To finish of this series I decided to listen to the interview with Stella O’Malley and Sasha Ayad for the Gender: A wider Lens series. It is undoubtedly a coup to be granted a rare interview with Dr Ann Lawrence. You can listen here:
For those of you unfamiliar with the series, Lawrence identifies as a Male ”Transsexual” and is open about his motivation to ”transition”; namely Autogynephilia, a sexual paraphilia. Definition below.
O’Malley is a psychotherapists and Ayad is a Licenced adolescent therapist both deal with young, clients who present with Gender Dysphoria. Needless to say I am not privvy to their client list but it seems reasonable to suppose some of their clients must appear to fall into the AGP category. I have seen at least one YouTuber describing his sexual motivation to identify as female even though it is usually a paraphilia associated with older males. We, perhaps, have the near ubiquity of porn to thank for this phenomenon.
Lawrence writes a lot about adult, AGP males and their tendency to reconstruct their childhood memories to deemphasise the sexual motivations for their ”transition” so I always listen with a degree of skepticism about AGP narratives. Lawrence is a controversial figure among what is called the “Trans” community for being willing to acknowledge autogynephilia. This probably makes him more honest than most but very early in the interview he makes a claim that even children can present with autogynephilia. I am immediately uncomfortable with this framing. I will become more uncomfortable when he talks about documented cases, in sexology literature, of penile erections in toddlers when allowed to play with female clothing. I have not located these sources but I am immediately concerned about the veracity of these claims or, if the research exists, the ethics of any research into the erections of three year olds. One of the central tenets of queer theory involves the rejection of social norms and many activists seem to get a perverse kick in exploring the darker side of human impulses, paedophilia and zoophilia being two.
Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria
Asked about this phenomenon it is clear that Lawrence has not encountered the work of Lisa Littman who coined the term (ROGD). On the one hand Lawrence says his own parents would have seen his case as Rapid Onset gender Dysphoria but he is also keen that his work is out there so AGP males have an explanation of their ”condition”. On social contagion he concedes that it is very difficult to be female in this society so, in the age of the internet, rising numbers of females in flight from their sex don’t surprise him. I wonder if Lawrence is self-aware enough to know that one of the difficulties women and girls face is the hyper-sexualisation of of our bodies. Autogynephilic men are literally projecting their sexist notions of what makes a woman onto their own bodies but also, by extension onto the bodies of all women. They associate being female with feeling sexually aroused which is inherently sexist. I don’t think Lawrence understands his role in the discomfort girls feel about their bodies once puberty hits, he laments the fact that women and girls are disrespected by broader society but lacks self-awareness of his own contribution to the treatment of women.
On the role of the internet Lawrence says had he had access to the internet he would likely have ”transitioned” earlier. As it was he left it till he was in his forties, at the time of the interview he was 71.
Lawrence is good in this segment as he talks about how many AGP males deal with their shame by projecting anger and exhibit entitlement with a lack of empathy. I covered his paper on this topic earlier in the series: 👇
Asked about transwidows, Lawrence expresses sympathy for both wives and children of ”transitioned” fathers. Lawrence says entering a marriage with severe autogynephilia to be cautious about entering marriage, especially if they are embarking on marriage as a ”cure”; especially if your erotic urges are entirely self-directed. Stella brings up the stories of AGP husbands who are abusive. Lawrence does not really address the abuse but concedes it can be very harmful to have an AGP family member.
Lawrence ends with his thoughts on teenage males who exhibit autogynephilia. He imagines a past where he would have had himself castrated to avoid any masculinisation. He makes the case for AGP as a sexual orientation which is immutable. He believes there are intelligent boys who know their own mind at thirteen or fourteen and these boys should be allowed to obtain medical intervention. As an aside he references the practice of castrating boys to create singers with a better voice range (Castratos). He is mainly concerned about better cosmetic outcomes.
He finishes with a debt of acknowledgement to Ray Blanchard.
I doubt Lawrence would have agreed to a more challenging interview format and the fact that Stella and Sasha are both therapists, and possibly also because they are female, may have prompted Lawrence to agree to speak. Any attempt to legitimise autogynephilia as a sexual orientation should, in my view, be fiercely resisted. Similarly agreeing medical intervention at 13 or 14 for any male is a dangerous suggestion. Lawrence focuses on the ability of the adult male to better pass and suggests there is a route back for males who take this path. Naturally occurring sex hormones play a pivotal role in pubertal development; which continues up to age 25. Blocking puberty does not just stop the developing of genitalia but also has an impact on brain development which is poorly understood. Lawrence is projecting his own, adult, wish fulfilment onto adolescent boys.
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