July 19, 2010

On Moser's critique of Blanchard's autogynephilia theory Part 1

Sexologist Charles Moser attacks the autogynephilia theory of Ray Blanchard in a new paper.

For new readers: the sexologist Ray Blanchard has developed a theory of what he calls autogynephilia (and what I call crossdreaming), which is about men who get aroused by the idea of imagining themselves with a woman's body. Crossdressers are a subcategory of autogynephiliacs in his model.

Blanchard explains this condition as a result of misdirected sexual desire. (See Autogynephilia on a Napkin for a popular introduction.)

Although the theory has led to a wide and painful debate in the transgender community, it has not been met with much interest among other researchers. However, in the latest issue of Journal of Homosexuality (57: 6, 790 — 809, June 2010) Charles Moser sets out to do just that.

Moser is a Dean of Professional Studies at the Department of Sexual Medicine, Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, San Francisco. My regular readers may know Moser as the one that showed that autogynephilic fantasies were common among genetic XX women.

Moser on Blanchard

Moser sums up Blanchard's theory in this way:

"Proponents of Blanchard’s Autogynephilia Theory (BAT) suggest that male-to-female transsexuals (MTFs) who are not primarily sexually attracted to men also manifest a specific sexual interest (i.e., autogynephilia, or arousal by the thought or image of “himself” as a woman). Conversely, in those MTFs who are primarily sexually attracted to men, autogynephilia is absent. Thus, autogynephilia, sexual orientation, and gender identity are interrelated and interdependent in MTFs."

Moser's point is that with Blanchard there is a one-to-one relationship between sexual orientation and the explanation for the transgender condition. In Blanchard's world all transgender phenomena can be explained along two dimensions: biological male vs. biological female and heterosexual vs. homosexual. This is a long way from the "mixing table" narrative I have presented here at this blog, where gender is caused by a combination of a large number of variables.

In fact, what Blanchard is saying is that androphilic (man-loving) M2F transwomen (who he calls "homosexual transsexuals") are feminine men who transition to get access to straight men. While all other transexual women (as well as other biological men with autogynephilic fantasies) are suffering from a target location error. They are attracted to the idea of they themselves having a female body. Some of them are also driven by this sexual desire towards transitioning.

This means that androphilic and gynephilic (woman-loving) transwomen basically have nothing in common as regards the cause of their condition. They belong to separate worlds, if we are to believe Blanchard.

Picture: Charles Moser ->

The negative consequences of Blanchard's theory

Moser points out that critics -- professionals as well as MTFs -- focus on the implications of the theory. If Blanchard is right this would imply, they say, that: (Moser's list; my comments in brackets)
  • Autogynephilia is always present in non-homosexual MTFs and always absent in homosexual MTFs.
    [Meaning that all gynephilic, bisexual and asexual transwomen must have or have had autogynephilic fantasies, while man-loving transwomen have none].
  • Those non-homosexual MTFs who deny autogynephilia and those homosexual MTFs who report autogynephilia are mistaken or in denial.
    [The numbers given by Blanchard do seem to confirm that most autogynephiliacs -- or crossdreamers, as I call us -- are gynephilic, but not all. Moreover, some of his "homosexual transsexuals" report autogynephilic fantasies. ]
  • Autogynephilia is a paraphilia.
    [Paraphilia means a sexual arousal to objects, situations, or individuals that are not part of normative stimulation and that may cause distress or serious problems for the paraphiliac or persons associated with him or her. As paraphilias are included in psychiatric manuals, they are more often than not understood as mental illnesses or perversions.]
  • Autogynephilia is an orientation.
    [i.e. a sexual orientation that comes in addition to heterosexual or homosexual. This is actually one of two different hypotheses presented by Blanchard. The other one is the target location error theory, where the autogynephiliac internalizes the natural love object, woman, and gets the hots for himself as a woman.]
  • Autogynephilia is the motivation of non-homosexual MTFs to seek sex reassignment surgery (SRS)
    [As opposed to having a strong female gender identity]
  • Autogynephilia is clinically important.
    [It deserves a place in the psychiatric manuals as a separate condition, as opposed to being a symptom of another underlying cause].
  • Non-homosexual MTFs have difficulty with pair bonding due to their autogynephilic interests.
    [Their attraction to the image of themselves as a woman makes it impossible for them to form lasting relationships to other women or men].
Offending language

Moser points out that even if Blanchard's use of language may appear to be scientifically neutral, it can hardly be read that way:

"Although possibly descriptive, the notion of autogynephilia has particularly negative connotations within segments of the transsexual community. In the same way that it may be accurate to state that men, on average, have more upper body strength than women, it is inappropriate and inflammatory to say that women are the weaker sex. It is also inappropriate to say that MTFs, who have struggled to be considered women, are just generic men with an unusual sexual interest."

I agree, but describing the negative consequences of a theory does not prove it wrong. The truth may hurt, and it is the role of science to get to the truth. I really don't understand why Blanchard and his supporters insist on using this kind of language. Even if they do feel that "homosexual transsexuals" are men, a more neutral terminology ("androphilic MTF transsexuals") may have led to a more fruitful debate.

The fact that they are using politically incorrect language does not in itself meant that the underlying theory is wrong, however. Blanchard is one of the very few that has had the courage to walk into this minefield (or "mindfield") . I for one is glad he did, because it meant that my condition was at least recognized by someone. This means that if we are to criticize Blanchard we need more than complaints about language and politically incorrect opinions.

Does Moser have any good arguments against Blanchard's theory? He does.

Weak methodology

First Moser attacks the methodology of Blanchard. Moser is arguing that Blanchard is making shortcuts that are not acceptable.

Blanchard is basing most of his research on questionnaires given to patients at the Clarke Institute of Toronto. Moser points out that the questions themselves are leading the researcher towards an affirmation of Blanchard's theory:

A sample item is, “Have you ever felt sexually aroused when putting on women’s underwear, stockings or a nightgown?” All the items in this scale use the term “ever,” emphasizing that even one episode in the distant past factored into the score on this scale.

In other words: Blanchard leaves no room for the ambiguity and messiness of life. He wants to sort all men into his four field table of sex and sexual orientation, and the way the questions are posed helps him do so.

Moser again:

"The consistent use of “ever” in these scales is analogous to classifying someone as homosexual on the basis of a few episodes of arousal from same sex contact during a brief period, despite years of satisfying heterosexual experience, interest, and denial of subsequent homosexual experience or interest. Although some MTFs acknowledge ongoing autogynephilic arousal, many others deny this (Lawrence, 2004, 2005). Blanchard (1985b; Blanchard, Clemmensen, & Steiner, 1985) and Lawrence (2004, 2005, 2006) dismiss their denials and insist that they are still autogynephilic."


The problem of falsification

Then there is the problem om autogynephiliacs lying. Moser puts it this way:

"Blanchard suggests that non-homosexual MTFs who deny autogynephilia are seeking to present themselves as “socially desirable,” that they want to emphasize the traits and behaviors that will win them a favorable SRS recommendation, and that some admit to falsifying their presurgical evaluation (Blanchard, Clemmensen, & Steiner, 1985). "

I for one is pretty certain that many MTF transwomen have lied to their therapists about their sex fantasies. If the only way to get SRS (sex reassignment surgery) is to tell the therapist that you are not autogynephilic, that is what you do. You may be telling your doctor a white lie, but you are not lying to yourself.

But Blanchard and his supporters are using this to undermine the validity of the responses given by the "non-homosexual" MTF in the Blanchard studies. They not only lie when necessary. They are liars. This makes it possible for them to explain away the fact that some "non-homosexual" transwomen do not report autogynephilic arousal.

I find this part of Blanchard's argument bewildering. You see, the patients at his clinic have no reason to lie about their autogynephilic fantasies, as "the Clarke" clinic of Blanchard allow "autogynephiliacs" to transition. Indeed, as we see from the responses, most of the autogynephilic transwomen understand this, which is why they are so open about their feminization dreams. You can see from the papers written by Blanchard, that his patients tell him close to everything about their fantasies, which is why he was able to develop the theory in the first place.

Moreover, if the autogynephiliacs are lying, the androphilic transwomen could be so too. Maybe they have better understood that admitting to feminization fantasies is a big no no, so they keep quiet about them. Or maybe they interpret the questions differently. Blanchard never follows that avenue, because it does not suit his purposes.

What we are facing here is the problem of falsification. If there is no way you can test a theory and prove it wrong, it does not follow the proper rules of science.

The theory determines the facts that proves the theory

There will always be respondents who are lying to the researcher (or themselves) in any "poll" like the one Blanchard is basing his conclusions on. My problem with all this is that Blanchard, and particularly his supporters, use this "autogynephiliacs are lying" argument to reclassify all the respondents who do not fit the theory.

An androphilic transwoman ("homosexual transsexual" in the Blanchard lingo) who admits to such fantasies, cannot be telling the truth, they say, because androphilic transsexuals do not have such fantasies. Why? Because the theory requires that they have none. They therefore look closer at the data and find that this person has reported one or two heterosexual experiences, which "proves" that this person is not homosexual at all, but has been "non-homosexual" all the time.

I have known quite a few homosexual men in my life. Most of them have had sexual encounters with women. Some have been married. Some have kids. It was expected of them. That does not make them less gay. You cannot reclassify respondents in this way based on such weak data.

So: The questionnaire and the methodology are designed in such a way that the respondents confirm the theory. If the respondents give the "wrong" reply, they are reclassified according to the theory. This means that the methodology is more likely than not to lead to the type of results Blanchard is looking for. These results are then used to confirm the theory. Please note that this is common practice in science. But it is not good science.

Non-homosexuals MTFs without autogynephilia

As for the role of autogynephilia (crossdreaming) among "non-homosexual" MTF transwomen Moser notes the following:

"Non-homosexual MTFs who report never or infrequently experiencing autogynephilic arousal are not rare. Prior to SRS, almost 35% of nonhomosexual MTFs reported a history of 12 or fewer lifetime episodes of autogynephilic arousal (Lawrence, 2005). Lumping individuals with minor,
often time-limited, histories of autogynephilic arousal with individuals who have extensive histories for most of their adult lives appears problematic. It would seem more appropriate to consider consistently versus rarely autogynephilic groups separately."

This blog is about crossdreamers, people who do get aroused by the idea of being the opposite sex. But this does not mean that there cannot be other gynephilic transgendered people out there who do not feel such urges. Some may be asexual. Others may express their inner woman by other means.

But Blanchard is not interested in discussing the exceptions, because he believes that the autogynephilic fantasy is the engine that drives non-homosexual transwomen towards transitioning.

The physiological data

Blanchard and his colleagues have tried to control for the possibility of autogynephiliacs lying about their fantasy life by testing some of them with a penile plethysmograph (phallometry). You run a tape with a sexual fantasy for the subjects and measure any response in the form of penile erections. How they can get erections with a device attached to their penis, is beyond me, but they do!

It is a very controversial tool, and the efficiency of its use has been contested.

Moser explains:

"Blanchard, Racansky, & Steiner (1986) attempted to show that heterosexual cross-dressers who did not report sexual arousal from cross-dressing were actually sexually aroused by cross-dressing narrative audio tapes. This would suggest that their denial (either intentional misrepresentation or their own misperception) of sexual arousal from cross-dressing stimuli was erroneous."

One problem with the study was that the fantasies presented to subjects did not include a woman on woman fantasy.

There is no room for a thorough discussion of this research here (this is one of the Blanchard papers I have not dissected), but Moser's conclusion is clear:

"Contrary to their conclusion, there was no discrepancy between, 'verbal self-reports and their more directly observed physiological responses' (Blanchard, Racansky, & Steiner, 1986, p. 460). The phallometric data and the self-report data were consistent; the response to the cross-dressing tape was directly related to the subjects’ stated report of arousal by cross-dressing."

These non-homosexuals (how do you like that for a word!) did not lie to the researchers. This indicates that the responses given in the other studies can be trusted. The grey zone of autogynephilic man-loving transwomen and non-autogynephilic woman-loving transwomen cannot be ignored.

22 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. I think there are plenty of real women who will love a crossdreamer man. You can have a perfectly viable heterosexual relationship without taking hormones, or being anything other than exactly what you are naturally.
    There is no need for shame in your life. The shame is on the bigoted society who expect to impose their stereotype on your life ��

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  3. I found something interesting. It seems that when studying male crossdressers, who do so for sexual reasons, 13% were gay or bisexual, and 29% had been with other men. It seems even among those who that even in those who aren't transgender. Or are crossdreamers. There is some degree of gay men who are involved. I think that dressing feminine or masculine is something that can probably cause arousal, but if you don't enjoy it in other aspects of your life (like in drag), then the arousal can seem to play a bigger picture, because it's the only thing that gets associated with it. So more feminine men and women (typically gay men and straight women), might get excitement, but would be less likely to consider it sexual.

    Here is the page about what I was talking about. It uses terminology I don't like, but the data is still data.

    http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/group/MestonLAB/HTML%20files/Resources_msd_para.htm

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  4. Thank you for this tip! It looks very interesting. What you say seems to imply that there is no clear boundary between transgender androphilic drag queens and gynephilic crossdressers, if I understand you correctly.

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  5. The way i experienced it is that I didn't know what I was, and so I did try having a relationship with a man as well as with a woman, but neither of them actually turn me on and pornography does absolutely nothing for me. So eventually I concluded that I am asexual. Sexuality and gender identity seem truly separate and independent of each other. Being a cross dresser is no more "autogynephilia" than being a tomboy would be "autoandrophilia" and sadly I feel that some researchers are just looking to justify some ulterior ideology that has nothing to do with the reality of cross dressing, homosexuality or trans-gender-identity.

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  6. // I feel that some researchers are just looking to justify some ulterior ideology //

    I am afraid you are right. They have come up with a simplistic explanation that does not cover even a part of reality, but nevertheless insists on shoehorning everyone else into the same, tight, box. This makes not much of a difference if you are studying butterflies in the Amazonas, but when you are dealing with real lives, it can get ugly.

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  7. (New to this site, not sure how to reply to an actual comment directly.)

    I wouldn't call these types of crossdressers transgender. It's not how I personally use the word. However that is the just of what I was saying. In people who don't transition, there isn't a clear boundary between people gynphelic and androhpilic crossdressers.

    Which I think is relevant, because if cis androphilic people can crossdress for sexual reasons. And there isn't a clear boundary between cis androphilic and gynephilic crossdressers. Then why would we assume that there would be in transgender people as Blanchard does? Why would we assume there couldn't be any straight trans women who used to get aroused by as you call it crossdreaming?

    I think this information is important. And I think it also helps to dispel the idea that all sexual crossdressers are straight men. Which just isn't true, and it might make gay crossdressers feel pretty confused.

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  8. @Anonymous

    In this blog I stick to the traditional umbrella definition of "transgender", as a term that encompass all gender variant people, crossdressers included. I guess you are referring to those who suffer from gender dysphoria and/or are transsexual.

    You write:

    //"Why would we assume there couldn't be any straight trans women who used to get aroused by as you call it crossdreaming?"//

    The reason Blanchard & Co find this hard to grasp is that their world view does not allow for it. Women do not, per definition, suffer from "sexual paraphilias", as such "kinks" demand a male sex drive. This is pure nonsense, and reflects their 19th century ideas of female and male sexuality. There are, as you argue, a lot of female to male crossdreamers. I have written extensively about them on this blog.

    I should stress though, that having sexual dreams of this kind does not necessarily mean that they are not transsexual or gender dysphoric.

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  9. I think the use of "transgender" as an umbrella term, for anything that is not perceived as heterosexual norm, is inappropriate. To me it means manifesting behavioral traits that innately associated with the other sex of what one has. IOW one's gender and one's sex do no match.

    Paraphilias and wearing fetish attire are not part of this: The opposite sex do not wear their gender specific clothing for the sake of their own sexual arousal, and neither does a transgender person.

    I see no harm in being a transvestite, or a drag queen, but that behavior in itself does not make them "transgender".

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  10. @Angelica,

    Hm. I think you should take some time exploring this blog before you follow up on this comment. I am a crossdreamer and a gender dysphoric person, and absolutely reject the idea that what I am experiencing is a "paraphilia" or a "fetish". These are words that have been coined not only to invalidate MTF trans people who do not transition, but all trans women who are attracted to women.

    As for saying that trans means "behavioral traits that innately associated with the other sex of what one has", that makes little sense to me. That would mean that your gender identity is dependent on to what extent you are able to live up to the gender stereotypes of the day.

    I know of a lot of cis-women who express a broad spectre of behavioral traits often associated with men. Even a butch lesbian woman is woman, unless she tell us otherwise. Gender expression and gender identity are two independent variables, as are gender identity and sexual orientation.

    If you belong to the Harry Benjamin Syndrome or "classical transsexual" tribes, this is not the place for you.

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  11. If you want to talk about trans-gender then you are going to have to face the fact that there must be at least two sex related characteristics that are in opposition... Having an erotic experience from cross dressing, does not qualify as "transgender" IMHO.

    BTW: I am expressing my honest opinion, and while you may disagree with me, I don't submit to being dismissed and silenced with denigration or intimidation.

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  12. p.s. homosexuality is a transgender manifestation. Being a drag queen (gender expression that is not experienced as gender identity) is not.

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  13. Dear Angelica Perduta

    I am a CD whom are questioning his/her own identity in the early forties.

    I met one transexual last time in England who once was married and had kids. She was going through transition.
    And for many there, it started with "cross dressing" and internalized transphobia as well as not having that immediate attraction to males.

    Being attracted to a gender is not a sign of transgender expression.

    Dressing is.

    Looking, feeling feminine is what the internal sex drive is.

    And I defy any trans woman who deny having sexual fantasies about themselves in a female role with a man.
    How did you get aroused before transition?

    By viewing yourself as a man with another man, or as a woman with a man?

    That is the big clue!

    Gender identity doesn't have anything to do with sequa orientation!

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  14. ...Cont.

    Harry Benjamin never made any claim that sequal orientation determined ones gender identity.
    What we in the middle do not need is the whole debate being muddled by extremists on both sides who wants to label us us mere fetishists and perverts with an extreme form of emasculation fantasy that needs to be fulfilled physically. It poisons the debate, and give the narrative to people who wants to do both you and me harm.

    This is a blog for people who needs to find themselves in the gender conundrum. We are all searching for answers about ourselves and do not need to be pathologised by either "CTs" or "AGPs" in the process.

    We can have an open debate.

    But I do not need to be diagnosed from afar from someone whom I once did not feel any connection with, but find out that I might do being discarded as just another "trannie" or "transvestite" (I find the term derogatory in itself, since when I am dressed as Marion, I am just plain and simply Marion. A beautiful woman who knows how to dress better than most transitioners who now live in stealth and try to fit onto the cisgender normative without being disrupted by absolutists who live after dogmas instead of listening and learning from all the people of a bit older generation "on-seters" and what struggles we face.

    Jack asked me a question in a mail when I wrote and got my own partial story published here:
    "Do you think that you can live your life as a woman since you were passable in England?"

    If I wasn't digging into that question, I would never have stumbled into this blog in the first place.

    You had a blanket statement:

    "Being a drag queen (gender expression that is not experienced as gender identity) is not."

    Do you not think that many "HSTS" trans women would be attracted to a job as a drag queen in the first place? Being a drag queen is not something that would attract many cisgendered people in the first place.

    Dressing up in your most sensual lingerie, putting on makeup, scenting yourself with a feminine perfume is an expression of gender identity. If it is sexually charged as in "I am getting dressed and sexy now", what do you think triggers these thoughts, and why this should be different in cisgendered women, trans women and people you refer to as "AGPs"?

    Another question!

    What came first for you?

    Dressing?

    Or the thought of you being born in the wrong sex and went hormonal before dressing?


    I suspect dressing is one of the first symptoms.
    The arousal that comes with puberty is internalized transgenderism.

    You should read Martine Rose's story. And you will see that the picture is not as black and white as you would like to see it.

    For me, it's been a terrible journey. Being pathologized as a pervert or being delusional (as the AGP crowd wants to label you as) is not a plausible explanation.

    As I asked the only one who have seemed to know throughout all these years in a mail tonight

    "What do you know about cross dressing"?

    "What do you think is the root cause of cross dressing?"

    "How long have you know about mine?"

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  15. ..Cont.


    Here is the deal.I do not even consider it "crossdressing" anymore. When I dress up, I shower and shave to rid myself of any maleness and to engulf myself in old fashioned femininity. As I see the progress, I start to see a beautiful woman occur before my eyes in the mirror. The lipstick is the final touch.

    I consider it as just...dressing. As I type in these words fully made up and in my newly acquired silky wedding nightgown and robe.

    Perhaps....

    Or perhaps someone else is right, like you and the AGP crowd is saying is that I am only an extreme fetishist who has an urge for some emasculation in real life to get me going. Perhaps my longing now to get breasts is just another part of that humiliation fantasy that the AGP crowd wants to label it as.
    That fetishism must have gone wilde since I feel an intense discomfort when feeling some stubs under my makeup after 12 hours and need to get rid of all traces of "manhood" as soon as possible.
    In some ways, I am just like you. I don't want to live in the middle.
    I have spent the first half of my life as male, and feel more comfortable being dressed and viewed as a woman when those chances occur.
    I am too old, and have been through and seen enough shit as both a soldier, a traveler, a lover, a writer, a wage slave to not give a damn anymore.

    But in this case, what I do not need is to be either pathologized, or labelled.
    For many years, I denied any familiarity with you and the transgender community until I almost became a star in England among them.
    And these are people from all walks of life and from every level on the HBJ scale. That why I now refuse to concede the term to both "CTs" as well as Harry Benjamin extremists.
    I understand how these early transitioners want to live in stealth and conform. But that does not give anyone of them the right to throw the later ones under the bus as merely fakes or just plain fetishists.
    Throwing us under the bus of Blanchard does nothing good. Living in the closet (literally speaking) is tough enough.

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  16. The attitudes expressed by Angelica has caused extreme suffering in the transgender community. To argue that trans women have to be "homosexual" (I interpret this to mean gynephilic) is meaningless to me. After all, cis women may be lesbian, so why not trans women?

    Nor it is it possible, as M points out above, to put up a clear boundary between drag queens and crossdressers on the one hand and trans women on the other. A lot of trans women start their journey towards reclaiming their true selves by taking part in these communities, as they allow them to explore ways of expressing their identities.

    The thing is: We cannot know what truly drives a transgender person or whether they are "truly transsexual" or not. Sometimes, they even need time to find out themselves.

    Please note the following, Angelica: For several years transgender separatists (HBS, CT, Transkids) tried to undermine what we are trying to achieve here by trolling this blog, constantly repeating the "crossdreamers are sexual perverts" narrative.

    Typically these were trans women who fear the social stigma attached to drag and crossdreaming so much that they used the language of their own oppressors to keep the "unclean" away. I know of many trans women kept their journey on hold due to such harassment, and because of it lost years of their lives to more shame and suffering. I also know of those who ended their lives because of this nonsense.

    For more on the Harry Benjamin Sydrome separatist, read this blog post: http://www.crossdreamers.com/2010/08/hbs-1-harry-benjamin-syndrome-part-1.html.

    I repeat: This is not the place for you.

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  17. You completely misrepresent what I said. Gender is the collection of traits that correlate with reproductive sex.Being attracted to the opposite sex is one of them, but being gay does not make ypu transgender.

    To be transgender one should experience body dysphoria in the body you have. One should have intention to manifest as the opposite sex in day to day to day interactions. One will be wanting medical assistance to transition.

    I have no problem with closet transvestites who cross dress to jack off, or as a thespian drag art form, but it's not the same thing and you go back to being straight dudes in every day life leaving us trans women with the stigma as if we are the ones who are sexually motivated. Your objectives are not ours and what is your campaign even trying to achieve?

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  18. //To be transgender one should experience body dysphoria in the body you have. One should have intention to manifest as the opposite sex in day to day to day interactions. One will be wanting medical assistance to transition.//

    Actually, this is not the meaning of the word transgender. Transgender is, as noted, an umbrella term for a wide variety of gender variance. Crossdressers are included in that term. By the way, this is also the way the term is used in the recent edition of the American Psychiatric Manual.

    You cannot change the meaning of a word just because an association with other transgender people makes you uncomfortable. I find your embarrassment from being associated with "tranvestites" (a transphobic term, if any) embarrassing. This is exactly the kind of narrative our enemies use to force trans women back into the closet.

    If your point is that there is a difference between crossdressers and transsexuals (people who want to -- or have -- transitioned), use that word. Do not try to monopolize the term transgender.

    As noted above: Yes, there are quite a few crossdressers and crossdreamers who identify with their assigned gender, who do not experience intense gender dysphoria and do not want to transition. They are not transsexual (even if they fit neatly under the transgender umbrella).

    But in our survey we found that as many as one third of non-transitioning crossdreamers suffer from severe gender dysphoria. They may still decide not to transition, for a wide variety of reasons, but many of they feel the exact same pain as the one you are describing. Some of them do decide to transition.

    In fact, most transsexual women would have been exploring their true identity by dressing up as women before transitioning. Many of them have also called themselves crossdressers at the time. That does not make their identity less valid. Quite the opposite.

    In other words: There is no clear boundary between crossdressers on the one hand and transsexual women on the other. This is a continuum.

    Nor can you use sexual arousal to distinguish between transsexual women and crossdreamers. Most trans women have fantasized about having sex as their target sex before transitioning. How could they not? Read Julia's Serano's discussion of female/feminine embodiment fantasies for a good discussion of this phenomenon.

    I understand that you are asexual. But you cannot make asexuality a prerequisite for being recognized as a woman.

    Moreover: Do not think for a moment that sexual arousal is the only thing that drives crossdressers and crossdreamers. For me crossdreaming is just one of many ways this side of me expresses itself.

    As for my agenda: It is the same as the one of most transgender activists, trans women included: To stop the use of transphobic pseudo-science to reduce the identity of trans-people to fetishes and paraphilias.

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  19. This blog's Code of Conduct is clear:

    4. People who want to ridicule or stigmatize crossdreamers in particular and trangender people in general are not welcome. This is a forum for understanding and support, not for the creation of more antagonism.

    You have been warned.

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  20. The need to label and aggregate cases to analyze across a great number of people, which science tries to do, is a failing in this case, I believe. And, the fairly consistent language of "dysfunction" and "disorder" are perpetuations of cultural biases, not helpful terms of reference.

    I have a male body, and I have a lot of fun expressing myself in many different ways - in thought, dress, sexuality... I dream about and explore a lot of things. Sexuality and gender identity are just another subject or channel of inquiry. There are as many healthy ways of being as there are people.

    We can use labels if it helps to promote communication of ideas and experience. But in terms of expressing the range of human experience in this area, they fall miserably short. Want to call me transgender (or not)...great. But that's about your perspective and beliefs, not mine.

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  21. //And, the fairly consistent language of "dysfunction" and "disorder" are perpetuations of cultural biases, not helpful terms of reference.//

    I agree. In fact, most of these terms are meaningful only in reference to the theories themselves, and not what's going on in our real lives.

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