Diane Frank Selections: Psychiatric Writings
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What Shrinks Think
If you've ever wanted a concise modern history of how psychiatry has viewed
gender and sexual variance in the US, this article packs a lot of information
and references into a very small package. Naturally, I couldn't help picking
it up and bringing it here for your amusement. Now about that slip Freud was
Here's a link to an article by Moser and Kleinplatz. It suggests strongly that "transvestitic fetishism" is an illness invented by psychiatrists who are into enforcing social norms, rather than representing a truly dysfunctional condition in a person's life. I rather agree, but I go a step further and suggest that while people who are transgendered are likely to have sexuality and eros different from Ozzie and Harriet, that merely having a taste for satin and lace (or wingtips and neckties going the other way) doesn't make you transgendered. If you have a fetish, you can safely enjoy it without having to worry about the rest of your life. Now this ought to draw some rejoinders in the forum.
Some one on a forum I participate in kindly provided the following excerpt from a text by Green and Blanchard. They seem to be saying that homosexuality, gender identity disorder, cross dressing of all sorts and transsexuality are just variations on theme. Read it and judge for yourself. (Can you say confuses association with causality?)
Mike Bailey has finally published his book "The Man Who Would be
Queen". Drawing heavily on Blanchard (see above), Bailey describes in
a readable form a theory that works as follows: Boys who are feminine will
mostly grow up to be gay, and a few will become what I'll call transkids.
These transkids often go through a 'gay boy' phase before seeking to
transition. Like gay men, these people who seek sex changes early in life
are promiscuous, or "boy crazy" in one observer's mind. They
also seek to become exotically beautiful women and seek heterosexual men as
partners. To the extent that so many of these kids are throw aways whose
parents cannot face their gender differences, Bailey may be again confusing
cause and effect when he talks about promiscuity, sex work and the like in these
cases. But it is clear that he does not regard them wholly as
women. (According to one ex-trans kid I've corresponded with, they
don't care!) Boys who are not particularly feminine discover crossdressing
at puberty, and it is an erotic turn on. For some the turn on becomes focused on
the idea of actually having a woman's body, although Bailey cites examples of
fantasies about being in a women's knitting circle as being in this category as
well. Blanchard called this kind of eroticism 'autogynephilia'. Few
people like this transition early in life, instead they attempt to cope with a
forbidden eroticism, get conventional jobs, marry, have children and so
forth. Some will, in middle age find themselves unable to cope with the
accumulated desires and ideation and find it impossible to live further as
men. Thus, one kind of transsexuality is related to 'gayness', while
another kind is related to a sexual kink shared with 'heterosexual crossdressers'.
In either case he believes the cause is not a question of moral weakness or bad
parenting, but instead is the result of variations in brain development.
In other words, it's not anyone's fault.
A young woman psychiatry student (who is open about her transsexual history) has written an articulate if sometimes technical discussion of Blanchard's studies and alternative interpretations of the Blanchard's experimental results. Her primary focus is on Blanchard's notorious concept that people who are transsexual or who crossdress who deny sexual motivation are lying. Katherine Heather finds that Blanchard's evidence shows just the opposite....that people tell the truth...and that in general people for whom sexuality plays a big role will say so, and people for whom it doesn't aren't shown to be lying by Blanchard's own data. Katherine is perhaps more charitable to claims of transgendered identity than I am, seeing that as the cause of certain kinds of stories, where I tend to see borrowed narratives and magical thinking. If you are looking for a really solid analysis though, you (thus far) can't do better than to read what she has on her web site.
This is another entry in the "you won't like what they have to say, but you'd better know that they are saying it" category. I've corresponded with several of the authors of this site at various times, and I can say that I do agree with some points- that their experience has been erased from the general public perception of what transsexuality and gender variance is about. The general picture is one of a male who has a family and kids and finally can't cope with being male anymore. Transkids presents a different picture, a picture of young boys who are perceived as girls at an early age, in general abused for it, desire sex with boys and who transition at an early age (less than 25?). Unfortunately, they also buy into and promote the BB&L theories of autogynephilia as explanations for all late transitioning transsexuals and all crossdressing behavior.
Michael Bailey's book relies heavily on the work of Ray Blanchard. Blanchard is also referred to by Amy Bloom as a source of ideas about crossdressers. While our site isn't supposed to be about transsexualism, it can be hard to disentangle the two subjects when authorities don't do it themselves. The PDF article here is a debate between a psychiatrist I've never heard of and Ray Blanchard about public funding of transsexual surgery. Here is clear evidence that Blanchard's viewpoint is more complex than "they have an uncontrolled sexual appetite". In the interests of taking in all points of view I include this debate.
I've always disliked the notion that crossdressing is incurable. It's kind of like saying that you can't quit smoking or kick heroin. I'd like people to have the option. Most CD isn't a psychological disorder. Most people cope with it in a reasonable way. It certainly isn't an obsessive compulsive disorder. But if it becomes a disorder it would be nice for people to have choices and alternatives. For some people CD is linked to sexuality. For some of those it becomes a problem. For that reason, the work of Dr. Martin Kafka on the use of drugs like Prozac to help regulate sexual appetite is worth knowing about.
There's a lot of junk floating around about sexual addiction. So when "News of the Weird" said that the Orwellian state of Singapore had a test for sex addiction up on its web site I was expecting a good laugh, a site that made everyone one look like an addict, as some hyperventilating US sites do (sample question: Do you ever use sex to relieve stress?) It turns out the Singapore Site is a pretty decent test IMHO. So here's a link.
Sherry suggested this one. It's rather long. Enjoy. At one time it was a link to a large pdf file, but now, with the permission of the author we've put a very slightly revised version here in web format.
Back in 1970, a Canadian Sociologist wrote a paper on transvestism. This period piece is fascinating to read, both for its historical context and for the tension between the unexamined assumptions about what is and isn't deviant. The reliance on interviews and the naive trust in the surveys that say transvestites don't engage in homosexual practice is almost charming. Most of Buckner's work has dealt with attitudes towards guns and gun-control in Canada. How he happened to write this article, two years after leaving graduate school (UC Berkeley) , having written "The Police: The culture of a social control agency" as a then politically correct thesis isn't clear. In the end he exhibits charitable feelings towards transvestites, and clearly does not regard them as a problem to any but themselves and their wives. It is hard to know what to make of his reliance on John Money. Money as most people connected with this little niche of the universe know, is (he's still alive) an extreme believer in the nurture side of the nature/nurture debate. Money's course of action in the dealing with a twin boy with ablatio penis (revealed in "As Nature Made Him") has demonized him as an ethically corrupt child abuser who committed academic fraud in his publications (never retracted) on the case. For those of you who don't know... On Money's advice the parents attempted to raise the accidentally genitally mutilated boy as a girl, including HRT at an early age and eventual final surgery...only to have the child rebel in the teens and live his life as a male thereafter. (Recently, he committed suicide after the death of his twin brother and being scammed out of a large amount of money by his employer). Money's conduct in the case has been reviled. The question is, given what can at best be regarded as unconscious manipulation of subject and evidence and at worst academic fraud- can anything Money did be regarded as solid? And is anyone who relied on Money's advice also tainted?
We Walk a Line?
There are all kinds of sites and advice out there. This remarkable 22 year old reference is some of the best documentation I've seen of the harm that can be caused to women involved with some men with transgender issues. Of course the abusive behavior described in this article could be found in relationship without 'teh trans' being involved. But adding the crossdressing or transition to these stories creates a unique sense to the damage that can be caused to another person. I've certainly seen enough of these in my time with Alpha Omega to believe this to be true, and yet stories of pathology and damage all be themselves are just are fraught as endless cheerleading.