Jamie Faye Fenton

Jamie Faye Fenton was system administrator for the subscription-based site Transgender Forum and has weighed in on an alleged sex-fueled mental illness called "autogynephilia." This disease only afflicts transwomen, according to Ray Blanchard, the guy who made it up. Blanchard defines "autogynephilia" as "A man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman." [1]

In January 2004, I wrote to Jamie for permission to use a summation of arguments against "autogynephilia" that had appeared on an "autogynephilia" support group. I found it to be an excellent collection of the distortions of the theoretical and political positions of those of us who find this diagnosis troubling. At the time, Jamie was one of the ten people responsible for about 90% of all the content on the main "autogynephilia" discussion group.

Like most on that small group, Jamie had come up with an idiosyncratic definition of "autogynephilia":

I specifically disclaim autogynephilia or "Self As Woman Schemas" are paraphilias.

While some of its proponents have stated that autogynephilia is a paraphilia, I disagree with them and think that their beliefs should be revised.

November 2004 update:

Jamie writes:

I have long ago modified my definitions of autogynephilia and added a definition for the "Self As Woman Schema" ... Again, when I claimed that autogynephilia is not a paraphilia, what I meant to say was "the natural phenomena which some call autogynephilia and others characterize via other theoretical constructs is not a valid paraphilia". I think we have spent the last 6 months violently agreeing with each other on that point. ;-)

Jamie's site:

http://www.jamiefaye.com/

Lemonade Stand of Desire

http://web.archive.org/web/20040106061227/http://members.tgforum.com/jamie/lemonadestand.html

Proclaims "autogynephilic arousal exists."

Dual Motive Theory

http://web.archive.org/web/20070814061644/http://members.tgforum.com/jamie/dmt/index.html

Actually uses the term "secondary transsexuality."

Transgender etiology blog

http://web.archive.org/web/20070612081628/http://members.tgforum.com/jamie/etiology/index.html

Has an excellent Declaration of Values.

Reference:

1. In J. M. Bailey (Chair), Phenomenology and classification of male-to-female transsexualism. Symposium conducted at the meeting of the International Academy of Sex Research , Paris. June, 2000. Slide 38.


 

I received the following preface from Ms. Fenton on 19 January 2004:

The only issue I have with you doing this is that I tend to revise my beliefs as I learn.

I also created that list for that particular audience. I've been thinking about a more general article about the controversy that would make the many of these points in a more polite way.

In my exchanges with you, I have come to understand what it is about autogynephilia that troubles many of us. Autogynephilia advocates have made very poor choices in the terminology and their metaphor. I have also found fault with some of their claims.

I have always viewed this controversy as "flawed criticism of a flawed theory". I don't want people to think that my "meta-criticism of the critics" implies that I support autogynephilia theory.

I am interested in hearing of any additions to the argument list that you think I may have left out.

So to answer your question, I don't mind you quoting me and responding. Just remember you're taking a still photo of my movie.

Editor's note: Ms. Fenton is exceedingly fond of acronyms, so I have written out some of them for clarity.

Jamie Faye Fenton's original list of what she sees as "flawed criticism" of Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence:

1) I did not have autogynephilic feelings and neither did my friends!

2) Somebody said at a conference that it was Not Science!

3) BSTc brain differences exist & there are 7 brains that prove it!

4) Lawrence & Bailey are tranny chasing scoundrels!

5) The Clarke Institute is a backwater hell hole!

6) Since Blanchard was looking for autogynephilia, thats what he found.

7) The fact that a transsexual has autogynephilia along with gender identity disorder [1] does not mean autogynephilia causes gender identity disorder. [This is the best of the bunch].

8) Bailey, Lawrence, and Blanchard's category system is bogus.

9) Blanchard's study has not been replicated.

10) Autogynephilia explanations involve sex and I don't like it!

11) I have a PhD in something else, but I am smarter than those psychologists so they are wrong!

12) The "trapped in a man's body" story has gone over well, how dare you take that away from us!

13) There is an evil conservative conspiracy behind all this that is transphobic and homophobic!

14) Blanchard and Bailey are mediocre talents clamoring for attention!

15) Female-to male transfolk have gender identity disorder [1], don't have autogynephilic arousal [2], and are similar to male-to-female transfolk.

16) The theory assumes *a priori* necessarily arbitrary definitions of "men" and "women".

17) The terminology induces gender dysphoria among those transitioners who equate "homosexual transsexual" and "autogynephilic transsexual" with "men".

18) The terminology may lend itself to creating or justifying a climate of acceptability for transphobic violence or repression, regardless of the intent of the authors.

19) Bailey, Lawrence, and Blanchard used inadequate sampling techniques. (an extension of #1)

20) The theory does not lend itself to accurately predicting invidual treatment outcomes and may even hinder those who blur the edges of the categories.

None of these statements comes close to disproving AGP or AGPMT. Believe me, if they had something that really did the job, they would have used that to shoot down AGP. Instead, they are using every cheap shot in the book. The Empress is naked.

This is not to say that AGP, AGPMT, GROG, DMT, or any other theory has been proven conclusively true either. I can point out several flaws in pro-AGP theories & GROG and make similar arguments about them neither being proven or disproven.

The best AGP critique out there is Katherine Heather's at:
http://www.genderpsychology.org/autogynephilia/ray_blanchard/index.html

Kate raises 6, 7, 8, 9, & 19. While these objections weaken the case BLB have made somewhat, each of these may be countered by additional research. Arguments 2, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14 are "well known debating fallacies". Arguments 12, 16, 17, 18 raise the important issue of the social impacts of autogynephilia theory, but have no bearing on its actual validity. The problems with 1, 3, & 7 are covered in more detail in LSD. I consider 3, 15, and 20 to be interesting questions that merit further investigation.

Both LSD and DMT have "Suggested Research Questions" that might shed light on matters.

Notes:

Jamie's writings about transgender etiology theory:

The Lemonade Stand of Desire (LSD): http://web.archive.org/web/20040106061227/http://members.tgforum.com/jamie/lemonadestand.html
The Dual Motive Theory of Secondary Transsexuality (DMT): http://web.archive.org/web/20070814061644/http://members.tgforum.com/jamie/dmt/index.html

Fallacy Table:
2: argument from authority
4: ad homenium
5: institutional ad homenium
10: appeal to popular emotion
11: argument from authority
13: conspiracy theory
14: ad homenium

Notes by Andrea James on the above commentary

Ms. Fenton uses several terms and acronyms idiosyncratically:

1. GID is typically an abbreviation for the "mental illness" classification called gender identity disorder, though Ms. Fenton typically writes it out as gender identity dysphoria.

2. AGPA ("autogynephilic arousal") is a redundancy of Ms. Fenton's own creation, as "autogynephilia" already denotes arousal.

Below are a list of other abbreviations and terminology as used by Ms. Fenton

AGP: Autogynephilia theories in general.

AGPA/SAWS: Autogynephilic arousal - the propensity to become sexually aroused by the fantasy of becoming a woman in body or role. On January 19, I decided to rename AGPA as SAWS (Self As Woman Schema) and have changed my writings accordingly. I did this to answer your objection and to draw a distinction I consider important. Don't worry, you don't have to change your stuff to track me!

AGPMT: Autogynephilic motivated transformation. A theory that claims AGPA to be the prime motivating force for S-TG transition.

CD: A Cross-dresser - a TG who adopts the opposite gender identity episodically.

DMT: Dual Motive Theory - a hybrid theory that claims that AGPA develops as a coping mechanism for GID in S-TGs that eventually fails for some. After this catastrophe, AGPA can become a co-motivator with GID for transition
FtM Someone born female who becomes male, episodically or permanently.

GID: Gender Identity Dysphoria - the deeply depressing and anxious feeling that the sex of your body does not match the gender of your mind.

GROG: Get Rid Of GID - the conventional "woman trapped in a mans body" theory, which claims that the pain of GID is the prime motivator for TS transition.

MtF: Someone born male who becomes female, episodically or permanently.

P-TS: Primary Transsexuals (those who transition early in life).

S-TG: Cross dressers and Secondary TS as a combined class.

S-TS: Secondary Transsexuals (those who transition later in life).

TG: Any transgender person. Sometimes I use TG and MtF TG interchangeably. This is sloppy but less awkward.

Also,


Deirdre McCloskey's response

Dr. McCloskey is Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago; Professor of Economics, History, English. She is also author of Crossing: A Memoir.

To many of Fenton's items one can reply, "Yes, that's right."

This list does rather boomerang:

2) Somebody said at a conference that it was Not Science!

Yes, the leading sex researcher in the world.

5) The Clarke Institute is a backwater hell hole!

Yes, I couldn't have said it better myself.

6) Since Blanchard was looking for autogynephilia, thats what he found.

My, you really are getting the point!

7) The fact that a TS has AGP along with GID does not mean AGP causes GID. [This is the best of the bunch].

How else do you think first-order predicate logic works, dear?

8) BLB's category system is bogus.

That's for sure.

9) Blanchard's study has not been replicated.

Yup.

11) I have a PhD in something else, but I am smarter than those psychologists so they are wrong!

A low blow. To say that Lynn Conway is smarter than Michael Bailey is cruel sarcasm. What we call in mathematics a "lower bound."

12) The "trapped in a man's body" story has gone over well, how dare you take that away from us!

Seriously, dear, you need to read a book or two. Who do you know who has bought into that journalist's line, except Professor Bailey?

13) There is an evil conservative conspiracy behind all this that is transphobic and homophobic!

Yup. Look at the evidence.

14) Blanchard and Bailey are mediocre talents clamoring for attention!

Where are you getting your ideas? They are really good.

15) FtMs have GID, don't have AGPA, and are similar to MtFs.

Yes, that's right.

16) The theory assumes *a priori* necessarily arbitrary definitions of "men" and "women".

Yes.

17) The terminology induces gender dysphoria among those transitioners who equate "homosexual transsexualand "autogynephilic transsexual" with "men".

Right again.

18) The terminology may lend itself to creating or justifying a climate of acceptability for transphobic violence or repression, regardless of the intent of the authors.

Yes. It has, without any doubt, and will continue to do so. Consult your local professor of English on the Intentional Fallacy: that someone "intends" to write the Great American Novel does not, alas, have anything to do with her success or failure in it. What matters is actual effects, out side of a Kantianworld of pure hearts. The actual effect is transphobic..

19) BLB used inadequate sampling techniques. (an extension of #1)

Yes.

20) The theory does not lend itself to accurately predicting invidual treatment outcomes and may even hinder those who blur the edges of the categories.

You got it.


Andrea James' response

I have created a list of pro-"autogynephilia" arguments written in the same spirit and tone.

1) I have a made-up "paraphilia" and so do my friends!

2) I don’t care that the M.D. who runs the world-famous Kinsey Institute said Bailey’s book was not science! I say it is!

3) I mock published preliminary scientific findings that refute my argument! Bah!

4) Lawrence and Bailey’s sexualization of gender variance has nothing to do with their sexual interest in it or their unusually high levels of sexual behavior! They have complete objectivity, and so do I!

5) The Clarke Institute’s program of long waits for medical treatment, 80-97.7% rejection rate and parole officer mentality is perfectly reasonable! Get over yourselves!

6) Both “autogynephilia” and “gender identity disorder” are both mental illnesses I have! [this is the best of the bunch]

7) BBL’s system of dividing everyone into gay and non-gay, and then saying anyone who is non-gay is a fetishist, is brilliant! Works for non-transsexuals, too!

8) I make little smart-aleck lists instead of bothering to read the primary texts being discussed!

9) I don’t care that plethysmography is widely considered quackery!

10) I have my own idiosyncratic definitions for words and that’s good enough for me!

11) Bailey says “autogynephilia” is a paraphilia, but that’s not how *I* define it!

12) I love myself as a woman! That’s what “autogynephilia” means! It’s Greek! It’s smart-sounding and scientific! Greek for feminist self-esteem!

13) I don’t think anyone outside sexology could possibly have anything worthwhile to contribute... Except me and my friends!

14) “Autogynephilia” is as legitimate a classification as nymphomania! Oh wait, they removed that from the DSM and now think it’s a bunch of crap, but “autogynephilia” isn’t! It’s real! Honest!

15) “Autogynephilia” is not the medicalization of socially unacceptable behavior! How dare you say that I am trying to legitimize my behavior with pseudoscientific medical terms! It’s enough to give me hysteria!

16) I masturbate a lot, both genitally and intellectually!

17) “Autogynephilia” explanations link my behavior to attraction to animals, feces, and children, and I like it!

18) I’m not a woman trapped in a man’s body, I’m a MAN trapped in a man’s body! A man who would be queen! Those are much more accurate cliches!

19) I am completely unaware of the work Bailey has done on forced sterilization and legal policy surrounding "paraphilia"!

20) I’m a lesser light in the transactivist world clamoring for attention!

21) Experimenter effect? What’s that?

22) Malingering? What’s that?

23) Factitious illness? What’s that?

24) Iatrogenic artifact? What’s that?


More responses by Andrea James

Jamie responded in her blog to my list, which led to the response below:

Hi Jamie:

Again, almost all the problems with trying to discuss this with y’all are based on your idiosyncratic definitions. Your personal definitions for scientifically accepted terms are utterly irrelevant. The only definitions that matter are the ones being used by BBL to influence the psychiatric trade groups.

To save energy, I am going to start referring in the list to points I have already made several times. Point 1 is still the most critical problem.

1. “Autogynephilia” is BY DEFINITION a “paraphilia,” both as defined by the guy who made it up and the guys who promulgate it in the fields of psychology and sexology. It denotes AROUSAL that is problematic. Until you come to understand that this is the definition, trying to move forward with you will be fruitless.

2. Please check the definition of “argument from authority.” Bancroft certainly falls outside this fallacy.

4. This point is here because it raises the question of researcher bias, experimenter effect, etc.

5. The Clarke’s program is designed to select for research subjects who fit the theory. No one else would sit through their nonsense.

6. See 1.

7. This is EXACTLY what Blanchard says. “Nonhomosexual transsexuals” are paraphilics.

8. If you actually read them, I don’t think you have comprehended the texts, or you wouldn’t be saying half the stuff you do. Unless you just like being contrarian like Willow.

10. See 1.

11. See 1.

12. See 1.

14. “Autogynephilia” is in there now in hopes of codifying it in DSM V. Did ya read Bailey?

15. See 1.

17. See 1.

19. See 8.

21. See 4.

22. See 5.

23. See 15.

24. See 4, 5,15.


But seriously...

Jamie and I had a more productive correspondence previously, a revised version of which appears below:

Comments from Jamie Faye Fenton (originally December 2003, revised January 2004)

I am sending this back with a few minor changes. I did find an instance when Blanchard claimed AGP to be a paraphilia in a slide presentation given in 2000. I did get two more of his papers as well.

I prefer "working forward" to "debating positions". I am also famous for tossing out wild ideas and having most of them be wrong. That is why I view my intellect as a movie and not a photograph.

It seems both sides are digging in their heels rather than exploring the possibilities of the problem space. Is there a way we can get people to open up?

The next thing I am writing about is "Why TSes have such a strong negative reaction to AGP".

It will not be a put-down of you or anyone. Rather it views AGP critics as "dreading the revocation of their liminal (rite of passage) into womanhood". In simpler terms, "If the rest of society returns to viewing TSes as perverted men, we lose our identity and our safety". That is worth being scared about.

I feel the only way to defuse the AGP bomb is to construct a TG theory (and liminality) that incorporates the sexual aspects but does not consider them primary. It needs a new name, more respectful terms, restructured claims, and a shift of focus. DMT is a partial attempt at this. It also needs a new liminal narrative that recognizes other possibilities than "hormones -> full-time -> GRS -> woman".

-- Jamie

I like the way you put it on your web page:

This controversy has two parts:

1. Discrediting Bailey and his book (the easy part)
2. Framing the theoretical issues involved (the profoundly difficult part)

Number 2 is where the treasure lies.

I decided to change the format a little and do what judges do when handling a case - that is to divide the issues that are agreed on from those that are in dispute. Feel free to move a claim from one concurrence status to another, or to add more of your own.

Here are some claims (or value statements) that I believe that we both accept:

Transsexuality is a natural variation of humanness and is not a disease or a disorder.

Misconceptions about transsexuality have been rife and have taken a terrible toll on the lives of TG people.

The scientific causes of transsexuality have not been fully explained.

Many transsexuals do not regard their transition experience as being motivated by sexual desire.

Many transsexuals do perceive the influence of sexuality in their transition experience.

Almost all transsexuals have experienced GID.

GID is different than frustrated paraphilic desire.

The AGP theories have not been proven true.

GID theories have not been proven to be false.

The label "paraphilia" is usually applied to a sexual variation deemed pathological by the denoter.

The major three major AGP advocates claim that AGP is a paraphilia.

Paraphilic labels are likely to be abused by opponents of the transgender community.

Lawrence and Bailey were asking for trouble when they promoted their theories by using provocative language.

There is a dearth of published papers on transgender phenomena.

TG people come from all walks of life.

Transition includes moments of magic and joy as well as those of sadness and pain.

Blanchard's results have not been replicated.

Bailey's book is not a definitive work of science.

Here are some claims that are up in the air:

GID theories have not been decisively proven to be true.

The AGP theories, while suspect, have not been decisively proven false.

No one has reported having failed to replicate Blanchard's results.

The Dutch BSTc study probably included TSes that had AGPA.

Blanchard (claims/does not claim) validity for the AGPMT theory. [Still digging on that one].

Here are some claims that I believe we disagree on:

While autogynephilia is mentioned in the DSM IV-TR as a characteristic in the description of "Gender Identity Disorder", the DSM IV does not formally define autogynephilia as being a paraphilia or a diagnosis. Any such interpretations come from the shared knowledge of readers but are not bare in the text.

Autogynephilia is relatively common among transsexuals, does not meet the criteria for being a paraphilia, and has no bearing on the suitability for HRT or GRS. [The middle clause is where we probably see things differently].

The autogynephilia phenomena needs to be explained as part of any comprehensive scientific theory of transsexualism.

Care givers have a responsibility "to do no harm", and thus have the right to refuse to provide HRT or GRS on demand. [They also have a responsibility to treat those in need, so there is a tension here].

Here are a few claims that are far out there, and thus where the fun really is:

CDs, TGs, and TSes are all manifestations of the same underlying phenomena.

There is no reliable way of telling which TGs will become TSes in the future.

Gender variation is a consequence of evolution - "male" and "female" are not stable categories but rather are the ongoing results of an eternal natural experiment.

There is not one "TG gene". Rather there is a mosaic of genetic factors involved and for certain combinations, you hit the jackpot.

GID is the consequence of the brain being structured to expect one memetic stream-shape while the body cues other agents to emit a different memetic stream-shape.

 

Jamie sent me this on 29 March 2004


I have found that discussing autogynephilia theories in public forums is unproductive. The amount of outrage over J. Michael Bailey's book drowns out any sensible discussions. Moreover, Bailey critics tend to view any criticism of their arguments to mean that you are part of the evil axis. "You are either with us or against us" seems to be their attitude.I admit that I was put off by the criticism of Bailey's book. It seemed shrill and on investigation, based on misunderstandings of what Bailey was trying to say. I tend to sympathize with the intellectual underdog, particularly if their opponents put invective before logic.

While Conway, Roughgarden, McCloskey, James, et. al., make many valid points, they do their position a disservice by employing hysterical rhetoric.Bailey has many things wrong. He did not write clearly. He did not think through how his statements would go over with the audience. He co-mingles settled science and conjecture. He gives a distorted picture of the contemporary transgender community. He chose provocative titles for the book and several chapters.

Bailey either intended to get attention by pissing people off or was profoundly clueless.

My personal position, which is explained in detail in my blog and on the Autogynephilia discussion group on Yahoo, includes the following statements:

* Auto-eroticism is an important factor in many trans-women's lives.

* TG auto-eroticism is not the prime mover behind transition, i.e. the theory of autogynephilia motivated transformation is wrong.

* TG auto-eroticism is not pathological.

* No TG should be ashamed of her auto-erotic thoughts and behaviors.

* TG auto-eroticism is not a "male" characteristic that should be invoked to deny access to hormones, surgery, in-group or public acceptance, etc.

* TG auto-eroticism is a phenomena of significance that needs to be accounted for in any valid theory of TG etiology.

* Sex is good for you!

* One should not be ashamed of receiving assistance for any life problem. None of the diagnostic classifications in the DSM-IV should be stigmatized.I have written much more about all this stuff, which I show on my blogs at:

http://members.tgforum.com/jamie/blog/index.html and
http://members.tgforum.com/jamie/etiology/index.html.

With this statement of my positions, I intend to conclude my public discussions of the J. Michael Bailey controversy in this venue. Individuals who wish to discuss this with me can do so on Yahoo or through private correspondence.

-- Jamie Faye Fenton

P.S. The Yahoo group is called: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/autogynephiliasupport/

P.P.S. Don't be put-off, by the group name, most of us are not "autogynephilia supporters". Polite skepticism is encouraged and vigorously practiced.