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Crossdreamer Sidebars is a support blog for Crossdreamers.com, a site devoted to crossdreamer and transgender issues.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Ray Blanchard's Definition of Paraphilia (Perversion)

Blanchard's definition of "paraphilia" (sexual perversion) has absolutely no basis in science, only in his own hang-ups on what constitutes proper sexual behavior.
We believe this couple will pass Blanchard's
perversion test, even the woman is on top and the man
is fully clothed. It is hard to say, given the vagueness of
Blanchard's definition.
Photo: strigaroman

Ray Blanchard is the father of the "autogynephilia" theory, a stigmatizing and transphobic theory that reduces trans women who are attracted to women to sexual perverts ("paraphiliacs").

What people often miss in the transgender debate is the basis for Blanchard understanding of the term paraphilia.

The basis for Blanchard's thinking is the kind of quasi-Darwinian model you find in much of evolutionary psychology, that is: the purpose of sex is reproduction.

This is why he also argues that homosexuality is a disorder (even if he has made desperate attempts at proving that homosexuality can be evolutionary advantageous elsewhere).

Blanchard's (and the gay sexologists James Cantor's) definition of paraphilia therefore ends up like this:

"The term paraphilia denotes any powerful [intense] and persistent sexual interest other than sexual interest in copulatory or precopulatory behavior [genital stimulation or preparatory fondling] with phenotypically normal, consenting adult human partners. "

(Cantor et al., 2009, p. 527, text in brackets refer to the version proposed to the latest edition of the American psychiatric manual, the DSM-5)

To put this in  more everyday terms:

"The term paraphilia covers everything that cannot be classified as a traditional intercourse or traditional foreplay with an adult human partner that looks normal and who agrees to having sex."

Blanchard himself agrees that the definition seems to label everything outside a very narrow range of sexual behaviors as paraphilic. In his presentation, however, he puts up two slides that are supposed to show that this is not the case.

Paraphilic: e.g. 

  • enemas; 
  • feces or urine; 
  • generalized interest in amputees, 
  • paralyzed  persons, 
  • physical deformities; 
  • bondage; 
  • whipping; 
  • cutting; hypoxia, 
  • sneezing or smoking persons, 
  • obscene telephone calls.

Not paraphilic: e.g.

  • cunnilingus, 
  • fellatio, 
  • anal penetration with the finger, penis, or dildo; 
  • anilingus, 
  • intracrural intercourse; 
  • cross masturbation; 
  • kissing; 
  • and fondling.

And this is where he reveals that his science is nothing but an old man's desperate attempt at forcing his own view of what is "normal" upon a nature that does not care for these kinds of neurotic classification schemes.

There is actually no underpinning logic to what Blanchard considers paraphilic or not paraphilic, only his own personal prejudices as what should be considered kosher at this particular point in history.

This isn't science. This is sexist stereotypes camouflaged as science. This is the story about the blind leading the seeing. This is the story about the sexually obsessed telling healthy people that they are perverts. This is the story about sexology becoming a weapon of oppression.


Blanchard's definition reminds me a bit about Jorge Luis Borges' "Celestial Emporium of Benevolent Knowledge". Borges' point was that our ways of classifying the world around us is often based on completely arbitrary concepts grown out of a particular culture. His quote from an imaginary ancient Chinese encyclopaedia serves to illustrate this.

The encyclopaedia divides animals into:
  • those that belong to the Emperor,
  • embalmed ones,
  • those that are trained,
  • suckling pigs,
  • mermaids,
  • fabulous ones,
  • stray dogs,
  • those included in the present classification,
  • those that tremble as if they were mad,
  • innumerable ones,
  • those drawn with a very fine camelhair brush,
  • others,
  • those that have just broken a flower vase,
  • those that from a long way off look like flies.
Blanchard' lists of parahilic and non-paraphilic sexual desires and practices are equally absurd.

Relevant blog posts



  1. I have a vore fetish, I do not like someone even a researcher classify me as that... unnatural. Normal is simply the most common. Caring whether a sexuality is normal is quite irreverent as all sexualities are equal regardless of normalcy. Seriously thanks to that narrow definition, every human has a paraphilia.

    1. By definition, vore fetishism is a natural phenomenon. It's just a much rarer, 1 in hundreds or thousands rather than 1 in 2 or 3, natural phenomenon without being an obvious use of sexual organs on each other or something else.

      Blanchard's ideas are... Out there. There doesn't seem to be much evidence to support the idea that many lesbian trans women are "autogynophiliacs." And as a straight man who can immediately relate to the term "autogynophilia," I question whether there's any use at all in using it to classify trans women into some sort of taxonomy.

      Funny you mention having a vore fetish. I do too. I do find it funny people always want to distance themselves from paraphiliacs in describing their sexual interests, and automatically associate the term "pervert" which I'm noticing is almost-but-not-quite a slur for anyone with sexual interests you find distasteful.


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