Anne Lawrence on transsexualism

Anne Lawrence is a sexologist and former anesthesiologist who runs a medical resource site for trans women at annelawrence. com. Dr. Lawrence also self-identifies as having a sex-fueled mental illness called "autogynephilia."

Many people (including me) have come forward with observations and first-hand reports where Dr. Lawrence performed inappropriately sexual "medical" exams. Following a forced resignation for examining an unconscious patient for signs of ritualized genital modification, the bulk of Dr. Lawrence's personal and professional life has been dedicated to promoting this ersatz diagnosis. Dr. Lawrence has since worked closely with Ray Blanchard of Toronto's notorious Clarke Institute. Blanchard invented this diagnosis in 1989.

Dr. Lawrence has also worked closely with another Blanchard protege, psychologist J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University. Dr. Lawrence called Bailey's 2003 book The Man Who Would Be Queen "a wonderful book on an important subject," despite the fact that nearly everyone else who read it found it to be one of the most defamatory and inaccurate books on gender variance since 1979.

Dr. Lawrence was allegedly compelled by this sex-fueled mental illness to undergo several feminizing procedures, and subsequently self-identifies as a transsexual. In fact, Dr. Lawrence has claimed defensively to be a "real transsexual," which sounds like a mafia guy claiming to be a "legitimate businessman." It makes one wonder why an assertion of authenticity is necessary in the first place.

In Dr. Lawrence's case, it is because many women in our community do not agree with Dr. Lawrence's self-identification. Many consider "autogynephilia" to be an obscure and outdated diagnosis favored by those who prefer "autogynephilia" to the less socially desirable sex-fueled mental illness the American Psychology Association calls "transvestic fetishism."

Many professionals and people in our community reject the idea that either of these are mental illnesses, and I disagree that gender identity and expression is a disease any more than being left-handed, or desiring more common body modifications like hair removal.

Where Bailey is all theory and no action (i.e. speculation and lazy research), Lawrence appears to be all action and no theory (i.e. lack of introspection or concern about actions).

Cognitive dissonance

As with other types of quacks who have an unshakable belief in a pseudoscientific diagnostic category (e.g., a zodiac sign or a Myers-Briggs personality indicator), Dr. Lawrence literally cannot imagine the diagnosis of "autogynephilia" is spurious. Anyone who has read sexology literature on "nymphomania" and other discredited illnesses will quickly see parallels in Lawrence's faulty logic.

This causes great difficulty, because Lawrence's baseline position is that anyone who does not agree with the fake diagnosis is a liar or a prude in denial, and those who agree are remarkably honest. When faced with someone like Deirdre McCloskey, who has been quite open about her sexuality but has concerns about the unscientific diagnosis and its ramifications, Lawrence can only ask with apparently genuine puzzlement:

"Could someone explain to me how this is different from autogynephilia?"

This is the gaping flaw in BBL's logic. Observed phenomena do not prove the legitimacy of the diagnostic category. They simply can’t get that through their heads because they need the diagnosis to be real.

Back to our "nymphomania" example, let's say a woman declares“I enjoy sex more frequently than most, but I do not consider 'nymphomania' a legitimate diagnosis.” All Lawrence would only hear is the first part of the sentence, after which would come apparently genuine puzzlement:

"Could someone explain to me how this is different from nymphomania?"

This is why quacks like Lawrence have to rely on pseudoscientific staples like testimonials and anecdotal evidence. The category they propose simply does not stand up to scientific scrutiny. They muddle the category even further when faced with serious challenges to the "symptoms," with nonsense like "partial autogynephilia."

Is Anne Lawrence neurotypical?

Anne Lawrence feels entitled to diagnose people that have never been under Dr. Lawrence's care. Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of gender-variant people who prompted me to propose a hypothesis that Anne Lawrence exhibits the hallmarks of Asperger's Syndrome, a type of autism marked by poor socialization and islands of ability. I would love to see the results of that testing.

Is Anne Lawrence a wannabe?

Anne Lawrence frequently suggests that transsexualism is clinically similar to people who wish to have a limb amputated. Among that group of people, they make a distinction between devotees, pretenders, and wannabes.

Lawrence on Bailey

Dr. Lawrence is quoted on the Joseph Henry Press site and on the book cover for The Man Who Would Be Queen:

This is a wonderful book on an important subject.

Below may be the most succinct expression of Dr. Lawrence's position I’ve seen. It is the rigid medical model of “sex” combined with Dr. Lawrence's fluid foray into identity politics by claiming to be transsexual that is the issue here (emphasis mine).

I should explain that I will be using the term "transsexual" in its most literal sense, to mean one who desires to approximate as closely as possible the anatomic characteristics of the opposite sex. Note that the word "gender" does not appear in my definition. This reflects my belief that transsexuality is fundamentally about changing one's anatomy, or sex; and that sometimes it may have little to do with gender identity, or with gender role.

My message today is that some biologic males who pursue sex reassignment do so, not primarily because they have a gender problem, but because they have a sex problem, and indeed a sexual problem. I will explain why I have come to believe that male-to-female transsexualism is sometimes the expression of a paraphilia -- an unusual or variant pattern of sexual arousal.

http://www.annelawrence. com/1999hbigda1.html

The argument is that "female" means primary and secondary sex characteristics, that sex is a purely medicalized construct describing reproduction-related structures. Based on this, I'm guessing Dr. Lawrence might claim someone could be transsexual but not transgender (i.e., someone who "detransitions" after vaginoplasty). I also suspect that Dr. Lawrence would claim not to have gender identity issues, which Dr. Lawrence might reject as "dogma" as described in the full essay above.

Most researchers in the nature/nurture debate believe that both factors influence the development and propagation of gender roles. However, the relative influence of each, and the specifics of how that influence operates, are still hotly disputed. These guys seem to believe it's all nature, that biology does = destiny, as Janice Raymond would suggest, and that Anne Lawrence embodies exactly what Janice Raymond rails against in her book.

I do not agree that "transsexual" means someone who got vaginoplasty. I would argue that non-transsexuals can and do get vaginoplasty, and that these "men trapped in men's bodies" who claim to be transsexual in order to indulge an erotic interest need to be distinguished with a term that recognizes their humanity and does not reduce their motivation to a pathology. Unfortunately, I believe Dr. Lawrence feels it IS a pathology, a deviancy, a "problem" as Dr. L. says above, so attempts to cast it in a non-medical terminology may meet with resistance. Part of the reason they like "autogynephilia" as a concept is the pseudo-medical sound of it. That way they can graft their erotic interest onto a recognized condition and get the vaginoplasty they desire, which for them is what a Manolo Blahnik might be to a shoe fetishist: the ultimate possession in a collection of masturbatory material.

I'd argue that what actually differentiates a female from a male is not always apparent, and in some cases (like us) it's more a question of definition than anything else.

We are, as they say, at a defining moment in our community's history.


Other Anne Lawrence materials

LINK: A New Introduction to Autogynephilia (by Anne Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D.)

http://www.annelawrence. com/twr/newintroagp.html

Dr. Lawrence has been getting stuff published via cronies at International Academy of Sex Research:

Lawrence AA. (1999) Change of sexual orientation in transsexuals. (letter) Arch Sex Behav 28(6): 581-583.

A commentary on C.T. Daskalos's "Changes in sexual orientation of six heterosexual male-to-female transsexuals," which appeared in Archives of Sexual Behavior, vol. 27, 1998, pp. 605-613. Daskalos purports to document dramatic changes in the sexual orientation of six of his transsexual informants that appear to have taken place almost effortlessly. A careful reading of his article, however, reveals that Daskalos has demonstrated nothing of the sort. Although the self-reports by Daskalos's informants reveal some changes in sexual fantasies and sexual behavior, there is no evidence of a true change in sexual orientation, at least as that term is commonly used. It could be some time before rigorous studies of sexual arousal patterns in male-to-female transsexuals can clarify whether changes in sexual orientation after gender transition actually occur, but in the meantime, papers such as that by Daskalos only serve to cloud understanding of this complicated issue.

Lawrence AA. (2003). Factors associated with satisfaction or regret following male-to-female sex reassignment surgery. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 299-315.

ABSTRACT: This study examined factors associated with satisfaction or regret following sex reassignment surgery (SRS) in 232 male-to-female transsexuals operated on between 1994 and 2000 by one surgeon using a consistent technique. Participants, all of whom were at least 1 year postoperative, completed a written questionnaire concerning their experiences and attitudes. Participants reported overwhelmingly that they were happy with their SRS results and that SRS had greatly improved the quality of their lives. None reported outright regret and only a few expressed even occasional regret. Dissatisfaction was most strongly associated with unsatisfactory physical and functional results of surgery. Most indicators of transsexual typology, such as age at surgery, previous marriage or parenthood, and sexual orientation, were not significantly associated with subjective outcomes. Compliance with minimum eligibility requirements for SRS specified by the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association was not associated with more favorable subjective outcomes. The physical results of SRS may be more important than preoperative factors such as transsexual typology or compliance with established treatment regimens in predicting postoperative satisfaction or regret.

Lawrence AA, Latty EM, Chivers M, Bailey JM. Measurement of sexual arousal in postoperative male-to-female transsexuals using vaginal photoplethysmography. Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Lawrence AA. (2004). Autogynephilia: A paraphilic model of gender identity disorder. [PDF] Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy, 8(1/2), 69-87. Also available as a chapter in Transgender Subjectivities: A Clinician’s Guide (2004), published by Haworth Press.

Lawrence AA. (2004). Clinical and theoretical parallels between Body Integrity Identity Disorder and Gender Identity Disorder. [PDF] Paper presented at the International Academy of Sex Research Thirtieth Annual Meeting, Helsinki, Finland.

http://www.annelawrence. com/publications/amputation-GID.pdf

Gender Chat #28: Autogynephilia [archive] (by Barbara Anderson, Ph.D., LCSW)

Here's a good link I came across. It turns out Anne Lawrence was getting chummy with Dr. Anderson sometime after 1999, filling her good collegue's head with all sorts of weirdness about proper treatment and screening for "autogynephilic" folks. Dr. Anderson took this info to heart, and began applying a new screening method to slipstream severe "autogynephile"-types into the vaginoplasty route, instead of doing more gatekeeping. This is the same Dr. Anderson who approved Kendra Blewitt for vaginoplasty, presumably using screening based on Anne Lawrence's criteria.

Commentaries on Lawrence

Anne Lawrence: The Anne Who Would Be Queen


Anne Lawrence and Fundamentalism

Pink triangulation

LINK: Janice Raymond and Autogynephilia (by Becky Allison, M.D.)

LINK: B.C. on Gender: Autogynephilia (by B.C. Holmes)

LINK: Sociology of autogynephilia (by Richard Ekins, Ph. D. and Dave King, Ph. D.)

Book review of Amy Bloom's Normal (by Anne Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D.)

LINK: Autogynephilia is such bullshit! (by Astrid Johannsen)

LINK: The Bailey/Blanchard/Lawrence Clearinghouse Sweepstakes (by Astrid Johannsen)

LINK: Bailey and Lawrence: To what end? (by Caitlin H.)

Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality