It’s just clothes

I recently came across the following post on Twitter.

“Autogynephilic male-to-female trans dress like the women they would like to have sex with, and homosexual male-to-female trans dress like the women they think men would like to have sex with. There are exceptions, but this is a general guideline for trans fashion choices.”

Now, in 2021, I can hardly claim that the text of a random tweet is remotely newsworthy, not after the years of Donald J. Trump using the service as his bully pulpit, and so many more taking to the service to share their worst takes.

Yet it does become relevant when one notes that these are the words of Ray Blanchard. 

Opening in 1966, The Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, later known as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), was one of the few places to provide care for transgender people in Canada. Many cited the Clarke as a gatekeeping organization, more dedicated to turning away transgender people — if not attempting reparative therapy on the same — than actually helping people. 

According to the Toronto Star, between 1969 and 1984, the Clarke Institute turned away 90% of those seeking trans-related care.

Yes, Ray Blanchard was a large part of CAMH’s Child Youth and Family Gender Identity Clinic (GIC).

In 2015, after an investigation by CAMH, the GIC was shuttered, with CAMH’s review citing reparative therapies, poor treatment of trans and other youth, outdated methods, and other issues with the program. This has not, however, stopped Ray Blanchard from touting his own suppositions about transgender people.

As shown in the above tweet, Blanchard still clings to a model he formed decades ago, claiming there are two subgroups of trans people: “homosexual transsexuals” who are gay men who have a fetishistic attraction to straight men, which they can only express by transitioning to women, and “Autogynephilic transsexuals” who are people who have a fetish for feminizing themselves. 

To him, being trans is simply some sort of paraphilia, and has little or nothing to do with identity. These views, of course, go against how the majority of people understand transgender people — including transgender people ourselves. Autogynephilia, for example, has largely been discredited. 

Yet apparently, to Blanchard, anyone who falls outside of these categories he made up is lying.

You’ll note that the tweet above is steeped in that attitude and his two categories, as well as the assumption that transgender people are wholly driven by sexual attraction, whether it is the creation of one’s self as an image of their sexual desire, or fashioning one’s appearance after what they think men would wish for a sexual partner.

There is little room for anything beyond this, besides an afterthought that there are, apparently, “exceptions.”

Now it is worth noting that, even though he is a largely discredited figure after the closure of the GIC, this has neither stopped him from espousing his beliefs nor halted his influence in anti-trans circles. His is the sort of stuff that helps drive notions of trans predators, and is cited in attempts to pathologize and outlaw transgender people.

Back in my early days on the Internet, I would often have to fend off males who would be asking me what I was wearing. This is a pretty common experience for any woman on the Internet, and perhaps even more so in trans spaces, fueled by men who may have a fetish for trans bodies. 

For once, I am actually going to answer that question.

Right now, I am wearing a long sleeved, plus fabric T-shirt, in red, and a pair of denim jeans. I’ve got a nice pair of black socks from a sock retailer in Portland. These are loose and slouchy, but warm. It’s a bit windy at the moment. Yes, there’s a cotton cami and some panties under all that, too, but these are far from the Victoria’s Secret fare I would suspect Blanchard would have been hoping for. 

It’s not a very sexy outfit. It’s warm. It’s comfortable. Also, yes, it is this woman’s clothing. I’m not wearing it to attract a mate, nor am I wearing it because this seriously basic outfit resembles anything that excites me, either. It’s just… clothes.

There are a couple other things I think about when I look at the above tweet, beyond the influence that this disgraced sexologist has. 

For one, he is implying that the desire to wear clothing that is attractive to people you might be attracted to, or wearing clothing that you feel makes you look attractive, are deviant desires. I’m not talking for transgender people here, but seemingly anyone who has opted to wear an outfit they find attractive to a date. 

Secondly, and perhaps more damning, is that the whole thing feels about two steps removed from arguments that a person “deserves” sexual assault for what they are wearing. Indeed, in other tweets from Blanchard, he has made the arguments that transgender people would want to be “slut shamed” as a source of affirmation. 

This is not someone whose views on transgender people should be taken anywhere near as seriously as they are. It would seem as if he has crafted some odd notions of what a trans person is and has opted to cling onto those beliefs for decades, rather than pondering that it truly is possible he’s wrong.

That’s he is given even half the clout is maddening. He should be given the gravitas as most cranks who spend their days ranting on Twitter.

Gwen Smith will never make the front cover of Vogue. You’ll find her at www.gwensmith.com/.