Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Science and Ideology: The Blanchard-Bailey-Lawrence Model of Transsexuality

Autogynaephiles, Homosexuals, and Fabricators:

The Blanchard-Bailey-Lawrence Taxonomy of Trans Women

I. A Hypothetical

Let us suppose that someone claimed to have found that rape is primarily a function of the sexuality and presentation of the victim, and proposed a binary taxonomy of rape victims:

(1) The provoker: Provoker-type rape victims are heterosexual women no older than their mid-to-late twenties at the time of the incident. They are generally sexually active, and are characterised by general attractiveness and a preference for attractive, even provocative modes of dress and behaviour. In these women, the rape is the subsconsciously desired result of their behaviour and presentation.

(2) The confabulator: The confabulator, like the provoker, is heterosexual, but homely and unattractive, and at least in her late twenties or thirties. She is not sexually active, nor does she dress in a particularly attractive or provocative manner. She is most likely to have convinced herself that she was raped in order to deceive herself into believing that she is sexually desirable despite her age and appearance.

Let us further suppose that the person who has “discovered” these categories also claims that there are no categories outside of the two above, and that any woman who claims not to fit within these categories in any particular is either lying or delusional. In dealing with these claims, rational people will likely do as suggested by Noam Chomsky in The Case Against B.F. Skinner[1], and ask:What is the scientific status of the claims? What social or ideological needs do they serve? The questions are logically independent, but the second type of question naturally comes to the fore as scientific pretensions are undermined.”

The scientific pretensions of the provoker/confabulator taxonomy would most likely be dismissed with derision by all rational observers because this binary taxonomy accords no validity to the accounts and experiences of the women involved, implicitly privileges the rapist’s claims over those of the victim, and is not falsifiable, i.e., any example that might lead the rational observer to question the validity of the model is automatically deemed a fabrication or a delusion.

If the proponent of the hypothetical model sketched above were to respond to serious questions about his methodology and the substance of his claims with derisive comments about “political correctness” or insinuations that critics were mentally unbalanced or improperly motivated, this would be taken as proof that even the proponent of the model considers it indefensible (as already suggested by the built-in “liar/delusional” catch-all).

Thus, the scientific status of the claim would be recognised virtually immediately as nil, and rational observers would quickly move on to examine the social and ideological needs that the provoker/confabulator model serves. They would turn their attention to the significance of repeated assurances that rape victims are generally liars and to lurid and detailed descriptions of the attractiveness of the proponent’s research subjects. They would note that the entire taxonomy operates to validate the rapist whilst marginalizing and dismissing his victim.

It would, thus, quickly become clear that the provoker/confabulator/ liar model is a pseudoscientific fabrication put forth for the likely purpose of validating the perpetrator of rape and harming the victim. Its proponent and adherents would be ipso facto discredited, and attention would be returned to real scientific work.

II. The Blanchard-Bailey-Lawrence Autogynaephilic/”Homosexual” Model

In the 1980s, Ray Blanchard, of the disreputable Canadian Clarke Institute, proposed a model of male-to-female transsexuality (like many of his colleagues, he ignored female-to-male transsexuality altogether), at the heart of which was a binary categorisation very similar to the hypothetical one sketched above:

(1) “Homosexual[2] [sic] transsexuals”: “Homosexual” transsexuals, i.e. heterosexual trans women, are sexually attracted to men, present in a conventionally feminine manner, are attractive as women, and transition at a relatively young age.

(2) “Autogynaephilic (AGP) transsexuals”: Autogynaephilic transsexuals are trans women who transition later in life, are not conventionally feminine in appearance or behaviour, are not particularly attractive, are sexually attracted toward women, and are sexually aroused by the idea of themselves as women.

It must be stressed that, as in the hypothetical above, the BBL model claims that these categories encompass all trans women. While this taxonomy in itself would seem trivial, Blanchard (and his adherents Anne Lawrence and J. Michael Bailey) added to these two discrete, all-encompassing categories assertions about causality. “Homosexual” (i.e. heterosexual) trans women transitioned in order to be attractive to heterosexual men, while “autogynaephilic” trans women transition out of a “mis-directed” heterosexual sex drive that leads them to sexually fetishise the idea of themselves as women.

The BBL model attributes male-to-female transsexuality entirely to sexuality: Matters of identity not only take a back seat to sexual desire as the driving force behind transition; they are actively dismissed as fabrications. In his The Man who Would be Queen[3], Bailey writes as follows:

Most people—even those who have never met a transsexual— know the standard story of men who want to be women: "Since I can remember, I have always felt as if I were a member of the other sex. I have felt like a freak with this body and detest my penis. I must get sex reassignment surgery (a "sex change operation") in order to match my external body with my internal mind." But the truth is much more interesting than the standard story.

(Bailey, p. 143; emphasis supplied). Thus, in a few short sentences, Bailey has relegated an account that will resonate with many (if not most) trans women to a significant degree to the “standard story”, a piece of conventional wisdom that is much less interesting than the “truth”.

“One way”, Bailey continues,

that the standard transsexual story is wrong is in its singularity. Two types of men change their sex. To anyone who examines them closely, they are quite dissimilar, in their histories, their motivations, their degree of femininity, their demographics, and even the way they look. We know little about the causes of either type of transsexualism (though we have some good hunches about one type). But I am certain that when we finally do understand, the causes of the two types will be completely different.

(Bailey, p. 145). Thus, the “standard story” is juxtaposed against the “truth”: a binary typology about which Bailey admits to nothing more but a “hunch” and his certainty that “when we finally do understand, the causes of the two types will be completely different”. This is, in itself, an odd claim to be making in a purportedly scientific work. It is one thing to propose a direction for future research, a direction that may or may not be promising or have intuitive appeal; it is quite another to state that there is reason to be “certain” about the ultimate result of inquiry into an admittedly poorly understood subject. Claims like this should make us suspect any scientific pretensions in a work that makes them.

Bailey explains the fact that the observations of the general public and the relevant medical community do not generally confirm the BBL model by asserting that “members of one type sometimes misrepresent themselves as members of the other.” Indeed, “they are often silent about their true motivation and instead, tell stories about themselves that are misleading and in important respects false.” (Bailey, p. 146) The claim that trans women who are not consistent with the BBL model are deceptive is a pervasive feature of the model.


In discussing the “autogynaephilia” category invented by Blanchard, Bailey dismisses out of hand the single most consistent feature in trans people, the painful lifelong inconsistency they feel between their gender identity (“subconscious sex,” in geneticist Julia Serano’s phrase) and their superficial physical and social sex, asserting that


Autogynephilia is not primarily a disorder of gender identity, except in the obvious sense that the goal of the transsexual is to become the other sex. At the cross-dressers' meeting I attended, the wife of one of the men asked me: "When they say they feel like women, how do they know what that feels like?" This question, which reflected the woman's skepticism about the men's account, is profound. How do we ever know that we are like someone else? Unless you believe in extrasensory perception (and I don't), the answer must be found in overt behavior, which somehow signals fundamental similarity. Evidently, the woman did not get those signals from the men. (If instead of being the wife of an autogynephile, she were the sister of a homosexual transsexual, I doubt she would have asked an analogous question.) The fact is that despite their obsession with becoming women, autogynephilic transsexuals are not especially feminine.


Bailey supports his claim about “autogynaephilia” with an example drawn not from the trans women he claims to be describing but from cross-dressers, many of whom have no desire to transition. One could as reasonably draw conclusions about schizophrenics by making observations about LSD enthusiasts.


Also notable is his insistence on remaining at a superficial level, even to the extent of reporting the views of the wife of one of the cross-dressers whilst completely ignoring anything the cross-dressers themselves might have to say. In reporting the rhetorical question of the wife of one of the cross-dressers at the meeting, he does not point out that “to feel like a woman” has more than one meaning. While it can certainly mean “to feel similar to a woman” (or “to want [to do] something”, come to that), in this case the more likely meaning is “to feel one is a woman”, i.e., to have a persistent sense of inconsistency between one’s social and superficial gender and one’s gender identity/subconscious sex. Except where the context is truly ambiguous or where one is being intentionally obtuse, a normal speaker of the English language will instinctively assign the respective interpretations to the phrases “I feel like a meatball sandwich”, “I feel like a woman,” and “I feel like you do”. Bailey has no time for such niceties, and thus does not hesitate to select the most easily dismissed interpretation.


Having thus elected to interpret “I feel like a woman” as “I feel similar to how a woman feels”, Bailey seeks to dismiss this statement:


How do we ever know that we are like someone else? Unless you believe in extrasensory perception (and I don't), the answer must be found in overt behavior, which somehow signals fundamental similarity.

Here, Bailey seeks to discredit what is in reality a rather hackneyed, stereotypical phrase by setting up a false dichotomy (as he is wont to do). Either one believes in ESP, and therefore can claim to “feel like” someone or something in Bailey’s preferred sense (his failure to even mention empathy is unsurprising), or one must remain at the entirely superficial level of “overt behavior”. If one’s overt behaviour is not “especially feminine”, then, Bailey decrees, one cannot claim to have a female identity. Or, as Bailey puts it, “Supposedly, male-to-female transsexuals are motivated by the deep-seated feeling that they have women's souls. However, - - - men who want to be women [sic] are not naturally feminine. There is no sense in which they have women's souls[4]." (Bailey, p. xii)


How, then, Bailey – despite his avowed scepticism about ESP – can claim to know that what others feel is not what they say they feel, is a mystery on which I feel no overwhelming urge to speculate.


Thus, for Bailey, all women behave in a stereotypically feminine manner and overt behaviour is a reasonable basis for drawing far-reaching conclusions about a person’s identity. The possibility that these “autogynaephilic” trans women might have learnt early on that feminine gender expression in someone perceived to be male would be met with severe consequences, and thus learned to project masculinity to the extent they were able as a defence mechanism, does not even occur to Bailey. Either you demonstrate a satisfactory degree of conventional femininity, or can lay no claim to a female identity. One wonders how the butch lesbian community took the news.


Thus, the identity of trans women whose superficial behaviour is not sufficiently conventionally feminine to satisfy Bailey is at best an “obsession”. One might think, therefore, that Bailey might be more inclined to portray the second BBL category, the “homosexual” transsexual, in a more humanising fashion. Alas, while Bailey certainly finds the latter category – trans women who are more conventionally feminine, are heterosexual in sexual orientation, and transition at a younger age – more attractive (“There is no way to say this as sensitively as I would prefer, so I will just go ahead. Most homosexual transsexuals are better looking than most autogynephilic transsexuals” [Bailey, p. 180]), this does not stop him painting this category with equally derogatory stereotypes.


Attractiveness aside, Bailey is no more respectful of the identities of “homosexual” trans women, who “simply lust after men” (p. 191), than he is of those of “autogynaephilic” trans women. These women, in Bailey’s eyes, are “a type of homosexual man” (p. 146) with a “short time horizon, with certain pleasure in the present worth great risks for the future." (p. 184) “"Prostitution,” Bailey notes, “is the single most common occupation that homosexual transsexuals in our study [a sample found by “cruising” bars frequented by sex workers] admitted to." (Id.) "Nearly all the homosexual transsexuals I know work as escorts after they have their surgery." (p. 210)

When not discussing the occupational similarities in a sample of trans women selected from venues likely to have a high percentage of sex workers, Bailey moves on to his other favourite subject: their sexual attractiveness (to him) and willingness to sleep with men. In this vein – apart from the already-quoted line – Bailey states that "Many of the transsexuals we interviewed in the course of this study were more attractive than the average genetic female." Consider also his description of “Kim”:


I start upstairs to get the panoramic view, and I see Kim for the first time, on the stairs, dancing, posing. She is spectacular, exotic (I find out later that she is from Belize), and sexy. Her body is incredibly curvaceous, which is a clue that it might not be natural. And I notice a very subtle and not-unattractive angularity of the face, which is also not clearly diagnostic on this tall siren. It is difficult to avoid viewing Kim from two perspectives: as a researcher but also as a single, heterosexual man. As I contemplate approaching her, I am influence by considerations from each perspective. I have this strong intuition that I am correct about her, but if I am not, I may have the unpleasant experience of simultaneously insulting, and being rejected by, a beautiful woman. […] in a tribute to her beauty, I decide for now not to approach her.


(p. 141-142; emphasis supplied). When we move on to “Terese”, we are regaled with pronouncements such as “In many ways Terese has blossomed since her surgery. She looks great. Not only do people fail to notice that she is a transsexual, but most men find her sexy and attractive. Depressed and in self-imposed isolation when I first saw her, she is flirtation, energetic, and socially busy now. Among other things, she models lingerie [at least it’s a representative sample with such common professions]. (p. 150; emphasis supplied) Later, we are told that “homosexual [sic] transsexuals aspire to be objects of desire.” (p. 180) “Homosexual” transsexuals express femininity because “they want to attract men, and they get constant feedback (in the form of propositions from men […])…This allows them to hone their presentations faster than the autogynephilic transsexual, who has spent most of her femme life looking at the mirror by herself.” Reading all of this, one is forced to wonder whose sexual proclivities this book is supposed to be about.


In addition to prostitution, for which Bailey believes that “homosexual” trans women, with their “male” psychology, are “especially well suited” (p. 185), Bailey uses a combination of rumours and sweeping generalisations to tell us of another supposed occupation of “homosexual” trans women: theft:


As for shoplifting, homosexual transsexuals are not especially well suited as much as especially motivated. For many, their taste in clothing is much more expensive than their income allows. Transsexual call girls are among the few who can afford expensive clothes. In female impersonator shows, transsexuals often wear designer gowns, which are widely believed (by other transsexuals) to have been acquired via the five-fingered [sic] discount.


(Id.)


It is, of course, possible to propose another model that accounts for all of the characteristics on which the BBL model is purportedly based. One could begin by noting that there is nothing particularly unusual about one’s sexual fantasies including oneself in the body of one’s identified sex. Indeed, it seems reasonable to assume that non-trans men and women, regardless of sexual orientation and gender expression, generally have sexual fantasies in which they are men and women, respectively. Both groups would likely have a great deal of trouble achieving arousal whilst imagining themselves in the body of a member of a sex inconsistent with their own gender identities. One would further note that these “autogynaephilic” fantasies generally subside once trans women begin living in their identified sex, and therefore cease to feel the dissonance the BBL group are at great pains to ignore, and posit that such fantasies are a function of the deep, subconscious need to live and be perceived as their identified sex, rather than the other way around.


Once we remove the constraints imposed by the assumptions of the BBL model, it is also not hard to deal with one of Bailey’s admitted stumbling blocks: the fact that there are gay men who are highly feminine in gender expression but nonetheless do not transition. If we accept the BBL model, this datum is a true riddle, because it is based on the assumption that sexual orientation equals gender expression, and that gender identity does not exist. Thus, the existence of men and women – regardless of sexual orientation – who do not have any desire to transition and live as the other sex despite having gender expression typical of the other sex, cannot be explained. However, once we give credit to the accounts of trans people and others who have long reported a lifelong, persistent sense of dissonance between their assigned sex and their gender identity/subconscious sex, all of these mysteries quickly evaporate. It is only by Bailey’s refusal to accept what he admits is the consensus of the relevant professional community that the answers to questions like these become unattainable.


Not only is a model like the one sketched above – which reflects the essential contours of the scientific consensus – able to provide adequate answers to questions that lead BBL adherents to throw up their hands and change the subject; such a model is capable of providing consistent explanations of the bulk of the available data on issues of gender identity, expression, and transsexuality without the need to resort to so many assumptions. Unlike the BBL model, this model has no need to assume that trans people are fundamentally deceptive or deluded, that trans men are somehow a completely different species, or that identity simply cannot be the motivation for the desire or decision to transition.


II. The Scientific Status of BBL-Style Taxonomies


Ultimately, Bailey’s account (and the underlying BBL model) is abysmal from a scientific standpoint. It does not meet one of the basic – and most easily met – requirements for a scientific theory, falsifiability, because it pervasively paints trans women as liars who will misrepresent themselves to avoid being placed in one of the two categories. Thus, it does not even attempt to account for the many lesbian and bisexual trans women who are conventionally feminine in appearance and gender expression and transition in their twenties or earlier and do not have a history of erotic cross-dressing, nor does it seriously contemplate trans women who, at least prior to transition, manage a conventionally masculine gender expression, but transition young (thus undermining its ability to adequately describe and explain a wide range of pertinent data). The ink that could have been dedicated to these vaguely important issues is instead dedicated, in substantial part, to Bailey’s “hot or not” judgements about trans women. It is not exactly a great shock that this “theory” has failed to gain acceptance in the relevant professional communities.


However, the above discussion of the BBL model does not mention its most salient characteristic: its vapidity. It takes little to no intellectual effort to invent BBL-type taxonomies for any imaginable group of people. One is reminded of a popular joke: “There are two kinds of people: those who say that there are two kinds of people and those who don’t.” Indeed, about all one needs to do in order to create a BBL-type taxonomy is to start by (1) declaring that there are two kinds of people. Then, carefully following Bailey’s injunction to stick to the superficial (lest one appear to believe in ESP), (2) one delineates the specific characteristics of the “two kinds of people” identified. In order to escape triviality, the dichotomy must then be (3) enhanced by making assertions about causation: the overarching category to which these “two kinds of people” belong exists because of a common superficial characteristic allegedly shared by the two groups. Once this is all in place, all one has to do to render one’s BBL taxonomy immune to contrary evidence (particularly non-superficial contrary evidence) is (4) to claim that “members of one type sometimes misrepresent themselves as members of the other,” and that both types “are often silent about their true motivation and instead, tell stories about themselves that are misleading and in important respects false.”


It is instructive (or, at the very least, amusing) to illustrate this by creating a BBL-type taxonomy for the BBL clique and their adherents. Essentially, one would say, BBL adherents break down into two fundamental types: deluded BBL adherents (DBAs) and mendacious BBL adherents (MBAs). Both groups commonly claim that they are fundamentally scientists, and that their adherence to the BBL model is scientifically motivated, and (the former type in particular) may indeed actually believe that this is the case. However, the argument would go, the careful observer will discount these protestations (after all, who can truly claim to be a scientist unless they actually know how it feels to be a scientist, by ESP perhaps) and instead look at the common denominator in the overt behaviour of the two groups. They both are obsessed, in different ways, with sexualising trans women. DBAs need to believe (and MBAs, similarly, need to convince others) that trans women are, in fact, men, who transition either out of a pathological need to have sex with large numbers of heterosexual men or out of a pathological need to achieve sexual arousal and climax by seeing themselves as women.


According to this model, these types are not readily visible to the untrained eye, since MBAs commonly misrepresent themselves as DBAs (and may even come to believe this themselves), and both types are often silent about their true motivation, and instead tell stories about their “research” and “findings” that are misleading, and, in important respects, false. Why, a proponent of this model would ask, do BBL adherents exist, given that there can be no true scientific motivation in a group of pretend scientists? One answer would quickly commend itself: both groups spend an inordinate time – even at the risk of public ridicule and the loss of their careers and credibility – sexualising trans women and portraying them as men. This pathological need could be termed alloandrophilia[5] (aloe-andro-feel-ya), a need to achieve sexual arousal and climax by viewing others as hypersexualised men.


Both DBAs and MBAs will often take offence at being assigned to either diagnostic category, and try to downplay the erotic aspects of their fixation with viewing trans women as men. Many will invent long, detailed narratives of their “research” and even go to the extent of founding “scientific” journals to create the superficial impression in the uninformed public that they are in fact real scientists, despite the fact that their overt behaviour will often appear to be anything but scientific. In any case, the argument would go, we must discount anything we may hear about the “true” motivations of BBL adherents. While one occasionally encounters open and honest BBL adherents of both types, who admit to the erotic nature of their obsessions, most BBL adherents are desperate to convince both others and themselves of the validity of the standard BBL narrative.


Because it is easily possible to shoehorn any group one wants into a BBL type taxonomy (though the above case has at least empirical validity speaking for it), its scientific status is even more undermined. The BBL taxonomy fails to conform to the criteria of a scientific theory in multiple respects. First: it lacks explanatory and descriptive adequacy in that it fails to adequately explain, or even describe, a wide range of pertinent data. Second: it seeks to create an unsupported catch-all (lying) in order to discount any contrary data, thus rendering it unfalsifiable. Third: the BBL taxonomy is vacuous and lacks any serious theoretical content, and thus is accurately termed trivial.


Accordingly, the scientific status of the BBL taxonomy is nil.


III. The Social and Ideological Function of the BBL Taxonomy


Moving on to the second issue, the social and ideological needs served by the BBL claims, Bailey himself inadvertently tips his hand in a section dedicated to the issue of public and private funding for sex reassignment surgery:


My undergraduate students at Northwestern are surely more liberal than average […] but even most of them balk at the idea that the surgery should be subsidized. They are especially hesitant to support surgery for nonhomosexual transsexuals, once they learn about autogynephilia. The idea of men sexually obsessed with having vaginas is incomprehensible to them, and like most Americans, they are too puritanical to give sexual concerns much priority in the public trough. But even when I invoke the standard transsexual narrative – “Imagine that you have felt your entire life that you had the body of the wrong sex” – they balk. When I press them, they say something like the following: “But they don’t have the wrong body. They are mentally ill.”


(p. 206; emphasis supplied) In other words, Bailey expressly acknowledges that the effect of teaching the BBL model, especially to inexperienced undergraduates who may not know any better, is to bias them against the legitimacy of the needs of trans women. By inculcating in these students “the idea of men sexually obsessed with having vaginas”, he is – by his own account – able to eliminate any empathy or understanding the students might have for the “standard” (i.e. actual) narrative. The typical response Bailey claims to get when he presses these students is exactly the one he has been at great pains to propagate: “They don’t have the wrong body. They are mentally ill.” (Id.)


Thus, while not capable of even attempting to explain the vast range of gender-variant identities and behaviour without resorting to broad, sweeping assumptions, the BBL model is quite suited to the ideological and social needs of those who seek to do serious harm to the social, political, and legal position of trans women. This also explains why Bailey would choose to address his book to a lay audience, rather than the relevant scientific community: like the undergraduates he describes, the lay public is unlikely to have the sophisticated understanding of the issues that would allow his colleagues to recognise his work as nonsense.


IV. Conclusion: Conforming Popular Ideology to Reality


Returning to the hypothetical case we considered initially, it is important to remember that it is not particularly hypothetical. While the terminology and pseudoscientific window-dressing are products of my own imagination, the basic ideas that the model put forth were common coin just a few decades ago. Why, then, would the hypothetical provoker/confabulator model now be likely to be dismissed with derision, while the long-discredited and fundamentally flawed Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence fetishist/effeminate gay man model can be published by an imprint of the National Academy of Sciences? Why can the proponent of such pseudoscience, after being exposed, be portrayed in the media as the victim, and those who seek to counteract his propaganda as the aggressors?


I would submit that the answer ultimately lies in the hypothetical case. What happened that caused the scientific community and the public to go from generally accepting the ideas about rape underlying the hypothetical provoker/confabulator model to recognising it as the misogynistic nonsense it is? The data did not change. The ideas underlying the model were no more objectively valid before than they are now. However, the political position of victims of sexual assault has changed. Through the feminist movements, these and other (cisgendered) women have demanded a voice in defining their lives and their experiences, and their fundamental right to self-determination and personal autonomy. One sign of the moderate success they have enjoyed in these efforts is the fact that a proponent of a model of rape like the hypothetical one sketched above would be immediately recognised by most as a misogynist and an apologist for rapists.


Trans women, on the other hand, have not yet been successful in their struggle to define their own lives and experiences, much less in vindicating their right to meaningful personal autonomy. Because of this, the proponents of the BBL model can play to the media (the only forum left since their colleagues have long since rejected it), and expect the prevailing climate of ignorance and cissexism to prepare fertile ground for their propaganda. However, the response of a number of trans women – scientists, educators, lawyers, and others – to The Man who would be Queen is a definite step in the right direction. Their immediate efforts to debunk the BBL pseudoscience and document the severe methodological and ethical irregularities of Bailey’s work[6] successfully led to Bailey’s forced resignation from his post as department chair at Northwestern, and caused the National Academy of Sciences to remove his book from their website. While those who would seek to prevent trans women telling their own stories on their own terms were quick to cry “censorship” and blame the justified outrage of those defamed by Bailey’s work on “political correctness” or “identity politics”, it is only through persistent, vocal, and public challenges to bigoted propaganda such as Bailey’s that the ideological climate will be forced to catch up to the realities of trans women’s lives.



[1] Available online at: http://www.chomsky.info/articles/19711230.htm

[2] The BBL model categorically denies that trans women are, in fact, women, and thus considers trans women who are attracted to men to be “homosexual”.

[3] Available in full text online at: http://web.archive.org/web/20041010020208/books.nap.edu/books/0309084180/html/1.html#pagetop

[4] While much could be said about references to “souls” in a work that claims to be grounded in the scientific method and based on “research”, there are much bigger fish to fry.

[5] From the Greek allo- meaning other and andro meaning man/male.

[6] See, e.g., NAS member Lynn Conway’s documentation at http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TS/LynnsReviewOfBaileysBook.html

7 comments:

WSR Photography said...

Thank you very much for this excellent essay on the subject. It's clearly one of the best I've read to date and can't be dismissed as biased against Mr. Bailey and his (stupid) model. I do think that one reason transwomen have problems with society is expressed by Jenifer Boylan's post. Society hasn't accepted transwomen as real people and human beings just getting through life as best they can. And facing society is often the greatest fear transpeople have than their feelings about themeslves. The problem isn't transpeople, but society.

hfarmer said...

I have written a long reply to this and posted it on my own website.

http://360.yahoo.com/hontasfx

In short what I did was show from neurological data on the INAH(1-4) and the BSTc, Quantum Theory, and mathematics, that "gender identity" are entangled states. The point of the exercise is that the beloved idea of "brain sex" as well as the idea of "brain sexual orientation" (that most homosexual people and researchers belive) analysed using basic principles from physics imply a deep connection between gender identity and sexual orientation.

Basically that BBL and "brain sex" are both half right. BBL taxonomically and Brain sex⊗brain sexual orientation eitologically.

As ususual in science no one is 100% correct.

Élise Hendrick said...

For the BBL group to be even "half right" in terms of taxonomy, it would have to be proven that there are only two discrete categories of trans women. Even Blanchard's own work failed to demonstrate that (see this analysis of Blanchard's "studies" for a detailed discussion of the myriad problems with Blanchard's own work). In order to get even that far, one would have to completely reformulate the BBL taxonomy in order to conform it to the basic standards of science (nontriviality, explanatory and descriptive adequacy, falsifiability), which would result in a radically different taxonomy from that presented by Blanchard, Bailey, Lawrence, and their small but fanatical group of adherents. This would be particularly difficult if we eliminate the BBL assertions about aetiology, because we would be left with a classification system that doesn't even attempt explanatory adequacy and only describes certain outlier cases (BBL "studies" are characterised by their tiny convenience samples [generally less than 20]).

Of course, the real question is: what purpose would be served by this or any taxonomy? Here, Bailey makes his purpose quite clear: he is attempting to pathologise and sexualise trans women in order to convince the lay public that "They don't have the wrong body. They are mentally ill." (Bailey, p. 206). Either a taxonomy serves some useful purpose in terms of helping professionals to aid and study trans people (that's another thing: in order to take the BBL taxonomy seriously, they'd have to at least attempt a serious study of trans men), in which case it's useful, or it serves only ideological purposes (like the BBL taxonomy), in which case it's worthless from a scientific and therapeutic standpoint.

hfarmer said...

@Elise

If you have read my blog posting (360.yahoo.com/hontasfx), the one on my blog then you will understand what I am about to say.

The model I presented on my blog IS NOT BBL theory at all. What I did was take two totally different theories.
(you might want to read up on the subject of mathematical psychology)

One that says that the cause of male homosexuality is caused by a certain structure in the brain. An another ( you know Zhou BSTc and all that) which says that transsexuality is caused by a structure also in the brain. Both of these structures lie in the hypothalamus.

With me so far?

I then used concepts from physics, principles that govern all mathematical science, to construct models of homosexuality, and transsexuality. Then I used another concept from mathematical physics to combine them. That combination yieled a continuously infinite number of possible mixed, entangled, states of mind. More than enough to represent each and every individual transsexual who ever has or ever will exist.

In other words sexual orientation and gender identity are separate but connected in deep subtle but profound way. You cannot equate them or split them apart totally any more than you could remove the pieces of brain that control them wihout killing the person. They are part of a whole.

I say BBL theory is half right becuse if you trace over the Hilbert space of the theory I constructed in a certain way you can get a model that looks like BBL theory. A model in which many aspects of sexuality and transsexuals are summed over and expressed as a number. Kind of what Bailey expressed with that questionaire in his book.

The real problem with BBL theory was that in tieing sexuality to transsexuality from the start they ended up having to trace over and loose so much information about a given transsexual.

Trace over the hilbert space I constructed in a different way and you get the "HBS"/"brain sex" notion of transssexuality that so many transsexuals like. The problem with those ideas is that they are not right either. We are sexual beings and sex is an important part of a whole person ("identity" if you wish).

I hope that I am understood now and that my point of view has been comprehended. It is riddiculous to assume that their can only be two types of people when it comes to this controversey people who are "pro BBL" and people "against BBL".

As Sallam ul Lakium

Élise Hendrick said...

One that says that the cause of male homosexuality is caused by a certain structure in the brain. An another ( you know Zhou BSTc and all that) which says that transsexuality is caused by a structure also in the brain. Both of these structures lie in the hypothalamus.

With me so far?

Indeed. We're talking here about a small study in a poorly understood field that certainly indicates interesting directions for research, but not all that much beyond that.

I then used concepts from physics, principles that govern all mathematical science, to construct models of homosexuality, and transsexuality. Then I used another concept from mathematical physics to combine them. That combination yieled a continuously infinite number of possible mixed, entangled, states of mind. More than enough to represent each and every individual transsexual who ever has or ever will exist.

So what you're saying is that you've actually managed to unify psychology with the already unified fields of chemistry and physics, a truly remarkable discovery.

OK, then.

In other words sexual orientation and gender identity are separate but connected in deep subtle but profound way. You cannot equate them or split them apart totally any more than you could remove the pieces of brain that control them wihout killing the person. They are part of a whole.

And yet they are quite independent of one another. Or are you claiming otherwise?

I say BBL theory is half right becuse if you trace over the Hilbert space of the theory I constructed in a certain way you can get a model that looks like BBL theory. A model in which many aspects of sexuality and transsexuals are summed over and expressed as a number. Kind of what Bailey expressed with that questionaire in his book.

That's the Cosmo-style questionnaire that assigns an "autogynaephilia" point if you work as a lawyer, scientist, doctor, etc., and a "homosexual" point if you work as a prostitute, cashier, lingerie model, etc. The one that is set up so that if you make it to +3 on the "AGP" questions, you don't even go on to the "HSTS" questions, and that assigns points based on the person's subjective attractiveness? That's an interesting star to be hitching your wagon to.

The real problem with BBL theory was that in tieing sexuality to transsexuality from the start they ended up having to trace over and loose so much information about a given transsexual.

The real problem with BBL "theory" is that Blanchard took data that didn't bear out what he said, and over-interpreted the shit out of it in a way that no one else has been able to replicate.

Trace over the hilbert space I constructed in a different way and you get the "HBS"/"brain sex" notion of transssexuality that so many transsexuals like.

I thought we were talking about science here. What "many transsexuals like", in your opinion, is irrelevant. Why don't we talk about the scientific consensus (the one that considers BBL a joke) rather than using Bailey's "transsexual smokescreen" to avoid real criticism of the model.

I hope that I am understood now and that my point of view has been comprehended. It is riddiculous to assume that their can only be two types of people when it comes to this controversey people who are "pro BBL" and people "against BBL".

Are you the HFarmer who was posting so heavily on the feministing.com thread? If you are the same person, you certainly spoke quite highly of the BBL model there, to the point of using Bailey's favourite technique of remote-diagnosing complete strangers to counter scientific criticisms. If that was you, then you can probably understand why one might assume that you adhere to the BBL model. If that was some other hfarmer, then I do apologise.

In any case, it would be more accurate to say that one is either "pro-BBL" (i.e. supporting a "theory" that doesn't even meet the most elementary scientific standards and is based on essentially nothing) or "pro-science".

hfarmer said...

Yes I am the same Hfarmer. I said at the other blog that BBL theory "has merit" Here I said it is half right. Basically the same meaning. What I also said at the other blog is that I met Dr. Bailey back ca 2000 and saw how he behaved with my own eyes. Personally he is a nice person. That is separate from the theoretical questions to me.


So what you're saying is that you've actually managed to unify psychology with the already unified fields of chemistry and physics, a truly remarkable discovery.


Not my discovery. There is actually a whole subfield of psychology that is called mathematical psychology[1]. There is at least one journal I know of devoted to it [2] . There is also a subfield known as psycho-physics. Which is some what related to my argument [3]. In this subfield of psychology they use the same basic Ideas that I did. The only thing I did that is probably new is to conceive of the brain as a quantum mechanical system and use the rules and formalism of quantum mechanics to analyze it.


On what my little model says about gender identity and sexual orientation you asked the question.
And yet they are quite independent of one another. Or are you claiming otherwise?

:-?

This statement is the heart of our argument. Perhaps I am using, and I do not mean this as any kind of insult, a vocabulary that you do not understand (abstract algebra's of abstract vectors in an abstract type of space). It probably does not help that some of the mathematical special characters will not display correctly in some browsers. So let me try and say this another way.

in plain language this is what I was trying to say:

Suppose you wanted to understand how some complicated "thing" made of many parts works. How would you go about figuring this out? You may well break the "thing" up into it's constituent "simple parts" and see how they work individually. Then put the "thing" back together. When this is done to most "things" in general behave differently than one would get from only looking at their simpler subparts. You know the old saying the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts... ( Take perming (or relaxing) your hair for example. I have activator in one bottle and relaxer in another bottle. I could know the chemistry of the activator separately, and the chemistry of the activator separately. Only when combined do they become useful so to understand how this stuff straightens my hair I have to understand the more complex chemistry of the combined whole. Another example would be taking apart your PC and looking at the pieces. Separately one can understand the hard-drive, motherboard, monitor etc. However knowing only those parts and ignoring the interactions between them and how their behavior changes when they are combined to make a PC would lead to a poor understanding of the PC. I could go on)

Basically that is what I am saying about the brain and how ones sexual orientation and gender identity while they can be well understood separately are not isolated in any sense, at all. I showed through mathematical physics that I explained on my blog that the states of gender identity and sexual orientation are "entangled" (to any reading this really carefully read the definition at [4]) not the same, not classically dependent on each other but they are quantum mechanically "entangled" That "entanglement" is key.

This entanglement does not result in BBL theory directly nor does it result in "brain sex" theory directly. It results in a theory that can explain what those simple models do and much more...through entanglement. Gender identity is NOT a function of sexual orientation, nor is sexual orientation a function of gender identity. However they are parts of a whole, system called the human mind/brain. To ignore that fact is dubious no matter how you slice. it.

Last but not least I am a theoretical physicist. Don't tell me about science lady. For all any of you know I could be the next Feynman, Einstein or Gallileo .


[1]Wikipedia: mathematical psychology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematical_psychology

[2]Journal of mathematical psychology:
http://www.elsevier.com/wps/find/journaldescription.cws_home/622887/description#description

[3]Wikipedia:Psychophysics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychophysics
[4]wikipedia:entanglement
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_entanglement#Background

Élise Hendrick said...

--Pseudoscientific blather omitted--

Last but not least I am a theoretical physicist. Don't tell me about science lady. For all any of you know I could be the next Feynman, Einstein or Gallileo .

Someone needs to tell you about science. Certainly, you think highly of yourself, and hope that others will as well. Like Bailey, you probably really impress people, as long as they know nothing about what you're talking about.

Psychology is lightyears away from being unified with anything. Claiming otherwise will impress only people who are as ignorant about the field as you.

But patronising me was a nice touch. Go troll elswhere.