Brynn Tannehill

New Yorker Shamefully Cites Anti-LGBT 'Researcher'

Filed By Brynn Tannehill | July 29, 2014 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Media, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: anti-trans stereotypes, junk science, Mark Regnerus, Michelle Goldberg, New Yorker, paraphilia, pathology, psychology, puff pieces, Ray Blanchard

TERF-anti-trans.jpgAll but lost in Michelle Goldberg's recent love song to anti-transgender internet trolls in New Yorker magazine was a less-than-skeptical reference to Dr. Ray Blanchard.

While best known for promoting widely discredited and openly mocked anti-transgender theories, he is also a proponent of the idea that homosexuality is a disorder, and he denies that bisexuals exist, or at least that they are any different from heterosexuals.

Dr. Ray Blanchard is a psychologist who specializes in paraphilias. According to his Wikipedia biography, Blanchard is:

"Head of Clinical Sexology Services in the Law and Mental Health Programme of the CAMH, and he serves as a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. He served on the American Psychiatric Association DSM-IV Subcommittee on Gender Identity Disorders and was named to the DSM-5 committee. According to the Web of Science, Blanchard's scientific articles have been cited more than 1800 times, with an h-index of 27."

He is also responsible for more harm to the transgender community than any other person in North America -- and he's proud of it.

Anti-Trans Demagoguery

Blanchard openly admits to abusing his position to create a fake diagnosis in the DSM-5, and to resorting to unethical means to push his pet theories. He also believes that homosexuality should never have been removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

Blanchard developed a theory of a transsexualism typology which groups male-to-female transsexuals into two types: those attracted to men, and those attracted to women. He believes the ones he calls "homosexual transsexuals" are just confused gay men who think it would be easier to live as a straight woman than as a gay man. He also claims that those who are attracted to women are actually paraphiliacs who have let their fetish take over their lives.

He believes all MTF transsexuals fit into one category or another. No exceptions. Any transgender woman who denies belonging to one category or another is assumed by Dr. Blanchard to be lying.

As for bisexual transgender women, he assumes they don't exist, or that they are no different from heterosexual ones. In essence, he has designed a theory that deliberately erases bisexuality as a legitimate orientation. Ironically, the implied narcissistic element of autogynephilia closely resembles the (discredited and outdated) narcissistic love theories regarding the roots of homosexuality.

In a recent interview, Blanchard claims that he doesn't believe his position causes any harm to the transgender community:

Q: "Do you think that classifying transgender people as having a disorder does contribute to stigma against the trans community?"

A: "No. I mean how many people who make a joke about trannies consult the DSM first?"

In the same interview, he acknowledges that his work feeds the fires of those who wish to do transgender people harm, and that frankly, he doesn't care.

I'm certainly not in favor of saying things in a hurtful or mean way if there's an equally precise way of saying the same thing that is not hurtful or mean. I'm not one of these guys who goes out of his way to be politically incorrect. But I don't think we should promulgate untruths for the sake of political agendas, even if they are worthwhile political agendas.

First, is there a nice way of calling someone a deluded, self-hating homosexual, or a fetishist? Of course not, and he knows it. In fact, he has gone out of his way to describe transgender people as amputation fetishists.

Legitimizing Bigotry

Blanchard's theories have been picked up by radical anti-transgender feminists, who use it to justify their claim that transgender people are perverts who cannot be trusted. All of these individuals attempt to deny legal protections and medical care to the community.

smells-like-bullshit.jpgWho else is picking up on Blanchard's theories? NARTH, for one, whose anti-transgender manifesto is mostly based on his writings. It's also used in the right-wing, anti-transgender campaigns being waged by the Pacific Justice Institute and the like. Indeed, the Family Research Council and the American Family Association cite his theory as a reason that transgender people are sick and should be institutionalized rather than protected. Anti-trans pundits like Dr. Keith Ablow rely on Blanchard's typology to deny that transgender people even exist.

Blanchard is cited frequently by other anti-LGBT groups, including Courage (the group Antonin Scalia's son belongs to) and Catholic World Report. And why not? Blanchard was raised Catholic, and he holds the very traditionalist Catholic view that any non-penis-in-vagina sex act is abnormal and should be pathologized. "[N]ormal sexuality is whatever is related to reproduction," Blanchard says.

To date, I can find no evidence that Blanchard objects to either the radical right or radical feminists using his theories to spread their hate of the transgender community.

Making Sh*t Up

If Dr. Blanchard were some wingnut with no positional authority or credibility, it would be easy to dismiss him. But that is not the case -- to the contrary, he was on the DSM committee in charge of paraphilias and sexual disorders. Blanchard has openly admitted to abusing that position to create diagnoses out of thin air -- a serious breach of professional ethics -- just to prove a political point:

Q: "Do you think autoandrophelia, where a woman is aroused by the thought of herself as a man, is a real paraphelia? "

A: "No, I proposed it simply in order not to be accused of sexism, because there are all these women who want to say, 'women can rape too, women can be pedophiles too, women can be exhibitionists too.' It's a perverse expression of feminism, and so, I thought, let me jump the gun on this. I don't think the phenomenon even exists."

It is a testament to Blanchard's pull in the mental health community that the DSM-5 now actually includes this diagnosis -- one he openly admits to making up out of whole cloth, just to show contempt for his critics. Given his power, what he said next should scare every LGB person out there:

"I would say if one could start from scratch, ignore all the history of removing homosexuality from the DSM, normal sexuality is whatever is related to reproduction. Now you have everything else. I would distinguish between behaviors which are anomalous and benign vs. those that are malignant. So homosexuality would be not normal but benign. Whereas something like serious dangerous sadism would be a malignant variation."

As far as Dr. Blanchard is concerned, all non-reproductive sex is abnormal and should be pathologized. In short, he is a radical Catholic who would go back to a time before 1972 and classify all lesbians, gays, and bisexuals as suffering from a paraphilia.

Given his history of pursuing his own aims regardless of professional ethical constraints or concern for how his actions affect thousands of people in the LGBT community, Dr. Raymond Blanchard holds a unique position: he is openly anti-LGBT, yet remains a Teflon version of Mark Regnerus.

And he likes it that way, because dupes like Michelle Goldberg keep giving him and his ego good press.

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