What is "autogynephilia"?
“Autogynephilia” is defined as “a male's propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female.” Here’s the truth about this strange theory.
As soon as you know a little bit about history, it becomes easier to get behind the arguments of homophobes and transphobes. The “autogynephilia” theory of Ray Blanchard, a favorite among anti-trans TERFs and right wing extremists, is clearly just a rehash of 19th century misunderstandings of sexuality and gender.
That was the old “inversion” theory, where sexual orientation was seen as a function of gender identity, which meant that feminine gay men were seen as “women trapped in men’s bodies”. This lead to the conclusion that trans women were nothing but “effeminate gay men”.
Except…. Well, there were also trans women who loved women. These “straight men” did not fit the inversion model, so the doctors had to come up with a different explanation, preferably one that turned these trans women into a completely different category, so that it didn’t threaten the bizarre idea that all gay men are “effiminate” and “womanish”.
The savior was the fetish theory. It turned out that at least some of these woman-loving trans women and “transvestites” (the contemporary word for “crossdressers”) got turned on by dressing up in female clothing. So their desire to be a woman was reduced to a fetish for silk stockings or whatever struck their fancy.
Ray Blanchard had at least the decency to accept that not all woman-loving male to female trans people were crossdressing. So he had to come up with another explanation: These “straight men” had the hots for the image of themselves as a woman, he said. They were suffering from a “erotic target location error”.
This very complicated and unproven explanation has been thoroughly debunked. Yes, some MTF trans people attracted to women do get aroused by the idea of being a women, but so do many of those who love men, and so do many non-transgender women, straight and queer. The arousal is simply a function of being allowed to imagine yourself having a sex life as the one you truly are.
But the theory fits very well with the old tradition of sexualizing marginalized groups. Black men were painted as hypersexual brutes threatening “decent” white women and children. Freethinking suffragettes were diagnosed as sexually oppressed hysterics or nymphomaniacs. Lesbian women seduced young vulnerable girls in the schools’ locker rooms. Gay men were sexual perverts. And now you had a theory that could paint lesbian trans women as “paraphiliacs”.
Ray Blanchard later on exposed the transphobic nature of his theory by assisting transphobic “gender critical radical feminists” (TERFs) and allowing himself to be interviewed by white supremacists. So much for “objective” and “disinterested” science.