September 1, 2014

"I am something that does not exist!" (On queer schwulwomen, girlfags and guydykes)

In this guest blog post Ili tells about her life as schwul (girlfag). How do you explain something when the language you speak lacks the words for it, she asks, and when the culture you live in doesn't see it as possible? 
American comedian Margaret Cho modelling
the girlfag T-shirt over at Beyond the Binary

Guest post by Ili 
Note: I will use the German word schwul for “gay male” in this article because English has no single word for the concept, and because schwul has a subtly different meaning from "gay male".

A great many English-speakers are offended by the English term "girlfag," given that both"girl" and "fag" are at least potentially pejorative - a linguistic battle to which nobody has yet figured out a workable solution. Perhaps the German schwule m├Ądchen will eventually be adopted into English.
I am something that many people will tell you does not exist. Schwulwomen (“girlfags”) and lesbian men (“guydykes”) cannot, by current gender-bound linguistic standards, be real.

While the advent of trans identities in the last few decades has brought significant changes in the meanings of “man” and “woman," the words “
schwul and “lesbian” still have rigid definitions, even within the LGBTQ communities: only men can be schwul, only women can be lesbians. Anything else isn’t possible, per definition.

And yet I, as well as an uncountable but significant number of men and women like me, feel strongly that we are these impossible identities, the schwul female, the male lesbian. To say that these identities are problematic is to understate the case dramatically.

Thinking the impossible

To begin with, it often takes years, perhaps even decades, for a nascent girlfag or guydyke to realize her or his tendencies. A woman may identify with schwul culture since puberty – but until she accepts the "impossible," she may think she’s crazy, or the only one of her kind. She may try for years to reconcile herself to normative heterosexuality - after all, she likes guys, she must be straight, right?

August 18, 2014

Take Part in our Survey on Gender Variance!

You are invited to take part in our survey on gender variance and cross-gender expressions, identities, concepts and fantasies.
Illustration:Robert Churchill

The objective is to gain a better insight into the self conception and ideas of gender variant people of all shades and colors.

These include -- but are in no way not limited to -- crossdressers, crossdreamers, transsexuals, drag queens and drag kings, girlfags and guydykes, non-binary identities, queer and genderqueer.

The results will be published on the Crossdreamers blog, but the data will also be made available to researchers.

The survey is completely anonymous. You will not be asked for your name or email address, and we have no way of tracking your real identity. 


August 17, 2014

The Gay Male Friends of Girlfags

In spite of what the girlfag-bashers on tumblr say, gay men are not the enemies of girlfags and female to male crossdreamers.
Katharine Hepburn, the girlfag

Tumblr is one of the favorite social tools of the new generation, including male to female crossdreamers and girlfags.

Some of you will have noticed that I have put up a tumblr blog in order to get in touch with them. My wife, Sally, is also blogging on transgender issues over there.

(By girlfags I mean female bodied persons who are attracted to gay and bisexual men. A majority of them can be understood as female to male crossdreamers, as they express some kind of masculine sexuality and/or identity.)

The young and restless

One strength of tumblr is that the audience is young. 66% of all visitors are under the age of 35, while 39% are under 25 years old. If you want to know about their interests and problems, this is the place to go.

On the other hand, the young age of the majority of users is also a problem, as some of them have still not developed the social antennas needed to sense the suffering of others. Some are also too angry and frustrated to treat people with love and respect. Tumblr is like a school yard where the bullies roam unsupervised.

Bullies and trolls

I have rarely seen so much aggression and hate. The girlfags are targeted by some bloggers. Some of them are separatist "truscum" FTM transsexuals, who clearly see the female bodied crossdreamers as a threat to their own social acceptance.
Another one with Hepburn

The standard argument is that girlfags are "sexual fetishists", who are objectifying and preying on gay men. And yes, the autogynephilia theory has been used, as well.

Because I defend these fellow crossdreamers, many of them believe I am a young girlfag. This has made me the target of much aggressive misogyny. The levels of irony in this scenario are mind-boggling.

Gay men accept girlfags

But here's the thing: I find no such hostility towards girlfags among gay men in general.

My girlfag friends report the same. Their gay male friends are just that: friends. They accept them in the same way they accept the "fag hags". The whole "fetish" argument makes little sense to them, probably because gay male culture has a lot of "fetishistic" expressions of the gay identity.

I am going to share a quote with you which illustrates this. It was written by a gay man in a girlfag Facebook group. I have his permission to republish it.

August 10, 2014

Input on Crossdreamer Survey

I am planning a short survey where I ask readers of this blog and the Crossdream Life forum about their lives and ideas.

Photo: Andrey Popov
I would, for instance, like to ask you questions about gender identity, how open you are about your crossdreaming, what you think causes crossdreaming, and how you feel about being (or not being) part of the transgender alliance.

Are there any questions you would like to see included?

Are there any methodological traps I should avoid?

You could add a comment to this post or reply over at Crossdream Life.

Thank you for your help!

August 3, 2014

Crossdreaming Described

This is crossdreaming
Crossdreamers violate gender expectations.
Photo: kvkirillov

The term crossdreaming was coined to describe the phenomenon that some people get aroused by the idea of being the "other sex" (relative to their assigned sex at birth).

I found that although such fantasies are quite common in transgender circles (I use the word "transgender" in its broad umbrella sense here, covering all types of gender variance). However, very few talk about them.

This is mainly caused by the fact that crossdreaming is taboo in most contemporary cultures. This especially applies to so-called Western societies, and to male bodied crossdreamers more than to those assigned female at birth. People have a tendency of looking down at men who feel an affiliation with anything female. Add sexual feelings to the mix, and you are immediately facing a lot of prejudices. This negative view of male to female transgender feelings and expressions is also reflected in some of the relevant research.

This silence is causing a lot of unnecessary confusion, repression and shame. In my experience, anything that becomes such an important part of people's lives reflects a side of their personality that needs to be understood and integrated, regardless of what causes the phenomenon. 

We need to talk about this. That's why I made this blog.

The diversity of crossdreamers

In my discussions with crossdreamers and transgender people I have found that there are both male bodied and female bodied crossdreamers. Some identify with their assigned sex, others with their target sex, and some identify with both genders or neither. 

July 14, 2014

Summer Break, Comments Down

Photo: Ellen Smile 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.


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.