October 9, 2009

The Catcher in the Lie

One very interesting observation made by Blanchard and his followers is that what they call "heterosexual autogynephiliacs" (men who are attracted to women and who love the idea of themselves having a female body) may fantasize about having sex with a man, even if they are sexually attracted to women.

The faceless men


When this is the case, however, the man is normally faceless. They do not fantasize about a real man, as women or homosexual men would do.

That many autogynephiliacs dream about faceless men is correct. I see it in myself, I see it confirmed in tales told in transgendered discussion forums and I see it in much transgender erotica.

This phenomenon is actually one of Blanchard & Co's strongest arguments for classifying autogynephilia as a paraphilia, a perversion where the man's desires towards women are redirected towards the idea of themselves being that woman.

The other man is faceless in this narrative, they argue, because he is no more than a prop for the sexual fantasies of the autogynephiliac. He is a prop that confirms the femininity of the autogynephiliac within those fantasies (For referenes, see my previous blog posts).

I guess you could also take this way of reasoning one step further, arguing that the masked man in the dream is the autogynephiliac himself. He is making love to himself.

It should be kept in mind that the starting point for Blanchard is a very strict distinction between heterosexuals and homosexuals.

This is why the idea of autogynephiliacs pops up in the first place, and I am starting to suspect that their explanation of autogynephilia is an attempt to explain a phenomenon that otherwise would ruin their neat binary model of human sexual behaviour.

The autognephiliacs themselves may tell them all sorts of confusing things, like "I am attracted to women as a man, and men as a woman" or "I find men ugly, but as a woman I dream of being taken by one..." or "I dream of becoming a lesbian, but I must admit that I am curious about how it would feel having sex with a man when being a woman."

Blanchard & Co find it hard to explain why masculine looking men with seemingly few feminine traits want to have sex with men. This does not fit with the model.

Paraphilia

Blanchard therefore makes an alternative theory to explain this phenomenon. The masculine male to female transgendered are in fact suffering from a paraphilia, a perversion. They have internalized their natural object of desire: women.

As I have noted elsewhere: For this to be true, he must demonstrate that autogynephiliacs actually are unable to form a lasting bond with a real woman, or that their relationships are less "real" than the bonds between "normal" heterosexual men and their spouses. If their object of desire has been internalized (they are in love with themselves), they cannot establish a good relationship with a real woman out there.

I cannot see that this have been proven. I have lived with the same woman for over ten years. I love her very much and have indeed a very real (although not precisely "normal") relationship.

Yes, I do see that the way many of us keep our "other side" hidden from the one closest to us out of fear of losing them may be taken as a proof of us being dysfunctional. But dammit! All people keep secrets, also from their loved ones. There are just too many taboos around to do otherwise!

Wife to husband: "You know, I think my colleague Fred is one hot hunk of man. I fantasized about having sex with him today. Not that I would, but you know..." Some things are better left unsaid. Whether an autogynephiliac can share his weird secret with his significant other, depends on the circumstances.

So I am not willing to accept that all relationships between autogynephiliacs and women are less "real" than other relationships. It seems to me that all are struggling!

What about post-op transsexuals?

Moreover, Blanchard never seems to get around to talking to autogynephiliacs that have gone through sex reassignment surgery to see whether they have been able to establish a good relationship with a woman or a man.

Some of them do report a change in sexual orientation after the hormones and the surgery. They do become attracted to men, and even pair up with them.

Following Blanchard's theory these relationships must be false for the transsexuals that start out as autogynephiliacs. The autogynephiliacs are using these men for their pleasure and nothing more. But has this been proven? Is this really true?

I cannot imagine why an autogynephiliac transwoman who are attracted to women will share a home with a man just to use him as one gigantic dildo. It just does not sound realistic to me.

An alternative explanation

Maybe there are other and more simple explanations?

Let's argue that longing for submission and penetration is a genetic trait that are more likely to be found in females than in men. I mean submission in the neutral sense here, as (1) being the "catcher" instead of the "pitcher" in the sexual act, and (2) that the man is the one that actively courts and the woman is the one that wants to be wooed.

(Number 2 in the paragraph above is actually a bit questionable. "Normal" cisgendered women in modern day Scandinavia may be as procative as men when it comes to love and courtship. But on an aggregate statistical level, let us suppose that women are more likely to be more reactive than proactive, relativley speaking, when it comes to the development of male/female relationships.)

Next, let's say that autogynephiliacs have this trait, in spite of their Y chromosome. After all, many "normal" men may display some traditionally feminine traits without being considered effeminate: "He is a kind and patient man, a good listener."

There are women who display typical masculine traits as well , being those physical (excessive hair growth) or behavioral (the tomboy). They still feel like -- and are accepted as-- heterosexual women.

Then there are lesbians who apparently do not feel the need for penetration, which indicates that the opposite may be true, as well.

If autogynephiliacs who feel attracted to women have inherited a submissive trait, the need to "mask" the male in their fantasies is understandable. They long to submit and give in to another human being, but cannot accept the idea of having sex with a real man.

Still, according to the traditional tale of masculinity and femininity, being a woman means giving in to a man. In their fantasies they are a sexual active woman who wants to be the catcher. They therefore include a man, but make him featureless.

(It should be noted that there are other autogynephiliacs who do not dream of being taken by a man. They solve the whole problem elegantly by dreaming of lesbian sex. In those cases I guess the urge for penetration is absent or less intense.)

To this Blanchard & Co might say: "Ok, but that's exactly our point! The autogynephiliac is an heterosexual man. He should go out and conquer women! He shouldn't long for someone to push him up against a wall and - you know...."

I can tell you that this is exactly how many autogynephiliacs feel as well.

"I am not a real man," they think. "I am a wuss, a sissy, maybe gay even. I can't go out and find myself a woman. I wouldn't be man enough for her." etc. etc.

But is this submissiveness necessarily evidence of perversion?

Shemales and girls

First, let's look at the facelessness of the men, the facelessness that apparently turns them into sex toys for "narcissistic" and "self-possessed" autogynephiliacs.

The love objects of autogynephiliac sexual fantasies are not necessarily faceless.

Including men is not the only way autogynephiliacs solve the need to fantasize about submission. Others (or the same man) can imagine themselves penetrated by a woman with a strap-on. This can be a fantasy about a real woman with a face.

Some actually practice this kind of "pegging" with their girl friends. It is a common theme in TG erotica.

Others dream of having sex with a "shemale".

I know this is a derogatory term, but it is the only one that fits when it comes to describing the transsexuals of such fantasies. Fantasy shemales are pre-op M2F trassexuals or that can take the active part in the sexual act.

The TG erotica sites are full of tales about men being taken by shemales, and shemale sex is apparently the fastest growing branch of the porn industry. And while the "heterosexual" autogynephiliac wouldn't take any pleasure in gay porn, some of them find transsexual adult entertainment exciting. The transsexual models are not faceless.

The Blachard disciple Bailey describes a meeting with a "shemale" he -- as a heterosexual man -- finds very attractive in The Man who would be Queen. If he can imagening himself having sex with such a woman, so can any man without being accused for being a dysfunctional pervert.

There are also autogynephiliacs who dream about becoming shemales themselves. Given what I have read in transgender stories and captions, these fantasies are nearly always about being the catcher.

My point is that the reason for the facelessness of men in autogynephilic fantasies is not necessarily that the autogynephiliac is suffering from a paraphilia where they are only able to make love to themselves as a woman. It could simply be that he has a strong feminine trait that makes him dream about submission.

I know, that last sentence is wrong in so many ways, but I am trapped in our traditional language here. This "feminine" trait may actually be a neutral emotional trait, common to both sexes in varying degree. The word "submission" is also wrong, as it gives the impression that this is all about power. It might just as well be a need for growing closer.

Still, in our culture this submissive role is supposed to be adopted by the woman and the active one by the man, and in order for that to make sense in his gynephiliac mind, he must mask the man. If he instead fantasize about being taken by a woman or a shemale, he has no problem imagining their faces. He wants to have sex with women!

Cannot "normal" fantasies contain faceless persons?

Another thing: Is having sex fantasies including faceless people really a proof of perversion? People think about sex a lot, and most of that time they there is no real sexual partner to draw into these dreams. Is it really true that the figures involved in these fantasies all have clear identities in non-autogynephiliacs? Really? Do we know that?

And even if that is the case: Is masturbating alone to a Playboy model being less self-absorbed than the autogynephilic fantasy of being taken by a faceless man?

I don't get it! If masturbating to the fantasy of having sex with Angeline Jolie is OK (and in the 21st century it is, right ? At least outside a stable relationship...) then what makes the autogynephilic fantasies so problematic? The Angelina Jolie of a teenager's fantasy is no more real than the actors in the dream of an autogynephiliac.

The heterogenity of nature

"All right," Blanchard & Co may say. "But this only proves that our subject is a heterosexual man at heart, which is what we have argued all the time. He is still suffering from paraphilia, because as a heterosexual man he should not dream of taking the submissive role."

Says who?

This is only true if you think religious morality or scientific orthodoxy require that there are only four distinct categories of sexual human beings:

Heterosexual men (active)Heterosexual women (passive)
Homosexual men (passive???)Homosexual women (active???)


Nature isn't binary. Nature is analog, with a tremendous amount of variety between species and between individuals. If you really want to base your view of sexuality and gender on evolutionary theory (which in many ways can be very fruitful) the strict homo/hetero and male/female regimes seem far too restrictive.

Evolution is driven by variety and change, a constant barrage of mutations. Sex itself is an evolutionary tactic designed to produce new and exciting combination of genes. This is why all men and women display a mix of "typical" feminine and masculine traits, although most often in different proportions.

Both sexes are made from the same mold. Men have seemingly useless nipples. That does not make them freaks. Women become leaders of the pack. That does not make them less attractive.

Among animals, there is wide variety of gender roles: Among our closest relatives, the bonobos, everybody have sex with everybody, regardless of sex or age. There are birds that have three distinctive types of males with different "gender roles" and others where the birds have more sex with individuals of their own sex than with their "spouses". There are animal species where there are no males at all, only females or hermaphrodites, and others were the individual animal may change sex. Anything is possible! And it is all "natural"!

My point is that a theory that explains autogynephilia as a different mix of feminine and masculine traits is simpler and more elegant than a theory that have to develop an "epicycle" of misdirected desires and internalized women.

A counterargument would be that my alternative version of "autogynephilia" continues to be a disorder. The autogynephiliac is still "ill" in some way or the other. I may agree to this -- he is certainly suffering -- but he is not necessarily a pervert.

Disorder vs. paraphilia

If his complex of male and female traits is dominated by the female side, he is indeed a woman in a man's body, and he is suffering for it. The corrective measure would be to give her a female body.

If his mix of male and female traits is less clearcut, he is also suffering from a disorder. But this disorder is as much a result of his surrounding culture as it is from nature. Nature does not care or -- alternatively -- she loves all her children, to speak metaphorically. She certainly does not judge us morally.

It is the surrounding culture that makes autogynephiliacs miserable, because there are no words that can help them and others make sense of their lives, and there are no roles for them in society that gives their sense of self meaning.

Which is why the Blanchard autogynephilia theory is such a paradox.

On the one hand it has given us a term that makes a group of men visible. For that I am him and his followers eternally grateful. At the same time the very world view the theory is based on is what makes autogynephiliacs suffer.

Here's the current reality:

Man to son:
"Alfred, you have to stop this nonsense, becoming a nurse and whatnot. And what is this crap about you allowing Bill to walk all over you? Talk is not the solution here, son. You have to fight back and prove that you are a man. Women don't like sissies!"

Imagine the following alternative reality:

One mother to the other:

"Yes, Alfred is an autogynephiliac. He was such a nice boy as a kid, you know, helped me out in the kitchen and everything. He is seeing a very clever girl at the moment. Monica. She is a NAVY Seal. Yeah, I believe she is the one with the trousers in that family, which fits him perfectly. Alfred is at home looking after the kids. The kids love him, you know. I am so happy for him."
or...
"Alfred is the tough one of my kids. He is active in sports, an ex-marine, CEO of his own ICT company, a pillar of society, but his wife tells me that he shows her another side of his personality at night. Not that she will tell me what this is all about, but I believe she fell in love with his more feminine side."
or...
"It turned out Alfred was a woman all along, you know. I should have known, when he started borrowing my shoes. Thank God that's not a problem anymore! He's taking hormones now, and should have his female body ready in time for my and his father's wedding anniversary. I am looking forward to that. We have already discussed the dress she is going to were at the party..."

Postscript

Just to make sure: I cannot prove that my alternative narrative (which inspired by both ancient belief systems and contemporary transgender thinkers) is the correct one. My point is that there are other theories that fits the observed phenomena as well as the one given by Blanchard.

I am working on a few blog posts on "pre-modern" societies where the transgendered were given specific roles in society, roles that gave their fate meaning. The point is not to say that those societies got it right, just to prove that there are many other ways of imagining this.

The jury is still out on this one.



UPDATE ON TERMINOLOGY

Since this blog post was written I have stopped using the terms "autogynephilia" and "autoandrophilia" to describe people. The reason for this is that the terms implicitly communicates an explanation for why some people get aroused by imagining themselves as the opposite sex . This explanation, that this is some kind of autoerotic paraphilia,  is both wrong and stigmatizing. Instead I use the neutral term "crossdreamers".

Click here for a discussion of the dark side of the autogynephilia theory.

12 comments:

  1. You have watched me struggle with this for the past three weeks. No matter what my problems adjusting to this have been, I will stand up and shout: I believe that autogynephilics are NOT perverted. What an autogynephilic does as a single person harms absolutely no one. It may be "different", but there is nothing wrong with it, whatsosever. And I believe that autogynephiliacs CAN integrate this into a normal hetersexual relationship. I believe that there are several ways to do this, including pegging. Reading about men who dress up like women and then "peg" with their partners almost screams "autogynephiliac." So if that's the case, there are a lot more autogynephiliacs in heterosexual relationships out there than we know about. They probably just haven't been traumatized by it and have been lucky enough to have found partners who allow themselves to express their sexuality freely.

    There are no problems with fantasies. Isn't the statistic something like 70% of women fantasize during sex? Where autogynephilia becomes a problem in a heterosexual relationship, is in the ACTING out of the fantasy and then keeping THAT a secret. There is a big difference between having a sex fantasy in one's mind (ie. sex w/ Angelina Jolie as a woman) and actually acting it out separately from your partner. You know my story. My biggest problem is not WHAT the secret is, it's that there was ever a secret to begin with. If you trust your partner enough to be in a committed relationship with them, have them bear and raise your children, then you should trust them enough to tell them your fantasies and reveal your true self to them. Otherwise, you're cheating both of yourselves.

    It's easy for me to say, I know, and I would hate to talk someone into telling their partners and then have their partner leave. But I am in a committed relationship with an autogynephiliac who is now being honest and truthful with another person about who is really is for the first time in his life. And I am excited. And I am in love. And I am turned on. And we are BOTH looking forward to our future together, sexually and otherwise. So it IS possible.

    After all, don't they say "nothing worth having is ever easy?"

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  2. First: I must say that your comments here and your posts over at your blog http://susannejourney.blogspot.com/ has been of great help to me. I never imagined that my own blog should bring out a helping hand among the wives of autogynephiliacs, but there you go.

    I am also convinced that other readers have read your entries with great interest. I guess you have helped us understand that there are many women out there that would look at cross-dressing and autogynephilia with both curiosity and acceptance and that it could enrich a marriage or a partnership, rather than destroy it.

    And, even if some of them do not take the plunge and tell it all to their significant others, you have developed a narrative or a story or a way of approaching that problem that could help other wives out there who find secret rooms with lingerie and toys, photos on a camera or strange web sites in the browser history file. Their husbands may now show them your site in order to help them gain some understanding.

    Still, I am also quite certain that some of those that have read our posts on this issue will never contemplate sharing their secret with others.

    We have seen your pain and felt your pain and know that one of the reasons you handle this so well is that you are an emotionally strong and intelligent woman with a very open mind.

    There are other autogynephiliacs out there that love their wives and lovers very much, but who also -- with good reason -- may doubt their ability to cope with such a bomb shell. If there are children involved, they may lose everything. That has happened. Many times.

    That leaves them with an ethical dilemma that cannot be solved in a satisfactory way.

    One might say that they shouldn't have married in the first place, but both you and I know that that is naive. Many of these men made themselves believe that the "problem" would pass or that they could suppress it. Moreover, love make us do stupid things all the time. Thank God!

    I think one of the reason we have gotten relatively few responses to some of these posts, is that many of our readers feel shame, not for being an autogynephiliac, but because they feel that they cannot take the chance of sharing this part of themselves with the ones they love the most.

    Still, hopefully your interventions will encourage to think through that possibility one more time.

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  3. Hey Jack,

    I'm really happy to read your view on this autogynephilia, please don't hold yourself back...

    This catcher analogue is really interesting. I never thought about it that way, but I seriously feel you are making a good point here.

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  4. Thank you, this has been quite illuminating.
    Yet, you seem to be bothered by authority driven correctnesses.
    There are not "truths" or right way of being, there is only culture which is defined by our psycho-evolutionary tendencies and the elite mastering our society.
    Humans are classically groups into XX and XY genom types in order to reproduce. Whiel in these types (excluding gentic anomalies) all men and women have mutual traits. There is no need to judge them by some idealization or rightousness.
    Quoting authority figures gives them power and supresses your individual and more pertinnet opinion. Seeking authoritative "truths" is a disempowering belief system, and beleif-systems is thebasic structure of Mind.
    As long as you are happy and lovlingly giving joy to others you can be or do whatever you deem desirable.
    finding bigger words for a better "defenition" and then contrasing them with previous texts of "researchers" is like watching TV documenting life instaed of living them, as the prime charecter of their own passive "studies".

    Personally, I believe that human happiness is juxtapose on our biological conditioning. That is to say, being married in a suburban nuclear family is more liekly to bring the everyday joy that our genes expect our brains to develop.
    Naturally one can become a slave to his own darkest fanaties and become a shemale sex slave, taking hormones in a dungeon of some Master monetizing a porn site.
    Yet, I believe that these visions can be reifed through elective and transient relationships with the object of desire, without first commiting to an expensive and lengthy permanent change.

    Thoughts create reality, don't abuse your divinity :)

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  5. I read this post and something about the assertion that autogynephiliacs fantasize about faceless men bothered me deeply, which is weird because I read crazy stuff about sexuality on the internet all the time and don't feel the need to comment.

    It's just possible that I feel obliged to stand up for my fantasy lovers.

    To be explicit: I am an autogynephiliac. When I fantasize about having sex as a woman, it is usually with a man. And over time I have found that the more effort I put into giving my partner a face, a personality, and a history, the more I enjoy being with them. When I put a lot of effort into it, I enjoy it a lot more.

    I have no idea why this comment sounds so angry. I'd write more, but I have to go. This is a good blog.

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  6. To Very Good Karma:

    Actually, your comment does not sound angry, but the fact that you believe that it does probably means that you are angry.

    That means that your comment is deeply felt and that I should take it very seriously, indeed.

    It could be that I have jumped to easily to the conclusion drawn by Blanchard, Lawrence et al that the male fantasy objects of autogynephiliacs are faceless because the autogynephiliacs are gynephile (i.e. they are attracted to women only).

    If I have learned one thing by discussing this topic, it is that nothing is as simple as it seems.

    However, if we stop thinking in binary opposites and think of gender identity and sexuality as gradients with a lot of possible positions in a multi dimensional landscape, it makes more sense. It seems anything is possible.

    It could also be that I am completely mistaken, that the reason I and many autogynephiliacs masks our male fantasy lovers is because we are afraid; afraid of being perceived as gay, maybe, or that the woman in us is so strong that she is on the brink of taking over.

    If that is the case, you are just more honest with yourself than I am.

    Maybe autogynephilia is not a static syndrome, but something that gradually evolves over time, and that you have reached another stage.

    It could also be that your sexual orientation is basically bisexual, while mine is not, but if that were the case, you should be attracted to men as a man as well.

    Then there is this strange phenomena of transexuals who change their sexual orientation after they have been through hormone treatment. Maybe your case has something in common with them.

    We will have to discuss this further.

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  7. It is very difficult for me to talk about this, even semi-anonymously on the internet, but I feel like I have an obligation to contribute to the discourse you are building here. Forgive me if my writing is stilted.

    I am not androphilic. I am often apprehensive about becoming so, but I have retained strong, visceral impulses against it so far. My autogynephilia didn't appear at all before high school and didn't begin to get serious until after I was twenty-one. I am in my late twenties now and I am at a point where my psychological inclinations are leaning hard against opposing physiological ones. I find that I get more satisfaction from my fantasies by seeking the point of conflict than by eschewing it, but I don't believe that this means that autogynephilia is a progressive phenomenon that necessarily ends in homosexuality, transexuality, or bisexuality. I'm just not physically attracted to men in person, even if I sometimes think that being gay would be a whole lot simpler than being what I am.

    I think the faceless fantasy lover assertion upsets me so much for two reasons: 1) I associate it with styles of pornography, particularly some hentai, which are very demeaning to anyone depicted in them, and 2) I take the suggestion that I would fantasize about a faceless lover as implying that I personally desire to be so demeaned. I don't.

    I think I should add here, that the entire vein of transgender fiction encompassing humiliation, sissyfication, and forced feminization is repulsive to me. I understand that there are different strokes for different folks but I really cannot get my head around the appeal of those fantasies.

    In your post "A man trapped in a woman's mind", you talked about many things which resonated with me, particularly the "prince/wimp complex". I believe that the manifestation of my own autogynephilia was strongly influenced by my upbringing. I experienced elements of the psychological self-castration you describe, along with shifting into several other inappropriate roles in my ongoing attempts to please my unstable mother. However, she was so incompetent in her personal life, that I think I had some perception from a fairly young age- at least by ten- that my mother was full of shit. My parents divorced when I was nine; for the first few years I lived mostly with my mother but by the time I was thirteen she had broken down so completely that she had to send me to live with my father full-time. I think my father was very different from yours. In some ways, he seemed to determined to validate everything my mother hated about men. (In some ways, she seemed determined to seek out men that represented everything she hated.) I hadn't been familiar with the old sitcom "All In The Family" growing up, but when I first saw a rerun of it in my twenties, I was astonished by the resemblance Archie Bunker had to my father, in his appearance, his mannerisms, and his personality. So I ended up spending as much time being raised by a caricature of a misogynist as I did by a caricature of a misandronist. I think that this is one of the reasons that the "Powerwoman" and "Powerman" archetypes hold no appeal for me. My inner woman wants to punch Powerwoman in the face, give Powerman the finger and walk out the door.

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  8. It makes more sense to me now. You recent the faceless males of such fantasies, because you associate them with demeaning submission, i.e. the kind of maltreatment you suffered as a child.

    I can completely relate to that anger -- or hatred even. When I see what some parents do to their children out of sheer stupidness or selfishness, i get sick!

    However, the reason that some may find such fantasies exciting (and I admit that I do on some days) is probably found somewhere else entirely.

    Given all the guilt associated with autogynephilia, fantasy submissions of this kind can be a way out. No one can blame you if you are forced to have sex as a woman. That kind of relationship is in no way real, and it could be that that is why the men are faceless.

    To build a personal around your fantasy male lover, will imply that you dream about something that can be a healthy and personally meaningful relationship (sex and love). You seem to be far ahead of me, in spite of being younger!

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  9. You discuss a number of topics here... I think the proposition that autogynephiliacs are unable to form a lasting bond with a real woman is true. This does not mean that all autogynephiliacs have horrible marriages. However, autogynephiliacs enter into a marriage bond without all the tools and abilities to form a true, deep, loving relationship. Centering oneself inwardly instead of outwardly is a HUGE relationship handicap. "All people keep secrets, also from their loved ones," is indicative of being focused inward on oneself instead of focusing outward on their partner. I think that keeping secrets secret from one's spouse especially for anything having to do with "trans" is corrosive to the relationship. A relationship may be okay now, but the corrosion will slowly eat away... Even though there are no statistics available, I think there are a huge number of divorces or emotionally dead marriages within the trans community. There are some successful marriages out there, but they are an exception to the norm...

    I disagree with your statement that nature isn't binary. How can you look at a man and at a woman and say that it isn't binary? I do agree that nature is analog. It is both binary and analog. There are two distinct sexes and each sex has a specific set of purposes. Within each sex there a huge number of gradiations on the physical, mental, and emotional characteristics of individual people. These characteristics are diverse enough to occasionaly overlap between sexes, but this overlap does not refute the binary male and female sex.

    To infer that animal sex and gender characterics and behavior are identical or similar to humans borders on the insulting... to both the animals and the humans... So what if some animal or insect changes their sex? Are they doing it because they want to? because they feel that they were born in the wrong body? No, they do it because of their nature. How many animals crossdress or are trapped in the wrong body? Bringing in animal instinctive behavior into this discussion moves the focus away from what should be discussed.

    Is it nature or culture that is to blame for making autogynephiliacs miserable? You state that for autogynophiliacs "there are no roles for them in society that gives their sense of self meaning..." Why is this the fault of our society? How do non-autogynephiliacs find their roles in society and obtain a sense of self meaning? Are autogynephiliacs so extremely different from everyone else that they have no sense of their own identity?

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  10. To Robyn P:

    I am positive that you are misunderstanding the meaning of the word "binary". Nature can't be "binary and analog" any more than an egg can be cooked sunny-side up and also scrambled. They are mutually exclusive concepts. Most people fall clearly into one of two sexes, and therefore it is useful to think of sexes as binary for many purposes, but this is still only a construct of our minds, and the reality- nature's reality- is always more complicated than that, when you start looking at the details. All Jack has suggested is that in this case it is more useful to discard the binary shorthand than to stick with it. He certainly wasn't making any ridiculous assertions about there not being two human sexes.

    Bringing animals (and in my opinion, even plants and other life) into the discussion is completely legitimate. Humans are animals too, and since ancient times observations of other animals have been a keystone in our understanding of our own biology. If we were not so similar to other mammals, there would be no need for animal testing controversy. Furthermore, nobody has made any absurd suggestions that we should use various animal behaviors as the model for defining our own gender roles; rather many animals are put forth as examples to demonstrate that, throughout the domain of life, the nature of sex and gender vary dramatically, and to argue that since we, as humans, are members of this domain, we probably show some natural variation too.

    And in response to your question "How many animals crossdress ... ?", I ask in return, how many animals wear clothes?

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  11. I am certainly crossdreamer (or autogynphilac), and I never talked of that to anyone. I've had some good relationships with women (and have fathered two children), love lovemaking, but never considered myself to be very good at active courtship. But I never dreamed of having sex with a man, as a man at least... However, I can imagine myself magically changed into a woman and I can imagine myself, after a certain time, wanting to try the real thing. But having to kiss a man seems to me a real turn-off.

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  12. @Forestier,

    I am beginning to believe that we have a far to simplistic view of sexual attraction. Recent research of women's sexuality tells us that we have to distinguish between sexual and romantic attraction. Many women seem to be ambigious/bisexual/pansexual when it comes to sexual arousal, but prefer one gender when it comes to love and romance.

    Maybe this is the case for crossdreamers too. I hear of many outgoing MTF crossdreamers who enjoy sex with men, but who not dream of marrying them, to put it that way.

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