What motivates Ray Blanchard’s oppression of sex and gender minorities?

In this section:


Ray Blanchard at Toronto’s notorious Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) has accused me of spreading “misinformation” about him (Blanchard 2009), so let’s get all his biographical details out on the table in order to make my point more clearly.

As I mentioned in the earlier article (James 2009), Blanchard is widely reviled by transsexual people. He once declared that a trans woman who has transitioned is merely "a man without a penis," and said of trans men, "They get a kind of lump that in the best, most expensive, $100,000 cases, kind of, maybe, look like a penis from across a room." (Armstrong 2004). His comments on trans people’s genitalia echo his fixation on "phallometrics," the measurement of penile length, width, and tumescence when subjects are exposed to erotic stimuli. The field of "phallometrics" was developed by Blanchard's mentor at CAMH to determine if army recruits were gay or not. Blanchard, who has not disclosed his own sexual orientation publicly, is considered an expert in determining the size and tumescence of male genitalia.

Blanchard and his CAMH pal Kenneth Zucker have weaseled their way onto the committee rewriting the section on sex and gender minorities in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V). Zucker is the world's foremost proponent of reparative therapy to “cure” gender-variant youth. Blanchard seeks a broad expansion of the definition of "paraphilia" to expand this mental illness to include anyone attracted to someone who is not "phenotypically normal."

Blanchard took umbrage at my publication of his 2008 taxpayer-funded salary and my comment that he and Zucker both left America for Canada during the Vietnam War. Both matters raise issues I planned to address in the future, but an indignant response from a Blanchard minion prompted me to detail these issues now.

Why is Blanchard so touchy about military matters, and what personally motivates his life’s work? What drives this key figure in the oppression of sex and gender minorities? Since he feels entitled to ascribe labels and motivations to others, let’s turn the tables. Why is Ray so reticent about revealing his own sexual interests and behavior, when his career involves “catching” people not being open and honest about their sexual interests and behavior?

Ray’s early years

Blanchard’s mother Angelina Celi was born in 1917. His father was Aviation Metalsmith Second Class (AM2c) Ray Milton Blanchard, Jr. The youngest Blanchard was conceived in early 1945, and his father was lost at sea on 19 March of that year in the Japanese attack on the USS Franklin (USS Franklin 2008). The youngest Blanchard was born 9 October 1945, according to a bio Ray placed in Marquis Who’s Who (Marquis 1984), a questionable vanity publication for narcissistic strivers (Carlson 1999).

Blanchard says he is his father’s “first, only, and posthumous child” (Blanchard 2009). That’s quite a burden to bear. Here’s the scenario: young closeted kid with strong Catholic roots spends his formative years alone with his mother, who is understandably depressed about the father of her child being killed in action. Young Ray hears stories about his namesake’s bravery and sacrifice (which is not in doubt), and gets Catholic indoctrination about carrying on the family name, hereditary line, and what-not. He is taught by priests about sin, and he is expected to produce Ray M. Blanchard IV when he settles down with a nice Catholic girl. Only problem: Ray thinks girls are icky.

Then the day comes when it’s no longer just Ray and mother. Enter a stepfather, a Navy veteran himself and a volunteer firefighter (Inquirer 1992). In a nice Catholic ceremony, Ray’s mother marries Anthony F. Ruggero (1917-1992). They start their family in Hammonton, New Jersey, where Angelina and Anthony are residents. By the time he’s in grade school, Ray has two stepbrothers, Jim and Bill, about a decade younger than Ray. Quite a shift in family dynamics. His mother has taken her husband’s name, so Ray is the only remaining Blanchard in the household. His surname remains unchanged in memory of his father.

Academia and “fitness” for military service

Ray’s a pretty brilliant guy, so he puts his energies into living up to the high expectations for a sole surviving male namesake. Knowing deep down he won’t be able to live up to the Catholic ideal of having a wife and kids, he focuses on other forms of getting approval, like school. With the likely help of the Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance Program, he goes to a great school, then on to grad school in Illinois in 1967.

Vietnam sidebar: Meanwhile, further south in Illinois, Blanchard’s future CAMH collaborator Kenneth Zucker is one of the key campus leaders in the Vietnam protest movement at Southern Illinois University, staging mock trials and declaring people war criminals in absentia (Lagow 1977). Zucker headed to Canada eventually just to be safe. Their future collaborator Richard Green had the same idea: “I left Los Angeles in 1964 to avoid the Vietnam War by going to NIMH [National Institutes of Mental Health]” (Green 2004). One interesting phenomenon with anti-Vietnam people: they were right once as young people in the 1960s, so they often think they are always right, even 40 years later. Green handed over the editorial control of Archives of Sexual Behavior to Zucker, to continue pushing their ideology about sex and gender minorities.

Hearing your whole life that your dad got killed in war before you could know him is pretty good incentive for self-preservation. As Ray asserts, avoiding the draft was a moot point in his case because he was classified 4-A, as the sole surviving son of a servicemember killed in action. As long as war was not officially declared, Ray was safe. Further, the draft was implemented for men ages 18 to 26, and he was at University of Illinois until 1973, the year he turned 28. That would have allowed for a student deferment even if war had been declared. As I said earlier, Ray moved to Canada in the midst of the Vietnam War (1973) and has remained, even after all the drama about the U.S. draft was resolved. This is well-documented and is not a misrepresentation. I’ll discuss more details on all this when I profile Zucker one of these days.

What Ray fails to address is the real misrepresentation here, the elephant in the room, and my original point: not the 4-A classification, but the 4-F classification. 4-F was the designation used to declare gay men “unfit” for military service (Dode 2004). In other words, 4-A was pretty much the best reason to be exempt; 4-F was pretty much the worst reason to be exempt. While Ray was never classified 4-F because of his superseding exemption, had he been drafted, there was a very real possibility that he would have been rejected outright or dishonorably discharged for being gay, had he made it through the screening process. As of late 2009, the US military still has this as official policy. His father’s military service stands as the height of honor and the ultimate sacrifice, yet Ray might have been denied outright as “unfit,” or if he got in, he might have been discharged at the hands of military psychiatrists, the ultimate dishonor.

World War II sidebar: From when it was first implemented, the 4-F designation had become a badge of dishonor, using the eugenic terminology “unfit” for service. It included a broad range of physical and mental reasons. Even after the war, people labeled 4-F were subject to discrimination and were seen by many as less valuable than those who served. It created a significant rift and a social hierarchy that suggested all men were not created equal, a sentiment at the heart of eugenic ideology (Wake 2007).

The best way to understand Ray Blanchard as a human is to consider the mindset of gay priests. Good Catholic boys who thought girls were icky often saw the priesthood as the Catholic version of 4-A instead of the Catholic version of 4-F. Priesthood is the most honorable reason not to have a family. Being a sodomite was the most “unfit” reason.

Gay priests and gay psychologists serve the same purpose and hold the same position within an oppressive power dynamic. More on this in the following sections.

Next: Toronto: epicenter of pathologization of sex and gender minorities