Anne Lawrence: Transgender Tapestry exposé

American “autogynephilia” activist Anne Lawrence was the subject of an exposé in Transgender Tapestry in 2004. It was published in the same issue as a letter from Lawrence in response to The Ups and Downs of J. Michael Bailey, an overview about J. Michael Bailey published in the previous issue.

Lawrence’s letter of reply

Transgender Tapestry #105, p. 12.

Transgender Tapestry letter to the editor from Anne Lawrence

From Dr. Lawrence

In Issue #104 of Transgender Tapestry, an uncredited article (pp. 53-54), presumably written by editor Dallas Denny, referred to the 1997 allegation of medical misconduct made against me and publicized on Andrea James’ web site. In the best traditions of yellow journalism, Denny neglected to include the response she sought and obtained from me in August 2003: that I had been cleared of any wrongdoing in the investigation conducted by the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission. Denny also neglected to include my denial of another allegation made by James, even though she again sought and obtained a denial statement from me in August 2003.

Perhaps Denny feared that if she honored her past representations to me and the canons of responsible journalism she would have been less effective in smearing me. Denny’s conduct raises serious issues of editorial fairness. Perhaps it is time for the IFGE Board to investigate Denny’s behavior as editor of their magazine.

What appears to rankle Denny and her allies, Andrea James and Lynn Conway, is that Ray Blanchard‘s theory of autogynephilia and his resulting taxonomy of transsexualism are demonstrably valid, in the only way that scientific theories and taxonomies are ever valid: They convincingly explain empirical observations, and they generate useful predictions. Since Denny and her allies cannot refute the validity of Blanchard’s theory, they resort to the tricks of desperate debaters everywhere: They attack the character of those who disagree with them. The resulting ad hominem smears of Dr. Blanchard, Dr. J. Michael Bailey, and me have been staples on the web sites of Conway and James for months. Now Denny is engaging in smear tactics of her own.

Denny, James, and Conway will no doubt continue their desperate campaign of character assassination. Ray Blanchard, Michael Bailey, and I will continue to conduct scientific research about autogynephilia and transsexualism, and to publish our results in refereed scientific journals and in books and articles intended for more general audiences.

Anne A. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D.

Dallas’ reply

Dr. Lawrence is referring to a bullet list of the more important events in the drama surrounding J. Michael Bailey’s The Man Who Would Be Queen. We mentioned Andrea James’ essay about Lawrence because it fit into that timeline. We did not editorialize; we were merely reporting what had happened. We did not include in the timeline an official response by Lawrence; that’s because she chose not to make one.

In August 2003, we spoke to Lawrence via telephone to question her about James’ allegations and about the earlier incident at Swedish Hospital in Seattle. This transpired not because Lawrence’s name appeared in the bullet list, but because we had been sitting for more than a year on a claim similar to the one made by James. We were moving cautiously forward with an editorial about Lawrence (it appears in this issue on p. 13), and wanted to give her a chance to respond to the various allegations that had been made about her, and to address questions we had about her level of training and credentialing in regard to her therapy practice.

The editorial includes Lawrence’s denial of the incident at Swedish Hospital, which in fact skirts the issue of her actual behavior. It also includes Lawrence’s denials of the allegations made by Donna Cartwright and Andrea James regarding her behavior in vaginal photography sessions.

If this is yellow journalism, we plead guilty.

Afterword: While we share the negative opinion of J. Michael Bailey’s book with Lynn Conway and Andrea James, and while we have worked cooperatively with each other (as we have worked cooperatively with Dr. Lawrence), our methods differ. We do not condone the personal attacks made by Conway and James via their websites. Nor have Tapestry or your editor engaged in such personal attacks or will we.

And finally: Your editor agrees with Lawrence that empiricism is the crucible by which scientific theories stand or fall. I have made no particular effort to publicly refute Blanchard’s or Lawrence’s theories, although I may well publish on the subject someday. I part company with Lawrence and Bailey however, in their less than facile attempts to use Blanchard’s theory of autogynephilia as a bludgeon. How can they expect discourse to remain civil when they dismiss those of us who interpret our experiences differently as in denial and in need of therapy? –Ed.

Concerns About Dr. Anne Lawrence

Transgender Tapestry; Spring 2004, Issue 105, p. 13

transgender tapestry article: concerns about Dr. Anne Lawrence

In June 2003, Andrea James published on her website, www.tsroadmap.com, a disturbing article about Anne Lawrence’s behavior. Although James’ article is in part an ad hominem (i.e., personal) attack, her allegations about Lawrence’s conduct are nonetheless of concern; in fact, they mirror our own long-held apprehensions and provide corroborating evidence to previous allegations we have received about Lawrence’s behavior.

The Swedish Hospital Incident

In her on-line article, James describes and links to images of supportive documentation for an incident that occurred in 1997, in which Lawrence, who was employed as an anesthesiologist at Seattle’s Swedish Hospital, allegedly performed an inappropriate and unauthorized vaginal inspection of an unconscious patient. This action resulted in an investigation by Washington officials
and was followed by Lawrence’s resignation from the hospital staff. Lawrence no longer practices as an anesthesiologist.

Lawrence told Transgender Tapestry, “The circumstances of my departure from Swedish Hospital were investigated in detail by the Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission. The commission found no evidence of unprofessional conduct. I was not reprimanded or disciplined in any way and there was no action taken against my license. I maintain and have always maintained an unrestricted Washington state medical license.”

The Vaginal Photography Incidents

James also describes an incident of alleged inappropriate boundary crossing in Lawrence’s photography of James’ genitals for Lawrence’s website www. annelawrence.com. James says Lawrence was inappropriately seductive while James had her clothes off. Lawrence denies this.

There’s more to the story. A year or so ago, Donna Cartwright, another transsexual woman, described to Tapestry an experience virtually identical to that reported by James. At that time we chose not to go forward with an unverified allegation. This allegation has now been substantiated in the form of James’ complaint. Lawrence denies this incident also.

While a photography session is not a medical treatment setting, the specialized vaginal photography done by Lawrence sets up a clear power differential, with the subjects being of necessity unclothed and vulnerable. Certainly a licensed physician should be aware of and respect this vulnerability.

Credentials for Counseling

There is another concern. Lawrence provides counseling for considerable numbers of transgendered and transsexual clients. Counseling is, of course, another setting fraught with power-over dynamics.

Lawrence is trained as a physician, an anesthesiologist. She recently attended the Institute for the Study of Human Sexuality at San Francisco, where, in 2001, she earned a Ph.D. degree in human sexuality. While it’s laudable that she took this training the Institute offers only limited clinical training and supervision. So far as we have been able to determine, Lawrence has never been in a counseling or psychotherapy training program and does not have the training and has not had the clinical supervision necessary to properly do this sort of work–nor does she seem to have a license to do counseling.

Because an M.D. confers wide privilege, and because we are unfamiliar with the licensing laws in Washington State, where Lawrence has based her practice, we won’t say that what Lawrence is doing is illegal, but it is in our estimation improper and unethical for her to operate in a sphere in which she has not been trained and credentialed, and doubly inappropriate in light of her past behavior.

Considering Lawrence’s history of apparent inability or unwillingness to control herself in clinical and clinical-like settings, we are concerned that her clients may be subjecting themselves to danger.

References

Lawrence, Anne (2004). From Dr. Lawrence [Letter to the Editor]. Transgender Tapestry #105, p. 12. https://archive.org/details/transgendertapes1052unse/page/12

Denny, Dallas (2004). Dallas’ Reply. Transgender Tapestry #105, p. 12. https://archive.org/details/transgendertapes1052unse/page/12

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