November 17, 2015

Crossdream Life Forum Moves to a New Home

The Crossdream Life forum has moved over to a new address.

You can find the new forum over at

The reason for the move is simple: We do not have the resources needed to run our own bulletin board system on our own server.

We have therefore outsourced the technical part to Lefora.

I am afraid old members will have to sign up again to the new forum. But in return they get some nifty new features, like video embedding, chat, skins for personal home page, polls, photo albums and more.

The old site will be kept  as an archive for the time being.

Sign up for the new Crossdream Life forum today!

(Photo: Rawpixel Ltd)

November 15, 2015

10 Great Books on Sex, Gender and Sexuality

In this third part of my "must read gender/transgender books" series, I look at books that discuss sex and gender in general.
Illustration by Olyzel

Much of the pain gender variant people go through is caused by the fact that their family, friends and surrounding society do not understand them.

The reason they do not understand them is that they are trapped in a binary narrative that tells them that men and women are two different species with completely different temperaments, abilities and modes of behavior. Anyone who breaks with this binary is therefore mentally ill.

Recent research, in the social sciences as well as in biology, tells us that this strict binary is wrong on many levels. What is considered proper gender expressions varies tremendously between cultures and over time.

Moreover, it turns out nature is nothing like what your school text books told you. Did you for instance know that the bonobos, our closest relative, has a matriarchal society run by females? They solve conflicts by having a lot of sex with each other, regardless of age or gender. The next time someone tells you gay sex is "unnatural", tell them about the bonobos.

Click here for part 1 of this series!

Here are some of the books I recommend:

Those who follow nature programs on TV know the script: Violent and aggressive males stalk weak and passive females in an everlasting tale of evolutionary brutality. This narrative is then used to make fun of "feminine" men.

Roughgarden shows us a natural world that is nothing like the gender stereotypes of traditional evolutionary biology.

Like Roughgarden, Fausto-Sterling is good at seeing through the stereotypes of natural science. Most of the differences between men and women are created by culture and not by nature, Fausto-Sterling argues.

November 4, 2015

Nope, transitioning does not actually lead to suicide

This is story about "The Science Proves What I Believe Complex", and how a Swedish study of post-op trans people  is misrepresented in order to "prove" that gender reassignment surgery is harmful.

I have now been blogging on trans and crossdreamer issues for seven years, and there is one game that never cease to amaze me. I call it the "Science Proves What I believe" complex. And it does not matter what people believe; they always seem to find a report or a paper somewhere that seem to support their position.
Anti-trans activists often lie about research to
"prove" that transitioning is harmful.
Photo by SIphotography.
If they cannot find such a paper, they often start misrepresenting reports, probably hoping that no one will bother to check.

The Internet is vast, though, and with a lot of clever people. There are always some people out there who take the time to check and double-check dubious statements. Cristan Williams over at Transadvocate is one of them.

Like me, she will go directly to the researcher and ask, if needed.

"The Swedish Study"

Recently we have seen a lot of anti-transgender activity where people are trying to prove that trans people who undergo gender reassignment surgery are not helped by such therapy.

Indeed, the argument now is that transitioning in this way is harmful for the ones involved, and that the alleged failure of the treatment  proves that they were delusional in the first place.

People fighting against transgender rights (TERFs, Fox News and religious fundamentalists included) make a lot out of a Swedish study on transgender people, claiming that it proves that gender reassignment leads to suicide.

October 17, 2015

US Report Calls for Ban on Conversion Therapies for Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Youth

A short little update here on LGBT policies in the US, as it may help many of us gain some perspective on where the general consensus is right now as regards sexual diversity and gender variance.

The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) has published a report on so-called "conversion therapies",  based on a thorough review of current research.

The expert panel was set up by SAMHSA and the American Psychological Association (APA) earlier this year, and included prominent American figures in LGBT human rights, policy, research, treatment, and advocacy.

"This groundbreaking report dispels widespread misconceptions about sexual and gender development and definitively concludes that treatments designed to change a child's sexual orientation or gender identity do not work, are devastatingly harmful to 'victims' of this type of therapy, and should not be considered appropriate mental health services," Dr. Celia B. Fisher, who served on the expert consensus panel says.

Conversion therapy does not work

Indeed, the main conclusions in the report are clear:
  • "Same-gender sexual orientation (including identity, behavior, and attraction) and variations in gender identity and gender expression are a part of the normal spectrum of human diversity and do not constitute a mental disorder.
  • "There is limited research on conversion therapy efforts among children and adolescents; however, none of the existing research supports the premise that mental or behavioral health interventions can alter gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • "Interventions aimed at a fixed outcome, such as gender conformity or heterosexual orientation, including those aimed at changing gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are coercive, can be harmful, and should not be part of behavioral health treatment."
Gender variance is not pathological

The message from the American Psychological Association is also clear: Being a sexual or
gender minority, or identifying as LGBTQ, is not pathological.

October 8, 2015

What Dr. Zhana Vrangalova Taught Me About Transphobia in Science

This is the story about how science can be used to persecute transgender people, and on how some seemingly well-intended LGBT-allies can contribute to transphobia.
Zhana Vrangalova
Photo by Enid Alvarez, New York Daily News

In this post I will give you the story about Dr. Zhana Vrangalova's support for the transphobic autogynephilia theory.

The Vrangalova story is interesting because it is such a clear an example of how scientific theories can be used to recruit even  the most well-meaning helpers to the oppression of trans people.

And yes, in this post I will prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the autogynephilia theory is transphobic.


Those of you who do not know the ins and outs of this stagnant backwater of transgender research, may make note of the following:

1. The auogynephilia/AGP theory, created by Dr. Ray Blanchard of Toronto, says that there is a separate category of trans women who are motivated by a sexual paraphilia (perversion) that drives them towards transitioning.  They are, according to Blanchard, sexually attracted to the idea of themselves as a woman. The word is also used to describe male to female crossdressers and crossdreamers who do not transition.

2. Dr J. Michael Bailey is a supporter of Dr. Blanchard, and the author of The Man Who Would be Queen, a book that popularizes Blanchard's theory, dividing the world of trans women into two: "autogynephile transsexuals" (non-homosexual perverted men, according to Blanchard & Bailey) and homosexual transsexuals (extremely effeminate gay men).

3. Zhana Vrangalova is a sexologist; she has PhD in Developmental Psychology from Cornell and is currently an adjunct professor at the NYU Psychology department.

SIDEBAR This is not a blog post about the scientific value of the autogynephilia theory. This is a post about how it is used to harm MTF crossdreamers and trans women. I have elsewhere documented that  the science is bad, and that it has been thoroughly falsified by other researchers. You will find links to papers and blog posts showing this hereI have also written several blog posts on the scientific defects of the autogynephilia theory.

LGBT-support and autogynephilia do not mix

On June 13 Vrangalova tweeted a link to an interview the religious site Patheos had made with Bailey, adding the statement "There are 2 types of trans women".

I have been following Vrangalova since she often tweets interesting links to all things sexology. She has become an active spokesperson for the polyamorous amongst us. I also knew her as a supporter of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights, so her promoting Bailey in this way surprised me.

After all, the autogynephilia model is considered to be one of the most invalidating and stigmatizing theories around right now. It is routinely used by right wing religious  fundamentalists and left wing trans-exclusionary "radical" feminists to harass and invalidate trans women. It has been dismissed by transgender activists as toxic and unfounded, and has very little support among front line health professionals in the field.

The Vrangalova Dialogue

I responded in accordance with this, hoping I had been mistaken about the dear Doctor's intentions:

September 21, 2015

12 Essential Books on Transgender

Here's another look at my transgender bookshelf. This time I present books on transgender and queer topics in general.
Illustration by Olyzel

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, by Julia Serano.

Serano has become our leading trans philosophers. This book is of special interest to MTF crossdreamers, as she is one of the trans activists that openly discuss crossdreaming in a non-stigmatizing way.

A fascinating discussion of the the transgender history of ideas, not only in the US, but also in Europe. Most of the models of transgender we find among activists and researchers these days were there 100 years ago.

The transgender phenomenon, by Richard Ekins, Dave King.
    Magnus Hirschfeld
A sociological approach to transgender. Includes a discussion of the autogynephilia theory.

Transvestites: The Erotic Drive To Cross Dress (New Concepts in Human Sexuality), by Magnus Hirschfeld.

This book was originally published in Germany in 1910. It remains one of the best books on crossdressing and transsexuality, written with empathy and a deep respect for the life journeys of the transgender persons he presents. Please note that for Hirschfeld the term "transvestite" is an umbrella term for all shades of transgender.

September 13, 2015

The Two Traditions of Thinking about Transgender

There are two major strands in modern sexology, both going back to the late 19th century. One is binary, gender conservative and interprets gender variation as mental illness; the other is liberal, trans-positive and understands sex and gender as complex continuums.

I have read a lot of transgender history. Too much, probably. This also applies to the science of transgender and the philosophy of transgender.
In her book Sex and Temperament from 1935, Margaret
Mead presented an amazing variation in gender roles
and expressions in different cultures, debunking one
and for all the idea that all masculine and feminine
behavior is inborn.
(Cover of 1950 Mentor paperback edition).

There is one important lesson I have learned from all of this: Every single original idea  had been presented before 1915.

The binary, pathologizing, tradition

100 years ago you would find it all:

The binary theory of two completely separate sexes, male and female, was already there. So was the idea that gender variations are perversions threatening society's "evolutionary fitness".

As now, many researchers argued that transgender conditions was caused by variations in the presence of hormones in the womb. This applied to sexual orientation too; many researchers had some difficulty keeping the two apart, then as now.

Others argued that it had to do with bad upbringing, blaming -- for instance -- strong mothers and weak fathers. Feminists, homosexuals and "primitive", non-white, people could also be blamed for spreading these "diseases".

Then, as now, the main fear was of the feminization of boys. Society needed strong, masculine, rational boys to fight wars, colonize the world and govern society, and because of this the emotional, feminine sissies -- gay or trans -- were a threat to the system.

(Tomboys and FTM transgender were also a problem, but did not constitute the same threat to the social order. After all, the fact that women wanted to be men made sense; the MTFs, on the other hand, had to be mad to desire the life of a woman.)

This binary tradition can be traced from Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing and his book Psychopathia Sexualis in 1886. via the Freudian psychoanalysts and John Money of the 20th century, up to the current autogynephilia theory of Ray Blanchard.

What unifies this tradition is not the explanation for what causes gender dysphoria or gender identity conflicts. The researchers will blame it on inherited degeneracy, hormones or feminist mothers, all depending on the researcher's natural inclinations and cultural context. What unites them is the need to present gender variation as something unnatural and unacceptable.

September 6, 2015

Felix Conrad Talks about Transgender Research, Crossdreaming and Beach Clubbing

Felix Conrad recently set up a new site called The Transcend Movement, focusing on crossdreaming and transgender issues.  We have talked to him about how to cope as transgender, his new ebook, his devastating dismissal of the autogynephilia theory and Brazilian supermodels.

On the beach
Trans philosopher Felix Conrad brings crossdreaming
to the beaches of the Mediterranean
(Photo: Design Pics/Tomas del Amo)

Felix, you have taken an unusual approach to crossdreamer blogging. Your site is not so much a blog, but more of a beach lounge or club for all things crossdreaming. What made you chose this form of communication?

My philosophy of design is quite simple... I look at what everyone else is doing, and then kick it in the nuts. Within reason.

We - and especially you - are in the business of online community building, so I decided to play with the idea of giving that community an imagined space... a beach club located within an ideal, coastal transgender community.

In this case I think my imagination got the better of me...but this is about cross'dreaming' after all.

I have also noted that you do not shy away from communicating crossdreamer dreams and desires in an 'in your face' kind of way. There are Brazilian super models, and more Brazilian super models, which fit well with the beach club theme, I guess, but which some might find sexist. Is this your way of opening up a discussion?

Sorry, Jack... no such lofty intentions. I have a long running obsession with Alesandra Ambrosio which both I - and my children - find completely ridiculous. So, when I claim my book will 'guaranteed turn you into a Brazilian supermodel' I'm laughing at myself.

I sometimes think there is a remarkable lack of humour in the transgender community. Being able to take yourself and life seriously, but realize that, in another sense you/it are absurd, is an immense liberation.

Femephilia and autogynephilia

In your book on crossdreaming you use the term femephilia to refer to sexual arousal at the idea of being a woman. What is the difference between this term and the term crossdreaming, as you see it?

Femephilia is a sexological term - like homosexual. It's cold. Crossdreamer is a term of popular culture - like 'gay.' It's huggable.

Forum for crossdreamers, crossdressers and transgender people

Link to the Crossdream Life site for crossdreamers, crossdresser and transgender people