August 13, 2009

Beyond the Perversion

In my previous post I discussed why the theory underpinning the term autogynephilia (men loving themselves as a woman) can be so offensive.

Behind all the scientific jargon lies the idea that autogynephiliacs are in some sense sick deviates. In this post I will see how Lawrence and others try to solve this dilemma.

The compromise

First it should be said that I do not think Blanchard tries to solve this problem at all.

To him paraphilias are a fact of life like other (in his opinion) misdirected desires. There is pedophilia, there is autogynephilia and many more.

He has tried to describe the phenomenon. How to cope with it is another discussion altogether.

As a scientist he must be allowed to do that, even if he should happen to be wrong. Science is about finding the truth through sound methods and an open discussion. It is not about pleasing people.

Although Lawrence goes a long way towards accepting Blanchard's theory of autogynephilia being a paraphilia (i.e. a mistargeting of desires), she is open to the other models as well .

She quotes researchers like Langevin and Johnson and Hunt who argue that autogynephilia may be caused by "real" gender conflicts. Autogynephilia could be the effect instead of the cause of "atypical gender identity".

In normal terms: These men have -- in a sense -- had an internal conflict between their female and male side all the time. Their sexual fantasies of becoming a woman or behave like a woman is caused by the fact that they have some kind of female identity inside of them.


"Other commentators -- often transsexuals themselves -- suggest that some sort of gender dysphoria may be primary, and that autogynephilic eroticism may develop when gender dysphoria interferes with 'normal' sexual interests. I suspect that this latter explanation is true at least part of the time. It seems most consistent with my own experience, and with the reports of many others."

Indeed, in many of the case studies she presents, the respondents report that they have thought of themselves as girls since early childhood, before puberty.

"Keeping both models in mind can offer the clinician a more nuanced understanding of sexual motivation," Lawrence says. Precisely!

Masculine autogynephiliacs

That being said, in other places she goes out of her way to explain why Blanchard's approach make more sense.

"Why would men who have been successful fighter pilots, construction workers, or captains of industry -- men who seem not the least bit feminine, and who appear entirely comfortable being men -- want to undergo sex reassignment? Attributing this solely to some long-hidden inner femininity might implausible."

This is where I find it so hard to follow both Blanchard and Lawrence. What has the looks of these men to do with it all?

If there is a biological basis for autogynephilia, the same biology has given them a male body. There is no reason for this body to look feminine. If it is caused by hormonal disturbances in the womb, that migh cause different length in fingers, but surely not to a feminine appearance? If the cause is genetic, I doubt there is one gene for autogynephilia. The phenomenon must in that case be caused by a combination of genes, none of which need be connected to looks.

My point is that there isn't necessarily one to one relationship between how you look and how you feel. If the cause is mainly biological one set of genes may trigger feminine looks, another set feminine mentalities and yet another feminine mannerisms. And at this point we haven't even begum to discuss the roles of hormones or psychological development.

As for their success as men: Well, women may succeed as fighter pilots, so why not autogynephiliacs? Moreover, they have lived under a strong cultural pressure to act like men. They are rewarded for it.

And as for them appearing comfortable being men... ah, well, appearances can decieve. I appear comfortable being a man, but I am not!

On the other hand Lawerence has a point when she draws attention to the fact that sexual obsession can drive a man to do all sorts of things.

Let there be no doubt about it: the urges that follows autogynephile fantasies can be very strong, probably stong enough to drive some men to sexual reassignment even if they didn't have a strong "inner woman". That doesn't prove that there is no "inner woman", however.

Autogynephilia and other erotic interests

The strongest argument in support of defining autogynephilia as a parahilia (an abnormal sexual activity or "perversion" in laymen's terms) is the connection to other types of erotic interests.

If you read transgender erotica there are a large number of sex change stories that contain elements of for example BDSM, exhibitionism, and infantilism.

Lawrence refers to research that documents that there are many fetishists among transvestites and transexuals.:

"If transexualism and transvetism are purely gender-identity-based phenomena, then these associations make no sense," Lawrence argues.

It is a fair argument, although it may be that these fetishes are caused by the fact that the person has to struggle with his autogynephilia, and not that autogynephilia automatically leads to "other" fetishes.

If you have spent your whole life suppressing your true identity (which definitely undermines your self-esteem as a man) humiliation as a way of getting off may make sense. Fantasies where the man is forced into feminization solves the problem of having to chose a new life. The conflict is resolved by others.

Infantilism, i.e. regression to a child-like state, is a fantasy often used by people who live extreme conditions where it is hard to cope as an adult. Feeling that you are a woman in a man's body is at times completely unbearable. Regressing to a more care-free, innocent and pre-sexual state where others take care of you may give psychological relief.

Sex as a woman

Lawrence also points to the fact that "heterosexual" autogynephiliacs (i.e M2F transgendered men who love women) may fantasize about having sex with men. Yes, they may even have sex with men when dressed up as a woman.

I have myself had these fantasies, and again -- if you read transgender erotica -- you will find a lot of writers that find the idea of having sex with a man as a man revolting, happily writes captions about being taken from behind by a man.

Lawrence is absolutely right when she says that these fantasies are not like the fantasies of "genuine androphiles":

"...there is little emphasis on the specific characteristics of the imagined male partner. Often the imagined partner is faceless or quite abstract, and seems to be present primarily to validate the femininity of the person having the fantasy, rather than as a desirable partner in his own right (Blanchard 1991)."

She also refers to all the autogynephiliacs that start having sex with men after their surgery. This is not, she argues, because they have changed their sexual orientation: "Rather it is because they can finally actualize their fantasy of having sex with a male."

In other words: They are having sex with men not because they are sexually attracted to them, but because they use them as a kind of masturbatory props!

I see that the fact that autogynephiliac's fantasize about faceless men as opposed to real men requires an explanation, and I can see how this phenomenon strengthens Lawrence's belief in the paraphilia-angle.

The idea that someone should go completely against their sexual orientation to actualize some abstract masturbatory fantasy is hard to believe for me, however. As an experiment, maybe, but to take real pleasure from it over time?

Admittedly, fantasizing about men like this before the transition may feel "safe" for the autogynephiliac, but many of them establish stable relationships with real men after the surgery. It is hard to believe that they could do that without having changed their attitude to men. Unless they have been closeted homosexuals all along, of course. But the point here is that Blanchard & Co are convinced that they are not.

Are we all bisexuals?

One counter-argument could be that all human beings are born bisexual and that their gender identity is a social construct. When becoming women these autogynephiliacs just switch to another narrative.

However, i find that unlikely as well, because the theory does not explain why exactly these men have become autogynephiliacs. It is very unlikely that their parents have raised them as such!

Another narrative

I suspect there are other explanations that makes more sense, and I am working on one such possible narrative (although this is nothing more than an hypothesis at the moment):

"Autogynephiliacs" like myself do indeed have a strong inner woman, but we are also to certain degree men. After all, we all carry the genetic code for both sexes.

The man in us loves women and is sexually attracted to women. The woman in us loves the idea of being a woman, but she may (i underline may) also be attracted to men.

The man and the woman are both heterosexual. Before the transition the male sex-partners are faceless, but after the surgery the woman gets free reins. Now she may approach men as a woman.

She could be lying, of course, both to herself and to the researchers. She may think that she has a normal heterosexual relationship with a man, while she is in fact using the man for pleasuring herself. Her relationship is in that case in no way similar to a normal female-male bonding.

This is where both Blanchard and Lawrence run into methodological difficulties, because it does not matter what their respondents reply to such questions. The "wrong" answers can always be interpreted as lies.

Some research indicate that as many as 50 percent of transsexuals change their sexual orientation as the result of hormone treatment. If the hormones are causing the change in sexual orientation before the sexual reassignment surgery has taken place, that may indicate that the change is caused by a change in "normal" biology, and not by some misdirection of sexual desire.

If they do change their orientation,the question that has to be asked is whether their relationship with men is "normal". Do they enter into stable, long-term, love based relationships or are they just fooling around? An answer to this question would in many ways help us ascertain whether they have become real women or whether they still are suffering from parahilia. I cannot see that Blanchard & Co has done this research.

I suspect that many post-op autogynephiliacs are perfectly capable of having real relationships with their partners after the surgery, also if they end up with a man.

I would love to hear from post-op transsexuals out there about your experience regarding this.

Yet another hypothesis

Another possible explanation is that the longing for submission and penetration is a genetic trait that normally belongs to females. I mean submission in the neutral sense here, as being the "catcher" instead of the "pitcher".

It could be that autogynephiliacs have this urge, in spite of their Y chromosome. After all, many "normal" men may display some traditionally feminine traits without being considered effeminate. You know: "He is a kind and patient man, a good listener."

There are lesbians who do not feel the need for penetration, which proves that the opposite may be true, as well.

If "autogynephiliacs" have inherited a submissive trait, the need to "mask" the male in their fantasies is quite understandable. Other "autogynephiliacs" "solve" this problem by imagining themselves penetrated by a woman with a strap-on or by a "shemale". There are a lot of "shemale" (pre-op transwomen) prostitutes out there that advertise the fact that they are "active". Maybe their customers are autogynephiliacs?

An oversimplified view of sexuality

I strongly believe that our traditional concepts of both sexuality and gender are to simple and binary.

If we instead of thinking in a binary way (as Blanchard does) - man vs. female, masculine vs. feminine, heterosexual vs homosexual, homosexual transsexual vs. autogynephiliac - we could think of this as a gradient, a mixture of a large number of genetic, biological, psychological and cultural variables, autogynephilia makes more sense.

I think an answer to that riddle will bring us a long way towards getting a better understanding of the autogynephiliac condition.

The truth is out there

So Blanchard and Lawrence are wrong then, are they? Their theories are politically incorrect, I can embrace my inner woman and accept the transgender narrative as my own?

There is a good chance that I will.

Still, when you are struggling with topics of this kind: sexuality, identity, strong cultural frameworks, it it easy to adopt the narrative that feels most comfortable.

I have lived for a few years now, and I know that people deceive themselves. I have done so repeatedly. I also now that psychological disorders do exist, and that there are ways of treating some of them. I have been in psychotherapy for other problems and that therapy has changed me -- to the better, as I understand it.

So, I cannot just dismiss the idea out of hand that my fantasies of being a woman are "wrong", "dysfunctional", "misled" or whatever.

If that is the case. If Blanchard and Lawrence are correct in their assumptions, I have three options as I see it:
  1. I should find ways of redirecting my desires to its "proper object". They never say how this is to be done. Through psychotherapy maybe?
  2. I will have to live with it, as a person with CP or MS will have to learn with his or her fate.
  3. I can ask for sex reassignment surgery, knowing that I will always be a male autogynephiliac in a woman's clothing and never a proper woman
I can't say that I like any of these options.

I know for sure that Blanchard and Lawrence have given me something very important, though:
  1. They have given me a language that gives a more nuanced view of what it is to be transgendered. They have given us more more terms and categories, which is very helpful when you try to find out who you are. Whether these term capture "reality as it is" or their explanation of these terms are correct is another problem.
  2. They have killed this strange idea that gender is completely separate from sexuality. I know that especially American universities have been strongly influenced by postmodern philosophy and feminist studies where gender is seen as a social construct only. It cannot be, as I see it.
In my next blog posts, I will try to explore the alternative to Blanchard and Lawrence's explanation for autogynephilia.

[Comment of September 2010: Because of the association with the idea that "autogynephiliacs" are nothing but autoerotic narcissists, I am no longer using the term to describe people. Instead I call men harboring feminization fantasies for male to female crossdreamers.

Minor edits February 2014.]

Further reading:

For Blanchard's view on the topic, see his article The Concept of Autogynephilia and the Typology of Male Gender Dysphoria republished at the All Mixed Up site, which also includes a well written crituque of his work.

An interesting article from a transsexual, Willow Arune, supporting Blanchard can be found here.

Beth Oren's article Autogynephilia, a mistaken model gives a sober rebuttal of the term.

There is an interesting discussion of autogynephilia over at the A.E. Brain blog.


See also links in the right hand column of this page.

101 comments:

  1. Really ineresting disection of this issue. However unlike yourself I do not find 'the theory underpinning the term autogynephilia (men loving themselves as a woman)' offensive. On the contrary I found the details all rang very true for myself. I am a heterosexual male who has NO sexual interest in men. I have no desire to be a woman in my day to day life and yet I find that when I am sexually excited that the thoughts and feelings of taking the traditional female role incredibly exciting e.g. submissive, being penetrated (by another woman), female clothing items, and sex toys etc. I am not always interested in taking on this role and seem to shift between the 'common' male fantasies and those normally associated with autogynephilia, without any rhyme or reason. I am quite sure that not everyone who has feelings of transgender can be classed as autogynephiliacs, but for some of us out here it rings very true. I feel like I could have written their paper for them. The paragraph which talks about the directing the attraction to females inwards with the partner or imaginary partner becoming just an object makes a lot of sense to me ........ whether we find it offensive is another issue entirely. But personally I don't. Although I can appreciate that others might.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Very interesting comment. Thank you!

    As you probably have seen, I believe the Blanchard hypothesis has to be taken seriously (even if I find some serious holes in the theory), which is why I made this blog in the first place.

    I am glad you are not offended by their writing. It seems you have much more relaxed attitude towards your condition that most of us. That is a good thing, and must make life so much easier.

    Lawrence, who I quote all the time and who supports the theory is herself an M2F transsexual. She is clearly not ashamed because of this.

    Of course, the theory in and for itself cannot cause shame. It is the theory within a specific social and cultural context that makes people feel guilt and shame, and it is unfortunately true that even now, in the 21st century, this is not a phenomenon that is easily understood.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As a post-op of 29 years, 35 years post transition, having met literally hundreds of transgender/transsexual people over the years, I think I can safely speak as an authority. It is obvious to me when I first meet them which type, androphilic (HSTS) or autogynophilic (AGP)they are. I even had a friend back in Jr. High who is now in transition... she was clearly autogynophilic, even shared with me that she had to fantasize about being female to have sexual reponse with her wife (high school sweet-heart, also a friend of mine back then). She was not femmie, outside of her sexual fantasies... But, hoo-boy, I was! I was constantly teased, taunted "faggot" and occasionally attacked and beaten "you think you are a girl, you make me sick", for being obviously feminine in mannerism, and of course, sexuality, in that I am attracted to boys/men and an obligate "bottom". I began transition in my senior year, full time right after graduation. SRS had to wait until I could afford it, five years later.

    That there are two types of trannie is very obvious. I just wish the AGP types would stop being ashamed of it. Honestly, that's the only reason that there is any resistance to the recognition, which is backed up by both personal experience and by solid (despite disinformation to the contrary) scientific evidence.

    That evidence get's more obvious when, instead of using questiares about one's present sexual interest, which is influenced by fantasy, but remain largely unaffected by actual experience and behavior, one asks about actual sexual history. The one type, the androphilic, usually have had very limited sexual experience with women (I never had intercourse with a female, despite several girls trying, very, very hard to convince me to do so.) The AGPs usually have had the typical amount of experience for straight men, even those who say that they are asexual. That is to say, that AGPs have often been married, and have had hundreds of sexual encounters, including sexually gratifiying intercourse, with women. Take fantasy and "identity" out of the picture, and the difference between the two becomes very obvious. And interestingly... the ones into men don't have autogynophilic fantasy, but those who have had experience with women, do have such autogynophilic experience. Thus, there are two types.

    to be continued...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Want to have a simple test? If the answers the following questions are answered absolutely honestly, no prevarication, no rationalization:

    Did you cuddle, kiss, make-out, or have sexual experiences with boys/men *pre-op*, before the age of 25?

    Did you have intercourse with women (natal females) more than ten times?

    Did you become sexually excited when you contemplated being female (with no reference to being with a man)?

    If Yes / No / No then you're an HSTS.

    If No to the first question and Yes to either of the second two questions, your not an HSTS.

    It's really that simple for most transsexuals.

    Again, only shame is driving so many AGP transsexuals to deny their autogynophilic sexuality and motivations. But they shouldn't! "Sex is Good. Sex is Good." (keep saying until you feel it!)

    I too felt shame. Shame for being unable to be a proper boy, shame for dissappointing my parents, shame for being "different"! Even today, I fight shame... and wonder at my good fortune to have a wonderful husband, who loves me, neither in spite of, nor because, I'm a trannie, but because I'm the woman he fell in love with.

    I've met many AGP types that have married men. I can tell you with a straight face (yes, pun intended) that they are not attracted to their partners in the same way I am. Usually, the relationship has the charachter of being two buddies, best friends, sharing their lives, as many straight men have throughout history. That "goey", loving, in-love feeling is missing.

    Of those "50%" that say that they changed sexual orientation after SRS/hormones... they never *actually* fall in love with men. They "date", have fun outings with men who help them play out the fantasy of being feminine straight women. How do I know this? Because I've never, not once, had to hold their hands as they cry their heart out because a boyfriend has dumped them when they found out that they were trans. But, I've held more than one AGP hand when their girlfriends or wives dumped them!

    But, the obvious HSTS type? Oh, the hurt, the tears over men that didn't deserve such feminine devotion. (I've cried so many tears over such men over the years, that once again, I'm so grateful that my husband loves me, and smoothed away the fears that he too would leave me.)

    So, whether you're an AGP or HSTS... Love yourself, you deserve it. Don't deny your sexuality.

    Hugs,

    --Cloudy

    ReplyDelete
  5. Jack,

    You posed this question:

    Other autogynephilias "solve" this problem by imagining themselves penetrated by a woman with a strap-on or by a "shemale". There are a lot of "shemale" (pre-op transwomen) prostitutes out there that advertise the fact that they are "active". Maybe their customers are autogynephiliacs?

    I can tell you from personal experience that yes, their customers are nearly all AGP. I've had friends who were 'working girls'... and I should point out, that in their personal love lives, they were not "active", but bottoms. But gynandromorphophilic men will pay more than straight men, because of the relative rareness of an HSTS who will be "active". (I sure as heckfire wouldn't!)

    I had a close friend, Paul, a outwardly masculine straight man, once married, whose desire to cross-dress and to date feminine pre-op TS led to his marriage failing. He was very attracted to me... and as long as he wasn't cross-dressed, I returned that attraction. But, just like his ex-wife, I couldn't deal with his cross-dressing.

    Yes, I know that sounds silly for a transsexual to be put off by her boyfriend wearing women's clothing, but seriously, I'm into mascualine, straight men. I've had more than one cross-dresser ask me to date them. Except for Paul, I have always said no.

    On the other hand, AGPs are so commonly into "she-males", that two reasonable passinng AGPs meet, they often become lovers, both pre- and post-... BTW... many of these relationships get counted by the researcers as evidence of being attracted to men ! Note, that such is not the same as being attracted to non-AGP, straight, masculine men. Rather, it is the ability to map the process of AGP mediated desire for feminization of themselves onto their partner, to essentially map the internal AGP to the external AGP !!! To outsiders, this may sound strange, but it is actually quite common in the AGP trans-community.

    -Cloudy

    ReplyDelete
  6. Dear Cloudy,

    Thank you for some very interesting observations.

    I suspected as much. I am planning a blog post on this very topic, but there is relatively little information about this online. If autogynephilia is taboo, "transsensual" shemale lovers are doubly so.

    If there is a one-to-one relationship between autogynephilia and the "shemale" market (porn and prostitution) there must be a large number of autogynephiliacs out there.

    The fact that you and most other androphile M2F transsexuals are not turned on by autogyenphiliacs does not surprise -- or offend me -- the least. One may discuss the various classification schemes, but there are clearly several different types of transgendered people out there.

    You say that many autogynephiliacs end up in relationships with other autogynephiliacs: They "map the internal AGP to the external AGP. Finding someone who understands and accepts your forbidden dreams must be a great aphrodisiac in itself!

    Jack

    ReplyDelete
  7. Jack said

    If there is a one-to-one relationship between autogynephilia and the "shemale" market (porn and prostitution) there must be a large number of autogynephiliacs out there.

    Yes, exactly!!! Interestingly, estimates of private cross-dressing men ranges from 2%-5%. Not all AGPs are cross-dressers, as you well know ;-) As Blanchard's research shows, the more that one exhibits obligatory annotomical autogynophilia, the more likely that an AGP will transition at some point. Many AGP transsexuals honestly state that they never cross-dressed for erotic purposes... and I belive them. But, they are still autogynophilic !

    This is an important point when considering the incidence numbers from Lynn Conway. As she correctly shows, the number of MTF post-ops has grown, given an estimate of one in 2500 "male" persons in the US has had SRS. She suggests that the number that actually would like to transition is higher, perhaps one in 500.

    Note something interesting missing in her analysis. As she denies being AGP (which, having met her, I believe she clearly is...), she claims that the earlier estimates of 1:130,000 and the later estimates of 1:11,900 males is either sloppiness on the psychiatrists, or deliberately understating the population.

    Actually, she failed to note that when those numbers were generated, AGP transsexuals were not "transsexuals". For example, Stoller called them "non-transsexual men who desire sex changes". Who were these more rare "transsexuals", if AGPs weren't counted? Why the "Classic Transsexual"... what is now recognized as HSTS. The number of HSTS compared to AGP is very low. When I was at the Stanford Gender Clinic, for a function, there were only two HSTS that I was aware of... and I was one of them... compared to about thirty or so AGPs. Now, it is quite likely that HSTS simply weren't at the clinic, as I later found many HSTS that lived "off the radar" using inner-city doctors that would treat us at a lower cost, at least for hormone scripts.

    But, there are far fewer places to get SRS, so we can expect that to be a good place to sample from. When I got SRS in 1981, I met only one other HSTS in the week that I was at the hospital, the other three were AGP. When I accompanied a young HSTS for her SRS this past summer, there was only one HSTS out of five (I'm not counting my young friend, as that would be observation bias). From other experiences, this ratio seems to hold. This leads me to believe that only one out of five post-ops is HSTS. That would mean that one of 10,000 "males" is HSTS. Which would actually agree quite well with the later number given for the incidence at 1:11,900

    Lynn is right. There are indeed many males who are interested in transition and SRS... These are nearly all AGP. The number of HSTS is vastly smaller. Outnumbered, and usually able to pass well enough to be stealth after transition, we are truly the "invisible transsexuals"... if we should even be called "transsexuals" any more, given that AGPs are the standard and norm today.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This is fascinating! You are actually turning the traditional picture of the autogynephiliacs being the odd exceptions, into a view where the classic transsexuals become the minority.

    There is much to think about here, and I thank you for all your comments!

    The more I study this field, and the more I learn about myself, the clearer it seems that there are, indeed, two major types of transgendered. Whether they are mutually exclusive or two overlapping clusters, of that I am not sure, but they are definitely different from each other on an aggregate level.

    You argue that this difference is grounded in sexual orientation as well as the inner sense of "femaleness".

    You might be right about the first one and I am definitely sure that the latter is the case. In my interactions with my girlfriend I act too much as a man to pass as a woman (a fact she seems to appreciate very much ;-)

    Nevertheless, this is not as clearcut to me as it is to you. I probably need several more rounds before settling down with a conclusion that this is a sort of "Erotic Target Location Error" ONLY and not some form of gender identity disorder (or disorder of sexual development).

    The reason for this is that although autogynephiliacs like myself did not identify as girls when we are kids (no Barbies, model planes everywhere!), you will still find that many of us behaved less "boyish" than most boys. Many of us where less into rough and tumble play, less into sports and gymnastics, less tolerance for violence, more bookish and geekish, in short: softer.

    There is something about our psyche that is different from other men. It is as if we are an amalgam of feminine and masculine traits, unlike you and other M2F classical transsexuals, who feel and act like women (because you are women).

    Men are from Mars, women and classical transsexuals from Venus, while the autogynephiliacs are from the planet that crashed into Earth millions of years ago and gave us the Moon.

    Or maybe I can put it this way: While the femininity of classical transsexuals is clearly connected to a traditional sexual orientation, the "femininity" of autogynephiliacs is not.

    The attraction of the cultural symbols of femininity, however, seems to be similar for classical transsexuals and cross-dressers, but not for "cross-dreamers" like myself. I am not into female clothes, make-up and the like.

    What we all seem to have in common, however, is this softer approach to life.

    When I listen to Mr. Autogynephiliac over at YouTube (see separate blog post) I recognize much of my own time at school. I might have been an alpha intellectually, but was a omega in the school yard.

    And as you seem to indicate as well: autogynephilia may run in the family, and you seem to believe that it is as hereditary as classical transexuality (HSTS).

    If that is the case it looks like our "target location error" is hard wired into our brains, which leaves us as damaged goods with no hope of repair.

    Alternatively: our softer side has undermined our masculinity and self respect, which -- trough some bizarre psychological developments - have led us to internalize our object of desire.

    This is why so many of us find this diagnosis intolerable. Unlike you, who can rest in your identity as a woman, we have to make all sorts of compromises to find love. We have no natural counterpart, to put it that way.

    Fortunately, many of us find love before we truly understand what's bothering us, which means that many of us actually are able to establish good relationships with women. But I don't know if I would have dared to "woo" my girlfriend if I knew what I know now.

    I am rambling. I am going to sit down now with a cup of coffee and plan a future post on the two types of transgendered.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Jack,

    This is fascinating! You are actually turning the traditional picture of the autogynephiliacs being the odd exceptions, into a view where the classic transsexuals become the minority.


    This is exactly what is the case. Look at this historically. Of the very first two modern "Western" SRS, in 1932 in Wiemar Germany, one was HSTS, the other was decidedly AGP. Of the famous TS's in the '50s? Christine Jourgensen (who I met when I was 18) was clearly AGP, as was Roberta Cowel (who was a WWII fighter pilot!). The fact is, it was the AGPs from the very begining who, with their higher Socio-Economic Status (SES) were able to literally pave the way for the HSTS, who although had always transitioned, lived on the margins of society, without SRS or legal sanction, did not have the needed SES to reach and convince physicians and surgeons, who are very high SES themselves. Only someone already of their SES would be able to reach and convince the rare liberal thinking docs, to help us both. The HSTS types owe a very deep debt to the AGPs.... but it means that we have always been a minority, despite the popular myth to the contrary.

    Jack, I too must get to work... but I want to continue the dialog, to cover the issue you raise regarding the fact that some AGPs are indeed, often, not as Alpha, as other men.... but some AGPs were indeed Alpha... (Remember, I've been observing things for 35 years... I've seen just about everything you can imagine!)

    Be well.

    Big Hugs,

    --Cloudy

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jack,

    It's been a while since our last dialog here. I wanted to let you know that I started my own blog on this issue, entitled, "On the Science of Changing Sex". I am focussing strictly on the science, no politics, no personal issues, save the occasional anecdotes that serve as case history examples to explicate a given point. I hope you will visit and comment:

    http://sillyolme.wordpress.com/

    Regards,

    --Cloudy

    ReplyDelete
  11. I will definitely read your blog, and have already put up a link to it in my blogroll.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I just "discovered" your blog and wish to congratulate you on your courage in openly discussing this concept.

    I shall follow it with interest.

    Far too many TS have reacted in a negative manner to Blanchard's theory. The reaction to Bailey's book was extreme. Many have been very hurt by the abuse that followed. As Alice Dreger has noted, those who found answers in the theory were often afraid to give their support in public for fear of the attacks that always followed. Perhaps time has changed...

    Best wishes.

    Willow Arune

    ReplyDelete
  13. Willow, wow!

    I was just looking you up to see if I could find out who you were since you publicly gave out your name. I hope you don't mind.

    I see that you have many beliefs in common with my friend Cloudy :) I am not sure I feel that Blanchard was conclusive but I can come up with no sure counter-examples.

    I have long debated where I fit in the TS spectrum. Part of the problem is that my issues started well before puberty and became involved with a lot of different psychosis. So, untangling everything is kind of.. a bitch. I don't really remember any time where I have not wanted to be like my mom or live as a female. Being a real person has also been a bitch after what I went through growing up.

    I was considered a freak as a kid. I guess given that my voice technically never broke and I am fairly effeminate that I still am. I would find it silly and uncomfortable to try to act masculine. The times have tried to act like a normal male, I come off funny or autistic. I guess I have no frame of reference for what normal little boys go through growing up. My experiences growing up.. I can't say I was a girl or a boy. I am not sure whether I really am technically either though I guess since I have the right parts I am technically male.

    Everything about me is so mixed or unknown that it makes it hard to know anything for certain. I know how I feel as a result of everything but still..

    It is likely that I am probably HSTS. The chances that I am AGP are there but very small. Still, I get scared because AGPs don't feel like women to me. I know it is prejudicial but I want to transition to live as a female not as male who looks like one.

    So, I guess I am the most tortured person I know.. but I will get through this somehow. What caused this though.. it is so far in the past. I spent most of my childhood not understanding why I was male but felt like a female and constantly trying to make myself something else. I have always just wanted to be a normal person. Sometimes the thought of just being normal even if as a male was more attractive to me than being female. I am not sure most TS can relate.

    So, I am kind of the one with a narrative from hell :) And I usually write more concisely, I just sometimes feel that certain types of language better convey emotion and I want to experiment. Writing was something I really wanted to do when I was a kid and I would like to some day be good at it as an adult.

    GQ

    ReplyDelete
  14. Dear Willow,

    Thank you for your kind words! I have read your online material with great interest. I believe I linked to your main article for the benefit of my readers a year ago.

    I am not sure whether it will be easier to have an open discussion on Blanchard and Bailey these days (See my latest posts regarding reactions to me and other autogynephiliac bloggers).

    Still, it seems to help that I come from the outside. I am not member of any TS/TG/AGP movement. I am not even American.

    As you might have seen, I am very critical of Blanchard, Lawerence and Bailey in many respects. Still, I cannot just ignore the fact that they have presented the very term that helped me understand myself in a better way.

    It must be possible to learn from someone, without having to become a member of their church. That applies to Blanchard and Bailey's Church of Correct Evolution as well as the Strict Observance Congregation of the TS movement.

    When I read stories like the one of GenderQuestioning it is clear to me that we have to widen our scope and expand our vocabulary, not to narrow it down.

    Please do not hesitate to add more comments to the discussions taking place at this blog!

    Jack

    ReplyDelete
  15. Jack :)

    I think it is fair to say that the common taxonomies of gender identity problems probably do reflect the majority of the population.

    What you ned to realize about me is that by about 7 or 8, I was already very gender confused. I had social pressure and different phenomenas pushing me toward seeing myself as a male versus a female and this had been going on for a while. I was also deeply entrenched in the period of my life where most guys were gross and trying to figure out relationships.

    Once you start worrying about relationships, gender confusion becomes a sexual issue. It doesn't matter whether it was before or not. So, whether I ever admit it or not, this issue has tied up my sexual development.

    Studies have actually shown that through appropriate conditioning that conditions like homosexuality in children can be ineffectively "treated". The identity can in effect be altered in many with the consequence being increased suicidal ideation, problems functioning, or delayed onset of issues.

    Jack, there may only be a certain base psychological condition but there are probably many ways such conditions can mature. For example, some HSTS live as gay men.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Couldn't there be a combination of HSTS and AGP as well? I do have it. I like to attract males and so, the idea of imagining myself as the beautiful girl arouses me. But, that does not rule out the fact that I am HSTS.

    ReplyDelete
  17. My thought would be that there could be apparent but not true overlap in the categories.

    An HSTS who truly loved men would love herself when she felt attractive to such men and this would not constitute AGP.

    I also think that there are perhaps some relatively rare gender variations that are not accounted for by Blanchard and some variation within a category.

    ReplyDelete
  18. The "anonymous" immediately above asked if one could be both HSTS and AGP... that's a contradiction in terms. If one is not attracted to the female form, one cannot then map that form onto themselves and find that arousing! However, many AGP individuals find the thought of being an beautiful woman who is capable of attracting straight men to be arousing... and many such individuals then act out that fantacy... then identify as either bisexual or believe that their sexual orientation has changed since transition and SRS. Some have even stated that the female hormones have changed their orientation... which, from experience with HRT for other reasonsm on both straight and gay men, prove wrong.

    The data from the research is pretty conclusive, one can't be HSTS and AGP at the same time.

    --Cloudy

    ReplyDelete
  19. In my case, I do feel I have a combination of HSTS and AGP symptoms both yet I am none of them. I do imagine myself as female when I see handsome men and I want to attract them. I love feminizing myself a lot in my fantasy.
    I will explain it. Suppose I see a perverted man on the street. I instantly get aroused by the thought of him doing some sexual thing to a girl, which means I am first aroused by the guy's actions (I label myself as voyeur also hence).But,then, unknowingly, I also begin to wish that I were that girl and the guy was doing some foreplay on me. It is then that I start to feminize myself in imagination,and think of myself as a beautiful feminine form.And imagining that the guy is attracted to me, I get further aroused sexually.
    So,my arousal centers on other men's sexual actions and I erotically desire them imagining myself as female, so maybe I
    gay HSTS. But, because I feminize myself in my fantasy as part of the setting, I should also be called as AGP.
    Clear me if I am wrong.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Well, it might be very much met with disapproval in the TG community but I have heard there are many people indeed who love to enact TG fantasies as a fetish even among the general population.
    Gop through these examples:
    http://www.tracieokeefe.com/Autogynephilia.htm

    Many of these people did have very mild gender dysphoria due to their fantasies which they loved but afterall, it was a fantasy setting nothing else.
    Like, suppose, a man suddenly desires he were a bird and could fly freely, desn't indicate his inner identity is that of a bird by some percentage.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I must mention my problem here. I am never "sexually" aroused by the thought of myself doing something feminine. But, I do enjoy imagining myself being female,because I feel it gives me a glamorous and better presentation as a person. So, while I don't have discomfort in my own body or don't get sexually aroused by female bodies,I love to imagine myself as somewhat like beautiful female often as it enhances my "image" and I like arousing others (aesthetically) by such an image.
    So, is this AGP? I don't think so, since firstly, I am not very strongly heterosexual. But, I do like female world. It's like a writer loving the world of animals and imagining himself occasionally as being one among them but not getting sexually aroused by them.
    My guess is that such imaginations are normal and should be accounted for while discussing things like AGP.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Even many feminine guys have such fantasies of themselves being something close to female occasionally. But they are not sexually aroused by such thought, rather they do it for fun. I don't think they fall under any of the categories of HSTS and AGP, just because they show some symtpom.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Anon,

    I think the words that just popped out at me were "perverted guy". I think that many HSTS might view a guy as perverted but that likely would not be their focus.

    I think their focus would be on his eyes, features, the way he moved.. the overall sense of energy he created. There would be this sense of a beautiful man and an appreciation of male beauty as other. Attraction is often something we don't choose and some times don't even want. Pseudo-attraction and fantasy attraction can be trained but will always pale compared to the real thing.

    To me, your narrative is starting to sound like a fantasy and fantasies are usually AGP, however, just having one fantasy does not make you AGP as it is likely many men do. So be comfortable in your skin and if you can't be, seek good therapy first :)

    ReplyDelete
  24. I guess people would just have a field day if I admitted that I saw myself as a woman when trying to attract women.. Oh well, we all have our issues :)

    I really do need to straighten out my sexual issues. I have some real issues with men. I was very male hating in childhood. I do not want to do things for the wrong reasons.

    The point is that being a woman is not about sexual orientation *but* scientifically it stands to reason that a truly TS individual would generally have inclinations in common with a genetic female. If we define TS as being a choice made because it assures the greatest chance of survival for an individual, this is also the case. This also means that the vast majority of TS people should really be HSTS which.. *shrug* Let the labels serve as guides but do not let them rule you :)

    The thing to remember is always.. To your own self be true :) Do not act based on fantasies but rather on a firm understanding of who you are. If you are female, you should always deep down feel yourself to be such and you should be as much female when the dress is on as when it is off. There should be no sense of emergence but perhaps a sense that now people finally really see me or perhaps a sense of escape from a really bad place.

    Peace and love :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. This was a convincing article indeed and the comments were also enlightening and has taught me a lesson. I am one of the most extreme man-haters ever born. I was teased in childhood by boys a lot for no fault of my own (I am somewhat Aspie). Girls always supported me, they are born so soft. Now, my desire of getting love and attention from guys suddenly got eroticized in childhood and I developed symptoms of same-sex erotic feelings towards young guys from about age 14. I started craving attention of males sexually and being a girl was one and only possible option for me to obtain attention from the straight masculine guys. And gradually, I became more obsessed and interested in changing my sex and start living as woman. Since my heterosexual nature also thrived, I also developed AGP alongwith my homosexual feelings and now desire for becoming a woman seems natural. But, by what Gender Questioning says here, I think I might have to rethink about my decision again.

    ReplyDelete
  26. James,

    I wouldn't say girls are born soft at all. Girls are just different than little boys and girls will mother someone who appears to be having difficulties. Girls can also be some of the most psychologically vicious and mean people out there. I always love it when TS claim that women's nature is to be compassionate. A lot of sexism in these debates is utter bullshit.

    People are just people and we are all different.

    The traits belonging to men and women (IN GENERAL) are not fundamentally better in either case just different. Women in general are psychologically tougher than men and men are in general physically stronger. Women like to be socially cruel to each other and men like to physically hurt each other. The list can go on and on.

    I think that some disorders make us see psychology through a lens that is distorted and not real. So does childhood abuse..

    But please do not think being a woman is this made up fantasy with this slinky dress and beautifully applied make-up where men just stare and trip over themselves as the woman glides past on a cloud, oblivious. Women are most women when they are not trying to be.. period.

    ReplyDelete
  27. "Women are most women when they are not trying to be.. period."

    I did not understand exactly what u mean to say in this last sentence GQ.

    ReplyDelete
  28. James,
    I think GQ simply means that women are true women when they are not showing off. So, if being a center of attraction is your primary goal for being woman, you should think once again before taking such a step.
    Though many true TS people resent this fact to protect their identity from further defamattion, it has been reported widely that there are boys who wish to become girls for such obvious reasons.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Kala,

    I guess I am too abstract and philosophical :)

    While I find your interpretation good, it is a little bit incomplete.

    We all wear masks. We go to work and we are someone else. We meet a date and we are someone else, etc.

    My point is that if you have dealt with a woman at the point where all the masks come off, that is what they really are. Unfortunately, usually this only happens when we are broken or in pain. When the love of our life leaves us or when we lose that job that just meant everything to us :) Sometimes it is just getting so casual with someone that you no longer care about what you are wearing or whether you come across as rude or..

    The point is there is innate femininity and there is socialized femininity and these are too completely different things. They often complement each other but not the same at all.

    Life is a series of masks that we construct based on the emotions and impressions we want to create at a given time and then hang on the wall. Whether we like it or not, from the moment deception is learned, we are all actors. Women are far better at it than men. Putting on a smile rather than a frown and creating a backstory to fill a sad and miserable previous day is much like deciding what clothes to wear.

    Society is built on the art of the pleasant lie.

    So, please talk to real women before assuming you feel that way and see them at their best and their worst.

    ReplyDelete
  30. GenderQuestioning,
    What a brilliant philosophy you have. I have never heard anyone talking so frankly about this "human mask" before.
    And for the first time ever, I have come to realize that sub-consciously, even I have been wearing a "feminine mask" to create an impression on many people which I fail to do create as a normal "man".
    And when the mask is off, I do feel I am male from inside-but,a male which is not worth it for me, as I really do have some issues with the world of men and masculinity in general. It's like every shred of that man inside me reminds me of the bitter way I was bullied in my school days...I really have an image problem with my "man" but I subconsciously cope up with this image with my feminine mask and I am not worse in this than any woman.However, this mental process of wearing and putting off mask is itself a highly subconscious one as I said,so,I myself couldn't gauge I just wear a femme mask to create an impression of glamour and superiority upon others, something which I enjoy. And as I grew up, I gauged that many real women also do the same thing to attract and impress men. And hence came to the most appearently obvious assumption that I feel like woman. But GQ, you have thrown light upon me....:)

    ReplyDelete
  31. I have a strong point of contention here. Ever since I had AGP, I had one major question to myself- what I really feel from inside,ie.,my inside,minus the sexual libido is a male or female. And the answer I have got is undoubtedly "male". And so, we cannot conclude that AGP people like us have a "real" woman inside us, it's rather a fantasy woman we have created inside us.
    I say this based on the point of genetic women Jack raised in this article. Jack believes that genetic women dress up, wear make up and the action does have a sexual component,ie., they are aroused by the woman inside them. But is it a truth? I have heard that women do love fashion and dress up, but that sexual instinct is solely based on how presentable they wish to be to men. They aren't sexually attracted to their bodies, rather, they do the make-up business with an intention to attract men.
    This is the reason why many asexual women and even lesbians who aren't into the business of showing off to men and using their body as a sexual stimulant for men, don't put on that glam. Which shows that natal women don't exactly feel like AGP, rather, their feelings are like the HSTS. And quite expectedly hence, HSTS come out to be the TS who are more interested in fashion and dress-up.
    I don't intend to challenge you,Jack Molah. Even I am an AGP,but, my intention is to do the right things for right reasons.So, I ask you to rethink this aspect once again and present your view here.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Robs,

    Yours are all very interesting and valid points and I will definitely come back to them.

    I must admit that I am struggling with the complexity of this issue. I feel like I am living in Flatland, suspecting that there is a dimension I cannot see, but that would make sense of it all.

    Take your point about female autogynephilia, for example. Is the female enthusiasm for being female the same as the one as the eroticisim of an autogynephiliac? It is probably not the exact same phenomenon, but it may have the same roots -- some kind of pride in beauty, perhaps?

    But at the moment I start looking into that phenomenon all kinds off complexities pops up.

    For instance: You say that you have heard that when women do love fashion and dress up, this is based on a sexual instinct that is aimed at impressing men.

    That's definitely part of it, but I am pretty certain that it has just as much to do with how they would like to appear vis-a-vis other women. They spend as much time dressing up for an all girl's party as they do for mixed company, because the dressing up is the key to acceptance in what Roughgarden calls their "power cliques".

    In the same way men invest a lot in sexually charged appliances in order to gain the respect of men. Women are not as impressed by the Porche or the new masculine 50 inch plasma screen as the man's best mates are.

    So maybe the autogynephiac's dream of becoming a woman and dressing up as a woman is a misconceived way of being accepted by women?

    We always come back to the question of whether the autogynephiliac is a woman with a man in top or a man simulating a woman. Again I think we -- no, I! -- am missing something important.

    What I struggle with is the following two statements that seem contradictory, but where my gut feeling says that both are true:

    1. Women and men have both the genetic coding for both sexes, and share all the instincts, desires and abilities of the other, although to a varying degree.

    2. Some time during the early phases of life, nature triggers an avalanche of biological processes that makes men and women essentially different.

    What if autogynephilia is the effect of a complex interaction of both biological and psycholgical factors?

    1. There could be a biological "mix" at birth that strengthens some non-masculine traits, even if the person's identity clearly is male.

    2. This leads to personal and psychological experiences where these non-masculine traits weakens the man's self respect and trust in his own identity as a man. (Cp. the "androphobia" of James, GenderQuestioning and myself).

    3. These psychological factors triggers biological feminine instincts and desires and leads to a desire to have sex as a woman.

    This is pure speculation, but we need new speculation now, I think.

    And yes, this is blog where you are invited to challenge me and everybody else. This is a place for exploration and learning, not a congregation ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  33. Jack,

    I don't mind you using me in your examples but please do not over-generalize.

    My identity has never been clearly male even before 5 years of age. I have had my issues for as long as I can remember.

    I have been androphobic but that was most likely because I was treated very very badly by men and there were points in my life where I was scared to death of men because of the way I was treated. Please, until you have had men tail you cracking mean jokes or make death threats, do not judge.

    I also have been attracted to men and I am the last person in the world who would ever consciously want to be.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Another point Jack is that I have never said that I fantasize of having sex as a female.

    Honestly, I don't like my genitalia and most times I would probably be more interested in just cuddling and feeling loved and held than sex.. really.

    I do not fantasize about having female genitalia. I actually was not impressed with pictures when I first saw them and wondered why the TS showing them off was so impressed. It might change if I had a partner but I primarily have wanted to not have male genitalia. It is kind of the lesser of two evils and I do have sexual sensations from time to time in that area so not completely incongruous. If I had a good partner who loved me, it might be a preferrable way to have intercourse but something I directly fantasize about.. no.

    Jack, I am in love with femininity. I like feminine and cute things and I have been like that my entire life. I often will look at a woman and see her clothes, how she does her hair, and her makeup. If I look at any other features, it is simply to compare them. I often do not even notice breasts or hips and I have stared at pictures of nude women without feeling a thing.

    My biggest problem Jack is all the lies and deceptions. I am not very familiar with the person under the mask. The thing is that one can't force masks to come off but rather create the proper circumstances for nature to reveal itself.

    Take care of yourself :)

    ReplyDelete
  35. Jack and genderQuestioning,
    Did you go through my case? It is a complete case of wearing feminine mask and without it I am male but a male with no self-respect. Yet, just like GQ, even I am in love with that femininity-clothes,hair,make-up. And just like GQ, I also don't look at breasts or hips,and I simply don't even think of female body. I am comfortable in my male body but I have a sort of image problem with my masculinity.
    I must say the man inside me has been very weak and not able to perform upto level of other guys, earning their ire always. As a child, I did not have any doubt about being male,but was insecure in company of boys, I was bullied. I grew up alone without friends,and my feminine desires came after adolescence as a direct means of masking my insecurity of being male image.
    i would say I have neither HSTS nor AGP and I don't think my case is a question of gender-identity but,even in my case,I suspect there could have been some base effect in genes which might have at first made me a laggard man and hence led to my loss of respect for the man inside me. Some sort of mis wiring which might have led to my failure to grow up as a confident boy. For instance,I have very weak eye-hand coordination and am unable to play sports or do many of the manly activities for no fault of my own.
    My point is that all of us with problems (gender or otherwise) may have got some base genetic issues which are in turn responsibe for creating anomalous inadvertent external circumstances (in my case, my sour relation with male peers). And then, things get further complicated as our mind begins to cope up with these external problems (in my case, desire to be female and begin to love femininity in adolescence).
    For example,many ex-gay people have said that there is no gay gene per-se but a range of genetic disroders which make a little boy unmanly. As this boy develops bitter relations with other male peers, he grows up to crave their love and attention and hence becomes gay. I also seem to have the same case.
    Maybe, AGP is also an outcome of some sort of a base effect?

    ReplyDelete
  36. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  37. James I wouldnt claim that being homosexual has anything to do with childhood events or relationships. Sexuality would seem to be a black and white thing with only a few variations that exist in both fetishes and paraphalias.
    As for paraphalias being caused by traumitising events, the jury is still out on that ones. Its plausible. I for one have never had any traumatic expierience occur to me as a child that I believe could have caused my sexuality.
    TBH I dont even see my sexuality as a perversion. Perhaps im reluctant to call it so. I believe that it is a sign of something more. An AGP TS, I wont reviel her name, told me that many ts's expierience AGP feelings simplly because it is the only way that their brain can express their true gender. And that the attraction merely comes from curiosity. So its possible that we are all TS. Generally we are more maculine than classic transsexuals, perhaps this is because our feminine side has been succesfully hidden within our sexuality. Many are agianst reffering to the case of transexuality as a condition that relies on a spectrum. Which is why alot of us get tossed to the curb in tg talk.

    ReplyDelete
  38. Sorry about that GQ, it was not my intention to suggest that you are an autogyenphiliac. The fact is, from what you have told us here and elsewhere it seems to me that you are not.

    But your story is important for AGPs regardless of this, because you remind us of the heterogeneity of the human race. This is why I use the unscientific term "mix" all the time. There is a large number of genetic, hormonal, chemical, nurtural, psychological and cultural factors that make us who we are, and even if it seems like a majority falls into the two main categories of cisgendered ("normal") men and women, many of us don't, you included.

    The ideas I presented in my previous posts were, as I said, pure speculation, but I would very much like to look at the correlation between men's alienation from the stereotypical male role and gender identity problems, and from what you have told us, I think you can be of great help to the rest of us.

    You have already given much to this forum and others. I am afraid I am asking you for more!

    ReplyDelete
  39. To James,

    Yes, this was exactly what I was getting at. What you are indicating here is some kind of reinforcing feedback loop between biological factors (you say genetic, but I guess hormonal could be included as well) and life experiences.

    You say: "I must say the man inside me has been very weak and not able to perform upto level of other guys, earning their ire always." This sounds a little bit like what I was hinting at when I called myself "a man trapped in a woman's mind."

    I was hopeless at sports, an absolute disaster. In the military I was once called the "suicide man" as my throwing of hand grenades would definitely doom the troop to a horrible death.

    I compensated for this lack of masculinity by becoming an intellectual. But even if philosophy and politics may be understood as manly endeavors, they do not build up a masculine body image.

    One more thing:

    What I read the posts of James, GC and Mr. A there is one thing that stands out.

    1. There are those that dream of the feminine from an aesthetic point of view: They would like to explore the feminine because of its beauty. And as GC and James says: this is the main driving force, not the sexual one. There may be no erotic feelings there at all.

    I know that many psychologist would say that this also is a kind of sublimated sex drive, but if you say that all is sex, nothing is sex, if you see what I mean.

    2. There are those where the sexual drive becomes the main focus. As Blanchard & Co describes AGP, this is a necessary condition for autogynephilia.

    Autogynephiliac crossdressers and crossdreamers (men who get aroused by the idea of having a female body) are driven by sexual desire. This means that there may be heterosexual male crossdressers who are not AGP.

    There are several explanations for the sex driven AGP:

    1. They have internalized the external love object (which means that they have no real innate femininity, as GC so eloquently put it), or (as Mr. A describes it)

    2. As in the case of classic transsexuals, there is an inner woman, but she finds no other way of expressing herself than through erotic fantasies of this kind.

    I believe there are also those of us who combine the two drives: the sexual and the aesthetic.

    I must admit that I have at times a close to religious relationship to the feminine beauty. I see this beauty everywhere and it lifts my spirits in ways that nothing else does. This is about body, clothes, hair, manners -- everything about them.

    I am perfectly aware of the fact that women are as faulty, cruel or inadequate as men are. What I am seeing is something behind their differences and weaknesses, and I want to take part in that.

    This feeling makes me understand better the reason for men worshiping female deities up through the ages, or the driving force behind some of the greatest works of art.

    In my case, however, the aesthetic and sexual go hand in hand.

    ReplyDelete
  40. Jack,

    Women love femininity.. and men typically love masculinity.

    The key in understanding the aesthetic is that in one type the love emerges before puberty and in the other it emerges afterwards as probably a submerged sex drive.

    That said.. our sex drives are always present, however, usually they are not active enough to pressure behavior until after puberty.

    I come from the far end of the identity distortion realm so I worry about that problem more than any other. Sometimes I get ashamed that I can not gesture or let my guard down without being effeminite.

    What makes my case unique is that I was called a freak from a very early age and taught that my innate nature was wrong. I learned to watch life rather than participate in it.. to act rather than interact. I want the stigma of gender deviance gone.

    ReplyDelete
  41. James,

    Please consider that you may also just be gay :)

    There is nothing wrong with that. I love gay men :) They are some of the most fun wonderful people in the world to hang out with.

    Let me be perfectly honest.. Masculinity to me seems kind of stupid and not a lot of fun. We are in this world to be happy rather than be anyone's ideal person :)

    By the way, I have spoken to someone who was kind of on the gay - HSTS spectrum who chose to transition not because they felt they were female but simply to eliminate confusion and had too many characteristics in common with women.

    Personally, I am just looking for the free-est most honest way to live my life without being someone else.

    I am starting to feel that I don't believe in innate gender identity at all but rather that like eventually wants to be treated the same way. Gender envy is such an ugly phrase though.. ;)

    Mr. A,

    I suspect that some real TS people do at one time identify as AGP. I think the proper word would be reality distortion or perhaps it is just by virtue of being lesbian.

    However, from a theoretical point of view, most TS/TG people should be gay or HSTS and the fact that they are not is disturbing and suggests that something other than psychological identity inversion is involved in the phenomena.

    This does not mean that AGP is unhealthy or unnatural at all. The question is how to provide those who suffer with the condition with the best possible lives.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Jack,

    mmm.. another point and I am so sorry for being scatterbrained like this.

    Please consider that femininity does not need to be beautiful in order for someone to desire it in some way.

    The fact is that I can look at people and I feel and understand two very different and very beutiful types of essenses out there. Men are every bit as beautiful as women.

    I think perhaps the right question is.. what set's you free? Which song sings in harmony with your own and brings you closer to consistency with your nature?

    There is nothing in any book that says you can't be male but feminine or any other combination.. There are many flavors in the rainbow despite the fact that Cloudy is generally correct and TS people generally belong to one of two main groups.

    Perhaps it is good to just sit in a room all alone and ask yourself.. what do I feel like. I do that a lot. It is also good to go out and just forget yourself in a throng of people or some experience and then reel yourself back and say what do I feel like.

    Our happiest person is generally our truest person and we should all aim to be that person. We seek the glorification of ourself and our song. We love others so we can love ourselves and interact with others so we can better learn that person. It is the divine looking back on the divine and in the chaos of creation recreating itself.

    Chains and shame.. they make life so burdensome. At times, games and deception are essential but we must seek out ways to make them but the smallest parts of our lives.

    I grew up hating myself. I grew up considering myself a freak and assuming that I had to forever stand apart from humanity. Please never let your issues make you feel the way I did :) Love yourself.. for sex, for nature, for the chaos of emotions that is the human spirit and life :) We are all wonderful glorious being but only if we can truly find and realize ourselves :)

    Life is not about body image.. It is about this flow of interactions. It is about the constant emotional tumult. It is about chaos and being out of control. It is about pain and love and the entirety. People live lifes of death because they can't see that even pain is a small joy. Perfection and utter selflessness are death but utter delusions as well. Selfless people are often the most selfish. I help people because it is me and I live to serve myself :)

    ReplyDelete
  43. Jack,
    "I must admit that I have at times a close to religious relationship to the feminine beauty. I see this beauty everywhere and it lifts my spirits in ways that nothing else does. This is about body, clothes, hair, manners -- everything about them."

    This is how exactly I feel. There is something in me which makes me feel nothing too pleasing about masculinity.Femininity for me is something like a real booster. It's something which occupies my mind throughout. I often fantasize myself with feminine attributes on, glam everything.
    So,am I female trapped in man's body? I have pondered hard and I know, my feelings would match up and my life would be perfect if I were born a girl, since, it's so hard to be this effeminate and yet live as male.
    But, now, am I in a wrong body? I have never felt as such. My body is not a problem,neither will it ever be.
    Do I desire to crossdress, am I a crossdresser? Never have I felt such a desire. Just a few days back,when my feminine feelings were getting too strong, I desperately stealthily went to my sister's room and took out some dresses and cosmetics to try on in private. But, I never desired anything, I felt sick, repulsive. And I know I always will. Despite my powerful attraction to the aesthetic beauty to the extent that my fantasy is always based on femininity, I don't desire to put on anything in reality even when alone!!
    So, am I feminine gay man or HSTS? Well, some possibility, yet not very good option.I am not attracted to masculinity in myself or in other guys. I don't find guys hot, I don't love guys emotionally. I am a man-hater for whatever I have gone through.But perverted actions of guys arouse me and make me as if want sexual glance from them,become their sexual object, which does makes me gay!! (labels are really narrow-minded stuff).
    Am I AGP? Well, as I said, in my fantasies, I do sometimes imagine myself as glam feminine object (not exactly girl),and I find it aesthetically exciting to think of since that's something guys like to stare at, which in turn makes me feel superior in front of them. But, I am not sexually aroused by this femme thing in my fanatsy itself. So, AGP sounds a remote possibility.
    So, just where am I in this gender-sexuality spectrum? Why do I get this love of feminine fashion so much and also so strong that I end up wishing desperately I were a girl, yet, I am quite comfortable in my own skin, unless I really desire to be a camp object and want to go on a full swing of arousing others and be center of attention?
    One major reason could be that my issue is not gender-specific at all? Maybe I have too much of an inferiority complex about my self-image and I just want to do something to feel and look different and special? And when narcissism is at an all time high, femininity seems to be the only best option.
    I would very much love to hear what others think of me in this regard.

    ReplyDelete
  44. I must admit I like many of the feminine attributes listed by Jack, but not the body thing, since that has no aesthetic value. That's something I am never bothered or excited about....

    ReplyDelete
  45. "
    1. There could be a biological "mix" at birth that strengthens some non-masculine traits, even if the person's identity clearly is male.

    2. This leads to personal and psychological experiences where these non-masculine traits weakens the man's self respect and trust in his own identity as a man.
    "

    I liked this speculation of Jack. It seems to give a profound explanation of the symptoms of both types of problems-the AGP which Jack and I suffer from and the milder one which James and GQ mention.
    I would say GQ and James fit into one category.They are less gender-dysphoric than the TS, yet may be called genderqueer in some respect.
    Jack,I and Mr.A are AGP TS and have good amount of gender-dysphoria to qualify for TS.
    Yet the doubt remains as to whether AGP are real women but if Jack's above speculation holds true, I guess, it would be a controversial question to answer even after reality pops out. Maximum, AGPs would be called "deformed guys", not as girls.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Robs, you obviously do not know me at all, lol :)

    You mistake difference in issues with intensity. I think it is an easy mistake and it is probably why I do not get along with everyone in the gender community.

    When I say, I love feminine things. I mean that when I was about 4 years old I was already fantasizing about growing up and doing things as I female. I grew up wanting to do most of the things the girls did ;) I frequently have trouble seeing myself as male at all. Oh, I guess there are some physical similiarities but.. I was thinking about taking hormones by my early teens and I first tried to transition to living as female when in my early 20s. Realistically, I probably don't have any good alternatives but to transition.

    I have come on this blog to simply support from a different angle as I am not AGP and comment on my experiences. I am going through a scary time in my life and I want to come through it sane.

    When I am typing just imagine that you are listening to the voice of a somewhat nerdy high alto with a warm rich timbre narrating her thoughts.. because if we were talking on the phone, that is what I would sound like :)

    ReplyDelete
  47. By the way, I have almost killed myself because of my gender issues.. so I am low intensity, lol.

    No, dear, I am just not AGP :)

    There is more than one color out there.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Robs,
    I don't see how I can relate with GQ. GQ mentions that he loved to do do things as female as early as 4 years. But I am sure that at that age or even upto 14 years of age, I have not wanted to be girl. However, I was never born agile and tough like other guys, something which made me feel insecure if not outright unmanly. As boys hit me teased me, I figured out by adolescence that it's dangerous to stay in the world of men as a man. However,I was never too feminine and the feminine aesthetics I love today is just borne out of a need of affectation, a craving to be different from the evil world of men, to feel superior.
    It's like I deliberately want to make myself look different and so wanting to be female or atleast feminine seems to be the best alternative.
    In a way, sometimes, I wish I was just born as real TS rather than as "deformed boy". My root cause is different,nevertheless intensity of dysphoria is same.
    God may have given me a gift to be a different man, but he has created an evil intolerant society.

    ReplyDelete
  49. GenderQuestioning,
    There are many soft and gentle boys who also feel they don't quite fit in with guys, and more with girls.I think GQ and James could both have that and hence qualify as feminine male.
    But AGP is very different. I don't see how an AGP could be non-heterosexual.

    ReplyDelete
  50. Kala,

    Please either omit pronouns for me all together or use female ones. I do not consider myself male.

    I am not in this to discover some sudden well of masculinity in myself but rather to decide if I am female or just a sad freak.

    In my day to day life, I have to adopt some pronouns so people feel comfortable around me. If people knew what I looked like under my clothes, they would be far less comfortable. I do not look like a normal male or sound like one and I have no desire to change that.

    ReplyDelete
  51. James,
    I find my case to be very similar to what you mentioned here. I also am male who identifies as male, yet, I find feminine world to be something far easy going for me. I am also out on to decide if I am an unmanly guy or female in man's body, but, unfortunately, I only feel it's the former.

    ReplyDelete
  52. But, at the same time, I haven't chosen to be an unmanly guy when being one means being the bone of contention for all. So, what is really inside me which makes me one?
    I have suspected I am Aspie, but, why am I not so Aspie in my feminine mode?

    ReplyDelete
  53. Jack,
    I am just an asexual FTM and sex is not a part of my desire of changing to a man.
    In another post, you have given a very useful information that AGP fantasies might be quite common even among general population (both male and female). So, my question is,who is the true AGP and how does his dysphoria become so intense that he starts considering himself as completely a woman in man's body?

    ReplyDelete
  54. Jack,
    Can there be a sort of reverse autogynephilia,I mean where,AGP is experienced by a non-heterosexual person? I think I have this new kind of thing and I describe it here.
    I have not been too guy friendly and hate to be a guy among guys. But to gain their attention and acceptance and feel sexy, I often fantasize associating myself with the feminine giving a type of AGP. I know that in reality,nobody would accept me as woman, but, I want to look somewhat attractive and pretty boy to them despite my fantasy being female.
    Can this be possible,Jack?

    ReplyDelete
  55. Wow, Sappy. Even i have done this big sin of feminizing myself to be attractive to men so that they don't bully me, rather find me cute object to be loved.
    But the problem is that in my want of desperate love and affection from macho guys, I developed feminine fantasies to make myself look glam. I allowed myself to develop AGP type fantasies as I required them at that time.
    But, now after 10 years, I am an established software engineer, quite accepted by males as part of them, I have got the love I wanted.
    But,now,I think I have done something wrong. My AGP fantasies are refusing to go away. I adopted them as a coping tool but now, without them, my life has become jejune.
    I must say that some AGPs like me, are not true AGP but are fit to be called as "addicts". I unconsciously let my addiction grow up and now I am facing problem in forgetting it even as a grown up male adult.

    ReplyDelete
  56. Sappy, could you elaborate? Are you saying that you are a gay male that behaves like a woman in order to attract heterosexual males, or...?

    ReplyDelete
  57. To June,

    As far as AGP goes any "true" autogynephiliac is a man who get sexually aroused by the idea of becoming a woman. This is the at the core of Blanchard's definition, and so far I have not thought about challenging that.

    That does not mean that there cannot be a desire to change sex without sexual arousal. Most classic transsexuals say that they felt no such arousal before transitioning, so maybe you are an FTM transsexual, no AGP about it!

    Next month I will post a piece on autoandrophilia, the FTM parallel to autogynephilia.

    ReplyDelete
  58. Jack,
    I first want you to appreciate the fact that just like the whole issue of gender-sex is a highly complex non-binary one, the issue of "gay" is also very complex.
    I am gay yet in many ways am not. I am not drawn to hot male bodies and can't find anything beautiful of males at all. I am not sexually attracted to them. However, I have grown up being bullied by boys and lacking love and affection from other boys.So, the only picture of boys in general I get is that of an "aggressor".
    Since late adolescence, I suddenly developed a fetish of getting sexually aroused by men's perverted sexual foreplays and my emotional want of love from males made me also desire to be a submissive object of young boys. I began having homosexual fantasies in which I played femme role,as to get the love through foreplay, I needed to be the catcher. I considered myself just homosexual for sometime.
    But gradually,this grew into an addiction. Now it's like I have almost started fantasizing myself almost always as female even though I don't need that attention. I enjoy the feminine feeling,its softness,glam everything.My homosexual urges of seeking attention are there, but now they are not emotional. Rather,now, it feels like I really have started enjoying more and more of feminity and life of female as a hobby-her enjoyments as a passive one during sex,her being the center of attention, her hair,dress,style everything.
    I started behaving like a woman to enjoy the love from other males, but,that make-up I put on initially as a mechanism to crave male attention has now led me to demand more of femininity and start developing AGP. It seems like I have entirely lost track of my masculinity completely and I find nothing other than feminine appealing now, as if without it, my life is dull. I started as a gay male but have now ended up as a gender dysphoric AGP!

    ReplyDelete
  59. Betty's narrative nearly sounds like a man possessed by a female spirit which gets sexually charged up to attract men. I have heard lots of such cases. Though in the west, it has become a trend among gay men to claim they are fully masculine, many gays from other regions of the world like Africa have openly admitted that they are possessed by feminine spirits and they feel like women, atleast in the sexual instincts.
    http://www.arsrc.org/publications/sia/jun08/researchnotes.htm

    That said, I suspect that many gays in USA who nowadays claim themselves to be just like other men and discard that traditional notion of gay femininity are largely hiding a part of themselves out of embarrassment.
    Which leads me to think that Bailey's assumption regarding HSTS being similar to gay men wasn't all wrong!! It may be that gay men are what might be called a case of partial transgenderization of male brain, and HSTS being just an extreme degree of that feminity.
    I do agree that HSTS should be called women and not men, but then,I think it's the gay men who aren't as manly as they are made out to be.
    On the other hand,Jack, you have a typical case of the other transsexualism called AGP. There is also a case of possession by feminine spirit here,only that this feminine spirit's sexual instincts are different. I would say something like this. When the HSTS or gay man is sexually charged,only the feminine spirit is active,and so, the person takes full female role. But, in AGP, both the man as well as this spirit might be active. The feminine spirit captivates the inner male.
    Now, it's that both HSTS as well as AGP are victims of this feminine spirit. It's imperative to find out the root of this "feminine spirit", which may be anything from a genetic coding to some hormonal issue.

    ReplyDelete
  60. Sappy,

    You say you started out as a gay male and ended up with AGP.

    It could be that you do not have the same definition of "gay" as I have.

    You say that "I am not drawn to hot male bodies and can't find anything beautiful of males at all." Gay men are attracted to the male body. They do find males beautiful.

    To me your story sound very much like ones I have heard told by other autogynephiliacs. Maybe you have been AGP all along? But I could be wrong.

    It is interesting to note that so many AGPs, me included, were bullied by boys when young.

    ReplyDelete
  61. To Anonymous,

    "It's imperative to find out the root of this "feminine spirit", which may be anything from a genetic coding to some hormonal issue."

    I agree, but that will take time, and I am not sure we will find that explanation in my life time.

    Although I do not believe transsexuals and AGPs are possessed by female spirits for real, the metaphor help people get to grips with their condition in other cultures.

    Such possessions are not necessarily considered negative. Many Native American tribes had two-spirits, people having both a male and a female identity. They were often considered holy people, and in some cases became shamans. In many shamanistic cultures the shamans mix male and female traits, again because of their interaction with male or female spirits. I have even seen the kathoeys of Thailand being explained as the result of the possession of a female spirit. The Thais are relatively tolerant towards these "ladyboys".

    The reason I started this blog was partly that I had also come to a point were my experience felt very much like a possession.

    A strong "female spirit" seemed to to be taking over my life filling me with urges towards becoming a woman. Again: this is how it felt like. I wasn't really possessed by a spirit.

    This overwhelming experience was most likely the result of a breakthrough of suppressed, unconscious, feelings that threatened to drown my conscious ego.

    The only thing you can do in such a situation is to face those feelings, get them out in the open, and make them a conscious part of your life. That often entails the need for professional help from a psychologist or other expert.

    ReplyDelete
  62. Jack,
    If you mention I have AGP, it's something like an exaggerated view because I don't get sexually aroused by any female anatomy and I am non-heterosexual. Even in my feminine fantasy, I never fantasize about women's anatomical parts at all. Just the outer glam look.
    If I say I am gay, it's an overstatement too. Because I don't find males hot and beautiful.
    But, I have a fetish of getting sexually aroused by perverted males and I feel like deliberately being submissive to dominant men. It may not be a handsome man but someone who looks sexually virile.
    I just don't get it how, but, imagining this type of man sexually dominating is very arousing.
    And to catch their attention, I get fantasy of myself as feminine which further sexualizes the fantasy.
    It's hard to explain, but men for me are not objects of beauty but as a sort of fashion-accessory, somewhat like dominant slaves. And in my view, being submissive means getting the honour of being sexy, so, it's not something derogatory for me.
    Now,by standard labels, I am neither too much of gay nor too much of AGP.
    I am just at loss figuring out where in the spectrum I really fit myself since I have this "pervert" fetish to begin with, a fetish which makes me desire this "honour" from males. Without it, I might now have developed this AGP symptom.
    I know it makes me very similar to AGP as I more and more start desring to live like woman,but, do all AGPs have this strange sexual fetish?

    ReplyDelete
  63. "Without it, I might now have developed this AGP symptom.
    "
    Sorry,I meant to say,"Without it, I might 'not' have developed this AGP symptom."

    ReplyDelete
  64. Sappy,

    You do not necessarily have to be turned on by the idea of having a female anatomy to be AGP. Some gets turned on by clothing (crossdressers) some by the idea of acting like a woman (crossenacters, see my brand new glossary ;-)

    Transgender erotica (like in many of the stories found on fictionmania.tv) is full of fantasies of your kind. You are definitely not alone, believe me!

    ReplyDelete
  65. JACK MOLAY,
    Wow, have you heard of a newly emerging variety of metrosexual males known as male lesbians? I think autogynephiles do have some common traits with male lesbians though not all.
    Male lesbians do get turned on and enjoy fantasizing being female and are not gay.They are heterosexual and extremely effeminate males who enjoy being with women and I have read part of their fantasy is to be with girls having romance and sex as girls.
    They dont have significant GID but have a prominent cross-gender fantasy and are not typically masculine. I think you should explore this concept a bit more and compare AGPs,HSTS and male lesbians.

    ReplyDelete
  66. Jogols,

    Yes, I have. I even put up an entry in my transgender and transsexual glossary this morning(European time). That was one strange coincidence!

    Dr. Brian G. Gilmartin's book Shyness & Love: Causes, Consequences, and Treatment i actually available for free online http://www.love-shy.com/Gilmartin/Chapter05/Malelesbian.html .

    That is one strange book. On the one hand it give a good review of research on "loveshy" males and virgins, and it has a very interesting survey of their likes and personality issues. The next thing you know, he is writing about astrology and the occult!

    Anyway, his concept of the loveshy man who hates male-activities, love beautiful women, but find no way of approaching them, seems very much like what many AGPs go through.

    ReplyDelete
  67. But male lesbians are not transgenders, as are the AGPs. So, what exactly is the difference between the two?

    ReplyDelete
  68. The male lesbians are neither transexuals nor crossdressers, if we are to believe this book.

    Whether they are sexually turned on by the idea of having a woman's body or not is not said. If they are they could very well fit the AGP definition. If not, they probably belong to an adjacent part of the rainbow of life.

    Have you found any other references to this concept? I would very much like to read them.

    Do you yourself find the concept useful?

    ReplyDelete
  69. Sappy,

    I will say something about your problem and I hope you don't take this the wrong way.

    I feel that anyone who is sexual and yet denies having a real attraction to either men or women is in a state of denial. I would spend some time trying to get to the root of my feelings.

    Personally, part of the reason I am not full time right now is that I am trying to figure out my sexuality. That and money and.. My circumstances are really kind of unique. I am kind of a freak though not by choice and I inherited a lot of confusion at birth which I have never been able to really dis-entangle. Most of my early life and decisions were about survival and not about figuring my issues out at all so today I am here :) You know just the little things like trying not to make it through school alive when all the boys decide you are a fag and are really uncomfortable with you.

    ReplyDelete
  70. GenderQuestioning,
    "I feel that anyone who is sexual and yet denies having a real attraction to either men or women is in a state of denial."
    I never said, I was sexual. I may be well an asexual with a voyeuristic fetish sorta thing. Also, I might be having that feminine spirit inside me which many TGs have. Both may be combining together to give me this fantasy. And my "male pervert" fetish might be an outcome of genetic wiring or something I learnt from childhood events I saw.
    I know girls also sometimes love perverted men, but, perversion isn't their focus of attraction.But, that is the only thing what I find arousing about guys.

    ReplyDelete
  71. JACK MOLAY,
    I have read narratives of many of the male lesbians in a gender forum in asexual community AVEN.The initial part of the thread is full of counter-arguments by people who believe they are similar to heterosexual transwomen.
    But,if you go through many thread articles in latter part,there are many normal cis-gender guys here who say they have wishes they were born as girl and feel very deprived as being male. But they don't have GID, yet, they feel like they are more female than men.
    They want to feel pretty,soft, feminine, and have all traits more common with cis-women. But they still can't imagine getting an SRS now that they are born male.
    It means part of them is female,but they have a dormant yet firm male identity too. I don't see how it differs from AGP.
    I find this useful for 2 reasons:
    1) I find that it's possible for a male to wish to be female or feel he would be a lot happier as woman or have fanatsies of him being woman,yet not be transgendered at all!!
    2) Such cross-gender feelings might be more common among the population than it has been known till now.

    ReplyDelete
  72. By the way, here is the link for the AVEN thread; a very interesting material to read.
    http://www.asexuality.org/en/index.php?showtopic=41612&st=0

    ReplyDelete
  73. Jack,
    Are gays who dress up and act like women to attract straight males also autogynephile? Or should they be called gay men? The thing is, from young age, I have always considered all guys except myself as straight as I never knew that there could be something liek gay men. So, fantasizing myself a girl seemed natural to me, and I liked to attract straight guys this way to fall for me. And I like it even now. I don't crossdress in private as it's not something I like for myself,rather it is for attraction purpose....
    But I fantasize myself as female to attract straight guys and I really do want to have sex as woman with them.But in other ways, I am also not too girlish and don't feel I am woman in man's body.So,am I gay man, or autogynephile for this?

    ReplyDelete
  74. To Anonymous,

    If we are to follow the textbook on autogynephilia (Blanchard) you are definitely not an autogynephiliac. If you feel a sexual desire for men and dress up as a woman in order to attract them, you would be a male homosexual, according to this theory. Auotgynephiliacs are not attracted to men according to him, and that seems likely from what I have seen.

    If you do feel a deep gender dysphoria, i.e. you have a deep longing to live the full life of a woman AND is attracted to men, you are a homosexual transsexual according to Blanchard. Here I disagree, such classical transsexuals are women in my book.

    ReplyDelete
  75. Jack,
    I do have some dysphoria and need to become woman. But only for the sexual part. In other ways, I would very much live like how I am, meaning, I wouldn't want to live full life as woman since I don't like too mauch of feminine thing either. But, I have female sexual aesthetic and sexual dysphoria.

    ReplyDelete
  76. To Anonymous,

    Ah, this is difficult.

    To change sex because of the sex alone is extremely risky. After all, you would have to live your life as a woman full time, and that includes everything else womanish. If you don't like much of the feminine thing, as you say, and you like yourself as you are now (apart from the sexual part) you may end up as unhappy as a woman as you are now. You may even find that the sexual drive that drove you to change sex disappears.

    Have you thought of contacting a specialist, a psychologist, psychiatrist or -- which is probably best -- a specialist in sexology? You should definitely find someone to talk to.

    By the way, many cope by finding a partner that will take part in role playing, letting you live out your fantasies in a safe environment, without you having to go to such a drastic move.

    Any others who can offer some input to help Anonymous?

    ReplyDelete
  77. Jack,
    I would suggest that Anonymous lives his life as feminine gay male and that's really the best option.And I dont see why he is anything beyond a gay male either because gay males also to some extent have this complaint of being in wrong body but their issue is just different- it's about sex only and not gender.
    From what I have read in many forums, I suspect there are few men on the gay spectrum too who think of transitioning not becasue they feel they are female but rather to end up all confusion and have a happy sex life.
    But I think,there is another misconception here. Once one becomes woman, the very sexual drives he was enjoying go away as these drives though misplaced, were manly caused by testosterone kicks.
    And once the sexual drive goes away, the desire to live life as woman also goes and there have hence been several cases of post op MTFs opting to transition back to male!!
    But I think this should be a caution for us, the AGPs as well. Will they enjoy the drive of living as woman once the sex drive dies out post SRS?
    And if sex is really a vital part of pleasure, it's better to enjoy that in whatever form as man to avoid prolonged depressions.

    ReplyDelete
  78. Robs,

    The hormones transsexuals go on do not always destroy the sex drive. This happens for some but there are many Ts who are orgasmic.

    I suspect what happens is to some degree biologicaly determined but I don't know for certain.

    Some people actually have better sex drives afterwards.

    In any case, ensuring proper HRT is essential if you do decide to transition preferrably under a doctor.

    ReplyDelete
  79. GenderQuestioning,
    What I intend to say is that sometimes your sexuality may be an issue of gender problem too, I have experieneced it myself.
    When i was younger and all guys around me used to hang around and flirt with girls while I needed desperately romance from a guy,I started developing intense dysphoria and longed to be a girl. I started feeling that in this world full of heterosexuals,it would be difficult for me to carry on as a male. I began to envy girls and wanted to be as feminine as possible. I even once thought of the option of SRS just because living life like a straight guy among other guys was becoming increasingly difficult.
    But, then, I entered into friendships with many gay men and once I found I was desirable by other guys even as a guy, I started loving my male side once again and today I am just a good doing gay male.
    As you say, you are unhappy with your body image and your unmanliness. Just have a healthy interaction with a good and gentle guy who rebuilds your confidence as a boy and see if your dysphoria goes away. I am not saying this is the case with you, but just that it might be a possible reason for your unhappiness.

    ReplyDelete
  80. Kala,

    I respect your words but I am pretty sure that is not my path. My gender identity issues started young and I can't say that I ever really established a really solid "male" identity. So when you talk about confidence of myself as a boy, I just frankly don't understand. This has never been a confidence issue. I don't have any inferiority issues with men, at all.

    I think that dating and exploring sexuality is a good idea but I also think it would be pretty obvious that I have been on female hormones in the past and probably will in the future. So, I think I need to be careful. Still, I plan on doing some of this.

    Part of my issue is just being treated fundamentally as who I am :) I don't want to have to act like someone else for a job or for love or for.. Do you get the point? I grew up being ashamed of who I am. I just want to be normal and not have to feel that.

    Every day, I have to throw on clothes that are not me because the things I want to wear would get me fired and keep myself from saying so many things. I do not like a life of compromised freedom. I am a chained songbird.

    I know that we all must make compromises but there must come a point at which we must defend ourselves as sacred :) Understanding oneself is always a good step :)

    ReplyDelete
  81. Jack,
    Why are people who have atypical traits ridiculd by other people and society? Don't people get that nobody wants to be deliberately a "freak"? Don't they understand that some internal defect causes such things?
    Why is society unjust like this?

    ReplyDelete
  82. Joru,

    I can think of a couple reasons.

    One reason to label someone a "freak" is in order to pressure them to conform to someone's expectations of normalcy. We are effectively discouraging behavior that upsets us.

    Another reason is that by putting a label on someone we effectively put them out of our minds. If I am a manly man showering next to this effeminate man and I tend to subconsciouly think female every time I see them, I might get uncomfortable. Better to push them into a different label and move the discomfort onto their person.

    Third, people are animals and animals like to remove aberrations from the breeding pool so they can't reproduce. Some mothers even kill their aberrant youth.. Very sweet, don't you think? But we are above this, right?

    ReplyDelete
  83. To Joru,

    GQ has some very good points.

    Life can be tough for all of us and one way of reducing the anxiety is to make safe groups of likeminded people who agree on what's right and what's wrong.

    We make all kinds of cliques for this purpose. In some groups and societies this tribalisation becomes extremely suppressive.

    The Taliban, the Soviet Communists and the Nazis come to mind.

    We see it in the school yard too. Kids desperately want to belong and is willing to give up their own identity to hang out with the right gang. They ruthlessly go down on those that apparently do not fit the recipe, partly to prove to the others of the group how cool they are and partly to get rid of some of their own fears and anxieties.

    If their parents share the same prejudices as the gang leaders, many kids are very likely to adapt them as their own. They even adapt the vocabulary: "sissy!" "faggot!"


    It is possible to get around such prejudices.

    The South Africa of today is much less racist than the one under Apartheid. The Germans no longer hate the Brits (not much, anyway :-). Women are now accepted as equals with men in many countries. Even homosexual are integrated in many modern urban communities.

    It seems to me that the best way of building down such tensions is to build down the fences. Bring the conflict out in the open.

    It may not be impossible to change the hate mongers, the bullies and the nazis, but you may get their prejudiced followers to learn to know the people they are persecuting.

    It helps to make them see that the "freaks" are people like they are, just a little bit different.

    ReplyDelete
  84. Jack Molay,
    I am a sexologist from Bangkok.
    I was reading online articles on effeminate males and masculine women.
    This one was really enlightening.

    http://www.afterelton.com/people/2009/6/butch-it-up?page=0%2C0


    I learnt that there are two genes necessary for a person to turn gay- a gay gene and a camp gene. Some possess only gay gene and are masculine gay men.Others have only the camp gene and are straight but effeminate men(the metrosexuals). Those with both gay and camp gene are effeminate men, though the degree of feminity varies across individuals.
    This means that feminine gay men do love a feminine object inside them, but, that is not object is not a real female- but has traits of women. Sergio Garcia presents the typical case.
    From this,I guess autogynephiles also have something like this camp gene but it is not just restricted to love of femininity, rather, it enforces a real woman inside. Also,they lack the gay gene which makes them not only heterosexual but also makes them love the female inside them.
    So, I think autogynephilia is an extreme case of the androgyny of effeminate males. Do you find this valid,Jack Molah?

    ReplyDelete
  85. Natalie,

    Thank you for a link to a very interesting article and for some insightful observations!

    First: I do not think there is ONE gene for homosexuality or ONE gene for campness. But there is a very good chance that the interaction between several genes may cause such traits. Actually, I am pretty certain there are.

    I am no expert on gay men, both I know a few. Few of them are very effeminate (you know, like Jack in Will & Grace), but some are. Still their femininity is not like anything an XX woman would display, especially not if you move into the realm of flamboyant exhibitionism (like the one of drag queens). Truth to be told, I do not know how to understand this type of homosexuality. I like them, but I do not "get" them!

    That makes it hard for me to decide whether the cause of effeminate display among homosexual men is the same as the one for AGP.

    My first reaction is no, because very few AGPs displays the same mannerisms as Jack in Will & Grace. Quite the opposite, actually, we often seem very masculine, both in the way we look and the way we move.

    I have clear feminine traits, but they are found in my personality and in my interests, not in any form of "campness". I am as far away from camp as it is possible to imagine. Really :-)

    But that does not exclude the possibility that there is a factor X that causes both effeminate behavior among gay men and the dream of becoming a woman among AGPs.

    You know what, I have to think more about this....

    Any others who have any input?

    ReplyDelete
  86. Defining an entire category based on a small group of it's members is hard.. That is why any thoughts on gender identity conflicts will probably always be incomplete.

    Similiarly, there are many types of gay male. I know gay men who are practically women.. more so than many TS. I also know gay men who have that hard edge that screams male. There is a sort of energy.. a feeling of danger and a lot of other things that a man gives off that a woman does not have. In some ways, it comes back to chalace and spear, very fundamental and long term imagery of what gender means. Sometimes the simplist versions of the truth are simply the most true.

    Generally, men are men and a TS that really feels like a normal woman is a rare thing. Some start there and some eventually get there but many never do. It is a feeling not a presentation.. it is complex. I am sure natal women feel the same way.. Some TS we accept as women, some TS are women, and some TS will never be women and we feel their pain. Personally, I think most fall into the category where they are close enough to the genuine article that everyone can just accept them.

    The thing is that I don't know very many people with gender issues who make their decisions with an intent to do harm. We are all just trying to live with ourselves :) So, why punish anyone for it?

    ReplyDelete
  87. Jack Molay,
    I wouldn't say "camp" is a form of behavior which is unwomanly. It is just that women normally don't intend to display it as it has no purpose whatsoever in their ordinary lives. However quite a lot women do engage in that, especially, when it comes to earning fame through glamour and beauty in fashion, film and music industry.
    And the very same goes for drag queens.Most drag queens perform it as a form of art, to impersonate females or create an effect parallel to the glam females and hence get a lot of spotlight,attention and wider fame on stage. For them,finding sexual partners or having stable family isn't as essential as their need for media spotlight. Same goes for many XX women from the fashion industry too who are rejecting all traditional female roles for fashion.
    But does that rule out they are women and feminine?
    Camp is just an outward display or affectation but the genetic makeup which causes it has to be nothing but XX feminine.
    Gay males, on the other hand, dont appear femme in the first place but still most are or atleast have been at a certain stage of life. Fashion may be an area of interest to them or not, but, to form stable relationships and to become potentially attractive clients in the homosexual market, they masculinize themselves and try to avoid every shred of that feminity their problems started with.
    But I do suspect that had they not found their early childhood unmanly behaviors were inviting censure from Western society, they would have become more feminine or camp as well. I say this as in my country, just 42% of the kathoey report they have the mind of a true girl though all of them report feeling different from manly men and also feel they are quite feminine. Which leads me to conclude that many of these are just feminine gay men who have been put into kathoey category by the Thai society just because they are feminine. Yet they happily grow up as girls.
    So, I would say, femininity is present and is the same for all of them- gay and bigender males, drag queens all the way to homsexual transsexuals. The degree of femininity displayed depends on which part of feminity they like most and which serves their purpose of survival provided they are not forced to repress it. But their basic genetic makeup or combinations of genes have same underlying base of femininity.
    And so, finally,if autogynephiles are also feminine in some way, they must be having the same combination of genes which make them unmanly. They aren't camp just because they aren't drawn to it and they don't need it as any accessory tool.

    ReplyDelete
  88. Natalie,

    You may be on to something.

    I have seen several attempts by researchers to argue that all gay males have been or are feminine in one way or the other. (Bailey certainly does in his controversial "Queen" book).

    I have not closed my mind on this, but I simple do not know as much about gay men as I do about autogynephiliacs (for obvious reasons). You, as a sexologist on the other hand must have met quite a few.

    So if I get you right, homosexual men have two choices: (1) To suppress their feminine side in order to attract gay men or (2) To accentuate their feminine side to attract heterosexual men.

    European and North-American normally go for option 1, while Thai and (maybe?) Latin-American gay men more often go for 2.

    The AGPs on the other hand don't want to attract men (at least not at first), so they don't have to make this choice in their outward lives. What they do in the bedroom is another matter.

    However, this requires that there is no biological causality between genetically based femininity and mannerisms. I.e.: their femininity is biological, but their "campness" is an act.

    Some report that many (but not all) AGPs find it hard to pass after transition, simply because they do not appear feminine or behave in a feminine manner.

    ReplyDelete
  89. Jack Molay,
    I believe that unless one has both innate femininity as well as the enthusiasm to be theatrical for a specific purpose, it's difficult to master or express campness articulately. Hence, a person can have feminine genetic makeup but still not be camp or even slightly feminine in gender expression. There are many women who are feminine for sure but to no extent express femininity that way unless on special occasions.
    Also since gender and sexual orientation may not always be related,as in AGP, there is another point to be observed:
    I guess there is a certain difference in how homosexuals and heterosexuals look at girls. Homosexuals men, more specifically, in most places outside Europe or North America, look at females just like ordinary girls do and try to imitate them as far as possible for presenting their beauty as their primary purpose is to appear pretty.
    They have not much difficulty in imbibing the campness and feminine behavior with just a bit of practise on a highly subconscious level.
    However,heterosexuals usually look at women sexually. And so do the autogynephiles although they themselves have a feminine component inside.
    So, while these homosexuals would go on making their inner feminine persona presentable and so would concentrate on their outward mannerisms, autogynephiles go on to eroticize this inner woman due to their sexuality. And because they dont see women that way, they fail to behave feminine too.
    But that does not mean they are not feminine. I have heard many AGPs have felt different from other boys in childhood and also have had a strong femininity. It's that they haven't noticed their femininity like other girls and homosexuals or Classic trasnssexuals, because they simply did not need to pay attention to it and also worse,they were obviously made to believe they are boys.
    In a way, they were more blind to their female component until their sexuality in puberty showed them....

    ReplyDelete
  90. Natalie's views are right I guess. Many TG forums have stressed that there is a difference between gender identity and gender expression. The former is innate but latter is learned through observations.
    But quite often the latter is used to decide the former. This presents a problem for non-homosexual TS who wish to SRS but cannot present accurately. HSTS get the biggest advantage here as they can articulate the expresions easily since they have learned it so well.
    Whether a person is male or female should be judged by innate femininity and how they feel inside; not a set of socially accepted mannerisms.
    AGPs could well be similar to bigender effeminate men (or drag queens) but they havent learnt feminine expressions as they didn't need that. For the same reason,there are also many feminine males who are not gay and hence never express effeminacy but that does not rule out they have a female inside.

    ReplyDelete
  91. Jack,

    My personal thoughts are that in general the fact that AGP seems to be developed along with and in relation to sexual desire make it unlikely that it is a partial feminization condition but rather a method of dealing with such desire. If it was a feminization condition, it would only affect sexual desire which is far from what womanhood means.

    That said.. I do think that it is possible that someone could be confused and conflate both AGP and very real early developing female desires but I think that childhood behavior is a key.

    So, I think there is some room for gray in an HSTS/AGP debate. Biology is messy.

    ReplyDelete
  92. JACK,
    If getting aroused by female fantasy is autogynephilia, then, I guess transvestites who crossdress for enjoying a feminizing effect should also fall under this category.
    I crossdress and sissyfy myself and imagine a male dominating me. I get aroused not by the male body but his perverted role. Should I call myself homsexual femi nine male or autogynephile crossdresser,Jack?

    ReplyDelete
  93. I like to migrate to female world of fantasy frequently. I dont crossdress or have any desire to do so in reality either.
    But,I fantasize as it makes me feel relaxed and also enjoy my feminine side which often wants mild expression. Just like an author who migrates to the world of animals in imagination occasionally but that does not mean he is animal.
    I think autogynephilia is something very much like this. Or is it something different? I don't consider I am a girl because of what I imagine.

    ReplyDelete
  94. To Anonymous and Sexy-dude,

    It seems to me that given what you have written here, both of you may fit the category autogynephiliac as this is described by researchers.

    To Anonymous; Many autogynephiliacs report fantasies of being dominated by men, even if they are only sexually attracted to women.

    The men in these fantasies are often faceless. It is the idea of being a woman that is the turn-on, not the male character. So: If you is attracted to women in the real world, I would guess that you are indeed an autogynephiliac.

    ReplyDelete
  95. To Natalie:

    I have posted a whole article in response to your comment. Maybe we can continue the discussion there:

    http://autogynephiliac.blogspot.com/2010/01/on-innate-femininity-of.html

    ReplyDelete
  96. I never imagined that autogynephiles are very much like feminine males under cover. I can see as well as testify to the fact that some of the inner fantasies of many AGPs are shared by feminine gay men like me.

    ReplyDelete
  97. That's one reason why despite being gay, I have sometimes wondered if I am autogynephile as well and my online searches landed me up here.
    I do sometimes have fantasies of being sissy even though sex with an attractve man isn't in my mind. It is just in tune with my own inner psyche.

    ReplyDelete
  98. "GenderQuestioning,
    What I intend to say is that sometimes your sexuality may be an issue of gender problem too, I have experieneced it myself.
    When i was younger and all guys around me used to hang around and flirt with girls while I needed desperately romance from a guy,I started developing intense dysphoria and longed to be a girl. I started feeling that in this world full of heterosexuals,it would be difficult for me to carry on as a male. I began to envy girls and wanted to be as feminine as possible. I even once thought of the option of SRS just because living life like a straight guy among other guys was becoming increasingly difficult.
    But, then, I entered into friendships with many gay men and once I found I was desirable by other guys even as a guy, I started loving my male side once again and today I am just a good doing gay male.
    As you say, you are unhappy with your body image and your unmanliness. Just have a healthy interaction with a good and gentle guy who rebuilds your confidence as a boy and see if your dysphoria goes away. I am not saying this is the case with you, but just that it might be a possible reason for your unhappiness. "

    This was a very helpful thing to say! I don't claim that every love-shy, male-lesbian, gay man, straight introvert person has AGP. But some might have the potential in their psyche to experience this. I was a perfectly happy male in my childhood and teens but since my OCD, erection dysfunction, love-shyness and overall low self-esteem has been an issue for me, the AGP has suddently been my competing sexual fantasy. Sometimes even distressing.. But i have noticed that when i feel good, i have no AGP whatsoever and i don't deny having them so i'm not just saything this to seem cool.

    ReplyDelete
  99. Jack Molay:

    "1. There could be a biological "mix" at birth that strengthens some non-masculine traits, even if the person's identity clearly is male.

    2. This leads to personal and psychological experiences where these non-masculine traits weakens the man's self respect and trust in his own identity as a man. (Cp. the "androphobia" of James, GenderQuestioning and myself).

    3. These psychological factors triggers biological feminine instincts and desires and leads to a desire to have sex as a woman."

    This would be a great alternative model explaining the non-dysphorics and some dysphorics. And it would be no coincidence that many non-dysphoric AG's think their condition is psychological "trauma". I believe this too but that doesn't exclude the fact that i might be a feminine man at my core to begin with. Whether AG is a psychological symptom or a innate trait to feel feminine apart from how one identifies, sexual or not, is a question for us.

    ReplyDelete
  100. Hi Jack,

    Thank you for your helpful post. I have a question that's really been weighing a lot on my mind: First of all, I consider myself to be an asexual autogynephile who has always had a non-masculine self-image that I have not embraced until now. The tragic part is that I understood this only after being married with two young children. I already feel a sense of emotional release coming to terms with who I really am, and I am seeking psychological help, but I really, really don't want to hurt my family, especially my children. Besides, SRS and FFS are really expensive and I am still in school (graduate school) without much savings. Is it possible, you think, for a person who is really female with a male body to live with that gender dysphoria all their life? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  101. " Is it possible, you think, for a person who is really female with a male body to live with that gender dysphoria all their life? "

    I wish I had a simple answer to this, but I have not.

    It is certainly possible, in the sense that there are crossdreamers who do so (I no longer use the misleading term "autogynephiliac").

    If their crossdreaming condition is mild, this may work well, but if it is hard -- as in your case -- it may look like they can only do so by sacrificing their own happiness.

    Anne Vitale has given a good presentation of how the gender dysphoria of male to female crossdreamers often become stronger and stronger as they get older. There may be limits to what you are able to bear.

    I guess what I am trying to say here is that I am not sure this sacrifice actually will be of help to your family. They are bound to notice your unhappiness, and if they really love you (as I am sure they do) they would probably be willing to do a lot to make your life better. Whether this includes transitioning is another matter.

    There may be one other option, though, but again this depends on the intensity of your dysphoria. In my own life I have found that being accepted as the one I am by the woman who loves me has given me much relief. I lived in a constant fear of losing her, but know that I am "out" to her, and see that she still loves me, the fear has abated. It is much easier to carry this burden now.

    This acceptance has also made it easier for me to express my crossdreamer sexuality with her, and that is important. Maybe you could say a few words about what you mean when you call yourself "asexual". That would make it easier for the rest of us to see to what extent a more fulfilling sex life may give relief.

    (Please do not consider this professional medial advice. Do not do anything drastic without consulting a doctor or a therapist!)

    ReplyDelete

Click here for this blog's Code of Conduct!

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!