Anne Lawrence's responses to critics

Previously, ritualized masturbation involving the concept of "autogynephilia" was limited mostly to Ray Blanchard’s articles and to Anne Lawrence’s website and bedroom. Live and let live, I say. Academics are mostly just talking to each other, anyway. What's the phrase about academia? Nasty fights about nothing... Now that these people have taken to wielding their phallus in public via Bailey, it requires some intervention.

I normally don’t bother with academic crap like this, but I now see how this insidious taxonomy and these “helping professionals” may now start to hurt people who were never even forced to sit through a Blanchard intake session.

In April 2003, Anne Lawrence stated on her website that she considers J. Michael Bailey's The Man Who Would Be Queen to be "easily the best popular treatment" on male-to-female transsexualism, and that it was "highly recommended." Academic logrolling at its finest. Did I mention that Bailey was Anne's Ph.D. advisor?

Below are some comments I sent to Anne on April 15, 2003:

If you truly believe what you’ve said, I suggest you follow your alignment with Bailey and Blanchard to its logical conclusion and change the name of your site to Transsexual Men’s Resources. You should also start meeting with the groups working to efface our legitimacy as women and as citizens. The politicians who wrote us out of ADA. The people who keep us written out of insurance policies. The lawyers who made the Supreme Court rulings in Texas and Kansas. Religious leaders. Be sure to give out copies of Bailey’s book. They will be very glad to have the compelling evidence that you and the person with the rubber vagina and robot-man are one and the same, and that the two of you are a representative sample of the non-promiscuous type of transsexual man.

Your strategy for regaining legitimacy both personally and professionally comes at the expense of too much else. I do not deny your legitimacy as a woman or ascribe motivations to you in order to make my own behavior and desires seem more acceptable, yet if you and Bailey feel entitled to do so to me, I will be forced to travel this low road as well and respond in kind. That would be a true tragedy.

We should always celebrate and respect our diversity while working in unity. You and I have been able to do that wonderfully to date, but I believe you find yourself at another crossroads as a community leader. You have a choice to make, and I think you need to consider that choice carefully, especially now that you may better understand the ramifications of taking positions in such a divisive and confrontational manner.

I strongly suggest you stake out the places where your opinion differs from Bailey’s, or you will find you have squandered even more of the goodwill and respect you used to have in abundance.

A couple of days later, up comes Anne's unattributed review (emphasis mine):

Outstanding scholarship
April 18, 2003
Reviewer: A reader from USA

Michael Bailey's new book offers an entertaining, informative, and provocative discussion of gender variance in biologic males. The author is Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at Northwestern University, and is one of the world's foremost authorities on gender and sexual orientation. Fortunately for readers, he is a superb writer as well as a gifted scholar.

The author's detailed discussion of femininity and masculinity in gay men is outstanding, and his treatment of male-to-female transsexuality is remarkable for its insight and compassion. Bailey is not afraid to be politically incorrect, and some of his conclusions are bound to upset the handful of transsexuals who still cling to the "I was a woman trapped in a man's body" fantasy. But many more transsexuals will be grateful for the author's willingness to go beyond the stereotypes and clichés and reveal the complicated truths about their lives.

If you want comfortable homilies, read Mildred Brown or Randi Ettner. If you want the truth, read Bailey.

Yeah, Bailey sure gets beyond stereotypes and clichés. I have already opined on "the truth" elsewhere, after Anne characterized me as a "transsexual fundamentalist."

Well, she can't say she wasn't warned.

Anne's "Brief Comments," added in May 2003 (with response by Evelyn)

Since Anne wrote the review above, she seems to have vaguely begun to grasp what's about to happen. She has now come out with comments that distance her from Bailey and his patently offensive speculation. She appears to be retrenching back at what she sees as the safety of Blanchard's "science."

Anne's usual blanchardbaileyphilia is now more muted:

"Bailey’s critics should really be addressing Blanchard’s work."

"Blanchard’s typology does not purport to explain all observations."

http://www.annelawrence. com/bailey.html

Here's how all this is going to go. We are definitely going to deal with the Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence issue, probably in that order. First, we are going to get this Bailey nonsense dealt with. Then we are going to deal with the Blanchard "science" by putting it in context. Then we are going to deal with Anne's appropriation of Blanchard's taxonomy to further her own goals. Stay tuned!

Response by Evelyn

[Editor's note: Anne's comments are in italics, Evelyn's responses are indented.]

I’ve added comments because, well, that’s just what I do. It’s almost like an obsession. Is it a sexual obsession? Hmm, nah, it is too visceral an experience to be that.

Brief Comments on the Controversy over J. Michael Bailey's The Man Who Would Be Queen
By Anne Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D.

Much of the controversy over Michael Bailey’s new book concerns his discussion of the typology of male-to-female transsexualism. Bailey’s writing about this issue relies heavily on research conducted by Ray Blanchard. Consequently, Bailey’s critics should really be addressing Blanchard’s work.

Comments: More on this section below

Blanchard’s research was carefully conducted, was based on a large and diverse patient database, and was published in peer reviewed scientific journals. His typology, which divides male-to-female transsexuals into androphilic and autogynephilic categories, provides a powerful model for understanding transsexuals’ behavior.

Comments: Carefully conducted, hmm… it began with the assumption that sex is the fundamental factor in explaining transsexualism. It failed to ask whether different sexual behaviors, ages at transition, and level of distress observed among different subjects were a function of cause or effect. It failed to take environmental or cultural factors into account. It occurred at an institution where pathologizing transsexuals and forcing them to conform to extremely restrictive behavioral models was standard operating procedure. The autogynephilia/homosexual explanation of TSism is now a self fulfilling prophecy, it is not clear whether or not this began before or after Blanchard’s studies were published, so it is not clear at what point Blanchard simply began seeing autogynephilia in every non “homosexual” transsexual because he couldn’t conceive of another explanation for their transitions. It is at least questionable whether or not transsexuals who are willing to put up with a large amount of abuse and delay in order to transition on Canada’s national health insurance are in fact representative. The peer review process doesn’t mean much if Blanchard’s peers know even less about transsexualism than he does, as Bailey implies. Blanchard’s typology provides a pretty piss poor model for understanding the behavior of early transitioners, especially those who stayed outside of the gay scene.

Blanchard’s typology was not intended to provide a model of transsexuals’ identities. The fact that some transsexuals believe that his model is not consistent with their identities does not necessarily diminish the model’s value in explaining their behavior. Like most models in the behavioral sciences, Blanchard’s typology does not purport to explain all observations, but in my opinion it explains a great many observations.

Comments: If Blanchard’s typology was not intended to provide a model of transsexuals’ identities, then Blanchard really needs to take Bailey to task for doing exactly that. Intent or not, Blanchard left the door wide open for others to do so. So, whom do we criticize? Blanchard, or Bailey? What about transsexuals for whom this model is not only not consistent with their identities, but also not consistent with their behavior? If you aren’t exclusively androphilic pre-transition, you automatically have to be autogynephilic under this model. But they transition young. Well, too bad, they’re still autogynephilic. But they don’t jack off to themselves in skirts, or by fantasizing about having a vulva. Well, too bad, they’re still autogynephilic. But they integrate successfully into society as women and can sustain meaningful relationships with men and/or women. Well, too bad, they’re still autogynephilic. But seriously, they genuinely are physically attracted to men now. Well, no it’s really just autogynephilia. But THEY DON’T HAVE AUTOGYNEPHILIA!!!!!!!!!! No, they’re just lying.

Some individuals criticize Blanchard’s typology, claiming that it does not apply to them, or that they are a "third type" of transsexual. They might be correct, but the simple fact that they say so does not prove that they are correct. Often these individuals prefer to criticize a caricature of Blanchard’s model, ignoring what Blanchard really wrote. This gives a superficial plausibility to their claims. However, I suspect that experienced clinicians would have little difficulty categorizing these "third type" individuals as either androphilic or autogynephilic, consistent with Blanchard’s typology.

Comments: I criticize Blanchard’s typology because I doubt it truly applies to anyone, even self-professed autogynephiles. People who claim to be autogynephilic might be correct, but the simple fact that they say so does not prove that they are correct. Often these individuals prefer to criticize the motivations and honesty of those who disagree with them, ignoring what we really say. Presenting themselves as more honest because they are willing to adhere to an even more socially stigmatizing model of behavior gives a superficial plausibility to their claims. I suspect that experienced clinicians who subscribe to this model would have little difficulty categorizing any individual transsexual as either androphilic or autogynephilic because those are the only two types allowable under the model, and because many clinicians already have a tendency to cast extremely wide nets in order to cram as many people into as few little boxes as possible. Criticizing Blanchard’s model is now taken as prima facie evidence that the critic is an autogynephile in denial. It doesn’t even seem to have dawned on these people that many transsexuals are critical of having themselves described as homosexual men too.

Some people express concern about what might happen if Blanchard’s ideas became widely known and accepted. Because I believe that Blanchard’s model is grounded in solid research, I see no reason for alarm. A scientific understanding of transsexualism—the kind that Blanchard’s model offers—is not something we should fear.

Comments: Because I believe that Blanchard’s model is grounded in extremely flimsy research, and leads directly to the kind of dehumanization and caricature present in Bailey’s book, I see much reason for alarm. An invalid scientific understanding of transsexualism that encourages the view of transsexuals as male sex deviants is definitely something we should fear, and fight back against. From Blanchard insisting that “homosexual transsexual” is only a clinical term and not intended to ascribe an identity, we now have Bailey insisting that androphilic transsexuals are best described as a type of gay man who were too wimpy or poor to properly defeminize the way all normal gay men ought to. Is this an accurate extrapolation from Blanchard’s model? If not, why does Blanchard extol Bailey for making it? Either Bailey is wrong for making the leap and ought to be criticized for it, or Blanchard was wrong for labeling the taxonomy that way. Is Blanchard unable to account for exclusively androphilic transsexuals who are not promiscuous, or were able to obtain gay sex but simply didn’t like it? Or are these only holes in Bailey’s theory and so properly criticized there? You can’t have it both ways. As long as we live in a heterosexist culture, mtf transsexuals who are androphilic prior to transition will tend to transition younger, and so pass better, and will tend to have fewer doubts and less stress, because of course women ought to like men, right? That doesn’t mean their transsexualism has a fundamentally different cause or is of a fundamentally different type. As information about this condition and the proper course of treatment continues to filter out to more and more people via the internet, all transsexuals will hopefully begin to transition at younger and younger ages, and that fact alone may cause most of the perceived differences between “types” to disappear.