February 18, 2023

Blanchard debunked: Surveys show that all kinds of people experience "autogynephilia"


Online surveys show that gender embodiment fantasies (called "autogynephilia" and "autoandrophilia" by transphobic researchers) are common among all groups of people: transgender and non-transgender, men, women and those nonbinary.

Anyone who follows the intense anti-trans propaganda of the day, will have made note of the way the "autogynephilia" theory is used to invalidate transgender women and other gender variant people. "Gender critical" TERFs love the theory, as it allows them to present trans women as perverted predators. 

The theory has been falsified and dismissed over and over again, both by scientists and those that truly know something about being trans: transgender people. The tactic of the theory's supporters is often to confuse and obfuscate, or they double down on the analytical basis for the theory, ignoring the fact that it is this world view that has been falsified. Moreover, there is always a small detail somewhere you can use to confuse readers that do not know the topic well, or you can simply lie. 

In this post I am going to present data from several online surveys, some of them quite extensive, that have not been part of the academic discussions about the "autogynephilia" concept, but which nevertheless provide a rich amount of data about gender, gender variance and sexualities.  

They document that erotic crossdreaming (as in imagining yourself being the "other" gender relative to the one assigned at birth) are quite common in all relevant groups of people, straight and gay, women and men, transgender and those that are not trans. The fact that such fantasies are so common, destroys the credibility of the "autogynephilia" theory, which states that only male assigned people who are attracted to women can have such fantasies.

And what is truly interesting is that these surveys look at erotic crossdreaming as part of a much broader phenomenon: Embodiment fantasies in general, where people get turned on by the idea of having a body of any gender, including the one they identify as. This proves that the erotic cross-gender fantasies found in some trans women and other MTF (male to female) gender variant people represent a subcategory of a common human trait.

Reducing reality to gay versus straight

The  "autogynephilia" theory of Toronto psychologist Ray Blanchard and his friends is based on the 19th century idea of "sexual inversion". Many of the sexologists of that time believed gay men had a female sexuality and lesbian women had a male sexuality, which is why – these "experts" believed – gay men are "effeminate" and lesbian women are "manly".

Richard von Krafft-Ebing, one of the leading sexologists of the 19th century, described lesbians in this way:

The female homosexual may chiefly be found in the haunts of boys. She is the rival in their play, preferring the rocking-horse, playing at soldiers, etc., to dolls and other girlish occupations. The toilet is neglected, and rough boyish manners are affected. Love for art finds a substitute in the pursuits of the sciences. At times smoking and drinking are cultivated even with passion...

The masculine soul, heaving in the female bosom, finds pleasure in the pursuit of manly sports, and in manifestations of courage and bravado.

Richard von Krafft-Ebing believed lesbians had "a masculine soul, heaving in the female bosom."

Anyone who truly knows something about queer nature and queer culture could tell you that in reality queer sexual diversity is much more complex than this, but I guess they were unable to recognize the femme lesbians and the hypermasculine gay men, as they could more easily blend in with the cis and straight population.

Regardless, this also lead to a theory about transgender people (often referred to as "inverts"). Trans women were simply gay men, the scientists said, and trans men (to the extent they saw them at all) were lesbian women. Puzzle solved.

The basis for Ray Blanchard & Co's world view is the same. They refer to androphilic (man-loving) trans women as "homosexual transsexuals". The term is deliberately aimed at reducing their identities to being gay men.

Sexologist throughout the ages have easily fallen into the trap of believing that all lesbian women are transmasculine, mostly because the femmes blend more easily into the straight population. This led to the idea that all lesbian women are "inverts" or "men trapped in women's bodies". Photo: Minnesota Historical Society.

The woman-loving transgender woman

So what about lesbian or gynephilic (woman-loving)  trans women and gay trans men? Where do they fit in? 

They contradict the inversion model completely, and will therefore have to be explained away. 

As far as gay trans men were concerned, they have often been dismissed as non-existent. Blanchard finds it hard, even today, to recognize their reality.

In the old days gynephilic transgender women were associated with "transvestites", who were seen as cis straight men with a sexual kink. Blanchard has basically rehashed this explanation, and refers to gynephilic  trans women as "autogynephiles" (who are aroused by the idea of being a woman or acting like a woman). 

Their origin of their transgender experience is completely different from the one of the androphilic ones, Blanchard & Co argue. The androphilic ones want to live as women because they want to attract cis men. The gynephilic ones want to live as woman because they are attracted to their own inner woman. Gender identity is reduced to  sexual desire. There is no overlap between the two groups. Moreover, only the gynephilic ones have crossgender erotic fantasies (erotic crossdreaming).

So what does the science say?

There have been several peer reviewed studies testing the validity of Blanchard's theory. 

Dr. Jaimie F. Veale and her colleagues carried out large studies which confirmed that you cannot split trans women into two distinct categories based on their sexual orientation. Many androphilic trans women have fantasies similar to the ones of "autogynephilies", while many gynephilic trans women do not. 

A recent Israeli study confirms that types of gender variance do not align with sexual orientation. 

A German study found no grounds for the assumption that gynephilic trans women attribute a particularly great importance to sexuality.

What these studies show are not strict binaries based on sexual orientation, but continuums of gender identities, expressions and desires. And if there are no clear boundaries between androphilic and gynephilic trans women the "autogynephilia" theory falls. 

Cis women feeling sexy

The "autogynephilia" theory also requires another premise: There has to be no overlap between the sexual and gender based experiences of gynephilic trans women and MTF crossdreamers  on the one hand and non-transgender/cis women on the other. Blanchard thinks of these "autogynephiles" as sexually perverted straight men, and as such they cannot have anything in common with cis women as far as sexual desires go. 

Back in 2009 Charles Moser did a quick study that showed that cis women had similar sexual fantasies as the ones of the "autogynephiles".  As he put it: "It appears that some natal women, as well as MTFs [Male to female gender variant people], endorse similar items on questionnaires designed to detect autogynephilia." 

The autogynephilia theory says that  women-loving trans women suffer from an "erotic target location theory", as they are in love with their inner woman. However, it turns out that cis women also report fantasies of being sexy and attractive. Photo: Wavebreakmedia

This implied that the sexual fantasies of some male to female crossdreamers and trans women had (of being an attractive woman) could be seen as a confirmation of their experienced gender identity. 

The studies referred to above confirm Moser's findings.

Studies of erotic fantasies document the same: Cis women may have fantasies similar to many transgender women. Some research indicate that a significant portion of cis people have fantasized about having the body of the other sex. Even Kourtney Kardashian has contributed to the debate, confirming that cis women may get aroused by their own bodies and sensuality.

The "autogynephilia"-supporters dismiss such findings, arguing that the social and cultural context of cis women is different from the one of MTF crossdreamers and trans women, so that they will interpret the questions differently. 

Kourtney Kardashian shares a moment over at Instagram.
She argues that most cis women are "autosexual".

That cis and trans women have been raised differently is obviously true, but the researchers have actually done their best to reframe the questions posed to cis women in such a way that you get answers that can be compared to the ones of MTF crossdreamers and transgender women.

And the conclusion is that cis women may also get aroused by the idea of being sexually attractive.

The take-away from the scientists (and the Kardashians) is therefore that:

1. Erotic crossdreaming fantasies are found in both woman-loving and man-loving trans women and MTF crossdreamers.

2. Both cis and trans women can experience "autogynephilic" embodiment fantasies.

Survey implies that "everyone has autogynephilia"

Erotic crossdreaming is a thing. Trans women and other MTF gender variant people may experience what Julia Serano calls "female embidment fantasies." But "autogynephilia", as presented in Blanchard's theory, is not real. This is why I use the term"erotic crossdreaming" instead of "autogynephilia" when I refer to the kind of fantasies the AGP theory describes.

There are  crossdreamers and people with an interest in sexual diversity out there that continue to use the term "autogynephilia", even if they do not support the theory as it stands. I think that is unfortunate,  but that does not stop me from making use of their research.

The data presented by these bloggers and "amateur" researchers is of relevance to the "autogynephilia" debate, as they deepen our knowledge of the way embodiment fantasies play out in different groups of people.

Aella is a cis woman who does her own sex research, (Video screenshot)

Last year Aella (a very liberal minded entertainer and sex researcher) has presented a survey of 414,000 people recruited online

As Aella points out  "respondents skew younger, more female, more liberal, middle class, queer, white (tho less white for the US population), western and heavily US based." 

So it is not representative for the global population as a whole. 

But given that the "autogynephilia" theory requires that such embodiment fantasies are only found among "straight men", any substantial study that find erotic crossdreaming in all groups is significant.

Aella asked the respondents questions similar to the ones Blanchard & Co have used in their research:

  • "I find the thought of existing (in nonsexual situations) as a biological female to be erotic", tip: e.g., joining a knitting group, menstruating, or grocery shopping
  • "I find the thought of masturbating alone as a biological female, to be erotic", tip: Where you are the biological female
Blanchard does not believe in erotic crossdreaming in women. But Aella added questions that would make sense to many women and many nonbinary people as well:
  • "I find the thought of existing (in nonsexual situations) as a biological male to be erotic", tip: e.g., joining a woodworking group, shaving a beard, or grocery shopping
  • "I find the thought of masturbating alone as a biological male, to be erotic" tip: Where you are the biological male

Indeed, all groups were asked to respond to all questions, which also gives us information about possible arousal from imagining oneself as someone of ones own gender.

The possible answers were a 7-scale spectrum from “totally disagree” (-3) to “totally agree” (3). It would have been better to use a 0 to 7 scale, as the minuses may mislead people into thinking they refer to a negative answer. They do not. -1 or -2 represents confirmation: The respondent has indeed had such fantasies. Keep that in mind when you study the graphs below.

Here are the results:

How erotic is the thought of masturbating as a male/female?
Click on image for larger size.

How erotic is the thought of existing as male/female?
Click on image for larger size.

The numbers show that:
  • We find arousal from imagining oneself masturbating as the other sex/ones target sex in all groups  (cis and trans, male, female and nonbinary). 
  • As regards the masturbation fantasies, two variations stand out. Cis males are more likely to be aroused by the idea of having the body of the "other" gender than cis women, but cis women also report such erotic crossdreaming fantasies. Trans women report significantly lower scores for the "masturbating as male" fantasy compared to all other groups.
  • The the thought of existing as a female is also reported by members of all groups, although the scores are significantly lower than for the masturbation fantasy.
  • Trans men presents the highest scores on the existing as ones target gender.
I suspect that the reason the "exiting as..." question leads to lower erotic scores than the masturbation question is simply that masturbation is an explicit erotic activity, while expressing oneself as a man or a woman is less so. 

Note also that not all crossdreamers are gender incongruent or gender dysphoric. The majority identify with their gender assigned at birth, so the idea of existing as "another" gender become less fascinating.

The reason trans women and trans men are finding existing as their target gender a bit more erotic than the other groups is most likely about context. These scenarios allows for a world where trans people can be accepted as who they are, opening the door to a sex life as their target gender.

Ditto for the masturbation question. Trans women and men are more likely to find masturbating as their target gender a little bit more arousing than cis people, simply because having a body in harmony with your experienced gender opens the door to a better sex life.

I suspect the reason cis men are reporting higher scores for cross-gender masturbation fantasies than cis women is cultural: The female body is more sexualized than the male one. That being, trans men and trans women present more or less the same scores here. It's complicated.

The most important take away from the masturbation question, however, is the significant number of cis men and cis women who report embodiment fantasies.

Cis women do indeed report "autogynephilic" fantasies, and trans men have "autoandrophilic" ones.

What Aella's presentation of the results does not look into is the sexual orientation of the respondents. We cannot use these numbers to distinguish between androphilic and gynephilic trans women, and I am sure the Blanchard supporters will latch onto that, arguing that all the male assigned people who report "autigynephilic" fantasies are perverted straight men. There is not much they can do about the female assigned crossdreamers, but they can at least try to play the "the data we don't like is caused by lying autogynephiles" card.

Other surveys do look at sexual orientation, however.

The Scott Alexander survey

Another similar online survey made by Scott Alexander gives results very similar to the one of Aella's. 

The questions here were: "Picture a very handsome man/woman. How sexually arousing would you find it to imagine being him/her?"

Scott uses the term "autogenderphilia" when referring to both "autogynephilia" (fantasies about being a woman) and "autoandrophilia" (fantasies about being a man).

There were 6,715 respondents (182 trans, 6259 cis, 274 "confused"). The scale goes from 5 ("maximally autogenderphilic") to 1 ("no autogenderphilia at all").

The result show significant scores for erotic embodiment fantasies inn all groups.

Group (n)"Autogynephilia""Autoandrophilia"
Cis men (5592)2.61.9
Cis women (667)2.52
Trans men (35)1.92.3
Trans women (147)3.21.3
Scott does provide data for sexual orientation as far as these groups go. To give one example, gay cis men (who according to Blanchard cannot crossdream) reports an average of  3.4 for "autoandrophilia".  Bi trans women are at 3.1 for "autogynephilia".

Straight cis women, who cannot have "autogynephilic" fantasies according to the AGP theory, present an average score of 2.4 for "autogynephilia" and 1.9 for "autoandrophilia". The number for lesbian cis women are more or less the same (2.5 and 1.9).

Scott concludes:
The survey confirmed Blanchard and Bailey’s finding that many lesbian trans women had strong autogynephilia. But it also confirmed other people’s findings that many cis people also have strong autogenderphilia. In this dataset, autogenderphilia rates in gay cis men were equal to those in lesbian trans women. 


The Ozymandias survey

It does not end here. Another online survey made by Ozymandias (764 respondendts). They had a lot of questions aimed at identifying erotic crossdreaming fantasies.  

A score of zero indicates that none of the fantasies are arousing, while a score of 88 indicates that all of the fantasies are very arousing.

These were the results for "autogynephilia" (fantasies about being a woman):

Cisgender men: 44
Cisgender women: 22
Assigned Female At Birth trans: 13
Assigned Male At Birth trans: 35

Again we find erotic crossdreaming across the board, although people assigned male at birth report higher numbers than those assigned female. 

These were the results for "autoandrophilia" (fantasies about being a man):

Cisgender men: 20
Cisgender women: 25
Assigned Female At Birth trans: 30
Assigned Male At Birth trans: 6 

In other words: Transgender men present scores for erotic crossdreaming similar to transgender women (35 and 30). Cisgender men scores on average higher than cis women as far as cross-gender fantasies are concerned (44 and 25). 

Ozymandias did also include questions about sexual orientation in their analysis, which gave the following distribution for MTF erotic fantasies ("autogynephilia" and "autoandrophilia"):

Click on figure to read!

Click on figure to read!

Note that gay cisgender men, who according to the AGP  theory should not experience any "autogynephilic" fantasies at all, report the same levels of such  as straight cisgender men (40).  Lesbian transgender women present a slightly  lower average score for "autogynephilia" (36).

Gay trans men report more or less the same averages for  crossdreaming ("autoandrophilia" at 34) as lesbian trans women ("autogynephilia" at 36).

Again we see that the predictions made by Blanchard's model fail in the face of reality. 

The 2014 Crossdreamer Survey

Let me add here that our own Crossdreamer survey from 2014 also documents crossdreaming ("autogynephilia") among respondents assigned female at birth. 

Out of 426 female assigned respondent only 50 answered no to the question "Have you ever  imagined yourself, fantasized or dreamt about being a sex or gender different from the one you were assigned at birth?" 

Out of 426 female assigned respondents 209 answered no to the question "Do you sometimes experience sexual arousal from imagining yourself as another sex or gender?" In other words: 51% experienced "autoandrophilia", which they – according to Blanchard's model – cannot.

The crossdreamer survey is not representative of the population as a whole, but these responses confirm that a lot of those assigned female at birth experience crossdreaming fantasies.

Given that Blanchard denies the existence of crossdreaming among "gay men" (i.e. those assigned male who are attracted to men only) we also checked for "autgynephilia" among them.  27 out of 40 answered yes to the question "Do you sometimes experience sexual arousal from imagining yourself as another sex or gender?"

Conclusion: The "autogynephilia" theory is absolute BS

Aella writes about her results:

So - are trans women sexually aroused by imagining themselves in sexual situations as women? Yes! But so are cis women, and cis men, and enbies, basically everybody except trans men...

Really, trans women’s lack of arousal from the thought of masturbating as a male seems to be much more a predictor of their transness. It’s the greatest gap between cis and trans women scores; cis women are much more autoandrophilic than trans women are. The close runner up in gap size is ‘existing as male’, which cis women again are much more interested in than trans women....

Cis people have a shockingly high amount of cross-sex-identifying sexual fantasies, to the degree that I wouldn’t consider it to be a particularly significant differentiator between cis and trans people. The best differentiator between trans and cis people is looking what they don’t like; trans people are much more opposed to non-gender-affirming fantasies than cis people are.

In other words: Cis people are as "autogynephilic/autoandrophilic" as transgender people.

And as we have seen from the other studies, we find erotic crossdreaming in all groups regarding of assigned gender at birth, experienced gender and sexual orientation. The theory of Ray Blanchard has been prove to be complete nonsense.

Erotic crossdreaming and embodiment fantasies are clearly not the result of a misdirected straight male sexuality. Rather, the erotic crossdreaming fantasies of gynephilic trans women and other MTF gender variant people are simply a subcategory of a common sexual expression found in all types of people. The simple explanation is that a lot of people find the idea of having a sexy body sexy. It makes sense really, when you think about it. 

The only reason the falsified  autogynephilia theory is still mentioned in the public debate is that  anti-trans activists need the theory to invalidate trans women. Indeed, it is pretty clear now that what drives Ray Blanchard and his friends is transphobia, not any sreal scientific curiosity. This also explains why they are now actively supporting anti-trans TERFs and far right transphobes.

More about the autogynephilia debate:

On the latest debate on "autogynephilia" or female embodiment fantasies among cis women:

Top illustration: Midjourney


  1. I have now conversed with enough people and read enough blogs to know that the Blanchard"s conclusions are erroneous and that all kinds of people experience all kinds of things that they do not necessarily act on. When you have preconceived ideas and bias you will come to the conclusion you want which is what he did. He is no longer relevant and we don't need to debunk him other than be wary of those who have picked up on his work as being correct and worthy of promoting

    1. The plural of anecdote is not data. TTD is coming.

  2. I should have added read enough studies and spoken to enough clinicians working in the field :)

  3. Jack, here's the thing: Blanchard and his theories just don't seem to be relevant to... much of anything. I agree with Joanna. He came up with his hypothesis, fought for it (which isn't very scientific, is it), and has been proven absolutely meaningless and without merit. Case closed?

    At the same time we need to be vigilant to whatever arguments the GOP, Fox, and others may wish to employ in their efforts to nullify the truths.

    We who are trans know that whatever they say is BS. Those of us who lived through the 70s and 80s have heard many of the same 'concerns' that were played out against gays and lesbians. Most of us —at least across the US— acknowledge that there are still people who attempt to deny the validity and humanness of homosexuals, but the numbers are on the decline. Of course, there are still those who wholeheartedly believe and/or profess that the earth is flat.

    Looking at the cup half full I cannot help but notice how similar the times are for trans people now as they were for gays/lesbians forty years ago. I'm optimistic about our future. Truth wins.

  4. " Blanchard and his theories just don't seem to be relevant to... much of anything".

    You are both right about this. His explanation of transgender and queer sexualities have been debunked and is not relevant to the discussions had by those who know anything about this.

    But here's the problem: The term has been weaponized by anti-trans and anti-queer activists. TERFs throw it around as if it is real science, and most people out there – especially frightened family members of trans youth – accept the term without questioning its scientific basis.

    Transgender youth (who have not followed this debate for decades) need help to understand what is going on, both out there and in their own psyche. They have not read this blog for the last 14 years. Heck, some of them were not even born then.

    This is why I think we, from time to time, has to repeat the arguments, so that this toxic brew of pseudo-science does not undermine their sense of self-worth.

    1. Hi Jack, our conversation over all this with you and Joanna has been fun and interesting for me, thank you.

      Regarding "Transgender youth (who have not followed this debate for decades) need help to understand what is going on, both out there and in their own psyche." Indeed!

      I happen to be board president of TransFamilies.org whose mission is "Trans Families inspires hope, increases understanding, and creates a visible pathway to support trans and gender diverse children and all those who touch their lives." Much of our work is with parents who're caught unawares having trans kids in their lives, loving them but at a loss about what to do. We also have programs specifically for the young people at a variety of age levels.

      Although our geographic emphasis is on the US we have members all over the world.

    2. Join the 41%, faggot.

  5. This is precisely correct Jack in that despite Blanchard aving been debunked, new bad actors are picking up the baton and spreading the pseudoscience which is why I continue to insist trans people educate themselves so they can push back intelligently

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  7. Perhaps those who express sporadic gender variance don't care as much about the science but those who live trans everyday have an important stake here

  8. Indeed, I am a (trans) woman 24/7/365 and agree, we have an important stake. I haven't meant to be confrontational and I apologize if I came off that way.

    You see, I really do try to keep abreast of what the TERFs and GOP and others say about us. I just haven't seen anything like AGP and other crap for quite some time.

    I do feel that — as we saw in the 70s/80s with gay people — that there is a fear that trans people are somehow recruiting people, especially children, and are threatening in public restrooms. Geez. We're heard it before and look where we are now, ~40 years later:

    - Although there are significant segments of global societies who deny gay/lesbians their legitimacy, their number is on the decline;
    - Similarly in the US: for example, gay marriage wasn't even spoken about 40 years ago, and look at where we are now;
    - Indeed, look at where are now w.r.t. visibility and awareness. The NYT often publishes front page news with 'transgender' somewhere in the text.

    The issues I hear about are, for example, trans girls and women in locker rooms and swimming teams.

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  9. Emma I think there are two levels here: what the general public knows from news stories and even negative and immature opinions from people like JK Rowling and then what is happening at the clinical level which has thankfully improved over the decades since the discrediting of Blanchard. When I was first trying to find myself I focused on the science rather than popular opinion because that is where I was most likely to find truth. Today's bad faith actors want to base their arguments on anything that they can sell as being fact based to bolster their bathroom and locker room scares. Hence when you discredit their bad science you help dismantle these false moral panics :)

  10. AGP referencing is unfortunately not dead yet and I still see it being referred to in videos by transphobes not to mention Blanchard's attempts at legacy saving on places like Twitter

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  12. This is a very important point Jack in that the renewed virulence of attack is because the culture war is already lost. My GenZ kids don't watch television but they do watch videos which is that new frontier where the battle is being waged. Intelligent advocates for trans people such as Vaush debate people like Deborah Soh and scores points using critical thinking and empathy which the right clearly lacks

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  13. Lest we forget Jack are the androphilics from the Kay Brown/Blaire White school who say I couldn't help it but at least I'm not a pervert :)

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  15. One of the most interesting observations here is that many older LGBTQ people would have had a very negative view of themselves growing up. Hence seeking solutions regardless of whether steeped in pathology would have been soothing. For some, Anne Lawrence as example, the adoption of Blanchard's pseudoscience at least offered them an explanation of their origins no matter how toxic.

    That inclination towards self hate (being devoid of fire and brimstone formation) does not exist in young people who are far less likely to swallow aberrant explanations for who they are. Instead they are more apt to view themselves as part of the human mosaic.

    I promise I will stop now :)

  16. I agree. Younger people have been given a much richer palette of identities and narratives, so they do not have to stick to the few defined by homophobes and transphobes.

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