More comments on controversial trans-theory

I wanted to revisit the subject of Autogynophelia, because it seems to me that, the way it’s described, it seems to fit me as well as anything else that I’ve read.  I actually went to the link provided in an earlier post and read the information given there, and as I read the article, I started to see a lot of myself in the description.  It was actually quite depressing to realize that I fit the profile pretty well.  It took me several days to come to terms with that realization, but having previously come to terms with the fact that I wanted to be a girl and that it’s not some horrible disease, but rather, a condition shared by a lot of people, made it easier to come to terms with this description.  I must add that I don’t think that it applies to all of us, but I think it applies to some of us.

I don’t think AutoG has anything to do with early onset gender confusion, I think that would be more properly termed ” a prenatal intersex developmental abnormality”.  AutoG just doesn’t fit the conditions, in my opinion.  Neither does “homosexual transsexual”, because many early onset gender variant people are attracted to people of the opposite physical sex.

I’m still trying to figure this thing out myself, but some things I know about myself are:  I don’t remember any gender confusion as a young child, I was a sensitive little boy, but I don’t remember any confusion about my gender before the onset of puberty.  If my memory is somewhere near correct, my gender confusion started with puberty, but it took me a while to even realize what was going on in my head, probably several years.  By the time I was 15 or 16, I knew what it was, I just didn’t know what to do about it.

There’s always been a sexual connection to my cross-dressing, it did seem to get less over the years, but that may have been because I was trying to supress that part of it, I really didn’t want it to be about sex.  I have always felt more comfortable in “girl” mode, I still would rather be a girl than a boy, it makes me happy.

However, what got me to thinking about this whole AutoG thing is that I still get an “arousal charge” when I first change from the “old me” to the “new me”, especially if I’m excited about how I’m going to look when I’m done transforming into Amber.   It’s interesting that I made 2 discoveries at about the same time.  My body is no longer devoid of basic sex drive due to HRT, it seems to have adjusted somewhat to the current balance of hormones and and I now have a slight bit of sex drive.  That “thing” between my legs is still mostly dead, but not entirely now.  Of course, that’s what led to the discovery that I’m still capable of being turned on by getting dressed.  It doesn’t react very much, it’s just the nerve twinge, but that’s enough to know what’s going on.  I’d like to think that it’s just a residual artifact, but, at this point in my life, I need to be honest with myself.

So, I come to the 20 dollar question, does this mean that I shouldn’t transition?  I’m not really sure about that one yet.  I’m continuing to stay on course while I think about all this heavy stuff, in fact, I was just prescribed Provera by my Endocronologist yesterday, which made me a happy camper all day.  It’s interesting that this point, I haven’t found any reason to stop transition other then this latest injection of illogical doubt.  I realize, logically, that this latest “label” doesn’t really mean much, I still want to be a woman, I still feel like I should be a woman, and I suspect that I already think like a woman.  I’m not a mind reader so I’ll never know for sure, however, I relate more easily to women then men.

I’d be happy to read any thoughts or comments that the rest of you might have on this, some input on this might be helpful to me.

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Zucker: Is he a DSM-Villain or not?

If you’ve been reading any transgender blogs or journals lately, you’ve doubtless seen concern about the appointments to DSM-V working groups on gender identity disorder. (If you haven’t, here’s an example from TRANScend GENDER.)

The following isn’t written by me, but I received it in email via the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance mailing list, where it was forwarded by someone who knows the author. Dr. Stephen Russell originally sent this reply to the University of Arizona LGBT Faculty/Staff/Graduate Student Organization mailing list.

Friends and colleagues:

I have been receiving and reading the emails about Ken Zucker for the past several days, and feel that I must respond. The emails and blogs mischaracterize his work – I know Dr. Zucker, and while we do not fully agree on issues about sexual and gender orientation / identity and its development, I know Dr. Zucker to be a person who is concerned about the welfare of children and youth. My experience is that this concern is what motivates his (controversial) work.

I have been in communication with Dr. Zucker about this, because I wanted to hear from him directly, as the reports did not match with my reading of his published work and my personal experience with him. First, he has never used “aversion therapy” (which involves mild electroshock or nausea-inducing stimuli). Related – reparative/conversion therapy is a method that has been used to attempt to change adult same-sex sexual attractions to opposite-sex sexual attractions – he has not practiced or endorsed this form of therapy.

Here is what he writes about his therapeutic work:

The “gender-positive” therapeutic approach that I use with young, pre-pubertal children who have gender identity conflict is to try and help them feel comfortable with their bodies so that when they are adolescents or adults they do not feel so uncomfortable in their own skin that they need to seek out hormonal and surgical sex-reassignment. We know already from several follow-up studies of young children that the majority “lose” their desire to change sex, with or without therapy, and many develop a comfortable sexual identity as gay, lesbian, or bisexual and are comfortable in their own skin. As an important aside, when we see adolescents in our clinic who are severely gender dysphoric, we are very supportive, after a careful evaluation, in helping them transition to the opposite gender, including the use of hormonal blockers and/or cross-sex hormonal treatment.

I realize that this explanation may still be objectionable for some – but it is a far cry from the descriptions of Dr. Zucker’s work that are being circulated.

Dr. Zucker’s understanding / conceptualization of gender dysphoria in children is well-represented not only in science, but in the queer community. He is grappling with very complex questions – questions about which “we” in the queer community don’t have full consensus. We have to acknowledge that there is no solution to the DSM that will unify science — or our communities.

Finally, keep in mind that he began this work years ago, before there existed the scientific or community debate and discourse about these issues that we have now … if you read his published work, it has evolved in the last 10 years.

I worry that we undermine good research – and well-informed advocacy – in a world driven by polemic blogs.

With some hesitation, and respect,

Stephen

Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D.
Professor, Fitch Nesbitt Endowed Chair in Family & Consumer Sciences
Director, Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth & Families

Of Dr. Russell, the person forwarding the email to the SAGA list writes: Stephen’s field of study is GLBT youth, particularly the risks youth face when coming out, and he is well respected (and a very nice person). He’s also a gay man. So he has both personal and professional interest in the issue of Zucker’s appointment.

I don’t have a strong take on what’s right or wrong here, but I feel it’s important to provide this perspective in addition to the others that are circulating currently.

Some thoughts on controversial Transgender theories

With all the talk lately about the people selected to revise the TG section of the DSM-4, I thought I throw my thoughts into the mix also.

Part of the controversial theory proposed by Dr. Ray Blanchard is dividing the trans community by sexual orientation (“homosexual transsexuals” vs. “autogynephilic”). Just the basic concept of dividing the the trans community by sexual orientation seems to be missing the entire point of the trans experience, it’s not about sex, it’s about gender. Gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things entirely.

I believe that there are trans people who could fit into the catagory of “homosexual transsexual”, but that’s only one part of the trans experience and certainly is not an inclusive description of a large part of the community. I also believe that there’s people who fit into the “autogynephilic” catagory, but I don’t think this description fits people who choose to fully transition, or even those who are forced to be, or choose to be “non-op” due to various circumstances. I think autogynephilia would be more appropriate to describe fetish cross-dressers, this is, after all, a sexual description, and not a gender identity model.

It’s my belief that, much like Freud, these “Doctors” can’t seem to separate sex drive from non sexual issues. Being sexually driven males of the species makes it difficult for them to remove sexual background from non sexual logic.

I’ve often wondered if “autogynephilia” is a description that applies to my experience – my gender issues have, in the past, had a strong sexual component to them. My question concerning this is, if my desire to transition is sexually motivated by autogynephilia, then why do I still have so much conviction about continuing my transition when the spiro has removed my sex drive and my ability to get and keep a strong erection. I’m impotent and totally uninterested in sex and sexual relations, and yet, I’m more convinced than ever that I’m doing the right thing for myself. The doubts and fears that I have about transition are about my ability to successfully blend into the general female population. “Passing” is important to me, but not for the purpose of a relationship, I just want to be accepted as a female person. (There’s an entire blog that could be written about the desire to be accepted.)

There’s so much more about being cross-gendered than any sexual issues, but some people, even health professionals, just can’t see past their own sexual biases. There are way too many successful transitions for this to be about sex. However, I have to ask the question, if transition was sexually motivated, is that a problem? If it results in a healthy, happy person who can live a fulfilling life for themself, does it matter what the motivation is? The desired result of any psychological therapy is a well adjusted person who can live a satisfying and fulfilling life, and transition is the only thing that has been proven to solve the issues faced by strongly transgendered people. No other therapy has been shown to be effective.

Personally, for me, no matter what else happens in my life, I don’t intend to ever go back to the testosterone driven life that I suffered with in the past. I’m hoping to make that permanent in the not too distant future, hopefully sometime this year, with a medical procedure known as orchiectomy. Another large stepping stone on the journey.

News concerning the DSM – V. (a.k.a. “uh-oh.”)

The following was posted on Transadvocate.com website. I’m reposting it because like Mercedes, I see this as a very consequential and momentous event in the psychological and medical treatment of transgendered people. — Lori Davis
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

(crossposted in several places, and people are welcome to forward this on freely to others in the transgender and GLBT communities, as I see this as being very serious — Mercedes)

A short time ago, I’d discussed the movement to have “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID, a.k.a. “Gender Dysphoria”) removed from the DSM-IV or reclassified, and how we needed to work to ensure that any such change was an improvement on the existing model, rather than a scrapping or savaging of it.

Lynn Conway reports that on May 1st, 2008, the American Psychiatric Association named its work group members appointed to revise the Manual for Diagnosis of Mental Disorders in preparation for the DSM-V. Such a revision would include the entry for GID.

On the Task Force, named as Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Chair, we find Dr. Kenneth Zucker, from Toronto’s infamous Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH, formerly the Clarke Institute). Dr. Zucker is infamous for utilizing reparative (i.e. “ex-gay”) therapy to “cure” gender-variant children. Named to his work group, we find Zucker’s mentor, Dr. Ray Blanchard, Head of Clinical Sexology Services at CAMH and creator of the theory of autogynephilia, categorized as a paraphilia and defined as “a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman.”

Drs. Blanchard, Zucker, J. Michael Bailey (whose work has even gone so far as to touch on eugenics) and a small cadre of others are proponents of dividing the transsexual population by sexual orientation (”homosexual transsexuals” vs. ”autogynephilic”) and have repeatedly run afoul of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH, formerly HBIGDA), and openly defied the Standards of Care that WPATH maintains (modeled after the original SoC developed by Dr. Harry Benjamin) in favor of conversion techniques. Blanchard and Bailey supporters also include Dr. Alice Dreger, who re-stigmatized treatment of intersex, controversial sexologist Dr. Anne Lawrence, and Dr. Paul McHugh, who had set out in the begining of his career to close the Gender Clinic at Johns Hopkins University and has been one of our most vocal detractors.

An additional danger that gay and lesbian communities need to be cognizant of is that if Zucker and company entrench conversion therapy in the DSM-V, then it is a clear, dangerous step toward also legitimizing ex-gay therapy and re-stigmatizing homosexuality.

I am not familiar with others named to the Work Group. It would be worthwhile looking into any history with WPATH that they might have, to know if we have any positive advocates on board, or just more stigmatizing adversarial clinicians. They may be appointed primarily to address other listings categorized as ”Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders,” I don’t know. They are:

* Dr. Irving M. Binik, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
* Dr. Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam
* Dr. Jack Drescher, New York Medical College, St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Center, NY
* Dr. Cynthia Graham, Isis Education Centre, Warneford Hospital, Oxfordshire, UK
* Dr. Richard B. Krueger, NY State Psyciatric Institute and Columbia University, NY
* Dr. Niklas Langstrom, Karolinka Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
* Dr. Heino F.L. Meyer-Bahlburg, Columbia University, NY
* Dr. Robert Taylor Segraves, MetroHealth Medical Center, Cleveland

The APA press release states that for further information regarding this, to contact Rhondalee Dean-Royce (rroyce@psych.org) and Sharon Reis (sreis@gymr.com), though it’s possible that they may govern the press release only, rather than have any involvement in the decision to appoint Zucker. The APA itself is headquartered at 1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825, Arlington VA, 22209. Their Annual General Meeting is currently being held (May 3-8, 2008) in Washington, DC.

I’m poorly situated (Western Canada, with no travel budget) to lead the drive for this, which I see as a very serious danger to the transgender community. So I am calling on the various Transgender and GLBT organizations to band together to take action on this, and will assist in whatever way that I and AlbertaTrans.org can.

I am also calling upon our allies and advocates in the medical community and affiliated with WPATH to band together with us and combat this move which could potentially see WPATH stripped of its authority on matters regarding treatment of transsexuals.

– Mercedes Allen, May 5, 2008