Ray Blanchard

Ray Blanchard is the head of the gender program at Toronto's notorious Clarke Institute. His "contributions" to the field of gender identity issues to date have been:

Blanchard created a system in which only two subgroups of people can get through the Clarke program:

  • The most gender dysphoric young patients (whom he calls "homosexuals")
  • The most compulsive of sex addicts (whom he calls "autogynephiles")

"A man without a penis... is in reality what you are creating."

From a June 2004 article on transsexualism:

Toronto psychologist Ray Blanchard, one of Canada's leading -- and most controversial -- gender experts, argues the transgender movement is rife with delusion. "This is not waving a magic wand and a man becomes a woman and vice versa," he says. "It's something that has to be taken very seriously. A man without a penis has certain disadvantages in this world, and this is in reality what you're creating." [1]

A 1984 article in the Toronto Star indicated that between 1969 and 1984, 90% of all people seeking transsexual health services were turned away at The Clarke. The Clarke averaged about 5 acceptances a year, totalling about 100 people. In other words, they denied access to over 900 people during that time. [2]

Blanchard's program is more like a parole office than a therapeutic setting. It is a system based on mutual distrust, and treats gender variant clients like sex offenders. In fact, Blanchard's program uses the same halls, offices and staff for treating sex offenders. Imagine the dynamic that creates, especially for children. Following in the footsteps of his mentor Kurt Freund, he even subjects clients to the same sort of testing he uses on sex offenders (see plethysmograph: a disputed device).

By selecting for these patients and rejecting the rest, Blanchard has been able to advance his claim that transsexualism is all about sex, rather than gender identity. Blanchard published several articles regarding his theory, which went unnoticed until sexologist Anne Lawrence latched on to them as a form of validation following a 1997 incident in which a sex addiction for surgically modified genitals led to Dr. Lawrence's resignation as an anesthesiologist.

1998 was the year the Clarke Institute lost its federal funding for vaginoplasties, and the year Anne Lawrence wrote the pro-"autogynephilia" essay "Men Trapped in Men's Bodies." Blanchard's sudden irrelevance in the field of gender identity and to indigent patients in Toronto seeking funding for surgery made Anne Lawrence's interest a natural opportunity for teamwork to advance their mutually beneficial agendas.

Following the publication of The Man Who Would Be Queen by J. Michael Bailey, transsexuals and concerned professionals from around the world decided enough was enough with these people and started a public awareness campaign about Blanchard's ties to a conservative-run eugenics think tank and his behind the scenes bullying of peers who disagreed with him. Once his peers at HBIGDA expressed their concerns about Bailey to Northwestern University, Blanchard resigned in protest in November 2003.

Blanchard is going to go down in history as the George Rekers of gender variance. Rekers was one of the most vocal critics of the American Psychology Association's depathologization of homosexuality in 1973, and like Blanchard's 2003 resignation from HBIGDA, Rekers resigned in protest when professional groups started to move away from his point of view. With luck, this will mark the beginning of the end for his school of thought, in the same way Rekers' resignation from the APA in 1973 marked the depathologization of homosexuality.

"Autogynephilia"

"Autogynephilia" is a sex-fueled mental illness made up by Blanchard, who defines it as "a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman." [2]

This diagnosis appeals to some transgender people, who see the scientific-sounding term as a way to "elevate" themselves in social acceptability to transsexuals rather than compulsive masturbators, sex addicts, or people with a fetish for possessing a piece of female clothing or anatomy.

Then look at the definition of “paraphilia” put forth in the textbook used by Bailey in his Sexuality course (LeVay and Valente, Human Sexuality, p. 454). LeVay’s description of paraphilias as “problematic sexual behavior”amd "illnesses that need treatment" is a major insight into their entire project.

As LeVay notes, these guys are angling for an argument that “autogynephilia” involves non-consenting adults. They imply that going out in public as visibly gender variant is a form of exhibitionism that requires responses from others, and that coming out to friends and family and asking for acceptance is a form of sexualized humiliation brought on by the very expression of gender variance.

The later someone transitions, or the less acceptance they have in the female social role from mainstream society, the more likely this concept will appeal to them. Among those who regularly attend gender conventions and social events through gender societies, there is a small but vocal group of people who strongly self-identify with this term.

Blanchard lifted his concept from Magnus Hirschfeld and Max Tilke, Die Tranvestiten. Eine Untersuchung über den erotischen Verkleidungstrieb mit umfangreichen casuistichem und historischem Material

A reader writes:

Magnus Hirschfeld first published "Die Transvestiten" in Berlin in 1910. He coined the word. Trans people (of any kind) were lumped in with "homosexual deviants" until then. Yes, Hirschfeld believed that transvestites differed in their focus of pleasure, that it was on themselves, especially on themselves in their clothes. Here we have the prototype of what has now become AG and DEVOlution. But: "[Hirschfeld] discovered that transvestites were not necessarily homosexuals, as most people assumed. ... Hirschfeld moved sex from the realm of disease, he normalized homosexuality, and pioneered the large sample; like Kinsey he collected a mass of data and, over many years, a library of twenty thousand volumes. He also organised three successful international conferences on sexual reforms. These promoted most of the liberal attitudes which pertain, if with difficulty, today -- the sexual equality of men and women, the legalisation of homosexuality, the reform of divorce law, birth control. Harry Benjamin, who would later help Kinsey, went to one in Copenhagen in 1928.

See my section on "autogynephilia" for more on this disputed diagnosis.

Blanchard praises Bailey

Below is a shill review by Ray Blanchard, posted on Amazon.com defending J. Michael Bailey.

[five stars] Man Who Would Be Queen, April 17, 2003
Reviewer: Ray Blanchard from Toronto

The explosion of rage detonated by the publication of J. Michael Bailey's book, The Man Who Would Be Queen, has largely obscured an important message of that book: There are two fundamentally different types of male-to-female transsexualism, and they are equally valid. The homosexual type are erotically aroused by other (biological) males, and the autogynephilic type are erotically aroused by the thought or image of themselves as women.

When I joined the Clarke Gender Identity Clinic in 1980, the literalist interpretation of transsexualism as the condition of men-trapped-in-women's-bodies reigned supreme. Many clinicians dismissed all transsexuals with a history of sexual arousal in association with cross-dressing as "mere transvestites" and summarily excluded them from consideration for sex reassignment surgery. This situation was extremely confusing to many male-to-female transsexuals who desperately wanted to undergo sex reassignment and live their lives as women, but who thought that their past history of masturbation in women's attire meant that they were "merely" transvestites.

Fortunately for these patients, the policy of "one erection and you're out" was never followed at the Toronto clinic. Several of the earliest patients approved for sex reassignment had been husbands and fathers in the male role, and they freely reported clear-cut histories of sexual arousal in association with cross-dressing or cross-gender fantasy. It gradually became clear to me that for such patients the erotic value of becoming a woman was the essential motive behind the desire for sex reassignment, and that erection and ejaculation in women's attire were not simply accidental by-products. I never saw this as an invalid reason for desiring sex reassignment, I never saw these patients as some lesser breed of transsexuals, and I never designated their form of gender dysphoria as "secondary."

During the years when I was publishing the autogynephilia papers, several autogynephiles wrote me to express their relief at learning that there were many others like themselves, and that their feelings of being transsexual were not a delusion. Those articles were published in specialty journals with limited circulations, and it is remarkable that any autogynephiles encountered them at all. Prof. Bailey's book, which is written for a general audience in a clear and accessible style, has the potential to bring the same reassurance to a much larger group of people. The audiences for which this book was intended, which include students, clinical professionals, and laypersons, should not mistake the campaign of disinformation (verging at times on hate-mail) currently being waged by an ideologically-driven group of self-appointed "activists" as the universal view of all transsexual and transgender persons.

APA DIV 44 connection

From an August 2003 CAMH newsletter:

Holding the framed citation is Ray Blanchard. Right is James S. Fitzgerald, Ph.D., President of Division 44 of the American Psychological Association.

The CAMH Gender Identity Clinic is delighted to announce that our clinic received a Presidential Citation from Division 44 of the American Psychological Association (the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues) at a ceremony on August 9, 2003.

The text of the Citation reads as follows:

"The Gender Identity Clinic has established itself as the premier research center on gender dysphoria research and clinical care since 1968, and is celebrating its 35th year."

Resignation from HBIGDA

On 4 November 2003, Blanchard resigned from HBIGDA in protest of a letter they sent to Northwestern University regarding charges of ethical misconduct leveled at J. Michael Bailey.

November 4, 2003

Walter J. Meyer III, MD
President, HBIGDA

Bean Robinson, PhD
Executive Director, HBIGDA

Dear Drs. Meyer and Robinson:

It is with deep regret that I tender my resignation in the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association (HBIGDA). I have long supported the goals of the HBIGDA. I have been involved in the clinical care of transsexual persons for 24 years. During the years 1983 to 1991, I conducted eight research studies on the therapeutic impact of hormonal and surgical treatment of transsexuals, studies that were reported in six refereed journal articles and two book chapters. I published an additional article on the desirability of insurance coverage for sex reassignment surgery as recently as 2000. It is therefore a matter of some sadness that the recent actions of the HBIGDA Executive have made it necessary for me to disassociate myself from this organization.

I am referring to the appalling decision of the HBIGDA Officers and Board of Directors to attempt to intervene in Northwestern University's investigation into the allegations made by certain members of the transsexual community against Prof. J. Michael Bailey. This decision is documented in the attached letter, which is prominently displayed on a popular transsexual Web site. Such an intervention, undertaken without any effort by the HBIGDA to conduct their own systematic inquiry or to learn all the relevant facts of the matter, could only be prejudicial to Northwestern's investigation. In fact it has the appearance, whether this is accurate or not, of being a deliberate and improper attempt to bias that investigation. The HBIGDA would have been better advised to allow the Northwestern authorities, who are actually taking the trouble to investigate the allegations, to reach an impartial decision based on all relevant testimony and factual evidence.

I do not know the motives behind the Officers' and Board of Directors' actions, but those motives are irrelevant. It is their actions that are unacceptable and that make it impossible for me to continue to belong to the HBIGDA.

Very truly yours,
Ray Blanchard

******************************************************************

Ray Blanchard, Ph.D.

Head, Clinical Sexology Services Professor of Psychiatry
CAMH - Clarke Site Faculty of Medicine
250 College Street University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario M5T 1R8
Canada

******************************************************************

Blanchard and DSM

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association lists three "mental disorders" that can be diagnosed in gender variant people: gender identity disorder, transvestic fetishism, and childhood gender nonconformity.

Blanchard, who happens to be an American citizen, says a DSM listing has different implications in Canada than in the U.S. "This question of whether autogynephilia should be listed as a disorder is strictly an American preoccupation," he says. "In the U.S. there is no universal health insurance plan, so people will pay for their SRS out of their own pocket. But in most of the Western world, where there is government-run health insurance, in order for their sex reassignment to be paid for, it has to be a disorder, it has to be in the DSM. Health plans don't pay for surgery that is elective. They pay for surgery that is medically necessary."

He points out that from 1970 to '99 the Ontario Health Insurance Plan covered sex-reassignment surgery for patients who'd been approved for it by the Clarke Institute. But the conservative government that came to power in 1999 stopped paying for it. "Now a group of transsexuals have brought a human rights complaint against removal of sex-reassignment surgery as a benefit," he says. "Their argument is that this is a recognized treatment for a psychiatric disorder. It's got to remain in the DSM. The DSM has no formal jurisdiction in Canada, but in fact it's taken as the standard." [4]

Many are beginning to question whether these diagnoses are really necessary in order to receive health services. Many are even questioning whether these are diseases at all. Because Blanchard and several cronies are heavily involved in the DSM's language about these "disorders," it is likely that we will see a pitched battle about this matter when the next DSM revision is made.

In the meantime, Blanchard's star continues to fade, reduced to eugenicists, old-school sexologists and psychologists, and those self-hating gender variant people who seek a "cure" for their gender variance. The Clarke has been surpassed by several other Toronto facilities offering more flexible and inclusive access to health services. As numbers at those clinics continue to surge, numbers at The Clarke continue to decline, a harbinger of Blanchard's place in history as an interesting curiosity from the waning years when our community was considered disordered and diseased.

Blanchard on fifth estate

In October 2004, Ray Blanchard and his team were featured in a news magazine program on transsexualism, reported by Hana Gartner. Below is a transcript of selected sections:

Gartner voiceover: One of the most established gender clinics in the world is at Toronto’s Center for Addiction and Mental Health. It’s run by psychologist Ray Blanchard, who has been studying transsexuals for the past 25 years. He says they have a serious illness.

Blanchard: Transsexualism is considered a psychiatric disorder by the World Health Organization and by the American Psychiatric Association. We probably know more about how to treat them or manage them than we do know about what causes them.

Gartner voiceover: Those who come here looking for help must first be diagnosed and assessed by this panel of experts.

Blanchard to experts: They told the GP that they had some gender problem. It’s a biological female. It looks to me that the patient hasn’t been started on a testosterone medication yet.

Gartner voiceover: The only effective treatment for this psychiatric disorder is a combination of hormones and surgery.

Gartner to Blanchard: Can cosmetic surgery cure this disorder?

Blanchard: You are giving someone surgeries that enable them to be accepted as the opposite sex. Cosmetic surgery can help people lead much happier and more productive lives.

Blanchard: Her vocal cords will thicken and her voice will drop into the male range, and that is a permanent change

Gartner voiceover: Ray Blanchard, who is in charge of Canada’s top gender clinic, believes very few people should go on hormones or change their sex. His clinic sees only about 50 patients a year, and he rejects most of them.

Blanchard: We are not trying to encourage people to have sex reassignment surgery; on the contrary, we encourage people to try and make an adjustment to their biological gender.

Gartner: A 17 year old female, if she came to see you, what advice would you give her?

Blanchard: At our clinic, the minimum age we would consider a patent for hormonal treatment would be 20 years, and the minimum age for considering them for surgical treatment would be 21 years.

References

1. Armstrong J. The Body within, the body without. Globe and Mail, 12 June 2004, p. F1.

2. Newbery L. Trans-sexuals happier after operation, MD says. Toronto Star, 27 November 1984, p. H2.

3. Bailey JM. (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.
http://www.psych.nwu.edu/psych/people/faculty/bailey/Blanchard's%20Paris%20Talk.ppt

"The foregoing studies indicate that there are only two fundamentally different types of transsexualism in males: homosexual and nonhomosexual. This finding points to the next question: What do the three nonhomosexual types have in common? I have suggested that the common characteristic is an erotic orientation that I have labeled autogynephilia. Autogynephilia may be defined as a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman."

4. Rodkin D. Sex and Transsexuals. Chicago Reader December 12, 2003

See also:

Clarke Institute Clearinghouse: documenting the words and actions of CAMH staff

LINK: 'The Man Who Would Be Queen' Controversy Continues: Professor Blanchard Quits HBIGDA NTAC press release 10 November 2003

“Male gender dysphorics, paedophiles, and fetishists:" How Ray Blanchard sees us