On the Science of Bonerism and the Identity Politics of "Single Heterosexual Men"

[The following essay was written by a reader in response to "I AM ARUNE" by Willow Arune.]


Consider the following excerpt:

Based on the frequency of their appearances on UPN, African-Americans might appear to constitute a sizeable minority. They do not. Most of us do not personally know an African-American, although many of us have had the experience of wondering if the person hired to replace our laid-off friend will be black to fill a quota, and most of us who have done even one night in county have seen one. There are also African-Americans who work as sharecroppers, janitors, pimps, and shoeshine boys, as well as in many other occupations, or just hang on the corner with their baby’s mama. PS: I am politically incorrect and very sympathetic to African-Americans. (1)

The above paragraph is an example of what is commonly referred to as “racism.” Substitute transsexuals for African-Americans, however, and you have what some purport to be “science.” Ms. Arune’s article on this subject was such a titanic eruption of distortion, personal attacks, and outright rambling blather, that in a sense one feels actually thankful that it is getting circulation. One is tempted to simply add the coda “And this is why everyone thinks Bailey, Blanchard, and Lawrence and their supporters are nuts.” Mindful of the truism that a lie repeated often enough and unchallenged may become accepted as the truth, however, I thought to answer Ms. Arune in turn.

The Language

There is no inherent reason why the terms “transsexual woman” or “female transsexual” could not be applied to male-to-female transsexuals in the scientific literature, and vice versa for female-to-males. That male-to-female transsexuals start out with male bodies is certainly true, but also irrelevant. Identifying transsexuals by birth sex instead of target sex contributes nothing of objective value as a scientific designation. True, there would no doubt be confusion at first if the literature began referring to transsexuals in an inoffensive manner, but science changes all the time. This would not only show respect for one’s study population, it would have the added advantage of not contravening APA publishing guidelines:

Respect people’s preferences; call people what they prefer to be called. Accept that preferences will change with time and that individuals within groups often disagree about the designations they prefer. Make an effort to determine what is appropriate for your situation; you may need to ask your participants which designations they prefer, particularly when preferred designations are being debated within groups. (2)

If it really were as simple as male body=male designation, then there would be no transsexuals and we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Transsexual people have already put up with enough in life without the clinicians adding more for no reason other than what is basically a social agreement. No other study population is required to put up with this type of thing. The scientific literature does not refer to gay people who used to be married before coming out as “heterosexual homosexuals.”

One may of course argue that Blanchard did not begin this practice and was really only doing what everyone else was. Fine, but it should stop. Bailey, meanwhile, takes this one step further, going so far as to explicitly impose his own created identity on an arbitrarily chosen portion of us: “homosexual transsexuals are a type of gay man.” (3) He bases this on nothing more than the fact that it is currently difficult to tell children who are transsexual from children who are homosexual, and that young transsexuals often frequent some of the same social venues as homosexuals, where they often pick up some of the same sexual attitudes. But then, Bailey also calls himself a “single, heterosexual male” (4) even though he believes that “a type of gay man” (5) is “more attractive than the average genetic female” (6). This may be an example of what Ms. Arune referred to as post-modernist thinking.

The Science

Blanchard’s model purports that all male-to-female transsexuals can be divided into two distinct groups: homosexual and autogynephilic. In the approximately fifteen years since Blanchard proposed this concept, how many valid, reliable studies are there supporting it? None. That doubtless seems an extraordinary statement given how much noise has been made about Blanchard’s typology in the last couple of years, so let’s break it down. Am I claiming there is no evidence for the existence of arousal to feminization? No. There are anecdotes compiled on Anne Lawrence’s website and the testimonies of some few others who have come forward in the last year to claim that the concept applies to them (although when pressed for specifics, what they talk about usually bears very little resemblance to Blanchard’s actual concept). But Blanchard did lots of studies! Bailey listed the abstracts of 20 studies Blanchard did, all proving his typology! Well, no. Six of the 20 studies Bailey lists were not about transsexualism, three preselected people Blanchard considered to be “autogynephiles,” four compared transsexuals of different sexual orientations on family structure and physical size, one studied autogynephilia but not typology, four studied typology but not autogynephilia, and one summarized other studies. The remaining one referred to, The concept of autogynephilia and the typology of male gender dysphoria (7), is, as Wyndzen notes, “the first and only empirical test of the key component of his theory: transsexuals with different sexual orientations have fantasies of being their target sex to different extents.” (8) The problem is, there’s no way of knowing how many of the people Blanchard studied were actually transsexual and his measurement instrument did not in fact measure autogynephilia. For the purposes of this study (and his other transsexual typology studies), Blanchard defined transsexuals as “patients complaining of gender dysphoria or transvestism, who reveal cross-dressing or cross-gender wishes in the course of clinical assessment, or who exhibit an erotic preference for males of any age regardless of presenting complaint” who claimed that “at all times for at least one year” they had “felt like a woman.” (9) There are two rather large problems with this definition. First, many male-to-female transsexuals do not claim that they feel like a woman. To make such a claim, one must first establish that there is in fact a clearly delineated way that “a woman” feels, and then that one feels this way. If asked whether or not I felt like a woman, I would likely respond, “I don’t know, what does a woman feel like?” and base my answer on what further information was provided. I might also like to know which “woman” we’re talking about. Janet Reno? Britney Spears? Leah Delaria? How do I know what any of them feel like? I feel like me. Second, and far more problematic, is that crossdressers claim to feel like women all the time, especially the particularly intense kind of crossdressers one would expect to encounter at, say, a gender clinic. We know that none of the people studied had undergone SRS, because they were still at the clinic. We do not know how many even desired to transition or considered themselves to be transsexual. Furthermore, if it is true that fetishistic transvestites are almost never homosexual, then crossdressers in the sample would have distorted the response set for the “nonhomosexual” groups far more than for the “homosexual” group. (I should note that I am not here attempting to defend Blanchard’s views on crossdressers. A basic rule of social science research, which Blanchard seems to have felt free to ignore, is that you can’t draw conclusions to an entire population from a small, self-selected sample. Crossdressers who do not have fetish problems would have no reason to seek services from someone like Blanchard.) It is true that there is no professional consensus on the precise way to define who is and isn’t transsexual. Ms. Arune claims, “It may be said that a transsexual is one who demands SRS and is happy after SRS, for in truth, no other definitive diagnosis exists.” (10) The desire for and/or satisfaction with SRS was not a feature of Blanchard’s selection methods. In essence, Blanchard created his own arbitrary definition for his study. As his definition was arbitrary, his data would then be arbitrary as well.

Blanchard’s subjects were then measured on his “Core Autogynephilia Scale.” The full text of the scale is available online. (11) Autogynephilia as defined by Blanchard is "a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman." (12) Of the eight questions listed on Blanchard’s Core Autogynephilia Scale, seven do not actually ask what one is aroused by, but only if one has ever been aroused while doing a particular thing. That one is aroused while doing something does not necessarily mean that one is aroused by doing that thing. Most of the human race has been aroused while in bed, but that does not mean that most of humanity has a bed fetish, just that people tend to have sex in bed. I am not claiming that transsexual women do not have sexual fantasies involving their own bodies, such a claim would be ridiculous, just that this does not necessarily make such fantasies “autogynephilic.”

I dim the lights and put on my most revealing dress and highest heels, no underwear… my cunt is dripping… a hot hand has entered my dress and is cupping my tit, squeezing my nipple. Another hand is on my thigh, and there is an unmistakable bulge pressing on my ass… Sometimes this fantasy ends when the man manually brings me off. He kisses my neck and walks away, and I’m never sure who did it. (13)

The excerpts from this particular sexual fantasy, for example, hit at least 5 indicators on Blanchard’s Core Autogynephilia Scale (aroused while picturing body, vagina, breast, leg, buttocks), putting it right in the average of autogynephile territory. So, did this come off some “transgender erotica” website? Or perhaps it’s an excerpt from the dream diary of Anne Lawrence? No, it’s actually from Women on Top, a collection of the sexual fantasies of genetic females compiled by sexologist Nancy Friday. Women on Top is the perfect antidote to all this ridiculous “male sex drive” business. Some of the stuff in that book even puts The Man Who Would Be Queen’s infamous “robot man” to shame:

As I am finally pulled into the machine, a mechanical hand reaches into my vagina, and a green light above the hand goes off, meaning I have passed the test of having a satisfactory vagina. The second arm manipulates my clitoris, and again the green light goes off. A third arm (all the while I’m being pulled into the machine by the belt) comes out and inserts a cold yellow rod up my anus, and the green light goes off…(14)

It is rather telling that Blanchard has never compared transsexual women with genetic female controls, and Bailey “admits he's ‘increasingly aware’ that he doesn't comprehend female sexuality.” (15) If they don’t understand it, if they never compare the two groups (or if the transsexual sample is all drawn from drag bars while the control group is not; this is what we call “sample bias”), how can they be so sure that transsexual women cannot possess a sexuality that approximates that of genetic females? Ms. Arune appears to claim in her piece that this really is what they’re saying, it’s just that, “What is natural in one is unnatural in the other.” (16) Ms. Arune appears to have misunderstood Blanchard completely. Blanchard specifically terms “autogynephilia” to be a paraphilia. Unless Ms. Arune believes that female sexuality is inherently fetishistic (and I don’t think even Blanchard or Bailey have gotten that far… yet…), those two assertions are irreconcilable. Just to make sure, however, let’s see what Blanchard has to say:

I do not think that genuine autogynephilia occurs in genetic women. Genetic women might 'feel sexy' when preparing their toilet, especially if they are making a major production of it, but I do not think the simple thought of having a vagina, for example, is arousing to them in and of itself. (17)

Apparently, Blanchard’s never met “mechanical hands green lit my vagina” girl. Of course, you do not need to find the simple thought of having a vagina arousing in and of itself to be declared an autogynephile according to Blanchard’s Scale. If what Blanchard defines as autogynephilia is common among genetic women, that would directly contradict Blanchard’s claims about transsexual typology. How one’s body responds to one’s lover is a critical component of female sexuality. If transsexual women happen to respond in the same way, doesn’t that sort of, like, contradict every single claim, assumption, and conclusion Blanchard and Co. have ever made about transsexualism?

I often stand naked before the mirror and play with my nipples as though I were being photographed several times for a Penthouse spread. I bend forward and hold my pussy lips open from behind so that I can see the silhouette of my lips in the mirror. I usually bring myself right off there and observe closely my face as my body quivers with orgasm. (18)

Okay, that one did actually come from a transwoman. No it didn’t, it’s another genetic female. Funny, it’s the sort of thing you’d think a “sexologist” would know about.

Blanchard’s studies also claim that transwomen not exclusively attracted to men show less female-stereotypical gender role performance in childhood, as a group, than those exclusively attracted to men. I have no doubt that, taken as groups, this is accurate. However, the same claim is true for genetic females. Since this is a difference one would expect to find whether or not a woman is transsexual, and hence whether or not transsexualism is caused by two distinct types of misdirected male sex drives, it cannot be considered evidence of Blanchard’s typology. This indicates typology only if you assume a priori that transsexualism is exclusively a product of sexual orientation, and you can’t assume your theory to prove your theory, that’s cheating.

A further claim given as supporting Blanchard’s typology is that transwomen exclusively attracted to men transition, as a group, earlier in life than those not exclusively attracted to men. This too is a phenomenon one would expect regardless of whether or not Blanchard’s typology is accurate. There is a longstanding societal bias towards the idea that transwomen are only attracted to men, which those not exclusively attracted to men must get past before they can label themselves transsexual and seek transition services. Additionally, those living in the gay subculture have social outlets more open to feminine expression in those perceived as male, thus allowing them safe spaces to express and come to terms with their feelings earlier than those who do not have such outlets. Again, positing that different experiences of people with different sexual orientations is evidence of differing “types” of transsexualism works only if one assumes a priori that transsexualism is exclusively a product of sexual orientation, which is still cheating.

But of course, transsexuals who deny autogynephilia will still show evidence of it in the lab. Blanchard proved that too! Well, no he didn’t. The study cited as proof of this, Blanchard’s Phallometric Detection of Fetishistic Arousal in Heterosexual Male Cross-Dressers, (19) which again lumped crossdressers with transsexuals (the same person can be a transsexual or a crossdresser in Blanchard’s studies, as it suits his need), showed that the less Blanchard’s study subjects claimed to be aroused by crossdressing, the less arousal they showed to crossdressing narratives when tested with penile plethysmography. However, every group, including the one that denied all arousal to crossdressing, showed at least some arousal to narratives involving dressing in female clothing. Let’s assume that at least some in the group that denied all arousal to the idea of dressing in female clothing were transsexual. (I should note that I am fairly agnostic on the relationship between transsexualism and transvestism, I simply point out that Blanchard’s claim that they are two variants of the same underlying condition is based on studies which themselves conflated the two groups) Does that prove Blanchard’s claims?

I like to look at myself wearing lots of makeup and tight clothes. Knowing that I look sexy makes me feel good. It doesn’t matter whether men or women look at me. (20)

I am in a mansion, dressed in a ball gown with wide skirts and a tight bodice. The swell of my bosom is evident due to the corset. (21)

I dim the lights and put on my most revealing dress and highest heels, no underwear. (22)

I put on my new thong bikini (hot pink/black). (23)

I put on a sexy, snug negligee top with pretty panties- the top shows off my large, firm tits. (24)

These are not excerpts of fantasies reported by transwomen. These are all from sexual fantasies of, yes, genuinely XX chromosomed, natally female, honest-to-god biological women. Lots of women like dressing sexy. Deal with it. The fact that some transsexual women also feel this way would again seem to prove Blanchard’s critics’ point.

An oddity in Ms. Arune’s article is that while she raises the issue of lying to conform to gatekeepers’ models, she seems to completely miss the implications in regards to Blanchard’s claims. Which clinic has absolutely the most notorious reputation for making it necessary to lie in order to access transition services? Come on, you all know, say it with me: the Clarke, of course. It’s very strange that a clinician who, according to Ms. Arune, made it possible for transsexual women to be honest with him would acquire such a reputation. Blanchard and his supporters would claim transsexual women lie in order to avoid his typology, which makes absolutely no sense. One goes to a gender clinic in order to access transition services. One accesses transition services by convincing the gatekeeper one fits the gatekeeper’s ideas about what a transsexual person is. The only reason to lie to Blanchard would be the same reason every transwomen has ever lied to a gatekeeper: to fit the model. When faced with one arbitrary definition of what a transsexual woman is, one conforms one’s story to the definition. Blanchard’s great advance is simply to have two arbitrary definitions instead of one. Thus, his clients figure out which definition they are expected to conform to, based on the arbitrary choice of the clinician, and conform themselves to it. Many, of course, may initially arrive at Blanchard’s clinic not realizing the role they are expected to play and consequently attempt to tell the truth. Since this often doesn’t conform to whatever “type” the clinician has in mind, they are assumed to be lying, which the model says to expect. If you say what they want to hear, you prove their ideas to be true. If you don’t say what they want to hear, you prove their ideas to be true.

(Brian): I’m not the messiah! I’m not the messiah!

(Woman): Only the true messiah denies his divinity!

(Brian): Well what kind of chance does that give me?! All right then, I AM the messiah!

(Crowd): HE IS THE MESSIAH!!!!! (25)

In movies, this is known as “comedy.” Its purpose is to evoke laughter at the inherent absurdity of the situation. At the offices of the CAMH gender clinic and Northwestern’s psychology department, it is apparently known as “science.” Why aren’t there lots of teenaged hot MtF transitioners attracted to women and older not-so-hot MtF transitioners attracted to men? Well, in the real world, there are. At CAMH and likeminded clinics, they know it’s better to conform to the clinicians’ expectations. This has been talked about for years, it’s not like it’s some huge secret.

Two arbitrary definitions instead of one may have seemed like an advance twenty years ago, but this is not twenty years ago. Ms. Arune’s claim that Blanchard’s model is the only alternative to an even more restrictive one is simply untrue. Ms. Arune claims to side with experts, and for the moment, so will I. I, however, will side with the majority of experts who reject Blanchard’s model. I will, on this particular issue, side with HBIGDA, which has on more than one occasion spoken out against this nonsense. In the US, we have moved beyond the era of restrictive clinics demanding compliance to an arbitrary set of symptoms. The university clinics still exist, but hardly anyone who’s actually serious about transition goes anywhere near one. You can get doctor monitored hormone therapy with far less bother and time than jumping through CAMH’s hoops, and in increasing cases without even strict adherence to the minimum standards of the SOC. This has not resulted in a sudden increase in the number of those transitioning who later regret it. Paradoxically, this is in large degree because transition services are not covered the way they are in Canada, Australia, and Britain. There, you can get treatment covered, but only if you submit to one particular clinic. You have clinics operating monopoly control over government-subsidized treatment on a socially despised client population, which the mental health establishment has decreed have no inherent right to treatment. That is a near-perfect recipe for abuse. I would of course never dream of conjecturing that the inherent conflict of interest created by Blanchard simultaneously holding the position of researcher and of gatekeeper to treatment could have had the slightest biasing effect on his “science.” Similarly, I see nothing at all tautological in requiring MtF transsexual clients to wear only skirts or dresses to clinic sessions and then writing “scientific” papers on the ways in which MtF transsexual people show stereotypical gender role performance. I am certain Blanchard had entirely valid reasons for demanding control over what his clients could change their names to, after all, calling yourself Terri or Chris would be… just bad, very very bad. The fact that Blanchard’s clinic’s main business is working with sex offenders and that they use theoretical and treatment models for transsexualism that look remarkably like those used with sex offenders can only be the strangest of coincidences. And of course everyone knows Blanchard and his clinicians are right to assert that there’s essentially no such thing as gay FtMs. (26) After all, if it doesn’t fit their models, it can’t exist. Der transfagen est verboten!!! NEIN!!!

The Four Greatest Helpers

No, Ms. Arune wasn’t referring to Benjamin, Biber, Gooren, and Ousterhout. Yes, she really did say Blanchard, Petersen, Bailey, and Lawrence have done more to help transwomen than any other four people in the world. I know. Apparently, Ms. Arune inhabits a parallel universe where “help” is synonymous with, respectively, inhibiting proper access to medical care, testifying against including transsexuals in human rights legislation, misleading and sexually objectifying your research subjects (Look, on this page we get Bailey horny! And on this page, we get him horny again! Ooh, look, here we are getting one of his students horny!), and obsessively projecting one’s own behavior onto others. I somehow doubt it’s an accident that the four people mentioned are all either known (Blanchard and Petersen) or alleged (Bailey and Lawrence) to have sexually abused transsexual women (Andrea’s was not the first allegation of its type, nor the only one similar to the well documented incident that ended Lawrence’s career as an anesthesiologist). Arguments over the fact that the “penile plethysmograph” is not generally accepted as a valid measurement instrument tend to obscure what I consider to be the real issue. Blanchard and Petersen took people who often have serious body image issues, often involving their genitalia, strapped a machine to their genitals, and forced them to watch and listen to weird fetish porn. They strapped… a machine… to their genitals… and forced them… to watch fetish porn. They may consider it science; I consider it a form of sexual abuse. Blanchard and Petersen never should have been allowed to resign from HBIGDA. They and the rest of the Clarke crew should have been kicked out a long time ago for grossly unethical “treatment” methods.

The Name Calling

I must admit Ms. Arune has a point here. True, she undermines her argument by insisting that BBL never refer to us as men when they’ve done so like 1000 times (yes, even post-op, try reading them once in a while) but if they were wrong to do it, then what was everyone else’s excuse? We can split hairs about whether or not people who consider themselves a particularly effeminate type of gay man or a man literally in love with their own feminine image could ever “really” be female, but if nothing else, it’s just frigging rude and immature. The speed with which “autogynephile” has become the trans equivalent of n----r is something the entire “community” should be absolutely ashamed of. If we use the tools of the oppressor to attack each other all we end up doing is adding currency to them, and then we have only ourselves to blame when they come back to bite us all right in the ass. Besides, some things you just don’t screw with, and someone else’s identity is one of them. That Bailey did it first doesn’t make it right to do to others.

Trannies Behaving Badly

USENET is a pretty f----d up place. In theory, it was supposed to be the ultimate democratic information exchange. Anyone could come talk to anyone else about anything. In practice, it’s where idiots go to yell at each other. One particularly exemplary instance of this phenomenon is a particular newsgroup known as “alt.support.srs.” This was, I am informed, at one time a place where useful information could actually be obtained about SRS and transition procedures. For the last several years, however, it has been taken over by a group of approximately half a dozen or so people, give or take from year to year, whose main preoccupation in life appears to be hurling the same insults at each other over and over and over again. I mention this because this particular forum appears to be the source of the bulk of Ms. Arune’s claims about the behavior of “we transsexuals.” Anyone with the stomach to dredge through enough of this sewer will recognize more than one of the behaviors “we” supposedly engage in as coming from one particular fool with whom Ms. Arune, herself a prominent contributor to this newsgroup’s never-ending flame wars, has carefully cultivated a longstanding and rather absurd rivalry. Alt.support.srs is not screwed up because it’s a transsexual forum, however, it’s screwed up because it’s a USENET forum. If you go to the places where absurd and nasty behavior is likely to be found, you will find absurd and nasty behavior. This will particularly be the case if you go to these sorts of places looking to intentionally provoke nasty behavior:

Jennifer, honey,

I came here to get a quotable quote. You provided that in minutes and so I need not remain. You see, I needed a true example of absolute and total TS garbage. Your posts gave me some wonderful examples.

Never mind, dear, you can see yourself in print shortly. I shall attribute your words merely to this newsgroup (I don't think you would like to read your own words attributed to you)...

Willow (27)

So yes, there is truth in Ms. Arune’s claim that a transsexual may talk in “a pseudo-typical female refinement, prefacing any insult with Honey or Dear.” (28) (The original version of Ms. Arune’s essay included the sentence “At times this can be rather funny to an observer of meetings.” (29)) One can indeed find examples of such behavior:

No honey - you *used* to bother me a great deal… (30)

Care to name another, dear Jenny. (31)

Welcome to the real world, honey. You go play "let's pretend" on the weekend. (32)

Keep on going honey - It passes the time. (33)

There are literally hundreds of other examples on this particular forum; the curious thing is that the poster almost always seems to identify themselves as “Willow Arune” (or as “Silence Dogood,” who happens to list the same email address). If Ms. Arune finds such behavior as ridiculous as I do, I would suggest a ready-made solution would be for her to simply stop engaging in it. Regardless, the fact that she is transsexual and she engages in this behavior does not therefore mean that all transsexuals do.

Space does not allow me the opportunity to refute every single false or misleading allegation Ms. Arune makes to specific people in the transsexual community, but for the sake of accuracy I will attempt to correct a few of the more egregious:

Andrea James did indeed ask Ms. Arune if there was any truth to the allegation that she is a registered sex offender. Whether she likes it or not, Ms. Arune and other “autogynephilia supporters” have made themselves an issue by claiming to be typical of transsexual women, but simply more honest. If there is an unusually high level of predatory sexual behavior among “autogynephilia supporters,” that would be relevant to the debate as to how typical they in fact are. As said allegation has been neither confirmed nor refuted with documentation, Andrea has not published it.

Lynn Conway did not speak out in The Washington Times against further research on transsexualism, she spoke out against the specific research Bailey did as unethical. Read the article. (34)

Dr. McCloskey’s warning to sue Bailey if he defames her again as an autogynephile while not suing Ms. Arune for doing the same may relate to the fact that a university professor using his professional credentials to make a bogus mental illness diagnosis on someone he’s never met is a far cry from some random nut who just likes to insult people. It is apparently true that Dr. McCloskey did send a similar letter once to Ms. Arune after receiving repeated taunts from her. While I feel it is unfortunate that Dr. McCloskey allowed herself to be lowered to Ms. Arune’s level, my personal opinion would be that this particular situation reflects more poorly on the taunter than the tauntee.

The children- she attacked the children!!! Well, yes, she did, but as is par for the claims of BBL supporters, the truth of the matter is a little more complicated. Early on in the controversy, Andrea James posted pictures of Bailey’s son and daughter, with captions under each that, respectively, quoted from Bailey’s book that such children were likely to “work as waitresses, hairdressers, receptionists, strippers, and prostitutes, as well as in many other occupations” (35) and that summarized the typology Bailey promotes as well as his claim that one can make the diagnosis with a 12 question test. Bailey then commented that what Andrea put up constituted “dirty captions.” (36) Andrea was criticized by many both within and without the transsexual community for bringing Bailey’s children into it, and subsequently took the page down and apologized. I happen to agree with Bailey that the captions were “dirty.” That is why I happen to feel that Bailey never should have written them in the first place. It is the height of hypocrisy for Bailey to claim that his language is “sympathetic” (37) to transsexual women but suddenly becomes “dirty” when applied to non-transsexual people. The fact that what Andrea did crossed the line itself proves the point she was attempting to make in her admittedly misguided way: that’s just a disgusting way to talk about people. Unlike Andrea, as of this writing Bailey has yet to apologize for his “dirty” words.

Ms. Arune appears to contradict herself by first claiming that some crossdressers become transsexual but later claiming that those who do were “merely incorrectly diagnosed.” (38) I am unable to correct this one because I don’t know which claim she actually believes to be true. I would merely point out that how different people happen to cope with being transsexual is a separate issue from whether or not they have different “types” of transsexualism. This also explains the high dropout rate of “autogynephilic transsexuals” Ms. Arune notes. Among mainstream clinicians, it is understood that crossdressers experiencing difficult periods in their lives will not uncommonly misdiagnose themselves as transsexual and seek to transition. Not surprisingly, almost all will drop out at some point along the way as they begin to realize that the reality of transition is very different from their expectations. The mainstream view would be that such people were never transsexual to begin with, but under Blanchard’s model they are all lumped in as “autogynephilic transsexuals.”

Me, Therefore You Too

Well, that may describe some, perhaps you and others like you, but it most certainly does not describe me! (39)

Well, yes, that’s sort of the point. And I don’t think it’s just me. Out of the 150+ members of Willow’s “autogynephilia support” group, most are lurkers, the majority of posters are BBL critics, and many of the “supporters,” such as Bailey and Blanchard themselves, do not identify with the concept. We’re talking perhaps 15-20 people, as opposed to the over 1400 who signed the petition demanding Lambda retract Bailey’s book as an award finalist, of whom perhaps around 100 were not themselves transgender. By my math, the debate is running somewhere between 98-99% against BBL in the trans community. Linking individual people into groups is all well and good, but the reasons for linking them must be valid. If the “expert” proposing to make these linkages makes claims about my life, experiences, feelings, and thoughts which are wildly inaccurate, and proposes that I trust his or her assertions rather than my own memories simply on the grounds that they are an expert and they say so, then I am inclined to doubt said “expert.” I find myself more open to people who want to know who I am rather than tell me who I am.

We deny all interest in sex, we rarely even talk about sex, we cultivate images of delicate flowers- who are you talking about??!! Seriously, what are you on and where can I get some? That may be the way it’s done on asses.r.us, but there’s a whole world out there. It may be the case that someone who is sexually obsessed with a narcissistic fetish, as Ms. Arune claims to be, is simply unable to comprehend a healthy sexuality, but let me try to lay it out here: to deny having “autogynephilia” or an extreme case of queer hard-on for the straight guy does not somehow equate to denying having a sex drive. I have no problem with the statement that I had SRS partly in order to have sex, but SRS is only one part of transition, as sex is only one part of life.

There's a no-win situation with [Blanchard supporters]. If you take issue with the hyper-sexualized worldview, you are depicted as some sort of repressed holier-than-thou prude in denial, but if you make any mention of sexuality, it's all proof that this sexual taxonomy is valid. Typical sexist crap all women have to deal with from patriarchy. (40)

We are a highly fragmented community. We break down along lines of age, age at transition, social class, etc., thus making us… absolutely no different than anyone else. Of course those labeled by BBL as “homosexual transsexuals” are more well connected socially than BBL’s “everyone else” group- they’re all drawn from the same socio-economic class and age group. Is it really an accident that everyone Bailey labels as an “autogynephile” just happens to be middle class while everyone he labels as a “homosexual” just happens to be lower class? (Hence the real reason “Victoria” (41) didn’t get mentioned in Bailey’s book- she’s too hot to be caricatured as an “autogynephile” but she’s middle class so she couldn’t be caricatured as part of the dregs of the gay ghetto.) I find I have the most in common with other middle to upper-middle class transwomen who transitioned in their 20s, regardless of sexual orientation, and are socially integrated as women- should we start our own “type?” If I find I have little in common with someone who’s a completely different generation than me, who lived an apparently successful “male” life including fathering children, whose main preoccupation in life is insulting people over the internet, who effects a “pseudo-typical female refinement,” isn’t that completely to be expected? Dear me, my goodness, merciful heavens, oh I have the vapors- who the hell talks like that besides you, Willow?

But of course, all points of view are valid. No, they aren’t. Ravings about idiotic “transgender hierarchies” aside,

Crossdressers wear their fetish, and the gleam in their eyes, however muted by time or habit, the unmistakable presence of a lust being satisfied or a desire being fulfilled in that moment, in your presence, even by your presence, is unnerving. The mix of the crossdressers’ own arousal and anxiety and our responsive anxiety and discomfort is more than most of us can bear. (42)

Substitute self-professed autogynephiles for crossdressers, and you have the problem I suspect most transwomen have with people like Ms. Arune and Anne Lawrence in a nutshell, especially the part about lust being satisfied “by your presence.” I’ll support the right of anyone to make any body modification they choose, but I wonder if the reason Ms. Arune seems to alienate so many transsexual women is less due to her high profile than her apparent need to so vigorously project her own behavior and desires onto others. *We* do not all try to talk like Victorian ladies-in-waiting, *we* do not run around USENET bragging about every teenaged transitioner we talk to, *we* do not hold misogynistic views of women as delicate flowers with no sex drive, *we* do not sign onto young-adult oriented internet forums, obsessively search out every mention of our name, and send creepy emails to all the posters. (I should note that I am not here attempting to defend Bloom’s views on crossdressers; while I have very little experience of crossdressers, it seems to me reasonable that one crossdresser who’s acting like a creepy weirdo towards you is unfortunately likely to leave more of an impression than 10 or even 100 crossdressers who are perfectly nice and normal. There are oddballs in every identifiable grouping of people. Any time a nice and normal crossdresser wants to trade tequila shots, hey, set em up.)
Ms. Arune has more recently proclaimed that she has been commissioned to do a regular series on “transsexual myths” for Tapestry, so it appears that readers can look forward to more daring exposes on the internal feuding of asses.r.us: “I have a female brain!!!” “Oh yeah? Well I’m a post-op!!!” “Oh yeah? Well my vagina’s deeper than yours!” “OH YEAH?!” At least it’ll keep her off the streets.

The Implications

Ms. Arune claims that the events of the last year have had the effect of driving researchers out of this field. To the extent she is referring to researchers in the mold of Blanchard, Bailey, and Lawrence, I hope that’s true. If fantasies about a vast transsexual mafia hell bent on destroying all who question them will convince such people to leave research on transsexualism to those whose heads are not inserted entirely into their own rectums, then fine: beware the hordes of uppity trannies. We have an army of robot monkeys and we know kung fu; fear us for our day has come. Legitimate researchers will unfortunately be likely to find an increased atmosphere of mistrust, thanks to the actions of BBL. I believe that, given time, such an atmosphere can be overcome through the application of a relatively few simple principles on the part of researchers:

1. Transsexual people are entitled to the same respect as any other study population.

2. Conclusions should be reached after analyzing data, not before.

3. Data contradicting one’s working hypothesis should be reported, not ignored or explained away.

4. Who does and does not give you a boner is not a legitimate research parameter.

5. A researcher’s political identity as a “single, heterosexual male” (keep reaching for that brass ring, Dr. Bailey) does not somehow confer objective insight on one’s study population.

6. APA guidelines, including those regarding language, should be followed.

7. Question beforehand how your own biases may be reflected in your sampling. For example, if you decide in advance to only look for transsexual people, or one particular “type” of transsexual people, in areas frequented by prostitutes, the transsexual people you find will tend to be prostitutes. A similar phenomenon will occur if you desire to study the sexual attitudes of typical genetic females and do all your sampling at the Moonlight Bunny Ranch in Nevada.

I have enough faith in the broader scientific community to believe that most will be able to overcome potential biases such as those which have overwhelmed BBL and Co. Potentially more troubling is what this little episode has revealed about the place of the “T” in GLBT. Lambda Literary essentially asserted the right to deny any and all accountability to a population they granted themselves the right to speak for. Whether or not the experience has really been “humbling” for them is a question only time will answer. If they cannot truly bring themselves to admit what they did wrong, then they need to suspend the “transgender” award category for the time being. Our place in any GLBT coalition must be that of equals, or none at all. If they can truly accept this, if researchers can become more interested in who we are than in who they want us to be, then this mess will actually have produced something worthwhile. That will not be a black age. It will be the dawn.


1. Before anyone feels compelled to write in denouncing me for writing racist drivel, try to remember, that’s the point. Compare to Bailey’s book p. 142. Get the picture?

2. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5th ed. (2001). American Psychological Association. p. 63.

3. Bailey, J. Michael (2003). The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. Joseph Henry Press. p. 178.

4. Ibid, p. 141.

5. Ibid, p. 178.

6. Ibid, p. 141.

7. Blanchard, Ray (1989). The Concept of Autogynephilia and the Typology of Male Gender Dysphoria The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177(10), 616-623. Full text available at http://www.genderpsychology.org/

8. Wyndzen, M (2004). Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Autogynephilia * but Were Afraid You had to Ask.: via genderpsychology.org

9. Blanchard, Ray (1989). The Concept of Autogynephilia and the Typology of Male Gender Dysphoria. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177(10), 616-623. Retrieved 9/2/04, from http://www.genderpsychology.org/autogynephilia/male_gender_dysphoria/

10. Arune, Willow (2004). I Am Arune. Transgender Tapestry, Summer 2004 (106): p. 47.

11. At http://www.genderpsychology.org/autogynephilia/male_gender_dysphoria/autogynephilic_fetishism.html.

12. In J. M. Bailey (Chair), Phenomenology and classification of male-to-female transsexualism. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the International Academy of Sex Research, Paris. June, 2000. Slide 38.

13. Friday, Nancy (1991). Women on Top. Pocket Books, pp. 420-421.

14. Ibid, p. 369.

15. Anderson, Kevin, and Dreier, Sarah (2003, 21 April). Prof's book challenges opinions of human sexuality. The Daily Northwestern.

16. Arune, Willow (2004). I Am Arune. Transgender Tapestry, Summer 2004 (106): p. 47.

17. Blanchard, Ray. Personal communication to Anne Lawrence (1999). Quoted in Autogynephilia: Frequently-Asked Questions: via annelawrence. com: http://www.annelawrence. com/agfaqs.html

18. Friday, Nancy (1991). Women on Top. Pocket Books, p. 345.

19. Ray Blanchard, I. G. Racansky, & Betty W. Steiner (1986) Phallometric Detection of Fetishistic Arousal in Heterosexual Male Cross-Dressers. Journal of Sex Research, Vol. 22, 1986, No 4, pp.452-462.

20. Friday, Nancy (1991). Women on Top. Pocket Books, p. 552.

21. Ibid, p. 457.

22. Ibid, p. 420.

23. Ibid, p. 388.

24. Ibid, p. 345.

25. Monty Python’s The Life Of Brian (1979). Anchor Bay Entertainment.

26. Krista and Pandora. Clinician, Heal Thyself. Transhealth.com 2003 Summer 3(1) via transhealth.com: http://www.trans-health.com/Vol3Iss1/clinician.html

27. Arune, Willow (2004). Re: Certified True Transsexual Certificates. Via alt.support.srs: http://groups.google.com/groups?q=g:thl101135305d&dq=&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&c2coff=1&safe=off&selm=Kxoec.84223%24Ig.10853%40pd7tw2no

28. Arune, Willow (2004). I Am Arune. Transgender Tapestry, Summer 2004 (106): p. 49.

29. Arune, Willow (2004). I Am Arune. Retrieved 9/2/04 via autogynephilia.org: http://www.autogynephilia.org/I%20AM%20ARUNE.htm

30. Arune, Willow (2004). Our Jenny- History in the Making. Via alt.support.srs: http://groups.google.com/groups?q=willow+arune+dear+group:alt.support.srs.*&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&group=alt.support.srs.*&c2coff=1&selm=oxFEc.951909%24oR5.93134%40pd7tw3no&rnum=13

31. Arune, Willow (2004). Re: Immigration and Unnaturalization [sic]. Via alt.support.srs: http://groups.google.com/groups?q=willow+arune+dear+group:alt.support.srs.*&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&group=alt.support.srs.*&c2coff=1&selm=HCWUc.146781%24gE.109391%40pd7tw3no&rnum=35

32. Arune, Willow (2004). Re: Autogynephilia. Via alt.support.srs: http://groups.google.com/groups?q=willow+arune+honey+group:alt.support.srs.*&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&group=alt.support.srs.*&c2coff=1&selm=dPq1b.809904%243C2.18375467%40news3.calgary.shaw.ca&rnum=7

33. Arune, Willow (2004). Re: Jennifer Usher and Willow Arune. Via alt.support.srs: http://groups.google.com/groups?q=willow+arune+honey+group:alt.support.srs.*&hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&group=alt.support.srs.*&c2coff=1&selm=hBrEc.946760%24oR5.92647%40pd7tw3no&rnum=1

34. McCain, R.S. (2004, 30 January). NIH director defends funds for criticized sex research. The Washington Times.

35. Bailey, J. Michael (2003). The Man Who Would Be Queen. Joseph Henry Press. p. 142.

36. Bailey, J. Michael (2003). Email communication to Gerulf Rieger. Retrieved 9/2/04 via tsroadmap.com: http://www.tsroadmap.com/info/bailey-responses.html

37. Anderson, Kevin, and Dreier, Sarah (2003, 21 April). Prof's book challenges opinions of human sexuality. The Daily Northwestern.

38. Arune, Willow (2004). I Am Arune. Transgender Tapestry, Summer 2004 (106): p. 47.

39. Arune, Willow (2004). I Am Arune. Transgender Tapestry, Summer 2004 (106): p. 50.

40. James, Andrea (2003). The Anne Who Would Be Queen, Appendix 2: Observations from my encounter with Dr. Lawrence. Retrieved 9/2/04 via tsroadmap.com: http://www.tsroadmap.com/info/lawrence/anne-lawrence-encounter.html

41. Conway, Lynn (2003). A second woman files research misconduct complaints against Bailey: July 14, 2003. Retrieved 9/2/04 via lynnconway.com: http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/Bailey/SecondComplaint.html

42. Bloom, Amy (2002). Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites with Attitude. Random House. pp. 94-95.