Jamie Faye Fenton and transgender people

Jamie Faye Fenton (born April 25, 1954) is an American computer programmer and game developer. After she made a gender transition in the late 1990s, she became an important figure in the transgender community for her work in creating early online transgender resources with JoAnn Roberts and others in the 1990s.

Background

Fenton attended University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the early 1970s. Fenton has created several notable early works of digital art and software:

  • Datsun 280 ZZZAP (1976)
  • Checkmate (1977)
  • Digital TV Dinner (1978)
  • Bally Astrocade BASIC (1980)
  • Gorf (1981)
  • Robby Roto (1981)

Comments on Bailey (2003)

In 2003, Fenton got involved in a controversy involving publication of the book The Man Who Would Be Queen by sexologist J. Michael Bailey. One issue was Bailey’s promotion of the concept of “autogynephilia,” a paraphilia created by sexologist Ray Blanchard in 1989 as part of his sexualized way to divide transgender women into two groups:

  • “Homosexual transsexuals,” whom Blanchard considers gay males with a fetish for straight men.
  • “Autogynephilic transsexuals,” whom Blanchard considers straight males with a fetish about being female.

Bailey’s popularization of Blanchard’s ideas was a turning point in transgender history, where the community united in condemnation of this harmful book.

Fenton was one of the few trans women who did not condemn Bailey’s book outright, writing about “autogynephilia” as if it were settled science and an acceptable term. She was also a prominent member of an online “autogynephilia support” group. She published an essay called “The Lemonade Stand of Desire” and promoted an idiosyncratic “dual motive theory” as part of her own writings about why people are transgender. In 2004, we corresponded at length after I put up a version of this page criticizing her involvement and writings.

In 2012, Fenton requested that I remove my page about her involvement in this controversy because she claimed her contents that I quoted “do not represent my views on the subject.” I left it up for historical purposes.

Comments on Dreger (2015)

In 2015, historian Alice Dreger published Galileo’s Middle Finger, which reprints Dreger’s defense of Bailey that was published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, a journal edited by Bailey, Blanchard, and other “autogynephilia” activists. At the same time, the journal’s editor Kenneth Zucker was being investigated for performing reparative therapy on gender-expansive children at his Toronto clinic. Zucker was fired that year and his clinic was shuttered.

On March 27, 2016, Fenton and GenderPeace forum founder “Emily Hobbie” launched “autogynephilia” blogs on the same day, apparently in response to the Lambda Literary Foundation’s decision to rescind a nomination for Dreger’s book. Via The Advocate:

Reading through Dreger’s writings, it is hard to find many differences between her positions and those of intensely transphobic sources like The Federalist or hate groups like the FRC. All of them oppose the idea that transgender women are women. They all take the position that gender identity isn’t real, and they deny the lived experiences of transgender people. They all support autogynephilic theory, which is used primarily to label transgender people as sexual deviants. All of them oppose laws against reparative therapy. All of them oppose affirming models of care for transgender youth.

Brynn Tannehill (March 25, 2016). Lambda Literary Foundation Snuffs Out Anti-Trans Scandal.The Advocate.

Dreger wrote an open letter denouncing Lambda Literary Foundation for their decision, and “Hobbie” and Fenton coincidentally came out with brand-new blogs simultaneously. Dreger is notorious for attempting to create the appearance of consensus for her fringe ideas and work. It’s a shame that Fenton doubled down on the wrong side of history by siding with Dreger, further tarnishing her previously excellent legacy of service to the community.

Resources

Fentonia (fentonia.com)

Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org)

Fenton had her “autogynephilia” essays up at jamiefaye.com, and she describes her version of the controversy at the WordPress site below:

The earlier version of this profile that includes our extensive correspondence was at this URL:

https://www.tsroadmap.com/info/jamie-faye-fenton.html