Activist Dismisses Transgender Psychology, Insults Gay Psychologist

  1. First, there is “Sexuality of male-to-female transsexuals”, a 2008 paper by Jaimie F. Veale, Dave E. Clarke, and Terri C. Lomax. Dr. Serano claims that, in this study, people who would be classified as autogynephilic under Blanchard’s theory and those who would not were not found to be divided by their sexualities (heterosexual or otherwise). Supposedly, this contradicts a fundamental component of Blanchard’s account. In contrast, Lawrence’s (2013) commentary tells us that Lawrence is unconvinced by the methods that the authors used to separate their human subjects into two groups: although one was supposed to correspond to autogynephilic persons in Blanchard’s theory and the other to those who are, according to that theory, not autogynephilic, both these groups were at least as high in autogynephilia as the human subjects classed as autogynephilic in Blanchard’s research. Because of this failure to separate individuals into the two categories appropriately, Lawrence does not find the study’s conclusions credible (p.27). In fact, Lawrence holds the view that those of the study’s findings which are actually valuable support Blanchard’s theory rather than undermine it. Thus, Dr. Lawrence’s main takeaway from this study seems to have been that it showed an overwhelming prevalence of feelings of autogynephilia among the male-to-female persons studied in it (see ibid.). Dr. Serano further alleges that the study found that numerous biological women examined showed signs of some form of autogynephilia and, therefore, sexual fantasies about oneself as female are not limited to transgendered individuals. Lawrence has a different account of that part of the study to offer, quoting an acknowledgement by the authors of the study in question that what they had observed in those biological women was apparently not autogynephilia as described by Blanchard (ibid.).
  2. Second, Dr. Serano lists “Autogynephilia in women”, a 2009 study by Charles Moser. We are told by Dr. Serano that the study’s author used a set of questions which was virtually the same as one used by Blanchard himself. Supposedly, he gave these questions to biological women and found that they overwhelmingly met an often-used definition of autogynephilia, and a large minority of them met a stricter one. In all likelihood, Lawrence would maintain that the survey used by Moser was rather too different from Blanchard’s in unfortunate ways. Thus, according to Lawrence (2013), Moser, as well as Veale et al., employed approaches which were gravely inadequate to their tasks. Lawrence makes clear that biological women can find it sexually stimulating to dress suggestively. They can also be sexually excited by the thought of being desired by others. While this is different from having a similar reaction to the thought of being female per se, the studies in question were not set up to distinguish adequately between these two phenomena (p.176). Elsewhere (p.27), Dr. Lawrence quotes Moser, the author of the study in question, as essentially stating that the “autogynephilia” measured in bilogical women in the study could not confidently be assumed to be the same phenomenon as Blanchard’s concept of autogynephilia, something occurring in “transsexual men”.
  3. Thirdly, there is “A further assessment of Blanchard’s typology of homosexual versus non-homosexual or autogynephilic gender dysphoria”, a 2011 paper by Larry Nuttbrock, Walter Bockting, and others. According to Dr. Serano, this study demonstrated that there were many individuals for whom Blanchard’s theory of two kinds of male-to-female transsexuality did not sufficiently account and race and age were shown to influence the frequency of occurrence of autogynephilic fantasies, which indicated that sociological variables beyond a person’s sexuality determined the presence of such fantasies. Once again, Anne Lawrence has produced a different account of the findings: in this account, the results of the study looked much like those at which Blanchard himself had arrived previously. Dr. Lawrence criticises the scholars behind the study for their choice to focus on supposed conflicts between the outcomes of their study and the theory of autogynephilia, including the supposed significance of the aforementioned demographic variables, which Dr. Lawrence disputes. For a more profound discussion, “Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies” recommends a previous exchange of ideas between Dr. Lawrence and the academics who had written the study, which took place through Letters to the Editor (Lawrence 2013: p.28). Something that is ironic is that, elsewhere in the same blog post, Dr. Serano actually criticises Dr. Lawrence for writing numerous Letters to the Editor about findings with which Dr. Lawrence disagrees. This means that, in the same blog post that attacks proponents of Blanchard’s ideas for supposedly ignoring contrary findings, Dr. Serano acknowledges the acknowledgement of those findings by Dr. Lawrence. The contradiction is blatant.
  4. Fourthly, there is “Evidence Against a Typology: A Taxometric Analysis of the Sexuality of Male-to-Female Transsexuals”, a 2014 study by Jaimie Veale. Naturally, this study is not addressed in “Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies” because it was published later. However, Dr. Lawrence has published a response to it as well — in late 2014, in fact, so Dr. Serano should have been aware of it at the time of writing of the blog post which we are picking apart. Dr. Serano alleges: “This study demonstrates that trans women’s sexualities […] fall on a continuum[…] rather than […] falling into distinct categories[…], thus further disproving Blanchard’s two-subtype taxonomy”. This claim does not even have to be refuted at all, since we can read in the abstract to said scientific article that “these results require replication with a more representative sample”. Thus, the grand total of useful evidence wich Dr. Serano is able to marshall against the well-established theory of autogynephilia appears to be equal to one article which states that its own findings “require replication”. Notwithstanding, for good measure, let us remark on this last article as well. The article does largely conform to Dr. Serano’s description, but there is a — rather unmerciful — 2014 critique of it by Dr. Anne Lawrence (Lawrence 2014). Now, Veale did argue back against Lawrence’s criticism in a response published in October 2015 (Veale 2015). However, that was after Dr. Serano’s blog post had been published, so it can hardly have been the reason why the post completely ignores Lawrence’s criticism of the original article. Moreover, Veale (2015) appeared to acknowledge that, if one started from Lawrence’s theoretical perspective and Lawrence’s understanding of what autogynephilia was, Veale’s original article was methodologically flawed (Veale 2015: 1758). This suggests that Veale (2015) could hardly be a refutation of Lawrence’s theoretical position on autogynephilia. Additionally, Veale (2015) did not directly address the concerns raised by Lawrence (2014) about the usefulness of self-reporting for research on the phenomena in question in general (1682). While it is not for a layman like me to decide who is right, Veale or Lawrence, the whole picture is decidedly different from the one painted by Dr. Serano, wherein proponents of Blanchard’s theory have failed to address articles including this one by Veale, and, by implication, Veale’s conclusions are unquestionably true. Let it also be noted that Veale’s rebuttal to Lawrence’s criticism ends with a reiteration of the assertion that more research is needed to expand on the conclusions in Veale’s 2014 study (Veale 2015: 1759). Veale remarked that, due to possible imprecision in the findings produced so far, further studies at a higher level of sophistication “are needed to distinguish if categories exist or not” (ibid.: 1758).




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