September 30, 2010

Crossdressing: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

Here is a video on crossdressing I found over at Vimeo.

It was created by Maddie for a women's studies/comparative studies class her second quarter of freshman year at Ohio State University.

Crossdressing: Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation from Maddie on Vimeo.

September 24, 2010

Childhood experiences and gender identity development

This is a blog about identity and understanding. Men and women who get turned on by the idea of being the other sex, often struggle with what it all means and how they can cope with it.

Do not hesitate to publish your story in a comment or you can send it to me (
jack.molay@gmail.com) and I will put it up in a separate post. Maybe others will recognize their own lives in what you write, and maybe you will get some useful comments.

Here is one such story, from "ilas".


Two accidents and a crossdreamer

"I have come to realize that certain childhood experiences of mine may have influenced my sexual development and therefore my gender identity (I am theorizing under the assumption that it is not inherent to my biology to begin with).

I never really knew what to make of all these feelings until I found out about the AGP theory. It seemed to fit so nicely…but after a lot more study into the subject I am starting to wonder if it really is. Fortunately the AGP [autogynephilia, another term for crossdreaming, or -- in the case for biological men: having feminization fantasies] “umbrella” is pretty big and it keeps growing. This gives me plenty of hope of someday “fitting in somewhere”. This apparently is important to me.

So I would like to pose some questions to you all.

Please keep in mind that everything I have written here are just random thoughts and realizations that I just put down. I am not really good at writing and I don’t really know how to make a coherent story of it.…so bear with me please!

Also, I sometimes may get a bit graphic, it is not my intention to offend anyone, but it is necessary for me to tell the whole story. Ok…here goes…

You see, there are two instances in my childhood where something happened to my genitalia. The first was when I was about 4 (?) or so and I saw my brother (who is 5 years older than me) pull back the foreskin of his penis in the bathroom. Of course, as a little brother I wanted to do everything my big brother did, so pulled back my foreskin as well. Mine however wouldn’t go back again. I had to go to the hospital and doctors fiddled around with it.

As the doctors could not fix it easily, they wanted to put me under a general anaesthesia the next day to fix the problem. So I had to stay the night in the hospital. My underpants were chafing my acorn so they cut a hole in my underpants to let my penis hang out. Leaving me exposed all night. The next day I was put under a general anaesthesia and the Doctors fixed it.

The second instant was when I was around 7 or 8 (?). I was climbing a big metal slide in the playground and I was standing on a horizontal metal pipe in the middle of the construction which was about 3 meters above the ground. When the school bell rang all the other children jumped of the slide which made the whole thing vibrate. I slipped and each of my feet went down a different side of the metal pipe. You get the picture…suffice to say it hurt…badly. I passed out and woke up in the class room.

First my scrotum was black then blue and after that yellow. This lasted for several weeks. I can’t really remember any pain though (suppression?). My brother called me “blue-balls” for several weeks too (ouch).

Not liking ones genitalia

All in all both instances were pretty traumatizing (I guess?). I never really thought of it before, but I am wondering if these two instances may have been the catalyst for me not really liking my genitalia, because of the pain and humiliation they caused me, and therefore not liking my gender? Setting me on a path that made me put a lot of focus on my genitals and on girls (who seemed to have it better). Making me actively and consciously play with my genitals at a very young age (8 or 9)?

Erotica

Then there is also the fact that I started reading books with erotic stories in them when I was 10 or so feeding my (sexual) fantasies immensely and again putting me on a path of sexual knowledge and interest which was way ahead of my age.

Also, when I was reading those stories I (somehow) related and identified more with the women in the stories then with the men, making me explore my own body very differently then most other boys do (?). Because of this I found out that I really enjoyed anal stimulation (which probably made me feel more feminine because of the penetration).

By the way…the first anal stimulation I had was putting a tampon (go figure) in my rectum. God knows why…but I did. The stimulation started to evolve from there. Combine that with the fact that I have let my hair grow long ever since I was 12 (don’t know why) and I try to let my body stay as thin (not anorexic) and feminine looking as I can by working out and shaving my stomach and genitals, and you obviously have someone who wants and needs to be a girl…

Or is that not true? Who knows...I certainly don't.

Also…could the first accident (being so exposed and having my genitalia touched by several strangers) be the cause of me being sexually submissive?
I guess am just very curious about what anyone else would make of this. Your responses are very much appreciated.
In addition, below you can see the comment I made on another blog about AGP (http://crossdreamjourn.blogspot.com/2010/08/its-in-cards.html?zx=aa9eed7c454a557)


Gynephilic

I am not attracted to men, either as a man or a woman. I do want to have sex with them though. In fact I have. As a man I have had sex with another man, but not because I was attracted to him, but because I "needed" to have sex with a man (probably to make me feel like a woman).

Now I suppose I am not gay (because I am not attracted to men) and I am not Bi-Sexual either (again...because I am not attracted to men), but I can physically have sex with a man whilst fantasizing about being a woman.

Oh man...how confusing this all is :-)

I don't cross dress either. I have tried it once but it’s just not for me. I do however like talking/being with girls better than with guys. In fact I am better at it and I feel more comfortable around them too.

I can also relate to girls better than to boys (I just don't have that much to say to men).I don't think this is because of gender insecurity though, because I don't feel less (or better) or subordinate or whatever to men in general. I just like being around girls better.

On the other hand...I also like it when gay men look at me with an interest. In fact I do my best to look good whenever I see one. It makes me feel pretty and wanted. I am still not attracted to them though. Having said that...if I didn't have a girlfriend already and the guy looks good I would probably dive in the sack with him though.
Who I am

Oh...I don't know any more...I cannot seem to make sense of it all.I think the best way to describe me is:

1. A sexually submissive heterosexual man with such a large feminine side that it confuses him, and a very well developed imagination which tries to make sense of it all.

2. A man that is apparently bi-sexual in his fantasy life which "makes" him tend to do bi-sexual things in his real life (which complicates the hell out of it).

3. A man who would have rather been a girl because they just seem to have all the fun (in his opinion), i.e. nicer clothes, nicer bodies, more sexual power, make up, nicer shoes, nicer hair, and better yet the female genitalia (which just seem to be so much more fun to play with), but doesn’t feel like there is a girl trapped a man's body (kind of).

Yeah...that about sums it up. Pfff...I guess the quest for self identification continues!

Again, your responses are very much appreciated.
With kind regards, ilas.
(Click on "comments" below to make a comment!)

September 22, 2010

Guest post: A theory about the regular crossdresser's sexuality

Here is a guest post written by Nadia-Maria Soraperra for the Knowing about CDing forum over at Flickr (an invite only forum).

Here are her reflections on crossdressing and sexual orientation:

You can read everywhere that "sexual orientation" and "crossdressing/being transgendered" are independent variables.

I will admit they are, because I'm not aware at the moment of any fact that would prove the contrary.

From the most reliable countings, gay people are a small minority among crossdressers, whereas bisexual ones are of a much greater number, almost challenging the number of straight CDers. It's a rather "new" finding because they believed in the past that straight CDers were almost (or at least) 80%, what we now know as strikingly overestimated.


What means : the proportion of 'bi' is much higher in the CD population than in the general population.This 'fact' would incline me to guess that Regular Crossdressing and sexual orientation are not so "independent" as once thought.

One issue we are facing to is the poor definition of being straight/bi /gay. Most polls do not warn about any precise definition, so that many people chose more or less arbitrarily.

Why is it difficult to have an accurate definition ?


For instance let's imagine a genuine boy, a married man, having had in his life 1000 intercourses with GGs [genetic girls], and only 3 with men. Would you rate him as either straight or bi ? If he added that he had preferred these 3 orgasms with men over those with women, would you rate him as gay?


Moreover we know that many men, lacking the opportunity of dating GGs (for instance when they are in jail), would not mind exhibiting gay behaviour, as an "ersatz" (better to have a relation to another man than no sexual relation at all). Would you rate them as bi or still as straight?


We know that some straight TG admirers (see for example old threads in the Flickr's group "Relationships - Dating a Transgendered Person") began to date TGirls because they were not enough successful at dating GGs. They tell us that they consider TGirls are women, so that they consider they are still straight.


Faced to such confusing opinions and experiences, I wonder what can be concluded at all, without the need to revisiting all the matter!

(Originally posted 6 June 2009)


In a separate comment Nadia writes the following about crossdreamer sexuality:

What I find pretty fascinating is the puzzle of the crossdressers' sexuality.

In my opening post of this thread [over at Flickr]: How sexual orientation interacts with Regular Crossdressing? I wrote :

'You can read everywhere that "sexual orientation" and "crossdressing / being transgendered" are independent variables.(...) the proportion of 'bi' is much higher in the CD population than in the general population.This "fact" would incline me to guess that Regular Crossdressing and sexual orientation are not so "independent" as once thought.'

Moreover I already pointed out the flaws of the "autogynephilia" theory, as a general explanation especially to closet CD's sexuality, while that theory still appears to be a rather convincing one even to many in our community.

I find it surprising they can accept, with so few critical mind, the point of view of some established psychiatrists who still see crossdressing either as a definite mental disorder or certainly not as a healthy behaviour.

Whereas I firmly disagree with regular crossdressing being directly linked to any mental disorder (whether the GID or any sexual disorder), I can of course accept that some crossdressers (just as some people from the general population) may exhibit themselves one or several disorders. In addition of that, I think that autogynephilia may have a limited amount of insight in it, regarding some obvious cases, yet in a clear minority among RCDs [regular crossdressers].

After a lot of pondering about all these matters I may come up here with this theory of mine.
I believe that you can explain all the observed facts, provided that you simply admit that the sexual orientation of any transgendered person would have 2 different components:
  • that of the male within (sexual orientation of the male self).
  • + that of the female within (sexual orientation of the woman self).
Both components appear to be basically unrelated to each other.

Thus, you may combine a heterosexual sexual attraction with a homosexual one, or have 2 heterosexuals or even 2 homosexuals. Both are competing within, while only one is exhibited at a given instant.

You may either shift very quickly from one to the other - in a matter of seconds - or stick to the same for extended periods of time (almost all your life in some cases, often plagued with denial of being transgendered at all).

The first issue most of us have to face - especially these who do no more live in denial - is integrating both components of our sexual orientation in an acceptable view of only one self, the self-awareness of our whole personality/sexuality. And the biggest problem is then at finding one (or more) partner(s) able to give us the proper sexual satisfaction we deserve and need.

Anyway, as RCDs [regular crossdressers], we are prone to rationalizing our own behaviours, jumping to unprovable beliefs, and often quick at calling - or at 'not calling' - our sexual behaviour in many different ways, or at seeing it as something essentially specific to ourselves not having to match any (scientific) reality.

According to my theory, what's specific to each of us is the way we are rationalizing from the reality within, not this reality itself which relates to the fundamentals of any sexual attraction that are vastly beyond our own control.

According to my theory, that's very challenging to find a romantic mate who can satisfactorily meet all your sexual needs, when you may have for instance 2 different modes of heterosexual attraction, whether you are crossdressed or not, or whether you feel a man or a woman.

Some of the consequences of our strange condition are :
  • most (if not all) RCDs are not sexually at ease in a standard marriage to a heterosexual GG having neither trans nor bi tendancies herself.
  • many married RCDs have to find other means to meet some of their 'legitimate' needs, for instance at cheating their wife with other TGs or men or just at masturbating themselves (a behaviour much less threatening for the couple)
  • many RCDs have a sexual life involving multiple short term partners, since they can't find any proper sexual mate qualifying for a LTR due to the duality of their sexual orientation and complexity of needs.
Autogynephilia is a spurious explanation for a puzzling behaviour that is as a rule adopted by someone who can't find the proper partner around, apt at exhibiting the proper sexual behaviours.

The 'autogynephilia' concept is mainly a mere optical illusion, a sweeping generalization and essentially a mistaken interpretation of a reality being in fact the product of a sophisticated sexual orientation, combined with an incomplete self-understanding of their own needs, and with the 'diktat' by an unaccepting society around us as well.

Nadia

(Originally posted 17 June 2010)

September 19, 2010

A transgender life story

Sometimes I get emails from crossdreamers and transsexuals, letters that tell a life story in all its complexity. I want to share one such story with you today. I hope you can give both me and "Annie" your input.

The text has been shortened and anonymized.

Annie writes:

A regular guy?

'I am in my forties. I am a transgendered woman. I’ve been living full time for most of the past four years. Most of my life I regarded myself as a heterosexual male, albeit with an odd “kink”.

As you and others mentioned in your blog throughout primary school and high school I was frequently harassed and bullied. In hindsight I think this was basically because I did not know how to exhibit male traits in interactions with other boys. Many young boys are constantly playing at power struggles with each other. I never knew how to do this.

I've always had intense autogynephiliac fantasies. My fantasies were not exactly about becoming a girl but submissive aspects connected to this. I've always had "sub" fantasies. My fantasies were never sexual.

I've always enjoyed reading history. I read how in many cultures women were oppressed. This was always a big "turn on" for me, although I've long felt guilty about this. I'm a feminist and politically left wing. I hate all forms of oppression. ...

Sometime in primary school I read somewhere that in the 19th century women couldn't vote and had to wear long skirts all the time. Much of my fantasy was a fetish of long skirts. I wanted to be a girl so I could wear long skirts, as a girl.

Sometime later I saw the musical "The King and I", with Deborah Kerr. Later I saw "Gone With The Wind". The costumes the women wore intrigued me, mainly because they were bizarre. I developed a fetish around hoop-skirts.

Growing up versions of the above fantasies were my only sex fantasy. I "liked girls", I was attracted to women but more on an emotional level.

Image: Deborah Kerr - >

Sex with no sex

I was never interested in sex, although ironically I had a strong sex drive. My sexual fantasies, which were sometimes intense, did not impel me to have sex with a woman but rather to become a girl, wear certain clothes, or be in a submissive but non-sexual situation.

I never dated in high school or college. I went though a series of somewhat melodramatic crushes on girls, usually people I hardly actually ever talked to. I would go though long fantasy scenarios in my mind. I never had any interest in sex with these girls. ...

Growing up I gradually came to realize I was a lot different from most other guys. This especially became apparent in late high school and college. Guys would spend hours talking about their sexual experiences. I knew most of this was made up, its almost a male stereotype.I would join in and make up stories myself.
I had never had sexual relations with anyone and I really didn't want to either, even though I had a strong sex drive. I was never consciously puritanical and I'm not religious. I always thought sex was "gross" and disgusting. I still do to an extent. At some level I came to realize I was wired much differently from other guys.

Going crazy?

One summer, when I was in college but taking some time off, I tried to castrate myself. I was in a house my parents then owned and I had free time.

I started trying on my mother's long skirt collection. For a time I "went nuts". I became super horny. I was masturbating maybe 7 or 8 times a day. The only way to describe this would be to say that for a week or so I was "in heat". I'm not a heavy drinker but in the evenings I would help myself to my parent's wine collection.

One night I got into a frame of mind where I thought I "had to become a girl". I had a fantasy of sort of enforced feminization. I wanted to destroy my penis in a way that it would look like an accident. My parents would then take me to a doctor who would say that the only hope would be for me to have a sex change operation. Strangely I didn't care about having breasts or other aspects of being a girl. I just wanted to be a girl so I could wear long skirts, as a girl.

That night I found some carburator fluid. I knew from using it that it's acidic - it burns. I poured some on my penis.Of course I regretted this a minute later. I jumped in the shower and stayed there for an hour. It didn't do any permanent damage.

After this incident I thought I was going crazy. Why did I do something like that? Something was going wrong but I didn't know what. I thought my incident was the result of shyness and my inability to meet girls. At the time though I realized most other guys in that situation would have tried to find a girl or get a prostitute. Things didn't work that way for me.


Crossdressing

Late college and for a time after when I lived with my parents I crossdressed. I didn't try to look like a girl exactly. It was still a fetish/fantasy of wearing long skirts. I especially liked long denim jean skirts, because they looked androgynous. Sometimes I would dream about them.

Around this time I also went though a stage where I would call up plastic surgery clinics and ask them "if they performed sex change operations". At the time I knew nothing about transgenderism or TG theory. I was half serious about this, it was a sexual thrill. Most of these people I talked to thought I was crazy, I think.

After I would masturbate and have an orgasm I would lose the desire to "be a girl". I would feel guilty and ashamed by the fantasy. It would always start up again though.

Hallucinations of phalluses

Sometimes when I would fantasize or think intensely about "becoming a girl" I would have an odd hallucination. I would have an odd sort of ethereal feeling, as if I were a sexless angel.I would also have mild visual hallucinations of phalluses. I don't think this repressented a desire to have sex with a guy (people have suggested this) but rather that I was denying part of myself. I still have these hallucinations at times. I've thought about this a lot but I don't know what it means.

I'm not sure why but when I got a place of my own I stopped crossdressing, even though I could now do it as much as I wanted.

Transitioning?

I still had my fantasies, stronger than ever. I was gradually moving toward the idea of transistioning. I would spend time researching in a nearby medical library getting information. ...

One night I somehow ended up talking with some guy on the phone who said he was a psychologist who worked with transsexuals. He said, "I'm going to try to talk you out of this". He spent an hour telling me how difficult transistion was and that I wouldn't get referals for this anyway. I felt bad but I thought he was right.

September 13, 2010

Take part in study of crossdreamers, crossdressers and other transgender people

Kathryn drew my attention to research done by Prof. M. A. Gilbert, PhD, Principal Investigator Department of Philosophy at York University of Toronto, Canada.

Professor Gilbert, who is a crossdresser himself, says:

"My goal it to explore and mine the experiences of and crossdressers with respect to changes in personal self-identity. The idea of “being a woman” or of “being a man” is linked to the concepts of masculinity and femininity. How do these concepts interact in the context of gender change? Clearly, one can be a masculine woman or a feminine man, but what information about gender can be garnered from this? Goal: To what extent can a transgendered individual experience her/his personal identity as being formed by the outside world, and to what extent does changing social roles change the individual’s self-identity."

Send them your life story

I have been in touch with Professor Gilbert and he confirms that they are still looking for life stories.

If you have a story describing one or more experiences of life “on the other side,” (i.e. transsexuals and crossdreamers/crossdressers) the researchers would be very interested in hearing about it. Stories should be about how one feels differently when en femme [or en homme] and how the world is different in terms of how one is treated or how on interacts.

Please include your name with at least a first name and a last initial. The researchers confirm that all personal information will be kept in strictest confidence.

Please email your story to tpi@yorku.ca.

Give your permission

Please note that by sending your story to the TPI Project, you are agreeing that it may be reprinted and/or used in publications. Unless you specifically specify otherwise it will be used anonymously with only your initials as an identifier. Please state in your email that you are giving permission for your material to be used anonymously in scholarly or trade publication. You will also be added to the TPI listserve, so if you do not wish to be added, please say so.


Get your story published here at Crossdreamers

By the way, if you want some feedback on your life story, you can also send it to me (jack.molay@gmail.com) so that I can publish it on this site. Some of the best discussions on this site has been based on real life stories. Unless you do so, I will anonymize it before putting it up on the blog.

September 12, 2010

The female and male copulation instincts 2


The discussion of the role of receptive vs. mounting copulation instinct and gender identity continues.

Read the previous post first!

A more complex model

I have tried to make a couple of figures that could make some more sense out of this. This one displays six alternatives for biological males that combines the sexual orientation dimension with the one of the copulation instinct.

I believe there are many more dimensions (cp. my sliders metaphor), but this is just to illustrate that adding another variable makes crossdreaming easier to understand.

Note that I, unlike Weinrich, has omitted the asexual and bisexual category in order to reduce the complexity of the figure. This is not unproblematic, as the asexual category may explain why some -- but not all -- gynephilic transwomen deny having ever had feminization fantasies. Bisexuality may explain why some gynephilic M2F crossdreamers transition and end up living with a man.

I accept that there are masculine and active gay men (if not, they are very good at pretending), as well as feminine passive straight men. The word feminine is here used in a broad sense, to include more than feminine looks and manners.

I have used the word "mounting" for the stereotypical masculine mating instinct and "reseptive" for the feminine (mount-receiving). I prefer these terms to "active" and "passive", as women may perfectly well can be active in spite of being the catcher and visa versa. Maybe proactive or reactive are better words, or maybe we should come up with some new terms. Some biologists use the terms "dominant" vs. "non-dominant".

Androphilic means attracted to men. Gynephilic means woman-loving.


Boxes without borders

There are no absolute borders between the categories. Some feminine gay men are more feminine than others. Some M2F crossdreamers love being the proactive player when having sex with a woman. A so-called feminine gay man may realize over time that he truly is a woman and transition because of that, and not for practical reasons.

A M2F crossdreamer may, after years of denial, come to the conclusion that she is a woman and become a transwoman. A masculine straight man can, after having had some hard real life experiences, understand that he has a feminine side after all and learn how to give in to a woman. A seemingly masculine gay man can, after having tried for years to adhere to the heteronormal view of masculinity, shave off his beard, sell his Harley and take up gardening.

You get my point. Not only are there overlap between the boxes. People also change over time, partly by through personal growth, and partly by discovering hidden sides of themselves.

Female to male crossdreamers

You can make a similar figure for biological women:


The F2M (female to male) crossdreamer ("autoandrophiliac") wants to take the active role when having sex with men. Many gynephilic transmen and masculine lesbians often make use of strap-ons when making love to their lovers. They identify their urge to mount with the practicality of having a penis. To what extent F2M androphilic transmen do the same to their male lovers, I don't know, but from what I hear and read I suspect so.

In alternative circles F2M crossdreamers are known as "girlfags". A girlfag is described as "a gay man trapped in a woman's body". The main difference between girlfags and my M2F crossdreamer category seems to be that the girlfag is exclusively attracted to gay men. From the discussion on the Girlfag forum, however, it seems to me that the main point is not to find a gay man, but a non-masculine one.

Some may be provoked by my use of the terms "Butch" (for manly lesbians) and "Femme" for the "feminine bottoms". Among some lesbians this is seen as submitting to heterosexual stereotypes.

I have heard many lesbians use the terms, though, so they do make sense to some of them. They definitely make sense to me, as they give us another example of how the copulation instinct may be decoupled from sexual orientation. From the life stories I have read, it seems clear that many gynephilic F2M transmen started out as a "Butch".

What is unclear to me in this figure, is the life of the androphilic transman. I know for a fact that F2M crossdreamers exist, but I have few concrete examples of any of them transitioning. It could be because F2M sex reassignment surgery is harder, or that society is slightly more tolerant of a masculine gender presentation among women. It could also be that as there has been no medical term for them, no one has been looking. They do exist, though, and there is even a slang term for them: "transfags".

The Urban Dictionary defines transfags as:

"A transsexual (Usually a [F2M] transman: a man whom happens to be transexual) whom is attracted to members of the same sex. (NOT the gender they were born with, but the gender they have become/are on their way to being). This means to a transman: he will date [natural born] biomen [cismen] and transmen. This means to a [M2F] transwoman: she will date biowomen and transwomen."

(I am sorry about all the added brackets. It is hard to think straight when you discuss these matters.)

This is a model, not reality

This is a hypothetical model. I have learned enough about the complexity of human sex, sexuality and gender to believe that this is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. And yes, gender identity is much, much more than a question of sexuality.

This is only meant to be another grid helping us to make sense if it all, a typology that widens the scope beyond the traditional male=asserive= gynephilic and female=reactive=androphilic.

I will come back to this in a later post, but I see now that my use of the words "masculine" and "feminine" may be problematic. By talking about a feminine gay man I implicitly say that his behavior naturally belongs to women, and not to men. In other words: I implicitly say that there is something "wrong" with him. And if I say that a M2F crossdreamer (or a gay man) has a "feminine" copulation instinct, I implicitly say that they should not have one - that only women should feel like this.

We probably need new words to describe complex sets of behavioral traits that our culture considers "masculine" and "feminine", but we have no such words, since both science and culture is caught up in the traditional gender binary. Or maybe using words for such gender typical complexes will be a lie, regardless of how you define them, simply because all men and women represent unique combinations of "masculine" and "feminine" traits, a large variety of combinations which ultimately makes the words "feminine" and "masculine" meaningless.

September 10, 2010

The female and male copulation instincts 1

This is a post about crossdreamers, biological men who fantasize about being women and biological women who get aroused by the idea of having a male body.

This post is a revised version of an entry posted over at Sex Gender Body.

I know that this is a very controversial topic. Ray Blanchard - the man who coined the term "autogynephilia" (men who get sexually attracted to the image of themself as a woman) and who most clearly has recognized the sexual part of the motivation of some transgendered people -- reduced all male to female transgender to sexual deviants. They have no inner woman, no femininity and no real female gender identity, according to him.

He does not recognize female to male crossdreamers ("autoandrophiliacs") at all, and the term "autoandrophilia" did not appear in the DSM-V proposal until a few months ago.

By reducing everything to sexual urges Blanchard and his followers miss out on the complexity of human life. The fact that men and women may get turned on by feminization and masculinization fantasies does not mean that these men and women do not have a true transgender identity. The feminization and masculinization fantasies may very well be a natural expression of their "inner woman" or their "inner man". Sexuality is a basic part of life. We have to look at it in order to understand the transgender condition or conditions.

I want to look into the male to female crossdreamer's longing for being the catcher instead of being the pitcher in the sexual act. From what I have seen, read and experienced one of the main reasons some men have feminization fantasies is that they look for emotional release for a female sexual instinct.

I will also argue that you find the same phenomenon among some biological women. There are female to male crossdreamers who dream about taking the active male role when having sex with men.

The female copulation instinct

I consider the female copulation instinct to be one of the important variables in what makes some men long for a female body and a female identity. It is definitely not the only one and it can not be seen in isolation from other instinctual and psychological traits, but it helps me understand crossdreaming in a better way.

I got the idea from a model developed by James Weinrich. I do not agree with his conclusions, and I will tell you why, but I find his line of thinking helpful.

Rats in the kitchen

But first I need to tell you what I mean by a copulation instinct.

As noted in my posts on biological research on the development of sexual identity, at least some of the differences in behavior and brain structures as regards women and men are caused by hormones. The traditional theory says that the behavior of the male is caused by the presence of hormones very early in life, including life in the womb. These hormones cause so called organizational effects that are considered irreversible by many researchers.

This applies to humans as well as mammals in general.

In rats the typical female behavior is inviting the male by ear wiggling, hopping, a downward arching of the back (lordosis) and moving the tail aside to give room for the penis. The male has an instinctual mounting behavior: climbing up on the female's back, holding her, entering, thrusting and ejaculating.

The traditional theory says that the lack of such hormones or an inability to make use of them leads to the development of female patterns. Rats, for instance, are sensitive to the effects of sex hormones for a few days after birth. If you castrate a male rat at that point in time, you stop the flow of androgens (male hormones) to the brain.

In her book Sex and Cognition Doreen Kimura puts it this way:

"If this is done to a rat in the first few days of life, then when the animal is full grown it will, with some priming from female sex hormones (called an activational effect), display female sexual behavior, such as lordosis, but little or no male sexual behavior. (...)

"In the rodent, researchers have identified two fairly independent processes in the development of male sexual behavior. One is masculinization, the organization of such male behaviors as mounting, intromission, etc. The other, called defeminization, refers to the inhibition of female behavior , which will occur if not actively suppressed."

As i have noted elsewhere, there is some disagreement whether the dichotomy masculinization vs. defeminization makes any sense or whether the idea that the female pattern is the default is correct. It probably isn't, but hormones clearly plays a role in the basic instinctual behavior of rats. In other words: You cannot use psychology or culture to explain transgender rats.

From rats to humans

I am not saying that crossdreaming is caused by a process like the one described here. Human sexuality is different. Human mating habits are also much more complex than the ones of rats. In fact, the only mammal I know of, that is more creative Kama Sutra wise than we are are the bonobos, but then again we are practically cousins.

In spite of all this variation, I do think it is safe to say though that the basic female drive when having intercourse is to be receptive and -- for lack of better words -- reactive. The basic male drive is to be mounting and proactive.

It is not that I trust the literature on this, but having studied both cisgendered male, cisgendered female, lesbian and crossdreamer erotic fantasies and literature, I have come to the conclusion that, yes, some have a more female, "passive", wiring; others a more proactive masculine wiring. It turns out, however, that some females are wired like men, and some men like females.

"Sarah" says this about her alter ego "Jim" in the Crossdreamer's Journey:


"He likes girls. According to 'common knowledge', that makes him heterosexual. However, during fantasizing, he would sometimes take the female role. Doing this he sticks something up his butt. According to 'common knowledge', guys who stick things up their butts for pleasure are homosexual. Following that logic, people who do both hetero and homo things are bisexual. As he used to explain it, his 'bisexuality' is an extension of his heterosexuality. But in his fantasies he was not playing the part of a male 'receiving' another male, e.g. gay. He was playing the part of a female receiving her male lover, e.g. hetero. Paradox again."

Jim's feminization fantasy goes beyond the need for anal sex, however. For him it is an expression of an inner femininity, symbolically represented by his alter ego "Sarah".

The James Weinrich model

In the late 1980's James Weinrich got the idea of classifying gender variations ("transpositions") in a table very much like the chemical periodic table. The table was made to help researchers see useful patterns that could help them asking the right research questions.

Weinrich is in many ways the exact opposite of Ray Blanchard, the man that coined the term "autogynephilia". Weinrich respects the heterogeneity of the transgender world and hoped this table would make it clear that all "transpositions" were but natural variations of human sexuality.

He coupled the idea of different mating or copulation instincts with the two dimensions of feminization and masculinization like this:


Remember that in this model the female brain is the default. Cismales ("normal" men) become cismales thorugh two processes: (1) Maculinization, i.e. the development of typical male behavior, but also the basis for later male sexual characteristics like body hair and larger muscular mass. (2) Defeminization: Processes that stop the development of female characteristics, being that a female psychology, and the basis for breasts or a curvy body. In this case Weinrich is focusing on the development of behavior, i.e. the brain, which must be understood as independent from the development of the body.

In his model the basic sexual masculine behavior is mounting, while the feminine is mount-receiving. The four quadrants represents the mix of masculine and feminine sexual behavior found in different types of individuals. Most females will be in the lower left-hand corner, most males in the upper right. People who fall in the corner opposite to the one normal for their biological sex are transsexuals. People who feel at home in the sex of their bodies, but who has a untraditional sexual orientation or gender presentation fill out the rest of the table.

Weinrich presented several models, but this is the one that seems to be the most finalized one. I found it in Linda Mealey: Sex Differences: Developmental and Evolutionary Strategies.


As you can see, the" heterosexual transvestites" -- who I think come closest to my crossdreamer category -- are put close to the upper right hand quadrant, side by side with the heterosexual men. This means that they are slightly less "mounting" in their sexual instincts compared to other heterosexual men, but not by much. They are not mount-receiving or feminine as regards their copulation instinct. Their brains are defeminized, and fairly masculinized.

Alternatively, some MTF crossdreamers may be what Wenrich calls gynephilic MTF transsexuals. They are closer to the side that is neither masculine or feminine as regards copulation instinct. They are more like the asexual transwomen.

And this is where Weinrich gets it wrong, in my opinion. From what I see from my own life, research and transgender fiction, many -- if not most -- crossdreamers are of the mount-receiving kind. This is the major obstacle they face in their heterosexual love lives. They love to be the bottom and not the top. Yes, there is -- as always -- variation, and some crossdreamers play well in both roles, but in general the M2F crossdreamers belong in the lower left hand side of the quadrant. This is where Weinrich has placed the androphilic male to female transsexuals.

Such a position will make the M2F crossdreamer brain as feminized as the one of androphilic M2F. Maybe they are and maybe they are not, or maybe the question is just silly. Regardless, the model breaks down.

In part 2 I will present an alternative model of the relationship between copulation instincts and gender identities.

Comment problems

Some of you have reported that comments posted do not show up in my blog.

I can see that this is the case, as I get emails from Blogger (the Google blog publishing service) with the content of your comments, even if they are not published online.

If I see this happen again, I will take the liberty of posting the text in one of my own comments, under the relevant post.

Don't hesistate to email me at jack.molay@gmail.com if this happens again.

Jack

September 8, 2010

Crossdreamers.com

The old URL for this blog, autogynephiliac.blogspot.com, now redirects to crossdreamers.com.

I think the new address is a little bit more poetic.

Don't worry, the old URL will continue to work, and should I -- due to unforeseen circumstances -- be unable to renew the domain, the old address will continue to work in the future.

September 5, 2010

The transfan in popular culture

In my article on crossdreamers and the fascination for "shemales", crossdressers and transwomen, I looked into the psychology of what drives a transfan (also called a transsensual or a tranny chaser).

The phenomenon of men being attracted to transwomen is well known in popular culture.

Take a Walk on the Wild Side

The most well known is probably Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side, which presents the transwoman as a part of the wild nightlife.

It was on his 1972 album Transformer and was produced by David Bowie, another artist that explored the ambiguity of gender.

The lyrics tell the story about journeys made to to New York City by some of the celebrities connected to Andy Warhol's New York studio, The Factory: trans actress Holly Woodlawn, trans actress Candy Darling, Joe Dallesandro, Jackie Curtis and Joe Campbell (referred to in the song by his nickname Sugar Plum Fairy).

Admittedly the lyrics focus more on the transwoman than the transfan:

Holly came from Miami, F.L.A.
Hitch-hiked her way across the USA
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She says, Hey babe
Take a walk on the wild side





The Kinks: Lola

Another well known song sees it all from the man's perspective. Whether he is a true transfan or not my be debated, but he certainly falls for Lola.

(There are some errors in the subtitles, but you will get the gist of it.)




In the book The Kinks: The Official Biography, Ray Davies says that he was inspired to write this song after the band manager Robert Wace had spent the night dancing with a "transvestite".

RuPaul's Tranny Chaser

As for modern lyrics looking at the fascination for the male to female, RuPaul is pretty explicit in the song Tranny Chaser. RuPaul is an American celebrity drag queen, actor and singer/songwriter.

I suspect RuPaul is androphilic, but she shows a clear understanding of the tranny chaser not being a gay man. She also underlines the idea that deep inside the tranny chaser identifies with the "tranny".

Every time you watch me... that don't make you gay
Do you wanna be me... that don't make you gay
Or do you wanna f@#& me... that don't make you gay
So the hunter got captured by the game
It ain't the first time a player got played
Won't be the last time you hear a t-girl say
You want it wet then you betta make it rain
What's the tee, girl? Tell me what's the tee?

(Yes, I know "tranny" is a derogatory term, but I guess RuPaul has earned the right to use it.)



4VAK3ZR8RHFS

September 3, 2010

Interesting crossdreamer reading

I would like to draw your attention to what is happening on some of the other crossdreaming/autogynephilia blogs out there.

I am so glad that more and more crossdreamers have decided to share their lives through blogs and blog comments. It is of great help to all of us.

Imitations of Reality

I have had an lively and interesting discussion with the author of Imitations of Reality regarding what I call "the crossdreamer call for authenticity".

If you are a crossdreamer/crossdresser and live like a man in a relationship with a woman, what is the right thing to do?

"Imitations" argues that for crossdreamers who are able to live as men, should do so out of concern for their loved ones. In other words, he argues that there are many other ways of living a genuine life as a crossdreamer than transitioning:

"The point I was trying to make (albeit poorly articulated perhaps) – I think by focusing solely on one outcome or aspect of autogynephilia as many blogs and web sites do, i.e. 'transgenderism and transitioning,' it becomes the mistaken focal point of this syndrome rather than the broader spectrum found in the lives of many others who do not feel this way at all.

"In some ways it performs an injustice to the many others like me with wives, children and a varied network of people from all walks of life, which become marginalized by being ignored or shoved to the sidelines in finding no outlet to identify with save the life of the transsexual. As I am sure you are well aware Jack, there are many levels of Crossdreaming/Crossdressing/Transvestism that people wish to explore without assuming that they all wish to transition and become the 'female in the mirror.'"

I definitely believe there are other ways of living the life of a crossdreamer than transitioning.

Here is the series in the correct order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

[Update  February 2016: the site seems to have been removed. Fortunately The Way Back machine has copies of the pages: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5]

Note that he is not saying that no trangender person should transition, but that it is not the right course of action for many.


A call for the real life

I took stock of the various kinds of calls for an authentic life I have found in the transgender debate lately, and they come in a wide variety of shapes and colors:
  1. Accept your condition and include it in your life as a married man. Susanne over at My Husband is an Autogynephiliac is a good example.
  2. Accept your condition and find room for it outside your life as a couple, ref Alice Novic, who has a male lover at the side.
  3. If your gender incongruity is clear and severe, do transition, and try to find a new life as a same sex couple (ref Helen Boyd and her husband -- now wife -- Betty)
  4. If your gender incongruity is clear and severe, and your spouse/lover cannot live with your new life, both of you should start afresh, rather than suffer in silence.
Some religious fundamentalists and classical transsexuals argue that autogynephiliacs and crossdressers are fetishist and perverts who should go back into their closet and stop bothering decent folks. Needless to say, I find that position less than helpful.

My own call for a genuine life is simply the Delphian call of Know Thyself! Before we can learn to live with who we are, we have to know who we are.

It is impossible for me to make up a general rule for what you should do, as each life situation is unique. We can do our best to avoid making our loved ones suffer, but let's face it: some suffering is unavoidable, both for us and them, when you are transgender.

Lost in Transgender

Cheryl is opening the floor for a debate on two different approaches to the call for transitioning over at her blog:

"I'm a woman side, have always felt like a woman but I'm trapped inside a male body'"

and

"I accept that I'm male, I act the male role, but I would like to be a woman and have always been jealous of women".

"What of people who feel that the second statement is true for them?" Cheryl asks: "Are they in any way less suited for transition?"




A Crossdreamer's Journey

Jim's alter ego, Sarah, has written an excellent and easy to understand post on what it means to be a crossdreamer called It's in the Cards.

She is using playing cards as a metaphor for gender and sexual orientation.

Use her post when you try to explain crossdreaming/autogynephilia to others!


T-Central

I am glad to see that T-Central, an important portal for transgender news and discussions, has included several crossdreamer blogs in their list of transrelated blogs and sites, including this one.

Thank you, T-Central!



Follow me over at Twitter

Finally, note that I often link to such articles in my Twitter feed. You can find that feed in the right hand column of this page, or over at my Twitter page.

September 1, 2010

On crossdreamers and the role of shemale fantasies part 2

The discussion of the connection between crossdreaming and the fascination for transwomen and crossdressers continues.


Shemale pornography

In popular culture the readers of shemale porn are often depicted as love shy nerds and socially clumsy men. In the American TV series Dexter, for instance, the forensic lab tech Vince Masuka is a sex obsessed nerd with a strong interest in shemales.



This stereotype may have some ground in reality, as there are love shy men and crossdreamers who find it hard to cope socially (see my posts on the love-shy men of Gilmartin). I suspect their shyness is as much caused by their crossdreaming as it is the other way round.

Many crossdreamers do not fit this cliché, however, Generally I think the stereotype is based on the belief that shemale lovers are closeted gay men. This is an argument that is often used to establish a divide between "tainted" crossdreamers and "pure" transwomen.

The industry is growing rapidly

Examiner.com had an interesting article on the subject last summer. Using data from Alexa, Google and Internet World Stats they found that nearly 190 million heterosexual men are attracted to transsexual women and actively seek romantic contact with or sexually explicit images of them annually. I believe these are world wide numbers, but if they used English language search terms, a significant number of transfans will have been excluded.

The article by Maddy Claire points out that:

"According to the latest Internet statistics, interest in 'transsexual' topics has risen more than 5,000 percent in the past five years, and interest in 'transsexual dating' has surged more than 400 percent. In the past 90 days alone, combined traffic from the top 10 adult sites and top 10 dating sites catering exclusively to trans-loving males has risen 350 percent."

No, I have not seen the methodology used to arrive at these figures, so we have to take them with a laaaaarge pinch of salt. But they can be taken as an indication of the interest in the topic. The increase is probably partly caused by a general increase in Internet traffic, and the fact that the shemale porn industry is growing so rapidly. For some adult entertainment companies transsexual titles are now apparently outselling all others. Shemale porn has become commonplace.

The customers are straight men

One representative of that industry argues that the majority of customers are straight men: " I don’t even bother to promote it to the gay market, because it would be a waste of money."

This confirms the theory that men interested in pre-op transwomen are gynephiliacs and not homosexual men - at least not in any meaningful sense of the word. They move from traditional heterosexual pornography over to shemale pornography in hope of a resolution to their dilemma. They never move over to gay porn, as they have little or no interest in the male body per se.

This does not mean that all readers of shemale porn are necessarily crossdreamers. Given the variety of the human condition, there must be other explanations as well.

The active male

A strong argument against my theory so far, would be that the male is playing the active part in much of this erotica. If the viewer of such films identifies with the male, he is playing out the typical male copulation instinct, not the female's. Moreover, the shemale does not always plays the role of the dominatrix. She is more often casted in the role of the submissive woman.

This could mean that the viewer, who identifies with the active male, for some reason is fascinated by women with a penis. There could be many psychological explanations for such a fascination (see video below for one of them).

Again, I doubt very much that such a viewer would be a closeted gay man. Gay men are attracted to male bodies with all that entails: broad shoulders, square jaws, strong muscles, hairy chests etc. They are not looking for soft curves and breasts, and there are limits to what upbringing and suppression can do to your sex fantasies.

I am pretty sure there are "normal" heterosexual men who do get turned on by such a scenario, them playing the active manly role in the fantasy. However, it could also be that there are those that identify with the shemale in the movies, pictures and stories. In that scenario, they play the role of the feminized and emasculated man. Sure, she has a penis attached, but it is not used for any manly activity.

Given the masculine stereotypes of modern western culture, this fantasy represents degradation and a humiliation, as the man has been partly castrated (the limp penis) and given the role of a submissive woman (another stereotype based on a negative view of women). But for the crossdreamer it may stand for another resolution to the need for being the catcher instead of the pitcher.

Remember that we are talking about sexual fantasies here, not real life. Some research shows that some 50 percent of both men and women have fantasies of being raped by someone of the opposite sex. I doubt you will find any of them wanting to be raped in real life. The fact that such fantasies are common puts the rape fantasies of crossdreamers in a different light, though. It is the feminization aspect that makes them different, not the fantasies of being taken by force.

Men as props

The observant reader should now stop me, demanding an answer for a very embarrassing inconsistency in my discussion. I say that these shemale porn customers are not gay , because they are not attracted to the male physique. In spite of this I argue that some M2F crossdreamers may fantasize of taking the role of a shemale being taken by a male! Come on! This make no sense at all!

I readily admit that this is a dilemma. The autogynephilia reseacher Ray Blanchard's answer to the puzzle of gynephilic men fantasizing of being taken by men, is that these fantasy men are not real men at all, but masturbatory props, like dildos i guess -- only bigger.

These fantasies are not limited to shemale fantasies. The M2F transgender erotica I wrote about above is full of descriptions of crossdreamers having sex with men after been changed into a woman. Actually, this is the theme in most of the stories.

Blanchard, of course, uses this phenomenon to underpin that crossdreamers are autoerotic only. They are sexually attracted to the idea of themselves as a woman, not to any real person out there. The fact that the men in these fantasies are faceless and without personality proves that this is a paraphilia, according to him. When women fantasize about men these men are either people they know or some concrete acquaintance, movie star or sport's celebrity. The autogynephiliac does not care about such things.

You know, this is one of Blanchard's best arguments. It truly is, because the men in crossdreamer fantasies are often faceless, and I do think he is right when he says that these fantasy men are often -- but not always -- props. And I also think he is right when he argues that the men are faceless because these crossdreamers are gynephilic (woman-loving) and not androphilic (man-loving).

But you can easily explain this without arguing that the man has internalized his external love object, i.e. the real women out there.

First, remember that M2F crossdreamers are perfectly capable of loving others and also feel sexual desire for them. Nearly all of them fall in love, but with women.

But if their copulation instinct is female, a traditional western heterosexual relationship may not give them the sexual release they are looking for. The M2F crossdreamer can play the role of the penetrator, but is wired to be the penetree (- yeah, I just made that word up). The being-taken-by-a-faceless-man fantasies are a way of resolving this urge, as is the dominatrix with a strap-on fantasies and the dominant shemale fantasies.

The M2F crossdreamer longs to be at the receiving end when having sex, and in his/hers sexual fantasies he conjure up a faceless man to play the part of the man that makes him/her a complete woman.

And before you go: "OMG! That only proves that the crossdreamer is a sexual pervert and not a real woman at all!" please do stop and consider this: The desire for sex is an ubiquitous human trait. The reason modern women keep a dildo in their drawer is not because they need to massage their aching necks. An inner femininity may just as well express itself as a sexual urge as a need for knitting or child care. For most crossdressers, for instance, this sexual urge is part of a larger complex of deep felt dreams about being a woman.

Category breakdown

Now we are close to the reason for all the confusion. GB's call girl considered all passive men to be gay, even if they went to her, a woman. Blanchard is unable to make any sensible explanation for the origin of autogynephiliacs, because he -- like the prostitute -- needs to put them in one of two categories: heterosexual or homosexual. In his universe bisexuals and asexuals are put in the same box as the gynephilic, because there are only two ways of sexual attraction: same sex and opposite sex.

As I see it, the crossdreamers have actually much more in common with feminine gay men and androphilic transwoman than both Blanchard and most crossdressers would like to think.

I don't have enough information on gay men to make any sensible judgment on Blanchard and Bailey's claim that all gay men are feminine by origin, and by implication that they are all bottoms. But some of them are. And so are most of the crossdreamers.

In that sense the call-girl was right. She had sensed that there was something different about a male customer who wanted to bend over and... well. She had only one category for this: gay.

In a later post I will present a model that may help us get a grip on it all.

POSTSCRIPT: RAY BLANCHARD ON MEN WITH SEXUAL INTEREST IN TRANSVESTITES

I have not referred much to research on transfans in these posts, simply because I cannot find anything interesting. Blanchard has been co-author of a couple of articles. As always, he demonstrates how good a typologist he is. He knows how to sort complex observations into sensible categories. However, as soon as he has classified what he sees, he loses interest. He may throw out a hypothesis or two, but never bothers to see if the hypothesis is right. This applies to the autogynephilia theory and it applies to his work on tranfans (the "gynantromorphilics").

In a study of men placing personal ads searching for crossdressers, transvestites, shemales and transsexuals, Blanchard found that a majority of the men placing ads were not crossdressers themselves. How he was able to make this observation, I do not know, as the ads does not include such information, but he uses it as a basis for saying that these gynantromorphilics represents a separate erotic interest from the one of crossdressers. I doubt it.

Blanchard refers to research done by Money and Lamacz, who indicate that there may be a difference between an interest in crossdressers and an interest in what they call gynemimetics (androphilic transgenderists, i.e. transwomen who keep their penis). A gynemimetiphiliac is a man who falls in love with a gynemimetic (Help! Someone has to tell them to make more catchy labels!) . Blanchard concludes that although different transfans may be attracted to different types of transpeople, it makes sense to have one term to use for them all. That makes sense to me as well.

Here's the alternative approach to the transfan phenomenon, presented by YouTube vlogger Trannygirl15:



See also discussion over at Tevolve: Men who date trans women

Ray Blanchard: The she-male phenomenon and the concept of partial autogynephilia Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, Volume 19, Issue 1 Spring 1993 , pages 69 - 76

Blanchard R, Collins PI: Men with sexual interest in transvestites, transsexuals, and she-males. J Nerv Ment Dis. 1993 Sep;181(9):570-5.

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