April 7, 2011

Do male to female transsexuals react differently to erotic material than cisgendered men?

There are a lot of studies out there that try to determine to what extent transsexuals differ from non-transsexual men and women ( also called cismen and ciswomen).

Today I will present a brain scan study that shows that male to female transsexuals react like when watching erotic material.

A methodological disclaimer

Brains are dissected and brains are scanned, but the results are hard to interpret -- for many reasons:

The scientists may define their experiments and interpret their findings based on a traditional view of gender.

In other words: They may find what they were looking for, even if it is not there. It was not that long ago scientists “proved” that women and black men were less intelligent than white men. They forgot to take the cultural and educational background into consideration when measuring what they called “intelligence”.

The findings are hard to interpret. What a scientist find statistically significant cannot be interpreted to mean that all cismen or all ciswomen are like this or that. The idea of normalcy means that the diversity is not communicated clearly. A statistically significant result that tells us that the brains of female to male transmen are more like the ones of men, does not mean that all FTM brains are like this. Nor does it mean that all “normal” men have “male” brains.

The brain is a flexible organ that changes constantly. Hormones and other substances change the brain. Stress can change the brain. Even learning will change the brain, which means that differences in brain structures or brain activity may be caused by upbringing or cultural conditioning.

Still, I appreciate the fact that researchers -- in spite of these obstacles -- try their best to make sense of it all.

Brain scan study

Here is one such study from 2008: “Specific Cerebral Activation due to Visual Erotic Stimuli in Male-to-Female Transsexuals Compared with Male and Female Controls: An fMRI Study”

The researchers compared twelve male and twelve female heterosexual volunteers with twelve MTF (male to female) transsexuals. Only “MTF subjects without any therapy “were chosen for the study. They were recruited from the outpatient Clinic of Psychosomatic Medicine at the University Hospital Essen in Germany. The M2F transwomen had not had hormone treatment or surgery and any difference in brain behavior can therefore not be attributed to such therapy.

The researchers showed the participants erotic film excerpts during a fMRI brain scan. The results seem to show that male to female transsexuals react more like women when shown erotic movies.



Summary

This is how the researchers sum up their work:

“Significantly enhanced activation for men compared with women was revealed in brain areas involved in erotic processing, i.e., the thalamus, the amygdala, and the orbitofrontal and insular cortex, whereas no specific activation for women was found. When comparing MTF transsexuals with male volunteers, activation patterns similar to female volunteers being compared with male volunteers were revealed. Sexual arousal was assessed using standard rating scales and did not differ significantly for the three groups. Conclusions. We revealed a cerebral activation pattern in MTF transsexuals compared with male controls similar to female controls compared with male controls during viewing of erotic stimuli, indicating a tendency of female-like cerebral processing in transsexualism.”

This sound pretty conclusive, does it not? MTF transwomen have the brains of “normal” ciswomen, at least sexual arousal wise.

Nature and culture

Unfortunately, it is not that easy.

The differences between men and women may reflect learned behavior or patterns of arousal. Many researchers argue that women react less intense to such stimuli than men. This is in accordance to gender stereotypes: Men like visual porn, women like romance. Still, if men and women are conditioned to react this way, this would give the same result as any biological foundation.

The researchers are very much aware of this:

“...the origins of transsexualism are still largely unclear but may be influenced by the prenatal sex steroid milieu [i.e. hormones in the womb]. Hormonal influence is also discussed for morphologic gender differences. Morphologic characteristics were not assessed in our study, as the group was not large enough. It has been observed that psychotherapy is not helpful in altering a crystallized cross-gender identity, and that transsexuals do not show severe psychopathology. But, as in the variation of gender identity expression in heterosexual men and women, social influences should nevertheless be taken into account in addition to a biological, e.g., hormonal, explanation. Baumeister, for example, found that the female sex drive is more malleable than the male drive in response to sociocultural and situational factors. Therefore, the differing activation patterns in fMRI may be due to neurobiological differences, but these results cannot clarify the underlying mechanisms of the different cerebral activation patterns of MTF transsexuals, as cultural and educational influences are also possible.”

This means that both men, women and transwomen may have learned to express their arousal a specific way that is reflected in the brain scan.

Still, even if that is the case, it would be interesting, because it would tell us that MTF transwomen can really adapt to a “feminine psyche”, even if they do not have one from the outset.

On autogynephilia

In discussions on “autogynephilia” and crossdreaming, the sexual orientation of male to female transwomen become important.

Ray Blanchard divided transwomen into two completely unrelated groups: “homosexual transsexuals” (meaning, in fact, androphilic or man-loving transwomen) and “autogynephilic heterosexual transsexuals” (meaning gynephilic or woman-loving transwomen).

The gender identity conflict of androphilic transwomen is caused by them being extremely effeminate gay men, Blanchard argues, while the gynephilic transwomen are perverted heterosexual men who have internalized their natural love object: women.

I find this dichotomy sexist, offensive and unfounded, but for the sake of argument I will play along with it.

Bananas and pears

If the two groups are completely different, studying male to female transwomen in general will not make much sense. Your group will consists of both bananas (“heterosexual men”) and pears (“homosexual men”).

In this study the researchers make it perfectly clear that the male to female transsexual participants are not autogynephilic: I quote: “The MTF were non-autogynephilic.” The term “autogynephilia” is not defined, but the fact that they use the term should imply that the researchers understand Blanchard’s theory.

Given that there is no autogynephilic control group, the study should therefore -- in principle -- be of little interest to us crossdreamers. Most of us are, after all, gynephilic. According to Blanchard all crossdreamers are.

Note also that the researchers presented the participants with heterosexual erotic videos, clearly in an attempt to capture reactions to “normal” heterosexual lust. The “normal” cispeople taking part were all heterosexual.

Wait a minute!

I will argue that the researchers most likely have misunderstood what autogynephilia means, and that most of the M2F transwomen taking part are-- in fact -- gynephilic. This would mean that the data is of interest to gynephilic crossdreamers.

I believe the researchers have interpreted “non-autogynephilic” to mean “non-fetishistic” or “non-paraphilic”, meaning that the main motivation for them transitioning is not sexual. They have not grasped that Blanchard believes that all gynephilic transwomen are autogynephilic perverts, regardless of what they say or believe.

The mean age of the MTF transsexuals in this sample is 36 years, within a range of 20–55. According to Blanchard and his supporters most androphilic transwomen transition at a very early age, normally in their teens or in their twenties.

And indeed, it turns out that a majority of the MTF transwomen are attracted to women, which -- of course -- they should not be if they were non-autogynephilic:

This is what the researchers write:

“Furthermore, the stimulus material could have had an influence on the cerebral activation patterns in MTF. We used erotic film excerpts with heterosexual couples. As the majority of MTF reported sexual interest in women film excerpts with female homosexual content might have had a higher impact for this group, even given the missing difference in subjective sexual arousal rating.” (My emphasis).

What this paragraph tells us is that a majority of the M2F transwomen covered were, in fact, gynephilic. It turns out ten of the transsexuals were gynephilic. Only two were attracted to men.

Falsifying Blanchard

I cannot tell whether these tranwomen were crossdreamers -- in the sense of them getting sexually aroused by the idea of having a female body. I do not think that all gynephilic transwomen have or have had such erotic fantasies. But according to the autogynephilia theory, they must have.

Following Blanchard’s logic this study shows us that MTF gynephilic transwomen show brain patterns more like women when watching erotic movies. If you believe in Blanchard’s framework it shows us that MTF autogynephiliacs react like women in this respect.

If we could trust these findings we would therefore have proof that falsifies Blanchard’s theory, as Blanchard’s theory requires that MTF transwomen have a male sexuality. They are men having the hots for their female self, remember? They ought to react like horny men looking for female prey, and that should show up in the brain scan. Instead the scans show a female pattern.

What about lesbian love?

One could argue that the gynephilic women would react more like men if they were shown lesbian love scenes. They do, after all, claim to be lesbians themselves. This is the problem the researchers are alluding to in the quote above. And they should have included homosexual scenes in the study.

Still, I believe that showing them lesbian sex scenes would not make much of a difference, as many gynephilic MTF transgender persons can get as much turned on by heterosex as lesbian sex scenes.

And Blanchard and his friends would have to agree with me, as their main explanation for why “autogynephiliacs” get turned on by the idea of having sex with a man, is that they use the fantasy male as a sex prop. This is, as far as they are concerned, proof of the “autogynephiliacs” being wired as men sexually.

For Blanchard & Co sexual orientation is the variable that determines femininity and masculinity. This study shows that it is not. The gynephilic transwomen react as women to heterosexual stimuli, even if they are not originally attracted to men.

How you can use Blanchard to show that Blanchard is wrong

The researchers make no attempt at explaining this question, which is an essential one for crossdreamers. I have a few ideas of what may be going on.

The gynephilic transwomen taking part do indeed have a female sexuality, but this one is not based on their sexual orientation, but on the role you play during intercourse. Crossdreamers most often have a receptive and reactive copulation instinct as opposed to a penetrative or mounting one.

This applies to many XX lesbians as well: The “femmes” may play the submissive role to a dominant “butch”, even to the point of being penetrated with a strap-on. In this case the transwomen react in the same way as the ciswomen to the idea of being taken by another human being.

Studies done by Blanchard himself indicate that women are more likely to get aroused by a wide variety of sexual interaction, including imagery of sex between bonobos. It seems it is the reciprocal care and attention that turns them on, not the visual stimuli of the male body exclusively.

If the transwomen reacts like ciswomen, this may explain why they react in the same way towards scenes of heterosex. They react positively to the human interaction, not to the male body per se. Their reaction is not a sign of perversion, but of them reacting to sexual stimuli in the same way as the average woman!

All the gynephilic transwomen taking part may not necessarily be gynephilic in the sense Blanchard & Co believe they are. Sexual orientation may not be a strict dichotomy between attraction to males versus attraction to females. Instead they may have a bisexual psyche, with a preference for women. If they manage to get through layers of cultural conditioning they may come to enjoy having sex with men.

I do find the study interesting. In one way it gets us into the heads -- literally! -- of MTF transwomen. Given the current request for peer reviewed “objective facts”, I would say this study is as good as any, and it does indicate that gynephilic MTF transwomen react like other women.

But...

The reason I hesitate is this:

I believe many of the studies we see in this field is based on a cultural and historically based preconception: Men and women react dramatically different to sexual stimuli. I believe the cause of this understanding is ultimately found in the old fashioned narrative where the women are considered less sexually charged than men. You know: Men are hot fire, women are cold water (to follow Renaissance philosophy),or men are aggressive testosterone driven predators and women are passive estrogen powered milk cows (to follow 20th century science).

I am not saying that all present day researchers believe in such stereotypes. Far from it. But I am saying that they work withing a scientific paradigm and a theoretical and methodological framework that are based on such a world view. This is especially reflected in quasi-Darwinistic theories of the man as the hunter and woman as prey. (Cf. my posts about Roughgarden).

This means that the researchers look for sections of the brain that reacts in a way that correlates with this preconception. They search and search, and when they finally find an area that seems to react in a way the theory predicts, they sigh in contentment and write a paper.

That being said: the method used in this paper is much better than traditional brain autopsy studies. In this case it is, after all, possible to couple visual stimuli (the erotic movie) with brain patterns directly. The researchers did, of course, also show the subjects non-erotic movies, which gave different results. In brain autopsies you have no way of testing for what the identified area of the brain is for in real time.

Non-autogynephilic

I am sure some separatist transwomen will argue that the fact that the researchers excluded “non-autogynephilic” transwomen -- even if the researchers have misinterpreted the term -- show that this study cannot be used to say anything about the brain patterns of crossdreamers or “autogynephiliacs”. After all the crossdreamers were excluded, right?

Given that the researchers do not define “non-autogynephilic”, we have no way of really knowing.

Personally, I seriously doubt that it is methodologically possible to exclude tranwomen who have had such erotic fantasies from being included. This is not because they are lying to the researchers -- as Blanchard believes -- but because most of them will argue that the fantasies is only one of many ways their inner woman express herself. To exclude a transwoman because she gets turned on by the idea of having sex as a woman would be meaningless.This is of course also what some of the main transactivists are saying regarding cross-gender erotic dreams, including Julia Serano and Andrea James.

If the researchers were to cover all possible permutations of transgender disagreement, they would have to include 12 “non-autogynephilic” gynephilic transwomen, 12 “autogynephilic” transwomen, 12 “non-autogynephilic” androphilic transwomen and 12 “autogynephilic” androphilic transwomen.

You know what? I can understand that they did not.

Measurements and self perceptions

The subjects were also asked about their sexual arousal. That part of the study did not reveal significant differences between the groups.

This could mean that someone was lying, that someone was out of touch with their own feelings, or that the scanner readings did not really tell the researchers much about arousal patterns in men and women.

What about androphilic transwomen?

In my next post I will look at a brand new Spanish study that indicates that the brain patterns of androphilic transwomen are somewhere in between men and women.

Reference

“Specific Cerebral Activation due to Visual Erotic Stimuli in Male-to-Female Transsexuals Compared with Male and Female Controls: An fMRI Study” by Elke R. Gizewski, MD, Eva Krause, MD, Marc Schlamann, MD, Friederike Happich, MD, Mark E. Ladd, PhD, Michael Forsting, PhD, and Wolfgang Senf, PhD, The Journal of Sexual Medicine Volume 6, Issue 2, Article first published online: 28 Aug 2008.

Corresponding author: Elke R. Gizewski, MD, Deptartment of Diagnostic and Interventional Radiology and Neuroradiology, University Hospital Essen, Hufelandstr. 55, D-45127 Essen, Germany, elke.gizewski@uni-due.de.

Appendix: On the use of the study

From the paper:

“The functional cortical activation patterns presented in this study revealed a female-like cerebral activation pattern in MTF transsexuals when compared with male volunteers and vice versa during viewing of erotic stimuli in brain areas relevant for erotic and emotional processing. These results indicate that transsexualism has a correlate in brain activation patterns elicited by emotional stimuli, in this case those erotic in nature. Therefore, fMRI using this erotic stimulus form may become a further tool during the assessment and diagnosis of transsexual patients, and may contribute to the complex and difficult decision regarding surgical treatment. The goal would be to further objectify the evaluation process and ultimately avoid cases where patients suffer from postsurgical regret.

A shortcoming of fMRI for clinical use, however, is its limited ability to do comparison analysis with single subjects. Furthermore, these results, together with anatomic differences described in other studies, support the biological theory of transsexualism [10]. However, fMRI studies cannot clarify the underlying mechanisms of altered activation patterns. Genetic predispositions, social influences, or learning mechanisms during life development may play a role.”

21 comments:

James said...

The fact that sexuality of transwomen and femme males is similar to those of women sounds a bit related to me. I am not really physically attracted to men, and I am not really attracted to masculinity. However, I always find sex with men arousing because of the affection give-take.
I never really understood why sex has to be related to physical attraction rather than pure romance.

Anonymous said...

Being DEVIANT is rather exciting, fun...

All people want to feel unique, to break the norms, the rules, the taboos. But few manage to do it because of their are under the control of their parents, or the society = they behave according to what is expected by the group because they want to be accepted by the group. This is the conventional stade of moral conscience.


But eventualy most are not happy at all.

They play roles and are not really themselves = role of the good kid, good husband, good friend, good worker...

The even less developed people are at the pre conventional stade =
They follow to death some stupid rules called religion for fear of being punished by an unvisible force.

Get rid of these 2 burdens and dare being openly deviant and you would not need a forum to be supported for your sexual fantasies.

Jack Molay said...

@James

"I never really understood why sex has to be related to physical attraction rather than pure romance."

I believe the underlying assumption here is that since "autogynephilic" M2F transwomen are men, they need to have a male sexuality, and according to the male stereotypes "he" must therefore be attracted to visual stimuli, and not romance.

It is a circular argument: Autogynephiliacs are men, therefore they have a masculine sexuality. Given that they have a masculine sexuality, any autogynephiliac that says otherwise is a lier. Therefore we have proved that all autogynephiliacs are men.

This dichotomy is wrong. Women are attracted to visual stimuli and may even prefer casual sex, and men may have a romantic heart.

What throws them off is probably the fact that some crossdreamer fantasies are so explicitly sexual in nature, i.e. without romance. There is forced feminization and dominance.

There are psychological reasons for this (suppressed sexuality finding ways of expressing itself in a forbidding environment: I was forced, I had no choice). But the truth is that even XX women have forced sex fantasies -- as many as 50% I believe.

Most crossdreamer erotica is actually romantic.

James said...

Jack,
Then is it true that more men than women are indeed visually oriented unless feminine? Or is it that more feminine males/transwomen and even natal women just tend to be more romantic or tend to connect sex with romance?
Yes, there indeed are a lot of women who have casual sex, but is it because they are really visual or is it more because they are kinda "emotional whores"?

Anonymous said...

Jack, stop torturing yourself !!!

I have no courage to read your text because it is too long and the end is always the same = you conclude that AG have a female brain, they have an inner female and are not fetishist of their own body but simply women who can not be women because the society tells them they are men.

I am rather an intellectual who likes to ask questions and find replies but you became a nit picker who always repeat the same things in different ways.

90% of AG will not read your text because oyt is too complicated, too many hypothesis, too many theories, people are lost !

I am not sure that listing all the theories, experiences, on gender, AG and sex will help you. You became mono maniac, obsessed by yourself. You may not notice it ?

If you think you are a woman, change your body, live in a woman's role and your depression and troubles will vanish.

What do you think YOU are ?

How do you want to live ?

Only these questions matters. How the brain of a few people (who can be mentaly ill) reacts changes nothing to these replies and will not allow you to reply.

Stop talking. ACT.

I understand that talking about your problem helps you to support it. But now it is time to act. To find real replies.

Anonymous said...

Who cares about how the brain of women, FtM or AG or men or gay or kids works in front of porno ?

The problem to solves is = WHAT LIFE DO YOU WANT TO LIVE ?

You do you WANT TO BE ? A a happy man ? A happy woman ? A happy transexual ? A happy transgender ?

What the brain of others does in front of a sexy pic doesn't count.

Jack Molay said...

@ basnylons AKA Anonymous

You are really insisting on turning everyone you meet into an enemy are you not? Don't you ever feel the need to be understood, accepted, loved? Well, if you do, you have to clean up your act and start treating friends as friends and not your enemies.

This is a blog, that among other things, will look at transgender research, and for many reasons:

1. Knowledge about our condition has the potential to set us free.

2. Bad science has the power to imprison us.

It *is* complicated and my research posts are not for every one, but I am sure an intellectual like yourself will understand them.

I set up this blog as a tool for discussing the nature of crossdreaming. If that does not suit you, fine! Make your own blog.

You now go for the "to hell with them all, who cares what they think" kind of strategy, which in many ways is admirable, and we all need some of that spirit.

But as human beings we also need friendship and love and you do not get that by pissing everybody off. Crossdreamers are especially vulnerable people, for obvious reasons. They need more patience and more respect than most.

I have tried giving you that respect, and you give me this crap in return.

We need a long term strategy for building a minimum of understanding in our surroundings.

I am not naive. I do not think crossdreamers will be accepted in the general population in a long time -- if ever.

But we can help each other. We can get acceptance in the transgender community, among health professionals and -- in many cases -- also from family members.

You have a choice: You can help us build or you can destroy. If you go for the latter I will kindly ask you to go elsewhere. I am a patient man, but I am sick and tired of this yelling. You are scaring everyone away, and I won't have that!

James said...

Anonymous,
It may be that you are mentally ill right now because you are disturbed about your issues. That makes you mentally ill due to social reasons rather than being naturally so. And that is what counts.
What makes you think that certain people when they react in a certain way on seeing a porn, are mentally ill if their brains don't follow social norms?
What makes you think everything is a fetish? What is fetish? Is there any biological explanation for the same that you can provide?

Jack Molay said...

I have come to the conclusion that I have to exclude Anonymous AKA basnylons from further discussions on this site.

We have already done so over at Crossdream Life, after he started abusing other members. I also believe he was the one being banned from My Husband is an Autogynephiliac last year.

I do this with a heavy heart, as I hate censorship and believe we have to be very tolerant if we want to learn more about this unusual condition.

Anonymous has made many interesting observations about crossdreaming. I am sure he would continue to be a valuable member of our circle if he had been able to make his case in a civil manner instead of making it personal by attacking others.

Some have said that he is a troll planted by our enemies in order to make us look bad and confirm the idea that we are all perverts. Maybe. It seems to me he knows far too much about crossdreaming for that to be the case, however.

He himself has argued that all crossdreamers are mentally ill (border line or psychopaths). Maybe he truly is one himself, and that explains his lack of social finesse.

Or maybe he is just confused and in pain like the rest of us. He has chosen to show the bigots out there the finger (which may be a healthy approach), and is now unable to stop his anger from wounding his potential friends and allies as well.

It does not make much of a difference. Several readers have contacted me and said that they will no longer make comments because of him. I can't have that.

Crossdreamers -- and Crossdream Life for that matter -- are for humanizing crossdreaming, making it clear for others and ourselves that we are complete human beings that that deserve as much respect and dignity as the next guy/girl.

Anonymous is doing too much damage.

For a while I will moderate comments. Don't let that stop you from commenting!

Rebecca said...

Hi Jack!

I'm getting straight to the point, lol. You wrote:

"For Blanchard & Co sexual orientation is the variable that determines femininity and masculinity. This study shows that it is not."

I believe Blanchard's and Baileys's views on androphilic transsexuals stems from Richard Green, infamous for quotes like "plays with Barbie at 5, sleeps with men at 25", and research as "the feminine boys project", which was a rather large research project, spanning several years, studying development of psychosexual identity among genetic boys who had been diagnosed with gender identity disorder in childhood (starting out, Green thought he were studying pre-transsexuality, as it turned out he was in fact studying pre-homosexuality.. and of course we are now also seeing smear campaign against Green based on very little factual evidence on blogs belonging to transbians). Or Bem's "Exotic becomes erotic" theory, also based on research showing childhood gender nonconformity among a majority of gay men and lesbian women. All that this research really shows us is that gender non conformity in early childhood is strongly correlated to homosexuality, with or without non conforming gender presentation in adulthood (possibly but not necessarily biologically deterministic). So, saying that these researchers argue
sexual orientation determine masculinity or femininity is over simplifying and trying to understand it backwards . I think this is an important distinction to make.

Btw, having been shy or introverted as a kid should not be confused as having been gender atypical, I actually know several lesbian or bi trans women trying to argue this. While this truly is very common in gynephilic trans women, it is definitely not among the androphilic, quite the opposite in personality traits is common actually.

For the simple fact that most obviously masculine females and effeminate males do not decide to transition or start changing their primary or secondary sexual characteristics, gynephilic transsexuals are not best understood by comparison to natal females (overlapping between the sexes is probably to great), but to exclusively andorphilic transsexuals, and by doing this researchers have always been able to find major and significant differences. I believe Blanchard tried to make this point in one of his later papers. I do share Blanchard view that transsexualism is a condition with two unrelated etiologies which both can be seen as the extreme end points on two separate scales, and both causing gender dysphoria. One bordering to effeminate homosexuality, the other, heterosexual cross-dressing (if I had a penny for every time I've heard bi or dyke identified transsexuals actually saying stuff like.."for years I thought I was just a transvestite"..). Acknowledging this does not make me into "separatist", but speaking up against the appropriation of early transitioners identities made by the late ones and erasure of history and experiences. Perhaps this is unnecessary since I find most early transitioners are silent or have no interests in this debate.. But there it still is, thorn in my side (something is rotten in the state of Denmark).

Rebecca said...

Many early transitioners do not use the concept of "gender identity" the same way as older gynephilic does, as something being completely decoupled from sexual orientation and outwards gender presentation. Some girls today do not feel a pressing need to completely burn bridges between themselves and gay communities either, like many who transitioned in the 60's or 70's must have done. Some in fact, like myself, even have trouble with the concept of gender identity in itself. I believe that to understand gender identity, one has to take in a broader view in looking at what identity is and means to humans in general. I came to the conclusion that to identify with or as something is something we consciously do based on our perception of ourselves, which in turn reflects and is consequence of our history and experiences, and as to identify being a conscious act it becomes very problematic seeing gender identity as innate. I found it impossible to logically explain gender identity as innate, and in trying I instead ended up with arguments like being born with a gendered soul. Now, being born with a soul is a religious concept. I am uncomfortable with making value judgements on other peoples spiritual beliefs for so many reasons, and many transsexuals do practice a religion. But I'll say this, it is not and should never be regarded as scientific truth.

This paper you are referencing is intriguing. I think you may be correct in assuming the auther/s have missunderstod Blanchard concept of autogynephilia. But what really caught my interest is their results differing in an unexpected way against earlier studies made on exclusively androphilic trans women. Gynephilic trans women are virtually non-existent or unheard of in countries in south America and in south east Asia. Don Kulick (1998) in his very thorough anthropological study (it was published as a book) on Brazilian transgenders found them to be visually stimulated by erotica or pornography similar to homosexual men, or straight men for that matter, the object of arousal of course being different. Don Kulick did use interviews and self report, not brain imaging though. Kulicks observations go along with my observations in my community. Personally I enjoy watching gay or hardcore straight porn, and know so many girls that do to.

Jack, you also wrote:

"The gynephilic transwomen taking part do indeed have a female sexuality, but this one is not based on their sexual orientation, but on the role you play during intercourse. Crossdreamers most often have a receptive and reactive copulation instinct as opposed to a penetrative or mounting one. "

I will tell you a "secret". Many girls working as shemale escorts - who predominatly are androphilic, not all, but definitely most - do top their clients. Of course many girls do it because a large part of their clients are “straight” men who are bottoms, and this is why they are paying for sex. Some girls do however admit to taking pleasure from this. It is harder for a girl with a penis to fake being excited than it is for natal females. “Copulation instinct” does not equal gender. And I do not consider those girls to be lesser transsexuals, nor do I believe that a straight dude wanting to be fucked in the ass is proof of his “inner woman”.

References
http://www.amazon.com/Sissy-Boy-Syndrome-Development-Homosexuality/dp/0300036965/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1304444198&sr=8-1
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exotic_Becomes_Erotic_theory#Exotic_becomes_erotic
http://www.amazon.com/Travesti-Brazilian-Transgendered-Prostitutes-Sexuality/dp/0226461009/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1304444230&sr=1-1

Abhirup said...

Rebecca,
Most gynephilic transwomen are not really dykish (although a few of them are), but just appear so, as they may not really become flamboyant queens after transitioning.Rather, they are just like normal average women.

Jack Molay said...

@Rebecca

Thanks for some very interesting comments.

I am working on a separate post on androphilic vs. gynephilic transwomen, and will not make an extensive argument here.

Here is the short version:

Yes, there is a difference -- on average -- between gynephilic and androphilic transwomen and I am sure this is what the researchers you name have seen in their work. They are probably not lying.

However, they are all completely ignoring the social and cultural context of the transwomen we are talking about here.

To be born as a gynephilic male bodied person leads to a trajectory that is very different from the one of an androphilic male bodied person.

I actually believe that Blanchard and Bailey did not take their argument to its logical conclusion:

If androphilic tranwomen transition in order to attract straight men (they say so, I believe it is much more complex than that) , then gynephilic transwomen should be expected to postpone transitioning in order to attract women.

After all: if the androphiles are correct in their assumption that straight men like women (that is not a too far fetched idea :), then it is reasonable for the gynephiles to believe that straight women will love men (as opposed to "translesbians"). This is, of course, correct.

It therefore makes sense for the gynephiles to suppress all feminine manners and expressions.

The androphiles have alternative role models and culture that lets them explore their sexuality, namely the gay male culture. The gynephiles have no such culture.

Apart from the obvious difference (the gynephiles are homosexual and the androphiles are heterosexual) the basic cause of the transgender condition man therefore be the same.

My good friend Natalie, the sexologist from Thailand, tries to convince me that the "effeminacy" of androphilic transwomen may be inborn (as it is in some -- but not all -- homosexual men), and I am willing to listen.

Still, if kids are aware of their gender and sexual orientation at an early age (and there are reasons to believe so is the case) then it also becomes clear that any "effeminate" mannerisms a gynephilic transgirl might have had, will soon be repressed.

But there is more: Blanchard and Bailey seem to equal "femininity" with effeminate looks and mannerisms, in spite of the fact that most women, in most cultures, do not display this kind of behavior.

Traits like introversion or non-aggressiveness, which are equally stereotypical "feminine" are not taken into consideration, probably because that would undermine the whole theory. Too many of the gynephilic tranwomen identify with such character traits.

Krowse said...

Jack,
Bailey rightly said that gynephilic and other non-homosexual identified transwomen (so called by him as 'autogynephiles')fancied the idea of themselves as a woman given her confessed fantasy that Bailey “would treat her ‘like a lady’—take her out to a nice restaurant and then out dancing”. However, he interpreted things in the wrong way I guess.
What he did was that he diagnosed these fantasies of the trans individuals as fetishes or paraphilias (which he called as love of self as a woman).
However, it is true that inner femininity of someone will necessarily make him love his inner self as a woman. However, we need more and more cultural inputs to feed this temperament much like we need fuel to power engines.
The social images of sexy attractive women making love to men serves as a powerful stimuli to all individuals who are already predisposed towards a feminine temperament. Haven't you heard many heterosexual women reporting that they did not feel feminine at all before they encountered their first date?
It happens that in a similar way, tg males begin to have their "innate femininity" powered by several degress when they are exposed to social images of hyper-femininity much like men like to be hypermasculine sometimes when projected with images of some Tom Cruise like macho.
Now if the TG male is androphilic, his sexuality and temperaments are in line but the gynephilic is left without a reciprocity in his fantasies because his lover is supposed to be a woman.
So he ends up either fantasizing about a dominating woman with dildos (a common theme in TG eroticas),or in extreme cases, his sexuality expresses itself in the form of a fantasy of a faceless man penetrating him!!

Jack Molay said...

@Krowse

Yes, I think that is very close to the mark!

Abhirup said...

I love the thought given by Krowse. And infact, this is why I was also saying that the non-androphilic transwomen might actually be more feminine than androphilic ones. It must be that because they are more feminine (or less masculine whatever), they are not interested in the man at all but just the behavior or role of the inner female.
The androphilic on the other hand, enjoys both her inner female as well as the outer masculine persona because part of her atleast admires some exterior masculinity.
I also happened to read that feminine to transgendered males are actually likely to be more attracted to women than men, something that has never been revealed by science and mainstream media.

Richard said...

this is alot of reading to do and no amount of research will get to the truth as there will always be someone that thinks differently so why cant society accept the diversity of human biology/psychology and stop trying to label everything, that said your arguments are well founded but need a short conclusion. everyone is is different no matter whether they identify as one section of the stereotipical society or not. every individual/ the whole human civilisation must recognise this diversity and put asside pre-concieved stereotipical views to be able to evolve as a society otherwise mistrust/segregation/even war will destroy society.

Richard said...

this is alot of reading to do and no amount of research will get to the truth as there will always be someone that thinks differently so why cant society accept the diversity of human biology/psychology and stop trying to label everything, that said your arguments are well founded but need a short conclusion. everyone is is different no matter whether they identify as one section of the stereotipical society or not. every individual/ the whole human civilisation must recognise this diversity and put asside pre-concieved stereotipical views to be able to evolve as a society otherwise mistrust/segregation/even war will destroy society.

Jack Molay said...

@Richard

"Why can't society accept the diversity of human biology/psychology and stop trying to label everything".

Amen to that!

That's the problem right there. People are afraid of the diversity that is really there, as it makes the world unpredictable and hard to understand. They try to enforce the stereotypes to feel safe, and by doing so, they cause the suffering we now see and feel.

hormone therapy said...

Even transsexuals have different levels of arousal. Some react more like a man and some react more like a woman. Studying this further will only be for statistical purposes, unless some businesses are planning to get this niche market of transsexuals.

biologic said...

I think there's definitely gonna be some level of significant difference. In terms of hormones, transgenders are definitely different from a real female so in that aspect there's already gonna be some difference on the sex drive.