Nuttbrock et. al

Many transfolk make the claim that data supporting Blanchard’s hypothesis has not been replicated

Yes, because it hasn’t. The non-monotonicity has never been replicated, neither has his findings using penile plethysmograph or the social desirability scale. I could go on, but the short is that a lot of his research has not been replicated.

Already I’ve shown how it had been replicated by both the Leavitt&Burger study and the Smith Study, which was further refined by Lawrence when she showed that the statistical signal strength is increased when one carefully sorts by sexual history.

I’ll have to go read her articles on these two, but I doubt she’s accurately representing the research.

First, the conclusion, so as not to lose my reader’s attention:  The Nuttbrock paper confirms, absolutely confirms, the Freund/Blanchard two type taxonomy for Male-To-Female (MTF) transsexuals, one that is exclusively androphilic and one that is autogynephilic. There can be no doubt now.

There are a number of gigantic issues with this claim. First off is that the study never claimed that. Nuttbrock found a monotonic association between gynephilia and autogynephilia, found substantial differences between heterosexual and bisexual respondents, and concluded;

These limitations notwithstanding, we nonetheless conclude that a classification of the MTF population, based solely on sexual orientation, is fundamentally limited

Which seems to point out that Blanchard’s typology at its core is not as useful as other models.

The second issue is that an association between autogynephilia and gynephilia (which every study on sexuality and trans people has found) is not contested. I have never met anyone who contests that, I know I don’t. The contest is over whether a correlation proves causation (it doesn’t), and whether we can coherently create a mutually exclusive typology (we can’t). Nuttbrock et. al does not do any research on those claims, which makes it problematic to make the type of conclusion Brown does from the study.

Lawrence took the Smith study data set and further sorted out those who self-reported being androphilic but had a sexual history of being attracted to women, as being non-homosexual.

Here’s the issue. A lot of homosexual men (cis gay men) have a history of attraction to women. It’s pretty difficult to coherently categorize people’s sexualities into nice neat boxes when sexuality has been shown to change over time, and that the boundaries between bisexual and homosexual are permeable (Is homoflexible subsumed under the category of bisexual or homosexual? Or is it a distinction orientation?) What Lawrence did is disingenuous to say the least.

A very important study that Brown forgets to cite here is Nuttbrock’s reply to Lawrence, which replies to some of Lawrence’s claims and points out her fundamental misunderstand of a few core methods used in the study;

Our analysis showed that age and ethnicity, in addition to homosexuality, were statistically significant predictors of transvestic fetishism. Lawrence pointed to the moderately high correlations among homosexuality, age, and ethnicity and asserted that our multivariate regression analysis of these three predictors of transvestic fetishism was flawed due to multicollinearity (Light, 1995). The‘‘moderate effect sizes’’ among these predictor variables, according to Lawrence, rendered our regression analysis invalid. This reflects a basic misunderstanding of multicollinearity

Furthermore, they detail problems with Blanchard’s typology (these quotes are out of order and miss headings and other portions of the reply);

Blanchard’s dualistic typology of homosexual versus nonhomosexual or autogynephilic gender dysphoria is one broadly defined dimension for classifying this population, but it is simply too crude to reflect the diversity of sexuality in this population and to serve as a singular basis for understanding these individuals and their sexuality across differentage groups and ethnic categories.

At odds with this strong prediction, in Blanchard’s studies, and our study as well, some of the homosexual MtFs reported transvestic fetishism and, in contrast, some of the non-homosexual MfFs did not do so. The cases not predicted by Blanchard’s theory have been assumed to reflect a combination of measurement errors whereby some homosexual MtFs over-report autogynephilia while non-homosexual MtFs under-report autogynephilia (Blanchard, Clemmensen, & Steiner, 1985; Blanchard, Racinsky, & Steiner, 1986). Some under-reporting of this phenomenon may indeed occur in clinic-based studies (such as Blanchard’s) but invoking this particular combination of measurement errors in a broad-based community sample (such as ours) is highly speculative. A more productive approach would be to better understand aspects of sexuality in this population that are at odds with autogynephilia theory

Lawrence, following Blanchard, claimed that a dichotomous measurement of sexual orientation (homosexual vs. nonhomosexual) is a basic divide that fully classifies and sufficiently describes this population. This broad dualistic typology necessarily assumes that differences across categories of non homosexuals(heterosexual,bisexual,andasexual)arenotempirically
and theoretically significant. We found that bisexual MtFs reported statistically significant lower levels of lifetime transvestic fetishism and (if they reported it during adolescence) they were more likely to ‘‘age out’’ of it during post-adolescence. Rather than ignoring these differences, as Lawrence chooses to do, perhaps we should attempt to better understand them

We attempted to replicate Blanchard’s (1992) intriguing finding regarding a non-monotonic association between a continuous measurement of gynephilia and autogynephilia (including transvestic fetishism). Lawrence complained that we misread Blanchard’s original article regarding a hypothesized non-linear (inverted U) association between gradations of gynephilia and transvestic fetishism (as one indicator of
autogynephilia). Lawrence was indeed correct that Blanchard clearly distinguished between transvestic fetishism and autogynephilia and predicted that autogynephilia (not transvestic fetishism) would show a curvilinear association with gynephilia. Blanchard’s (1992) empirical analysis nonetheless showed that the level of transvestic fetishism, like the specific measurements of autogynephilia, dipped significantly at the highest level of gynephilia (Fig. 2). We attempted to replicate the non-monotonic association between transvestic fetishism and a continuous measurement of gynephilia

Ironically, it seems that Lawrence fundamentally misunderstands Nuttbrock, basic concepts in statistical analysis and possibly Blanchard himself.

Nuttbrock, et al.  followed the Smith example and used self-report, but with Blanchard’s original four categories, sorting into exclusively androphilic, bisexual, exclusively gynephilic, and asexual.  I must emphasize, this was self-reported sexual identity, not actual sexual history

And I must emphasize that sexual orientation is a political category not deterministically decided by past action, but contemporary engagement in sexual intercourse as well as relevant factors like current attraction and identification with the category. To classify androphilic

Another important difference between the Nuttbrock study and the others is that while all of the other subjects were from a gender reassignment clinic seeking somatic feminization, those in the Nuttbrock study were obtained through advertisements and direct contact, in the community at large

Which is an important factor to consider when assessing the validity of Blanchard’s typology. If it only applies to a specific subpopulation, then it does not explain a large part of the trans community.

This means that potentially, an important personality type may have been missed, as it has been remarked that asexual transsexuals are typically schizotypal (fancy word for non-social, shy, loner)

It’s not clear what she means by “important personality type” here.

 It also means that many of the subjects are not strongly motivated toward somatic feminization, instead simply identifying as “transgender” or “gender-queer”.  Indeed, 28% of the subjects are not even taking feminizing hormones.

The fact that 28% of the subjects were not taking feminizing hormones could easily be explained by a number of factors; lack of the diagnoses required to obtain the hormones, needing more money before being able to afford hormones, still being closeted, and so on.

It is important when reviewing the above data, that as in all sociological studies of taxa, because we have not yet found a perfect instrument by which to sort the taxa, and do not have a perfect instrument to detect autogynephilia, we are only able to statistically tease out the two types.  After all, we are asking people to be self-reflective, honest, and accurate, about something that is very personal and as yet poorly understood.  But about the existence of the two types, there is no doubt.

I think this is where some theory on what taxon/typologies are (we should note that taxon are primarily used in the biological sciences, while the terminology of typologies is used in the social sciences, with some important differences) is going to be useful. But that’s for another day.


1 thought on “Nuttbrock et. al”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s