sillyolme

On Closets

(Post in question)

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.

 

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sillyolme

Owo I’ve been noticed

(Post in question)

The title, of course, is a reference to the owo bulge meme and the notice me senpai meme which have been amalgamated into a single phrase.

The second best, for an academic, is to be noticed and incompetently mocked.

Here’s the issue Kay: labeling me as incompetent while refusing to refute or acknowledge any of my arguments makes it seem as if you cannot accept or refute criticism.

Oh… and it will attempt to “debunk Blanchardianism”… you know… just like biblical creationists / “intelligent design” science denialists attempt to “debunk Darwinism”.

The comparison of a questionable at best sexologist “theory” about the etiology of transgenderism (to use an unpopular word) to an extremely well-supported theory about evolution that has been replicated thousands of times by tens of thousands of scientists is disingenuous. Many of Blanchard’s claims have not been replicated by the studies that Brown professes that support the typology, and Nuttbrock et al’s reply to Lawrence’s comment on their studies is a great read on how Blanchard’s typology is limited in its usefulness and application.

Be sure to compare these science denialisms with my Silly Objections list and play “Silly Objections Bingo”:

I guess my next article will have to be about your list, but unfortunately you fail to refute any of the criticisms, but instead label them as “silly objections”. Data-supported, legitimate criticisms are not to be dismissed in order to reify a series of hypotheses.

You’ll note that the only ones that I “satisfy” are (and can support, have supported and will support with evidence):

“Not ALL transwomen fit the two types!”

“Women are autogynephilic too! It’s just normal female sexuality.  They are just ‘female embodiment fantasies’ ”

“Autogynephilia is just an effect of gender dysphoria.”

Although my hypothesis on the last one is a bit more nuanced than that

“Straight (androphilic) transwomen are autogynephilic too!”

Replace “are” with “can be” and then I’ll agree

“There’s no proof.  It’s only a theory.  That data has never been replicated.” (ignoring the half-dozen referenced peer reviewed papers with data from over a thousand subjects)

Many of Blanchard’s claims have not been replicated, while some of his others claims have been.

“That hypothesis is unfalsifiable so it is pseudo-scientific bullshit!” (ignoring the fact that autogynephilia and sexual orientation are directly observable behaviors)

The unfalsifiable part that people are referring to is that bisexual, lesbian and asexual trans women are deemed liars if they do not fit Blanchard’s typology. If all exceptions are dismissed as fraudulent data, then there can be no rejection to the theory. And I would contest the claim that sexual orientation is directly observable, but that’s for another day.

Possibly this one:

“Early transitioners didn’t express autogynephilia because they started HRT (or puberty blockers) before they developed erections.”

 

sillyolme

Here Be Liars

(Post in question)

Autogynephilia in cis women does exist. Denying the facts is just harmful to the cis women in question. It’s science-denying and it prevents them from fully expressing their sexuality.

Now that was mostly satire, but what I said about the existence of autogynephilia in cis women is true.

First, there is the wonderfully creative, if fallacious, redefinition of autogynephilia, the softening of the language, more than simple euphemism, of calling it “female embodiment fantasies”.  How delightfully it allows one to then state that, of course, women naturally see themselves as female embodied as they have sexual fantasies.  See, women are autogynephilic too.  Or, as some twist it around, “Blanchard is defining normal female sexuality as a paraphilia!”

Autogynephilia is stigmatizing. It’s pathologizing. Reconceptualizing it (despite whether cis women have autogynephilia or not) as female embodiment fantasies allows trans women with supposed autogynephilia to feel more comfortable about labeling themselves.

Women are not sexually aroused by, nor become romantically enamored with, their femaleness

Here’s where Kay Brown is wrong. I don’t like the blog or the person here, but they did have a survey that found significant levels of attraction to femaleness among cis women that’s about the same/slightly higher than in trans women. Furthermore, Veale et. al 2008 used Blanchard’s scale and found that cis women do qualify as autogynephilic.

But that is what autogynephilia is… sexual arousal and/or romantic attachment to the contemplation of becoming or being female in and of itself.

So, definitionally cis women have autogynephilia

If autogynephilia were an effect of gender dysphoria and a female gender identity, we would predict several consequences from that effect to show up in the data.  We would expect that those who were the most gender dysphoric from an early age, those who are the most naturally feminine from an early age, those who transition the soonest, to report the most autogynephilia.

This ignores at least one of the Blanchardianist skeptics argument about the origin of autogynephilia: that autogynephilia is a result of being closeted and internalizing gender dysphoria for long periods of time. If an individual is open about their gender dysphoria (see: ‘early transitioners’), then they would not have the decades of denial and internalization that the closeted individuals do (see: ‘late transitioners’). Having the highest level of gender dysphoria does not necessitate that autogynephilia is developed, but rather that the internalization of gender dysphoria does. She homogenizes anti-Blanchardianist arguments into one neat and nice strawman that she tears down.

 In Nuttbrock (2009), those who had begun Hormone Replacement Therapy as teenagers only 14% reported having any autogynephilic arousal to cross-dressing compared to 82% of the gynephilic subjects (of whom only one had started HRT as a teen).

This could alternatively lead to the conclusion that transition reduces and/or prevents autogynephilia from developing. This conclusion is further supported by evidence of reduction of FEFs/AGP after transition in adults.

Further, if it is an effect of gender dysphoria and of a female gender identity, we would expect that only those who experience gender dysphoria and claim a female gender identity, to experience autogynephilia

The contention that autogynephilia is a result of both gender dysphoria and a female gender identity is a vicious strawman for a few reasons. The idea that autogynephilia is a result of gender dysphoria and a female gender identity is only posited as a single etiology, which does not preclude the possibility of other etiologies of autogynephilia in individuals of different gender identities.

sillyolme

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.

sillyolme

Moser Was Right

An older Kay Brown post this time.

 

only superficially resembled questions used in Blanchard’s original instrument that are only valid for gender dysphoric males

The idea that autogynephilia is only present in ‘males’ is completely unfalsifiable because it’s defined that way. Moser’s study showed similar phenomenons in cis women that have bearings on Blanchard’s theories, which we can summarize into the short epithet “cis women have autogynephilia too!”. If we operationalize autogynephilia in a different manner, perhaps as ‘arousal to the thought of one being a woman’ (which is often how Kay Brown defines, describes and uses the term), then it’s clear that Moser’s study shows autogynephilia in cis women.

For example, one question asked if one fantasized about having a “sexier” body?  (One would hardly expect that women would fantasize about having an uglier one!)

When trans women fantasize about having a woman’s body, they are fantasizing about having a sexier body. It’s sexier to them, it’s what feels right to them, and it’s the body that they should have had.

Another question asked about becoming aroused while preparing for a sexual encounter with a lover.  (Such arousal would arise due to anticipation, not the mere fact of getting dressed in womens’ clothing!)

The statement in parentheses has some truth to it (I’m sure that anticipation is a confounding factor), but there is little evidence to say that all of the results to the question can be explained by anticipation.

The validity of Blanchard’s survey instrument (or was it originally Freund’s?) was developed against a group of known autogynephilic males and a control group of men that was known not to be so.  Thus, the validity has only been made for males, in a gender clinic setting.

Again, it’s an unfalsifiable claim to say that autogynephilia is only present in “males” if you define it that way. It’s tautological and ignores the pragmatics of showing similar or identical phenomenons in individuals of different genders.

Does anyone doubt that there is a difference between a man answering, in the affirmative, the question, “I have been aroused by wearing womens’ underwear?”  A man who is likely to be thinking of the first time he snuck into his sister’s underwear drawer, slipped into his own bedroom, and posed with panties and bra, observing how he has made his body look more like the girls he daydreams about at school, and ends up masturbating… compared to a woman, likely to be thinking of how she grabbed the stuff to put on this morning, while thinking about how much she is looking forward to that night with her boyfriend?

Here’s Kay Brown’s problem. Now she isn’t comparing the correct items to each other. She is comparing the preparation for a sexual encounter question to the arousal question among cis women and trans women, and then acting like anyone is equating the two. It is not so.

Given that I’ve been seeing this so called study remaining to be popular among autogynephilic transwomen, I thought I should share some factoids about it.  First, it was published in the Journal of Homosexuality a journal with such a low impact factor one would have trouble finding one lower.  The impact factor is only 1.364.  For comparison, the impact factor for Nature is 41.456 and for Science is 33.611.  The impact factor of the Archives of Sexual Behavior, where most of the serious papers on transsexuality are published is 2.589, about twice that of the Journal of Homosexuality.  Oh… and second, Dr. Charles Moser is on the journal’s editorial board.  Now, do you think that might have an effect on whether a really weak paper that he himself wrote could get published there?

Comparing two of the top two journals in two of the largest fields to a smaller journal in a small field sounds very disingenuous.

Some of the journals Anne Lawrence publishes in don’t even show up on the impact factor lists that I’ve searched through (Journal of Gay and Lesbian Psychotherapy)

Advances in Psychosomatic Medicine, which her “Autogynephilia: An Underappreciated Paraphilia” paper was published in, has an impact factor of 0.43.

Another one of the journals Anne Lawrence publishes in, Journal of Sex Research, has a similar impact factor today that the Journal of Homosexuality did then.

Third, where in the study is the validation data?

I’m not exactly sure what she’s refer to by “validation data”. I was thinking either data validation or replication? If she was expecting replication after less than a year after the paper was published in a relatively slow field, then it’s unrealistic.

What is the alpha value (test-retest correlation)?

I doubt he had the funds, time or want to retest. It’s not necessary for a pioneer study into the idea that cis women can have autogynephilia, which is why I’ve emphasized the need for further research on whether autogynephilia is present in cis women and to what extent.

Where is the control group?

There need not be a control group, and I’m not sure what the control group would even consist of. The point of the study (badly worded) is to show that autogynephilia is present in cis women to some extent. The fact that it may have a higher prevalence in some demographics than others is mostly irrelevant to the study at hand.

Indeed;

My study was a small, proof of concept study. It never purported to be definitive,
although it does cast doubt on Blanchard’s prediction about women

.

Where is the clinical observations of autogynephilic behavior in women that led to the trial construction of the instrument?

Also irrelevant. He adapted Blanchard’s scale (see Moser’s response to Lawrence) to show whether autogynephilia (as conceptualized by Blanchard) has a similar equivalent in cis women. If he had used a different instrument, then you would have pointed out that the instrument is very different from Blanchard’s and then does not represent “True Autogynephilia”. It’s a catch-22.

 

It’s also very very worth noting that Veale et. al found autogynephilia using very slightly modified versions of Blanchard’s scales (adding more attractive because cis women already have ‘female forms’), at the rate of *52%*;

It should also be noted that there is another article that has shown autogynephilia in natal women. Veale, Clarke, and Lomax (2008) studied a group of biological females who scored as autogynephilic on their variation of Blanchard’s autogynephilia scales. Lawrence and Bailey (2009) conveniently calculated mean scores for nonhomosexual (autogynephilic) MTFs from Blanchard’s (1989) data; they found the Core Autogynephilia Scale mean was 6.1 (range 0 to 9) and the Autogynephilia Interpersonal Fantasy scale was 2.7 (range 0 to 4); higher scores imply more autogynephilic arousal. On Veale et al.’s versions of these scales, 52% of the biological female subjects scored 6 or higher on the Core Autogynephilia Scale and 3 or higher on the Autogynephilia Interpersonal Fantasy Scale (J.F. Veale, personal communication, July 7, 2009). Lawrence and Bailey concluded that Veale et al.’s transsexual subjects who scored at these levels were autogynephilic. Therefore, they should conclude that Veale et al.’s biological female sample is also autogynephilic. This is another confirmation that autogynephilia is common in natal women