In a 2017 email, American journalist Donna Cartwright summarized an earlier experience she had with “autogynephilia” activist Anne Lawrence that echoed my own inappropriate experience:

I had dinner with her and afterward she invited me to her home saying she wanted to take pictures of my operative results for use on her web site. She asked me to undress, which I did. She then said she wanted to undress to take the pix, which I thought was strange, but I didn’t object.

After she took the pictures she propositioned me for sex. I declined. She didn’t touch me, and I got dressed and left. I think she drove me back to my hotel without further incident.

This information was first made public by Dallas Denny in a 2004 exposé in Transgender Tapestry.

The following longer account was written by Cartwright in response to an earlier version of materials about Lawrence on this site.

Cartwright’s comments on Anne Lawrence

First I should make clear my connections to the people involved. I used both TSroadmap and Transsexual Women’s Resources during my transition, 1997-1999, and I feel a great deal of gratitude and respect for both Andrea James and Anne Lawrence for putting the material together and making it available to the trans community. In addition, I had a couple of telephone consultations with Anne Lawrence while I was choosing a surgeon, and found her most helpful (ironically, in light of later developments, I eventually chose Eugene Schrang; at that time, Anne Lawrence spoke highly of him).

I have never met Andrea James, although we exchanged notes when I ordered some material from her. I did become socially acquainted with Anne Lawrence, and saw her on a number of occasions in Seattle and at various LGBT conferences from approximately 1999 through 2002.

I was quite disturbed to hear that Anne had endorsed the Bailey book, and I felt her action in doing so had validated certain uneasiness and suspicion that I had come to feel toward her.

I first became aware of Anne’s feelings about AGP and Blanchard’s work back in about 2000, when Tapestry (I was then helping Dallas Denny with the editing work) published an exchange of views on the issue. Although I thought the AGP theory was oversimplified and did not reflect the complex reality of transwomen’s lives, I did feel that Anne had the better of the argument in Tapestry. Most of the opposing views published then could be summarized as “This can’t be true, because if it was true it would be bad for the trans community.” Hardly a persuasive line of argument.

I remember calling up Anne to straighten out some garbled material and inaccurate quotes in some of the submissions, and I was struck by how vehement and angry she was about the criticism of her views. She seemed to take it very personally, and with an anger that I thought seemed clearly excessive, given that her opponents in that debate barely laid a glove on her, so to speak.

Some months later, I talked with Anne at the 2001 IFGE convention in Chicago, and I tried to explore the issue further. I told her that I thought her theory was too narrow to describe our lives, and pointed out that while in some ways I fit the classic AGP profile — I was a late transitioner (over 50) and not gay-identified or particularly effeminate in youth — there were other aspects of my life that didn’t fit. For example, I had strong cross-gender identification long before I had any erotic fantasy (I cross-dressed for years before puberty); those feelings that I did have that focused on my own body were confined to the long period when I was closeted and had little other outlet for my transgenderism, and they dwindled away and ultimately disappeared as I moved through transition.

Anne’s reaction was quite similar to what many of Bailey’s critics say about him — she took my disclosures as confirmation of her theory, and totally disregarded everything else I had to say. She was not so rude as to call me a liar, but I could see that she simply did not believe that I had cross-gender feelings that weren’t connected with auto-eroticism.

Some time later, in 2001 or in 2002, I saw Anne again at another LGBT conference, perhaps Southern Comfort or Creating Change. I went to a workshop on transgender and intersex issues, and Anne was sitting in the back of the room. I was struck by how aggressively and determinedly she tried to pick a fight with the intersexed guy who was facilitating the workshop. It seems she feels threatened by intersex activists because she thinks they’re anti-surgery. I guess, in her view, even criticism of involuntary genital surgery is threatening. I believe that we should try to build bridges between transgender and intersex people, so needless to say, I was uncomfortable with her line of questioning.

Before the AGP debate came up, I had one other experience rather similar to Andrea James’s account, although I interpret mine a bit differently. In the fall of 1999, about a year after my genital surgery, I vacationed on the West Coast, and made a stop in Seattle.

I called Anne up and asked if she’d like to get together for coffee or dinner. She agreed, and we had a pleasant evening. When we finished our meal, she asked if I would like to visit her home, and told me that she would like to photograph my surgical results for use on her web site. I said that was all right with me. At her house, Anne “came on” to me in a manner quite similar to that described by Andrea James.

Although I am attracted to women, I didn’t find the situation arousing, and the whole thing made me feel a bit uneasy. So I declined, and she drove me to my hotel without further incident.

But the way I feel about that incident, and interpret what happened, differ somewhat from Andrea’s reaction. I definitely did not feel coerced, threatened, traumatized or violated, or even really disrespected. I have been in many sexual situations in my life, and what happened with Anne was very far from the worst.

I do think that Anne’s behavior was somewhat inappropriate, in that she brought me to her home under the pretext of doing a service for the community (providing additional surgical examples for consumers), when in fact it seems she was at least as interested in making a conquest. But I’m a big girl now, and I should be able to take care of myself, at least in that kind of situation.

References

[Editors] (2004). Concerns about Dr. Anne Lawrence. Transgender Tapestry #105, p. 13. https://archive.org/details/transgendertapes1052unse/page/12

Cartwright, Donna. Personal correspondence.