Autogynephilia

Dr Ray Blanchard, who dreamt up the theory of Autogynephilia, worked in a gender clinic with transsexual people in Toronto. He theorised that the phenomenon of transition could be explained as a paraphilia or perversion: love of onesself as a woman. The narcissist is in love with himself, and imagines the woman’s physical body in himself. He may also get erotic arousal from “Women’s activities”- in a passage which the Radfems would find particularly rebarbative, Dr Blanchard theorised about autogynephiliacs getting aroused by doing knitting.

I came across the theory in “Transsexual Women’s Resources”, owned by Dr Anne Lawrence, who at the time had particularly useful web pages, including pictures of the results of various surgeons, so one could make an informed choice. She seems to have taken the pages down now, all that remains is her robust defence of AGP theory and attack on the brain-sex theory which I consider more persuasive. Dr Lawrence is a male to female transsexual, who self identifies as autogynephiliac.

Sick with shame, and quite happy to believe that my desires were twisted and wrong, I devoured all this. It did not help that I saw a psychiatrist in 1998 who said “Mr Languish is not transsexual” and found I had narcissistic personality traits. I imagined myself on the “slippery slope”, that I would disappear into a madness of perverted fantasy: but I could not bear not transitioning. So I did. Now, I understand that other women also find their bodies, and even some clothes, give sensual pleasure- women are autogynephiliac- and it feels like I have connected with reality and spiritual maturity. But if I am autogynephiliac, I get to do my sex thing all the time! How cool is that?

I think AGP theory comes from an attempt to control us, and an emotional revulsion in Blanchard, suppressed from consciousness because he imagines himself to be a scientist and a doctor. It confuses cause and effect. I think TS folk like Anne Lawrence who embraced it have not conquered their own feelings of self-disgust, and are Uncle-Tom figures who attempt to have what they want on the Oppressors’ terms- and now, when we are far less oppressed, cannot bear to think they were wrong. I find it comprehensively refuted by the brain observations of Zhou and others. I resent how difficult Blanchard and others have made my search for self-acceptance, and am so pleased that I have achieved honest self-acceptance now. Part of that is being open to hear the acceptance of others, and giving others’ rejection only its proper weight.

————————————————————————————————————

I write a few days before I post, and a few days after writing that, I read this. It puts a completely different perspective on the matter. It fails, I think, to explain away the brain sex issues- there is more than one study, and more than one area of the brain implicated- but it shows Ray Blanchard as permitting rather than preventing GRS, and identifying two syndromes rather than one, through analysis. Unfortunately, it says things about myself which I do not like.

First, I am a pervert (or “paraphiliac”). Well, I find sex embarrassing and compulsive, just like most of the population. Second, I rewrite my history to make it more palatable. Here am I taking pride that I am completely committed to The Truth, and this says I am in denial. I think that is fairly common, but I had hoped…

But- I have what I wanted; and it is what I still want, or I would do something else. I really do not want to think of myself as a pervert. I do not want others to think of me as a pervert…

I suppose I just have to live with not knowing.

12 thoughts on “Autogynephilia

  1. Dear Clare

    I hate to be the party pooper on your “not knowing” but, my very personal reaction to what you write falls into two parts. First, and most importantly, you do know. You know with every breath what you are, what you desire and what feels right. When we use our emotions as our compass, we come to know ourselves well enough. And what that is has no bearing whatsoever on what others are telling us to believe. Conscious living is hard, but it is the best way. To choose for ourselves is the only way, to come to truth.

    And secondly, the knots of reasoning into which everyone else tie themselves when they try to forever “understand” everything – as if they ever could – are, I think, what produces the kind of anguished, verbal mess that you have been exploring. What are all your theories called? How do they manifest? To what degree are we one thing or another? Is knitting a perversion, now, or are women creatures only turned on by clothes and dressing and self titilation? Are the experts right or wrong? Does it matter.

    Go take another look at yourself. Only ask: what would love do now? In light of this question, all anguished theories can be exposed as fearful begging sham, a sham that seeks to shame others before they expose fear of the unknown. But you are not afraid, and need never be again, because you know what you are. That is your gift.

    Have a wonderful day.

    Ann xx

    Like

    • I do not think I am a pervert, because it was 22 months after starting to live full time that I had my operation, and by then for thirty months I had been taking testosterone suppressors. So I do not think a male sexual drive could have motivated me to have the op.

      The verbal thing is very interesting. Knowing things non-verbally seems to be a useful skill, and when I try to intellectualise with words, I tie myself in knots. But still I try to intellectualise with words, not trusting non-verbal knowing.

      Like

  2. AGP theory gets at me all the time. Makes me question myself tons, among many other things haha. I think quite a few people question themselves about it, but just dont admit it to others…

    I made a post myself about it awhile ago when I was wondering If infact it was just agp… it got linked to susans support website… from there it got like 800 views in the thread… people still come to my blog weekly from search results looking for that thread.. apparently quite a few people wonder about that theory, whether about themselves or just want more information I dont know… The interesting thing were the repsonses I got in that thread on susans. A few people stated they knew it was not just agp for them because they had those these feelings before they hit puberty. sooo yeah.. otheres said it was normal…. its like they needed to justify why they felt the way they did.

    I have seen other threads where some proclaimed it was a bunch of bs, Some said they had those sexual feelings as well, and quite a few stated they were never/never did plan on telling their therapist because it would throw up “a huge red flag” on their way to getting hormones… which i guess may be true…

    I feel like its really one of those things you just aren’t supposed to talk about in the community… unless you are trying to be rude and make fun of another individual or are discussing the theory’s of some more famous researchers… then you just scream they believe in the theory of agp and people gasp and get angry lol.

    Like

    • But why should it matter? If transition is what you want, why not just transition? I suppose the greatest reason is that you will revert, and regret the transition, and have a great deal of difficulty. I fit Blanchard’s AGP profile. Nearly ten years after starting to live full time, I have no desire to revert. So, I think I made the right decision even if I am really a pervert. What is more, I realised that, even if in five years’ time I would be reverted and trying to live male, perhaps permanently altered by hormones, the only way to find out that that was right for me was to transition. I had to pass through transition or I could never be happy presenting male.

      Arune’s argument is that Blanchard enabled people to have SRS. Before his theory, many gatekeepers would refuse surgery for anyone who confessed, once, to having been aroused by anything to do with transition. After Blanchard, they gave surgery to many more people. So the doctors accept that transition can be right for men who are AGP. They think the risk of reversion is not sufficient to justify refusing SRS. This being the case, why should it matter?

      Like

      • well if you are asking me personally why does it matter to me let me quote you (hopefully im not misquoting haha)

        “Sick with shame, and quite happy to believe that my desires were twisted and wrong, I devoured all this.”

        pretty much sums me up :P. aside im not happy about it i guess… nor is it just agp entirely I believe, but shame is definetly there… and half the time i do just think im a pervert when i get in those moods where I am ashamed about it all haha.

        I should probably link you to the post where I talked about it all but god i really dont need more people reading that (its still up on my blog i really just dont want another link of it lying around the internet blogosphere haha)

        Like

      • Yes. You quote accurately enough. What I would say, if I could, to myself eleven years ago is, take heart, do what you want, it will be alright.

        And- it remains possible that Blanchard’s theory is wrong.

        A further thought- Blanchard may have made it easier to get through the doctors, but harder to get past our own doubts.

        Like

  3. cant reply directly to your post again as wp wont let me, but yeah i mean i dont know if its agp, but just I dont know sometimes my gender gets in the way of my sexuality haha. Fun confusing stuff all of it :P.

    I dont know what blanchard has done aside reading the few things people blog about, but the way its been taken by the community (therapist trans individuals, those who hate trans people) many people certainly have turned it into a weapon against others and make it a source of shame for some, and a source of shame for anyone who says anything sexually related.

    Like

    • From one point of view, being a pervert is disgusting, and so is having your gonads removed. I do not think that we become more disgusting by being motivated by sex rather than “gender identity”. It could just be how we imagine others regard us, and our imagination is wrong: they do not think about us as often as we do. I do not think the theory is true, and even if it is, it is no barrier to a happy transition, or at least to transition being better than trying to pretend to be male.

      Yes, we do get rather hot under the collar discussing this one. But it is nothing to be frightened of, really. It looms large in our imaginations, perhaps, but not in reality.

      Like

  4. I think you have missed one point. Dr Blanchard does not say that all transsexuals are AGP, just some. He does acknowledge the brain studies that have been done and believes in their validity. If you do not self identify as AGP that’s fine, no one can tell you what you are other than you, but although you are not AGP that doesn’t mean that others are not.

    Like

  5. Blanchard made some interesting observations regarding male to female transgender patients at the “Clarke” clinic in Canada. Many of them reported that they was sexually aroused by the idea of having a woman’s body. There is no reason to dispute this fact.

    The theory Blanchard came up with to explain this phenomenon, however, has in no way been proven. In fact, Blanchard himself admits that this is nothing but a hypothesis. In spite of this he is now probably succeeding in getting “autogynephilia” into the DSM-5 as a mental illness distinct from gender identity disorder.

    All of this is based on one extremely simplistic and stereotyped understanding of sex and gender. To Blanchard sexual orientation equals femininity or masculinity. Andophiles are feminine. Gynephiles are masculine, regardless of birth sex.

    Androphilic transwomen are gay men, and therefore healthy. Gynephilic transwomen on the other hand are heterosexual men, and heterosexual men are masculine. Because of this they cannot claim any kind of femininity. Instead he proposes that they are men in love with the idea of themselves being a woman (erotic target location error).

    This logic would also entail that all XX lesbians would have to be masculine and “butch”. (They are not). Moreover, since autogynephilia is a product of male sexuality, there cannot be any female to male “autoandrophiliacs”. The fact is that I have been in contact with a large number of them.

    Anne Lawrence is now suggesting that the reason “autogynephiliacs” are perverst is that they (and implicitly herself) represent an evolutionary dead end. The fact that this line of argument means that homosexuals must also be labelled perverts seems to be of any consequence.

    The whole theory is bogus. A theory explaining “atogynephilia” as an expression of an inner female self (as for instance Julia Serano does) is much simpler and more elegant.

    Most transwomen and transgender people avoid talking about “atuogynephilia”. It is to stigmatizing. But that is not a solution, as it leads to the kind of doubt and guilt you are describing.

    I believe transgender people will have to develop their own language for describing this phenomenon. I have suggested an alternative term, crossdreaming. You can find a pretty thorough discussion of crossdreaming over at my blog ( http://www.crossdreamers.com ). There is also a discussion forum for crossdreamers over at http://www.crossdreamlife.com)

    Like

All comments welcome.

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.