July 24, 2017

Telling your Girlfriend About Being a Crossdresser or Crossdreamer

Last week I got an email from a male to female crossdreamer and occasional crossdresser who wondered what and how he could tell his girlfriend about his gender variance. 
Illustration: nuravectorgirl

His girlfriend had taken an open approach to his story, but was hesitant about the crossdressing. Now he was looking for ways of explaining his feelings to his girlfriend.

He is using male pronouns.

He also wondered if this crossdreaming would progress into something more, like in wanting to transition and live as a woman. At the moment he expresses no need to transition or dress publicly as a woman.

Here is my reply:

I wish I had a simple answer for you. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) there is so much variation among crossdreamers that it is hard to foresee what is going to happen in the future.

There are, as I see it, two main reasons for this:

1. Gender variance is a continuum, and whatever it is that triggers these dreams and desires come in different forms and intensity.

2. Some crossdreamers are on a journey. They gradually find out that they are somewhere else in that landscape than they originally thought. There is -- for obvious reasons -- a lot of repression going on.

There is a lot of variation among crossdressers and crossdreamers

I our survey of crossdreamers we found that 1/3 reported severe gender dysphoria (in the sense that they could be considered transsexual, and transitioning would be one possible solution).

I reckon that another 1/3 lives in what I have called the twilight zone, being some shade of non-binary or gender queer, while the final 1/3 feel comfortable in their assigned gender and their crossdreaming and crossdressing is more like a trait spicing up their life.


July 19, 2017

The Transgender Clash of Narratives

Much of the conflicts and misunderstandings in the transgender debate seems to be caused by what we can call the clash of transgender narratives. As I see it, they do not have to be in conflict.
Photo: Jupiter Images


The trapped in body narrative

We hear the phrase over and over again: "I feel like a woman trapped in a man's body." "I feel like a woman trapped in a man's body".

For many (but not all) transgender people, the phrase does capture something essential about how they feel about themselves, especially if they are suffering from gender dysphoria, a deep sense of discomfort caused by a mismatch between their assigned gender and the way they feel gender wise.

The narrative is popular among sex and gender researchers steeped in the neurophysiological tradition.

The main explanation given is that during the pre-natal brain development of a fetus it is exposed to an unusual flow of hormones that feminizes the brain of male to female transgender persons and masculinizes the ones of those assigned female.

This model  does leave room for nonbinary persons and those who do not fully identify with one or the other gender, as the exposure to this unusual hormonal mix may vary. However, these people are often ignored in the debate.

The main problem with this narrative is that many of its supporters have a tendency of turning the concept of female or male into a well defined "thing", and that the definition of a woman or a man is reduced to a well defined list of abilities, interests, personality traits and expressions.


May 23, 2017

Masculinity, anime, and autogynephilia

I noticed that some TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) and other anti-trans activist linked to an article by SocialJusticeWizard over at Medium. The author makes some interesting observations about the Japanese fondness of cuteness and crossdreamer fantasies. But since they use the autogynephilia theory to interpret what they see, some of the conclusions are problematic, to say the least.
The extreme feminine cuteness in Japanese anime
might be an effect of forced hypermasculinity, but it
is not the cause of crossdreaming

The idea that porn turns people into crossdreamers is to put the cart in front of the horse, as I see it.

Here's my comment, as published over at Medium:

I do appreciate the effort in trying to understand male to female transgender people who crossdream. I am sure you are right about the feminine cuteness of Japanese popular culture being a hypercorrection to lives imprisoned in masculine hardness.

But the connection to “autogynephilia” is not convincing, and I am saying this as one who has worked with male crossdreamers (people who fantasize about becoming their target gender) for more than ten years.

You are clearly aware of the weakness in your theory yourself:
“I don’t have a straightforward explanation of why this identification also leads to the development of autogynephilia — why the boy begins desiring to be sexually passive and submissive, even becoming ‘pseudo bisexual’ in Blanchard’s terms, when he is originally heterosexual.”
First of all: Most male assigned people do not become crossdreamers. This also applies to those that have repressed their more vulnerable or feminine side to the point you are describing. The great majority of men watch porn. That does not make them crossdreamers. Many men read manga and watch anime. That does not make them crossdreamers.


May 17, 2017

The Kiel Transgender Film Festival 2017 - The Awards

The Kiel Transgender Festival Headquarters
(photo by the festival)
Here are the awards from this year's Transgender Film Festival
in Kiel, Germany.

Movies gives transgender people a human face and makes it harder to turn them into stereotypes.

This applies to all: Those who transition and those who do not. Drag queens and crossdressers. Gender variant kids and those who have lived for a while.

It seems to me this year's transgender film festival in Kiel has managed to capture the breadth of the transgender community.

Best Film of the Year: 

Ekaj by Cati Gonzalez


Best Trans-Performance:

Jonny Beauchamp in Thirsty. 

Elle Fanning in Three Generations 
Thirsty (facebook)

Best Actress (non-tg-role):

Naomi Watts in Three Generations.

Beste Actor (non-tg-role):

Badd Idea in Ekaj.

Best long Documentary:

Lucy by Melinte Reitzema



May 14, 2017

How language makes us shame women, femininity and trans people

Culture's contempt of women and femininity drives many male to female crossdreamers and trans people back into the closet. Bullying and harassment play important roles, but language itself also shapes the way we think about sex and gender.
Woman as vampire (Edvard Munch)


The reason so many seem to despise male to female gender crossings more than the female to male ones, is that being a woman is understood as something negative. Womanhood is associated with weakness, both physical and mental.

To use the terminology of the day: Women are less privileged than men, and the dream of becoming a woman is therefore a sign of some kind of mental desease or madness. A woman striving for masculine interests and expressions, on the other hand, is reaching for greatness.

There is no factual foundation for such misogynistic beliefs, in the sense that biology gives women more or less the same abilities and temperaments as men. To the extent there are differences, they do not influence women’s abilities to take part in modern society negatively. They are as good as men (and even better if we look at the current enrollment in higher education). Still, even seemingly clear headed people fall back into the pool of stereotypes over and over again.

Internalized misogyny

This has obviously a profound effect on male to female gender variant people, from the occasional male to female (MTF) crossdresser to the transgender woman. They all sense that many people look down upon their identities and choices. This is also why so many male to female crossdreamers and transgender people stay in the closet.

Indeed, you will also see that many MTFs themselves share many of these prejudices, as expressed in fantasies, stories and role playing.


April 24, 2017

Tomboy or trans: The main misconceptions in the current transgender debate

On April 18 Lisa Selin Davis published an article in the New York Times called My Daughter Is Not Transgender. She’s a Tomboy.  She was clearly annoyed with the fact that some people think of her gender-nonconforming kid as transgender. Davis believes that her child is just that: non-conforming when it comes to gender roles.
Photo: Digital Vision

I have included some links to the following debate below.

Needless to say, TERFs and other transphobes have tried to use this article to argue that transgender activists are trying to turn perfectly normal cis kids into trans kids, and even entice them into transitioning.

There are even arguments about being trans becoming "trendy", which -- given the 40 percent attempted suicide rate among trans people -- is both stupid and insulting.

There are three fundamental misconceptions that drive this debate.

Transgender is not the same as transsexual

Davis and others seem to believe that the word transgender means transsexual, in the sense that a transgender person wants to -- or should -- transition and live as their target sex.

This is not what transgender means. Transgender is an umbrella term for all types of gender variance and have been so since the early 1990s. A tomboy (a girl that expresses stereotypical masculine traits or interests) is transgender by this definition.


Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!