July 14, 2014

Summer Break, Comments Down

Photo: Ellen Smile
Crossdreamers.com will take a three week holiday.

In this period we will close down the comment section.

Welcome back to new interesting discussions in August!

July 5, 2014

The Autogynephilia Theory, Again...

With irregular intervals there pops up a new article discussing Ray Blanchard's "autogynephilia" theory, often written by someone who knows enough about crossdreaming to be interested, but not enough to see through the jargon of Blanchard.

Autogynephilia times two.
Photo: Dmitrii Kotin
This is a comment I wrote as a reply to Joseph Burgo's recent article on autogynephila.

Autogynephilia, huh?

Blanchard argues that there two separate types of transgender, both defined by the sexual orientation of the transgender person. The theory covers both male to female crossdressers and trans women, but the vocabulary refers mostly to trans women.

The first type is the "homosexual transsexual" (by which he means trans women attracted to men). These are effeminate gay men who transition in order to attract straight men, according to Blanchard.

The other is the "autogynephilic transsexual" (those who are not attracted to men). These he considers heterosexual paraphiliacs (perverts) who are sexually attracted to the image of themselves as female. Neither Blanchard nor his supporter J. Michael Bailey, recognize any of these as women.

Blinded by Science

Needless to say, the Blanchard model invalidates the identities of trans women. And from where I am standing it is also clear that the theory does not reflect the real lives of non-transsexual crossdreamers and crossdressers.

We live in a culture, however, where scientists are expected to be disinterested and objective, while the trans activists are -- for obviously reasons -- both emotionally and existentially involved in what's being said about them. This has led some to believe Blanchard (who is not transgender) knows more about transgender issues than transsexual women, crossdreamers and crossdressers.

Let me therefore make this perfectly clear: The theory has been thoroughly falsified and dismissed, also by scientists.

Here are some of the main arguments raised against it:

1. Crossdreaming is not limited to men who love women

The "autogynephiliacs" are defined by what I have called crossdreaming. Crossdreamers may get aroused by the fantasy of being their target sex. The androphilic trans women ("homosexual transsexuals" in Blanchard's misleading and offending terminology, i.e. those who are attracted to men) never experience such fantasies, according to Blanchard.


June 16, 2014

A Transgender Novel Discussing "Autogynephilia" - Imogen Binnie's Nevada

Imogen Binnie has written a novel about the lives of two male to female crossdreamers. And yes, you should read it!
Photo of Imogen Binnie byJulie Blair 


There have been novels about crossdreaming before (Ernest Hemingway's Garden of Eden comes to mind), but I have never seen one who includes a discussion of the concept of "autogynephilia" (defined as men who get aroused by the idea of being women).

Imogen Binnie's Nevada does. And it does so because it is about two male to female crossdreamers: one lesbian punk trans woman, Maria Griffith, and one MTF crossdreamer living as a  heterosexual man: James.

Raw

It is a roller-coaster ride of a book, completely unlike any trans autobiography you might have read.

The language is colorful and explicit, and Binnie does not sugarcoat the lives of transgender people. Both James and Maria are suffering from the kind of traumatic stress disorder that gender confusion can bring. They are struggling with self acceptance, and find it hard to believe and embrace the love of others.

Maria is definitely intellectualizing  in an attempt to avoid feeling the hurt.

Crossdreaming unfiltered

Unlike many trans authors Binnie does not hide the crossdreaming -- i.e. the fact that trans people, being those crossdressers, transsexuals or other gender variant persons, may get aroused by the idea of being their target sex. She faces it head on, bringing it out into the open.


June 3, 2014

Janet Mock and Laverne Cox Embrace a Broad Interpretation of Transgender

Janet Mock and Laverne Cox are supporting the
transgender umbrella. Photo: Jamie McCarthy
Trans activists Janet Mock and Laverne Cox supports a wide definition of the word transgender. Mock's new book explains why.

Janet Mock's new autobiography should be obligatory reading for everyone interested in trans issues, and for various reasons. 

One is the fact that she throws light upon why some transsexual people feel such a need to invalidate other members of the transgender family.

Getting validation as a "real woman"

Mock tells the story about how she as a young transsexual woman ended up distancing herself from other trans people, insulting them in the process.

She writes:

"Growing up, I learned that being trans was not something you did take pride in; therefore, I yearned to separate myself from the dehumanizing depictions of trans women I saw in popular culture..."

Mock starts out by pointing out that umbrella terms like transgender can cause difficulties, as society often blurs the lines between drag queens and trans women.

This is highly problematic, Mock says, because this causes many people to believe that trans women, like drag queens, go home, take off their wigs and chest plates, and walk around as men:

"Trans Womanhood is not a performance or costume. As [Mock's friend] Wendi likes to joke, 'A drag queen is part-time for show-time, and a trans woman is all the time!"

Gender dysphoric drag queens and crossdressers

Still, when Mock does not dismiss the broader transgender alliance (or end up as truscum), this is because she learned to know drag queens and divas personally, and found that many of them are, in fact, transsexual women.


May 28, 2014

How I found out my husband is a woman inside and what happened next

Photo: Robin Beckham
Buried Treasure, a Love Story

By Sally Molay, Guest Blogger


Different but the same
Where I stumble across the surprise of my life

"He is no different than he was yesterday. He is straight and he loves me."

These were the first thoughts I put on paper after I found out that my husband, Jack, is transgender, a woman in a man's body.

I was literally dizzy for days, and very frightened. But I was also eager to find the truth about the man I loved and I was overwhelmed thinking about how lonely he must be carrying this huge secret, scary on his own, how frustrated and sad. My heart was breaking for him. (Pronouns are difficult in this case. I use the ones Jack use.)

This is how I found out: I stumbled across his pseudonymous twitter account, which linked to a blog authored by the same pseudonym, a person living as a man, but perceiving himself as a woman. Some days later, I gathered the courage to read more and learned that, in his own words, he was attracted to women and happily married. Knowing this gave me a measure of security.

But so much remained unresolved: If I confronted him, would he freak out? Would I freak out? Would I still be attracted to him, knowing there was a female identity inside the body of the man I loved? The blog went back seven years. Could I live with the fact that he had kept this from me all that time? Could we make it work?

May 19, 2014

Anne Vitale on Crossdreaming in Middle Age

What happens to gender dysphoric crossdreamers when they enter middle age?
Illustration photo by Volodina

The psychotherapist Anne Vitale has written a very interesting book on various transgender conditions -- including various shades of crossdreamer -- called The Gendered Self.

I am taking the liberty of quoting the book liberally, as I think the book contains an important discussion of the gender identity struggles of adult crossdreamers, crossdressers and transgender.

Gender expression deprivation anxiety

Vitale points out that mid-life brings up new challenges for what I call crossdreamers -- especially the gender dysphoric ones (i.e. those that suffer from what Vitale calls "gender expression deprivation anxiety").

"Decades of trying to overcome their increasing gender expression deprivation anxiety begins to weigh heavily on the individual. Family and career are now as deeply rooted as they will ever be. The idea of starting over as a different sex seems impossible."

These persons often show up in therapy offices with symptoms mimicking depersonalization disorder, depression or generalized anxiety disorder, Vitale points out. They complain of panic attacks, irritability, sleeping disorder, inability to concentrate and weight loss.

Some disconnect from their families emotionally. Others find it hard to keep up their job performance. Some get suicidal at this stage.

The problem is that the feeling of dissonance does not go away as you get older. It might just as well get stronger.

The life of John

Vitale tells the story about John, a 51 year old male assigned medical research scientist, married for over 20 years and with three children, who came to her after a severe panic attack.


May 12, 2014

On the Various Shades of Transgender

Photo: anopdesignstock 
On why it is impossible to draw firm and unambigious borders between the different shades of transgender.

faekingit over at tumblr asked the following question:

"Though I’ve seen other people do this before, I’m curious to get my own responses.

Yes, I’m truscum, but I’m open to listening to answers without flipping out and threatening you with death or something. I probably won’t even reply unless there’s something I want to correct.

And the question is this - what exactly makes you another gender if you don’t experience sex/body dysphoria (not dysmorphia, keep in mind the difference)? How do you feel, say, in the case of a demiboy, “partially male”, without using gender roles and stereotypical expectations and gender expression to describe it? Answers are appreciated; ignore it if you want since I’m “disgusting true scum”.


The question forced me to try to simplify the complex matter of sex, gender and transgender in a way that makes sense, even for those who do not know all of the background. It is an impossible task really, but this was my attempt:

"I am gender dysphoric, so I can relate to your view of the world. But let me try to answer, anyway, as I believe much of the fighting going on in this area is caused by some basic misunderstandings.

People do not agree on what they mean by gender. In the social sciences it refers to culturally defined mores and ideas. In biology it refers to the end effect of a complex interplay of biological, environmental and social factors. Needless to say, your choice of point of view here makes a huge difference.

Blank slate vs. biology

Personally I find the "blank slate" idea of everything sex and gender being cultural or political hard to understand. We are also animals, with all the instincts and drives that this entails.

But it is equally clear that much of what people understand as typically male or female is cultural. Female liberation has shown us that there are few differences between the sexes as regards personality traits, abilities, temperaments and expressions.

Dimensions of gender

So none of the following dimensions alone determine whether you are a man or a woman. Nor can they be used to decide whether you feel like a man or a woman:

1. Personality traits, including abilities
2. Sexual orientation
3. Genitals and other bodily features
4. Femininity or masculinity, in the sense of a drive towards expressing whatever your culture defines as being such.


May 9, 2014

Survey of truscum transsexual separatists

raeltran over at tumblr has published a survey of truscum.

Truscum is a predominantly online phenomenon playing out on the social media site tumblr. This is group of transsexuals who are trying to appropriate the word "transgender" for themselves, and forbid non-transsexual gender variant people from using it. For some reason they feel embarrassed by using the word transsexual, but think the term "true scum" is a good one.
Photo: Bs/Wei, thinkstock

I am not sure to what extent this survey is representative, but if it is, it gives us some interesting information about the composition of the  truscum  separatist tribe.

1. Most of them are female to male transsexual.

Unlike the previous separatist movement, the "Classic Transsexual/HBS tribe", they are men (assigned female at birth).

This rhymes with my general impression: The younger generation of trans women are not following the separatist line. This also helps explain the lack of co-operation between the old female and the new male  generation of separatists.

2. The truscum are young. 

Over 80 percent are between 15 and 25 years old.

This may partly explain their lack of knowledge of transgender history. It seems to me that most of them truly believes the word "transgender" equals "transsexual". I do not think they are lying or trying to deceive (at least not most of them). This paradox can only be explained them lacking an understanding of transgender history.

3. 75 percent are white and  73 percent are American. 

All the respondents come from English speaking, Anglo-Saxon/Irish, countries.

In short: We are talking about a movement predominantly driven by American white men.  This may partly explain their desperate need to purify the word transgender from crossdresser/crossdreamer/genderqueer contamination.

In the US we see an increasing acceptance of transsexuals following the traditional "men trapped in a woman's body" narrative. We do not see a similar acceptance of non-dysphoric and non-transitioning transgender people, who often are considered sexual perverts by "experts" and laypeople alike. In other words: Expelling crossdressers, crossdreamers, girlfags and other questionable individuals from the transgender movement may allay any suspicions people have of the truscum being "unclean".

That being said: The great majority of truscum accepts that non-binary identities are valid with gender dysphoria.  In this they differ from the previous generation of separatists, where most required gender dysphoria and a strong identification with the traditional interests, abilities and temperaments of their target sex.

See also:
"You are not one of us!" said the separatist transsexualTruscum and the Transgender War of Words

realtran has also written a post on the reception of the survey, which is worth reading.

PDF-version of survey (date May 9 2014)