July 31, 2015

13 Books on Crossdressing, Crossdreaming and Gender Variance


For many the struggle with sex, sexuality and gender identity leads to reading -- a lot of reading. In this three part series I will present books that have helped me in my understanding of myself, crossdreaming, gender dysphoria and transgender issues.
Illustration by Olyzel

Please add a comment if there are other books you have found helpful and interesting. I will add them to the permanent list of trans-relevant books.

She is not the man I married. My life with a  transgender husband, by Helen Boyd
  • Boyd treats crossdressers and crossdreamers with respect and empathy, but without hiding the difficulties that follows from gender variance of this kind.
Gender Madness in American Psychiatry: Essays From the Struggle for Dignityby Kelley Winters.
  • Brilliant debunking of the autogynephilia theory and a good discussion on how psychiatry has contributed to the persecution of transgender people.
Nevada, novel by Imogen Binnie
  • This novel is hard to describe: Honest, funny, tragic, radical... Anyway, the book contains some of the best descriptions of crossdreamers I have ever seen in fiction, whether they are closeted or transsexual. (And then there is that wonderful description of autogynephilia-supporter J. Michael Bailey....)
Girlfag: A Life Told in Sex and Musicals, by Janet Hardy
  • Girlfags are not necessarily female to male crossdreamers, but some of them are. Hardy's book is part autobiography, part essay on women who identify with gay men.
Grrl Alex, a Personal Journey to a Transgender Identity, by Alex Drummond.
  • A fascinating book by male a to female transgender person who tries to find a place between crossdressing and transitioning. Part 2 of the book gives a good review of research on crossdressing, crossdreaming and transsexuality.

July 21, 2015

What Caitlyn Jenner's Story Means for MTF Crossdressers, Crossdreamers and Transgender

Caitlyn Jenner's journey will make a huge difference for all transgender people, including crossdressers and crossdreamers. 
Caitlyn Jenner (Photo: Time)


2014 was declared the transgender tipping point, with black trans woman Laverne Cox on the cover of Time.

Fast forward to 2015: A late transitioning 65 year old transgender woman is on the cover of Vanity Fair. Like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock before her, Caitlyn Jenner gives transgender a human face. Laverne and Caitlyn express strong support for each other.

Late-onset trans icon

So why is this important, not only to transgender people in general, but also for male to female crossdressers and crossdreamers? Well, the big deal is that having Caitlyn Jenner as a trans icon in major media is no longer a big deal.

This also mean that more and more people ignore the old way of presenting trans women: as emotionally disturbed men.

According to the old narratives of transgender, the ones propagated by old fashioned researchers, transsexual separatists, and trans-exclusionary radical feminists, Laverne and Caitlyn are two different species.

June 2014: Laverne Cox on the cover of Time
Laverne, who is sexually oriented towards men, is at best a "real transsexual" or -- according to researchers like Ray Blanchard and J. Michael Bailey -- an effeminate homosexual man.

Cailtyn on the other hand, who would normally be classified as a "late-onset transsexual", and seen as a perverted heterosexual man, a transvestic fetishist or -- according to Blanchard -- a "autogynephiliac".

But no. This has not become a major issue in the public debate. With very few exceptions, no one cares.

Feminists criticize Jenner because she is a woman

Yes, Caitlyn has been criticized. Feminists activists have argued that she should not give in to the sexualized gender pressure of contemporary culture, dressing up as she did in the Vanity Fair photo shoot.

But when they say so they have already accepted her as a woman. Theirs is a feminist argument, and not an invalidation of Jenner's identity or of trans women in general.


July 15, 2015

On Being Transgender, The Jack Molay Interview

Felix C has basically turned crossdreamer blogging into transgender chill-out clubbing.
Who is Jack Molay?
Illustration by Jorgenmac

Really, there is no other site out there quite like the Transcend Movement.

Felix and I had a talk about how to make a good pasta sauce, crossdreaming, autogynephilia, my life as transgender, bullies, Sense8 and more.

You can read it all if you click here!


July 5, 2015

Conservative Minister Defends Transgender Right to Self-determination

A conservative minister of health becomes a strong supporter of transgender rights, changing the main principle of transgender health care in the process. Only the trans persons themselves can decide on their gender identity, he says.
Norwegian Minister of Health, Bent Høie,
and transgender lesbian activist Christine Marie
Jentoft agree that the transgender people are the
ones who should decide on their legal identity.
(Photo: Reidar Engesbak, Blikk)


The Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services, Bent Høie, recently made an important argument about why there should be no trial period for people who want to transition.

He wrote:
"When I started working on these issues, I believed that a period of reflection was necessary -- before you take such an important decision. But, a meeting with Skeiv Ungdom [the Norwegian organization "Queer Youth"] made it clear to me that such a requirement is unreasonable for those concerned.

These people have had a lot of time for thinking. Some of them have felt a misalignment between body and gender since they were small kids, while others have spent a lot of time questioning and doubting their way to the same answer.

To demand a period of reflection means that they will once again feel that they are not believed or taken seriously. You tell them that they have not spent enough time to think this through on their own."
Høie is talking about a change of legal gender status here, which does not necessarily entail hormones and surgery, but in principle this is a radical shift in how transgender people are treated in this country.

Abolishing the gatekeeper function
Trans man Luca Dalen Espseth has argued strongly
against the current practice of health personnel asking
transgender people about sexual desires and
behaviors. (Aftenposten)
(Photo: Nathalie Wiik Lystad)


Høie's argument is a very powerful one. The current logic is that transgender people seeking a legal change of gender have to be protected against themselves by non-elected representatives of the medical establishment, the so-called gatekeepers.

By decoupling legal acceptance from medical transitioning, Høie gives the power back to the individual, following the principle that those who are going through this are more likely to know what's best for them.

Today castration is required

Currently Norwegian law requires that a person must undergo medical treatment that includes castration to achieve legal gender recognition. Moreover, the power to grant such medical treatment has been given to the National Treatment Unit for Transsexualism at the Oslo University Hospital, a unit that has repeatedly been accused for demanding that their transgender patients live up to traditional gender stereotypes to be accepted for treatment. 


June 29, 2015

Crossdreamers Continued

Some of you have asked we what is happening to my Crossdreamers.com blog. I have in no way abandoned the site and am planning a series of new blog posts.
The British TV series Hit & Miss presents
a trans female character who does not give a shit
about Ray Blachard and his autogynephilia theory.

Here are some of the topics I would like to address:

Caitlyn Jenner

I am preparing a post on what the Caitlyn Jenner case may mean for crossdreamers of all shades and colors. 

I believe her case will help us get beyond the toxic autogynephilia narrative and into a view of trans women that allows for more diversity and respect.

Trans TV

There will be a post on the way television is presenting trans women who may or may not have been crossdreamers, but who would definitely have been classified as "autogynephiliacs" by the dark side of sexology.

This applies to series like Hit & Miss, Transparent, Orange is the New Black and -- most recently -- the amazing Washowski/Straczynski series Sense8. All of them give a respectful and nuanced view of trans women and their struggles.

Hemingway

As previously promised, I am also preparing a story about the crossdreamer Ernest Hemingway, and his struggle to understand what his gender variance was about.

From eugenics to autogynephilia

Finally, I am working on a piece about science throughout history, and the way it has been systematically used to suppress and harass marginalized groups.

A typical tactic has been to label these groups as sexual deviants. This tactic has been applied to working class people, independent women, any man or woman that cannot be considered white or "Nordic", gay and lesbians and -- obviously -- people who challenge gender norms.

The similarities between racist eugenics and the transphobic theories of Blanchard and Bailey are uncanny.

Stories from XD Express and Sally Molay

In the meantime, some of you may be interested in taking a look at the tumblr blogs of me and my wife Sally.

These are both news curation sites with a broader transgender scope than Crossdreamers.com. Still, those of you struggle with dysphoria and your gender identity, should definitely find some interesting posts here.

Here are some of the more recent ones:

On people transitioning:
On hypersexualization and invalidation:

April 19, 2015

The Problem with Arousal

Guest writer Joanna Santos argues that it is time we liberate ourselves from  models that reduce gender variance to sexual arousal.
Trans people are liberating themselves from the
stifling theories of the past. (Photo: moodboard)


By Joanna Santos

I have lived all my life with the knowledge that something was different about me. By the age of 4 or 5 years old, although aware that I was a boy, I had an interest in playing with dolls and trying on my mother’s shoes. But quickly enough I learned to suppress those desires because the messages I received were that I was not to indulge in these activities.

Since then I have come full circle and after a long period of reflection and angst (during which time I kept an almost daily blog), I have come to return to the state where I began my life. I have returned to being as true as I can to a nature that was always there but within the confines of the reality that I now live as an ageing adult.

After having read every book and every article on the subject of gender dysphoria I could get my hands on, I finally had to concede that there was not going to be a conclusive answer regarding the way I was made and why I was drawn to being a female. I had to finally accept without question that it made up part of my natural wiring and nothing was going to change that.

My gender expression need not be tied to my natal sex. No matter what society expects of you, it’s best to adhere to an expression that fits your comfort level and your self-image. This lesson was the hardest to learn because I came from an era where there was little latitude or permissiveness on that front. One was a male or one was a female and that was that.

Things have changed considerably since then.

We are now on the cusp of a revolution which I am still young enough to be able to witness first hand. Yes the same old arguments exist among the academics who will argue about Blanchard’s two typologies of transwomen and which one is more genuine but for me that is now entirely irrelevant because the true question is: “in which form do you feel most comfortable to live out your life?”


April 16, 2015

Chevalier d'Eon: Early Transgender Role Model

Fencing Match between Monsieur de Saint-George et Mademoiselle La
Chevalière d'Éon de Beaumont 
at Carlton House on 9 April 1787.
Engraving by Victor Marie Picot

By Sally

Chevalier d'Éon (Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d'Éon de Beaumont) was a French soldier, diplomat and spy who publicly lived as a woman in 18th-century London. 

image
Portrait by Thomas Stewart
D’Eon lived from 1728 to 1810 who appeared publicly as a man for 49 years, although during that time d'Éon successfully infiltrated the court of Empress Elizabeth of Russia by presenting as a woman. For the last 33 years, d'Éon lived as a woman.

The Chevalier d'Éon claimed to be assigned female at birth, and demanded recognition by the government as such.

King Louis XVI complied, but required in turn that d'Éon dress appropriately in women's clothing. When the king's offer included funds for a new wardrobe of women's clothes, d'Éon agreed.

April 2, 2015

Does the effects of hormones on transgender people prove that crossdreaming has a biological component?

Is crossdreaming purely psychological or does it have a biological basis? Hormones may give us part of the answer.
Illustration: xrender

There seems to be a general agreement among most psychiatrists who treat dysphoric male to female (MTF) crossdreamers and crossdressers that there is one "drug" that will alleviate some of their distress: Estrogen/oestrogen (the most important being estradiol/oestradiol), often misnamed the "female" hormone.

Estrogen and anti-androgens reduce possible emotional distress caused by crossdreaming

Harry Benjamin, the grand old man of transgender research, noted as early as 1966 that both "transvestites" (i.e. crossdressers) and non-transitioning transsexuals could benefit from taking estrogen, as it could be "helpful emotionally" or "needed for comfort or emotional balance".

There is little literature on this, but my contacts among therapists and activists confirm the well-known "secret" that doctors continue to prescribe estrogen to MTF crossdreamers, even when they do not plan to transition.

Some doctors  also prescribe antiandrogens, i.e. drugs that reduce the flow of testosterone, "the masculinizing hormone", in the bloodstream, or reduces the brains ability to make use of "T".

There are also antiandrogens that stop regular testosterone from being transformed into the more active dihydrotestosterone. The effects of antiandrogens are somewhat similar to the effects of estrogen: a reduction in the effects testosterone has on the mind and body.

Some doctors also combine the use of estrogens and antiandrogens to achieve the desired effect: a reduction in emotional distress and dysphoria. Crossdreamers who self-medicate on herbal alternatives often look for similar combinations, like when taking pueraria mirifica (for an estrogenic effect) and saw palmetto (for an antiandrogenic effect).

The two sides of sex hormones

It is important to note that you may influence the effects of sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen in two ways:

1. You may increase the amount of testosterone or estrogen in the body by way of pills or injections.
2. You may stop the body from absorbing the relevant hormones.

This relationship between "production" and "reception" of sex hormones is well known in sex research. It is not enough to produce the relevant hormones. You also need the appropriate receptors to absorb and make use of them. If a child with an XY "male" chromosome combination for some reason fail to develop the sufficient number of testosterone receptors, that child may develop a female body and mind.

It is also important to keep in mind that testosterone and estrogen are not really "male" and "female" hormones. A male fetus actually needs estrogen to produced the amounts of testosterone needed to develop a male body. The fetus transforms estrogen into testosterone, then the testosterone triggers the development of male sexual characteristics. At puberty another boost in testosterone turns boys into men.

On average men may have up till 20 times as much testosterone as women.

Forum for crossdreamers, crossdressers and transgender people

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