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Anne Lawrence on transsexualism
Anne Lawrence is a sexologist and former anesthesiologist who runs a medical resource site for trans women at annelawrence. com. Dr. Lawrence also self-identifies as having a sex-fueled mental illness called "autogynephilia."
Many people (including me) have come forward with observations and first-hand reports where Dr. Lawrence performed inappropriately sexual "medical" exams. Following a forced resignation for examining an unconscious patient for signs of ritualized genital modification, the bulk of Dr. Lawrence's personal and professional life has been dedicated to promoting this ersatz diagnosis. Dr. Lawrence has since worked closely with Ray Blanchard of Toronto's notorious Clarke Institute. Blanchard invented this diagnosis in 1989.
Dr. Lawrence has also worked closely with another Blanchard protege, psychologist J. Michael Bailey of Northwestern University. Dr. Lawrence called Bailey's 2003 book The Man Who Would Be Queen "a wonderful book on an important subject," despite the fact that nearly everyone else who read it found it to be one of the most defamatory and inaccurate books on gender variance since 1979.
Dr. Lawrence was allegedly compelled by this sex-fueled mental illness to undergo several feminizing procedures, and subsequently self-identifies as a transsexual. In fact, Dr. Lawrence has claimed defensively to be a "real transsexual," which sounds like a mafia guy claiming to be a "legitimate businessman." It makes one wonder why an assertion of authenticity is necessary in the first place.
In Dr. Lawrence's case, it is because many women in our community do not agree with Dr. Lawrence's self-identification. Many consider "autogynephilia" to be an obscure and outdated diagnosis favored by those who prefer "autogynephilia" to the less socially desirable sex-fueled mental illness the American Psychology Association calls "transvestic fetishism."
Many professionals and people in our community reject the idea that either of these are mental illnesses, and I disagree that gender identity and expression is a disease any more than being left-handed, or desiring more common body modifications like hair removal.
Where Bailey is all theory and no action (i.e. speculation and lazy research), Lawrence appears to be all action and no theory (i.e. lack of introspection or concern about actions).
As with other types of quacks who have an unshakable belief in a pseudoscientific diagnostic category (e.g., a zodiac sign or a Myers-Briggs personality indicator), Dr. Lawrence literally cannot imagine the diagnosis of "autogynephilia" is spurious. Anyone who has read sexology literature on "nymphomania" and other discredited illnesses will quickly see parallels in Lawrence's faulty logic.
This causes great difficulty, because Lawrence's baseline position is that anyone who does not agree with the fake diagnosis is a liar or a prude in denial, and those who agree are remarkably honest. When faced with someone like Deirdre McCloskey, who has been quite open about her sexuality but has concerns about the unscientific diagnosis and its ramifications, Lawrence can only ask with apparently genuine puzzlement:
This is the gaping flaw in BBL's logic. Observed phenomena do not prove the legitimacy of the diagnostic category. They simply cant get that through their heads because they need the diagnosis to be real.
Back to our "nymphomania" example, let's say a woman declaresI enjoy sex more frequently than most, but I do not consider 'nymphomania' a legitimate diagnosis. All Lawrence would only hear is the first part of the sentence, after which would come apparently genuine puzzlement:
This is why quacks like Lawrence have to rely on pseudoscientific staples like testimonials and anecdotal evidence. The category they propose simply does not stand up to scientific scrutiny. They muddle the category even further when faced with serious challenges to the "symptoms," with nonsense like "partial autogynephilia."
Is Anne Lawrence neurotypical?
Anne Lawrence feels entitled to diagnose people that have never been under Dr. Lawrence's care. Last summer I had the pleasure of meeting a couple of gender-variant people who prompted me to propose a hypothesis that Anne Lawrence exhibits the hallmarks of Asperger's Syndrome, a type of autism marked by poor socialization and islands of ability. I would love to see the results of that testing.
Is Anne Lawrence a wannabe?
Anne Lawrence frequently suggests that transsexualism is clinically similar to people who wish to have a limb amputated. Among that group of people, they make a distinction between devotees, pretenders, and wannabes.
Lawrence on Bailey
Dr. Lawrence is quoted on the Joseph Henry Press site and on the book cover for The Man Who Would Be Queen:
Below may be the most succinct expression of Dr. Lawrence's position Ive seen. It is the rigid medical model of sex combined with Dr. Lawrence's fluid foray into identity politics by claiming to be transsexual that is the issue here (emphasis mine).
The argument is that "female" means primary and secondary sex characteristics, that sex is a purely medicalized construct describing reproduction-related structures. Based on this, I'm guessing Dr. Lawrence might claim someone could be transsexual but not transgender (i.e., someone who "detransitions" after vaginoplasty). I also suspect that Dr. Lawrence would claim not to have gender identity issues, which Dr. Lawrence might reject as "dogma" as described in the full essay above.
Most researchers in the nature/nurture debate believe that both factors influence the development and propagation of gender roles. However, the relative influence of each, and the specifics of how that influence operates, are still hotly disputed. These guys seem to believe it's all nature, that biology does = destiny, as Janice Raymond would suggest, and that Anne Lawrence embodies exactly what Janice Raymond rails against in her book.
I do not agree that "transsexual" means someone who got vaginoplasty. I would argue that non-transsexuals can and do get vaginoplasty, and that these "men trapped in men's bodies" who claim to be transsexual in order to indulge an erotic interest need to be distinguished with a term that recognizes their humanity and does not reduce their motivation to a pathology. Unfortunately, I believe Dr. Lawrence feels it IS a pathology, a deviancy, a "problem" as Dr. L. says above, so attempts to cast it in a non-medical terminology may meet with resistance. Part of the reason they like "autogynephilia" as a concept is the pseudo-medical sound of it. That way they can graft their erotic interest onto a recognized condition and get the vaginoplasty they desire, which for them is what a Manolo Blahnik might be to a shoe fetishist: the ultimate possession in a collection of masturbatory material.
I'd argue that what actually differentiates a female from a male is not always apparent, and in some cases (like us) it's more a question of definition than anything else.
We are, as they say, at a defining moment in our community's history.
Other Anne Lawrence materials
LINK: A New Introduction to Autogynephilia (by Anne Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D.)
Dr. Lawrence has been getting stuff published via cronies at International Academy of Sex Research:
Lawrence AA. (1999) Change of sexual orientation in transsexuals. (letter) Arch Sex Behav 28(6): 581-583.
Lawrence AA. (2003). Factors associated with satisfaction or regret following male-to-female sex reassignment surgery. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 299-315.
Lawrence AA, Latty EM, Chivers M, Bailey JM. Measurement of sexual arousal in postoperative male-to-female transsexuals using vaginal photoplethysmography. Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Lawrence AA. (2004). Autogynephilia: A paraphilic model of gender identity disorder. [PDF] Journal of Gay & Lesbian Psychotherapy, 8(1/2), 69-87. Also available as a chapter in Transgender Subjectivities: A Clinicians Guide (2004), published by Haworth Press.
Lawrence AA. (2004). Clinical and theoretical parallels between Body Integrity Identity Disorder and Gender Identity Disorder. [PDF] Paper presented at the International Academy of Sex Research Thirtieth Annual Meeting, Helsinki, Finland.
Gender Chat #28: Autogynephilia [archive] (by Barbara Anderson, Ph.D., LCSW)
Commentaries on Lawrence
LINK: Janice Raymond and Autogynephilia (by Becky Allison, M.D.)
LINK: B.C. on Gender: Autogynephilia (by B.C. Holmes)
LINK: Sociology of autogynephilia (by Richard Ekins, Ph. D. and Dave King, Ph. D.)
Book review of Amy Bloom's Normal (by Anne Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D.)
LINK: Autogynephilia is such bullshit! (by Astrid Johannsen)
LINK: The Bailey/Blanchard/Lawrence Clearinghouse Sweepstakes (by Astrid Johannsen)
LINK: Bailey and Lawrence: To what end? (by Caitlin H.)