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 tranwomen, 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". 

Note that "dual-role transvestism" is defined as the  "wearing of clothes of the opposite sex for part of the individual's existence in order to enjoy the temporary experience of membership of the opposite sex, but without any desire for a more permanent sex change or associated surgical reassignment, and without sexual excitement accompanying the cross-dressing." 

The fetishists (crossdreamers), on the other hand, are wearing "clothes of the opposite sex principally to obtain sexual excitement and to create the appearance of a person of the opposite sex."

The dual-role transvestite apparently feels like a woman; the fetishist does not.

How they are able to distinguish between these two types of crossdressers is beyond me. 

I am sure there are crossdressers who are never aroused sexually while crossdressing, but why the absence of arousal in itself is needed for you to have "a gender identity disorder" is just strange. It is as if sexual feelings are incompatible with feeling like a woman.

Some crossdressers report that the arousal that follows crossdressing disappears as they get older. Does that mean that the underlying condition has changed, and that they have moved from one category to the other? And do you need to be asexual to have a gender idenity disorder?

If you have a gender identity disorder you cannot become a trans woman

It gets even more bizarre. "Fetishistic transvestism" can apparently "occur as an earlier phase in the development of transsexualism". The "dual-role transvestism", on the other hand, cannot, even if it is in the same sub-category as transsexualism. In fact dual-role transvestite is defined as being "without any desire for a more permanent sex change".

In other words: The "experts", who have done the best to keep the "tainted" perverts away from the "pure" transsexuals and "dual role transvestites", are now opening the door again, by admitting that crossdreamers -- and only crossdreaming crossdressers -- can become transsexuals.

This is so strange, that I will repeat it once more: 

Male to female crossdressers who do not get turned on by imagining themselves as women have a gender identity disorder, but cannot become trans women. Crossdressers who do get aroused en femme do not have a gender identity disorder, but can become trans women!

The source of all this confusion

I think one explanation for  all this confusion is the fact that the psychiatrists who have written these categories are still caught up in a stereotypical view of women.  This can be the only explanation for using sexual arousal as the most important dimension for dividing crossdressers into sub-categories.

Men who get aroused by imagining themselves as women, are -- according to this way of thinking -- not feminine, because women do not get aroused by imagining themselves as women. Crossdressers who focus on dressing up and copying the behavior and mannerisms of women, on the other hand, do suffer from a gender identity disorder,  because women do love dressing up, paint their nails and have tea parties (or whatever it is women and crossdressers are supposed to do).

Hm.

I have know a few women in my life. As an academic I have studied history, psycho-social development and cultural variation, and I can say with 100 percent certainty that women are sexual beings. They fantasize, they get aroused, they masturbate and they make love, and unless they are asexual or psychologically traumatized, they also like it. Given their superior ability as regards orgasms, you could actually argue that they are more strongly sexually charged than men. (That was actually considered common wisdom in pre-Victorian Europe!)

Then why is sexual arousal removed from our understanding of what it means to be a woman?

I believe we have to look at the way crossdreaming crossdressers are perceived by the doctors. The stories these doctors are told are about men who dress up alone, and who then get aroused by the idea of being a woman and/or having a woman's body. Many of them also live alone, as it may the only way they can find room for this part of their lives.  This, again, means that their only sex life consists of masturbatory fantasies. 

"Aha!" the doctor concludes, "this man is a auto-erotic narcissistic fetishist" (read: "a perverted wanker"). "He has nothing in common with real women!" 

Some crossdreamers probably also believe this themselves: "Doctor, I am a filthy pervert! Help me!"

So what about real women?

What I find puzzling is that these doctors must know that women do masturbate -- alone and a lot. The sales of dildos and vibrators are sky rocketing and they are not all bought by male to female crossdreamers.  Many  women live by themselves as well. The same doctor would not call them auto-erotic narcissists. 

Women also imagine themselves making love to  a man while fantasizing. That is a good thing, isn't it?

So why is the crossdreaming crossdresser a pervert, classified in another category than the non-crossdreaming crossdressers and transsexuals who are suffering from a  "gender identity disorder"?

Could it be that these so-called experts are incapable of putting the life of a crossdreaming crossdresser into its proper social context?

Why do crossdreamers behave as they do?

First: Do crossdreamers primarily get aroused by (1)  the idea of being a woman or having a woman's body or do they get aroused by (2) the idea of having sex as a woman? 

People like Ray Blanchard focus on 1, and it is the fact that they get aroused by the idea of having a woman's body that makes them autogynephiliacs. 

I would focus on the second part of the equation. In nearly all the erotic  transgender fiction fantasies I have read, the crossdreamers end up having sex with someone else. To have sex as a woman, you need a woman's body (or at least a female appearance). Then the change itself becomes erotic by association. To become a woman becomes erotic, because it opens up the possibility of having sex as a woman.

Women love having sex as a woman, but they already have a female body. The idea of having a female body is therefore not as eroticized  as in the case of male to female crossdreamers. 

That being said, women may perfectly well get turned on by admiring their own looks and their own body (i.e suffer from "autogynephilia"). The reason for this is that being beautiful and attractive is an powerful aphrodisiac in itself. The desire of others is a confirmation of your very being, and imagining yourself being desired by others can therefore be an enormous turn-on. That is one of many factors leading women to spend so much money on clothes, make-up and cosmetic surgery.

It should therefore come as no surprise that male to female crossdreamers may get aroused, not only by the idea of having sex, but also by the idea of being sexy. If you are alienated from you male body, the other healthy alternative -- a pride in your own male body -- is not an alternative.

So why are crossdressers doing this alone?

Crossdreaming crossdressers are considered "autoerotic" or "autogynephiliacs" (i.e. people who make love to themselves)  or even "narcissistic" because they often explore these fantasies by themselves.

Isn't that to be expected?

The way their sexuality is stigmatized and pathologized it should come as no surprise to these researchers that the crossdreamers do not always share them with their partner, if they have one. The risk of losing that partner is high, because this is a condition that is so poorly understood.

The fact that at least some of these men seem to be wired for sex as a woman, must also make it harder for them to establish functioning relationships with heterosexual women wired for the same type of sexual behavior. So why does their loneliness make them autoerotic narcissists?

The logic breaks down

Sexual arousal can, as far as I see it, not be used to distinguish one group of crossdressers from another. The obvious question is not: "Why do some crossdressers and trans women get turned on by the idea of being a woman?" The obvious question should be: "Why do some crossdressers and trans women not experience such cross-gender arousal?"

That is a question I find  very hard to answer. 

There are, as far as I can see,  three possible explanations for this. 

The first is that they deceive themselves, in the sense that their arousal is sublimated into a ritual of dress and manners. If they have been told that women are asexual beings, and they are alienated from their own penis, it is possible to be aroused without the telltale sign of an erection. In fact, there are male to female crossdreamers who are proud of the fact that they no longer get an erection, as they fel that this makes them more like women. They are still turned on, though. Maybe some crossdressers are not consciously aware of this kind of excitement.

The other possibility is that they truly are asexual, not in the sense of not being interested in a relationship, but in the sense of having a low libido. That happens.

The third is that they only get excited as a man with a woman. I guess anything is possible, but I must admit I  find this very unlikely.

I welcome any input from knowledgeable crossdressers here, as this is a phenomenon that has to be explained in a theory of crossdressing.

Post-orgasmic anti-climax

I guess the experts behind the manual would argue that I am missing the point. You see, the document adds the following to the definition of the fetishists: 

"Fetishistic transvestism is distinguished from transsexual transvestism by its clear association with sexual arousal and the strong desire to remove the clothing once orgasm occurs and sexual arousal declines."

The point is, I believe, that this proves that this sense of being a woman is sexual, and sexual only. If they had been truly feminine, they would have kept their female clothes on, also after orgasm.

I am not a crossdressers, so there are limits to what I can add here, but from a purely practical point of view, keeping your dress on after orgam seems ...eh... sticky...

However, as a non-crossdressing crossdreamer I recognize the pattern of fantasy and arousal, followed by orgasm and some kind of exhaustion. That is actually quite common in most male bodied persons, and make no mistake about it: crossdreamers and crossdressers may feel like a woman, but their bodies are male. In my case, however, the longing after being a woman does not subside, even if the sexual arousal does. It is there, always! I suspect this is the case among many crossdressers as well.

If arousal associated with crossdressing is an expression of a suppressed female self, you should expect the gender dysphoria to subside somewhat after orgasm, as this orgasm will be an outlet for the sub-conscious feminine self. That would not mean that the sub-conscious feminine self disappeared after orgasm, no more than a regular guy stops being a regular guy after sex.

In other words: Removing feminine attire after orgasm is not in itself proof of this being a different condition than "dual-role transvestism". 

From what I know of regular XX women, they also feel a need to get out of their feminine attire before going to sleep. Or maybe they just want to put on their pyjamas and crawl up in the sofa with a bucket of ice-cream and a chick flick. I would love to do that!

The Nordics get it right

The fetishistic transvestism paragraph, the one on transvestites, as well as all other "perversions" under F65, have been removed from the manual in all the Nordic countries. Crossdreamers are no longer considered mentally ill in this part of the world.

The Norwegian Directorate of Health said this when it announced its decision to remove fetishes from the manual:

"The Norwegian Directorate of Health puts great emphasis on the fact that interest organisations and research environments for a long time have delivered knowledge showing that many find the diagnoses in themselves offending and [that the diagnoses] contribute to the stigmatization of  the sexuality of groups and individuals. 

"The diagnoses involved are out of date and not in accordance with the scientific standards otherwise found in the ICD-10 manual.

"The content of these diagnoses have not been significantly changed in over 100 years. They were developed on the basis of theories based on the knowledge of that time and its view of sexual variation among humans in society. At best the diagnoses are completely superfluous. At worst they stigmatize minority groups in society."

Head of The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, Lars-Erik Holm said was even clearer when Sweden abolished these paragraphs:

"These diagnoses are rooted in a time when everything other than the heterosexual missionary position were seen as sexual perversions"

The role of fetishes

It is the logic behind documents like these that makes me so reluctant to use the world fetish in connection with crossdreaming. For more than 100 years it has been used to label people as mentally ill perverts.

That does not mean that I do not see the value of a discussion of crossdreamers expressing fetishistic traits. As Freud argued in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality  all human sexuality has fetishistic aspects. In this respect crossdreamers are no different than other ordinary Joes and Janes (whoever they are). But if we are to do that we have to take the word "fetish" back from the conservative psychiatrists and turn it into something positive. I am not sure if that is feasible, but we can always try.

The Finns remove crossdressing from their medical manual


APPENDIX: THE ICD ON GENDER IDENTITY AND CROSSDRESSING

According to the current ICD-11 Alpha Draft, Fetishism, Fetishistic transvestism, Sadomasochism and dual-role transvestism are not yet taken off the list of disorders of psychological development and gender identity.


F64 Gender identity disorders

F64.0 Transsexualism

A desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one's anatomic sex, and a wish to have surgery and hormonal treatment to make one's body as congruent as possible with one's preferred sex.

F64.1 Dual-role transvestism
The wearing of clothes of the opposite sex for part of the individual's existence in order to enjoy the temporary experience of membership of the opposite sex, but without any desire for a more permanent sex change or associated surgical reassignment, and without sexual excitement accompanying the cross-dressing.
Gender identity disorder of adolescence or adulthood, nontranssexual type 
Excludes:fetishistic transvestism ( F65.1 ) 

F64.2 Gender identity disorder of childhood
A disorder, usually first manifest during early childhood (and always well before puberty), characterized by a persistent and intense distress about assigned sex, together with a desire to be (or insistence that one is) of the other sex. There is a persistent preoccupation with the dress and activities of the opposite sex and repudiation of the individual's own sex. The diagnosis requires a profound disturbance of the normal gender identity; mere tomboyishness in girls or girlish behaviour in boys is not sufficient. Gender identity disorders in individuals who have reached or are entering puberty should not be classified here but in F66.-.
Excludes:egodystonic sexual orientation ( F66.1 )
sexual maturation disorder ( F66.0 ) 

F64.8 Other gender identity disorders

F64.9 Gender identity disorder, unspecified
Gender-role disorder NOS 
...

F65 Disorders of sexual preference
Includes:paraphilias 


F65.1 Fetishistic transvestism
The wearing of clothes of the opposite sex principally to obtain sexual excitement and to create the appearance of a person of the opposite sex. Fetishistic transvestism is distinguished from transsexual transvestism by its clear association with sexual arousal and the strong desire to remove the clothing once orgasm occurs and sexual arousal declines. It can occur as an earlier phase in the development of transsexualism.
Transvestic fetishism 
Revise65

This post was originally published over at Sex Gender Body.Some changes and additions have been made..

20 comments:

wxhluyp said...

"Do crossdreamers primarily get aroused by (1) the idea of being a woman or having a woman's body or do they get aroused by (2) the idea of having sex as a woman?"

-Almost neither. Both instances are simply powerful symbolic associates of a wider subjection to femininity. It cannot be ignored that this femininity is a social-masochistic subjection to self-image, rather than a femininity that is expressed for its own sake.

"In fact, there are male to female crossdreamers who are proud of the fact that they no longer get an erection, as they fel that this makes them more like women. They are still turned on, though. Maybe some crossdressers are not consciously aware of this kind of excitement."

-I feel this is a massive self-fulfilling element in the crossdream community. A sexual(fetishtic) longing does not necessarily mean you are explicitly aroused of are erect. It is false to think that the average guy longing for tits must be erect. Correlatives with arousal are not isolated with associations in general.

"Women love having sex as a woman"

-The idea of oneself (letalone as a biological gender) is not a necessary for an erotic instance.

"The fact that at least some of these men seem to be wired for sex as a woman"

-Rather many people prefer the idea of having sex in feminine ways

Crossdressing for me (as a crossdreamer) is simply a "more" elaborate crossdream narrative, which correlates ones physical body in the narrative. Another way of correlating ones physical body to the narrative is to walk femininely or to perform feminine sexual acts etc.

Cheryl Sussex said...

"The point is, I believe, that this proves that this sense of being a woman is sexual, and sexual only. If they had been truly feminine, they would have kept their female clothes on, also after orgasm."

The tearing off of the clothes is the return to normality from the sexual high. The level of guilt and self disgust experienced is usually very high which results in the tearing off of the clothes.

Once the clothes are removed the dreamer can then deny what has happened. Depending how badly AGP has advanced the dreamer may have exorcised the feminine feelings and they may go to the back of the mind for a period. The 'break period' gets less and less with the advance of age. However the dreamer can't keep the thoughts at bay during day to day life even during the guilt break periods.

Sarah Murphy said...

In the rare times that I crossdressed as part of a crossdreaming episode, it was more with the idea that this is the clothing that a woman wears. The clothes were part of the episode, the being undressed pre coitus as part of the build up and anticipation. Foreplay and seduction. This was not from a fetishistic standpoint, rather it was an extention of the woman I was surfacing. And there were also times I did the same with male clothing as well. The clothes themselves weren't as important as the role they played in the episode. It was not undressing in disgust.

"Women also imagine themselves making love to a man while fantasizing." I know this very well.

I would presume that if one were to apply this to the HBSOS, we would find fetishistic crossdressers (F65.1), at type I or II. Dual Role (F64.1), at type III or IV. And transsexuals (F64.0) would cover types IV through VI. I do not as some in the medical community claim, believe any of these to be disorders. They are (somewhat) rare variations in human sexual and emotional makeup. Just because something is uncommon doesn't make it an illness. Remember the common cold IS an illness and is very, ahem, common.

My experience with $0.02 thrown in.

Caio!
Sarah

Anonymous said...

"The point is, I believe, that this proves that this sense of being a woman is sexual, and sexual only. If they had been truly feminine, they would have kept their female clothes on, also after orgasm.
However, as a non-crossdressing crossdreamer I recognize the pattern of fantasy and arousal, followed by orgasm and some kind of exhaustion. That is actually quite common in most male bodied persons, and make no mistake about it: crossdreamers and crossdressers may feel like a woman, but their bodies are male. In my case, however, the longing after being a woman does not subside, even if the sexual arousal does. It is there, always! I suspect this is the case among many crossdressers as well."

I think this phenomenon may be similar to what happens to many males in heterosexual sex. Many would be perfectly content to separate from their female sexual partner after sex and retreat into their own space. At the risk of stereotyping, it is more commonly the woman who wants to maintain physical closeness after sex, not the male.

Jack Molay said...

@Cheryl

"The level of guilt and self disgust experienced is usually very high which results in the tearing off of the clothes. "

You are right. I should have thought of that. And sex is what really brings out guilt in many parts of our societies.

Jack Molay said...

@Anonymous

"At the risk of stereotyping, it is more commonly the woman who wants to maintain physical closeness after sex, not the male."

I agree, but if the crossdresser is alone, the cuddling part is out anyway. It is not of the crossdreamer is together with a "compatible" female, though. I'll come back to that in an upcoming post.

Deborah Kate said...

I think it helps to consider that wearing male clothes is a statement of gender identity as much as is wearing female clothes (for mtf crossdressers). Male clothes confirm a culturally-imposed gender identity which many of us find oppressive. Crossdressing is relief/defiance. Some might use it as a temporary relief (spiced with the thrill of transgression), before returning to a gender identity with which they feel mostly comfortable, while others may only ever wear men's clothes for the sake of social conformity.

The clothes symbolise the characteristics culturally associated with each gender. Some crossdressers can fixate on the clothes, rather than the appeal of female identity more broadly.

'Deviancy' is best explained by the oppressive nature of the norm which the deviants partially resist.

In fact clothes are a particularly clear example of cultural construction of gender - they are not 'natural'; we put them on.

Tulika said...

Jack Molay,
I believe it is hard to accept this important truth but the fact is that
sexuality as a trigger for femininity and female internal identity is prevalent in only a minority of transgenders-- the 'effeminate homosexuals' and the 'heterosexual transvestites'.
However, the media ends up depicting only these two sexual groups as the representative of full transgender population.
And that is where all these confusions and battles in trans-community begins.

But comeon, didn't we already know the truth always?

Sarah Murphy said...

Tulika,

From what I understand, what you show is based on Blanchard's model of AGP. While I believe the media (and most of society for that matter), will agree with it, it's usually because they don't take the effort to examine it closely to see if it withstands close scrutiny. I believe if we are to teach people about us, then we should start with these (mis)perceptions and work outward from them.

Most heterosexual transvestites will put on lingere, masturbate, and shamefully remove and hide the "naughties." Then go do something "manly" like rewire the attic. The erotic focus is on the clothing itself. What "inner female" is present in them is largely overshadowed by a strong male psyche. The pattern of purge and relapse is a common story.

Effeminate homosexuals are a little tougher. One of the main differences between gay men and trans M2F is internal identity. Most gay men self identify as men. The effinates, not quite as much, but it's still there.

That leaves a third group, the transsexual. While I can't speak for the whole group, I can speak to my own experience and feeling. I have a strong female internal identity. As I was growing up I wasn't as much into crossdressing. I was more concerned with expressing my femininity in what I felt were more meaningful ways. One of these ways involved me taking on a male lover as a woman. Last time I checked, that is one definition of a heterosexual "relationship."

The forest looks very different as seen from the outside.

Caio!
Sarah

Tulika said...

Sarah,
You have misinterpreted what I meant.
While saying this, I did not at all conform to BBL theory. I did not mean that what Blanchard said was right. Blanchard simply claimed that gynephilic transwomen are just AGP men, which I don't believe. I know that their femininity is as genuine as of those TS who don't have their femininity triggered by sexuality.

"Most gay men self identify as men. The effinates, not quite as much, but it's still there."

I can say with certainty that many effeminate gay males also have a female subconscious image,even if not as much as that of transsexuals. The ones who are not TG are the masculinegay men and metrosexuals. But certainly not the overly effeminate ones.

"I was more concerned with expressing my femininity in what I felt were more meaningful ways. One of these ways involved me taking on a male lover as a woman. Last time I checked, that is one definition of a heterosexual "relationship."

Yes it is! But that does not mean being heterosexual in true sense, because, if you are gynpehilic, I would say you are actually 'homosexual'. :P

Sarah Murphy said...

Tulika,

Sorry, I misunderstood what you were sharing.

"Blanchard simply claimed that gynephilic transwomen are just AGP men, which I don't believe."

I don't either. The "explanation" is similar to the feminist claim that gay post ops are really men who transitioned to "take advantage" of women. Both claims ignore the innate femininity of the transsexual.

"I can say with certainty that many effeminate gay males also have a female subconscious image,even if not as much as that of transsexuals."

I concur. But having grown up around a feminine gay brother, I have observed that his masculinity appeared much more natural than mine ever did.

"...if you are gynpehilic, I would say you are actually 'homosexual'. :P"

I guess which side the "activity" is viewed from. To be sure, the idea of a biological male being penetrated looks like homosexuality to the casual observer. This was a cause of great distress for me early on. I knew what it looked like, but I also knew that what I felt about it didn't match. Hindsight being 20/20, I share the following in my first blog post on the subject,

"According to "common knowledge", guys who stick things up their butts for pleasure are homosexual. Following that logic, people who do both hetero and homo things are bisexual. As he used to explain it, his "bisexuality" is an extension of his heterosexuality. But in his fantasies he was not playing the part of a male "receiving" another male, e.g. gay. he was playing the part of a female receiving her male lover, e.g. hetero. Paradox again."

Small wonder transsexuals get confused with homosexuals. I understand why the separatists get so upset when connected with the rest of the gender variant crowd. As for myself, I prefer to take a more balanced view.

Caio!
Sarah

Tulika said...

"I concur. But having grown up around a feminine gay brother, I have observed that his masculinity appeared much more natural than mine ever did."

I guess it is because your brother is androgynous (as most fem males are) rather than being totally trans. Afterall, it is not all black and white when it comes to the division between masculine and feminine.
You wouldn't have even that much masculinity as you are closer to transsexual rather than androgynous.

Tulika said...

"Small wonder transsexuals get confused with homosexuals."

The source of confusion is just one thing-confusion of male heterosexuality with red-blooded masculinity in the mainstream society and the media and even certain scientific circles. I nowadays think that these circles have some agenda behind promoting this false connection as it is not true.
The gay male community itself is the first evidence that masculine male homosexual desire for men is very common-place. Another piece of evidence comes from the hidden MTF crossdreamers, a majority of whom are gynephilic yet transsexual.

Anonymous said...

My case =

A few years ago =
I had a fetish for nylon stockings as I had to wear them to be able to have sex with myself with a dildo thinking that I was a woman with a man.

I had the urge to remove my female clothes after I ejaculated because I felt RIDICULIOUS as soon as I came.

I had sex/love with women and was capable to look normal in bed.

So I was in the fetishistic group.

Now =
I still need nylon stockings to be able to have sex.

I still like to have sex with myself but also I love sex with men.

I no longer need to undress on the spot, I can enjoy staying in the woman's role after sex. Generaly I want sex again 30 minutes later, alone or with a man.

I feel more female than before and I now find the sex with woman more difficult to achieve than before and less exciting. I have normal erections though.

Note that when a man penetrate my ass I have no erection at all. I can have great pleasure,even some king of orgasm but I am NEVER hard.

I can have an erection when I suck a dick while the guy plays with my titts. Titts are my most erogene zone ! I feel very feminine in this position.

When I look at a sexy woman, I never think about funking her but about beeing her.

So now I am between the fetishist and the gender dysphoric.

Jack Molay said...

@Tulika

Thanks for some very interesting observations! I think we are on the same page.

"...the fact is that
sexuality as a trigger for femininity and female internal identity is prevalent in only a minority of transgenders-- the 'effeminate homosexuals' and the 'heterosexual transvestites'."

I am not sure this is true, regardless of how you interpret the term 'sexuality'.

First of all: If you add up the number of "aroused" crossdressers, crossdreamers and "femme" gay men, that will proably dwarf the number of "non-aroused" transsexuals completely.

If you add those that identify as gender queer to the mix, this will probably have become even clearer -- if we have had reliable statistcs, which we don't.

Secondly: I find it extremely hard to take sex out of sex, in the sense that there being transgender people who do not get aroused by the idea of having sex with another human being. They are human! I know asexuality is real and in no way pathologic, but it is rare.

That does not mean that sexual desire, and sexual desire only, needs to be the main driver for any of them.

Most crossdressers will tell you that their longing is for much, much, more -- often the longing to live the full life of a woman (and it seems to me that this is what you and Sarah are saying). That is what they truly want, even when they desperately try to adapt to the life of a man.

I believe Julia Serano is on to something when she interprets the cross-gender arousal as a symptom and not the cause.

It can be a symptom of an underlying suppressed sex identify, which may express itself in various ways, sexual fantasies being but one of them.

As you will have seen from this debate, not all crossdreamers agree with me. Many of them do not experience gender dysphoria, and therefore find it hard to understand that others do.

Maybe we all are making this to simple. The very fact that there are crossdressers and transsexuals that seemingly do not feel this kind of desire and those that do, tells me that this cannot be reduced to a simple binary model.

@Anonymous

Thanks for sharing your story.

I think it shows ys that this is not only not a binary. Crossdreamer desires and behavior changes as the crossdreamers learn to know their own psyche and sexuality.

Tulika said...

"I find it extremely hard to take sex out of sex, in the sense that there being transgender people who do not get aroused by the idea of having sex with another human being. They are human! I know asexuality is real and in no way pathologic, but it is rare."

No Jack, I did not say that those trans people whose femininity is not triggered by sexuality, are asexual. They may be very sexual, but also feminine in aspects outside the realm of sexuality.
I meant that trans people for whom sexuality and sexuality alone is the cause of femininity getting triggered, rather than there being any other cause are in a minority.

Jack Molay said...

@Tulika

"I meant that trans people for whom sexuality and sexuality alone is the cause of femininity getting triggered, rather than there being any other cause are in a minority."

All right, I can relate to that. As you might have seen, I suspect that some of those who report that sexuality is their only motivation, may underestimate other reasons for their condition, as well.

VN said...

Another great post. Thank you. One thing from outside the discussion that might help is the idea of objectification in all of its forms. For decades now the various waves of feminism have tackled this idea with various theories and perpectives. One empirically derived idea is that very often part of women's sexuality is based on a sort of "self-objectification". I.e. masturbatory or sexual arousal is found in part, or entirely, through seeing oneself as the desired, sought, and/or ravaged object of an external, desireable, and often more powerful person/force. An "object of attention", if you will. Women's romance novels are a case in point. The reader identifies with the protagonist and her (or his) increasing entanglement with a socially or physically dominant male (or female). In the eyes of our friendly neighborhood psychiatrists, if this were repackaged as a trans/queer fiction, such identification would likely be classified as an "auto-paraphilia". Males too may be objectified as "others" by women, but there seems to be a much stronger tendency for female sexuality to focus on self-objectification. Some will argue that this is a social creation, with partriarchy particularly to blame, others that it is biological. I wouldn't put my money on one or the other exclusively; I really don't know and I could see it being a bit of both. But going with the patriarchy explanation, in our society women's bodies are sexualized, and considered sexually desireable, unlike men's (at least until recently; it seems that male bodies are increasingly sexualized for women), and unlike the perspective in ancient Greece and Rome. So, why wouldn't _anyone_ male or female, feel more sexy, and thus desireable, when rendering their appearance more feminine-- the modern symbol of sexual meaning? And why wouldn't this sense of desirability not tittilate?

PaulaMea said...

Once again, it seems that defining Crossdressing through classification is almost impossible (IMHO). For many years I have attempted to analyze and come to logical terms to define why I crossdress and how it effects my sexuality and sexual and non-sexual identity. I have read the texts and theories, the tons of blogs and personal experiences. My conclusion is that there is no black and white… it's all grey (although not drab). However, I've come to realize that my crossdressing is probably a fetish for me than any other definition.

I have always experienced a strong sexual charge from temporarily transforming and even the thought of it. When I was younger (teens and twenties) often times I would spontaneously orgasm from just the act of crossdressing. That's powerful juju to say the least. As I matured, the act of dressing and transforming continues to be sexually charged. There is no half way for me when it comes to transforming. Either I go all the way… doing my best to be as convincing and passable as possible or I don't bother. No panties under the suit for me. When I look at my transformed self in the mirror I am amazed at how much I do-not look anything like my everyday male-self. It's definitely an escape of sorts but is it Autogynephilia?

I came out to my wife a few yeras ago and am one of the lucky few who's wife turned out to be "into" it. She as always identified as ambiSEXtrious (not specifically bisexual but "sexual", open to being with men and women). When I transform, she says it's like having another lover. When we are sexual with me transformed, it's different for both of us. I'm fantasizing that I am her lesbian lover (lipstick lesbian) and to some degree, she is as well. We try not to analyze it too closely. We don't want to suck the life out of it.

I have a friend who's a foot fetishist. His ultimate sexual experience includes women's feet. Another gay friend is into "Bears". Neither of these friends have a need to analyze or classify their desires. Still, sometimes it feels like crossdresing is a pathology… (not a very socially disruptive one), like I'm not normal… then I ask myself "What is normal when it comes to sex and sexuality"?

Jack Molay said...

@PaulaMea

There is no doubt that crossdressing often can be highly sexually charged, but does that in itself make it a perversion?

That is the question, isn't it?

As you will have seen from other posts on this blog, I am inclined to believe that sexual desire is normal, also for women.

If a crossdresser has an inner female idenitity of sorts, dressing up as a woman will bring such desires up to the surface.

It is definitely more than a classical fetish, as there are crossdreamers -- like me -- who are not crossdressers.

As for crossdressing and crossdreaming being normal: It is not "normal" if "normal" means that a majority of people are of this inclination.

Still, if that was the definition of healthy normalcy none of us would be normal, as the diversity of humanity is mindboggling.

I am not able to retrace this study right now, but one researcher once took all the definitions of sexual perversions and applied them to a random selection of men. He found that the majority of them were perverts in one way or the other.