I AM ARUNE!

by Willow Arune

The title above is not really egotistical. As Lynn Conway now has a page on her web site titled "Who is Arune??" I thought to answer her in this essay.

There really is no need to discuss the basic question at any length. I am Willow Arune, a transsexual woman, retired lawyer and post-op, 57, happy as a clam and content with my life which I share with Sonia, our six cats and two dogs. Last November, we relocated to the wilderness of Prince George, in northern British Columbia, from Vancouver. How far north? Well, last night we watched the northern lights instead of television…

But that is not the story, really. The story is about Blanchard, Bailey, and the concerted efforts by some transsexual women to attack them and anyone who dares support them in any manner, fair or foul (and mostly foul). The real war started with the publication of a small book - "The Man Who Would Be Queen", written by Michael Bailey. It contains three parts, the last of which deals in a popular science manner with the concepts of Ray Blanchard, of the Clarke Insitute in Toronto, regarding transsexuality. Those leading the battle against the book, Blanchard, and anyone who crosses their sights, are Lynn Conway and Andrea James, both of whom have large web sites setting out their position and "investigations".

Firstly, from the start of this mess, I have asked for calm - without much success. That first request can be found on the Web. As I found myself changing my initial opinion and seeking further clarification at certain points, I contacted Bailey, then Blanchard, Lawrence and Petersen, the major proponents of the autogynephilic concept. They have been most kind at sharing views and comments, including participation in an AG support list of over 150 members, the last I checked.

In so doing, I became a target for James and Conway. Not that I wished to get fully engaged, but it seems that any supporter of Blanchard must perforce endure attacks by the two of them and their vehement allies. That has proven to be very nasty and at times, I must confess, I tend to loose my cool. At other times, I assume that the world must know of this situation and write accordingly, leaving some confused and lost.

Firstly, Bailey did very little "research" for the book, in the classical sense. It is an anecdotal explanation of Blanchard's concept applied to real situations of six women, and that only in Part 3. Bailey's own work is more truly reflected in Parts 1 and 2 - and Part 1 is what gives the book it’s title and cover. That was the publisher's decision, not Bailey's. I dislike both, but in the context of Part 1, it makes sense.

Blanchard did the research which Bailey reports on in his book, admittedly in a pop science manner. Blanchard started off in 1985, with 21 papers following, up to the mid 90s. His research is hard to find - and that is due in the main to the copyright rules of scientific publishers. At the time these papers were done, Blanchard was a psychologist at the Gender Identity Clinic of the Clarke (he joined in 1980); he is now the Head of Clinical Sexology Services at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, commonly referred to by transsexual women in Canada still as "the Clarke’. The availability of his research might soon change for the better. So my first comment is that most are dealing (sorry, Mike) with the monkey instead of the organ grinder. To understand Bailey in full, one must read the original material. Blanchard had a large number of subjects to participate in all of his studies. Other TS studies have had small numbers - the oft-cited Dutch brain study had but seven brains; Bolin had a sampling of 16 core transsexuals for "In Search of Eve".

Secondly, Blanchard, Bailey and Petersen have been restricted in replying to their critics. They are bound by confidentiality - especially in respect of those that have been patients and who are now loudly critics. The temptation to reply in kind and with the true story, must be overpowering - but they have not done so as they are professionals. Mike is facing one remaining (the others having been dropped) accusation at his university, where he is the head of his department. The merits of those accusations, or the remaining one, are suspect (reading about "Cher" - the major complainant - and "Robot Man" tends to dispel any aura of credibility that she may have, in my opinion). Any lawyer for the university would jump down hard if Mike were to respond to the vocal critics in any meaningful way. One recent article has dealt with the concerns, and the issues in a real sense, without the emotional rants. It is not a simple issue and as one sided as the critics seem to often suggest. I stress that such is an accusation, not proven, not yet determined.

That leaves Anne Lawrence, for long an icon in the TS groups. That she has done much to help is obvious; that she has been vilified - and no doubt deeply hurt - from attacks from the very ones she has helped must be mortifying. Most, I find, have rushed to judgement.

Between them, Blanchard, Bailey, Lawrence and Petersen have done more to help transsexuals over years of service than perhaps any other four people in the world. That contrasts with Conway's 18 years of total stealth, when she took no role in "mentoring" (now used for her current "title", self-constructed) or assisting anyone in the community. Conway's expertise is in computer science and Star Wars technology, not gender or psychology; James is a pro in public relations. Does that have anything to do with this? I suggest it does. If my car is not working, I do not go to a hair dresser. I seek out a mechanic. Empathy you get from peers; treatment you get from professionals.

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