November 26, 2009

Anonymous 18 and autogynephilia

Questions from a young cross-dreamer.

I got the following email the other day:

"Hey, my name is [Anonymous 18]. Im an 18 year old kid and my whole life I have used the fetish that you talk about in your blog as a sexually arousing fantasy.

I am a regular guy (in my mind) and heterosexual but my whole life I couldnt shake the feeling that these sex dreams that I have are unhealthy.

Until recentlly I started doing research on the internet and was even convinced for a little while that I was a transgendered man and then I went a few weeks thinking that I would rather kill myself than have a sex reassignment surgery.

As soon as I found your site and other sites defining autogynephillia I was so releaved and surprised, however, that this term isn't spoken about amongst others who have it.

As a beginner in the A-G community I just want to know in your words how you feel about this term. What's your gender, age, lifestyle? Do you crossdress in public (which I think is weird)?Just to hear from someone else who has this and how they deal with it would be a relief for me. Thanks!"

I asked Anonymous 18 for permission to republish this email on the blog, for truth to be told, I do not feel qualified to be the only one giving him advice on such a tough topic. Those of you that have followed this blog, know that it is definitely more of an explorative nature than evangelical.

Love life of an autogynephiliac

Anyway, this is what I wrote back:

"It is great hearing from you! One of the reasons I started this blog was the fact that I found so little written by 'autogynephiliacs' out there, which made this so much harder to bear. The problem now is that the more I write and think about this the less I trust all the words we take for granted, words like fetish, unhealthy, perversions, unnatural etc. etc.

I believe that I have come to the conclusion that the basis for what we feel is quite natural. We are part of what Joan Roughgarden call 'Evolution's Rainbow' (good book by the way!). However, since most people do not know about the condition, nor how to understand it, we end up hiding us from the rest of the world, full of shame.

I believe that 'autogynephilia' is a useful term, even if I do not buy the explanations given by the people who coined it.

There seems to be two main types of 'autogynephiliacs': cross-dressers and what I call cross-dreamers (men who dream about having a woman's body). Many are both. I am a cross-dreamer. I tried cross-dressing. It didn't work for me, I am sorry to say (!), because cross-dressing is something open-minded women actually can understand and live with.

That is the good news for you at 18: There are many cross-dressers out there that live happily married lives with women they love. There are many women who are willing to live with a cross-dresser. And most of these cross-dressers live this way without going through a sex change. It seems to me that they often do not have to transition, as they get to know and accept their feminine side through cross-dressing.

For others, however, the urge to transition becomes so strong that they do it, maybe because they are classic transsexuals, "women trapped in men's bodies", or maybe for other reasons. I guess you yourself will have to find out what your needs are. It seems to me that you have already concluded that you feel no need to transition in real life, only in your fantasy life, which is fine with me!

I am in my early forties, living in Scandinavia. From the outside there is nothing to tell people that I feel what I feel, nor have I shared this with many of my friends. I suspect that I might have chosen differently if I lived in California, for instance. See Alice Dreger's book Alice in Genderland for an example of an autogynephiliac who has chosen another path (you can read the first chapters online for free) . Alice decided to search out the club scene in California and not only cross-dress in public, but to live a double life as a part-time woman dating men!

I guess my point is that even if this is a tough burden to bear, you have a lot of opportunities. You can turn this into something really good!"

Recommendations from a psychiatrist

Anonymous 18 has one great advantage compared to many of us "elders": He has grown up with the Internet and the possibility of discussing this strange phenomenon with others online. When I was at his age, I hadn't gotten my first computer yet, and the only thing I knew about transgender issues was the few articles I had read in the newspapers. They said, of course, nothing about autogynephilia.

Anonymous 18 has also taken the step of consulting a psychiatrist, which I think can be a sensible thing to do.

I know that many transgendered report about very bad experiences when it comes to psychotherapy. The reason for this is that there are as many bigoted and prejudiced people in that crowd as in any other. Still, if you find an open minded one, he or she may be of great help. The point is not to cure the autogynephilia, but to help the autogynephiliac come to terms with what this condition is.

The psychiatrist of Anonymous 18 is clearly one searching for an answer, as he or she recommended that A18 should ask people like us for advice!

The sex life of autogynephiliacs

Anonymous 18 asks:

"What's the sex life of an autogynephilliac like? I have never spoken to any and my psychiatrist recommended me to reach out to a few. This way I can clean myself of my insecurities. Are you heterosexual, homosexual? I have always felt attracted to women and have yet to have sex but I am beginning to think that these feelings may interfere in some way with my future sexual relationships.

The thing about sex that is real scary for me is that I am attracted to women's bodies but I can't 'get over the hill' unless the fantasy of myself becoming one is fantasies. So even in sex with a woman I would have to fantasies which would probably interfere with the sex."

This is where I need your help.

I think A18 and others like him would find it really helpful to get examples on how to live with this condition. When I read comments made on this blog and in other online fora, I know that opinions are divided on this issue.

Some argue that autogynephiliacs are too self-absorbed to make long term relationships work. Others report that they have managed to integrate this into their marriages. The other day I got a thank you mail from an autogynephiliac who told me had been reading from this blog to his wife. They are still together.

Here is my response:

"Yes, this is the case with autogynephiliacs. We are attracted to women (being heterosexual/gynephiliac), and can enjoy sex with women very much. However, the real turn on for an autogynephiliac -- even when being with a woman -- is the fantasy of being a woman yourself.

So the question is whether it is possible to integrate this fantasy life into a real sexual relationship with a woman.

Many autogynephiliacs report that they manage to do that, and there are as many explanations for this as there are happily married or partnered autogynephiliacs:

1. Some enjoy the role of the man as much as of the woman. They act out the role of the man with the woman and the role of the woman in privacy. The main problem here is that the cross-dressing or cross-dreaming may become dominant.

2. They integrate the role-playing into their sex life with their partner. I have heard of pairs where the man dreams of being the woman, and the woman of being the man! The woman takes the active role, and may even use a strap-on dildo on the man. Now, there may not be many 'androphiliac' women out there (we don't know), but there are many who wouldn't mind playing along -- at least from time to time.

3. They keep their autogynephilia secret, but fantasize about being the woman while being with their partner. This may be very frustrating in the long run.

4. It has to be said that a lot of relationships break up because of autogynephilia. Some therefore end up living alone. They cross-dress and cross-dream and leave it at that.

5. Some decide to go the whole way and undergo surgery. Many of them go on to live good lives together with a woman or a another transgendered. There is also a significant proportion that changes their sexual orientation throughout the hormone therapy/surgery and end up living with a man.

As for whether an autogynephiliac is truly heterosexual or homosexual, I have a feeling reality is more complicated than that. It seems most cross-dressers and cross-dreamers are heterosexual as men. Like you, they are attracted to women. In their fantasy-life however, when dreaming about being a woman, they may imagine themselves being with a man. I would say that they are heterosexual as women as well. However, the researchers that coined the term autogynephilia deny this."

To transition or not to transition

Anonymous 18 is worried that he would end up having a sex change. There are quite a few autogynephiliacs who would say that would be a good thing. A18 does not:

"The scariest thing about being autogynaphiliac and being aware of it at such a young age is that it seems like most 'happy ending stories' involve other autogynephilliac men who eventually have sex changes. And I have no desire to transition at all, however, it seems to be a 1 way road. I'm crossed between my real life where I am happy living my life as a guy and my odd sexual desire to be a woman. In the end it's like living two very different lives and it's just difficult to ensure that I am going to win the battle.

What is your sexual orientation as an autoginaphiliac?"
My response:

My sexual orientation is gynephilic male. In real life I am attracted to women and women only. And yes, I have been with the same woman for more than 10 years!

She doesn't know everything about my autogynephilia and since I am not a cross-dresser it isn't all that visible. But she knows that I am somewhat different than other men and doesn't seem to mind.

I believe my feminine side was what she found attractive in the first place.

It isn't easy to be an autogynephiliac, but don't let anyone tell you that you cannot have a fruitful love life! It is possible, if you find the right woman. Needless to say, you may be in for quite a few disappointments before you find her -- but then again, that is true for all men, not only autogynephiliacs."

Do you have any advice for A18?


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.


  1. For Anonymous 18 (and us autogynephiliacs in general), I really recommend spending some time in Second Life.

    It's a chance to try on a female identity, to visually express our female form, and to live and love as a woman.

    There are a *lot* of us, and some fairly active groups - but the culture of "don't ask, don't tell" about RL is pretty supportive of us, in most places.

    For me, and a number of friends, and a lot of us in general, it's a chance to really live our female selves, and to explore what we're really attracted to in safety.

    The SL Flickr groups can give a good sense of what it's like, and anyone from here who does come in, please feel free to drop me an IM - Kaseido Quandry in SL

  2. Im a 17 year old male,i have Autogynephilia even since i was a child.When i was around 7-8 years old i watch anime and fantasize myself as the female character but at that time i dont know what is sex and so on,only until im 13 when school gave sex education.I always play a female character in game,but i never told anyone about my discorder.Recently i lost interest in real woman,i rather fantasize.

  3. Hello Kanzaki,

    Well, you can talk about it here. What do you think made you "lose interest" in women?

  4. What i meant about "lost interest in woman" is that i don't feel like having a relationship with a female,don't get me wrong here i'm not interested in man.So it's like i want to live my life single,it's like i won't get lonely even if i'm alone,infact i prefer being alone.

  5. I have successful sex life and great marriage with my wife of 10 years. While I am unable to "perform" in a typical male way my wife uses dildos and her fingers to stroke the underside of my genitals where I imagine a vagina is and she will suck on and play with my nipples. She will also put make-up on me and buys me female clothing, though I rarely wear it She will also role play verbally and tell me how beautiful I am and generally treat me as a she. Then I reciprocate. My wife says we have "basically a lesbian relationship" although I live as a successful male; boss and father. Non of our friends or anyone outside of our relationship know. I had a similar relationship to my ex-girlfriend. It's very important to tell your potential significant other very early on in your relationship. I told my wife on our second date. This can be terrifying but is better than the alternatives. I get to live a very positive life and although I still have this secret, I am satisfied and happy overall.

  6. @anonymous

    "I have successful sex life and great marriage with my wife of 10 years."

    Good for you!

    And thank you for telling us your story. I believe it is important that crossdreamers know that this is possible and that there are ways of living out this side of yourself.

    Cudos to your wife!

  7. Pardon the late addition, but I only now stumbled across this blog. I am a 35-year-old happily married man who has had autogynephilia since I was a teen. Like Anonymous18, I've always been a little afraid that my feelings meant that I was "supposed" to be transgender, even though I am content to be male and hate the thought of surgery. If I could wave a wand and become female, I would, but I'd also change back frequently too. I don't feel like a "woman trapped in a man's body", but like someone with masculine and feminine aspects which both like to see the light of day from time to time.

    Since A18 is worried about having sex with women, I would say that while I fantasize exclusively about being female when I masturbate, I have no problem taking the male role in actual sex. Sex is different from masturbation, so don't worry too much about that yet. (Your mileage may vary, of course.)

    I also recommend Second Life, which I just joined as a female. I read somewhere that non-transsexual autogynephiles might have a strong "inner woman", and I thought it would be good to let her out to play in some non-sexual context. I'm too masculine in appearance to pass in real life, but SL is wonderful, and I find myself spending way too much time on it, with a feeling of giddiness that is hard to explain.

  8. " .. SL is wonderful, and I find myself spending way too much time on it, with a feeling of giddiness that is hard to explain."

    I guess that dizziness is the feeling your inner woman has when she finally gets the chance to live her life :-)

  9. Is there any way i can stop having these fantasies because th very idea of being an autogynephiliac scares me. I just dont want anything to do with it. Please help me

  10. @Anonymous

    I wish I could give you a simple cure, but I am afraid there is no cure for crossdreaming. The condition can be very scary, but many crossdreamers manage to handle it in their day to day lives. Many also report that getting to know their "inner woman" (or "man" in the case of female to male crossdreamers) have made their lives better and richer.

    If you feel a lot of anxiety, depression and/or shame about this, please find a sexologist or a psychologist with experience in transgender conditions and talk to him or her. You need to give this part of you a voice and get "her" out in the open. The whole of you needs to be seen and reaffirmed by another human being.

    There is fundamentally nothing wrong with you. You are just different, and outside the norm as that norm is defined by society. The fact is that there are millions of us all over the world. You are not alone.

    Note also that there are many places to meet online for crossdreamers. Forums like Rachel's Haven explore the erotic side of crossdreaming. Crossdream Life is for discussions about how to handle crossdreaming in real life. If you are a crossdresser, there are also societies where crossdressers meet and discuss their inner woman.

  11. Hey Anonymous 18.

    I'm pretty much feeling content being me nowadays but a few years ago i was just as scared as you are. I would too rather kill myself than become a female but i like the sexual fantasy of being a feminine woman or shemale.

    "Is there any way i can stop having these fantasies because th very idea of being an autogynephiliac scares me. I just dont want anything to do with it. Please help me."

    I would like to be in touch with you
    and yes i know, i too would rather be completely straight than be 50/50. It is rough having these fantasies but i know you will find a midway path which satisfies you without you changing the way you are comfortable with right now.

  12. @Sam Z

    I will let him know that you have posted this comment.


  13. You sound exactly like me. THANKS! thought i was the freak of freaks until a few years ago when i found out about autogyn. you can be more than one "category". like i'm autogyn, trans AND straight. well OK then. at age 2 or 3 did you feel "like" your mom and "different" than your dad? did boy stuff seem dumb, but girl stuff just wasn't you either? then at puberty did the WONDER of WOMAN blow you away, even more than it did to the regular guy, because you were perceiving so much more about these girls? perhaps your experience in an actual sexual relationship with a woman will turn out like mine - once i'm in it, the need to fantasize just goes away, all by itself, so it doesn't end up being an issue at all. i always mention being "part woman" but am too uncomfortable telling them about the fantasy - you can tell if they'll understand or not. i know my female self is still there, however, because as soon as the relationship ends it comes back. like she was lying there dormant the whole time, on holiday until there was a place for her again. I tend to unconciously choose partners w/traits that won't work out, so it won't be permanent and i can go back and forth. a dilemma. I can't integrate my "selves" - never been attracted to men in real life, in fact the real-life male me disapproves of the female fantasy me, who is totally into the idea of MEN for SEX. as time went on, it became just like 2 separate people in there, not different sides of the same person. a quagmire. i just got used to the conflict. if i were to transition it'd be the same problem in reverse, but w/ loads of new problems too. you are SPECIAL, no doubt you can see things from the female perspective AND the male's - it's a gift. look up "2-spirit" - some cultures revere us, like many native american tribes. the true shaman is a man with a woman inside, seen to have a unique healing touch. Fantasy is an escape, at least ours is TOTAL, INTENSE and FUN. and only self-destructive if we can't learn to accept it. take your time - the more you can see yourself for what you really are, the more you CAN see, and the more valuable it all becomes. precious. ignore what society says, what do they know? they don't even have a decent label selection. GOOD LUCK!!


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