The Blanchardian fallacy

The Blanchardian fallacy is the assumption that humans vary across exactly one binary axis, being either autogynephilic or homosexual transsexuals. Obviously I am being somewhat cheeky here – nobody really believes this. But while nobody believes this, Blanchardians do seem to have a tendency to assume that things are linked to autogynephilia when this isn’t really justified.

To give some examples – one person once asked me, is there a connection between being philosophically oriented and being autogynephilic? Anecdotally, a lot of autogynephilic transsexuals seem to be very philosophical, so could it be…? Nah (at least if the personality data I’ve collected is right); and actually it is inappropriate to generalize from autogynephilic transsexuals to autogynephiles in general, because autogynephilic transsexuals can differ from ordinary men due to other factors than autogynephilia.

Is there a link between autogynephilia and dissociation/optical illusions? Not according to my data, despite there seemingly being a link between transsexuality and dissociation/optical illusions. The assumption that there must be is the Blanchardian fallacy again. How about autogynephilia/nerdiness? Anecdotally a lot of trans women seem nerdy. It’s hard to say for sure due to potential collider bias, but so far I haven’t seen support for links. (Recently I’ve been wondering if it might be an artifact of women’s dating preferences – the same sorts of women who are attracted to nerdy men are also attracted more likely to be attracted to MtF transsexuals, so it would make sense that nerdy males would be more likely to transition, as it shrinks their dating pool less. But this is speculative. And this is itself assuming that transsexuality is linked with nerdiness; maybe it is not and my anecdotes are misleading.)

Some people argue that the trans activists that attacked Michael Bailey are narcissistic, and take this as an indication that autogynephiles are narcissistic. But narcissism can vary independently of autogynephilia (and indeed it doesn’t appear to be correlated with autogynephilia).

I’ve been guilty of the Blanchardian fallacy myself too. My impression is that the notion of AGPTS/HSTS split makes it very easy to naively seek out correlations and inappropriately generalize them. In recognizing the Blanchardian fallacy, I’ve started becoming very cautious about what sorts of inferences I make. One of the most important aspects of this is rigorous distinctions between autogynephilic transsexuals (AGPTSs) and autogynephiles in general (AGPs). There may be many factors that lead to transition beyond autogynephilia, and which end up distinguishing AGPTSs from AGPs.

Another thing that is important is to be hyper-aware of what sorts of selection biases you face. In learning about autogynephiles, you will encounter information about various autogynephiles that exist. But this information will be filtered through various processes, and depending on the process you can end up with arbitrarily skewed ideas about what autogynephiles are like.

Most likely, a similar post could be made that focuses on HSTS – but I do not have as many examples in mind there.

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