December 16, 2011

Crossdreamer Diva: Annie Lennox

All right, I do not know if Annie Lennox is truly a crossdreamer. I cannot look into her mind and read her fantasies.

What I do know is that she has spent a lot of time exploring the role of gender, and as a female to male hetero/bi crossdresser she certainly fits the profile.

The Eurythmics was big in the 1980's, which saw the birth of a large number of crossgender artists, including Boy George, Dead or Alive and -- let's admit it -- Freddie Mercury.

But must of these were gay. Lennox is more like a female counterpart to David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust, which brings her closer to most crossdreamers.
Click here for alternative.

An online friend got a message from another online Indian friend, who asked whether her song "No More I Love You's" says something about the transgender condition.

It definitely demonstrates Lennox' sympathy for male to female crossdressers and drag artists.

The Sweet Dreams video is a clear example of art that breaks down the traditional divide between masculine and feminine symbols and expressions. There can be no doubt that the Lennox of this video is a beautiful and sexy woman. The fact that she dresses up as a man and uses manly mannerisms does not change this.

December 10, 2011

Literature on sex and gender differences

My blog post on the statistical differences between men and women has caused a lively debate.

One reader even implies that this is yet another male rapist plot to suppress women.

Below you will find some of the studies I have made use of when preparing the blog post. They are all reflections on  the cultural bias of modern biological sex and gender research.

Note that all the books are written by women.  It says a lot about the toxicity of the current sex and gender debate that an argument based on feminist thinking can be interpreted as a male attack against women.

Studies of science

Anne Fausto-Sterling: Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality

Anne Fausto-Sterling: Myths Of Gender: Biological Theories About Women And Men

Cordelia Fine: Delusions of Gender: How Our Minds, Society, and Neurosexism Create Difference

Lise Eliot: Pink Brain, Blue Brain - How Small Differences Grow into Troublesome Gaps

December 9, 2011

On the statistical difference between men and women

I have made som bold claims about the difference between men and women on this blog, in essence claiming that there are no significant differences as regards personality traits.

Men can be as introvert, timid, submissive, emotional and hysterical as women, and women can -- if they are allowed to do so -- be aggressive, analytic, assertive, ambitious  and plain out cold blooded.

And I have said that the few observable differences we can see, might as well be caused by cultural upbringing as by genetic differences.

I have had quite a few readers arguing that this cannot be possible, as they, personally, have observed that women are more likely to be -- let's say -- compassionate than men, and that men do not ask for directions when lost.

I would guess that in some sub-cultures the punishment for not adhering to cultural stereotypes will be so severe that these observations will be true. In an Amish village women are more likely to live up to the clichés.

Elsewhere, however, I fear our cultural prejudices makes us see differences that are not there. In other words: If we meet women who are demure and caring, we take it as a proof of there being a biological difference. And if we meet women who are not, we consider the exceptions to the general rule.

Pink brain and blue brain

There has, of course, been done a lot of research in this area. There are several problems attached to these studies, though. Most of them do not correct for the cultural upbringing and the human need to belong, and the scientists themselves are often very biased. They are actively looking for a biological basis for gender differences, and they only publish or refer to studies that confirm that there are such differences.

I highly recommend the book Lise Eliot's book Pink Brain, Blue Brain: How Small Differences Grow Into Troublesome Gaps -- And What We Can Do About It . This is a more popular critique of modern biological sex research.

What she manages to document is how science papers that seem to prove gender differences, most often find very small differences. These differences might be "significant" from a statistical view point, but certainly not from a social one. 

She says:

"When it come to differences between boys and girls, and even most psychological gaps between men and women, the fact is that the gaps are much smaller than commonly blieved and far from understood at the level of the brain or neurochemistry."

When researchers measure the difference between men and women they are looking for a difference value -- d

December 3, 2011

Autogynephiliacs Love Estrogen

I am going to share another story from a another male to female crosssdreamer  with you.  She (or he?) wants to remain anonymous, so I am going to call her Moon.

The moon has become a transgender symbol for me. It is masculine in the Germanic languages and feminine in the Latin once. Furthermore, its shifting phases/faces seems to indicate a more flexible approach to gender.

Moon has been experimenting with hormones, which have had a significant effect on how other people see her. The question is: Should she go all the way?

In this text "autogynephilia" [AGP] is used as a synonym for male to female crossdreaming (i.e. a man's arousal from imagining himself having a female body), and not necessarily for the autogynephilia theory per se.

Autogynephiliacs Love Estrogen

By Moon

So what happens when a guy who has spent pretty much his whole life fantasising about being a female takes female hormones? And what if that male person feels that they have always been more transsexual inclined, but feels that there is a driving force behind the feelings of wanting to be female which calls itself autogynephilia. How does he know what he is?

Is he a transsexual who would benefit from transition or a transsexual wanabee with some bizarre condition that mimics the symptoms that makes him feel he is a transsexual? Or is he someone who is making a big deal out of his own little perversion?

That person is me in a nutshell. I want to be as frank as I can be about my own experience with hormones and their effect on me. I have decided to publish this anonymously which is why I have asked Jack to publish this on his own blog.

Before anyone asks I have been through the counselling process and have come away not really any the wiser as to what I am. My conclusion is that you have to help yourself find out who and what you are, no one is going to tell you. The last period of counselling allowed me to take hormones 'legally' for the first time. Before this I had tried using hormones on my own for short periods.

So why do I feel the need for hormones? Well, the desire for feminisation is very strong indeed and occupies my thoughts and causes me frustration when I face the reality of life. Crossdressing helps with creating a image of a female but it is rather limiting. There is a great need to make it more 'real'. 

November 29, 2011

On how to save a relationship

I have another email on love and relationships for you. agppartner ask for advice on how to save her relationship with a male to female crossdreamer.

Please do share your own thoughts on this matter!

This is what she writes:

"Hi Jack,

I write with sincere distress, as I really don't know what to do.

My parter and I started coping with his AGP [autogynephilia or male to female crossdreaming]  almost a year ago now. It has repeatedly almost destroyed our relationship and is a very tense subject to say the least. He has repeatedly lied, not only to me, but to himself, about the subject. And our sex life, even at its peak, is far from ideal. 

About 6 months ago, we came to the realization that he was addicted to AGP. We both agree that AGP is not an addiction, but, that, as is possible with any strong stimulus, he had become addicted to it.

We worked SO hard for months. We really focused on developing his masculine side and on finding ways to celebrate his masculinity. He lost 20 lbs and started to feel so much better about his body and to really own his sexual attractiveness as a man. Our sex life got better. Our relationship got stronger.

But, now, he has started lying again. Granted, its over rather small things, but it is the pattern that scares me. He set the rules and he agreed to talk with me about any gender-themed thoughts, fantasies or experiences that were a part of his life. Meanwhile, I find out that for the last "few months" shemales have been popping into his head in a sexual manner every other week and he as masturbated twice without telling me, which he had promised to do. He has also been looking at gendered porn, on occasion. Worst of all, the only way I found this out was by "policing" him (which I HATE, HATE, HATE to do, but my intuition was too strong to ignore). 

November 24, 2011

Crossdreamer Love


Sahar has sent me a very interesting email about the relationship between a male to female and a female to male crossdreamer that I think is highly significant.

He has joined up with a girlfag.

Note that "a girlfag" is often defined as  "a biologically female individual who feels a strong romantic or erotic attraction towards gay or bisexual men, or their social environment."

I suspect that many girlfags are in fact female to male crossdreamers who feel attracted to gay and bisexual feminine men because these men seem to leave room for women with a pro-active, "masculine" and  "thrusting", attitude. They may fall for the feminine side of gynephilic M2F crossdreamers as well.

I have already refered to Sahar in the post Girlfags and Gudykes, Unite! He clearly believes Girlfags are very much like male bodied crossdreamers, only in revers.

Talking to girlfags

"Well as you know, I've been talking to girlfags," he tells me.  "I actually seem to be one of the few that do this. They really are truly amazing and they always respond if you write to them."

Sahar's personal journey will feel familiar to many a male to female crossdreamer. He unearthed the crossdreamer side of his personality earlier this year, and his whole world fell apart. His academic achievements took a serious blow: 

"I had this just awful mindfog, the same one Renee talks about. I couldnt think of anything else but about agp [autogynephilia, ie. male to female crossdreaming]. I then went into a period of that gut wrenching feelings whenever I saw a beautiful girl. That got worse and by [late summer], I was having full blown dysphoria. I couldn't look in mirrors. I felt so terrible all the time. I didnt want to leave my room as i didn't want to see another beautiful girl. I stayed in my room nearly all day, sometimes I'd even shed a tear. I struggled with going out with friends. My mother would cry as i wasn't talking much and wouldn't tell her what was wrong. ... I was sooooo very confused, and just in a very bad place."

Dysphoria and narcissism

This feeling of gender dysphoria -- i.e. a strong feeling of being the wrong sex, often followed by deep depression -- is found among many, but not all, crossdreamers. I  definitely know what he is talking about. The mindfog he is talking about is very similar to the condition I have called spellbound. 

Among psychiatrists like Ray Blanchard this mindfog is taken as a sign of narcissism. You are an autogynephiliac, a man in love with the idea of himself being a woman. He has internalized his external love object, and the reason he gets depressed is partly that he is unable to love a real woman out there and partly the fact that he cannot really become the woman he loves: himself.

I find this theory extremely convulted. I believe it is a good scientific principle to see if there is a simpler theory that fits the observed facts first, and in this case that means taking the feelings of Sahar seriously. He feels pain because he wants to be a woman. Maybe this is because he, in some way, is a woman. Not in the sense of a person being a helpless, submissive and caring Barbie (or any gender stereotype you might want to consider), mind you, but in the sense that parts of his basic level "wiring" or "programming" is more like the one you would find in a majority of women. 

Sahar's experience may be interpreted in both ways.

Help from Jasper

Sahar took control of his own life:

November 21, 2011

Americans believe "transgender" means "transsexual"

Those who have followed the transsexual/transgender debate (or "war", rather), will have seen that a major argument made by so called "classic transsexuals" against the umbrella term "transgender" is that it mixes up real transsexuals with crossdressers, crossdreamers and the genderqueer.

Because of this, they are trying to change the meaning of "transgender". They use it as a term for every type of transgender condition they do not like, and would like to keep the term "transsexual" for the real women.

Transsexual is not the same as transgender

I have no problem with limiting the use of the word transsexual those that have undergone surgery, who plan to do so or who want to transition. But the attempts at splitting at turning the umbrella term "transgender" into a label for everything perverted, makes me angry.

This is not because all crossdressers and crossdreamers are the same as transsexuals. Most of them are not.  Most of the male to female crossdreamers and crossdressers do not even identify as women. Nor do the female to male crossdreamers and crossdressers always identify as men.

Click on comic to enlarge!
That does not stop them from having a lot in common with transsexuals, though. They all are, like the transsexual men and women, suppressed by people who feel threatened by those who do not adhere to the gender stereotypes of the day.

And whatever the classic transsexuals say or believe: The real bigots out there do not accept any male bodied person who feel like a woman.

What is even more important, though, is that there a quite a few crossdreamers and crossdressers who actually suffer from severe gender dysphoria. Some of them again are actually transwomen.

If you ban every transwoman or transman who has ever crossdressed or crossdreamed from the transsexual family, there won't be that many left.

The American public supports transsexuals

It now turns out that the term "transgender" does not undermine the status of transwomen and transmen in the eyes of the American public.

It, is in fact, the non-transsexual transgender who are under threat, including many of the readers of this blog.

A study made by the Public Religion Research Institute seems to indicate that overwhelming majorities of Americans agree that transgender people should have the same general rights and legal protections as others.

Here is what they say:
  • Overwhelming majorities of all major religious groups agree that transgender people should have the same rights and protections as other Americans, including approximately 8-in-10 (83%) white evangelical Protestants, and roughly 9-in-10 Catholics (93%), white mainline Protestants (90%), and the unaffiliated (95%).
  • Overwhelming majorities of Republicans (86%), Independents (94%), and Democrats (92%) also agree.
Given the toxic atmosphere of current American politics, these are mind blowing numbers, indeed.

It gets better:


November 20, 2011

Unhate! Or: How love finds a way.

Benetton's unhate campaign communicates tolerance in a way that moves you.

 So is this another capitalist plot to milk the sentimentality of the masses? Well, if preaching love and tolerance is a sentimental sin, I am all for it!

 

Unfortunately, Benetton had to pull its pope kisses imam poster due to protests from the Vatican. I guess Mr. Ratzinger is too busy persecuting homosexuals and transsexuals to understand all the innumerable ways Love can express itself.

November 18, 2011

Gender and sexuality diversity is not a disease!

Imagine there was no social stigma attached to crossdreaming, crossdressing or being transgender.

Imagine you were allowed to talk about it without risking your job, you family and your circle of friends.

Imagine you could find friends with the same interest as yourself, not only online, but in the physical world. Imagine you could find a lover who, based on is or her own life experience, gets who you are.

As long as conditions like these are considered paraphilias and mental illnesses, that is going to be hard. As long as the medical authorities, the priesthood of the Church of Science, label you as a pervert, there will always be doubts.

For the gay movement, the removal of homosexuality from medical manuals in the 1970s was an important step towards social acceptance.

I am perfectly aware of the homophobia found in parts of the Western world (cp. the American Tea Party movement), but the fact that a majority of Amercians now support gay marriage tells me that the decisive battle has been won. It is clear to most sensible persons that the psychological suffering of gays and lesbians are not caused by their homosexuality, but by the way the surrounding society has treated them.

While I have -- partly for personal reasons -- focused on the gender dysphoria of crossdreaming and crossdressing, others have focused on the fact that such interests may just as well be harmless expressions of the diversity of natural sexuality.

Take away the stigma and "paraphiliacs", and crossdressers and crossdreamers are no more likely to be maladjusted, unhappy or mentally ill than other people. If society could accept, and maybe even embrace this diversity, there would be no mental illness of this sort.

In Europe these insights have led to the establishment of an alliance between homosexuals, BDSM enthusiasts and crossdressers aiming at the removal of "fetishes" from the WHO manual.

Among the leaders we find Svein Skeid, the leader of Revise F65, who has been working with gay and BDSM human rights for 30 years.  Another influential activist is  Odd Reiersøl, a well known psychologist in my country, from the University of Oslo and the Solverv Psychotherapy Institute. 

I must admit I cringe a little at their use of the word "fetish". I am still not convinced that the term may be salvaged from the stigmatizing use of the medical community. The term is also  often used to belittle those that suffer from a clear sex identity misalignment, and it is -- in may opinion -- hard to categorize non-crossdressing crossdreamers as fetishists. 

Still, their main message makes perfect sense to me:

"The fetish/BDSM group is an equal contributor to the society and scores on the level with most people on psychosocial features and democratic values such as self control, empathy, responsibility, love, equality, and non-discrimination. Because the ICD fetish and SM diagnoses are superfluous, outdated, non scientific and stigmatizing to the fetish/BDSM minority, these diagnoses have been removed in nearly all of the Nordic countries. The diagnoses are so seldom in use, that neither care, statistics, nor research are affected by their abolition."

Revise F65 has now presented a report to the Word Health Organisation where they explain why the diagnoses as mental illnesses have to go.


November 13, 2011

Watching the wildlife (on unnatural animals)

Ok, this is old news, but I would like to share it with you anyway, as the story says a lot about people's reluctance to abandoned cherished prejudices.

In 2006 the Natural History Museum in Oslo arranged an exhibition called Against Nature. The idea was to document same-sex relationships between animals.

The project leader for the exhibition, Geir E. Søli, hoped that it would weaken prejudices against human homosexuals.


"It turns out that as many as 20 percent of the black-headed gull [Larus ridibundus] pairs are of the same sex. Same sex relationships have been documented among 1500 species in modern times. The percentage of 'gay' animals varies from five to forty percent. The record is held by a species of parrot."

He pointed out that 100 percent of our nearest relative, the bonobo, is bisexual. Among the orcas scientists have found life long sexual relationships between males.

I have argued that information on "gay" animals is important for transgender people, partly because it tells us that the word "unnatural" is meaningless. If animals display same-sex behavior,  same-sex relationships between humans cannot be "unnatural".  

Secondly: What we are seeing here is not necessarily homosexuality in the modern Western sense, but various types of gender-crossing behavior. Being transgender is not "unnatural". Male birds who behave like female birds are not "autogynephiliacs".

And if this is the case among other mammals, we should be very careful before we reduce all human transgender conditions to sexual perversions or merely a cultural phenomena.

The reaction to the exhibit demonstrated clearly that many use the word "unnatural" to brand people as perverts. It has nothing to do with nature per se.

Jan-Aage Torp, pastor in a local Pentecostal church, was for instance shocked when told about the exhibition, arguing that there must be better ways of using the tax payers' money.

"These are two separate sexes, meant by nature to produce kids," he argued, Tea Party wise, doubting that these researchers could be right.

At his blog he argued that the exhibition  photos showed "animals in natural play" (ref. photo of playing males above).

"But if this was true, that does not mean that it is good," he continued. "This might be a perversion or sickness we should help the animals cure."

I still have this image in my head of him running around in the Norwegian forests with a looking glass, checking the sex of blue tits, and stopping them from unnatural fornication.


November 4, 2011

What is the difference between fetishistic and non-fetishistic crossdressing? (The ICD and beyond)

The WHO medical manual says that only crossdreaming crossdressers can become trans women, not the ones that do not get aroused by the idea of being a woman. How did sexual arousal become such a sin?

I have spent some time looking at the American DSM manual here at Crossdreamers. The American psychiatric manual say a lot about how some psychiatrist try to draw the line between different types of cross-gender identification.

There is another manual that is just as interesting, namely the WHO ICD  manual  (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision, Version for 2007)

Under "Mental and behavioural disorders" there is a category called "Disorders of adult personality and behaviour", where you will find both transsexualism and crossdressing/crossdreaming categorized as mental illnesses. 

On the difference between transsexuals, crossdreaming crossdressers and non-crossdreaming crossdressers

I am not going to repeat my objection to transsexuals and crossdreamers being classified as ill here. Instead I am going to draw your attention to the fact that this manual classifies crossdreamers (people who get aroused by the idea of being the other sex) as completely separate from other crossdressers. In this manual the crossdreamers are actually overlapping with the transsexuals!

There are three categories of interest to my readers:
  • F64.0 Transsexualism
  • F64.1 Dual-role transvestism
  • F65.1 Fetishistic transvestism
What I find so utterly bizarre is the fact that "fetishistic transvestism", which includes -- I surmise -- crossdressing crossdreamers, is categorized as "a fetish", while the other crossdressers are given "a gender identity disorder". 

October 30, 2011

The end of the chick flick -- on the media industry and gender

What comes first? Or inborn femininity or masculinity, or the expectations of the culture around it?

Those who have followed this blog will know that I am pretty much convinced that most of what we consider masculine or feminine is culturally defined, and that all "masculine" of "feminine" personality traits are -- in fact -- common to both sexes.

This does not mean that there cannot be some kind of pre-cultural personality core that is male of female, but it means that we cannot reduce what it means to be a man or a woman to, let's say, a propensity to ask for directions when out travelling.

The advertising industry has a set of categories that are closely correlated to cultural stereotypes. In this TED conference video, Johanna Blakely argues that the fact that women dominates social media will not make media more feminine. Instead they will kill off the genre categories like -- for instance -- chick flicks. The diversity among women will change the media industry.



 Johanna Blakley is Deputy Director of the Norman Lear Center (a media-focused think tank at the University of Southern California).

October 26, 2011

Zagria on crossdreaming

Zagria has put up a very  interesting post about gender variance and crossdreaming over at her A Gender Variance Who's Who blog.

She argues that one of the problems we are facing when discussing gender variance is that only trans people are considered gender variant. The act is that there is a lot of gender variance among "cisgender" people too.

Please note that cisgender  was coined as a term to describe those that were not transgender. Transgender is the starting point. Cisgender is the residual category.

Cisgender may be defined as  "gender identities formed by a match between an individual's gender identity and the behavior or role considered appropriate for one's sex" or "individuals who have a match between the gender they were assigned at birth, their bodies, and their personal identity".

In one sense I believe she is right, in the way that there are many people who do not consider themselves trans in any way, but who still allow themselves to cross the border of what is considered gender normative.

In my discussions with crossdreamers (people who get aroused by the idea of being the other sex) and crossdressers (people who like to display certain aspects of the behavior of the opposite sex through clothing and behavior), I find that many of them identify with their birth sex.

The inside and the outside

However, this an extremely complex issue, for several reasons:


October 24, 2011

Transgender love

A female to male crossdreamer made a very interesting comment on my "Girlfags and Guydykes Unite!" post.

She says:

'I am just learning about the "girlfag"  [female to male crossdreamers, in this case women who love men] idea and I think I really do identify as one. The idea of gay male sex turns me on, but when I read about the feelings of MtF crossdreamers, that also can actually turn me on. I think what I am attracted to is the mixture of masculine and feminine. I mean the confusion itself is attractive. I read one person's feelings of wanting to be sexually dominated, but also cherished, and I thought, I would love to give that to someone. It would make me feel strong and nurturing the way I want to.'

'... I think that in a better, freer world we would meet each other on a spectrum of sexual desires and not have to label that part of ourselves as different from our biological sex.

'But on the other hand, the presence of cultural gender norms actually adds some spice by creating taboos. Would it be as much fun to play to gender games it if wasn't just a bit "dirty"? I guess we'll never know.'

Note how she breaks down the dichotomy strong (i.e. stereotypical masculine) and nurturing (stereotypical feminine). By using her strong, aggressive, dominant side she could actually please a male to female crossdreamer so much that it would be like nurturing. 

This means that love between a male to female and female to male crossdreamer would actually be like transcending the traditional gender roles, while at the same time reaffirming them.

I am sorry if I sound too philosophically obtruse here, but she has made a very important point: We need the contrasts between feminine and masculine, yin and yang, the moon and the sun, earth and sky in order to make sense of our own multifaceted personalities. These contrasts help us navigate the world and our own feelings.

The problem is that since these contrasts have been fixated into dogmas by culture, we cannot make her leap into the sky and look at these dynamics from above. We are not allowed to. Even if we perfectly well know that men can be nurturing, and that many of the women in our lives have been much stronger than the men, we cannot use that insight to forgive ourselves: i.e. that it is OK for a man to cuddle and for a woman to f**k her sweet guy senseless.

I never seize to be amazed at how much pain our own stupidity causes us. We are not only the prisoners. We are the prison guards.

October 18, 2011

Transgenderisms: Outdated Psych Textbooks

It seems to be we know more about the dark side of the moon, than we know about sex and gender.

Oh sure, we believe we know it all. After all, what could be more simple: men are men and women are women and sometimes they meet and make babies, and that is all there is to it.

This is why being transgender is so interesting and so exhausting at the same time. As soon as you start to really look at sex, sexuality and gender all the certainties dissolve into thin air.

Scientists and philosophers are doing one heck of a job trying to make sense of it all, but the thing is: Most of them try to force the square blocks into the round openings, in desperate attempts to make the story they grew up with continue to make sense. You know: men are men and women are women and sometimes they meet and make babies.

Right...

wxhluyp recommended Judith Butler to me. Butler is a post-modernist philosopher who has done a very important attempt at trying to get to the core about why it is that we think about sex and gender in the way we do.  I will come back to her philosophy later. Here I will just point to her story about what made her think twice about femininity and masculinity:

"...you might as well know that in the United States the only way to describe me in my younger years was as a bar dyke who spent her days reading Hegel and her evenings, well, at the gay bar, which occasionally became a drag bar."

It was there she experienced an "implicit theorization of gender":

"...it quickly dawned on me that some of these so-called med could do femininity much better than I ever could, ever wanted to, ever would. And so I was confronted by what can only be called the transferability of the attribute. Femininity, which I understood never to have belonged to me anyway, was clearing [sic] belonging elsewhere, and I was happier to be its audience than I ever was or would be being the embodiment of it."

Judith Butler: Undoing Gender, NY 2004.

It is quotes like these that tells me that the gay and lesbian community and transgender do have something in common (apart from being outcasts): Many of us are struggling with the traditional concepts of femininity and masculinity. They do not fit!

Over at Small Pecuiliar  Eyeteeth has made a wonderful series of comic strips presenting "Outdated Psych Textbooks" -- in the process revealing how helpless and speculative many of the theories explaining homosexuality are. 

I think they say a lot about the role of sex and gender in psychology and psychiatry and therefore something about how they often think about the transgender population.

Enjoy!

(Click on images to enlarge!)


October 8, 2011

Two new crossdreamer and autogynephilia blogs

Please tell me about new and relevant crossdreamer and crossdresser blogs. Here are two that I nearly missed:

Autogynephilia and Stuff

Autogynephilia and Stuff is a blog established by ThinkingAboutGynephilia. "TAG" is an 18 year old man trying to make sense of his life as a crossdreamer.

There is only one post there so far, but that one is definitely worth a read.

Many of my readers will recognize the signs:

He writes:

"Since I was 12 I've had sexual fantasies of inhabiting a female body. This desire ebbs and flows, it is not consistent, I do not find myself desiring to be a female for the most part of my waking consciousness, and neither do I feel out of place in my male body. 

"I cannot, however, becomes sexually aroused unless I imagine myself as a female - even during the brief sexual encounters I've had in my life, for most of them I could only turn myself on by imagining myself as a woman, and having lesbian sex with my partner. I of course, did not tell her this - and for contiguous reasons, the relationship did not last very long; I was scared of intimacy."

"Am i mad? or just different?" he asks.

He is definitely not mad. The text tells me that this is a very intelligent you man with the spiritual resources needed to handle this mess.

Different? Well, aren't we all!

Please, write more TAG!

Mirror Sister

Mirror Sister is also written by a male to female crossdreamer, but this one is under control of the female persona: Deborah Kate. This blog is more of the artistic and essayistic kind. 

October 7, 2011

Spellbound transgender

I'd like to share a painting with you. It is called "Alvelek" (Elves' Play) and is made by the Norwegian painter Theodor Kittelsen.

I think it is relevant for many crossdreamers, because it says something about how male bodied persons can be ensnared or bewitched by their inner woman.

When that happens, their whole lives are at stake. If she can keep them spellbound, they will never be able to become what God or Nature wanted them to be. They will not be able to follow their "inner bliss", to quote the great Joseph Campbell.

The female elf in this case is clearly one of the many species of "little people" found in Scandinavian folklore.

A related being is huldra, a blonde and beautiful girl-like figure with the tail of a cow. While the elves are "over-earthly", huldra is more of the subterranean type.

While the female elf ensnares the man with her unearthly femininity, the hulder captures him with her animalistic sexuality.

Below you will see another painting by Kittelsen, called "Huldra disappeared". Huldra has lured a man into a swamp and he is now lost for humanity. He is probably also in danger of sinking  into the marsh.

Fairy tales are real

But these are all fairy tales, right? They don't mean anything real.

I can assure you they do.

The people who made these fairy tales were like all great artists: They tried to capture that which cannot be defined by science and dogma -- the parts of our minds that can only be reached through metaphors and symbols.

In these cases the fairy tales clearly tries to tell us something about how forces in the unconscious may ensnare us.

The man caught by the elf is caught up in her magical mist, like a fly in a spider's web. The man sinking into the mash -- into the underworld -- tells us the story about someone who is engulfed by his unconscious: The sub-conscious parts of his own psyche is dominating his life.

October 4, 2011

Transgenderisms 7

Another alternative look at the science of autogynephilia.

Click on comic to enlarge!

September 22, 2011

Take part in research on "Trans Gender Embodied States of Recognition"


Tre Wentling invites transgender people to participate in the Trans Gender Embodied States of Recognition research project, which explores recognition and experiences using personal identification documentation (IDs). 

The survey, which may take 10 to 30 minutes to complete, includes questions about your gender identification, IDs and experiences using them, name and pronoun recognition, your transition-related decisions, how you have felt in the past week, and basic demographic information.


Tre adds:

September 17, 2011

Julia Serano on the concept of autogynephilia

The International Journal of Transgenderism has a paper by Julia M. Serano on autogynephilia in its latest issue. It was published late last year, and I tweeted the news, but I haven't had time finish the post until now.

Julia Serano  is a biologist and a trans-activist, and one of the few that has dared to look into the role of crossdreaming in transsexualism in a constructive manner.

Serano follows up on the critique of the autogynephilia concept made by Moser, and I guess this is another intervention in the battle of the American DSM-5 (The American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), .

In other words: Are men who fantasize about having the body of the opposite sex paraphiliacs (perverts), as the autogynephilia theory claims,  or are they just another variation of this wonderful thing called life?

For a popular summary of the autogynephilia theory, see my article: Autogynephilia on a Napkin.

The Case Against Autogynephilia

In the paper "The Case Against Autogynephilia" Serano (who is herself a transsexual woman) notes that Ray Blanchard, the father of autogynephilia,  and his followers have used the term  to dscribe to significantly different phenomena:

"First, it is used descriptively to denote a type of erotic fantasy common to many (but not all) MtF [male to female] spectrum individuals in which they become aroused at the idea of becoming women."

This Serano calls cross-gender arousal, which is -- I believe -- more and less the same as I call crossdreaming.

Like me Serano readily accepts that such fantasies exist.

She continues:


"Second, the term [autogynephilia] has been used to theoretically describe a paraphilic model in which the aforementioned fantasies arise as a result of a misdirected heterosexual sex drive (i.e instead of or in addition to being attracted to women, the individual becomes attracted to the idea of becoming a woman) and once established, such fantasies become the primary cause of any gender dysphoria and desire to physically transition to female that the individual might experience."

September 11, 2011

Julia Serano on the transsexual separatists and crossdreaming

Those of you who have followed the transgender vs. "true" or "classical" transsexual debate, should take a look at Julia Serrano's recent article in the Transadvocate, and her following comment over at her new blog.

Serrno is probably one of the most influential transsexual activists in the USA today, and yes, she supports the transgender alliance of crossdressers, gender queer and transsexual people.

Activism requires alliances

She writes:

"...I have mostly avoided this debate because of the name calling, disparaging stereotypes and nonconsensual sexualization that are sometimes associated with it. But recently, I read a post where someone referred to me as being firmly in the 'transsexual' (rather than “transgender”) camp. This was the second time that I had seen such a claim, and frankly, it surprised me.


"Granted, in my book Whipping Girl, I argued that the transsexual experience is different from other transgender trajectories, and I also decried the manner in which some cissexual gays and lesbians appropriate transsexual identities. 


"But I never once advocated that transsexuals should completely split off from the transgender or LGBT communities. Rather, my intention was constructive criticism – I hoped to make those alliances more aware and respectful of transsexual voices and perspectives

"So, for the record, I am in the pro-umbrella camp, even though I acknowledge that sometimes umbrella politics are messy and less than equitable. In other words, I believe that the pros of umbrella politics outweigh the cons."


Why this is important

There are separatist transwomen who make serious, coherent and constructive arguments for why they do not want to be part of a movement that encompasses crossdressers, gender queer and homosexual people. They often argue that (1) they have nothing in common with homosexuals and (2) that they refuse to be forced into a club that do not fit their needs.

Fair enough. I am not going to repeat the arguments for why it makes sense to have an umbrella term here. I think Serano explains this well. But these arguments made by the constructive members of the separatist side are definitely legitimate.

Trans-transphobia

Still, it seems to me that the majority of separatist bloggers and commentators are not against the transgender and LGBT umbrellas out of purely democratic or pragmatic reasons. They are against it because they do not want to be associated with people they basically despise. There is a lot of homophobia in these circles, and also misandry; but most of all there is a deep contempt for crossdressers.

Crossdressers are routinely accused of  being sexually obsessed perverts. They are considered men who harass women online and  in women's restrooms (sic!). It is therefore extremely important for these activists to explain that crossdressers and "autogynephiliacs" have absolutely nothing in common with post-op transsexual women.

As I have argued before, there is a huge difference between the male to female crossdresser who lives as a man and a transsexual woman. A large number of M2F  crossdressers and queder queer identify with their birth sex. They do not claim to be women, and should not be treated as such.

But there is one extremely big elephant in the room that these more vocal separatist do not want to acknowledge,  and that is that a large number of transwomen have a crossdresser/crossdreamer past.

This is why the Serano article is so important. Serano is a transsexual activist who not only acknowledge that the elephant is there. She does not hesitate to talk about it.

Two bizarre science stories about sex and gender (2)

In my previous post I looked at how a parasite may actually hijack the mind of a male crab and make him behave like a female.

This is the kind of research that points in the direction of gender behavior being based in biology.

Nature: 1 point!

In this post I am going to give you examples of how the very structure of language shapes the way we understand gender.

Culture scores!

Bizarre example No. 2: The biology of jargon by gender


In a recent article The Scientific American reports on sex and the understanding of numbers. I'll come back to arguments raised in a minute.

The article reminds me a bit about the linguist George Lakoff's amazing book Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things which explores the connection between the structure of language and how different societies perceive things in different ways.

Lakoff argued that the logical systems of languages are in now way as rigid and strict as formal logic, nor should they be. Hence the word "mother" can be used to refer to the woman who gave birth to a person, the woman who raised her, the surrogate "mother", or even a gay man raising the kid together with another gay man.

In other words: Normal language is not based on a one to one relationship between words and things "out there", but on metaphors.

That being said, there is an underlying structure of general principles that explains how concepts are classified.

The title of the book refers to the Australian aboriginal language Dyirbal, which classifies everything into two groups. On the one hand there are women, fire and dangerous things, and on the other hand there is everything else, men included.

The Sun and the Moon

It is a fair guess that this kind of categorization influences the way you think about things.

In Norwegian the moon has the masculine gender (månen) and the Sun the feminine (sola), while in Latin languages the moon is feminine (la lune), while the sun is masculine (le soleil). 


This assignment of gender to non-human object does probably influence the way we think about these phenomena

A feminine moon may be considered  emotionally shifting (a 28 day "menstrual cycle") and weak compared to the sun. Or: If you have a positive view of womanhood: It represents life, death and rebirth. A masculine moon, on the other hand, can be understood as  a strong male fighting the feminine darkness.  The Norse moon god, Máni, was male.

A feminine sun may be understood as nourishing, while a masculine sun is illuminating (a symbol for the male intellect).

I am not 100 percent sure if we can see these differences in the modern Norwegian and French reflections on the Moon and the Sun. The original metaphors are probably lost.

Still,  the research referred to in Scientific American tells us that we even now may be influence by such unconscious metaphors.

Numbers are gendered

J. E. Wilkie and G.V. Bodenhausen argue that numbers are gendered, and may even be so in languages that lack grammatical gender (like in English).

They write:

"We examined the possibility that nonsocial, highly generic concepts are gendered.  Specifically, we investigated the gender connotations of Arabic numerals. 


"Across several experiments, we show that the number 1 and other odd numbers are associated with masculinity, whereas the number 2 and other even numbers are associated with femininity, in ways that influence judgments of stimuli arbitrarily paired with numerical cues; specifically, babies' faces and foreign names were more likely to be judged as 'male' when paired with odd versus even numbers. 


"The power of logically irrelevant numerical stimuli to connote masculinity or femininity reflects the pervasiveness of gender as a social scaffolding for generating understandings of abstract concepts."

So the number one is considered masculine, while the number two is considered feminine. If you are sensing some kind of implicit sexism here, it is probably because the underlying cultural logic is sexist.

What these researchers have done is to pair both foreign sounding names and baby faces with numbers. If a name is accompanied by the number 1, people tend to believe it is masculine. If a baby face is paired with the number 2, people believe the baby is a girl -- regardless of the baby's true sex.

"Our tendency to see gender in everything, even numbers, is a reminder of how fundamental gender is to how we perceive the world," the Scientific American argues. "When people are led to believe that an object possesses one gender or another, it changes how they relate to that object."

The machine

Stanford researchers Clifford Nass, Youngme Moon, and Nancy Green had people interact with a computer that was programmed to have either a male-sounding or female-sounding voice:

"They found that when the computer had a female-sounding voice, people saw the computer as less friendly, credible and knowledgeable, as compared to the male-sounding computer. People did this openly, despite knowing perfectly well that they were making judgments about a machine and not a real person."

This is why our culture's tendency of labeling kids with pink and blue markers are so important.

Our expectations towards a pink baby (a girl) are different from our expectations to the one in blue. Because of this we treat them differently, which again changes the way the kids understand their role in society.

Not even toxoplasma gondii  can change that.

September 8, 2011

Two bizarre science stories about sex and gender (1)

Teaser: In this post I take a look at a parasite that turns males into females.

There is nothing that makes people so emotionally engaged in the gender and transgender debates as the question of whether "maleness" and "femaleness" is inborn or a product of culture.

Those who have followed this blog for a while know that I believe we are both born like this and made like this.

The core of our sex identities is probably inborn, but the great variety of personalities and behavior among both men and women tells us that there are few, if any, personality traits that are uniquely "feminine" or "masculine".

A woman can be strong, muscular, agressive, dominating, tall and extremely self-confident and will still be considered a woman.

In today's Western cultures there are limits to how far a man can go before being ridiculed as a sissy, but we still recognize calm, introvert, loving and nurturing men as men.

In the mix

The reason for this is that personality traits, behavioral patterns, looks and mannerisms are based on a complex interplay of a large number of biological, social and personal factors including:
  • Genes (although the few number of genes only can explain a small portion of human behavior)
  • The combination of genes
  • Proteins triggered by genes or combination of genes
  • Epigenetics (whether genes are activated or not, which may depend on anything from the mental state of your mother when you were in the womb to what you are eating right now)
  • Pre- and postnatal hormones. (The alchemy of hormone therapies clearly proves that hormones can radically change the looks and behavior of a person)
  • Food and other substances
  • Diseases
  • Learning and training, not only as "information stored in the brain as if it was a computer", but in the sense of changing the neurological network of the brain (the plasticity of the brain).
  • Conditioning through upbringing in a "boys don't cry" kind of way ("Oh, Amanda, did you bring me flowers? How sweet you are!"  "Wow, you scared me, son. You are such a tough pirate!")
  • Psychological trauma
  • Anxiety and the longing for an ordered universe
  • Erotisation of situations, objects and bodies
  • and so on and so forth.
I am going to give you two examples from  recent issues of the New Scientist and Scientific American, to illustrate the complexity of sex and gender.

Bizarre Example No. 1: Invasion of the body snatchers

The parasitic barnacle Sacculina is a free swimming larva that infects crabs. It develops into a structure within the animal's abdomen that resembles a regular egg sac.

September 1, 2011

Call for trans and genderqueer poetry


TC Tolbert and Tim Peterson are editing a new collection of trans-poetry and are asking for contributions.

They say that their assumption is that the writing of trans and genderqueer folks has something more than coincidence in common with the experimental, the radical, and the innovative in poetry and poetics:
 
"With your help we’d like to manifest that something (or somethings) in a genderqueer multipoetics, a critical mass of trans fabulousness."

The deadline is November 30. You can read more about it here.

August 26, 2011

Do bisexual men exist?

Beyond the binary
Do bisexual men exist?

You should think that this was a meaningless questions, as there are enough bisexual men around to tell you that yes, they do exist.

That does not stop scientists from developing theories that deny their existence, though, especially if the fundamental thinking in a specific discipline is based on a different "truth".

The binary of sexual orientation

As far as I can see, the dominant ideology among many sociobiologists and biologically oriented psychologist has been  that men are strictly homosexual or heterosexual, while women may have a more fluid sexual orientation.

This is, I believe, a  result of the old evolutionary theory that men are constantly trying to spread their seed to as many as possible, while women are more oriented towards love and nurturing. This is why men are believed to be focussing solely on the visual clues of an attractive body, while women might even find footage of bonobos frolicking exciting.

This was at least the conclusions made by J. Michael Bailey and his team over at Northwestern University.

The return of the bisexual man

The International Herald Tribune now reports on a new Northwestern study, led by Allen Rosenthal (an associate of Bailey's, I believe),  that indicates that bisexual men do in fact exist.

There are other studies pointing in the same direction:


August 24, 2011

Girlfags and Guydykes, Unite!

Over at Crossdream Life, Sahar has announced a new social network where female to male and male to female crossdreamers may hook up. It is called the Girlfag/Guydyke Social Network.

I realize that some find terms like "girlfag" and "gydyke" offensive, but as long as people do identify with them I guess they are all right.

In any case,  they are much less offensive than the clinical terms"autoandrophilia" and "autogynephilia", which reduce both male and female bodied crossdreamers to self-absorbed wankers.

Female to male crossdreamers

Girlfags are like the counterpart to male to female crossdreamers.

While male to female crossdreamers dream about taking the woman's role while having sex, the girlfags want to be the proactive and dominating man.

Like most male to female crossdreamers, they are attracted to the sex opposite to their birth sex. Even if they may have a lot in common with lesbians, they are attracted to men.


TS-Si discussion on crossdressers

I am taking part in a discussion on the relationship between crossdressers/crossdreamers and transwomen over at TS-Si that might interest some of you.

I am putting up this post to provide references of relevance to the discussion.

August 16, 2011

Female to male crossdressing among red deer

Another look at the lives of animals, and how biology may influence sex identity and sexual orientation.

I found this photo in a wonderful book called The Exultant Ark: A Pictorial Tour of Animal Pleasure.

It depicts a female red deer mounting a male stag in a frenzy of sexual rut.

The caption in the book reads:

"Red deer (Cervus elaphus), Richmond Park, London, England. As members of harem species -- in which the strongest and the fittest males amass a herd of does and try to prevent other bucks from mating with them -- deer are often portrayed as sexually agressive males and passive females. This amorous hind mounting a stag shows that the females are not as passive or indifferent as we are often led to believe. Photo: Elliot Neep."

My point is actually not that this is an example of a female to male crossdreaming deer (an "autoandrocervophiliac". You have to excuse me - the headline was just to tempting to write). I have, of course,  no way of knowing whether this female is dreaming about being the male  boss of her own harem.

But this instance show that there are no absolute clear cut boundaries between male and female sexuality and behavior among red deer, so maybe we should be a little bit more careful about what we call natural and unnatural among us humans.

Strange animals

As I noted in my series on Roughgarden, animals display a wide variety of sexual behavior -- behavior that seriously deviate from the "male conquers female to secure the survival of his genes" kind of narrative.

This week BBC presented new research on zebra finches, which shows that same-sex pairs of monogamous birds are just as attached and faithful to each other as those paired with a member of the opposite sex.

August 10, 2011

Invitation to take part in a transgender/gender identity study

I got the following request for  transgender to part in a study on gender identity via the Trans-Academics mailing list. The research is done by Andy Bauerband, a graduate student at Towson University in the US.

He is in specifically looking for individuals who identify along the transfeminine spectrum (i.e. who identify as female.)

Hi Everyone,


I am a member of the transgender community, and graduate student in experimental psychology at Towson University. I am conducting research on thoughts about gender identity for my Master’s thesis, and currently recruiting people to take an online survey. To participate you must be 18 years or older and identify as transgender (this includes anyone who considers themselves on the transgender spectrum).


Study information:

July 12, 2011

Study on differences in mental health between homosexual and heterosexual transsexuals

Are gynephilic (woman loving)  transwomen more likely to suffer from mental illnesses than the androphilic (man loving) ones? And what about transmen? 

The question of whether there are different types of transsexuals is one of the minefields of transgender research, not at least because there is a long tradition to consider transwomen who love women fakes or perverts. The idea that transsexuals can be gay or lesbians too, seems to be hard to understand.  Both doctors and many "classic transsexuals" have considered the other kind to be fetishistic crossdressers and perverted "autogynephiliacs". 

An underpinning assumption has been that gynephilic (woman-loving) transwomen are mentally ill, while the the androphiles (man-lovers) are either "real women" ("real women love men") or -- as in the teachings of Ray Blanchard -- mentally healthy feminine gay men.

This debate is also of relevance to non-transsexual transgender people, especially if you believe there are common traits between crossdressers and crossdreamers on the one hand and transsexuals on the other. I believe there are, given that so many transsexuals have been  crossdreamers and/or crossdressers before transitioning.  

The MMPI-2/MMPI-A study

A  new Dutch study,"Comparing adult and adolescent transsexuals: An MMPI-2 and MMPI-A study",  looks into the mental health of transsexuals and presents some very interesting findings.

As always, remember that research is a work in progress, and that gender research is doubly so, given all the difficulties stemming from the cultural context, methodological problems, the prejudices of the researchers etc. etc. In this post I consider the findings as they are. 

Cause and effect, causality and correlation

What makes such studies hard is that it is hard to distinguish between cause and effect: 

Are transsexuals mentally ill? 

If they are ill: Does the mental illness cause their transsexual condition or is it their transsexual condition that makes them ill? 

If their their illness is caused by their transsexuality, is this for inborn reasons or because of the way people treat them?

The social and cultural context of transsexuals shape their life trajectories

I have previously put forward the following hypotheses:

An autoandrogerontophilia prank

It is summer in my part of the world, and time for something completely unserious:

July 8, 2011

Infidelity gender equality: They myth about the chaste women

New research throws doubt on fundamental gender stereotypes: Women are as likely as men to be unfaithful, given the same power and resources.

One of the aspects of the gender debate that is hardest to get a grasp on is the discussion on what is innate and what is caused by culture.

The traditional dichotomy of men being aggressive, sexually driven, leaders, while women are passive, emphatic followers, is so deeply ingrained in out culture, that even feminists fall for it (arguing that women are for peace, while men are war mongering beasts). 

Real life experience

I have known too many aggressive, outspoken, and dominant women to believe in this myth. 

I grew up in a part of Scandinavia that used to rely on fishing and whaling. The men were out, the women ruled at home. In nearly all the families I knew when growing up the women dominated conversations and  made all the important decisions regarding the family. This led to a double set of stereotypes: The traditional one of men being in charge (as they seemingly controlled the revenue) and a parallel one of men being under the heels of women.

Over and over again I found that  my male friends dreamed more about establishing a family with kids, than "nailing" the best looking girl at the party. They tried to behave according to the stereotype of the manly Casanova -- that is true -- but their main objective was love, not sex alone. 

That did not stop them from repeating the stereotypes in their conversations, however.

Transgender confusion: What does it mean to be a man or a woman?

It is interesting to see that so many crossdreamers report a psychological profile that is similar to what the cultural stereotypes tell us to expect from their target sex. 

To give one example: A significant portion of M2F crossdreamers taking part in the discussions over at Crossdream Life seem to be introvert and reactive. Their identification with their ideal of the  female sex goes far beyond the realm of sexual arousal. 

In spite of this I constantly hear, from the crossdreamers themselves, that their sexuality is far from female. The problem, it seems, is that they are too easily sexually aroused. 

Their argument is that "women do not have such fantasies", if they have any sexual fantasies at all. That is: Many male to female crossdreamers have a vision of XX women as chaste, asexual beings, who rarely masturbate, who never take the initiative sexually and who are not promiscuous.

June 23, 2011

"You are not one of us!" said the separatist transsexual

The separatists  transwomen intensify their attacks on crossdressers and "transgender", immensely fearful of contamination by association.

White Pride

Separatist ideologue and HBS International general, Rose White, has now declared war on the presence of drag queens in Pride Parades in Calder-dale, Britain. The argument:

“Drag queens – homosexuals dressed as women – and drag kings, women dressed as men, performing as stereotypical crossdressers promote, foster and reinforce the belief among the audience that any bloke in a frock must be a homosexual.” she says. “If these people are allowed to perform in the town in the Pride, they must have a prominent sign stating ‘We are homosexual men – not transexuals’."

In other words: "You are not one of us!"

This is the same woman who in a recent book called grouped everyone she did not like into the following toxic salad:

"The enemies are Fouratist homos, the public, the press, bigots and fools, ignorant medics, penny pinching political manipulators, BRSS dykes, religious pedophiles, closed homos and unfortunately the unaccepting homos a.k.a. Manginas who themselves try to become HBS [Harry Benjamin Syndrome] in the vain hope that masquerading as a woman will help them refuse to confess that they are just homos and not HBS."

The "closet homos" also include crossdressers and crossdreamers.  We are all disgusting gay men in her view.

Rose is definitely at the extreme end of the separatist scale, but the fact is that there are quite a few that share  similar conspiracy theories of there being a Transgender Borg Collective of men masquerading as women.

The Borg

Suzan, who writes one of my favorite blogs on transsexual topics, dislikes Rose White intensely. She nevertheless falls into the same trap of turning all non-transsexual transgender people into a conspiracy: 

"The Transgender Borg collective are the real problem. They are like a cult demanding every one use the exact same language to describe their personal experiencing of what it means to have been born with transsexualism.


June 20, 2011

The British Psychological Society asks for crossdressing and other types of sexual behavior to be removed from the DSM-5

The British Psychological Society has been asked to give the American Psychiatric Association a comment on  the new proposed edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). 

They argue that many of the classifications in the proposed manual lacks scientific foundation and that they are mostly based on social norms. As they say: "The criteria are not value-free, but rather reflect current normative social expectations."

As i have noted before, the transvestic disorder/autogynephilia chapter clearly reflects the personal hang ups of the researchers.

The Brits also point to the need to understand the social context of many of the conditions included as "disorders". They believe many of these conditions may just be reflections of natural variation shaped by social forces.

On paraphilias

This is what they say about paraphilias ("sexual perversions"), crossdressing included:

"As stated in our general comments, we are concerned that clients and the general  public are negatively affected by the continued and continuous medicalisation of their  natural and normal responses to their experiences; responses which undoubtedly  have distressing consequences which demand helping responses, but which do not  reflect illnesses so much as normal individual variation.  

We believe that classifying these problems as 'illnesses' misses the relational  context of problems and the undeniable social causation of many such problems. For  psychologists, our well-being and mental health stem from our frameworks of  understanding of the world, frameworks which are themselves the product of the  experiences and learning through our lives. 

All these comments apply also here.  Again, of particular concern are the subjective  and socially normative aspects of sexual behaviour.  It is a matter of record that  homosexuality used to be considered a symptom of illness.  The Society would not  be able to support considering sexual differences as symptoms of illness. 

We, finally, have severe misgivings about the inclusion of "Paraphilic Coercive  Disorder" in the appendix.  Rape is a crime, not a disorder.  Such behaviours can, of  course, be understood, but we disagree that such a pattern of behaviour could be  considered a disorder, and we would have grave concerns that such views may offer  a spurious and unscientific defence to a rapist in a criminal trial."

On gender dysphoria

They would also like to see the removal of the Gender Dysphoria category, making more or less the same argument. They add:

"Of particular concern are the subjective and socially normative aspects of sexual  behaviour.  We are very concerned at the inclusion of children and adolescents in  this area.  There is controversy in this particular area – the concept of a 'diagnosis' of  a 'psychiatric disorder' disputed."

Again the argument is that the research is not solid enough to support such a label. They are right about this.

Psychology versus psychiatry

The British Psychological Society, incorporated by Royal Charter, is an academic and professional body for psychologists in the United Kingdom.

I note that they mostly focus on social factors in their comment. They point out that there is little evidence of biological causation.

I am not sure this should be made into a major point. After all, a mental condition may be a disease even if it is spurred by social factors (poverty and alcoholism comes to mind). And natural variation may also have a biological basis -- like some personality traits. Being at one or the other end of a gradient of natural variation does not mean that the condition is a mental illness. 

In many ways the disagreement between the British Psychological Society and the psychiatrists manning the DSM-5 committees reflect their different academic background. The psychologist focus on the life experience of the individual. They know that this variation cannot be fully captured by simple labels. 

The psychiatrists, on the other hand, -- who are trained as doctors -- focus on the medical part of the analysis.They look for the broad patterns, as is the case in the natural sciences. They therefore risk forcing complex processes into narrow categories that do not really fit the complexity of the human mind.

The truth, as is often the case, requires both perspectives.

Note that the DSM-5 web site period for comments has been extended to July 15.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!