October 28, 2009

The Hero and the Princess (Should Autogynephilia be Treated?)

I need your help again!

One of my readers have added an interesting comment to one of my previous post. The comment is about an hormone treatment aimed at reducing his libido (sex drive) and through that his feminization fantasies.

Have any of you been offered such a treatment or any other treatment for autogynephilia, and would you care to share your experience? Moreover, do you think autogynephilia should be treated as disorder or disease?


The comment


"What would be interesting is some research into treatment options for sufferers of autogynephilia. A treatment option I use is to take low dose female hormones via my doctor. 25mg patches. This does seem to to keep my GID [Gender Identity Disorder] under control. The low dose hormone works well and keeps my head clear.

I have fully confessed my autogynephilia to both my care givers who seem to feel this is a good treatment option for me.

I guess I'm allergic to my own testosterone or its own natural levels are to high for me. My autogynephilia demands that I feminise myself, whilst doing so I'm also damping the nasty nagging of autogynephilia.

The desire does not go completly but it's easier to deal with. I have had a six month break from hormones (after 2 years) , and the autogynephilic desires are back stronger than ever.

I'm fighting with myself as to what to do, either go back on the patches and accept a more feminine lifestyle or battle with myself as a male.

The autogynephilic demon is offering me the ability to obtain my life long desire of feminisation. But at the same time something which is so desirable for me is also so very frightening."

A disease or something natural?

Here is my comment:

Actually, there isn't much online regarding treatment for autogynephilia, nor is there any agreement on whether this is a disorder that actually requires treatment.

Although I am not completely sure, I have become more and more convinced that autogynephilia is an expression of a natural phenomena, not a disease.

Some men have some kind of mix of female and male traits, and their feminine side expresses itself through cross-dressing and/or erotic fantasies of having a woman's body.

I am not a doctor and cannot give medical advice. As a fellow autogynephiliac, though, I find it strange that you seem to think that your autogynephilia is caused by some kind of testosterone overdose.

You have clearly a strong sex drive (which is not unnatural) , and being an autogynephiliac it is quite natural that this libido is channeled into fantasies of this kind. This is the case for me as well. Had I been a "normal" man I would have fantasized about "normal" sex, and no doctor would have found that strange or worrying.

Overwhelming feelings

Still, I do understand that these feelings can at times get so overwhelming, dominating and frightening, that it may seem that the only way to get a normal life is to go for a mild form of hormone or drug treatment (e.g by using female hormones to reduce the sex drive, but not to generate a transition to womanhood).

I wonder if it would be better to go to some kind of open-minded psychologist instead, not to get cured of your autogynephilia, but to get a sound outlet for your anxiety and fears. This might help you get a better understanding of yourself and help you find peace with your feminine side.

Personally I have found that I have learned more from facing my demons, and from integrating the seemingly "nasty" side of my own psyche into my own personality. I have also learned that by facing my shadow side -- i.e. the parts of my own personality that may seem negative and frightening --- I have become a more complete person and, I believe, a better person.

The Hero's Journey

I believe thinkers like Carl Gustav Jung and Joseph Campbell are right when they say that the stories, myths and fairy tales about heros battling trolls and dragons, are really about our own struggle with repressed desires.

The hero has to confront these desires and come to terms with them (kill the dragon).
When he does so, the psychic energies are let loose. The wasteland again becomes fertile and the hero gets his princess.

That is: What seemed to be something dangerous and negative, turned out to be something good - the life force itself. We have to change our attitude towards that life force in order to get access to it.

You are the hero of your own life, but it seems to me that your helpers are actually stopping you from coming to terms with your feminine side, and that might be a mistake.

Giving your desires form

Two years ago I was completely overwhelmed with the desire for feminization. I had suppressed this side of me for so long, that I was no longer able to keep the flood back. Hadn't it been for the fact that I knew quite a lot about psychic processes, I would probably have feared for my own sanity.

I did understand what was going on, though, so instead of repressing these desires, I let them find their expression by writing down the fantasies. I guess other art forms or talk therapy could have worked equally well.

Then I started this blog, in order to talk with other autogynephiliacs like you and in order to develop a language that might make what was happening make more sense.

Now, two years later, the feelings are no longer overwhelming. The fantasies are still there (and probably always will be), but they no longer stop me from having a "normal" life. I am determined to continue working with my autogynephilia, not to kill my "inner princess" but to accept her as a natural part of myself.

Whether this means that I will go for sex reassignment, I don't know. And whether you should seriously consider a sex change is not for me to say either, as that would depend on your unique life situation, which I do not know.

I seriously think that you should take the hero's journey, though, battle your dragon and get to know your princess. It is best to have someone around to help you on that journey, because it can be very hard indeed. Find an understanding loved one, an open-minded therapist or a non-condemning spiritual adviser to talk to!



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.

October 24, 2009

How many male to female transsexuals are there?

The idea that transsexualism is a very rare phenomenon is common, and makes it easier for M2F transgendered to believe that they are, indeed, deviants and very much alone in their sufferings.

The number that often pops up is that 1 in 30,000 males is transgendered (i.e. understands themselves as women).

I for one, find the number 1:30,000 to be surprisingly large, actually, given how seldom you hear about transsexuals in the media.

However, the readers of this blog should note that Professor Lynn Conway of the University of Michigan has challenged this number in a very convincing way. The percentage of M2F transsexuals is much, much higher, she claims.

Counting surgeries performed over the years, Conway made an estimate of at least 40,000 postoperative trans women in the U.S. in 2005. These women had transitioned out of a population of roughly 100,000,000 adult males.

"Simple division reveals that at least one in every 2500 people born as males here has undergone sex reassignment surgery (SRS): i.e., ~ 40,000/100,000,000 = 1/2500."

There is something on the order of 5 times as many people inherently experience transsexualism than those who have already undergone sex reassignment – leading Conway to conclude the inherent condition occurs in at least one in every 500 children born as males.

Note that this figure of 1 in 500 is a "lower bound" on the prevalence of transsexualism (intense gender dysphoria), and the actual value could be higher.

If we also should include autogynephiliacs who fantasize about having a woman's body, but consider themselves male and do not wish for sex reassignment surgery, the number would probably must be much higher.

We are not that alone! Really!

Photo of transwoman model Isis.

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.

October 5, 2009

A man trapped in a woman's mind

About men who dream about becoming women, sissies and feminization, and a possible psychological explanation.

In this blog I have so far focused more on nature as opposed to nurture as an explanation for autogynephilia, i.e. some men's fantasies of having a woman's body.

I am not willing to dismiss the possibility of autogynephilia having psychological causes, though, especially from childhood experiences.

In a response to an previous blog post "Anonymous" writes the following:

"I am a heterosexual man, with no feminine characteristics. I have been told variously that I look like a cop, a professional wrestler, or a teamster organizer. I was raised by an extremely abusive mother and older sister. I have been seeing a therapist for years. After a number of years I finally told him that I fantasized about being a woman (usually cruel and always beautiful who treated men terribly). I thought I was a major league pervert, but he told me it was something called 'identification with the aggressor'. This is a defense mechanism where someone actually identifies with the person, or group of people abusing them as a way of dealing with their fears"

(You can read the rest of his comment here.)

The role of strong women

I can put a related narrative for my own childhood that in a chilling way fits the idea of abuse causing autogynephilia.

I grew up in a family with a emotionally very strong and willful mother. Unfortunately she wasn't too bright and had absolutely no sense of humor. A dangerous combination of traits, indeed!

My father was an intelligent man, kind and compassionate, but also prone to depression. He was in no way able to handle my mother, a woman he should never have married.

Still, it could have worked out all right , I guess, hadn't it been that a disaster hit our family. I am not going into detail here, for the sake of anonymity. Neither of them handled it very well, and I guessed it killed my mother's love for my father.

The prince/wimp complex

My mother had the kind of schizophrenic view of men that some women develop. It is a kind of parallel to the madonna/whore complex some men display. In her world there were two kinds of men: princes and wimps.

1. There were the "charming" men. There is no clear definition of this concept, but I guess self-confidence, good looks and a good smile have something to do with it. This was probably her "prince-coming-to-rescue-me" archetype.

2. Then there was the weakling. This is a man with little self-confidence and strength. A man that are not able to help women in the way he should and leaves most of the burden of running a family to her.

Her own father had been the interesting combination of a strict religious fundamentalist and a womanizer with two lovers on the side (!). That might have caused her to become a man-hater. When my father turned out to be less than perfect, he was moved over from category 1 to category 2.

Stockholm syndrome

My mother now decided that her disappointment in my father had to get an outlet somewhere, and she decided to make me her confidante. I therefore absorbed her hate for men, and adapted it as mine. I became an aggressive feminist of the negative kind.

Had I belonged to category 1, however, I would never had accepted this kind of emotional abuse. I would have withdrawn from her, and either grown closer to my father or found another male role model.

Instead I found myself in the strange position of becoming category 2: the pitiful, weak, male. In many ways I had much in common with my father. After all, that was why I was able to play the role of the patient and understanding listener. That being said, it was clear that my mother appreciated my loyalty, and returned it with a kind of perverted love.

So what was I really? Was I like my father, whom she considered an unmanly man? Part of me had to believe that. And given that I was bad at sports and had no manly physical strength, I guess that impression got stronger over time. I also entered puberty at a very late age.

This had to be an intolerable situation, and it could be that my autogynephilia was some kind of response to this.

Becoming the girl friend

I guess that in my relationship with my mother I had taken on the role of the feminine, understanding, girl friend or daughter. The one that listens to your worries. Given that she hated men, and put women up on a pedestal, I guess I came to the conclusion that the only way of getting love from women was to become one myself -- mentally, that is.

This is a kind of self-castration that is bound to leave deep scars (no pun intended!).

This is my "man trapped in a woman's mind" theory. I adapted my mother's view of the world in order to get the love all kids require, and has been suffering for it since.

Thanks to years of therapy the man inside me did manage to get out and do some good. I am now considered to have an outgoing personality and a strong will, and in some ways I guess I have. Some would even consider me an alpha male, although I definitely do not feel like it.

Sissy fantasies

There is a whole sub-genre in transgender erotica called sissy stories. These are about men who is turned into women by one or more strong and willful women. They may be sisters, mothers, colleagues or some type of dominatrix, but what they have in common is that they despise weak men and decide to turn the man into the women he truly is.

The change may include cross-dressing, hormone treatment or some kind of magical change whereby the man becomes a woman. The man is always humiliated and he becomes a kind of submissive slave to the woman. In some cases he is denied sex -- he becomes asexual -- in other stories he is given to others to be used as a sex slave.

"Rebecca" has described the Sissy Quadrant Theory (link to explicit content!):

"All great sissy stories are based on the interaction between four archetypal character types:
  • Powerwoman, a strong mother, aunt, teacher, nanny or wife that has total control over her own life and the life of others.
  • Powerman, a strong, muscular, 'real' man (with a big dick); a mythical figure that is actually able to satisfy the sexual needs of Powerwoman. He is always an outsider (and does not exist in real life).
  • The Wuss, a boy or man, totally unable to live up to Powerwoman's expectations of what constitutes a 'real man'. His inadequacy is symbolized by his small dick.
  • The Sissy, a submissive and mentally challenged girl or woman with no personal will of her own.
The plot of a sissy story is basically like this:
  1. Powerwoman and the Wuss are in a relationship (husband/wife, son/mother etc.).
  2. Powerwoman despises the Wuss and decides that he is, for all practical purposes, as Sissy.
  3. Powerwoman changes the Wuss into a Sissy.
  4. Powerman serves Powerwoman.
  5. Sissy serves Powerman."

As I see it, these stories try make sense of the conflict between stereotypes, both as regards men and women. The stories try to resolve the conflict by making two distinct categories for both genders. There are strong and weak women as well as strong and weak men.

The protagonist in the story, the "victim", is given the role of the weak, submissive, woman.

My guess is that many transgendered men find this exciting, because by becoming the sissy they resolve a horrible dilemma. They have had to become a kind, weak and submissive person in order to be accepted by the strong woman in their childhood (mother, grandmother, aunt, sister).

Since the same female role model also despises weak men, they have also come to believe that their strategy makes them unsuitable to become real lovers for "real" women.

This is a Catch 22, for whatever they do, it looks like there will be no release for their sexual desires. Women only like them if they are submissive, but if they are submissive they won't get any!

In the sissy fantasy, the autogynephiliac takes the only option that seems available, namely complete feminization. This leads to two possible "favorable" outcomes:
  1. He becomes a submissive sissy, but an attractive one. There will be lots of sex with dominant men or women.
  2. He becomes totally asexual. In these fantasies the sissy becomes the servant of the dominatrix. He can indulge in feminine activities like dressing up, manicure etc, but is denied sex. In this case it is the cross-dressing that give the emotional reward. He is, if nothing else, accepted as the submissive girl friend.
Not the whole story

I do not consider myself a sissy, but I recognize the longings underpinning these sexual fantasies.

In and for itself my life story (if my analysis is correct) could be a sufficient explanation for my autogynephilia, and I do not doubt that my life experience has been a contributing force.

The sissy stories may indicate that there are a lot of autogynephiliacs out there that try to come to terms with their trauma by finding a new role as a submissive woman, at least in their fantasy life.

Still, I doubt that this is the whole explanation. Many boys will not accept this kind of treatment. I had a sibling who froze my mother out and attached himself to my father instead. There must have been something in me that made me go for this particular "solution".

I believe there were strong feminine traits in me that responded to this kind of mistreatment, but it is hard for me to determine whether I would have become an autogynephiliac if my upbringing had been more normal.

Here's one take on it though:

Let's say I truly am a woman trapped in a man's body. That will naturally lead to a strong alienation from my own body. I would find it hard to accept it, to like it, to find peace in it. My self-loathing and low self-esteem may very well be caused by this, and not only by what my mother did to me.

It could be that I actually accepted my mother's negative view of men, because I hated myself as a man, being in fact a (kind of) woman. The hatred of my own masculinity could easily be turned into a general hatred for men, given the right (No! wrong) conditions.

Of one thing I am certain. I strongly believe that the condition of most (if not all) transsexuals has a biological foundation. In too many of the life stories I have been told and have read, the kid comes out as a transgendered at a very early age, often down to two years old. You cannot explain that as caused by psychological abuse. The process I have told you about takes place over a long period of time, all the way up into puberty.

Note also that a majority of the transgender fantasies found on the web do not include forced sissyfication.

Secondly, I have no reason to believe that all transwomen and transmen have lived in dysfunctional families. Obviously many of the parents have had difficulties understanding and even accepting their kid's condition, but that lack of understanding cannot have caused the condition. Common sense requires that their reluctance should have hindered it, rather than stimulated it.

This means that the introduction of a psychological explanation can mean one of two things:

1. The life experience of an autogynephiliac can alter the way the condition plays out. It can make it more traumatic, but it cannot cause it.

2. There are several types of transgendered people: Some based on biology and some the result of psychological trauma.

My gut feeling is to go for alternative 1, but I cannot prove it.



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.

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