Wannabes? The fetishization of transsexualism

In the wake of the Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence controversy, one important facet is the sexualization of gender variance.

Shortly after the publication of J. Michael Bailey's The Man Who Would Be Queen, sexologists Anne Lawrence and Ray Blanchard spoke at a New York conference on BIID, or Body Integrity Identity "Disorder." which was covered in a 25 June 2003 New York Observer article about it. The term “Wannabes” comes from the amputation fetish community.

I’ll get to that in a minute, though.

I've had to deal with jerks and losers pretending to be me online, so I agree with the author that this is an aggravating and potentially unsafe trend. I consider it a form of identity theft, and many of these people are simply trying to get validation from others or to lure young trans women into their confidence.

Beyond the people who steal images and identities outright is an interesting subgroup in which they paste their own faces into images of women. As you can see below, these are invariably images of women deemed attractive or beautiful.

I also consider the impostor pages below an interesting illustration of the "arms race" between admirers who hate the fakes and the wannabes who create the fakes.

Please see my page on internet safety for more on the dangers of fake online transsexuals.

Examples of online wannabes (click image or link to go to that page):

Figure 1: original photo (left) and wannabe pasted into it (right).

Figure 2: a wannabe pasted onto a famous model (Cindy Crawford)

Figure 3: a wannabe pasted onto a famous painting (Botticelli's Birth of Venus)

Figure 4: a wannabe pasted into fetish wear (a common theme)

 


Now, back to the fetishization of transsexualism...

From a reader in 2003, before the "autogynephilia" support group was kicked off Yahoo in 2005 for violations of Terms of Service:

I just joined Willow Arune's “autogynephilia” support newsgroup to further my goal of figuring out how "autogynephilics" view transsexualism. One of the things that's apparent so far is that these people feel they are under siege. According to them, daring to voice support for Bailey invites attack from other transsexuals, usually in the form of being called men. I know you're not responsible for what other people do, but as community leaders, could you maybe pass the word along that that sort of thing just isn't helpful? I know, we're under attack too. Bailey Blanchard and Lawrence are all fair game, but people are getting caught in the crossfire. Just see if there's anything you can do, ok?

My reply:

I feel bad that they are catching a lot of flak for expressing how they feel. Believe me, I know the feeling. However, the problem is that they have adopted the terminology of people who call them Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies and Man Who Would Be Queen. Whatever their condition, the term “autogynephilia” has the slur of “man” inexorably linked to it by those who coined and promote it, so as long as people in our community use it, I am quite certain they will be inexorably linked to men. I suggest they define themselves on their own terms, and I am going to make a suggestion based on a conference their self-proclaimed spokesperson Anne Lawrence is attending right now.

Here's the thing, and I'm not being judgmental, but I am not certain members of that group are “transsexuals” in the strict clinical definition, and the distinction is important. I think they have a separate clinical condition, or more accurately, an erotic interest, in which they are attracted to transsexuals, or more accurately, transsexualism, so much so that they try to become one themselves.

Now before people start sending me a lot of hate mail, hear me out.

Body Dysmorphic “Disorder”

Defined on the BIID site as:

Preoccupation with a real or imagined defect in body appearance may lead to diagnosis of this Somatoform Disorder. If a slight physical anomaly is present, the person's concern is markedly excessive. The preoccupation causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The preoccupation is not better accounted for by another mental disorder (e.g., dissatisfaction with body shape and size in Anorexia Nervosa).

I would argue that this is not a disorder, and almost every human has some physical aspect they wish were different. I base this on observations from my general market hair removal site. Virtually every human being removes some hair in order to conform to culturally defined aesthetic standards.

Those with unwanted hair have many options for its removal, and it’s a multibillion-dollar industry. Among that group, there are some for whom it is a compulsion, and others for whom it is an erotic matter, but for most people, it’s just about conforming to an arbitrary definition of what is a socially acceptable amount of hair.

As with gender issues, there are treatments available which can take care of this and immensely increase people’s self-esteem and comfort interacting in society. My message board is filled with grateful people who now happily take off their shirts at the beach or no longer get up an hour before their husband so they can pluck their chin hair without his knowing.

The question becomes when does the dissatisfaction with unwanted hair become “markedly excessive?” For instance, there are women on my boards who will not date because of shame about their hair, and more than one woman has expressed a near-crippling fear of getting in an accident and waking up several weeks later in the hospital with a beard. That might seem unusual or ridiculous, but if permanent hair removal can eliminate anxiety, whether irrational or not, it seems like it should be readily available.

Body Integrity Identity Disorder

According to their website, BIID is a “psychological condition in which the individual requests an elective amputation. Individuals with this condition experience the persistent desire to have their body physically match the idealized image they have of themselves.”

Apotemnophilia (fetishization of amputation)

"Apotemnophilia" appears to be a separate condition to BIID, as it is defined as a condition characterized by sexual arousal and facilitation or attainment of orgasm dependent upon being oneself an amputee. These individuals are sometimes described as “Wannabes.” The BIID sufferers are a distinct group in that their desire to be an amputee is related to activities of daily living and not purely related to sexual arousal.

OK, so let me throw out what Blanchard and Lawrence are saying at this conference and see what you think.

Blanchard and Lawrence on BIID

One of my hundreds of supersleuths who hate BBL sent me this.

Preceding Anne Lawrence at the amputee wannabe conference was speaker Ray Blanchard, on "Theoretical and Clinical Parallels Between BIID and GID":

Dr. Blanchard discussed the parallels between BIID and GID, the history of social acceptance of Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS) and assessing the therapeutic impact of sex reassignment surgery and elective amputation.

Dr. Blanchard asked the question: Which aspects of GID phenomena are relevant to BIID?. He also discussed the taxonomy of male-to-female transsexualism.

Dr. Blanchard covered the aspects of social acceptance of SRS, including positive clinical evidence, backing of prestigious institutes and experts, favorable social climate, sympathetic media and high-profile attractive pioneers.

Dr. Blanchard discussed his belief that outcome studies on the therapeutic impact of SRS would never have been sufficient to bring about social acceptance of surgical intervention, but they were certainly necessary. His hypothesis was that the same fact may hold true for the surgical treatment of BIID.

4th Speaker was Anne Lawrence, MD, PhD: "BIID and GID: Paraphilia, Identity, and Access to Care"

Dr. Lawrence defined the term "paraphilia" using the DSM-IV criteria, and discussed the interaction of paraphilia and identity in Gender Identity Disorder. Dr. Lawrence posed the question "Is the desire for amputation a paraphilia?" She also covered objections to the idea that the paraphilia model applies to BIID.

Dr. Lawrence discussed a paradigm referred to as the "Erotic Target Location Error" model (developed by Drs. Freund and Blanchard).

The final portion of Dr. Lawrence's talk focused on the public health model of "Harm Reduction" as it could apply to BIID > both in the areas of motivating surgical professionals to be of assistance to this population, and helping members of the community who attempt self-amputation to take steps to preserve life and minimize damage. Legal concerns were also discussed in this portion of the talk.

From the New York Observer article:

BIID is often compared to Gender Identity Disorder.

"[They] are two sides of the same coin," said Dr. Anne Lawrence. "They're both about feeling like you're in the wrong body and wanting to change that body." Dr. Lawrence, a transsexual herself, was invited to the conference for her expertise on the topic. Unlike sex changes, however, amputating a healthy limb disables the patient-so it's considered unethical, although not illegal.

Transsexual wannabes

Now, here's where I really put myself out on a limb (so to speak). This is all first-blush theorizing here, but let me give this a shot.

Based on my personal encounter, I believe that Anne Lawrence may have undergone medical procedures not to become a woman, but to become a transsexual. In other words, like an "apotemnophile" who is so attracted to amputees that they want to be one, Dr. Lawrence is so attracted to transsexuals that Dr. Lawrence took steps to emulate them. A tranny-chaser who wants to be just like a transsexual. Wild, huh?

Erotic object "Condition"

Non-medical name

limb modification "apotemnophilia" wannabes
genital modification ??? ???

I'll let you pick your own names. I'm not into labeling, but I am interested in making distinctions where I think they are needed.

Transsexuals as traditionally defined seek to bring their minds and bodies into congruence so they can live and date in the non-transsexual world. Dr. Lawrence appears to have undergone the procedures in order to live and date in the transsexual world.

In this desire for those who embody transsexualism, Dr. Lawrence appears to place the locus of erotic attention in the modified genitalia, in the same way an "apotemnophile" places the erotic locus of the amputee in the missing limb.

Why would Dr. Lawrence do all this? Same reason an "apotemnophile" would. In order to have better access to a dating pool with their object of desire. Some tranny-chasers are repellent to transsexuals, so if you take the form of a transsexual, you can pursue those you desire more easily. You can go to conventions and blend right in. You can even lure them back to your house under the pretense of collaborating on a book.

Like amputee wannabes who go through with it, Dr. Lawrence is a transsexual wannabe who went through with it. Once an amputee, they can go to disability-rights rallies and social events and approach amputees in a non-threatening way with something in common. Dr. Lawrence has taken the form of her erotic object in an attempt to make a sexual encounter more likely.

I got this notion from something on the BIID site trying to make BIID more socially acceptable by comparing it to GID: Transsexuals "usually mutilate only the genitals in order to assume the physical appearance of the opposite sex." Because Dr. Lawrence is fixated on the genitals in the same way as the BIID people are fixated on limbs.

"Erotic Target Location Error," indeed.

Reader comments

Certain erotic interests have a precise moment where the object of their desire is "ripe." A window of opportunity. Many transfans have an erotic desire for someone with a window of opportunity. They often want someone as feminine as humanly possible, but with male genitalia, preferably "functional," to use their term. That means they want to get us just before genital modification. This is where Dr. Lawrence appears to be different. Dr. Lawrence seems to want us just after, as in my own case.

From a reader:

At the IFGE conference in 2001, I witnessed a public seduction of a newly-surgeried transsexual woman by Dr. Lawrence. As she did her bizarre dance "When was your surgery? Are you finally "complete," Can I take your picture? How about 15 minutes from now?" the dynamic was clearly, from my perspective, that of a male preying on a female.

Hmm, where have I witnessed that before? Oh yeah, when Anne photographed and fingered my vagina.

Now, let me end with a letter sent by someone who read about my encounter with Dr. Lawrence. I will reserve comment, as I think the letter says it all.

I first started sex work about 4 years ago. During this time of work, I had my share of part time crossdressers who wanted the experience of a "real" transsexual. Usually dom/sub/sissy scenes. I would say quite a few of could fit Dr. Lawrence’s paraphilic profile, at least in the themes of their fantasies.

The reason I quit sex work over 2 years ago was after a very awful encounter with a TG client. I was desperate to pick up a quick 200 bucks and went to a trannie hooker bar for these purposes. I had seen this person at the same bar a couple of times before, always in male attire. He approached me and I told him what I was after. He agreed to my terms and we went back to his house. By his plucked eyebrows I assumed he was a crossdresser. I figured he wanted something fetishy. Probably to be dressed up himself. Maybe called a sissy. No big deal. Money is money.

What ensued was the most awful, harrowing 10 hours of my life. I was basically held prisoner in his bedroom the entire night into the next morning while he demonstrated his mastery of strangleholds and various wrestling and fighting techniques that he had learned in the military, "in 'Nam," bragging how he knew how to kill a man instantly. He forcibly held me down on his bed while he described in humiliating and matter-of-fact detail what exactly was wrong with my body, why I would never be a "real" woman, what surgical procedures I should have done to look better. Anything he thought was good about my figure or looks he would counter with how much better such and such ts porn star's or female illusionist's was, who by the way was "much better at this" than I could ever be, don't I dare forget it. All of this was said and done with aggressive nonchalance, as though it were perfectly reasonable of him.

While he made sure I didn't think too highly of myself, he demonstrated his own extensive body modifications, which included silicon injected breasts, head to toe body waxing, and silicon-injected hips. He forced oral sex upon me and forced me to perform oral sex upon him. And to top it all off he penetrated me without a condom at least 3 or 4 times during the night, while he "cuddled" me in a chokehold as we "slept" , so that I didn't try to get away. I literally was unable to move off of the bed for the entire night. Nor did I get paid.

(Actually the session started off legit, but he wanted to penetrate me without a condom, as he thought he should be able to do so at what it was costing him. I quickly gave him the money back and got up to leave, but he had other ideas).

No, I did not go to the police. I was in Texas and you can imagine the treatment I could look forward to explaining "Oh you see I was tricking for johns at my friendly neighborhood drag bar when an ex-vietnam vet shemale took me to his/her house and raped me. S/he wore stilettos and a curly blond wig the whole time, the saucy wench!"

I don't really talk much about the experience. It devastated me on many levels and eventually cured me of my dabbling in prostitution for good.

I'm not even trying to equate the experience with Dr. Lawrence’s behavior. I don't think. Your story just got me thinking that maybe this whole paraphilic thing is just an obsession with transsexuality, transsexuals, and transsexual procedures for their own sake. Could it be that in some, this paraphilia manifests as a predatory sexual behavior very much along the lines of Pedophilia et al...?

As outlandish as trans-on-trans crime sounds... is there indeed a predatory dynamic at play here?

I'm not trying to say that all people with this paraphilia are like this, or that the reason I was raped and attacked is the paraphilia's fault. I put myself in a stupid situation with a stranger in a dangerous illegal occupation.

But, seriously.

Just thinking.

From another reader who experienced predatory behavior

I received the following in March 2004:

Your account [...] and the account of the woman who was assaulted when she was a prostitute strikes a resounding chord with an experience I had with a TS wannabe.

In mid 2001, I had my reassignment surgery without any complications and my recovery was pretty uneventful. Around six months earlier, I started talking in one of the online TS forums to a TS woman (I use that term loosely, because my views on her/him have changed; the reason will be come evident shortly), who was at a similar stage of transition as my self and who planned to have her surgery around the same time as me. We became what I consider to be friends and sure enough, I had my surgery in the UK and she had hers in Thailand. It was in a way quite comforting that we could share our recovery experience and know with some certainty that all was healing as it should. I was on a high at the time, feeling fantastic that all the major facets to my journey were complete and now was the time to move on in my life and start "living".

It was only a few months later that I acknowledged something was very wrong. This person had always consumed large quantities of alcohol and during the frequent bouts of inebriation the conversation always turned to sex, sometimes by the most unexpected route. For example, on television one night, two women meeting up for the first time in years and giving each other a hug, elicited the response that they were lesbians. A woman walking in the street with her shopping had apparently just orgasmed. More disturbingly however, were frequent references to transsexualism being associated with paedophilia and sado-masochism. I was starting to suspect this person possessed these tendencies.

Events unfolded where this person moved into my house. S/he had had a major fight with her/his wife and the wife later told me that s/he had tried to strangle her. Unaware of this at the time, I accepted his/her plea to stay with me until things could be worked out. I was reluctant because of my growing suspicions but this person had helped me in moving away from my old home and finding me new employment and I know I would have felt very guilty if I said no.

The drunkenness worsened and the sexual innuendo increased. Something else was happening too. When we went out into public places, his/her mannerisms became noticeably more male; the voice became deeper and louder. Inevitably, this drew attention to us and I felt very uncomfortable. It was as if s/he wanted us to be noticed and it worked. When confronted about this, s/he would say that the world should accept him/her as a woman despite what signals were given off. In one drunken episode, this person said that GRS was the biggest mistake ever and was thinking about reverting back to male. The next day this was denied.

The sexual innuendo was also being directed at me. I was told that despite me being too tall, having a strong jaw, and a fairly male forehead, I was quite pretty, though would never make a glamour model. Er.... I had no intention of being a glamour model! I found these comments quite hurtful and inwardly, it really knocked my confidence. When we went out, I felt as though people were looking at me rather than him/her. The fact that I am pretty much stealth in work and do not receive untoward looks or comments in any part of my life was irrelevant at the time.

About a month after this person had moved in, I came home after finishing a harrowing night shift (I am a nurse working in critical care). This person was asleep naked on my sofa and snoring deafeningly. On the coffee table were three empty bottles of wine. The site appalled me and I knew I had to do something about this hell I was living in. But I needed my bed. I woke up several hours later to find this person lying by my side, mauling my breast with one hand and the other reaching between my legs. I jumped out of bed and freaked. Told him/her to get out of my house. This person told me that I wanted this. I was apparently enjoying myself. I was told that I had a passive personality and needed someone to take the initiative. It was all very frightening.

This person did move out but I was informed I would change my mind and beg for more. When this didn't happen, I started receiving threatening phone calls and emails until I said that I was taping everything and gathering evidence for the police. Then it stopped.

This is my experience in a nutshell. There is far more to say, like the lies and fantasies I was fed for example, having a Doctorate in forensic psychology, being a member of the SAS and more. But now is not the time to disclose those details.

In my mind, the description of the Wannabe as being a predatory male after TS people seems to perfectly fit the profile of this person.

If you are interested and have the time, I would be more than happy to talk with you in more detail about what happened. The whole experience unnerved me for quite a while and it is only now I am regaining confidence and managing to get on with my life without looking over my shoulder and being paranoid about how I look.

I hope this helps you with your theorising. I am happy for you to publish this account, anonymously of course, and for you to edit as you see fit. My grammar isn't the best but I hope I manage to convey the sense.


Another take on BIID. I like the handkerchief fetish comment.

http://www.critic.co.nz/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=1109

Are you pulling my leg?
Posted by: admin on Monday, August 11, 2003 - 06:52 AM
 
Why amputee fetishism stumps the medical establishment

So, uh, just between you and me, don’t you find that missing limbs turn you on? That amputees are sexy? That there’s just something about that stumpy bit at the bottom of the knee where the rest of the leg should go that makes you catch your breath? No? Well, maybe you should think about that, ‘coz amputee fetishism is totally hot right now. Sadomasochism is out, but leaving your leg in liquid nitrogen for two hours to freeze it off is, well, just damn sexy. Obviously.

Apotemnophilia, the clinical name for the apparently recent phenomenon of amputee fetishism, was first described in the late 1970’s by sexologist John Money. Then, the condition was constructed as a sexual paraphilia, where patients were attracted to the idea of themselves as amputees. Money also described the closely related condition of ‘acrotemnophilia’ – being attracted to amputees, but not actually wanting to be one. Over the last twenty years, the terminology has shifted and we now have ‘devotees’, who are attracted to amputees, ‘pretenders’, who are hobbyists who pretend to be amputees, and ‘wannabes’, who are the ‘true’ sufferers with ‘Body Integrity Identity Disorder’ (BIID). The sexual component has now been separated out, with the wannabes claiming this disorder affects much more than their sexuality and impacts on their everyday life. This interpretation aligns it alongside concepts like body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or gender identity disorder, where the issue is one of self-identification, rather than just getting turned on by something that is a little bit, well, odd. But do an acronym and a thriving Internet community make it a real condition, or is it just an overblown trend? What the hell is going on here? Who are these people?
The medical profession has almost no idea. With scant literature concerning apotemnophilia or BIID, the only treatment so far formally explored is amputation. Presuming that they were suffering from BDD, Dr Robert Smith, a Scottish surgeon, operated on two otherwise healthy patients to amputate their lower limbs in 1997 and 1999. Happily, the two are now very enamoured of their amputee state and have no regrets about amputation. At the time of the operations, Dr Smith said he believed his patients had had “very little success from their treatments by psychiatrists and psychologists over the years”, but there are no clinical trials addressing the efficacy of psychotherapy (or at least none in publication). Is surgery too drastic? Or, if these people are likely to attempt a DIY job anyway, aren’t we better off giving them what they want? And the serious ones really will try anything to get rid of that alien limb. According to Dr Smith, “There are quite a lot of anecdotal reports, largely from the States, of people taking the law into their own hands, lying on a railway line or shooting their legs off with a shotgun”. The most famous case of amputation-gone-wrong comes from the US, where Phillip Bondy paid former surgeon John Brown US$10,000 to amputate his leg. Having been suspended from medical practice, Brown was running an underground clinic in Tijuana. Three days after the operation, Bondy was found dead in a motel room from gangrene poisoning. With this concern for safety in mind, Dr Smith now has six more patients lined up for amputation surgery, but the Scottish Government has forbidden him to do the operations, at least in a state hospital.

And then there’s Baz, a star in Melody Gilbert’s new documentary Whole, who actually did leave his leg in liquid nitrogen for two hours, until his hypothermia worried his wife so much she insisted he go to A&E (Baz got his amputation and is very happy). Whole, which probably won’t make it to a theatre near you, is classic, low-budget film-fest material that lets amputee wannabes and their loved ones tell their own private stories. There’s the pretender who tapes his leg up and gets around in crutches and custom trousers; the American wannabe who must choose between his fascination with having his leg removed or his wife; the amputee whose neighbour found him having shot his own leg off and was convinced it was simply an accident … and more. Most of the cast are genuine sufferers from the conflict between an image and a reality that cannot be superimposed, like the flipside of phantom limb sufferers. They are all male and most are middle-aged (although female wannabes do exist). They all feel it is the right leg, below the knee, that is the impostor limb. This distinctive, albeit inexplicable, aetiology suggests the condition is real, something that always existed, but was previously unrecognised. But is this enough? Could BIID sufferers, wannabes, pretenders and devotees ever have ‘found’ themselves if the Internet didn’t exist?

One commentator interested in the conceptualisation of BIID is Carl Elliott, whose latest book is about the American (read: Western) preoccupation with self and the coercion of medicine into the arena of self-improvement, specifically the obsession with medical tools that will make us into ‘better’ versions of ourselves, such as Prozac, Ritalin and gender realignment/plastic surgery. Elliot sees BIID as an expression of our modern-day neuroses – essentially the combat between the two principles of ‘self-improvement’ in the red corner and ‘know thyself’ in the blue corner. “I was [initially] struck by the way wannabes use the language of identity and selfhood in describing their desire to lose a limb,” he says, “but we shouldn't be surprised when any[body] uses phrases like ‘becoming myself’ and ‘I was incomplete’ and ‘the way I really am’ to describe what they feel, because the language of identity and selfhood surrounds us. It is built into our morality, our literature, our political philosophy, our therapeutic sensibility, even our popular culture… This is the way we sell cars and tennis shoes. We talk of self-discovery, self-realisation, self-expression, self-actualisation, self-invention, self-knowledge, self-betrayal and self-absorption. It should be no great revelation that the vocabulary of the self feels like a natural way to describe our longings, our obsessions, and our psychopathologies.”

Elliott identifies several components characteristic of a socially driven disease (post-traumatic stress, ADHD and others). The recognition of the syndrome/disorder is driven by a group of medical practitioners whose careers depend on its existence; there is usually no hard data or mechanism, and diagnosis is based on a patient narrative. As well, there is (often) a (lucrative) treatment available. Yet diseases constructed in this manner often disappear as the cultures that spawned them mutate – for instance, the very real 19th century sexual obsession with handkerchiefs seems now to have disappeared. BIID still looks to be growing, partly through increasing acceptance by mainstream medicine as documentaries are made, conference talks given and papers published, but primarily through the expansion of the Internet communities that have driven the whole phenomenon – a socially driven disease must have at its core an accessible and receptive audience.

Closer to home, Josie Johnston, an Otago Law graduate, has written several commentaries on the phenomenon of amputee fetishism. In her 2002 Masters of Bioethics and Health Law thesis she examined individual personal narratives and assessed the legal implications of using surgery to treat a disorder that is neither particularly well understood, nor recognised by mainstream psychiatry (in the form of the DSM – the diagnostic bible). Johnstone concluded that while liberal philosophy should be able to defend voluntary amputation of otherwise healthy limbs, as long as the patient is competent, this is not particularly practical and any defence of such amputations would probably have to come from a therapeutic standpoint – asserting that surgery is a legitimate treatment for the disorder. “It appears, at least in the case of healthy limb amputation, that society prefers to justify body altering surgery on the grounds that it is treatment of a mental disorder, rather than that it represents the considered choice of a competent adult.” Understandably, Johnston appears cautious about both the ‘medicalisation’ of identity and the use of drastic surgical measures to bridge the chasm between the apparently irreconcilable desire and reality that wannabes experience. However, she does not appear to condemn the use of amputation for wannabes, but rather thinks this somewhat peculiar obsession is one worth exploring further. In the words of Dr Robert Smith: “it may be that in ten years time that people will look back and say good heavens, they actually had doubts about whether this was the right form of treatment or not in the 1990s, but on the other hand they may look back and say look at what these mad people were doing in the 1990s, they were cutting people’s legs off when in actual fact there is another form of treatment that is successful. We don’t know yet what’s going to happen.”


The author who exposed the boy2woman hoax has made some intersting observations on fakes and social networking sites:

The other thing I wanted to mention is a disturbing trend I'm seeing in Myspace. There have been many young GG's who have noticed that their photos are being grabbed and reused by someone else for the purposes of creating a false identity. Aubrey Frost, the immensely popular young CD, seems to have re-emerged from hiding and has set up a Myspace page. She pursued an impersonator on Myspace and got that other page shut down. I've seen GG's complain about their pictures being stolen as well although they are usually not the victim of a full identity theft; instead the frequently updated real pictures are simply used to create the illusion of a real person with whatever backstory the impersonator wants to create.

The motivations are many...male stalkers who want to insert themselves into teen girl circles, TS wannabees, etc. I have no doubt that there are countless TS wannabees out there and I am suspicious of the number of teen girls who declare themselves to be TS. The college-aged and 20's and 30's profiles probably start scooting more towards the truthful end of things.

I'm sure you know of the Myspace friend-collecting phenomenon where people try to build massive friend lists of thousands of people as a show of social prowess. It may be ironic that some of the TS circles may be tainted by circular deceptions where a TS wannabee has lots of friends, but many of them are fakes too.

Until Myspace introduces some powerful search tools, there's not much that can be done about the impersonation problem. Even then, it'll still be easy to game by simply changing a few personal details, hometown, age, and doing a minor edit/rename of a photo. I'm rather amazed that anyone has had the sheer luck of finding another page on Myspace that is reusing their pictures.

I don't plan on doing anything in this area, but it'll be interesting to watch.


References and further reading:

Other Anne Lawrence "medical exam" experiences

"Off With My Arm!" by Shana Liebman, Beth Broome and Mike Albo. New York Observer June 25, 2003

Body Integrity Identity Disorder website: http://www.biid.org/

A New Way To Be Mad, Carl Elliott, Atlantic Monthly, December 2000

Better Than Well: American Medicine Meets the American Dream Carl Elliott, Peter D. Kramer W.W. Norton & Company (March 2003)

Bruno, RL. Devotees, pretenders and wannabes: Two cases of Factitious Disability Disorder. Journal of Sexuality and Disability, 1997; 15: 243-260.

"Several case studies indicate that there may be a higher incidence of transvestites and transsexuals among DPW's. (3,10,13,14,22,23) However, the notion that an apotemnophile is a "disabled person trapped in a nondisabled body" is difficult to justify, there being no 'naturally-occurring' state of disability that would correspond to the the two naturally-occurring genders."

3. Nattress LE: Amelotasis: A descriptive study (2nd Ed). Unpublished doctoral dissertation, 1996.

10. Wakefield PL, Frank A, Meyers RW: The hobbyist: A euphemism for self-mutilation and fetishism. Bull Menninger Clinic 41:539-552, 1977.

13. London LS: Dynamic Psychiatry: Transvestism-Desire for crippled women (Vol 2). New York, Corinthian Publications, 1952.

14. Money J, Jobaris R, Furth G: Apotemnophilia: Two cases of self-demand amputation as a paraphilia. J Sex Res 13: 115-125, 1977.

22. Woody RH: Integrated aversion therapy and psychotherapy. J Sex Res 9:313-324, 1973.

23. Ollason JG: Denise Anne: An interview with the ultimate wannabe. OverGround 6:20-35, 1993.

Transabled.org is a website for people who wish to experience an amputation, paralysis, or other form of disability. They have commentary on BIID, and a contributor there alerted me to her essay comparing transsexualism and transability.