Kay Brown embodies the elitist sense of all-knowing. She claims to know and understand lesbian trans women’s experiences, forcing her totalizing narrative upon their lived experiences to justify her dogmatic ideology. In this piece, she tries to force lesbian trans women to “come out of the closet” as “autogynephiles”.
So, knowing that all of the transwomen you know are also… go ahead… be brave… say the word out loud… autogynephilic! Isn’t it time you and your friends talked about it? Honestly talked about it. (… and being honest about it also means not trying to lie to yourself or others… such as saying that non-transwomen also experience autogynephilia… they don’t). Isn’t it time to face this secret, to own it, to use that self-knowledge to guide you toward a happier future?
The word “autogynephile” does not fit everyone. Kay, will come out and call yourself a “homosexual transsexual” instead of the clever evasion of the terminology via the shift to “transkid”? We didn’t think so. Fundamentally, Brown wants to preserve the stigmatizing and poisoned terminology that came from Blanchard’s bad tree. Even if his theories were correct, his terminology has been forever corrupted in the trans and public memory. TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or as I like to refer to them: trans-exclusionary reactionary fascists) regularly use “autogynephilia” and Blanchardianism to invalidate lesbian trans women or an outright incorrect application of his schema to invalidate all trans women as fetishists. This can be seen on “Gender Critical” spaces like the subreddit /r/GenderCritical, MumsNet, blogs like Gender Trender, Autogynephilia Truth and Sex Not Gender. Blanchardianist rhetoric, terminology and ideology is used as a rhetorical weapon to bludgeon lesbian trans women into submission, back into the closeted spaces they’ve existed for their whole lives. “Coming out” as autogynephilic is not going to help trans women, it’s going to hurt them.
Furthermore, trans women have been known to be forced back into the closet by autogynephilic ideology: a very common narrative is happening upon Anne Lawrence’s website in the early days of the trans internet only to have “autogynephilia” and Blanchard’s typology shoved in their faces. Inevitably, the narratives forced upon young lesbian trans women’s experiences causes self-hatred, regret, confusion and often re-closeting and the delay of transition. Autogynephilia theory might even be a very minor factor in why lesbian trans women seem to transition later than straight trans women.
Because, when given a chance, in survey after survey, for decades, your friends and those like them quietly acknowledged that they were sexually aroused by cross-dressing, at least they did as teens… and a bit over half admit that they still do many years later. Imagine that. YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
The moving target of autogynephilia. Here autogynephilia is conceptualized as the sexual arousal to cross-dressing, but it the definition shifts by ideological convenience. Sometimes, only “real” autogynephilia is Blanchard’s original scale (without any specifications as to what values constitute autogynephilia and what don’t), the more literal etymological definition of “sexual arousal to the thought of being a woman”, conceptualizations as a fetish, a sexual orientation, a paraphilia, an erotic target location error or all four at the same time, sometimes as a model. The definition and conceptualization changes to fit the twists in logic that are required to create a psuedo-coherent theory.
So, they hid it, perhaps even lied about it to their therapist. They hid it from even themselves. Oh… if only those memories of being a teenager and finding those lovely panties, or a bra… slipping them on… feeling those delicious… oopsie… we can’t talk about that.
Lesbian trans women often don’t talk about it because it’s so often a part of their past, a past that they want to forget. When their feelings and sexual arousal is utilized as a weapon to deny transition, to invalidate identity and to malign, it quickly becomes something that must be hidden out of need.
But, the closet. Where we all hide our “true selves”. Or do we? The rigid dichotomy we construct to sever our closeted selves and “out” selves may not hold up to the scrutiny of analysis. Is there a fundamentally different person inside and outside the closet? For some, maybe. Some alter their behaviors and psyche to mold to societal expectations of what it means to be a “good” cisgender heterosexual man/woman, but this experience isn’t universal. Coming out hasn’t fundamentally changed me as a person. With each person I came out to, I didn’t experience some radical shift in personality, in experience, in existence, in personhood. Even more, do we have an obligation to “come out”? Must my experience be broadcasted for all to hear? A Eurocentric model of gender and sexuality insists that it must be publicized for all to see, that we must come out. But this experience is not available to everyone: safety concerns are rampant for many living in global majority countries. One of the most moving articles by a trans person I’ve read is Jennifer Coates I Am A Transwoman. I Am In The Closet. I Am Not Coming Out. Every time I read it, tears run down my face. Discussions of closets are not easy because the closet is formed by the qu\\rphobic violence of society, yet every qu\\r person has a close relationship with it.