April 4, 2014

New Study Dismisses the Autogynephilia Approach to Transgender

Are there really two types of transgender people, or are there only different blends of characters and personality traits? This may seem like a purely academic question, but the answer has actually strong repercussions for how people look at both crossdreamers and transsexuals.
Different but the same
Illustration photo by Tomwang112/thinkstock.

In a new paper, Dr. Jaimie F. Veale, brings new evidence that the various shades of male to female transgender are indeed variants of something related, and not two distinct categories.

The two types of trans women

One common idea regarding male bodied transgender people (including transsexual women) is that there are two distinct types.

Since most of this research is on transsexual women the types are often referred to as late onset and early onset, referring to when they used to go to the heath system to get help transitioning.

Both health personnel and researchers noticed early on that the ones transitioning late in life where more likely to be sexually attracted to women, while the early onset were more likely to be attracted to men.

Since all healthy women were supposed to be attracted to men, the early onset ones soon became the model for the perfect transsexual woman. Indeed, as some transsexual women scrambled to get access to the group of real women, the two categories became more than practical descriptive categories used to discuss the different variations of transgender. Now they were referring to tow distinct phenomena, with completely different causes, an A team and a B team.

Are the differences categorical or dimensional?

In her new paper on Dr. Ray Blanchard's variant of the two type typology, Dr. Jaimie F. Veale refers to this as the difference between what she calls categorical constructs (as in the difference between cats and dogs) and dimensional constructs  (as in the difference between black and white cats). A categorical difference is one of either/or, while a dimensional difference refers to a continuum.

March 26, 2014

From MTF Crossdreamer to Transsexual Woman

Those who have followed this blog post for a while, know that I believe that there is a wide variety of crossdreamers, some of them transsexual, some of them not. Most (?) crossdreamers and crossdressers
Photo: fatchoi/iStock
do not feel the kind of deep misalignment between body and sex identity that transsexual men and women experience. But some do, and we can all learn something from them.

Heather made some comments about her crossdreaming here at this blog some two years ago. Now she is back as the woman she has always been. She has given me permission to publish her new comments as a blog post. The headlines are mine.

Jack

Guest post by Heather Roslyn

I have been thinking that perhaps I should come back and post a follow-up here as it has been some time since I originally posted my story on this thread July 3rd 2012. A great deal has happened in my life since then.

The AGP/Crossdreamer descriptions were something of a stepping stone for me, a language of self-discovery that helped me come to terms with who I am and have always been.

Beyond repression

After a lifetime of hiding, I finally came to terms with the truth that I had been transgender all my life, repressing it for years with what can only be described as unbearable guilt and self-loathing.

In the months following my original posts here I began gender therapy for the first time in my late fifties. Despite the fear and resignation I expressed in my earlier posts, it gradually became clear that I could not go on repressing my true feelings. After once again nearly taking my life one day, I finally concluded that I would have to transition to female to survive.


March 25, 2014

A Creative Transgender Vocabulary - from Butch to Woodworking

Photo by Jayfish, Thinkstock
Here is the final post in my Crossdreamer Vocabulary. In this post I include the remaining letters of the alphabet (W and beyond) as well as entries that have been suggested by others (and me) since the first post.

Remember that these entries are not so much dictionary definitions as mini blog posts on topics of relevance to crossdreamers and transgender people.

Butch

A butch is a lesbian woman who expresses a strong masculine identity.Her masculinity is real, and her butch appearance is her way of expressing that identity.

In spite of what many people believe, she is not necessarily  imitating men, although she will often make use of clothing of symbols associated with male masculinity. She may also express some of the personality traits associated with men. Many butches will, for instance, stress the role of being their lover's protector.

Butches may often hook up with more feminine "femme" lesbians, but butch/butch relationships are not unheard of. If you are searching for simple models of sex and gender, this is not the place to look.

Photo by Scott Griessel, Thinkstock
The reason crossdreamers should study the loves of butches is found in the similarity between some female to male crossdreamers and lesbian butches. Some (but in no way all) FTM crossdreamers express a masculinity similar to the one of butches, the main difference being their sexual attraction to men as opposed to the lesbian desire for women. This tells me that sexual orientation is not the only way of approaching the mysteries of sex and gender.

Note also the similarities between the butch/FTM trans man debate and the discussion of the relationship between crossdressers/crossdreamers and transsexuals on the other. There is no clear border between being butch and being a female to male trans man. Many trans men starts out as butches. In the same way many  trans women start out as crossdreamers. In spite of this, transsexuals and non-transsexual gender variant people spend a lot of time distancing themselves from the other group, most likely because they fear that the other group implicitly threaten their sex identity.

Many butches crossdream, in the sense of getting aroused by taking on the traditional male role in seduction and love making. The art of "packing" strap-on dildos as part of the ritual tells me that this crossdreaming also includes the bodily aspect.

Cultural dissonance

My friend Natalie from Thailand suggested that I include the term "cultural dissonance" in the transgender vocabulary. She writes:

 "This one I feel refers to how many enlightened and educated transgender and other gender-variant folks and even homosexuals/bisexuals suddenly feel a sense of total alienation/isolation in the respective cultures they are brought up in after they learn about their condition either from internet or from other sources. 

"Not because of the fact that they are different from the norm (which they anyways have felt forever) but because of the simple realization that their society is not aligned along the way they feel it should be to accommodate such a huge gender and sexual diversity, and also the awareness that such a massive change may not even take place for long unless a huge cultural war takes place soon.

March 11, 2014

The latest Crossdreamer and Transgender posts from XD Express

XD Express is my tumblr blog for quick and targeted posts about crossdreaming and transgender issues. I have also found myself using it as some kind of rapid deployment blog for the defense of harassed girlfags.

Comic by Humon presenting the
love life of bonobos.
From the blog post on transgender animals.
Click on image to enlarge!
There is a lot of aggression on tumblr, where some transgender people spend more time on hurting each other than fighting their real opponents out there. Which is a shame.

But this is what societies based on fear of gender ambiguity do to people. We all try to find a dry spot of normalcy in a big sea of social exclusion, and if that means drowning other trans people in the process, so be it!

The real trick is to help the people find themselves, without adding fuel to the fire.

Here are recent some posts that might be of interest:

How to Effectively Invalidate Marginalized People!
I present the the concept of "Master Suppression Techniques", which are used all the time in order to invalidate crossdreamers, girlfags and transsexuals.

Transgender animals  
I present some wonderful comics which illustrate the diversity of sex and gender in the animal kingdom. They prove that our normal concepts of "natural" and "unnatural" are very narrow, indeed!
Some transgender bloggers have developed cisphobia, an intense hatred of non-transgender people. Some may think "cissie" is a good pun on "sissy". I think it is horrible!

Dear Truscum: This is What the Word Transgender Actually Means.
Unlike the previous generation of transsexual separatists, who hated the word "transgender", the new one tries to appropriate it. I wrote this blog post as a possible reference point for future discussion. I prove that you do not have to suffer from gender dysphoria to call yourself transgender.


Is Gender Really Nothing More Than a Performance?
Reflections of Julia Serano's response to  post-structuralists reducing everything gender to language and performance.

Yes, there may be such a thing as an inborn sex identity!
A short reminder to those that think that sex and gender is nothing but culture. I am pretty much convinced it is the end result of an interaction between nature and nurture, and that the nature/nurture divide maybe was a mistake in the first place.

Do you know what a girlfag is? Really?
Girlfags, and in particular female to male crossdreamers, have been under intense attack on tumblr. The usual refrain is that they are nothing but fetishists. 

See also these blog posts: On the girlfag and guydyke issueGirfags, crossdreamers and trans men and Stop the Harassment of Girlfags!
Memes and illustrations

Tumblr is a very different platform and community from Blogger. The most efficient way of communicating is by pictures and short "memes". I have published a few of my own over there:
Click on image to enlarge!

March 3, 2014

On Getting Your Identity Affirmed (The Rayka & Jack Crossdreaming Dialogue 3)

Last year I had a very interesting email conversation with Rayka, a young Iranian girlfag and female to male crossdreamer. This is part three of our edit of that conversation. Part 1 can be found here.
How do you get accepted for who you
are, if there are no words to describe
who you are?
(Photo: Stockbyte)


In this part we discuss the difference between gender roles, gender traits and gender identity. We also look at what the lack of visibility, recognition and affirmation means for you mental health.

(About words: A crossdreamer is someone who gets excited by the idea of being or becoming the other sex. A girlfag is female bodied person with a strong affinity to gay male culture and who may imagine herself being a gay man with a gay man).

A difference between MTF and FTM crossdreamers

JACK
At first I believed that the main difference between MTF [male to female] and FTM [female to male] crossdreamers was the FTM focus on gay men and gay relationships. In MTF erotica the relationships are just as often male vs. female. It as if there has to be a male involved for many MTF crossdreamers to feel affirmed as woman in their fantasies. If you ask them, however, whether they are truly attracted to men, they will say no.

I have made myself "a sexual orientation test", asking selected MTF dreamers the following: "Go down the main street of your town. At the end list up the people you remember. If the majority is female, you are predominantly gynephilic [sexually attracted to women]."

This applies to me, as well. I am attracted to women and not to men. I do believe I have a preliminary solution to the puzzle, though, and I got it when I read a wonderful lesbian love story written by a MTF crossdreamer I know. The story is widely read by lesbians. I doubt very much if a man would be able to write such a story if he didn't have some kind of inner female identity. The point is that if you remove the erotic part, the crossdream that remains is the dream of a lesbian romantic relationship.

Maybe you can come up with an explanation for why FTM crossdreamers do not need to be a man with a woman in their fantasies to have their masculinity affirmed.

Words for what we are

I realize that it must be hard for you to even try explain what you are to your friends, given that the only terms are lesbian and trans. I have tried to use the term "straight gays" to explain this to non-trans friends. Sometimes it works, sometimes it causes even more confusion.

How it feels to be a girl

You wonder how it feels to be a girl with a girl´s emotions. I can completely relate to this. "How can you possible now how it feels to be a girl?"some people ask. My reply is much like yours: "Í have absolutely no idea how it feels to be a man!" But I do know what if feels to be human, and have found that most of what it means to be a man or a woman is something we have in common.


February 21, 2014

Is Crossdreaming really Transphobic and Cissexist?

I have been active over at tumblr lately, partly because of reports of harassment of girlfags and crossdreamers and partly because of so-called "truscum" (separatists FTM trans men) who are trying to throw crossdressers and gender queer people out of the transgender family.
Photo: Tomwang112

This has been a fascinating journey into a world of conspiracy theories and hazing, invalidation and marginalization.

But I have also learned to know many courageous, creative and intelligent crossdreamers and trans people, transsexual as well as non-transsexual, who stand up to the abuse, defending their right to define their own identity.

Weaponizing science and philosophy

What really fascinates me is the way some people are weaponizing philopsophy and science in order to put down people who threatens their point of view. In this post I am going to use  Mahō Shōjo Naomi's presentation of me and my Crossdreamer blog as an example.

This is an interesting attempt at developing a narrative aimed at undermining the legitimacy of your opponent, by presenting a clever mix of half truths and untruths.

I believe it is extremely important for gender variant people, including crossdreamers, crossdressers and genderqueer, to understand and see through these techniques.

I guess that the main reason for all this hurt is that most of us, consciously or unconsciously, have bought into the idea that there is something wrong with us, and that we are diseased, perverted or abnormal. This leads to a desperate scramble for a dry spot, where we at least appear a little bit more normal than all the other "freaks" out there. As one crossdreamer told me: "Thank God! At least I am not gay!" We had a loooong conversation about that one, believe me!

The messages I get from especially girlfags on tumblr, tells me that this quest for gender purity they can be extremely damaging to their self esteem and undermine their ability to explore their identity.

Define your opponent as transphobic from the start!

Mahō Shōjo Naomi calls herself a transfeminist. From what I can see from her blog, she and I are not really that far apart as regards our views of sex and gendeer. It is a bit hard to say, but she seems to believe in a broad and diverse family of transgender people, and like me she is a strong supporter of women's rights, as well as the rights of trans men and trans women. We also agree that there is a biological component to the transsexual identity, although I suspect I am a little bit more holistic than she is in this respect.

But she is also clearly one of those who have been hurt so much, that she is now lashing out angrily at a lot of people, rarely giving them the benefit of doubt, and mostly in order to redefine them as the enemy. I am clearly the enemy.

The blog post, with the telling headline "Crossdreaming: Its Transphobic Roots, and Current Transphobic, Cissexist Content" gets off to a promising start:

February 11, 2014

How post-structuralist feminism has become a weapon used to invalidate transgender

I have spent some time over at tumblr, lately, mostly discussing the lives of female to male crossdreamers and girlfags. Sometimes it feels like being back in the school yard, with bullies honing in on you from all directions. This is probably because so many of the participants are very young and have still not developed the necessary empathy and patience needed to treat others with respect.
Using the fetish theory of modern feminists, lesbians
are invalidating the lives of FTM girlfags and crossdreamers,
arguing that these persons have no male identity.

There are some patterns here, the most important being the use of modern "post-structuralist" feminist theory to invalidate girlfags in particular and trans people in general.

Lesbians attack girlfags for "fetishizing" gay men. Since most of my readers do not spend much time on tumblr, I will republish a couple of my entries here.

The following is a response to impostoradult, who gives a very good presentation of post-modern accounts of sex and gender in her response to my blog post om sex, gender, mind and body. You do not have to read the original posts to make sense of this one.

Dear impostoradult,

I have actually no problem in accepting most of what you write here, both as regards post-modernism and your understanding of understanding in itself.

I guess I am more of a 'philosophical hermeneutics' kind of person myself, but the basics remain the same: Our life word, the sum of our experiences, put limits to what it is possible to think.

And yes, categories like gay, girlfag and crossdreamer only exist in our mind. You will not find them 'out there', in the 'real world'. However, our sense of self and our bodies are anchored in the real world, so we do have some access to "the world in itself", if no through language.

My admittedly popularized and simplified presentation in this blog post was aimed at those that systematically use parts of post-modern theory to invalidate the experience and identity of girlfags, crossdreamers and other gender variant people. And in this respect reminding people of their animal nature makes very much sense.

The current atracks on girlfags and crossdreamers, reducing them to unreal 'fetishes' and body-less 'semiotics' have their roots in the thinking of the post-structuralist philosopher Judith Butler and her fans. Having read all the books written by the lady, I can confidently say that this is a woman who have left the physical world behind and is now living in a mirage of literary references.


February 10, 2014

Man or woman or both? (The Rayka & Jack Dialogue 2)

Last year I had a very interesting email conversation with Rayka, a young Iranian girlfag and female to male crossdreamer. This is part two of our edit of that conversation. Part 1 can be found here.

If anyone have doubted the existence of female to male crossdreamers, this conversations should end that misconception.
Adam Lambert, girlfag icon.

In this part we discuss to what extent childhood experiences and hormones may shape our crossdreaming, and how to find word that can be used to describe who we are.

(Apropos words: A crossdreamer is someone who gets excited by the idea of being or becoming the other sex. A girlfag is female bodied person with a strong affinity to gay male culture and who may imagine herself being a gay man with a gay man).

What causes crossdreaming: Childhood, hormones?

RAYKA
I just wanted to know more about the theories about social and psychological causes of crossdreaming. I heard that getting raped at childhood might cause this condition. Well I experienced this! They say for a female, being raped may cause her hate her femininity so she wants to be a boy cause it feels more secure and less vulnerable! 

And there's also my hormonal problem. My body produce more testosterone than normal and causes some problems. Once my mom told the doctor that I'm so boyish and she said many girls with this problem are like that. As I read, it's also so common among FTM [female to male] transsexuals! 

I wonder whether this problem makes me boyish or me being boyish causes this problem! Something else: I have a butch lesbian sister! So many variations in a family, aren't there? But I have read somewhere that it actually makes sense, like, it's something in the family's genes!

Childhood crossdreaming

Illustration  of Iranian woman, based on photo
by Harris Shiffman. This is not Rayka, but
she could have been.
Childhood crossdreaming huh? Reading the trans people stories, I always see that they knew it in their childhood, but,well,I wasn't aware of this until about about [a couple of] years ago.

But I remember that I always (and right now) imagined the life of a boy (which I then realized was me!). I have  liked feminine boys since an early age, but don't remember if it was before that abuse incident or not.

Sex identity versus gender identity

You write: "I guess I am 'gender queer', but 'sex woman', if you see what I mean."

Exactly the same here (a male sex but an androgynous one); that's why I said I'm not transsexual. But, you know, I actually would like to transition to some extent. I always dream about it: top surgery and a low dose of hormones that gives me a deeper voice!

What irritates me the most is the idea that maybe my identification is not true; I just can’t be sure about anything…

Hey, seriously, why are FTMs  so much less visible than MTFs [male to female crossdreamers]?!