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:



We have to distinguish between social facade and inner gender identity (which applies to the cultural, social and psychological traits and expressions) or even sex identity (which refers to your sense of body). 

Many crossdreamers and crossdressers live and act like their birth sex in public, as this is what society expects of them.

Given the history of their personal lives, living as the opposite sex full time might seem as unreal to them as the lives they are living now, even if they are expressing their sense of gender through clothing and mannerisms at home , and even if they should feel "trapped in the wrong body".

And make no mistake about it: Many crossdreamers are truly gender dysphoric, and some of them are  also transsexual. This makes me hesitate when Zagria makes crossdreamers  a prime example of cisgender variance.

Crossdreamers as cis

Zagria writes:

"I will be treating crossdreamers (to use Jack Molay’s term) as cis, in that that is how the people around them regard them. Arguably they are wannabe trans, and might persuade a psychologist or a gender therapist that they are such, but one of the points that I will be making is that the dividing line between cis and trans is movable."

If cis is defined on the basis of "how the people around them regard them", this is mostly true. Most male to female or female to male crossdreamers present as their  birth sex.

Still, since we do not define transgender on the basis of outward appearance, but on the inner sense of self, the same should apply to the cisgender category, and a significant portion of the crossdreamer and crossdresser population truly identify with the opposite sex.

How many these are in real numbers or as a percentage of the total crossdreamer population we do not know, as no one has ever done any serious research on this group, but from what I hear and see there must be millions world wide.

The subconscious inner woman or man

Note also that many crossdreamers do everything in their power to suppress their inner woman and inner man. This especially apply to the male to female group, as it seems to be harder from male bodied persons to present as women than it is for a female bodied person to present as men.

These are not, as Zagria formulates it, "wannabe trans". A lot of male to female crossdreamers do, for instance, end up in the military in a desperate attempt to condition themselves to become "real men". The fact that they normally fail in this, tells me that they are transgender  and not  cisgender. They are "wanna-not-to-be-trans", but trans all the same.

Then there are the many crossdreamers who go to a psychologist or gender therapist and say that they are trans, as Zagria points out. Zagria's phrase emanates an aura of mistrust: "[they] might persuade a psychologist and therapist that they are such", implicitly  saying that that they may not be real transwomen, being instead self deceiving cisgendered males driven by -- I don't know -- lust  maybe?

I would not be surprised if there are crossdreamers who go all the way with hormones and surgery and who should not have done so, as they find themselves unable to adapt to the social role of a woman. In other words: As there are male to female crossdreamers who actively suppress their female identity, there might be others who suppress the complexity of their own gender or sex identity. 

But that does not stop them from being transgendered. You do not go to the extreme point of surgery unless there is some kind of mismatch between your physical sex and your experienced sex.

Significant overlap

This means that I believe the final section of the quoted paragraph is the most important one: "the dividing line between cis and trans is movable".

If you, like Zagria does, open up for gender variance among the "normal" cisgender population, you will soon find that there are no "gender normal" people anywhere. 

As I have argued (to the point of boring you to death) there are no personality traits that are uniquely male or female. This applies to traits like extroversion vs. introversion, analytical vs. empathic as well as sexual dichotomies like active vs. passive and penetrative vs. receptive.

This does indeed lead to gender variance among the cisgender as well as among the transgender. This is why you will find XY women who -- like most XX women -- do not behave like -- let's say -- Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde. They are still women. Very much so.

And I agree that this kind of variation  does not necessarily signify some kind of transgender condition. These may be just normal variations. Many do not experience  a deep mismatch between these traits or behaviors and their sense of being a man or a woman.

Sex and gender

I have become more and more aware of the importance of distinguishing between gender and sex lately. It seems to me that one important reason for the transgender/transsexual war is caused by this mix up.

The "gender" in transgender has made both crossdressers/crossdreamers and militant separatist transwomen argue that transgender is only a matter of  expressing traits and behaviors that violate  socially accepted mores and conventions. The suffering of transgender people is therefore not the result of them being born with the wrong body, but the fact that arbitrary social rules do not allow them to express their full personality. If they were allowed to do so, there would be no transgender persons. We would all be happily living as "cis", making the term meaningless.

Many crossdresser and crossdreamers argue that this is all there is to it, and that this therefore also applies to transsexuals. This is why many transsexual women react so violently towards this line of reasoning. They feel -- correctly, in my option -- that it invalidates their sense of being women, as opposed to playing the role of women.

Unfortunately some separatist transwomen have no qualms about applying the everything is gender kind of logic towards others, arguing that this applies to all crossdreamers, crossdressers and gender queer, but not to themselves. They and they alone suffer from being in the wrong body (misaligned sex), the hated "transgender" are just gender confused.

On the other hand there are crossdreamers and crossdressers who do not experience gender dysphoria, and who therefore conclude that no one does. This gives the separatist transsexuals the argument they need to define all crossdressers and crossdreamers as "TG" men, misled by sexual desire or bizarre fetishes.

This forces the crossdreamers and crossdressers that are truly gender dysphoric -- in the sense of having a deep-felt belief of being born the wrong sex  -- to hide their crossdressing or crossdreaming, which again leads to a new layer of psychological repression.

It is truly a mess, and I cannot see that defining crossdreamers as "cis" is going to help us sort this out.

Three levels

All of this leads me to conclude that a gender variance discussion on the  distinction between cis and trans may lead us astray, unless we manage to distinguish clearly between at least three levels of gender variance, namely:
  1. The outward expression of gender (to what extent persons  behave in accordance with the roles assigned to their birth sex).
  2. The inner  personality of a person and how this makes  him or her  want to express that personality through behavior that is in conflict with culturally defined gender roles (e.g a man with a "femme" personality).
  3. The inner sense of sex and body (as in a male bodied person who truly feels that she is born in the wrong body). 
The term transgender encompasses both 2 and 3, as it is an umbrella term for both crossdressers, gender queers and transsexuals.

The fact is that the term crossdreamer also includes persons identifying with both 2 and 3 as well, means that all crossdreamers are in one way or the other transgender. And some of them are transsexual. You cannot get less cis than that.












24 comments:

Deborah Kate said...

Interesting post, Jack.

Am I right in thinking that it was you yourself who coined the term 'crossdreamer' as a kinder word than autogynephiliac? Good move there; that has helped us a lot.

My understanding of crossdreaming/AGP is that it is located primarily in sexuality. Yes? Otherwise how does it differ from the broader term 'transgender'?

Hence a crossdreamer need not feel generally bad about being male, despite sexual yearnings. Yet sexuality is not trivial; crossdreaming is no more a trivial fetish that should have no cultural expression than is homosexuality, I think.

Zagria said...

The point of my posting was not to distinguish between trans and cis but
a) to argue that the distinction is socially constructed
b) to make preliminary suggestion re the variations within cis which is commonly taken to be 90%+ of the population
c) to point out that cis persons use the same methods of asserting their gender as trans persons do: homosocial group activities, clothing, hormones, surgery.

Your emphasizing of 'gender dysphoric' trans and another kind is another topic that needs more discussion. Personally I dislike the term 'gender dysphoria' as it is a medically pathologizing term.

What is your term for the other kind? May I suggest 'existential'.

wxhluyp said...

At this moment I recognise two points that must be taken into account. First is the fallacy of an authentic inner self, its reflexivity and fickleness. There is no authentic gender to experience, from which dysphoria must be understood as an engrained affinity. And secondly is a disregard for the universal factor of the crossdreamer in sexual fetishistic arousal. Before dealing with the relation between the crossdreamer and arousal it is important to understand fetishism itself. Slightly off topic, we crossdreamers have almost identical structures to what we can call our "sister fetishes" in cuckolding, black supremacy, small penis humiliation and other masochistic variations.

Jack Molay said...

@Deborah

Yes, I did come up with the word crossdreamer. I realized that Blanchard's description of crossdreamers was valuable, but that his theory and his term (autogynephilia) was stigmatizing and misleading (to say the least). Several readers suggested that we should come up with a more neutral term that recognize the fact that crossdreamers exists, but that kept the explanation open. This is for instance why wxhluyp and I both use the term: We agree that this is a real pheonomenon, but disagree slightly on how it comes about.

I think of crossdreamers as a sub-category under transgender. Crossdreamers are those who get turned on by the idea of being the other sex. I have been in touch with many transwomen who admit to having had such fantasies. Julia Serano covers the phenomenon in her book. But crossdreaming is also common among crossdressers. Then there are people like me, who are not transsexual and who do not crossdress, but who nevertheless have such fantasies.

I am not so shure that this experience is only grounded in sexuality (this is where wxhluyp and I part). The fact that we have both non-crossdreaming transsexuals and crossdressers leads me to believe that there is one or more additional factors in addition to the sexual one, which is why I insist on distinguishing between gender and sex.

But it is certainly true that many crossdreamers report that they feel at ease with their birth sex. They cannot all be lying!

Jack Molay said...

@Zagria

If you are trying to say that the distinction between cis and trans is all in our heads, and that the real world of men and women reflects a cacophony of different personality traits, sexual orientations and gender identities, I am all with you.

As for "gender dysphoria". Yeah, it may be interpreted that way. But I need a word that makes it clear that there are crossdreamers who suffers from an intense experience of being born the wrong sex, as opposed to those that explore the borderland for the thrill of it. "Gender misalignment" sounds so technical. Julia Serano uses the term "gender dissonance", but that sound a bit weak. Are there anyone who has any suggestions?

As for the "other kind" -- i.e. those who are not in deep psychological pain because of their birth sex, "existential transgender" is a good choice, although I am sure there are transwomen who would argue that their pre-op experience was truly existential as well. Other ideas: "transgender explorers"? I guess "gender queer" could have been used, hadn't it been that so many transgender understands "queer" as gay.

Deborah Kate said...

Thanks, Jack.

I think it's crucial that crossdreaming is identified and distinguished (from other trans categories) as a sexual desire. Whether the psychological roots of this desire go beyond sexuality remains an open question.

Jack Molay said...

@ wxhluyp

You and I agree on much, including the understanding that most of what people consider stereotypcial male and female traits are socially constructed. However, unlike you I believe that there is some kind of pre-cultural inborn sex identity.

Thanks to you, I am currently reading all the books of Judith Butler, and I see that she argues well that also sex is socially constructed.

That is: Our interpretation of the biological sex is also a product of language. I think I have documented much of the same in my deconstruction of Blanchard & Co.

But the fact that our understanding of biological sex and the science of sex are and must be developed within a cultural and linguistic context does not mean that the body is not there. We are animals as well, and animals clearly have their own sexual quirks -- without language and signifiers.

I am unable to document what this inborn sexual identity may be, but nor can you (and Julia) prove that I am wrong.

I guess our differences are not only on the intellectual plane, but that they are caused by the different ways we experience crossdreaming.

This also means that I cannot reduce crossdreaming to a fetish only, although it is definitely clear that crossdreaming often plays out in fetishistic ways.

But then again, so do most -- if not all --variations of sexual behavior. But to me the fetish is a symptom and not the cause.

Deborah Kate said...

Me again!

I'm not convinced that 'existential transgender' is a good term for crossdreamers. For me crossdreaming is my sexuality, which I did not choose, so not an existential choice. How I deal with my sexuality is where existential choice comes in - this is separate from the fundamental identity.

Jack Molay said...

@Deborah

Do you have any suggestions for what to call crossdreamers that are not transsexual?

"non-transsexual transgender" is one way of getting out of the conundrum, but it isn't perfect, as there are crossdreamers who are truly dysphoric, but who has not identified with the term transsexual.

Deborah Kate said...

Hmm, not sure.

Do transsexuals actually describe themselves as crossdreamers?

Do we need terms to distinguish 'dysphoric' from 'not dysphoric'? Isn't that like saying we need separate terms for homosexuals who aren't 'glad to be gay' and ones who are?

Linsie said...

Deborah,

Probably the major source of friction in the transsexual community are crossdreamers. The "classic" transexuals (CT) see mtf crossdreamers as perverted men. CT's claim that they have never dreamed or been turned on by the thought of having sex as a woman (at least while pre-op). The majority of transsexuals acknowledge that they have crossdreamed at some time and it seems natural to me that they would. Don't most women dream of having sex as women??? The CT's also want to be excluded from the transgender umbrella because they feel that TG's (and crossdreamers) somehow corrupt their womanhood.

Gender dysphoria (and I feel that dysphoria is the right term) is an overwhelming feeling that one is the wrong sex. As a sufferer it invades most of my conscious thoughts and feelings. And if I try to deny it, it leads to depression. Gays may experience disphoria over their situation too. I don't think it has anything to do with not being "glad" to be male, female, straight or gay. It's more of an intense unsatisfiable yearning.

wxhluyp said...

It must be understood that cognitive/learning capabilities present in all creatures are radically differential. That identity is the representational usage of differences. Identity is not a thing, but a process., it is not innate.

I try to emphasize that it is a mistake to reduce crossdreaming to be solely about the female body. The female body is simply a part of the web of feminine associations of which ones self-image is subjected. Self-image subjection also entails a subjection to the social realm (where the self is meaningful). So the concept of crossdreaming must entail; the social-masochistic subjection of self-image to gender.

I see your struggle is to tie what is intrinsically a sexual fetish, to partially correlative claims of gender dissatisfaction. Whilst I recognise that there are claims of dissatisfaction, I also recognise that the crossdream concept cannot be extended to intrinsically contain dysphoria.

What is unusual about this fetish is that it essentially contains ones self-image, whereas a stereotypical masculine fetish would be a pair of tits. I see that sexual fetishism is idealized out of its sexual context (transversal). A pair of tits becomes not just an object of sexual arousal, but an object one generally likes to immerse in. Whereas with the crossdreamer, I see that many people idealize the feminized self. This isn't to say that this cannot influence an "authentic" dissatisfaction with ones gender, but it is merely an explanation for much of the correlate. -I maintain that anyone can be a crossdreamer, even one who's dissatisfaction with they're gender can be completely independent to the fetish. Perhaps even a M2F autoandrophiliac!

Linsie said...

wxhluyp

I agree with you that what type of person we become is based predominantly on the social associations that surround us. But I also think that there is an innate gender that we are born with.

I've known my whole conscious life that I am suppose to be female. My earliest memories are that I was a girl. I still harbor a bitter disappointment when I was told at age 2 that I couldn't. Everything in my life should of shaped me to be male but it wasn't enough to change me. You can't explain this using phenomenology.

I'm not the only person to experience this. How would you use phenomenology to explain this? It may explain why some people crossdream, but I don't think it can explain all transgendered conditions.

Hamid said...

Linsie,
Can you give some important hints as to why you felt you should be a girl at the age of 2 even?
At that age, it cannot be surely out of a sexual desire or even some fashion thrilling kink.
Now, I am a feminine bissexual guy and I am just highly curious to know about TSs like you. Just bother to explain some if you don't mind?

Ashia said...

Jack
I am a panromantic individual and I find no difference between admiring someone and feling romantic about him or her at the same time. I also on some level want to be like a person I intensely feel admiration about and if that person happens to be of the opposite gender, so be it. You cannot certainly say this is some innate gender identity disorder doing the rounds.

Ashia said...

Simply put, that is why I do think even cis-genders can be "gender-variant" or "gender-atypical".
Afterall, I am a butch female and I love masculine tough men (or else I wouldn't be attracted to them!) but that also means I want to be like them on some level.
Throughout my childhood I have been butch enough for a girl but I don't identify as transgender simply because I don't have a male subconscious sex. However, when it comes to people and society in general, there is a problem. They often either see me as either trans tomboy or someone in need of dire help.

Linsie said...

Hamid,

It's just something I've know my whole life. I can't remember a time when I didn't.

As soon as I was old enough to communicate it, I told my mom that I was suppose to be a girl. It's my earliest memory and I know it was before my 3rd birthday.

My parents gave me boy toys (cars, guns, etc...) but I wanted to play house and with my sisters dolls. My mom wanted me to go to boy play groups but I wanted to go with my sister to her play groups. I told my mom and she said that I was a boy and I was suppose to play with other boys. I insisted that I was a girl but she told me that god made me a boy and that was the way it would always be. Needless to say I've been pissed ever since :-)

My parents tried very hard to train me to be male but it didn't work. I have an older brother and he doesn't have the desires I do. It's hard for me to believe that it is environmental.

Hamid said...

Linsie
I agree with you that the gender-variance of your kind cannot be environmental at all! Infact, it is rooted deep to the core.
But what about the sexuality induced gender variances? I do believe that is environmental. The moment some guys realize they are 'gay', they either butch themselves up a whole lot, or become feminized due to cultural messages.
I know I was not the least girly in early pre-adolescent childhood. However, being sexually passive and having sexual preferences that are socially considered 'feminine' for some reason,I got convinced at adolescence that removing some masculine features was the best way to go ahead. I did not feel a grudge in having body hair or masculine features, yet, I found them all 'unnattractive'.
Metrosexual femininity and foppishness is surely cultural although the transsexual type femininity is not!
AS such, many gender-variants will be surely having cultural motivations behind their cross-gender explorations although many others wouldn't.
Many tomboys are cultural rebels while many are natural FTMs.
This is the whole crux. Each individual is different. However, that does not mean you should dismiss aside the plight of the culturally induced one just because he or she is not a TG in real sense.
I know I have a male inner gender but I don't love every aspect of being male at all.
Just because I am not transgender does not mean I love every cultural meaning of what a man should be. And I also have the full right to be myself (without being labelled as pervert) even if it is for some reason other than an inner identity.

Jack Molay said...

@wxhluyp

"It must be understood that cognitive/learning capabilities present in all creatures are radically differential."

Sure, but the basic instinctual basis is not, which is also why we actually manage to communicate with some fellow animals. We have enough in common for this to make sense. Again: Sexuality is -- in all creatures -- based in instincts. These instincst will be shaped by learning and culture (which explain the wide diversity of expressions) but there is always an instinctual core. I suspect that this is in one way or the other associated with sex identity, and in this -- I know -- we disagree.

"Identity is not a thing, but a process., it is not innate."

I agree, the development of a personality -- or individuation, to use Jung's term -- is a process.

But, as Jung argued, this process is more than a conscious reaction to culture; it is also a process whereby unconscious proecesses anchored in biologically based instincts are made conscious.

"I try to emphasize that it is a mistake to reduce crossdreaming to be solely about the female body."

It is not only about the female body. The "female side" of the crossdreamer can find a large number of ways of expressing herself, which is to be expected, also through fetishistic fantasies and behavior. You won't find a kick for nylon stockings embedded in your DNA, to put it that way.

But then again, in this way crossdreamers are the same as the rest of wo/mankind.

"The female body is simply a part of the web of feminine associations of which ones self-image is subjected."

I doubt that, but even it this is the case, there may still be a subconscious feminine self causing this association.

"Whilst I recognize that there are claims of dissatisfaction, I also recognize that the crossdream concept cannot be extended to intrinsically contain dysphoria."

It would indeed be a paradox if it should turn out that I am not a crossdreamer. My own gender dysphoria is very real, I can assure you.

There are crossdreamers like yourself who are not dysphoric, an intermediary category with people who are, but still live as men (like me), and then there are gender dysphoric male to female crossdreamers who are transsexuals.

A theory of crossdreaming must take all of these categories into consideration.

"What is unusual about this fetish is that it essentially contains ones self-image, whereas a stereotypical masculine fetish would be a pair of tits."

If you attempt to explain all aspects of sex identity and sexual orientation into a fetish, I would rather follow Freud's wider discussion in "Three Essays".

That is: If all are fetishists, then the whole complex set of triggers and fascinations must be taken into consideration, and in men that includes an attraction to more than a pair of tits (or ancles or long legs or whatever). There is smell, context (flowers and wine, chains and rubber - take your pick), and a sense of belonging.

In the case of a man being attracted to the woman, this must also, for instance, include the idea of being a masculine man attracting a woman. Men and women are turned on by being desired as much as form the sensory input from the "object". In this way the feelings of a M2F crossdreamer will be no different from any other person.

"I maintain that anyone can be a crossdreamer, even one who's dissatisfaction with they're gender can be completely independent to the fetish."

If you by this mean that crossdreamers do not have to be gender dysphoric, I agree -- absolutely!

Jack Molay said...

@Ashia

" I also on some level want to be like a person I intensely feel admiration about and if that person happens to be of the opposite gender, so be it. You cannot certainly say this is some innate gender identity disorder doing the rounds."

I agree. Some transgender persons experience gender dysphoria, others do not, which only tells us how complex all of this is.

Fanny said...

Dear Jack Molay,
It is not that easy you know. We don't know how many 'feminine' males are born naturally effeminate and how many make themselves so deliberately, ie., through a conscious choice due to some kind of cultural norms of the male gender they find disgusting. Same for butch females or tomboys.
It is an individual issue and every individual navigates through the world with diverse set of experiences making all of this quite difficult and complex.
If I were to distinguish the cis-gender gender variants from the real transgenders, I would have to say that many effeminate gay males also have a kind of female subconscious image and hence they are closer to the MTF transsexuals. Their effeminate mannerisms are quite overt as well as natural and have always been there since birth. So it cannot be called as simply a put on personality. I have seen many of them trying to desperately hide their effeminacy in public to avoid being ridiculed and only in front of a kind hearted physician will they ever be their natural feminine self.
Since they make all the efforts to be like a man, they have to have a real female inside which they tend to hide, just so as to avoid being treated as a sub-human.
The same cannot be however said of foppish variety of metrosexual feminine men who deliberately bring out more femininity for its positive sex appeal. In that respect too, many heterosexual crossdressers are driven by sexual motivations while many more have a natural subconscious image as female. The latter will always try to hide while the former will try to exaggerate the cross-gender manifestations of their personality.
There have been many not at all effeminate kind of men,who have wanted to deliebrately feminize themselves, or even go for HRT. Whether the cause was a natural female subconscious image or some other cultural motivations is not possible to be known.
The same goes for butch tomboys who act masculine just as to be like a man in social aspects, while there will be other females with a male subconscious image.
Both have different kinds of expectations from society and even different reasons and motivations behind their gender-dysphoria making all this study extremely complex.

wxhluyp said...

"Sure, but the basic instinctual basis is not, which is also why we actually manage to communicate with some fellow animals."

"a process whereby unconscious proecesses anchored in biologically based instincts are made conscious."

-The only innate property here is the production of meaning. No form of meaning is innate, communication is not innate. Biology can not grasp proliferating indeterminate cultural fictions in themselves, at most it can indirectly align itself in support.

"Sexuality is -- in all creatures -- based in instincts."

-What exists is the fetishistic correlation to arousal.

"The "female side" of the crossdreamer can find a large number of ways of expressing herself"

-However naive I think the notion is of any distinct or fixed self-identity (especially gendered), the argument for gender expression in this case has a parallel with a cuckold fetishist's argument for expression for inadequacy.

"there may still be a subconscious feminine self causing this association"

-The crossdreamer is aroused by both the thought of one's self being subjected to a feminine biological attribute, but also to the image of oneself preferring the colour pink. Like other masochistic fetishes (or fetishes in general), it doesn't presuppose a meaningful cause.

"My own gender dysphoria is very real, I can assure you."

-I regard dysphoria as a relative dissatisfaction, rather than a "thing". Ranging from the understandable to the self-fulfilling naive.

"If you attempt to explain all aspects of sex identity and sexual orientation into a fetish"

-The point I try to make is that there is no pre-given image of the object of desire prior to fetishization, whether it is the image of tits or is autoerotic-masochism. Fetishization is general distinguished from (but not isolated from) fetishization correlated with arousal.

"In the case of a man being attracted to the woman, this must also, for instance, include the idea of being a masculine man attracting a woman."

-A gynephilic instance doesn't necessitate the presence of autoandrophilia, letalone self-image.

Jack Molay said...

@wxhluyp

I get you. Even though you accept that there are instincts and -- I guess -- a sexual drive or libido, you argue that crossdressing as well as crossdreaming belongs to the symbolic, symbiotic or linguistic.

Instincts contain no symbols. They come before language. I agree.

Where we disagree, it seems, is that I believe different instincts or biologically based trigger points may generate or instigate different symbolic interpretations. That is: I cannot accept that our symbolic interpretation of our world is completely independent of what goes on in our bodies, no more than it is independent of the external world.

The Neolithic Europeans developed a religious symbolic system based on the animals surrounding them, mammoths and reindeer, because these were parts of their lives.

The ancient Greeks personified human drives and instincts as gods and godesses, but that did not mean that lust (Pan) was purely symbolic. Nor was jealous rage (Medusa).

In our case: A person with a "feminine" copulation instinct mayl, given the present culture and its symbolic system, be drawn to symbols that allows this instinct to find an outlet.

Today there are two cultural settings that allows this: being a woman or a gay man. Since most crossdreamers are gynephilic, it makes perfect sense for them to develop erotic fantasies where they are the woman.

This is just an example. I believe there is more behind this identification with being a woman than the copulation instinct alone.

I have also argued that there may be some kind of biological based body image that leads to gender dysphoria (but not all types of crossdreaming). I readily admit that that is much harder to prove, as it i clear that the body images of men and women may change throughout life -- indicating that at least part of it is psychological or symbolic. So this line of thought may be leading down a blind alley.

wxhluyp said...

Where survival pressures like erogenous stimulation and hunger necessarily influence symbolic correlations, something like self identity is utterly symbolic. It doesn't exist like nationality doesn't exist. The tables turn where physiology makes correlations with the social-symbolic, even to the extent that unlike pressures like hunger, emotions can become detached from physiology and become symbolically mediated.

There is no intrinsic difference in correlation on part of biological male and female "pressures" (empathy-aggression etc). It is a threshold, where intrinsic difference is a symbolic fictional abstraction.

I disagree that the crossdream is simply "identifying as a gender". Correlated with sexual arousal, it is the social subjection of self to "genderness". In other words, arousal in the humiliation of being seen as feminine... This is the point of departure, essentially (or initially) sexually fetishistic.

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