Person of Interest
It should be noted that this article is from 2010, prior to the removal of Gender Identity Disorder from the chapter on psychosexual disorders and renaming it Gender Dysphoria in a different section. The second article by Julia Serano is from 2020 and completely shreds the theory. I have not read either one in it's entirety yet. Try to keep the discussion reasonably intelligent. Insults will simply be ignored.
Over the last 20 years, Ray Blanchard, Ph.D., with a variety of coauthors and collaborators, has proposed a theory that links the sexual orientation of male-to-female transsexuals with the presence or absence of autogynephilia (erotic arousal by the thought or image of “himself” as a woman). Blanchard's Autogynephilia Theory suggests that the association between sexual orientation and autogynephilia among male-to-female transsexuals is clinically important and the association is always (or almost always) present. Although the theory has been criticized by clinicians, researchers, and transsexuals themselves, it has not been critiqued in a peer-reviewed article previously. This article will attempt to fill that gap. Key studies on which the theory is based will be analyzed and alternative interpretations of the data presented. I conclude that although autogynephilia exists, the theory is flawed.
As a scientist who has written extensively about the field of transgender health, I am always astounded by how often Ray Blanchard’s autogynephilia theory is cited or invoked, given that it has been so resoundingly refuted in the research literature. In this essay, I will attempt to explain why so many people still find the theory compelling, despite its lack of scientific validity. Hopefully, this will be a helpful “explainer” for lay readers who don’t necessarily want to get too “into the weeds” regarding this thirty-year-old sexology theory, but want a general sense of what all the fuss is about.
This essay is divided into three sections: 1) The theory (and the evidence against it) in a nutshell, 2) Trans women’s objections to the theory (on top of it being incorrect), and 3) So who still believes autogynephilia theory, and what are their rationales? A companion essay entitled Autogynephilia, ad hoc hypotheses, and handwaving is in the works (edit 4–5–20: it’s now been published, click the link to read it!); unlike this piece, that one will delve into some of the more esoteric arguments and claims made by those who still adhere to the theory.