Monday, March 16, 2015

crowdsourcing for instances where "autogynephilia" is used to sensationalize or invalidate trans identities - please help & share with others!

As many of you may know, over the years I have written a lot about Ray Blanchard's theory of autogynephilia, which wrongly argues that trans women are sexually-motivated in our transitions - I debunked the theory in the article provided in the link, and further discuss how it sexualizes and invalidates trans women here.  

I am currently working on a piece that (in part) compiles instances where people outside of science/psychology cite "autogynephilia" in their efforts to sensationalize trans people or to promote anti-transgender agendas and policies. 

I have a few examples of this in hand - most notably, from Sheila Jeffreys's recent book, one from an anti-trans Catholic organization, that horrible Rolling Stone article about Lana Wachowski published before she came out as trans, and of course, last year's New Yorker article in which Michelle Goldberg used the theory to slut-shame me

I have seen many more examples than this, but I have found them to be especially difficult to track down online, as the bajillion webpages and posts discussing and debating the theory itself overwhelm any and all search engine queries I have attempted.

So that's where you come in (hopefully!). Perhaps you know of articles, news items, or stories along this line? If so, please pass along a link, a description, or a few key words so that I can search for it myself. You can do so by:

1) leaving a comment below
2) Tweet it to me @juliaserano
3) email it to me - my address can be found here:

Thanks in advance! -julia

p.s., please no debating or ranting about "autogynephilia" in the comments section - this post is not intended to discuss the theory, but to compile instances of how the concept is misused/abused by lay people who wish to sensationalize/sexualize/smear/invalidate trans identities. Thanks in advance.

POSTSCRIPT: thank you to everyone who has forwarded/emailed me examples, I really appreciate it!

perhaps unsurprisingly, I received a number of angry/derogatory comments from people accusing me of being an "autogynephilia" denier and a repressed "autogynephilic" transsexual. My advice to such people is READ MY ACTUAL WRITINGS BEFORE MAKING ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT MY SEXUALITY AND MOTIVES!!!

This blog post begins with two links to serious well-thought-out articles/essays on the subject (I also write at great length about this subject in my book Whipping Girl). If you actually read them, you will find that I believe that female/female embodiment fantasies exist (I have experienced them myself & contextualize those experiences in Whipping Girl), and that they are not at all unusual in cisgender women, trans female/feminine spectrum people, and in some people who (aside from the fantasies) are fully male-identified.

While the fantasies/erotic thoughts are real, the notion that there are two discrete classes of people - "autogynephiles" and "non-autogynephiles" - has been scientifically and theoretically disproven (see here and here and here). There is absolutely no need to refer to some people as "autogynephiles" any more than there is a need to call people who have fantasies about being raped (another common sexual fantasy) as being "autoraptophiles." (In fact, as I explain in my writings, such labeling can result in numerous negative consequences.)

As a sex positive feminist, I will defend anyone's right to discuss their own experiences with female/feminine embodiment fantasies (or male/masculine embodiment fantasies, for that matter). I think that discussing such matters may help reduce the shame and stigma that many people who experience them face. But I *will* continue to challenge false claims based on Blanchard's now disproven autogynephilia theory. And I will especially do so in instances where people use the notion of "autogynephilia" to pathologize, sexualize, and invalidate other people.

As I said in the beginning, this post is not intended to be a forum about "autogynephilia." I posted a few comments along those lines to clarify what I have written/argued. The only comments I will be posting from here on out are ones related to the crowdsourcing request I sent out.


I continue to get comments (seemingly from the same few people) berating me for being an "idiot" (and other such insults), and forwarding a bizarre narrative wherein "autogynephilia" is about cisgender men who have fantasies about emasculinization & humiliation, and that trans women like myself are now "appropriating" this language by describing it as trans female/feminine embodiment fantasies, or discussing it in terms of female sexuality more generally.

I am not sure what subreddit you people came from, but this premise is ill-informed and entirely ahistorical.

I am aware that emasculation fantasies are not at all uncommon in cisgender men. And they clearly draw from the same societal hierarchy (i.e., that maleness/masculinity is the superior status, and that other gender statuses are inferior) that inform many female submissive fantasies and some trans female/feminine fantasies. However, Blanchard defined "autogynephilia" as arousal related to the "thought or image of oneself as female" - so if you are some dude who is into emasculinization and humiliation fantasies but have no desire (in fantasy or real-life) to be female or feminine, then the term was never intended to apply to you. In other words, you're the ones appropriating the term, not us.

Further, all of Blanchard's original research was conducted on people on the trans female/feminine spectrum (specifically, male crossdressers and MTF transsexuals), and almost all of the literature on the subject - whether serious articles or purposefully maligning ones (i.e., the type that I wrote this post intending to seek out) - generally target trans women and others on the trans female/feminine spectrum, not men with emasculinization fantasies.

If you want to talk about your emasculinization/humiliation fantasies, that's great, all the more power to you. But I suggest you call them that (i.e., emasculinization/humiliation fantasies) rather than appropriate a term that was designed to primarily describe/pathologize/sexualize transgender-spectrum people.


  1. I googled the Lana Wachowski article out of curiosity and you are right, it is really, really awful. Somehow I thought Rolling Stone was a bit better than that. Ugh.

    1. Yes, it was bad. But it was about ten years ago - almost everything the media did back then was horrible. The last couple trans articles I've seen them do have not been horrible or sensationalistic...

  2. Autogynephilia is real. Some people can deal with that, other people deny it, and still others make fun of it. Yes, some people will make fun of it or use the term disparagingly. So what? People disparage other people all the time about all sorts of unimportant things. That's what people do to each other. Especially on the internet. You look a hysterical dimwit for getting so bent out of shape over this particular incarnation of people shaming people.

    Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

    1. This is the kind of insulting comment that I almost never publish. But I am doing so now because you so thoroughly prove my point. READ MY ACTUAL WRITINGS before calling me a "hysterical dimwit" (and see newly added postscript to the piece that explains my actual views.)

      And can I just say, your "Methinks the lady doth protest too much" statement at the end is a great example of how people use the concept of "autogynephilia" to slut-shame other people. You invoked AG in order to invalidate me. I believe in sexual diversity, but I do not believe in using people's sexual histories or identities against them.

  3. I'm pretty sure that you've already encountered this, but I've been a big fan of this study:
    It basically states that ciswomen also rated high using the same test for autogynephilia, which invalidates its use towards trans women as a separator. It's also not exactly what you're asking for, but in case that it is new information, hope it helps.

    1. oops, sorry, I replied to you comment in a separate comment below.

  4. So where do the autogynephiliacs who do not identify as trans, fit into all of this?

    1. Please see my newly added postscript at the end of the piece, specifically the line:

      "I believe that female/female embodiment fantasies exist ... and that they are not at all unusual in cisgender women, trans female/feminine spectrum people, and in some people who (aside from the fantasies) are fully male-identified."

      I have no problems whatsoever with people who experience female/feminine embodiment fantasies - rather, I merely object to Blanchard's disproven theories and categories (and misuse thereof).

  5. yes, I am very familiar with Moser's "Autogynephilia in Women" article - I cite it in my own review (the first link above). Veale et al (also discussed in my review) also demonstrate that cisgender women experience female/feminine embodiment fantasies (aka, "autogynephilia"). But thanks for passing that along!

  6. As I said in the beginning, this post is not intended to be a forum about "autogynephilia." I posted a few comments along those lines to clarify what I have written/argued. The only comments I will be posting from here on out are ones related to the crowdsourcing request I sent out.