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Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality vs. transgender people

The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS) is a sexology trade group that holds conferences and publishes research on sexuality. This page discusses their involvement in research as it pertains to disease models of gender identity and expression.

As a transsexual activist, I view “sexology” the way a person of color might view “raceology.”

A small but deeply embedded clique of old-school sexologists have enjoyed a period of substantial influence in shaping academic discourses about sexuality and transsexuality. These sexologists vatiously claim that gender variance is a

  • psychosexual pathology (a sex-fueled mental illness)
  • psychopathology (mental disorder)
  • pathology (developmental defect)

By claiming difference is disease, they have been able to pathologize socially unacceptable behavior and keep gender variance listed as three separate “diseases” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Notable proponents of this disease model are Anne Lawrence, Ray Blanchard, Ken Zucker, and J. Michael Bailey. All are involved in promoting research and “treatment” protocols developed at Toronto’s notorious Clarke Institute, now called Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

The infestation of Clarke Institute people in the International Academy of Sex Research (IASR) is more pronounced than at SSSS. The SSSS is a much older, broader, and larger organization than IASR. Milton Diamond is also on the national Board of Directors and is a former president.

SSSS appears to be more concerned about ethical issues related to transsexuals, mentioning us by name:

For instance, take a look at their own ethical standards, particularly the section on research findings. Paragraph 1 says it’s important to get informed consent. Paragraph 2 says that the researcher must be considerate of the impact of his/her research on the research community, particularly when that community has “increased vulnerability to social consequences (e.g. transsexuals and minority groups).”

Of these old-school sexologists, Anne Lawrence appears to be most active in SSSS, serving on the Board of Directors Western Region and on the Program and Continuing Education Committee. A research associate writes, “It appears Lawrence became a representative of the Western Region almost two years ago in the fall of 2001.”

Below are some notable pieces of knowledge promulgated through SSSS:

2003 Preliminary Program details

Saturday, November 8 Session 34: Sexuality and Gender

Sexuality Before and After Male-to-Female Sex Reassignment Surgery Anne A. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D.

Lawrence likely presented a warmed-over version of the work with Bailey, trying to prove that transsexuals are liars by showing sexual orientation does not change following transition. Here’s what they presented at the IASR conference this year:

Measuring sexual arousal in postoperative male-to-female transsexuals using vaginal photoplethysmography.

Lawrence, A. A., Latty, E. M., Chivers, M., & Bailey, J. M.

“One transsexual participant who reported a change in sexual orientation following sex reassignment displayed genital and subjective responses consistent with her pre-reassignment sexual orientation.”

Ray Blanchard is at SSSS adding to his body of work on male gender dysphorics, pedophiles, and fetishists:

Session 39: General Sexuality

Neurological Development and Etiology of Sexual Deviance: A Large Scale Study of Pedophilia

Michael E. Kuban, M.Sc., M.Ed., Ray Blanchard, Ph.D., Phil Klassen, M.D., FRCPC

See also my new page on IASR abstracts of note, including Bailey calling us homosexual males back in 2001:

“I retain this term to emphasize, after Blanchard, that such individuals are a form of homosexual male.”

See also Lawrence and Bailey’s full abstract for their “transsexuals are liars” hypothesis, and the Clarke Institute’s linkage of pedophilia and transsexualism with non-right-handedness.

On their site, they also list a couple of other sexually related conferences. 

Annual Conference
National Council on Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity (NCSAC)
Creating a Culture of Healthy Sexuality: Tools and Tactics 
Minneapolis, Minnesota
September 25-28, 2003 
Call for Workshop Proposals <> 

2nd Annual Conference
Comprehensive Review of Sexual Medicine 
Rescheduled — New date/venue:
April 22-24, 2004
Montreal, Canada

2004 Preliminary Program details

Bailey protege Meredith Chivers was on the Fall 2004 schedule to speak at the Society for Scientific Study of Sexuality about bisexuality in women

The Vagina Dialogues: Women’s Sexual Arousal and Sexual Plasticity Meredith L. Chivers, Ph.D.

Previous knowledge produced by this team claims “transsexuals have the brains of men but the genitals of women.”

This site will continue to monitor how SSSS shapes perceptions of transsexualism within sexology, and by extension in larger academic and non-academic discourses.

2019 trans-affirming statement

In 2018, the Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality awarded Kevin Hsu a research grant to promulgate transphobic models of transgender sexuality.

Following a transphobic presentation by Hsu, the SSSS released this statement on November 15, 2018.

  • Herb Samuels (Past President)
  • Patricia Barthalow Koch
  • Jean Levitan (Treasurer)
  • Robert Friar
  • Peter Anderson (Member-At-Large)
  • Betsy Crane
  • Beverly Whipple
  • Bill Stayton
  • Carol Cassell
  • Clive M. Davis (President)
  • Eric R. Buhi
  • Frank Farley
  • Kristen N. Jozkowski
  • Mark Bigler
  • Mark Schoen
  • Michael Young (Secretary)
  • Patricia Aletky

An important statement from the SSSS Executive Committee during #TransAwarenessWeek:

“Dear SSSS Members and Annual Meeting Attendees,

The SSSS Executive Committee is aware of past and more recent incidents of language and behavior that has made transgender persons and other attendees feel unwelcome, unsupported, marginalized, or attacked at our Annual Meetings. We apologize. We want to assure all Members and attendees that we fully support you and stand with you. We are trans-allies.

We want to be clear that the Reiss Theory Award was selected by The Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, which is separate from SSSS. The Members of the SSSS Board of Directors and the SSSS Annual Meeting Program Committee have not had input into decisions regarding the Reiss Award. Moving forward, The Foundation for the Scientific Study of Sexuality will be incorporated into SSSS. Starting in 2019, we will be maintaining full oversight of the awards process. This information is provided as an explanation, not an excuse.

We are taking steps to help all Members and attendees feel safe and welcome at SSSS events. For example, SSSS is currently creating a new Civility and Anti-Harassment Policy to supplement our mission and ethics statements. The policy will include prohibitions against harassing, demeaning, or discriminating against any identity group. It also will include expectations that scientific and philosophical disagreements and challenges be expressed in a respectful and civil manner. We will be inviting feedback from the membership on this policy in the coming months.

As a part of the Annual Meeting, all attendees will also receive a post-conference survey, on which anonymous feedback can be provided that can assist us in making improvements in preparation for SSSS 2019 in Denver.

We care deeply about the experiences of our Members and conference attendees, and we are working hard to ensure a more welcoming and inclusive environment at all SSSS events. We wish to continue serving as your professional home.

SSSS Executive Committee
Eric Walsh-Buhi, President
Zoe Peterson, President-elect
David Bimbi, Treasurer
Terry Humphreys, Secretary
DJ Angelone, Membership Chair
Mandy Peters, SSSS Executive Director”


SSSS website:

Bailey JM. The Man Who Would Be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism. Joseph Henry Press, 2003.

Drier S, Anderson K. Prof’s book challenges opinions of human sexuality. Daily Northwestern, 21 April 2003.

James AJ. Plethysmograph: a disputed device. version of 16 May 2004.

Latty EM, Bailey J. Sexual arousal of male-to-female transsexuals: male-typical or temale-typical patterns? (unpublished, 2003) (PDF: requires reader)

Latty EM. Research interests. J. Michael Bailey faculty website. retrieved 17 May 2004.

Latty EM, Sullivan EA, Bailey JM. Gender and Sexual Orientation Differences in Self-report Arousal to Sexually Explicit Images American Psychological Association meeting, 28 May 2004.

Lawrence AA. Men trapped in men’s bodies: an introduction to the concept of autogynephilia. Web published at 1999.

Lawrence AA, Latty, EM., Chivers M, Bailey, JM. Measuring sexual arousal in postoperative male-to-female transsexuals using vaginal photoplethysmography. International Academy of Sex Research conference 2003. (PDF: requires reader)

Tremmel, PV. Study suggests difference between female and male sexuality. Northwestern University press release, 12 June 2003.

Zambreno K Dr. Sex: Michael Bailey gets into gay genes New City Chicago, 3 April 2003.