology, but more and more of the researchers involved on research on transgender have adopted an open, multifaceted and "holistic" view of sex and gender, and within that paradigm there isn't much room for Blanchard.

    WPATH has also moved away from the pathologization of transgender. There are still some Blanchard-supporters in that organization (Anne Lawrence is a member), and also those who still think of "autogynephiliacs" as outsiders; but in general I think it will be harder and harder to defend the Blanchard narrative within the framework of their current policies.

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  4. One issue the DSM 5 wrestled with is designating "dysphoria" as a "disability" in order to afford "trans" some access to disability compensation. Accordingly this whole definitional issue raises questions about eligibility with respect to gaining access to health care. (DSM removed the class "homosexual" from the list of "pathologies" and nobody gets disability comp for being homosexual these days.)

    Gender transition, for those who seek it, is expensive.

    Arguably what Blanchard and the DSM are doing is to sort "trans" into two groups: One as tans-sexual. The other as a "paraphilia" -- a broad clinical term for sexual fetish and "erotic target error."

    Perhaps an intended consequence of this bifurcation is that it eliminates a population of dysphorics from the "trans-gender" class, relegating them instead to "dysphoric" and "sex & gender ID disorder"

    Quite a few of the "paraphilias" are pathological, even unlawful, e.g. pedophilia, necrophila . . . exhibitionism, frotterism, voyeurism . . .

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraphilia

    Gender dysphoria may be debilitating -- but that's a social issue, not a psychological one. Maybe it's time for the DSM to realize that dysphoria can be "disabling" without being "pathological."

    "Disability" according to Social Security, and most social welfare agencies is defined as, "physical or psychological condition which impairs or prevents everyday social function."

    What remains to be done is to appropriate the term "fetish" similar to the way "queer" was appropriated with "queer theory." Appropriate similar to the appropriation of the class "homosexual" as a sexual pathology and instead de-pejoritizing "homo" so that it denotes an orientation without becoming a social stigma.

    Speculation about what it might mean to be or become the other sex has been a long-standing theme in literature, in drama, theatre, popular culture. Speculation about being the other sex is creative, imaginative inquiry. To designate this sort of imagination as "pathological" is to impose a sort of censure, expressive censorship, and mind control.





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  5. Hi Jack,

    First time commenter here. I just want to thank you for this wonderful site and all the time and effort you put into it. What I really like is how you present and explain some complex information in a simple way so that a layperson can understand it.

    Although I have been a crossdreamer (MTF Type III or IV Benjamin scale) for many years, until I found your site I had never seen any of this research or heard of these theories about my own condition. I had no idea that scientists, sociologists, doctors, and other experts had devoted their careers to understanding and explaining our condition, most with the intent of helping us.

    Thinking back, it is actually very odd that I never bothered to search the internet looking for any of this, having been this way myself for so many years. Until I found your site I had never heard of crossdreaming, autogynephilia, Blanchard, Bailey, Lawrence, Benjamin, Hirschfeld, or any of the other information you have presented. You have given me quite an education!

    I would like to reflect briefly on my journey through your site, if I may. When I stumbled upon your site several months ago, I poked around a bit trying to understand. I soon realized I would be best served by starting at the beginning. So I went back to your very first, oldest post and worked my way forward - reading every post and every comment, and even many of the links and references. I have learned so much.

    I quickly became fascinated with the subject, and looked forward each day to spending a couple hours on it. I soon felt I had learned enough to offer an intelligent and useful comment on some of it, but realized of course that I was reading material several years old that had not had any active comments for years. So I just kept reading, thinking that once I caught up to the present I could join up and contribute. So finally I am here!

    How I happened to find your site may be of some interest to you and you might find it a bit ironic. Months ago I was surfing around the internet and came upon a site run by someone called wxhluyp. On that site I saw a mention of you and crossdreaming and a description of a disagreement he had with you, leading to his being banned. It peaked my interest and I then searched for crossdreaming and found your site. As I grew interested in your site, I had forgotten all about the original source of my discovery. But then one day a comment from him first appeared on one of your old posts, and I recalled his site and the fact that he had said he was banned from your site. So I must admit I found it interesting to watch the progression of the interaction between the two of you and your other commenters as well. Things started out fairly civil and remained so for a while, but went downhill quickly leading of course to the eventual ban. (Sorry to bring up that old sore point.)

    It has also been interesting to follow how your own views and opinions have evolved over the years since you started your site.

    I have enjoyed so much reading, learning and discovering all of this information about myself. Thanks again for your efforts! Hopefully I can make some useful contributions in the future.

    Cindy

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  6. I read the book last week and enjoyed it very much. Sincere thanks to Jack for letting us know about it. I have some mixed feelings and will probably write my review/comments in a post on CossdreamLife when I have time. Here's a quick summary:

    - Besides Mr. Conrad's obvious interest and study, what are his qualifications? There were times when he asserted firm knowledge that seemed a bit overstated. For example he states that "transgender feelings emerge in puberty." Well, I know for me and for others I've read about that it came about much much earlier, like in nursery school.
    - He seems to think that transition (or a strong desire for) is almost inevitable for trans people. I am not at all sure of this. And note that at the end of the book he says that there are degrees of transgenderism. Perhaps some editing is needed?
    - I loved his affirmations, especially in the first half of the book. I need all of those affirmations that I can get.
    - I like the term "truegender" for the gender that at our core we feel we belong. His statement "The most important thing a transgender person needs to know is that there is nothing more beautiful than truegender, but nothing more unrelenting as the gender core. Bravo!

    I am going to recommend the book to my therapist as I believe it will provide him with some understanding that may help him better comprehend and appreciate the depth of my feelings. I would also think the book might provide the start of a framework for a PhD student's thesis. He brings up many points that could use some further investigation and more scientific confirmation.

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  7. @Cindy,

    Thank you very much for your comment! It helps me to know that this blog can make a difference, and I am seriously impressed by you reading all of it!

    I have been planning to make an ebook based on selected blog posts from this blog, so that new readers can get a kind of compendium containing the most essential posts. I hope I will be able to find time for that in 2016.

    I am glad you can see that I have changed throughout these years. I started this blog to help me learn more about myself and others like me, and I like to think that I have come a few steps forward as regards my own understanding of both crossdreaming and transgender. But there is still so much we do not know about this, and that lack of knowledge -- unfortunately -- leaves room for a lot of destructive reasoning, hence some of the conflicts that have taken place her over the years. I guess this is what you have to expect in an area that challenges our belief systems in such a radical way.

    Please, do not hesitate to share more of your own insights here or over at Crossdream Life.

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  8. Jack,

    You are most welcome. I can't emphasize enough how much I have learned here and how much I have enjoyed it. I am looking forward to reading your new eBook as well.

    I must admit that being new to all this, the conflicts did surprise me as it never occurred to me that those of us who have so much in common would choose to focus so much on disagreements. But also, it was reading all the back and forth in these debates that was the most educational for me. So I suppose in the end, it is a healthy and useful debate. Although I can't help but wonder if those who are not tolerant of us and who do not wish us well, would find some pleasure in seeing us argue among ourselves, thus saving them the trouble.

    I intend to join up over at crossdream life as well and hope to make many new like-minded friends.

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  9. // ...those who are not tolerant of us and who do not wish us well, would find some pleasure in seeing us argue among ourselves, thus saving them the trouble.//

    Indeed!

    But then again, this is an old tactic. I believe the English language term is "divide and conquer".

    Too often marginalized people run for the hills of normalcy, leaving those who they believe are even more marginalized behind. Fetishists do not want to be known as trans women, and "classic transsexuals" do not want tho be known as fetishists, so they all spend a lot of time -- using the language developed by their enemies -- to explain why they are not like the freaks over there.

    That is the dark side of online transgender and queer discussions.

    The good thing is that we can also use the web for the development of new, and more inclusive, languages and for personal support. This is why I remain an optimist.

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  10. "This is why I remain an optimist." Bravo! Count me in.

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  11. There are many MTF crossdreamers here, as a female crossdreamer (autoandorphiliac) I wanted to share my experience. I cured my autoandrophilia after a painful year of self analyzing and resolving my trauma in psychotherapy. There's indeed a cure for some.

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  12. @Anonymous

    Was cross dressing a part of that expression?

    What was the trauma that caused your crossdreaming?

    As a cross dresser myself, I have never considered myself androphiliac, but mostly attracted to female attire, and now mannerisms when dressed. And that urge has become more acute lately. It's been causing me to question my gender identity.

    So what was the miracle cure?

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  13. The whole thing is snake pil. Blanchard original paper DID NOT prove what he claimed. I am doing a paper on this, results to date:

    Blanchards' 1989 paper: "“This study tested the hypothesis that all gender dysphoric (GD) males who are not sexually aroused by men (homosexual) are instead sexually aroused by the thought or image of themselves as women (autogynephilic)”

    Blanchard’s paper did not prove his hypothesis and demonstrates severe Methodological Errors

    Conclusions
    The result of these factors, along with a correct interpretation of the results provided in the paper, show that the hypothesis is Not Proven, in fact it could be argued that the paper disproves the hypothesis convincingly.

    – The Results Shown In The Paper Does Not Support The Hypothesis As Stated.
    The results for the both the Core Autogynephilia (AGP) Test or the Autogynephila Interpersonal Test do not prove the hypothesis.
    Homosexual subjects have similar results to asexuals in the Core Autogynephilia Test.
    Homosexual, asexual and heterosexual subjects have statistically significant similar results for the Autogynephilia Interpersonal Fantasy Test.
    Instead a different test developed and used for Transvestism (Cross Gender Fantasy Test) was used to claim the hypothesis had been proven.

    – Fundamental Mistakes In Testing the Hypothesis
    A test used to determine sexual arousal in cross dressers and transvestites to female clothing is used to prove the hypothesis. It is argued that AGP causes (or confusingly is caused by) cross dressing sexual arousal (CGSA or Fetishistic Transvestism). Even though these are defined as different syndromes.
    Note that GD and CGSA are negatively correlated (Blanchard and Clemmensen, 1988).
    If AGP and CGSA are positively correlated (even causative) and AGP causes gender dysphoria (again a positive correlation is assumed), how can GD and CGSA be negatively correlated?

    – Sampling Errors.
    – Technical Statistical Analyses Errors
    – Multiplying Hypotheses Errors.
    – Questionnaire Errors.
    – The questionnaires followed the Core Question, Sub Question design. While this is appropriate for detailed analysis, it leads to multiple counting and score inflation when used as a measurement scale. If the Core question is answered with a yes, then at least one other Sub question will automatically be answered with a yes as well.
    – There were several questions that were essentially identical to other ones, again leading to score inflation.
    If you answer yes to question 8 in the Core Autogynephila test then you will automatically answer yes to question 7 as they mean the same thing.
    If you answer yes to the ‘nude part’ of question 7 then you will automatically answer yes to question #1 (as it is the same) and at least one of the Sub questions 2-6.
    If you have sexual arousal to imagining having a nude female body, then you will automatically have a minimum score of 4.
    If you only have sexual arousal to having a clothed female body, then you will automatically have both a minimum and a maximum score of 2.
    – No measures of intensity (frequency or recency of fantasies or actions) were used.
    – The core question (#12) in the Autogynephilic Interpersonal Fantasy Scale is incorrect, with a score being given for non interpersonal fantasy behaviour, thus the results would be inflated for this test.
    Question 12. “As a woman who is alone and in private (1); As a woman who is being admired by another person (1)”
    – The key Cross Gender Fantasy (Transvestism) Test results used to prove the hypothesis, shows negative numbers, but the test can only have a minimum value of zero. Either this is a printing error or a different and not specified or defined test was applied. If the first case is true then the interpretation of the results is reversed. If the second then why is the test not specified and described?

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  14. You are absolutely right. The original paper is full of methodological errors, including the amazing feat of arguing that androphilic transsexuals who report "autogynephilic fantasies" must be autogynephilic liers, while real androphilic trans women never lie.

    But there is another side of this paper I find equally interesting. He presents his "erotic target error" explanation as a hypothesis and says that other explanations might be possible. He never comes around to proving the hypothesis, but somehow he and his supporters now argue that he has proven it. He reminds me a bit of Erich von Däniken, who would always start out with wild hypotheses, never really proving them, but nevertheless making gullible readers believe he had proven that aliens established the civilizations of Sumer by the end of the book.

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  15. – From the results given, and if the distribution is actually Gaussian as assumed, then 55% of homosexuals score 2 or more in the Core Autogynehilia Test and 54% score 2 or more in the AGP Interpersonal Test.
    – Therefore the majority of homosexual transsexuals exhibit AGP.


    – AGP is argued as being the cause of bisexuality and asexuality in transsexuals, however the primary cause of AGP is given as non exclusive sexual attraction to males, if you have an attraction to females or no attraction to anyone then you are AGP. Therefore categorisation is circular, ‘you have AGP because you are asexual/bisexual, you are asexual/bisexual because you have AGP’.

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  16. Sorry for piping in so late! First of all, thanks very much for pointing out Felix Conrad's earlier work (I just bought his previous e-book and look forward to reading it :) ), which might be of more immediate help to me, as a transgender person who is unable to transition due mostly to social peer pressure and the need to survive with a job — something that unfortunately would be impossible if I'd transition — so I'm very interested in learning more about 'coping strategies' proposed by Conrad.

    @Cindy, one thing that has recently troubled me is the way the transgender community (and I'm including all kinds here, from crossdreamers through crossdressers, drag queens, female impersonators, and all sorts of transexuals, pre-op, post-op, and non-op...) seems to be fracturing more and more as time goes on. In fact, this is a very wrong impression (correlation does not imply causation!), but one that seems to be validated by the amount of sheer nonsense written by subgroups in conflict with each other. The simple truth is that, as more and more people have gained access to the Internet, more and more differing views become published (and searchable). If you did your first searches on the Web in 1995 (that was before Google, of course, but search engines did already exist...) you'd get a totally different pictures: one where crossdressers and transexuals went along with each other, one where all you'd heard about was written by support groups, often joining forces across oceans and continents, mutually respecting and understanding each other, in perfect harmony. Was that such a wrong picture? No. Such efforts actually exist. There are many, many people building bridges among different subcultures, communities, and points of view. They have often been active as prolific writers for the past two decades. What changed was mostly the explosion of 'information' on the Internet: all other groups, bringing their fights and their personal hates — divide and conquer indeed! — started to become very vocal on the Internet, and completely outshadowed the few that struggle to keep common sense alive. That doesn't even mean that the majority of transgender people are in conflict with each other (or in conflict with other communities — like feminists or non-transgender gay people): in fact, this is not even true. However, we know how perceptions can change so deeply as soon as people become very vocal about their cause — knowing perfectly well that the majority will be silent.

    And that's what we mostly see today: those in conflict with each other are a sad minority, but each of the many factions and subgroups have very strong and very vocal supporters, who swamp the Internet (or at least the search engines) with their texts. That gives us a wrong idea that there is way more conflict than there is in reality (most people just want to continue to live their lives and be left in peace). Nevertheless, the conflicts do, indeed, exist, and they have serious consequences — one of which is the difficulty of getting strong support for certain rights and/or acceptance when there is always the argument that transgender people don't respect each other, so why should cisgender people respect them at all? That's a sad truth which unfortunately reflects reality — even though it's just a slice of reality, it truly affects us much more than it should.

    @Lisa I'm really glad you're doing some work on that field! We certainly need more formal debunking of Blanchard's theories, mostly by showing that not only his methodology is wrong, but that his own data clearly shows that his theories aren't even valid with his published data!

    You might find these links for your research useful, they list several resources (sometimes a bit dated) about researchers who have formally debunked BBL's theories:

    http://www.tsroadmap.com/info/autogynephilia.html
    http://www.juliaserano.com/
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20582803

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  17. Saying that autogynephilia does not exist and that the basic two type taxonomy is false is NOT the same as demonstrating that it does not exist. Of course autogynephilia exists! A hundred years of sexology research has collected thousands of examples... and further, we know that four out of five gynephilic transwomen readily admit to experiencing at least one of the five autogynephilic behaviors. This has been shown in four decades of research, not just by "BBL" (whose use fully discloses one's closed mind on the subject):

    https://sillyolme.wordpress.com/2016/02/02/four-out-of-five/

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  18. It is fascinating to see how supporters of the autogynephilia theory (and Kay Bown is one of them) is trying to develop a narrative of the unreasonable trans activists: the "autogynephilia deniers".

    Trans philosopher Julia has written eloquently about this over at her blog.

    The fact is that trans activist, Felix Conrad and Sandra Lopes included, do not deny the existence of cross-gender arousal among trans people. Serano has written extensively about this phenomenon in her book Whipping Girl and over at her blog (she now uses the term feminine/masculine embodiment fantasies).

    This very blog has what I called crossdreaming as its main topic.

    The only trans people who deny the existence of "crossdreaming" are the few who have internalized the transphobia of the autogynephilia theory to such an extent that they now need to distance themselves from the "paraphiliacs" and "the effeminate gay men" of Ray Blanchard and J. Michael Bailey. These "deniers" represent a human tragedy, for sure, but they are not representative of mainstream LGBT activism.

    The reason 99 percent of trans activists refuse to use the term "autogynpehilia" for such cross-gender arousal is simply because the word refers to a debunked explanation for crossdreaming. Blanchard's theory is, as Felix so clearly documents, a pseudo-science aimed at invalidating the identities of all transgender women and pathologizing femininity in men.

    No wonder the theory is now actively used by right wing religious extremists and transphobic radical feminists (assisted by people like Blanchard and Cantor) to harass and persecute transgender women. The theory only strengthens their disgust for femininity in those assigned male we often find found in such extremist environments.
    at birth.

    Even Blanchard admits that the theory is nothing but an hypothesis in his research papers. He and his followers do present it as a scientific fact in the public debate, however, which is why, I guess, they need to come up with this lie about the "autogynephilia deniers".


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  19. Sandra,

    Thank you for the explanation of the conflict I mentioned. What you say makes good sense to me. I suppose the small minority of the most extreme people on either side, are the loudest and most vocal. While most of us that just want to get along with everyone have no interest in engaging in some of these heated debates.

    I remember years ago when I was a member of a TG group that met monthly in a large US city. We had people from all across the spectrum - part time CDers, full time, and transsexuals in all stages. It was such a nice group - we all got along splendidly. In fact those further along served as mentors and coaches and friends to the rest of us.

    By the way, Sandra, I have visited your site a few times and have enjoyed it very much, and learned a lot as well.

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  20. Isn't a fetish a fact? It's certainly always been a big fact in my life!

    Cheerio,
    IanB.

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  21. Both trans and non-transgender people may have fetishes (speical prefernces when it comes to clothes and looks in partners), but as both Felix and I see it isn't the fetishes that causes our gender identity or our sexual orientation.

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  22. Agreed, Jack. For me the fact that my crossdreaming started around 4-5 (maybe earlier but I can't recall) - very long before puberty - helps confirm my belief that my transgender nature spurred the fantasies and erotic aspects because they were the only avenue open for me to express and take pleasure in being myself.

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  23. A detective story? This book is garbage. I'm transgender and I see it for what it is a fetish. All of us begin with years of crossdressing because it's a thrill then we want a bigger thrill so we come out and transition and it starts to feel ordinary. It's a fetish, we are never honest even with ourselves about this. I'm post-op twenty years, I'm not a woman and can never be a woman, I'm a trans person with a kink. ;-) It's a nice kink. To everyone else stop kidding yourselves and accept it.

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