June 13, 2010

Crossdreamer Summer Break

I had great plans about publishing the first post in a new series on the archetypes and dreams of feminization, but I must admit that there is not enough time this side of the summer.

I pride myself in writing blog posts based on research and thorough analysis and that takes time. So instead of beating myself up with not being able to go on as planned, I am going to take a small summer vacation. I'll be back with new posts in the second part of July at the very latest.

In the meantime, I'll try and keep up with the comments.

I have to be frank with you: Writing this blog takes it toll. It may seem academic and intellectual to some of you, but I am constantly challenging my own being and my own self understanding, and that stirs up all kinds of feelings: longing and depression, excitement and despair. This never gets boring, that's for sure!

This is why I am so glad to have active readers commenting and contributing to the discussion. That helps me a lot!

Here are my plans for the fall. If there are any other topics you would like for me to look into, add a comment!

Archetypes and feminization fantasies

Far too often the feminization fantasies of crossdreamers are dismissed as mere fetishes or perversions. Few try to explain why crossdreamers (or "autogynephiliacs" as Blanchards calls men who dream about having a woman's body) have exactly these kinds of fantasies.

I feel great admiration for Carl Gustav Jung and his explorations of the human subconscious, and I believe he has a model and a typology that might help us understand why crossdreamers crossdream the way they do.

I believe the content of these fantasies is the way the subconscious is trying to make sense out of deeper instincts and drives. It is time for an exploration of transgender dreams and archetypes, as they are found in TG fiction, myths and fairytales.

What genetic XX women dream about

The easy dismissal of crossdreamer fantasies as male perversions, is often based on the idea that XX women do not have similar fantasies. Here is the idea -- even half a century after Kinsey and 100 years after Freud -- that women are pure and untainted of kinky erotic fantasies. Some transwomen have adapted this point of view and use it to attack crossdreamers and crossdressers: "Real women do not have such dreams!"

So what did I do? I bought several books with women's erotica: sexual fantasies written by XX women for other women.

I had a pretty good idea that there would be some overlap between these fantasies and the ones found in TG short stories and caps. The fact is that I found that all the major themes found in women's erotica can be found in the fantasies of crossdreamers. All of them!

It is true that most women do not get turned on by transformation fantasies, but then again, they already have the bodies M2F crossdreamers long for.

The quest for the holy grail of femininity

One of the most disturbing part of the online transdebates, is the idea that only transwomen who look and act like feminine women are really worthy of the term "woman".

Some transwomen attack other transwomen by publishing pictures of them online, "proving" once and for all that this person neither looks nor dresses like a woman, and should therefore not be accepted as such.

The fact that many crossdreamers strongly feel and believe that at least parts of them are woman-like, is dismissed with similar arguments. They neither look nor act like women. Whatever they feel inside is irrelevant. They are, at best, men in drag.

I want to look into this idea of passing as a sign of true womanhood, and see if it make as much sense as its proponents believe.

A possible new explanation for autogynephilia

I plan to go back to Blanchard and Bailey and look at their explanation for autogynephilia or crossdreaming.

Blanchard has two unproven theories: the target location error theory (where men internalize the proper love object: women), and the alternative sexuality theory (autogynephilia as a parallel to heterosexuality and homosexuality).

As an experiment I am going to take crossdreamers and transwomen at their word. I am going to see if some kind of true inner "womanness" can explain Blanchard and Bailey's findings. In short: I will see if there is a simpler and more elegant model that can explain the same observations.

How other cultures integrate transpeople

I know I promised you this last fall, but I am going to write about how other cultures treat transpeople. I believe we take far too much for granted as regards our understanding of what is masculine and feminine, and what is the proper behavior of the two genders.

If we can find cultures who have treated transpeople differently, we have also proven that the present rules for proper behavior are not self evident.

I am going to make several approaches:

The first one is to look at pre-patriarchal society. That is a fancy word for the cultural environment found in the Middle East and Europe some five to six thousands years ago, before warriors from Central Asia invaded the area and introduced religions with male war gods at the top. Before that time, religious and culture life was dominated by the mother goddess.

She might not have been as peace loving as some feminists believe, but it is certainly true that cultures like the Minoan one had the deepest respect for women and their role in society. The focus on growth instead of war made a huge difference in the way they understood and appreciated the feminine.

Even after the goddess was dethroned as the leading deity she lived on as a strong player in Sumeria, Egypt, Greece and Rome. I will take a look at the cult of Inanna in Sumeria and the cult of Cybele in Rome. The priestesses of both cults were transwomen. I am also looking into the cult of Dionysus, which also have transgender component.

Given that the cult of the goddess grew out of shamanistic cultures, it will also make sense to see how recent hunter and gatherer cultures look at gender. Shamans ("witchdoctors") in many of these cultures crossed the gender divide, and several of the Native American tribes respected the "two spirited".

I may also look into European renaissance philosophy and see how they integrated the masculine and the feminine in their way of thinking.

Dreaming of shemales

Shemale is a derogatory term given by the porn industry to transgenderists and pre op transwomen, i.e. transwomen who for some reason or the other have kept their penis.

I am not going to go into the debate on whether it is OK for transwomen to keep some of their male parts. (As far as I am concerned they should be allowed to do whatever they please). I do not think shemales exist in real life, even if some of these transwomen are willing to play the part, in adult entertainment or as call girls.

No, what I plan to do is to look at shemales as an object of transgender erotic fantasies. Even if there are no shemales in real life, they do exist in transgender dreams and art. If we can explain why some biological men dream about such women, we might get closer to explanation of what crossdreaming is all about.

Harry Benjamin

I have reread Harry Benjamin's book from 1966: The Transsexual Phenomenon, a book that is still very influential and well worth a study. He continues to serve as an alternative to Blanchard and Bailey and their explanation for autogynephilia.

I must admit, though, that one of the reasons I went back to Benjamin, was a meeting with the "Harry Benjamin Syndrome", a theory invented by some extremist transwomen who desperately try to put some distance between themselves and people who are more likely to read this blog. They claim that Benjamin argued there was a fundamental difference between transwomen and "fetishistic" crossdressers, and that the two groups have nothing in common.

Benjamin definitely meant there was a difference, but not a fundamental one. Instead he argued very much in the way I have been doing: That there is some kind of continuum and that the two phenomena are related.

As you can understand I stick to my program of controversial openness. We have to talk about these things if we are to understand them and learn to accept and love ourselves and others.

For those on the Northern Hemisphere: Have a great summer! And to all you southerners in Latin America, Africa, South Asia and Oceania: have a great whatever you do!

25 comments:

Kelli said...

I love your blog. I check it daily and find it extremely helpful in understanding my own autogynephilia and gender dysphoria. Your preview of coming attractions has grabbed my attention and I can't wait for future entries.

Have a wonderful vacation. You deserve it!

tg_captioner said...

I really hope your blog enables you to unwrap what this really all means, perhaps define a new viewpoint and medically accepted (by all parties) of autogynaphelia.. One that doesn't disprove MTF transwomen, but at the same time doesn't make us that don't transition seem like we don't exist, or at best seem like perverts.

On the subject of shemales, I think they "can" exist. A lot of men who transition don't get their penis cut off because appearing as women is enough for them, and they feel getting it cut off doesn't make them any more of a woman, plus many feel it's simply gutting any genitals they have. One thing I've never understood is how any shemale is able to achieve erection, I was under the impression that hormones (as they should) really fight against that sort of thing. Perhaps some of these women are not really shemales, but hermaphodites that conceal their vaginas with tricky camera angles?

Vickie said...

Jack, nobody works harder than you to provide such a valuable service to the online autogynephilia community. You certainly deserve a summer vacation! We'll be looking forward to seeing more of your ambitious work when you get back.

sexgenderbody said...

jack,

I absolutely love your writing. I always come away from it, having either learned something or experienced a new perspective. It's really a thrill.

-arvan

Calvin said...

First off, though you've heard it before, I wanted to let you know how important of a resource this site has been for me and I suspect many, many others. Something remarkable has happened, where people dealing with similar feelings have started coming together for the first time, coming to terms with their identities and articulating their needs as a community. I'd venture to say that crossdreaming is probably as ancient a part of the human experience as any other sexuality/identity, yet it seems like it's only been in the past couple of years that we've seen a productive conversation happening. Your work has played no small part in this, keep up the great work!

A.C said...

Agree with the previous posters. Have you considered starting some sort of moderated forum where we can discuss things amongst each other?

Dawn said...

My timing is awful. I found your blog just as you go on hiatus. :-(

Your writing is fantastic and is helping me to explore why I feel the way I do.

It's really nice to know that I'm not alone, even if my particular variant of autogynephilia is linked in to a celebrity fetish that most others don't seem to have.

I especially enjoyed the Cosmo article from the future that you wrote.

Looking forward to your return. Have a good break!

Ca

Christy Martins said...

Have a great summer jack and I look forward to your return.

I have given a lot of thought to your mixing board analogy of gender -- the thousands of "dials and sliders" or "settings" that make us male, female, or possibly both as I think we all here believe.

With regards to how the genetic mixing board gets set in people like us, I still firmly believe we are the result of male + female twins who do not make it to term but become one person -- a chimera.

Chimerism is far more common than previously thought -- some 10% of us are likely chimeric to some degree and present no outward symptoms. Examining blood only will not identify the majority of cases of spontaneous human chimerism; in most cases other tissues must be analyzed.

This phenomena occurs within the first ten weeks of pregnancy and does have a significant impact on brain formation.

So again, in the case of male + female twins, it follows the brain would have features of both.

I think we all had sisters in the womb and it has affected our brains to one degree or another -- from crossdreaming to crossdressding to transitioning.

Think about your "sister inside" for a moment and see if you feel her.

Here is a link to the scholarly article on the subject by Charles Boklage:

Embryogenesis of chimeras, twins and anterior midline asymmetries

http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/reprint/21/3/579.pdf

Christy Martins said...

Also, whether it is true or not "objectively" it is true for me in spirit and has helped me to answer the question of should I transition once and for all and I hope it may be able to help others:

I am a brother and sister in the same body and I cannot become one or the other...they both require recognition and affirmation...they "share" this body like good siblings and each has their place.

Cheryl said...

Yes you deserve a well earned break. I find your blog the most helpful form of therapy I have ever experienced. I have wrestled for most of my life with AGP and my transgendered feelings. Trying to find myself and make sense of it all has been very hard for me. Your blogg has made me realise that I'm not the only person with these feelings.

Anytime I have tried to open up about AGP I have been shot down very quickly by 'career minded' transsexuals who dismiss me as a pervert and an invalid transgendered individual.

Personally I feel I have the worst kind of AGP in the fact that I have to enact it out in reality. Some I have learned manage to keep it in their heads as a fantasy. From a young age I have been forced to give in to my AGP and enact and femminise myself with hormones and a nose job. I try my best to try and keep a clear picture but its hard.

Thoughts for future postings could be on the addition behind AGP that drives some of us to self feminisation. The reward that our brain gives us when we give into AGP and the need for a bigger 'fix' next time.

Life after SRS for AGP sufferers. Is there happiness? Is it just madness after all?

Finally medical intervention for AGP's. Lowering testosterone or giving low dose estrogen to help keep the fantasies in check.

Amanda said...

I think there are a lot of things out there and I think denying AGP is out there is denying reality.

Likewise, I think it is bad to assume that a problem always is AGP and not allow some (decent) therapy to take place. I have seen therapists who believe everyone should transiton and those who believe everyone with gender issues is AGP.


Help nees to be in place so that people who would be less happy with a new gender are not assigned one. It also needs to be there so people in no matter what situation they find themselves can deal with very difficult and traumatic issues.

Psychology is complex. Most of the gender variant type conditions probably have both a biological and a socialogical trigger. So someone who is psychologicaly a normal male could grow up thinking they are a normal female.. just not likely. I know that with where I am with my issues that there are things both on the biological and social areas that drive my issues and sometimes I ask myself, if I had a different life, what then?

The truth is that all I can do is explore my feelings and myself and when I feel truly comfortable make the best decision for myself.

In the process, I have to make sure that temporary pathologies aren't running my issues( all the questioning! Intelligence is a curse). I had bad experiences with men growing up and my experiences with women were more positive. But a lot of everything is being willing to really get out there and walk the walk and confront your real feelings. It is not about saying that one doesn't feel something but about really understanding what one does feel.

Still, we just make the best decisions we can.

There are probably gay men with no biological predisposition to being gay and really, somewhere deep inside, their psychology made a choice and so what? We are not judges and life is messy.

According to some brain development theories M2Fs don't exist. If you have an iota of testosterone, the brain is male. But I have met people who are real enough. Eventually, logic is just useless and you have to follow feelings.

But denying things like AGP exist.. I think too many people run from their feelings. Me.. I am just taking a while to sort everything out.

The thing is.. Every gender variant should consider AGP but they shouldn't necessarily feel that AGP is the entire answer. Sexuality is very complex and so is emotions. Even if the answer is that you are a female, do you want to live your life with a mess of unresolved psychological baggage or try to be as true as possible to yourself?

Christy Martins said...

Social triggers can push down one life path or another but the biological provides the *predilection* to go down one path or another.

All of our paths -- whether you call yourself AGP, Crossdreamer, Cross-dresser, transgenderist, transsexual -- are about cross-gender expression.

So what is the biological predilection for cross-gender expression? Chimerism

Christy Martins said...

@ TG Captioner

There are lot of men on feminizing hormones who keep their penises and some of them can still get "soft" partially-hard erections, but nothing like the *blue-vein throbbers* you see in she-male porn.

Testosterone is what makes your penis hard and testicles large.

Amanda said...

Christy, dear one, I am not sure that everything is about chimerism. I think there are a lot of creatures out there and I don't feel that it is right to let our experiences necessarily define someone elses. There are a lot of different fish in the sea

Personally, my struggle for the longest time has been to figure out whether I am female or just something in between.

It is really hard and confusing when you are a "male" going through life with some degree of female identification because you often identify more with the girls than the guys and no matter what you do, it shows. It is not something one can just bat away and eventually names like gay and queer follow. And it is not something a person chooses.

I didn't choose to have a sexuality that is very very different from most men. I just do. If I spoke to the average male about what attracts me, they would think I was completely nuts. My sexuality is very complex. I get aroused by seeing people kissing and romance and.. The primary thing is that I have to be able to like the person.

I also didn't choose to have some of the biological problems I obviously have. When you go through long periods where you have no sex drive at all, that really confuses things.

But I probably understand what you are going through about as well as you understand what I am going through.. I just need to try to remember to be compassionate and understanding rather than letting all the pain in my life become anger. In the end, we don't have to be the same to support each other.

So because I don't understand your path, I just pray that you find the best peace you can.

Love always,
Amanda

Monty said...

Amanda,
"So someone who is psychologicaly a normal male could grow up thinking they are a normal female.. just not likely"

Could you tell me how this can ever happen? Just was curious. Have you heard of any such case where a person thinks he is psychologically of opposite gender even if not?

Amanda said...

Monty,

I think the case of doctor's assigning genders to intersexed individuals points out that gender is somewhat maleable. Many individuals do eventually figure out and wish to restore their true gender but many more do not even though there are cases there of people who were technically males being assigned as women and vice versa. Some women with conditions that cause extreme virilization grow up and live as gay men. Things are not simple.. The funny thing is intersexed individuals often get less hung up on gender than AGP or TS individuals.

As far as someone thinking they are a gender they are not, some AGPs do exhibit this. Some of these individuals may have been women all along but many acted like normal men for years and performed very well in that role. That is not to say that somes of those individuals might not be women but the amount of trauma present in the life of the average transgendered individual makes it very hard to ascertain.

And honestly, gender is complex. There is no clear dividing line between a male and female brain based on studies but a lot of overlaps. Some of the behavior we define as gender is natural and some of it is trained. More is probably learned than innate.

Personally, I grew up with obvious endocrinological problems. Do they make me less male.. Maybe. When you castrate an animal, sometimes their behavior is significantly femininized but I have a castrated male dog and he is all guy so.. *shrug*

Can I ever be a normal male (even assuming I wanted to be)? No. It's just not on the table. So given that I want to live as a female, am I a man in a dress, something in between trying to explore my feminine side, or a female?

The thing people have to remember is biology is fundamentally messy and while general patterns emerge, people do not exist in boxes.

Amanda

Jack Molay said...

@ Christy, on chimerism

The New Scientist has an interesting article on Nature's Weirdest Sex Lives this week ( http://bit.ly/9WcYzu ). In its review of animals it also takes a look at a small South American monkeys which are among the most attentive of fathers:

"In 2007, Jeffrey French and colleagues from the University of Nebraska in Omaha reported that over half of all male marmosets have chimeric sperm, meaning that they are in the bizarre position of being able to father their brother's or sister's offspring. Some females also have chimeric eggs, meaning they may effectively be surrogate mothers for their twin. In addition, many marmosets also have chimeric skin and so produce odours characteristic of both their own genetic make-up and that of their twin. Marmosets recognise each other by these smells, and the researchers found that fathers and uncles are more than twice as likely to look after young with chimeric skin. Mothers and aunts, in contrast, pay less attention to offspring with chimeric skin than to those without."

I have not been able to find research on chimera and transgender issues, but I'll keep on looking.

Jack Molay said...

@Cheryl

QUOTE: "Thoughts for future postings could be on the addition behind AGP that drives some of us to self feminisation."

Yes, we have to look into this. That crossdreaming can lead to addiction like behavior does not surprise me. There is no natural outlet for this condition, and many of us find it hard to find a psychological resolution to our dreams and desires. The trauma involved is often similar to the ones that leads to drug abuse.

QUOTE: "Life after SRS for AGP sufferers. Is there happiness? Is it just madness after all?"

We have no definite numbers for how many of the transwomen and transmen out there have been at least partly motivated by "M2F feminization fantasies" or "F2M masculinization fantasies".

There is so much stigma connected to such feelings that transsexual women and men avoid talking about them.

If there is any hold to the argument that late transitioners are more likely to be crossdreamers (AGP) than the younger, it could be that a majority of them are or has been crossdreamers. If that is the case, general studies of the post-op lives of transwomen and men should give as insight into the lives of crossdreaming transwomen and -men as well.

From what I have read the great majority lives happier lives after transitioning.

BUT, it could be that we among them that regret their decision, find M2F crossdreamers whose "inner woman" was not strong enough to carry the life of a real woman.

QUOTE: "Finally medical intervention for AGP's. Lowering testosterone or giving low dose estrogen to help keep the fantasies in check."

This is an old trick that has been used since the sixties, at least. The estrogen calms at least M2F crossdreamers down. However, I also know of M2F crossdreamers that have tried this and who report no reduction in feminization fantasies.

I have also read about F2M transmen who report a calming effect of testosterone! Again, this is not the same for everybody. Transitioning F2M transmen often go through a phase feeling very much like male puberty. That is far from calming!

Jack Molay said...

@Cheryl

QUOTE: "Thoughts for future postings could be on the addition behind AGP that drives some of us to self feminisation."

Yes, we have to look into this. That crossdreaming can lead to addiction like behavior does not surprise me. There is no natural outlet for this condition, and many of us find it hard to find a psychological resolution to our dreams and desires. The trauma involved is often similar to the ones that leads to drug abuse.

QUOTE: "Life after SRS for AGP sufferers. Is there happiness? Is it just madness after all?"

We have no definite numbers for how many of the transwomen and transmen out there have been at least partly motivated by "M2F feminization fantasies" or "F2M masculinization fantasies".

There is so much stigma connected to such feelings that transsexual women and men avoid talking about them.

If there is any hold to the argument that late transitioners are more likely to be crossdreamers (AGP) than the younger, it could be that a majority of them are or has been crossdreamers. If that is the case, general studies of the post-op lives of transwomen and men should give as insight into the lives of crossdreaming transwomen and -men as well.

From what I have read the great majority lives happier lives after transitioning.

BUT, it could be that we among them that regret their decision, find M2F crossdreamers whose "inner woman" was not strong enough to carry the life of a real woman.

QUOTE: "Finally medical intervention for AGP's. Lowering testosterone or giving low dose estrogen to help keep the fantasies in check."

This is an old trick that has been used since the sixties, at least. The estrogen calms at least M2F crossdreamers down. However, I also know of M2F crossdreamers that have tried this and who report no reduction in feminization fantasies.

I have also read about F2M transmen who report a calming effect of testosterone! Again, this is not the same for everybody. Transitioning F2M transmen often go through a phase feeling very much like male puberty. That is far from calming!

Jack Molay said...

@Cheryl

QUOTE: "Thoughts for future postings could be on the addition behind AGP that drives some of us to self feminisation."

Yes, we have to look into this. That crossdreaming can lead to addiction like behavior does not surprise me. There is no natural outlet for this condition, and many of us find it hard to find a psychological resolution to our dreams and desires. The trauma involved is often similar to the ones that leads to drug abuse.

QUOTE: "Life after SRS for AGP sufferers. Is there happiness? Is it just madness after all?"

We have no definite numbers for how many of the transwomen and transmen out there have been at least partly motivated by "M2F feminization fantasies" or "F2M masculinization fantasies".

There is so much stigma connected to such feelings that transsexual women and men avoid talking about them.

If there is any hold to the argument that late transitioners are more likely to be crossdreamers (AGP) than the younger, it could be that a majority of them are or has been crossdreamers. If that is the case, general studies of the post-op lives of transwomen and men should give as insight into the lives of crossdreaming transwomen and -men as well.

From what I have read the great majority lives happier lives after transitioning.

BUT, it could be that we among them that regret their decision, find M2F crossdreamers whose "inner woman" was not strong enough to carry the life of a real woman.

Jack Molay said...

@Cheryl


QUOTE: "Finally medical intervention for AGP's. Lowering testosterone or giving low dose estrogen to help keep the fantasies in check."

This is an old trick that has been used since the sixties, at least. The estrogen calms at least M2F crossdreamers down. However, I also know of M2F crossdreamers that have tried this and who report no reduction in feminization fantasies.

I have also read about F2M transmen who report a calming effect of testosterone!

Again, this is not the same for everybody. Transitioning F2M transmen often go through a phase feeling very much like male puberty. That is far from calming!

Christy Martins said...

Jack,

Thank you for the link to the article on marmosets, this stuff is so fascinating.

I don't think there are any articles which link chimerism to cross gender expression...at least not yet.

If I had to guess, I would say most genetic researchers and biologists who are in a position to make this connection, likely assume that cross gender expression is erotic or sexual in origin. As most of the world does at present.

However the *groundbreaking work* (and yes I did say groundbreaking) you have presented here, suggests a biological/neurological origin for our behavior. You have went further still to introduce the "mixing board theory" of gender identity, which I took as my point of departure.

I am seriously considering working all of my findings into a academic article that I can publish and/or present. The article will ultimately take the form of a literature review calling for more research.

Mitsuho said...

Ever read about the stages of body integrity identity disorder in amputees?

Jack Molay said...

@Christy

Let me know when you have that article ready. I look forward to reading it.

And I have quite a few scholarly articles available. Send an email to jack.molay@gmail.com so that I can give you access. (That applies to all of you!)

@Mitshuo

QUOTE: "Ever read about the stages of body integrity identity disorder in amputees?"

Yes! Do you mean that the M2F crossdreamer longing for female body parts or the m2F transwoman loathing of male genitalia can be related to the amputee experience of "phantom limbs"?

That is: their bodies are wired for a female physiology.

I am working on a post on "internal body image" and this is definitely relevant.

Jack Molay said...

@Mitsuho

I see now that I have misunderstood you. You are referring to cases where people want to amputate their limbs, as they experience them as alien.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_integrity_identity_disorder

I know that some researchers, including Blanchard, believes this is a parallel paraphilia to autogynephilia, but I must admit that I do not see the connection. A crossdreamer wants to be a full blooded woman. The point is not castration or amputation per se.

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