January 15, 2010

The Autogynephilia Debate Part 1

Discussing transgender and transsexual issues is a risky sport.


I am worried. The debate on transgender and transsexual issues is poisonous, full of hateful accusations and counter-accusations made by people who all seem traumatized by social exclusion and a lack of acceptance.

This also affects the borderline between autogynephiliacs (AGPs) and "classic transsexuals" (CTs). Many classic transsexuals complain that AGPs have invaded their territory, turning their case into something it is not. They also argue that they have been attacked by AGPs, verbally and worse. That might actually be the case. I have also found sites with CTs attacking CTs in the most vicious way. We are all the worse for it.

Escalating warfare

Unfortunately this has lead to a kind of escalating warfare you find in the Balkans or the Middle East. Attacks leads to trauma and anger, anger leads to counter-attacks, counter-attacks lead to a segmentation of differences, this again leads to the development of silo mentalities and ideological fundamentalism, and fundamentalism requires complete adherence to the true faith, whatever that is.

This can happen very fast. Malaysia is a heterogeneous democracy dominated by Muslims. There has always been some conflict between the Muslim Malays, the Buddhist Chinese and the Hindu Indians, but mostly they manage to get along.

But it says a lot about the vulnerability of this balance that one single word can lead to violence. The Catholic Church in Malaysia started to use the word Allah for God. Now Muslims are attacking churches, offended by this "insensitive" use of the word. The fact is that Christians in Arab countries has used the word like this for centuries, and the Prophet himself argued that Christians, Jews and Muslims prayed to the same God. But now someone is using this case as a way of inflaming tensions and getting their message across.

This is a blog about autogynephilia. The main purpose is to help autogynephiliacs, but it should also be of interest to others who struggle with transgender and transsexual issues. Moreover, other types of gender identity issues are of relevance to autogynephiliacs. Sometimes I have to cover M2F transwomen.

Jack walks into a "mind-field"

Note the phrasing of the previous paragraphs: "transgender and transsexual issues". The draft of this blog post used the word "transgender issues". Having read quite a few books on the subject, and a lot of online material, I truly believed that the word "transgender" was understood an umbrella term for various types of gender dysphoria (see, for instance, the Wikipedia or the book The Transgender Phenomenon, which includes an historical review of the use of the term.). The fact is that it is used this way by a lot of specialists, transsexuals and activists. There is even a scholarly International Journal of Transgenderism

I therefore used the term in a headline categorizing miscellaneous links on my new resource page, adding blogs and sites that contained information and view points I believed was relevant to the transgender/transsexual debate.

Boom! The whole thing blew up in my face. How could I be so insensitive! How could I possibly link to sites that had nothing to do with autogynephilia and transgender issues? This was an insult!

Some wanted to contact my ISP/Blogger to get them take down the whole blog. In a few days my interpretation of a term had turned into ugly online violence.

Transgender=autogynephilia

I must admit I was more than a little confused at first. I have always argued that there is a difference between autogynephiliacs and classical transsexuals. Unlike Blanchard and his followers I truly believe classic transsexuals are what they say they are: complete women and not gay men, mentally ill, freaks or whatever derogatory term you might come up with.

I have said as much. I added the links out of interest and respect, but that single word -- "transgendered" -- made these blog owners conclude that I accused them of being perverts.

Why? Well, probably because the term was originally coined by Virginia Charles Prince, a famous (notorious?) crossdresser. She did not use it as an umbrella term. It could also be that it is used by "social constructivists" that argue that gender is a social construct, without any biological basis. The fact that I put links to their blogs under a headline that indicated any sort of association with autogynephilia was enough.

I am must admit that I am more than a little annoyed that my blog and my condition is so toxic that a mere link from my site is considered an affront. I had some sleepless nights. Still, I can live with that. I am a grown man. I have been through worse. The main problem is that these kind of reactions threaten the ability of me and others to have an open discussion on transgender and transsexual issues.

Numerous tribes

Most autogynephiliacs do not know the ins and outs of transsexual politics, the nuances of every term, what's considered offensive in groups we are not a member of (and who wouldn't have us as a member in the first place).

Still, we need to be able to talk, to discuss, even if we should be mistaken and even prejudiced. It is through an open and patient discourse that we grow and gain a better understanding of ourselves and others, and it is through discussions like that we manage to correct stereotypes and unnecessary conflicts.

I am a seasoned researcher. Academics can be beasts, as well. I am used to it. But there are a lot of autogynephiliacs out there that do not have my experience. They are young, depressed, and vulnerable. They are trying to get out of their shells, but they are scared, and one hateful attack can be enough. They run back into their caves, never to come out again. We can't have that.

But there is also another possibly outcome. It may be worse. I must admit that I was seriously hurt and pissed off when my blog was attacked. My instincts told me to lash out, attack, kill! These people threatened to take down my blog and destroy all the work I had put into it. They insulted me, calling me a pervert. Why shouldn't I hate them the way they hated me?

I could have done that. But the fact is that it would have made this much, much worse. Besides, even if their behavior is problematic -- to say the least -- the reason for their aggression is that they are probably even more traumatized than I am. And I believe them when they say that they live under siege, possibly even from autogynephiliacs.

Seeking out conflict

OK, I stepped into their back yard by linking to them. They didn't seek me out. If I had let them in peace, they would not have bothered. I have learned my lesson. I will be very careful linking to such sites in the future, believe me! (Which is bad, because they deserve to be heard.)

There are, however, some transsexual activists who look for a fight, searching the Web for any mention of autogynephilia. They see it as their task to seek out heretics and get them to shut up.

In my next post I will present one such case: the Mr. Autogynephilia controversy.

I have underlined the word "some", as most transsexuals seem to handle the existence of autogynephiliacs pretty well. Actually, most of them focus on living their lives as normal women, and do not get involved in transsexual politics at all.

Furthermore, I have had several very helpful emails and comments on this blog from "classic transsexuals" and I definitely welcome more.

Postscript: What type of transsexual?

Note that I used the term "classic transsexuals" above. I did so over at YouTube and got the following reply:

"Your use of the terms 'classical transsexual' is outdated and used an archaic structure that has been abandoned since the 1980s."

Which proves that I am a charlatan that knows nothing about these issues and that I better shut up.

So, in order to clarify: I use the word "classic transsexual" to denote a subset of transpeople who feel that they are trapped in the body of the wrong sex. For instance: their biological sex is male; their gender identity is female.

There are other terms. Some call them "primary transsexuals", others "secondary transsexuals", but this is so confusing that it is of no help to me. Nor do I believe that some transsexuals are more "primary" than others. This is also why I find terms like "nuclear transsexual" or "true transsexual" unsatisfying.

The term "androphilic transsexual" has also been used, but I am not sure that there is a one to one relationship between sexual orientation and transgender subtype. In other words: I do not think that all gynephilic transwomen (M2F transsexuals who are attracted to women) are autogynephiliacs.

Blanchard and Bailey call them "homosexual transsexual men", but that makes no sense in my opinion. In my book they are women, not men. If they are androphilic (attracted to males), that means that they are heterosexual, not homosexual.

I could, of course, drop the word "classic" and talk about transsexual women or transwomen only. The fact is, however, that many of the post-op transsexual women living in the world today started out as autogynephiliacs. This means that the word "transsexual"often is used to describe all of those that have undergone sex reassignment surgery, regardless of the reason they had for doing so. I am not going to be the one that tells those women that they are not real women.

So until someone gives me a better term, I will continue to talk about classic and classical transsexuals, and hope that it is understood that it is used out of respect and not in a derogatory way.

Continues in part 2.



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.

38 comments:

  1. In my experience (as an autogynephiliac), I've also been called lazy or cowardly, since I obviously don't have the gusto to transition. Just like common people don't understand transsexuals, SOME transsexuals don't understand a person who fantasizes about being a woman during sex, and then wants nothing to do with being a woman once they've climaxed.

    I never expect anyone to understand this, I hardly understand the reasoning myself. All I do know is that it's not a dream, I'm not crazy, and it does exist.

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  2. Personally, I don't think anyone should be pressured to transition. I think that is one of the big mistakes people make. Another mistake is assuming that all people with gender confusion are CTs.

    The thing is that ultimately no matter what anyone says the decision to transition is a very painful and risky life choice. The question on whether to do it is more about whether your life will be better if you change your sex than anything else. I guess you could say it was logical but in a lot of ways, it is more feeling than anything else. I am scared and I have met very few people who feel otherwise.

    I guess for some that just looking like a woman and being treated like a man might be fulfilling but personally, I don't understand that. I think being CT is more about saying that I feel like I am for all intents and purposes a female trying to live as a male and I would like to live as what I am.

    There is a blurry line between AGP and TS and there probably are some other gender variant issues on the spectrum other than these two poles. It is not that the root causes are similar. The problem is that people with certain conditions might believe themselves to be female even if they are not.

    I would imagine that desiring to have sex as a female could make someone wonder if they were really female.

    Gender variance of any kind probably creates some degree of confusion whether it is because of AGP, homosexuality, intersexual conditions (or those mimic-ing the same), or conditions where the brain does not understand sexual roles.

    For example, I grew up being unable to pass as a male on the telephone and have lot of really unusual physical traits (I am pair shaped, etc.). I probably could be considered a freak. Let's say I was not somewhat effeminate and gender confused as a child. Even then, my "freak" status might have caused me to become gender confused though not legitimately CT.

    My "freak" status is real. I was walking around in a mall tonight when two black men started trailing me and making rude comments about my strange appearance. I have not transitioned and the characteristics they were mocking are not characteristics that I chose. However, I still felt threatened and scared.

    I have other friends who have had chemical imbalances that have left them gender confused at points in their life.

    The point is that CTs don't own gender confusion and the real question of where a person fits into things can get complicated. I think I am most concerned about those who mislabel themselves and don't really understand where we fit in. The idea that we are all TS obfuscates the truth.

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  3. Dear GQ,

    I think what you are saying is extremely important. Although most people seem to fit comfortably inside the "normalcy zone" (although with huge variation as regards personality and ability), there are also many that fall outside.

    What shapes us as human beings is a large number of factors: genes, hormones in the womb, nutrition, chemicals, nurture, life experiences, you name it: and it is this variety or heterogeneity that makes life such a fascinating place in the first place.

    A man dreaming about becoming a woman, doesn't necessarily have to be a classic transsexual or a woman trapped in a man's body (in short: having a woman's brain).

    He could be a mix of the male and the female, his inner woman being strong and demanding; he could have suffered a trauma that has redirected his libido in an usual direction; he could have transcended the male/female divide and become something else our language is unable to capture.

    We should be careful jumping to conclusions.

    I agree with you that anyone contemplating transitioning should be careful and consider this move very carefully. But I will also respect those that have done so, regardless of the reasons for their choice.

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  4. Great work , keep it up!
    -Colin

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  5. I'm an autogynephiliac (physiology/behavioral) who does NOT want to give into these impulses. It would put my career, family, and mental health at great risk if I did so at this point in my life (I'm 50, married, and in a lucrative, visible, and responsible position that would NOT carry over into another gender.

    What I hate about this "war" is that the transsexual community, in its effort to discredit the diagnosis of autogynephilia as a mental disorder may make it impossible for those of us who want treatment to help us *resist* the autogynephillic compulsions to find treatment. That's hard enough as it is, given that so many psychiatrists have already given into the transsexual communities view of political correctness.

    But if the trans community succeeds in its crusade to get AGP out of the DSM, it will be virtually impossible for doctors to give you drugs (or get get insurance to cover it), as there would be no legal diagnosis justifying the prescription of say, depo-provera, as I'm about to go on, or surgical castration, as others have had done to quell the sexual urges.

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  6. @ Kelly, why are you considering taking "depo-provera". Does it weaken your sex drive or something?
    As for dealing with "CS's" I have run into a few heated debates about the legitamacy of AGP being a true gender issue and not that it was a term that misrepresents a true product of GID. There are AGP's out there who "give in to their sex fantasies, by transitioning and most of them seem happy enough but I believe the majority are in hiding. It seems to be distasteful to admit that your "discovered' Your gender issues through a fetish or transvestism.
    I think the biggest issue that I have seen among the TG community is the fact that the term was created by Blanchard and the negative things that he represents for them. And so even though we use the term so casually is really is something rascist to a CS. So perhaps if there was another psychologist who wrote a better paper about it and how our condition is trully unique perhaps we can shed more lite on it. I just feel that a rivalry caused by faulty terminology really shouldnt be a rivalry attall.

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  7. kelly,

    If you are trying to quell urges you can always try a good anti-androgen like spironolactone. I do not think I would recommend any progestin or progesterones like depo-provera. Progesterone can be a very moody drug and can actually in the worst case increase testosterone levels.

    As far as TS or CTs trying to discredit a diagnosis of AGP, I think it is just about them being afraid that they would fall under such a diagnosis and no it is not fair but it is hard to come out and be honest about issues that put you at odds with the rest of society.

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  8. Halo - Yes, the depo-provera is basically chemical castration, and will cut off the sex drive. Testosterone is what fuels all of the paraphilia. I tried spiro, but it's not really strong enough, and it's not what the psychiatrists recommend. I'll let you all know how the depo works out.

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  9. kelly,

    Have you seen a good endocrinologist? A psychiatrist usually does not have experience with hormone altering medications.

    Please, be safe.

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  10. Good post, Jack. I agree that my biggest fear in all the controversy is that it will drive those who identify with AGP's further underground. Giving people a safe place to discuss their issues and problems is paramount - regardless of how they choose to resolve them.

    Keep up your good work! :)

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  11. Tell me Jack, if you are so interested in autogynephilia, why do you need to talk about classic transsexuals so much? I would think your subject matter would be enough to occupy your thoughts without the foray into unrelated things.

    For someone who is exploring this complicated subject for the very first time, and a layman at that, you have an enormous body of opinion on a broad range of topics. You even have marching orders for your autogynephilic disciples. Charming.

    All this organization and planning is really quite remarkable in a neophyte.

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  12. Jack,
    Apparently you still don't "get" it do you?
    My issue with your link was it was listed under transgender which to me is a term that embodies gynophobia, misogynoy associated mental illness, viciousness and out and out denial of the womanhood of post corrected women. It was the gender equivalent of using the "f" word for a gay male or the "n" word for an African-American.

    And you totally ignored my first request made on the blog you invaded so I came to the source and up'ed the ante.

    I do believe that AG is a mental illness, the leading psychiatrists in the world agree with me on that.,, but that wasn't this issue with the link, the heading "transgender" was. I want you to be clear on this because you wandered into an active war stepped straight into the battlefield and then bitched about taking fire.

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  13. I think I should also say this for the record.

    Gender issues are confusing whether you are AGP, HSTS, or.. whatever.

    I know people who I would say are probably really HSTS but think they are AGP and a lot of AGPs think they are CTs so..

    So, please introspection but not insanity and be true and good to yourself :)

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  14. It's not possible to understand the thing unless people in TG community accept the fact that someone might have symptoms lying outside both HSTS as well as AGP.
    I am feminine male with fantasies of being a prom queen. I like the glam and beauty of females and I very much envy their privileges. I consider men as second class citizens not becasue I fear masculinity or anything, but simply because women get the better of beauty and glam in this world. Sometimes, when I am alone, my feminine side gets too strong and I get some wish I were female. In company of people outdoors however, I lose all of such feelings and become normal man.
    I am neither HSTS nor AGP. Yet that does not preclude that I too have gender issues sometimes, mostly as, I might be somewhat androgynous or bigender.

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  15. Let me be clear I think Transgender and Transexualism are valid. I don't want that to be lost in what I say next.

    I believe some Transgender folks fear the term Autogynephilia because it MIGHT undermine their status as having something other than AGP. I assume some of this is based on the struggle such people have had to endure, for others to take they condition seriously. I do take you condition seriously.

    I think this fear of AGP is short sighted. I am a 40+ year old male who enjoys AGP type fantasies. I thought I was transsexual until I discovered AGP. For over 25 years I thought I was Transsexual but was always sure I could not transition successfully for many reasons. Now I know what I am and that it is only a turn-on for me and not a physical thing in need of correcting. Thank goodness in my case I avoided a LOT of unneeded suffering. I'm sure I could have been happy had I transitioned but it would have been with more cost and trauma than needed.

    That is me. I works for me, it does not have to work for everyone. I'm sure for some transition is critical to their long term well being.

    But if we deny that AGP exists then we open up to folks like me heading for a solution such as GRS that would leave my only partially satisfied and mostly frustrated because it was overkill for what was truly driving me.

    Creating a world where everybody is TS or not TS and nobody can be AGP is as cruel as denying a TS the solution to their condition.

    Please don't deny me the means to be happy in my life. I would not deny it for you.

    Best wishes for those of you who have it harder than me. I hope you find happiness.

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  16. @Anonymous

    "Creating a world where everybody is TS or not TS and nobody can be AGP is as cruel as denying a TS the solution to their condition."

    The reason I set up this blog, was that there are a lot of people out there who do feel a longing for being the opposite sex, but who do not -- necessarily -- think of themselves as transsexual men or women.

    Many do like you: They integrate their dreams into their ordinary lives. This is a good thing.

    I used the autogynephilia theory as a starting point for this blog, since it seemed like Blanchard & Co were the only ones willing to talk and think about what this longing is about.

    Unfortunately, Blanchard & Co ended up labeling us all as perverts, as men in love with the image of ourselves as women, effectively ruining the explanatory power of the theory. Most "AGPs" are perfectly capable of loving others.

    (Blanchard does not talk about M2F autogynephiliacs.)

    This is why I think we need another term for men and and women who fantasize about being the other sex. My suggestion is "crossdreamers".

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  17. I'm a 54-year old with AGP and am grateful to Blanchard for having provided a refinement on the classic TS-non-TS divide. After years of soul searching and introspection, I can affirm that I am a heterosexual man who has the ability to love.
    The way I see it (I may be mistaken), my AGP is a substitute for the real thing. If presented with the choice between the woman of my dreams and my "AGP" woman of my dreams, I would choose the former.
    If I were to be in a relationship with the woman of my dreams, would I still fantasize? The answer is yes, especially when the woman of my dreams is not available. Hence, AGP is a substitute.
    Which raises the question of maturity. I was married to the woman of my dreams (sexually speaking), but would lapse into my AGP fantasies when she was unavailable.
    Which makes it a control thing. I can't control my desires, so I resort to AGP.
    Not helping matters in my case is the fact that I am a pretty man who can transform himself into a very passable woman (typically, 60's blond bombshells).
    Sometimes, I wish I was otherwise. I am now single and dating. My hope is that I meet a woman who will not only fulfill me sexually, but also emotionally. And, in the end, diminish my AGP. However, I have to face the fact that I may live my whole life this way!!! Which is OK, I guess.

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  18. While Blanchard has been demonized by the TG community, it is worthwhile noting that most TG's and pre-operative TG's are highly stylized versions of women. Rare are the instances of plain Jane TG's. That is TG's who assume a normal woman's identity.
    Perhaps the TG internet sites provide a biased view, but in most, they are ultra-feminine.....which leads me to believe that they represent their own male fantasies (of gorgeous women)!
    Sure, some men are effeminate but choose not to transition, preferring to live their lives as men.

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  19. Anon,

    Being yourself can be really hard.. I was gay bashed a lot in school and so I wanted to be anything but who I was. Was the person I often tried to be to survive natural? Anything but..

    One of the problems in the community is trauma. No matter where someone stands, we have it and have to deal with it. Getting past everything to who you are after being ridiculed for being that person is difficult and hiding as someone else is easy. But really, I don't think transition in itself is anyone's solution. I think the solution is understanding and really caring for yourself.

    The problem is how to in a healthy way integrate a very real part of yourself and one that you are often deeply ashamed of into your life. It seems like AGPs imagine that all natural effeminate people considering transition are comfortable with the fact that they are effeminate and that is just not true. More over, some people who are probably really gay men transition because they are not comfortable being effeminate.

    It is just hard to say.. "yes, I feel this way and yes, I will probably bring stigma down on myself by being this way but anything else just isn't honest or is plain unnatural and unhealthy". I think this healing has to start long before someone knows if transition is right for them. Growing up different, TS or not is not a lot of fun.

    I think people feel all the problems mounting and go, "I will make one easy change and I will be happy now" I think it is a lot of little changes and I think, from my experiences, that it is generally hard work. Being a facade is easy, yourself harder.. And honestly, sometimes you just may never fit in and have to pick hard compromises to survive and that is unfortunately life.

    Be good to yourself,
    Amanda

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  20. To Anonymous,

    Thank you for some very interesting comments. I agree with your pragmatic approach to life choices, but I am unsure about a few points:

    QUOTE: "AGP is a substitute [for the woman of my dreams]".

    Many crossdreamers (AGPs) report that their feminization fantasies subside when the get a girl friend, but that they reappear when she is away. Alternatively the inner woman reappear with time. But does that necessarily mean that she is a substitute? You could also imagine that you basically have a female or mixed gender identity, and that she reappears when your girl friend does not require your attention. That is: your inner woman is not a rival to the real world woman. She is something else entirely: a part of your own psyche. Both explanations fit the observations.

    QUOTE: "I can't control my desires, so I resort to AGP."

    Again I think you can turn this upside down. Yo cannot control your desires, because they are a natural part of you that demands to be heard. If that is the case the cause of the condition is not lack of control, but lack of acceptance.

    QUOTE:"Most TG's and pre-operative TG's are highly stylized versions of women. Rare are the instances of plain Jane TG's."

    They are definitely there: Older crossdressers going for the Barbie outfit , but also young androphilic transwomen beating XX women in the beauty game.

    Still, it has to be said: Many M2F transgendered do not pass at all, and do not look feminine, not even as plain Janes. Nor do they necessarily have the skills to dress as a superfeminine woman. In spite of this, and in spite of the risk of ridicule and abandonment, quite a few of them risk transitioning. To me that is a sign of this being something more than an expression of inner male fantasies.

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  21. To Jack,
    Thanks for your comments. I've given this issue a lot of thought which, I acknowledge, is not a sufficient condition for truth!!!

    Here are some further sundry remarks about my AGP. First, I realize that I am a very sexual person and that all my sexual fantasies all involve women. I am not attracted to men (I tried, but to no avail). When women were available, I directed my attention to them. However, rare were the women that satisfied my desire for "whoreishness." And in the cases of those that did, the fulfillment was short lived (they couldn't always be titilating me). I realize that I am unreasonable....or that my desires are unreasonable.
    All this being said, AGP offered an alternative. When I crossdress, I am in communion (I'm Catholic) with my inner most desire! I am the object of my most intense desires. And I control that object. I realize all of this sounds weird.
    When I am not overcome with this sexual desire, I have no desire to be a woman. Never have and I doubt that I ever will (although with declining testosterone, it might happen.....not!!).
    While I realize that I am giving in to generalizations, I believe that those who transition are doing what I do but on a permanent basis, namely fulfilling their sexual desires by becoming the object of their very desires. Which explains their hypersexuality and prostitution. The latter validates their very desires. In my view, they don't think or emote like women....deep down inside. Some say they have no choice but to turn to prostitution. I would argue the contrary. Few desire a normal life as a true woman (i.e. a plain Jane). Note that I am not saying that none do, but rather that the great majority don't.
    In a nutshell, we hypersexualized males can trade for sexual stimulation (prostitutes and dancers) or seek to self-provide it. The advantages of the latter are non-negligible as control is assured.
    I know that these are generalizations. However, it is important to remember that generalizations are not all bad and have a role in discussion and debate.
    Thanks for having provided people like me with an outlet for our thoughts and feelings.
    Shalom!

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  22. "While I realize that I am giving in to generalizations, I believe that those who transition are doing what I do but on a permanent basis, namely fulfilling their sexual desires by becoming the object of their very desires."

    This is all too wrong. Firstly, men don't look at women out of envy but out of sexual desire, so there is no reason that a man would himself want to be a woman just to serve as a substitute. It simply cannot happen unless the person himself has some gender fluidity.
    When I fantasize being girly, it is for a totally different reason, than when I like another woman. I can say this fully from the perspective of a feminine bisexual guy. When I want to date a girl, I wish to have sex like a guy but when I wish to attract men, I myself become feminine, sometimes also imagine myself crossdressed.
    Here, I am not subsituting myself for another woman, but I am fantasizing this way due to some other inner need. Again,not all bisexual men are this way. Many are manly with both men and women and many are feminine with both.
    So, you see, people can be so diverse!!

    Hypersexualization as such cannot be an explanation for such crossdreaming fantasies (very few human beings have low libidos I must say, so what really is hypersexualization??). Yes, sexuality can indeed mould us into crossdreaming people but they cannot be powerful enough to make them assume some significance in real life. I have had lots of such crossdreaming fantasies and desires to be girly but I have been comfortable passing as man in real life still. How hard I wish to be a girl for some privileges, my inner identity would still force me to remain comfortable as man. As such, I cannot believe that transwomen would transition due to sexual issues...not to say that no person has done it, but then,someone who has done it for sexual reasons has not been a woman to begin with.
    Secondly, your asserting that transwomen are more feminine than the average female is something born out of TG erotica sites. But more than 90% of those people are shemales and indeed, as you said, they are effeminate men who view women much like other men (I could definitely say gay men have nearly gorgeous women as straight men, just don't desire sex from them).

    But to mistake transwomen with shemales is like comparing fire with water. Shemale prostitutes are in a different business and lots of transwomen specifically keep far away from them in the remote corners of their homes.
    You might think they are lying or deceiving others as well as themlseves by concealing their sexual motives, but, if you read the stories here, you will notice cross gender identity of transsexuals runs far deeper than all this erotica stuff you mentioned about.
    Which,as I said, is not to asert that there don't exist people who transition due to sexual kinks. But then,to confuse that with transsexualism is your mistake (as much as of mainstream society) and I hope you clarify that.
    http://ai.eecs.umich.edu/people/conway/TSsuccesses/TSsuccesses.html

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  23. To Anonymous,
    I think you seriously should consider thinking again about your feelings. Your blind belief of transwomen being similar to hypersexual males is infact the major and only reason why we transwomen choose to stay away from any mention of the term "autogynephilia".
    I don't say we don't experience sexual feelings but to assume transsexualism is about hypersexual feelings is to undermine the other symptoms it brings about, as it highlights only the sexual aspect of it.
    I seriously still have doubts about AGP being a valid transsexual condition. This is because human gender is fluid and a man wanting to take woman's role in certain situations is not necessarily a woman at all, he might just be having a gender which is not black and white. It might just be that rigid social constructs of binary gender roles force him to think he is woman (because of some of his preferences) when actually he still is man (albeit feminine or gender-fluid).
    But true transsexualism is beyond this. I have always felt trapped in the wrong body since a very tender age and nothing inside me made me feel I belonged to world of males. It was just a natural instinct, so natural that it came directly without any hint. I naturally followed the girl ways in every way....I had a natural inclination to sit to urinate, I had a natural inclination to wear girl dresses and I had a natural urge to look female, when I did not have any idea of superficial standards of attractiveness or sexual appeal.
    I just had to be forced to do things which my brain considered inappropriate. It is totally different from what many effeminate men face. I don't say they have less hardships than us, but somehow the only grudge I have is that people cannot understand our conditions and equate us to either effeminate gay males and shemales or heterosexual crossdressers, just because that is far more common.
    I of course have an insatiable desire to know what makes many men effeminate and what makes many heterosexual men have crossdreaming fantasies (that is why i visit this blog sometimes even after I transitoned), but I do still know that my situation was far different from this.

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  24. Wow!!! Little did I know when I posted a reply that I would come face-to-face with God....not just one but two!! Maybe it's bargain week!!! Two for one.
    I simply voiced a belief! I did not assert, but rather expressed my view......big mistake!!!! And I thought that God would be understanding!!!
    All sarcasm aside, I would have expected that my detractors invoke hard facts as opposed to counterexamples or exceptions. Sure, I believe that some young males identify as females. My son peeed sitting down as a boy! And today, he is man. Hormonal imbalance (too little testosterone, delayed testosterone production) and/or cultural factors may play a role. But the fact remains that they are male, with a male brain and a male endocrine system.
    My point was simple, namely that crossdreaming or crossdressing may be a desire to metamorphisize into that which we desire stongly. And judging by both the hypersexual nature of most transexuals (this is an impressionistic statement....I'd like to have the hard facts) and their lifestyles, the theory seems to be corroborated. Now, if it turns out that they are the minority and that most transsexual women are no different from the average women, then I stand corrected. I await with impatience the envelope!

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  25. Anonymous,
    "crossdreaming or crossdressing may be a desire to metamorphisize into that which we desire stongly."

    Sure. Could you explain why really could someone desire that?
    Of course I am a heterosexual transwoman post-op and I find male bodies more attractive than a female body, so, why would I want to go to such lengths with a body I don't really even find beautiful? I could have well stayed as a handsome gay man and attracted all the fabulous gay guys out there.

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  26. Anom,
    Transsexuals have hypersexual lifestyles? Are you serious? I an FTM post-op 3 years and haven't had a single sexual intercourse with anyone, leave alone even masterbation. I simply wanted to be what I already have been always, a man assigned the wrong body at birth. I don't think you have met many of our clan yet to make this assumption.

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  27. There is one thing that never fails in the transgender debate. Bringing up sexuality (let alone "hypersexuality") is a sure way of making the atmosphere explosive.

    I do get your line of argument, Anonymous! I do, because crossdreaming and crossdressing can be such a sexual turn on it can become obsessive. It is therefore very easy to conclude that crossdreaming is a sexual phenomenon only, which is of course exactly what Ray Blanchard & Co are saying.

    This is also the line of argument some transwomen are using to keep the distance from the crossdreamers (autogynephiliacs). If crossdreamers are perceived to be driven by a male desire for the total possession of womanhood, there is no way they can be considered women. So, although I do not like this schism, I can at least understand how it came about.

    This is also why I salute Sultana! Thank you for keeping an open mind about these matters and for taking part in this debate!

    Anonymous is asking for the hard facts, proof of tranwomen being like normal women, and not hypersexualized males.

    Hard facts are hard to come by, as there are very few studies that look at the post-op lives of transwomen and even fewer that look into their sexual fantasies and their sex life. Then again, they represent a very diverse group, with different sexual orientations and cultural context. You will probably never find one and only one explanation.

    Do the sexually obsessed crossdreamers exist? Yes, they do. I have seen enough life stories and been in touch with a sufficient number to know that they are there. But there are also thousands of life stories, in the literature and elsewhere, from transwomen whose main motivation for transitioning is a complex set of factors. These factors point to the deep felt need for aligning their bodies with their inner selves. Sexual desire may be one of these factors, but not the only one.

    But let me turn this upside down: Why is sexual desire so special? Why must sexual desire be kept out of the equation? Our sexual drive grows out of our basic biological nature. It is part of what it means to be human.

    If a biological male does indeed have a strong inner woman, that feminine part of himself will try to find an expression by various means, sex being one of them.

    If that inner woman has a need to have sex as a woman, feminization fantasies will be the obvious outcome -- not because this crossdreamer want to have sex with himself, but because he needs to have a woman's body in order to have sex as a woman.

    Crossdreamer fantasies do, as most male and female fantasies, include other sex partners. So where is the proof that these men have the hots for themselves?

    And what about genetic XX women? Are they all Victorian spinsters without any sexual drive at all? This is the impression from both Blanchard and some TS activists. It seems like a "dirty mind" is a male prerogative, and that "autogynephilic" transwomen cannot therefore be the real deal.

    This is why I spent some days this summer reading erotica written for women by women. I even added a few lesbian books for good measure. I can assure you: They are full of steamy sex fantasies with motives that fit very well with what you find in M2F transgender erotica. In other words: Most M2F transgender fantasies are closer closer to ones of women than to the stuff you find in Penthouse and Playboy. Which again leads me to believe that they are an expression of a deeper gender dysphoria.

    If this dysphoria is an expression of a woman trapped in a man's body or a mixture of male and female traits, as Sultana indicates, remains to be seen. I suspect that will vary from individual to individual.

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  30. Jack,
    I do agree with you that such crosdreaming fantasies could be due to the person being a woman trapped in man's body. But,still it might not be. The important aspect here is to know exactly how you identify yourself as. Which is what gender identity is all about.
    That is something of course only the individual can decide upon.

    My main contention about sexuality is simply because it is made out to be the only reason behind transsexualism. The truth is something we transwomen die hard to tell but can't prove because it cannot be expressed as an external manifestation.
    Sex alone cannot decide if you are a woman, but yes, if you are a woman, you can definitely have those sexual fantasies. Your job is to decide for yourself whether it is your inner woman which makes you have your sexual fantasies or it is your sexual fantasies which make you doubt if you are woman.
    As far as my experience goes, I am mostly dominant in bed but still I am a woman and by no means a man.
    The basic problem in our underlying assumptions is that we have been bombarded with so many stereotypical images of the typical male and typical female that we simply don't know what it means to be a man or a woman in terms other than those images.

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  31. Sultana wrote:

    "The basic problem in our underlying assumptions is that we have been bombarded with so many stereotypical images of the typical male and typical female that we simply don't know what it means to be a man or a woman in terms other than those images."

    This is the very core of the problem I think. It could be due to the ruling cultural paradigm, or even to basic structures in our language, but we seem to be unable to reconcile the need for simple and safe models of how gender ought to be and what we see around us.

    We constantly argue that women are from Venus and men are from Mars, that men are dominant and women submissive, that men are aggressive and women empathic, in spite of the fact that we all know a lot of women that are from Mars, and a lot of men who are good with kids.

    Somehow we manage to handle that heterogeneity in our day to day relations with other people, but without making the link back to the mental constructs of gender.

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  32. Blanchard's interpretation of the sexual fantasies and sexual arousal, by male to female transsexuals, is simply wrong.

    Blanchard is simply a scientist who uncovered a little known sexual response some transsexual have.

    He then came up with a scientific theory to explain what he had observed as best he could.

    Any good scientist knows that a theory is just that. A theory and theories are open to change and even discarded as new data and new interpretations of data become available. This is how science works.

    Any scientist who is not open to new data or interpreting existing data from a different perspective is not a good scientist and their work has to be suspect.

    If Blanchard's interpretation and conclusions are wrong? What is the right interpretation them?

    The type of sexual response and sexual fantasies Blanchard coined as Autogynephilia is an effect of not the cause of transsexualism.

    It is actually just normal homosexual and bisexual sexual response to mental images of having a more attractive body than one currently has.

    For example a normal gay male, not happy with their body, imagines what he would look like if he had his ideal body. Because he is gay and the type of body he like to have is the same type of body he is sexually attracted to he gets turned on and sexually aroused. This does happen I have had a number of gay and lesbian friends tell me it is quite common.

    Now lets take a male to female transsexual who is either sexually attracted to women or who is bisexual and they imagine having the ideal type of female body they like to have. It is completely understandable why since the type of body they are imagining is the same type of body they are sexually attracted to that they would become sexually aroused.

    It is also totally understandable that male to female transsexuals who are only attracted to men would not have this type of sexual response to mental images of them having female bodies. They are simply not attracted to them.

    Autogynephilia is simply a mislabeled homosexual or bisexual sexual response.

    Gender: Female + Sexual Preference: Female = High chance of getting sexually aroused when imagining having an attractive female body.


    Gender: Female + Sexual Preference: Male = Low chance of getting sexually aroused when imagining having an attractive female body.

    It is all about how gender and sexual preference interplays with each other.

    Blanchard was a middle age heterosexual male. It is not surprising that from his perspective and sexual experiences that he would misinterpret the data and come up with a theory and conclusions that are wrong.

    There was once a theory that the world was flat and that the sun went around the Earth. It was based on scientific observation and collection of data but as new data came in and new perspectives and interpretations that theory was thrown out and new better ones took it place. That is how science is supposed to work.

    It is time to throw out the theory of Autogynephilia. It is just a stepping stone to better theories and interpretations of the data Blanchard collected and new data that has been gathered since.

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  33. @Anonymous

    "The type of sexual response and sexual fantasies Blanchard coined as Autogynephilia is an effect of not the cause of transsexualism."

    All of what you say rings true with me.

    As for Blanchard, we do not actually know his sexual orientation.

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  34. "
    Gender: Female + Sexual Preference: Female = High chance of getting sexually aroused when imagining having an attractive female body.


    Gender: Female + Sexual Preference: Male = Low chance of getting sexually aroused when imagining having an attractive female body.
    "

    I also believe that this is the reason why gynephilic and bisexual transwomen are likely to be more feminine gendered than androphilic ones. Because the more attracted to a female body, the more feminine you are likely to be even if not obvious from the outside.

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  36. Anynomous makes great points i too strongly believe in.

    To simplify it is very easy to understand that AGP is all about sexual arousal. Being transgendered or not, being homosexual or not, is a matter of personal coincidence. But the phenomenon of being aroused of the context of being feminine in sexual situations is in my book a sexual orientation or a fetish. Again, not to diminish, that you can't be a TS / TG too on the side. But there are hetero2homosexual crossdressers, transvestic fetishists, drags and "crossdreamers".

    It is not a coincidence that the majority of us are masculine because we might be men, who really have problems with understanding our sexuality and try to fantisize in day to day life to be something else when this "condition" gets to you on bad days.

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  37. @Anonymous

    "But the phenomenon of being aroused of the context of being feminine in sexual situations is in my book a sexual orientation or a fetish."

    Hm, women get turned on by the idea of being an attractive woman lusted after by men all the time. And why shouldn't they?

    There is in fact no clear dividing line between being a crossdreamer and being transsexual. Many, if not most, transwomen have a past as a crossdreamer and/or crossdresser.

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  38. "Hm, women get turned on by the idea of being an attractive woman lusted after by men all the time. And why shouldn't they?

    There is in fact no clear dividing line between being a crossdreamer and being transsexual. Many, if not most, transwomen have a past as a crossdreamer and/or crossdresser."

    I don't think women are attracted to the thought like we are, that sounds rather more like aesthethical arousal. We are heterosexual so we want the body of an attractive woman. Besides, there are F2M androphiliacs who are aroused by being masculine so why aren't straight men aroused by their bodies or by masculinity? Because we are too different than women to think masculinity is sexy? Because masculinity IS not sexy?

    Being a transsexual sounds very different to me. First of all, it seems only a minority of us are really "trapped". Transsexuals, no matter how they look crossdressed, don't feel like men in dresses, they do this to confirm their inner identity. They don't act according their arousal, if they are women, why aren't everyone of them aroused like you described "real women" should be? Which brings me to the second point, seems like the minority of crossdreamers really crossdress. Yes, some don't crossdress because of how they end up looking but that is putting looks over identity, which sounds like sexual interference. Third, there are those who claim it is easier to label oneself as a fetishist than TG to avoid stigmatizing and having to deal with AGP.. or to live in "denial" so to speak. But it goes both ways, i believe some of us, want to internalize a belief, that it would be easier to live as a woman instead of dealing with an abnormal "feminine" sexuality as a male in this heterocultural society. What i have read about stories on the web and at crossdreamlife.com, it seems those who can life out straight fantasies are more likely to be "less dysphoric". Like many homosexuals, who transition because of a low self-identity as a homosexual.. only to realize it was the wrong decision. Not to meantion, that many of them crossdream sexually but identify as males.

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