March 10, 2023

Joanna's conclusion: Transgender people are who they are because nature made them possible.

Today we know very well that being trans isn't a sexually fueled mental illness, however we still need to understand how the nature of wanting to be the other sex encompasses elements of sexual energy. 

Guest post by Joanna Santos

Since all of the trans people I know trace their gender feelings to before puberty, it would be far too simplistic to try and reduce feelings of gender incongruence to sexual dysfunction. 

Blanchard reducing gender identity to misdirected sexuality

However the now infamous Ray Blanchard did his best to do so and by the late 1980's was simply dismissing testaments of early childhood gender dysphoria by his patients as lying (hardly a scientific method) so they could fit a narrative aimed at transition. 

He eventually concocted a theory that attributed that desire as either a misdirected sex drive or wanting to attract heterosexual men as partners (in the case of patients attracted to men). He called the made up disease that supposedly drove those of his patients who were attracted to women "autogynephilia."

At this point let us simply state that some forms of gender variance exist primarily for the achieving of sexual arousal, which only adds confusion to the mix. 

Sexual desires as an expression of gender identity

However trans people experiencing sexual arousal need not nullify their experience, because it isn't a goal but a symptom or manifestation of the yearning and search for identity. 

Hence, if we are to understand the roots of cross gender arousal patterns beyond simplistic pseudoscience, we would need to examine fully the process which creates a human being complete with its emotional, cognitive and sexual functioning which contribute to the creation of a human identity. 

A child born into the world receiving messaging that their identity isn't valid would need to develop coping mechanisms very quickly.  Some of these would involve suppression and lying such that they would be accepted by their families and peers. 

This yearning to another sex would produce feelings of unfulfilled longing which could, upon entering puberty, also manifest a sexual component. 

Indeed, the simple two type transsexual taxonomy of Blanchard's began to show enough anomalies that it could no longer be supported.  His so called "homosexual transsexuals" [i.e. trans women attracted to men] began to show signs of similar arousal patterns, albeit in lesser numbers than his "straight" patients. 

To complicate matters only further, some trans women, such as Lynn Conway, initially married to women ended up married to men. 

The human mosaic

Hence we were starting to see that the human mosaic could not be accommodated with a simplistic model which at its root objective was meant to discredit rather than seek true scientific answers, as Blanchard predecessors Magnus Herschfeld and Harry Benjamin had tried to do.

As someone who traces their own gender incongruence to early childhood I knew that a disease model wasn't speaking to my experience and, as a way to find self acceptance, I needed to look behind the curtain to find as solid an answer as I could. My blog, which existed for 10 years, was a way of exploring the subject matter as well as a platform for my ideas on a whole host of subjects.

Thankfully today most clinicians working with trans people dismiss Blanchard as an anachronistic crackpot with an agenda and he has done nothing but solidify that description. This includes supporting right wing and TERF agendas which seek to discredit and marginalize the experiences of trans people and using malignant language which only does a disservice towards his supposed credentials as a seeker of truth.

My conclusion after all these years of examination of myself and of the topic? We are a complex amalgamation of influences both biological and social and that trans people exist simply because the particular cocktail that constitutes us is possible. 

Live your best life!

Illustration photo of trans women: FG Trade

Further reading


  1. Thank you for publishing this Jack :)

  2. Thank you for writing this, Joanna¡

  3. I am missing your own blog, Joanna, but I respect your decision. I am glad to have you here!

    1. My pleasure Jack given all you do to educate and help trans people :)

  4. I think I know what you meant here:

    “ Hence we were starting to see that the human mosaic could not be accommodated with a simplistic model which at its root objective was meant to discredit rather than seek true scientific answers, as Blanchard predecessors Magnus Herschfeld and Harry Benjamin had tried to do.”

    But I find it somewhat confusing. Could you please clarify? I haven’t really looked at Herschfeld’s studies, but I think Benjamin’s work was quite enlightening (although the HBS people misinterpret his work).


  5. Lindsay neither Herschfeld or Benjamin tried to fashion a simplistic taxonomy based solely on sexual orientation. Benjamin used a scale which is far more useful and more reflective of what is actually happening with respect to a spectrum of identity and expression. Blanchard also did not acknowledge female to male transsexualism which was yet another flaw.

  6. A flaw meaning that since he was so fixated on proving perversion women couldn't be perverts. A complete disgrace of a theory in other words

  7. Joanna, wonderful article! Just wanted to pop in here to say that I miss your blog. Hope you are doing well.


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