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Social Processes: Methodology · Types of test

Harry Benjamin's Gender Identity Scale was a first attempt to classify and understand various forms and subtypes of gender variant behaviors and expressions, made by Dr. Harry Benjamin. It was a 6-point scale, similar to the Kinsey scale of sexual orientation, which had 7 categories. Much like Kinsey's understanding in the field of sexual orientation, Dr. Benjamin understood that the nature of gender identity and gender expressions is not a discrete scale, but a spectrum, a continuum with many variations, much more than those featured in the scale. But the scale he developed seemed to be an easy, rational and clinically useful way to diagnose different forms of transsexualism and to distinguish between those who needed surgical and/or hormonal treatment and those who didn't.

Benjamin noted: "It must be emphasized again that the remaining six types are not and never can be sharply separated." [1]

Group Type Name
1 I Pseudo TV
1 II Fetishistic TV
1 III True TV
2 IV TS, Nonsurgical
3 V TS, Moderate intensity
3 VI TS, High intensity

Benjamin added a caveat: "It has been the intention here to point out the possibility of several conceptions and classifications of the transvestitic and the transsexual phenomenon. Future studies and observations may decide which one is likely to come closest to the truth and in this way a possible understanding of the etiology may be gained." [1]

Dr. Benjamin's Scale references and uses Dr. Alfred Kinsey's sexual orientation scale to distinguish between "true transsexualism" and "transvestism". But it should be noted that the strict relationship between gender identity (Benjamin's Scale) and sexual orientation (Kinsey's Scale) was just a result of the researcher's biases, not his scientific findings.

At the time when Dr. Benjamin practised, no transsexual could qualify as eligible for transition if he/she wasn't completely homosexual (relative to his/her birth sex), thus, heterosexual after transition. It was just because at the time it was believed that obviously a real, normal female should be completely heterosexual, and a lesbian female was perceived as somewhat deviant, wrong or abnormal. So it seemed to doctors (including Benjamin himself) to be absurd to help transition a MtF who was attracted to women. As transsexuals discovered this bias, they started to lie in order to get hormones and surgery. Today most gender clinics presume sexual orientation and gender identity are distinct.

The scale was referring only to MtF transsexuals (transwomen), and male transvestites, since Dr. Benjamin had relatively little experience with FtM transsexuals (transmen).

The classification

Benjamin's classification follows:

Type One: Pseudo Transvestite

  • Gender Feeling: Masculine
  • Dressing Habits and Social Life: Lives as a man. Could get occasional kick out of dressing. Normal male life.
  • Sex Object Choice and Sex Life: Hetero, bi, or homosexual. Dressing and -- more --exchange may occur in masturbation fantasies mainly. May enjoy TV literature only.
  • Kinsey Scale: 0-6
  • Conversion Operation: Not considered in reality.
  • Estrogen Medication: Not interested or indicated.
  • Psychotherapy: Not wanted and unnecessary.
  • Remarks: Interests in dressing is only sporadic.

Type Two: Fetishistic Transvestism

  • Gender Feeling: Masculine
  • Dressing Habits and Social Life: Lives as a man. Dressing periodically or part of the time. Dresses underneath male clothes.
  • Sex Object Choice and Sex Life: Heterosexual. Rarely bisexual. Masturbation with fetish. Guilt feelings. Purges and relapses.
  • Kinsey Scale: 0-2
  • Conversion Operation: Rejected
  • Estrogen Medication: Rarely interested. Occasionally useful to reduce libido.
  • Psychotherapy: May be successful (in a favorable environment.)
  • Remarks: May imitate double (masculine and feminine) personality with male and female names.

Type Three: True Transvestism

  • Gender Feeling: Masculine (but with less conviction.)
  • Dressing Habits and Social Life: Dresses constantly or as often as possible. May live and be accepted as woman. May dress underneath male clothes, if no other chance.
  • Sex Object Choice and Sex Life: Heterosexual, except when dressed. Dressing gives sexual satisfaction with relief of gender discomfort. May purge and relapse.
  • Kinsey Scale: 0-2
  • Conversion Operation: Actually rejected, but idea can be attractive.
  • Estrogen Medication: Attractive as an experiment. Can be helpful emotionally
  • Psychotherapy: If attempted is usually not successful as to cure.
  • Remarks: May assume double personality. Trend toward transsexualism.

Type Four: Non-op Transsexual

  • Gender Feeling: Undecided. Wavering between TV and TS.
  • Dressing Habits and Social Life: Dresses as often as possible with insufficient relief of his gender discomfort. May live as a man or woman; sometimes alternating.
  • Sex Object Choice and Sex Life: Libido often low. Asexual or auto-erotic. Could be bisexual. Could also be married and have children.
  • Kinsey Scale: 1-4
  • Conversion Operation: Attractive but not requested or attraction not admitted.
  • Estrogen Medication: Needed for comfort and emotional balance.
  • Psychotherapy: Only as guidance; otherwise refused or unsuccessful.
  • Remarks: Social life dependent upon circumstances.

Type Five: True or Core Transsexual (with gender dysphoria of moderate intensity)

  • Gender Feeling: Feminine (trapped in male body)
  • Dressing Habits and Social Life: Lives and works as woman if possible. Insufficient relief from dressing.
  • Sex Object Choice and Sex Life: Libido low. Asexual auto-erotic, or passive homosexual activity. May have been married and have children.
  • Kinsey Scale: 4-6
  • Conversion Operation: Requested and usually indicated.
  • Estrogen Medication: Needed as substitute for or preliminary to operation.
  • Psychotherapy: Rejected. Useless as to cure. Permissive psychological guidance.
  • Remarks: Operation hoped for and worked for. Often attained.

Type Six: True or Core Transsexual (with gender dysphoria of high intensity)

  • Gender Feeling: Feminine. Total psycho-sexual inversion.
  • Dressing Habits and Social Life: May live and work as a woman. Dressing gives insufficient relief. Gender discomfort intense.
  • Sex Object Choice and Sex Life: Intensely desires relations with normal male as female if young. May have been married and have children, by using fantasies in intercourse.
  • Kinsey Scale: 6
  • Conversion Operation: Urgently requested and usually attained. Indicated.
  • Estrogen Medication: Required for partial relief.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychological guidance or psychotherapy for symptomaticrelief only.
  • Remarks: Despises his male sex organs. Danger of suicide or self-mutilation, if too long frustrated.

Modern views

More modern views on gender identity issues differ from original Harry Benjamin's view not only in that they exclude sexual orientation as a criteria for diagnosing and distinguishing between transsexuality, transvestism and other forms of gender variant behavior or expression. Modern views also exclude fetishistic transvestism from this spectrum, as it is a distinct phenomenon, not related to gender identity but related to sexual arousal and fetishism.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Benjamin H (1966). The Transsexual Phenomenon

External links

Assessment of sexual orientation

ru:Шкала Бенджамина
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