Margaret McGhee and transgender people

Margaret Ann McGhee (born 1942) is an American technology executive. Shewas a prolific contributor on the support group dedicated to “autogynephilia” in early 2004, before group founder Willow Arune inadvertently got the group banned from Yahoo in 2005 for trolling and defamation.


Her 2009 autobiography states:

My adolescence, growing up in Texas in the fifties, was a nightmare of guilt, self-hate, confused emotions and sexuality – and, oh yeah, don’t forget the abusive step-mother. At fifteen I left home and headed to California where my grandparents graciously supported me while I completed high school. After graduating I moved out on my own and started working my way through college. Over the years and despite the confusion I gradually developed a male persona that gave me sufficient happiness. Perhaps to kill off that inner female once and for all, I married a smart and attractive wife who soon gave us a wonderful son. This marriage only lasted a few years however as my inner female was becoming restless. After our separation the “do your own thing” sexually permissive spirit of California in the sixties became my great escape. Those were heady times when I grew my hair long, resisted the war, smoked lots of dope and wore bell-bottoms and flowing shirts. My inner female was wishing for flowing skirts as well but I kept her repressed enough that my male existence was still the only face I presented to the world.

Over the next several years I started migrating northward. With stops in Santa Cruz and Eugene, the farther north I went the more I liked it. I eventually established a good life in Bellingham in the wet, cool and intensely green northwest corner of Washington state. I met and married a wonderful woman there. After a few years we moved to Idaho and together raised my son from my earlier marriage. Life was good. Except for the occasional stealth cross-dressing episode my inner female was safely tucked away from everyone. Then one day in 1997, after 22 years of marriage, my wife was killed by a drunk driver. In the weeks and months that followed, the woman inside me firmly reclaimed her place in my life. It was an overwhelming force that I could not resist. It just felt right. I became convinced that my destiny was to become as close to a biological female as possible through sexual reassignment surgery. I started down that path including the necessary psychological counseling and a year of HRT (hormone replacement therapy). However, as time went by I realized that I was not ready to completely abandon my male side which I had nurtured so carefully all those years and had become an important part of who I was. Also, I was reluctant to surgically alter my body unless I was absolutely sure that my happiness required it. I couldn’t confidently come to that conclusion and so I stepped off that train.

At the time I wasn’t sure how all this would work out but by following my feelings as honestly as I could and not analyzing things too much I seem to have found a happy middle ground for now, where I spend as much time as I wish in either persona. That’s not to say that my life is all happiness and bliss these days juggling dual external identities but it is far better than hiding my true feelings from those close to me. The few problems I face these days are practical ones, not ethical. I do try to stay focused on my many other interests in life and living each day to its fullest which is always a wise plan anyway. Aside from exploring human nature, some of these interests include playing the guitar and making music with friends, fly fishing, cooking and outdoor photography. A large part of my happiness these days is no doubt due to my marriage, going on three years now, to a wonderful and intelligent woman who appreciates both of us as much as we do her. And also, to the many new friends I have found since moving back to Washington. (2009)

Margaret has an interest in evolutionary psychology, a field which heavily underpins The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey. Bailey and Anne Lawrence are the primary proponents of the “autogynephilia” diagnosis created by Ray Blanchard.

Margaret has written an summary of the controversy available on her site:

Autogynephilia, a Narrative

also in PDF


2005 message

Margaret sent the following on 7 October 2005:

This evening I was browsing tsroadmap and was surprised to find a page there dedicated to some information about me. This was regarding some posts that I made in the past to the now long defunct autogynephila forum.

I seem to be described as being a supporter of Blanchard’s theory of autogynephilia.

I did spend a lot of time at the ag forum as you say. I did try to be as friendly as possible with the other members of the ag forum. However, my presence there was to politely argue against the concept.

While there I presented counter-arguments. I confronted both Anne Lawrence and Michael Bailey with those arguments. Much of the substance of my counter-arguments were taken from information that I found following links from your website.

Willow Arune referred to me as one of the non-believers – who was allowed to stay (probably because I did not personally attack anyone there even though I was frequently attacked myself). I was accused more than once by other members of being in cahoots with you, Susan James and Lynn Conway – or perhaps being a spy for you  Finally, they got fed up with me and I was kicked off. 

While there, I think I learned a bit and gained some understanding of the psychology of the transsexuals who supported the theory. That’s one reason I hung out there. I couldn’t understand how anyone could go through life feeling that badly about themself – and I wanted to understand it better.

In any case, I am definitely not a supporter of Blanchard’s theory. Nor do I believe that transsexuality or gender variance is in any sense a pathology. In the interest of accuracy, and because I would not want anyone to get the wrong impression it would be helpful if you corrected your listing.

Feel free to check me out further or ask me any questions you like. I wouldn’t expect you to change anything you’ve written unless you were certain that it was correct.

I do have an interest in evolutionary psychology. That may be why you assumed I supported Bailey. I’d say my understanding of the intersection of evolution and transsexuality is more along the lines of what Joan Roughgarden writes in Evolution’s Rainbow.

Yes, I believe human transsexuality is the result of evolution, as is every single aspect of human nature. I believe it is a perfectly natural outcome – to be celebrated, not pathologized.

I have not been active in any ts online groups for some time now. My interests have lately been in more general aspects of identity. I am working on an hypothesis that relates worldview to group conflict, alliance and other social phenomema. One reason I find this interesting is the firsthand experience I gained about the autogynephilia conflict from having in-depth discussions with members of the ag forum.

Thanks in advance for your attention to this matter,
Margaret McGhee

My response:

Hi Margaret–

Thanks for writing. When all this was going down, I found the best thing to do was to document everyone who got involved and sort it out later. This led to a pretty quick vectoring of the institutions from which all this BBL stuff was emanating, and how Bailey operates (science by press conference). Ultimately, Lawrence and Bailey are both self-hating [trans] chasers with different strategies for getting closer to the objects of their desire. This brings profound bias to the knowledge they produce and their writings about that knowledge.

I knew Arune would eventually be seen as a crank, based on Arune’s long trolling history on Usenet. Arune is simply replaying some old injury again and again in an attempt to control it.  Lisanne Anderson aka Lori Anjou eventually was seen that way, too, as well as Deni aka Suki aka Alejandra aka Steffie and all the other old school web trolls inhabiting that group. As I note here below the chart:

“Please note that several of the people listed above have expressed concern about the term, and do not necessarily agree it is a legitimate diagnosis.” 

That was meant to include you.

I also note that you stopped posting after an initial burst of activity, another common pattern as people began to see that it was a troll site. By the time Arune’s incompetence led to that group’s demise, it was basically a carbon copy of Arune’s Usenet “contributions” before and since: cut-and-paste jobs from other publications, plus slander and baiting of people Arune doesn’t like.

So, now we have a record of a bizarre attempt to create a community around an identity based on a sex-fueled mental illness. Several of the people involved had a similar learning trajectory as I did: my first impression was that “autogynephilia” was a love of self as a woman. I even sent Anne Lawrence a note around the time Lawrence published an introduction to the concept saying that it made sense. As with many others, I did not grasp that this was a paraphilic model which casts our motivations as a sex-fueled mental illness. One of my majors was classical Greek, so I assumed “philia” (friendly love, affection, friendship) could be considered in apposition to “phobia” (panic fear/hatred) and suggested to Dr. Lawrence that my own motivation might be better described as “autoandrophobia,” a hatred of my self as male. It was only when the Bailey book came out that I understood how “philia” was used by these guys.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to include your letter and this response on that page, as well as anything else you’d like to include. I knew a lot of the debate would be ephemeral, which is why I had a “document now, sort out later” philosophy. I wanted a historical record of the contemporaneous response. I still consider this event a turning point in trans history, the beginning of the end for the gatekeeping “authorities” who would medicalize and pathologize us the way they used to with gays and lesbians. Unfortunately, they have some key people in the President’s Council on Bioethics and involved in the DSM-V revision committees, so we are not out of the woods, yet. This will prove to be a decisive turning point in our fight for rights. BBL have done more to mobilize an international coalition of trans activists that anything since the invention of the internet itself.

Thanks again for contacting me! I look forward to hearing back from you.

In February 2006, I got the following note:

Hi Andrea, I mentioned several weeks ago that I would attempt to write an essay describing my experience as a dissenting member of the Yahoo AG-support group and what I thought about it all now. It’s been a major project but I seem to be running out of reasons to revise it further. So, if you want to post a link you are welcome to do that. It’s at:
I’d also be interested in your opinion.


LINK: Margaret McGhee’s personal site

LINK: Margaret’s theory about two “types” of transsexuals

LINK: Autogynephilia Redux: A Memoir – The Trans-woman Who Is Me