Since the creation of the diagnosis “autogynephilia” in 1989, it has been widely criticized. Most experts and lay people understand that the term “autogynephilia” is not scientific because it is not value-neutral. It is a diagnosis of a mental illness. Using value-neutral terminology is a key to good science. Many have proposed value-neutral terms and conceptualizations for the various phenomena it attempts to describe. “Autogynephilia” activists continue to push for the term despite the criticism.
Below are the groups of people who argue that “autogynephilia” should not be used because of its pathologizing and biased meaning.
World Professional Association of Transgender Health
WPATH is the largest global organization of experts serving the health needs of gender diverse people. They removed “autogynephilia” from their consensus statement on the Standards of Care for our community. It had appeared in the 1998 version 5. It was removed in 2001 and remained out in Version 7 in 2012.
Julia Serano (biologist)
Transgender biologist and author Julia Serano has proposed the terms Female/Feminine Embodiment Fantasies (FEFs) and Male/Masculine Embodiment Fantasies (MEF) as terms that may be used to discuss such erotic thoughts or fantasies. In Serano’s view, such fantasies are found among all types of transgender people, independent of assigned gender or sexual orientation. She sees them as natural expressions of a subconscious self.
The Case Against Autogynephilia (PDF)
- Larry Nuttbrock
- Walter Bockting
- Andrew Rosenblum
- Mona Mason
- Sel Hwahng
Others (details to come)
Rebecca Allison (cardiologist)
- Allison, Becky (December 16, 1998). Janice Raymond and Autogynephilia. http://www.drbecky.com/raymond.html [archive]
- Joan Roughgarden (biologist)
- John Bancroft (psychiatrist)
- Ben Barres (neuroscientist)
- Talia Mae Bettcher (philosopher)
- Lynn Conway (engineer)
- Dallas Denny (psychologist)
- Randi Ettner (psychologist)
- Bailey and Lawrence: To what end? (by Caitlin H.) http://www.catatwaldenpond.com/mt/archives/2003/05/index.html#000578 [archive]
- Holmes, B.C. (2001) B.C. on Gender: Autogynephilia http://www.bcholmes.org/tg/autogyne.html [archive]
- Johannsen, Astrid (February 23, 2003). Autogynephilia is such bullshit! http://home.earthlink.net/~phaistos/archives/rant/auto.html [archive]
- Johannsen, Astrid (May 11, 2003). The Bailey/Blanchard/Lawrence Clearinghouse Sweepstakes. http://home.earthlink.net/~phaistos/archives/rant/bbl.html [archive]
- Dierdre McCloskey (economist)
- Margaret Nichols (psychologist)
- Alice Novic (psychiatrist)
- Larry Nuttbrock (sociologist)
- Joelle Ruby Ryan (american culture)
- Margaret I. White (psychiatry trainee)
- Katherine Wilson (psychologist)
- Jaimie Veale (psychologist)
- Madeline H. Wyndzen (psychologist)
- Florence Ashley
- Imogen Binnie
- Jed Bland
- Zoe Brain
- Christine Burns
- Clare Flourish
- B.C. Holmes
- Jo Inkpin
- Andrea James (born 1967)
- Maya Kaye (born ~1970)
- Samantha in the UK (YouTube)
- Zinnia Jones
- Kate Madden
- nineteenthly / Amanda / Mandy
- Siobhan O’Leary
- Beth Orens
- “Silly Ol You”
- Gwen Smith
- Jos Truitt
- Cristan Williams
- Kelley Winters
- Natalie Wynn
Many people who experience erotic or autoerotic interest in feminization do not plan to make a public or full-time gender transition. Most use fake names or are not out.
Many dislike biased terms like “autogynephile” or “wannabe” and prefer value-neutral and non-pathologizing terms.
Trans activist Jack Molay coined the terms crossdreamer and crossdreaming to describe and discus cross-gender fantasies, including erotic crossdressing and role playing. The term is not defined by sexual orientation, assigned gender or the age at which someone becomes consciously aware of such fantasies. The term refers to the act, not any specific theory that explains this phenomenon (although Molay’s own explanation is very similar to the one of Serano).
The term has gradually come to encompass all kinds of life-affirming cross-gender fantasies, activities and interests, beyond the sexual ones. As seen on the Crossdream Life internet forum, people who make use of this term may identify as cisgender, queer, nonbinary, transgender or transsexual.
Crossdream Life (tapatalk.com/groups/crossdreamlife)
Felix Conrad is another activist who has made use of the crossdreamer term, and who is critical of the “autogynephilia” theory. He primarily addresses the needs of crossdreamers who are not transitioning.
Alice Novic is an American psychiatrist who has proposed a two-type taxonomy called “Love-to-be-Femme” and “Act-Femme.”
Alice in Genderland (aliceingenderland.com)
- Through the Looking Glass with Alice Novic, M.D.
- Column 3 (2006): The Two Types of Trans People
- Column 4 (2007): The Two Types of Trans People (continued)
Fallacious use by critics
The reason most critics put “autogynephilia” in quotation marks is to distinguish the value-neutral phenomena being described from the biased conceptualization. Failure to do this is a logical fallacy called reification or concretism. Some people have reified the term despite criticism of certain aspects. For instance, some have argued that “autogynephilia” exists in other populations, which reifies it as a legitimate term and concept. Claiming “autogynephilia” exists acknowledges all of its biased assumptions about trans people (e.g., that trans women are men, that “paraphilia” is a legitimate concept, and that a rigid homosexual/heterosexual binary in males exists).
Other people have argued that there is a “third type” of transsexual, which reifies both “homosexual transsexual” and “autogynephilic transsexual” as legitimate terms.