January 27, 2011

Planning a crossdreamer forum and chat site

Several of you have asked whether it would be possible to establish an online discussion forum for crossdreamers, a place where we can share life stories and experiences and find friends.

Others have asked for chat rooms for more direct conversations, unhampered by the time lag of blogs like this one.

Finally there are those that are looking for a crossdreamer dating site, where -- for instance -- male bodied transgender persons could meet female to male crossdreamers for friendship and love.

Yes, this would have to a site for both male to female and female to male crossdreamers.

An American friend of mine, Jason Ikeda, has the skills needed to set up a forum and has volunteered to design the site.

We have come to the conclusion that it is best to start out slow, and establish the forum and the chat functions first. If the site is successful, we could add a matchmaker section later on.

There are other forums out there that are oriented towards crossdreamers and crossdressers. Some of them are for the exchange of erotic stories. Others focus more on the practical needs of crossdressers. The point is not to compete with these or more general transgender sites, but to establish an arena where crossdreamers can talk about the ups and downs of their lives.

Finding someone that understands you can be of great help, even if there is no immediate solution to the problems you are facing. Sometimes just hearing about how others have faced the same problem can provide the input you need to go on with your life. And yes, there should also be room for discussion on research, spiritual matters, love, marriage and so on.

January 23, 2011

The loving wife of a crossdresser

It is possible to find love as a crossdreamer!

In my previous post, Psychology Today covers autogynephilia, I presented the case of a married couple where the wife had tried to accommodate the needs of her crossdreaming husband, but where it was also clear that she did not really accept what he was:

"I want him to be sexually satisfied, but his fetish disgusts me. I'm a straight woman and I want to have sex with a man who is acting like a man. What do I do? "

It is the fear of responses like this that makes many -- if not most crossdressers and crossdreamers -- keep their inner woman a secret. You do not want the love of your life to feel disgust when she (or he) is with you.

Ironically, this is also the real cause for why many therapists as well as crossdreamers themselves end up believing the myth that M2F crossdreamers are "autogynephile" (in love with themselves as women) or self-obsessed narcissists.

The fact that they try so hard to accommodate their spouses tells me that they are the exact opposite of narcissists. They love their women and their kids dearly, and are willing to sacrifice their own well being to keep them around.

The fact is, however, that the sexual drive will not be denied. The reason the Roman Catholic church is unable to stop celibate monks and priest from crossing the line is simply this: they are all sexual beings and sex is a natural part of life. You may live a life without sex, but the price you pay is -- unless you are asexual -- intense suffering.

What we have learned from more than 100 years of psychodynamic studies since Freud onwards is that repressed libido will seek alternative channels and new outlets if it cannot express itself through regular pair relationships.

The crossdreamers have a sexuality that is outside the norm of what is expected of men (being active, penetrative). They often (but not always) prefer the receiving role, which in our culture is limited to women and -- at best -- effeminate homosexual men. They therefore keep their dreams to themselves and establish a secret life where they can live out their fantasies (in the form of crossdressing, reading or writing transgender erotica, or -- in some cases - living it out with a dominant woman or man).

The reason Blanchard and his lot seem to have "proof" of crossdreamers being self-absorbed "autogynephiliacs" is this: Quite a few crossdreamers give up approaching women altogether, as it find it impossible to imagine that a woman will be willing to accept their sexuality. They live alone, focusing on their solitary crossdressing and feminization fantasies, giving the researcher a story that fits well with the idea of them being narcissists.

Maybe a few of them are. There are narcissists in all parts of society. For most of them, however, their self absorption is simply the sign of a deep loneliness and unhappiness caused by something else entirely: It is cause by a culture and a society that does not have a language for what they are.

This is why I am glad to say that it is not impossible for crossdreamers to find love and the acceptance of another person for whom they are. It is not easy, and I am afraid crossdreamers have to be willing to put up with more disappointments and more embarrassing humiliation than most when looking for love, but it is possible.

January 19, 2011

Psychology Today covers autogynephilia

A crossdreamer risks ruining his relationship by adding a female mask to their love life.

The American popular science magazine Psychology Today is covering crossdreaming/autogynephilia (men fantasizing about being women) in its blog.

It is written by Alice Dreger. She is not officially a Ray Blanchard disciple herself, but she has voiced strong concern about the way Blanchard follower Michael Bailey was treated by the transgender community.

I am not going to repeat my objections to Blanchard's explanation of the crossdreamer phenomenon here. You are probably bored already. Just remember that the fact that Blanchard's description of crossdreamers often hit the mark, does not mean that his explanation for this condition is the right one.

Dreger responds to an entry in Dan Savage's blog Savage Love. The question asked by one of Savage's female readers is the following:

"My boyfriend of four years enjoys wearing women's clothing and acting like a submissive woman when we have sex. Nothing gets him off more. We have only just started exploring his fetish in the past year because he has been ashamed of it all his life. I have encouraged him so far and now we have a couple hundred dollars' worth of sexy women's clothing that fits him. Last night he asked me if he could wear a latex mask of a woman's face during sex. That crossed the line for me. I hate when he puts on skirts and high heels and asks me to fuck him. It's a huge turn-off. I have not enjoyed sex with him for months. I want him to be sexually satisfied, but his fetish disgusts me. I'm a straight woman and I want to have sex with a man who is acting like a man. What do I do? Femme Teasing Mask"

Savage repeats the common misunderstanding that crossdreaming is a fetish. He writes:

"... You've created a monster, kiddo, and you need to take some responsibility for the mess you've made. It's one thing to encourage your partner to explore a fetish that you're willing to play along with or, if you're lucky, you enjoy on some level. But encouraging your partner to explore a fetish that disgusts you? That's as good as signing your relationship's death warrant!"

Savage's most perverse kind of advice is for her to leave with a lie:

"So don't tell him the real reason why you're leaving--let him think that it's not the crossdressing and the latex masks, but his breath or his fashion sense or his family or whatever. Leave him, FTM, just leave him with his newfound sense of pleasure in his fetish, okay?"

Alice Dreger points out the boyfriend's interests may be more like a sexual orientation.

"What's the difference? In sex research and in clinical psychology, 'fetish' usually refers to an object (like a particular article of clothing) or substance (like latex) that an individual finds particularly sexually arousing. By contrast, a sexual orientation is more about how we are wired to interact (or not) sexually with others."

January 14, 2011

The Spiritual Life of a Transgender Person 2

The post of Anonymous 32 on the spiritual life of a crossdreamer has led to a very interesting debate.

Personally I find the discussion of the spirituality of crossdreaming interesting as it gives us another approach to a phenomenon that is predominantly discussed in the framework of modern science.

Crossdreaming and various transgender conditions are therefore reduced to biology or psychological trauma, and not seen as part of a personal journey towards personal growth, integration of the psyche and a greater understanding of what it means to be a human being.

In other words: If we make use of our own life experiences we may look at this as a meaningful -- although painful -- experience, and avoid reducing it to something pathological.

Throughout history men and women have made use of dreams, myths, fairy tales and symbols to explain and understand the interconnectedness of the male and the female.

Astrology and humorology

People in premodern Europe did uphold strict rules about gender differences, proper behavior and the division of power between men and women, but at the same time they also recognized that "masculine" and "feminine" traits and abilities were common to both sexes.

The reason for this was partly that their scientific paradigms were based on such a mix/remix model. Astrology told them that they were born at a specific time in a specific star sign and under the influence of particular planets that could be feminine or masculine. In other words: A man could be influenced by Venus, a woman by Mars.

According to humorology, the idea that they body consisted of four bodily fluids or temperaments based on blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm (parallells to the four elements of fire, air, earth and water). This made it possible to describe character types with different proportions of warm and dry elements (masculine) and cold and wet elements (feminine).

Alchemy

Both astrology and humorology influenced alchemy. Mircea Eliade has shown that alchemy was based on a very old tradition where minerals and metals were considered to be organic, growing in the earth like roots and plants do. This dynamic character of the elements made it possible ot use the mixing of metals, minerals and biological matter as a metaphor for psychological growth.

Carl Gustav Jung has made a very convincing argument for the alchemists projecting their own inner psyche out onto the materials they worked on. When they were looking for "the philosopher's stone" of Harry Potter, they were not predominantly looking for gold and earthly riches; they were trying to integrate the various parts of their unconscious psyche.

In many alchemical texts you will find that the marriage of the Moon and the Sun is an important part of the psychological individuation process. This part of the process is often symbolized by the hermaphrodite, a being that is half man and half woman.

I am not saying here that alchemy makes sense from a chemical and modern scientific point of view. What I am saying is that the alchemical texts shows us that man and woman have been struggling with "transgender" issues for a long time.

This does not mean that the alchemists were crossdreamers or transsexuals. It simply means that the need to integrate your inner man with your inner woman is something a lot of people have felt a need to work on. There is no absolute division between men and women. We are made from the same mold.

In the Judaic and Christian tradition this is reflected in the second creation myth of Genesis. Not in the one where Eve is taken from the side of Adam, but in the one where "God created man in his own image,..male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:27)

It seems to me that crossdreamers and other transgender people are struggling because our inner mix of "humors" are out of skew with the expectations of the society surrounding us, and in some cases also with our own bodies.

Anonymous 32 responds

I asked Anonymous 32 if he had ever you looked into the dynamics of the female and male in alchemy.

This is what he replied:

'Yes I have studied alchemy for years, not only internal but external for years. Even bought some beeker and condensers in hope of one day doing some work with dew (although the day job keeps one busy).

Internal alchemy is definitely all about transmutation of energies and refinement into gold. I always eventually took that as overcoming and transforming into that Union with the Absolute which is pure gold.

To be honest, being an autogynephiliac (especially having dressed up and slept with men) led me to extreme guilt about that and to find ways to fix myself. While the Christian path I originally went down basically exudes hell for most and anything about "dressing up" and "sleeping with men" is shunned .......I still came to deep mystical realizations after being baptized a second time and led me to becoming predominantly a mystic of Eastern influence.

Those experiences showed me that modern day "Westernized" Christianity lacks psychological knowledge. Whereas our "condition" is basically a psychological one, though also spiritual, mental, physical and so forth. Some think its so easy ....."oh just pray and you wont be bothered be it anymore". But I tried that for years, crying my guts out, begging to be left alone with this, wishing to be a normal guy with girlfriends. But here I am a decade later still in full battle mode.

I've also thought of the possibility of previous lives. Perhaps the last one we were in, it was life as women, and now here we are complete opposites. Other theories include that some people just get curious about transsexuals, see some porn, read abut how to become one, and then the excitement of sexual energy coupled with these new possibilities creates really powerful thought forms, since they are charged with sexually energy. These thought forms keep coming back to haunt the creator of them.

January 6, 2011

The spiritual life of a crossdreamer

Here's another crossdreamer email I would like to share with you. Anonymous 32 does in no way deny the difficulties with being a crossdreamer, but he also points to spiritual and religious side of having a strong inner woman.

I can relate to this. For me this journey of self discovery definitely has a religious side to it.

Jack

Anonymous 32 writes:

'Honestly I wish I didnt have this "autogynephiliac" deal, as it has wrecked my life, but also made it quite interesting. A double edge sword!!!!...

The "interesting" part is that I am more in tune and aware with myself and surroundings. Quite sensitive to everything going on. Its made me tap into art, meditation, music, painting, etc. To appreciate a beautiful day, to love, to be, to seek the inner worlds of meditations and to see if there really is Enlightenment and a God.

Its gotten me closer to the handful of women I have dated in the past and they always commented that I'm quite different from all the other guys.

The "wrecked" is that it became soooo bad it led to tons of cross dressing, secretly buying womens clothes and accessories, I've slept with men while "dressed", I've lusted and craved for men sexually, left a high school sweetheart because I felt I wasn't "right" mentally, have taken female hormones off and on for years and now have to "hide" a set of A cups when summer arrives.

From my Catholic and Christian up-bringing I've felt like I'm condemned to hell for what I've done, like a lost soul, a slave to these fantasies and lusts!!!! Some times for a week or two I plan out how to go through full time hormones, hair removal, and transition into living full time. Then when it fades away, I hate myself for it and feel perfectly fine to be a guy attracted to women and having a crush on Scarlett Johanson (the actress).

Through the decades (32 now), I've studied alot of psychology, philosophy, religion, Jung, Psychotherapy, ETC all in my free time. Hundreds of books!!!. Have even been told by a psychic that i have existed here before as a woman in a past life, a man before that, and have reversed roles for quite some time.

But what seems to me to be the case is that its as if there are 2 of me. The male part and the "want-to-be female" part. These 2 clash all the time. Its been my life-long warfare of me against myself. Because of this "condition" I have opted to live single for the past 8 years, trying my best to be celebate, and to resolve these two identities but the resolution seems like an impossible fantasy!

I would love to have a girlfriend, to be in love with her and her with me, to have a normal life and to not have this come up anymore. But it still does and all the psychologists and gender specialists in the world can't help me with this. But I guess this is what makes me unique, different from everyone else.

I understand men and women from the inside out and it is like I am both at the same time. However my deepest yearning is to just Be, to have peace from all this, to cease with this back-and-forth identity tug of war. Its taken up so much of my life, energy, health, relationships, and normality and is a daily struggle that I contend with.

I just wanted to give you my take on it. I seem to be an extreme case of this condition whereas many people just keep it to the realm of mental fantasy. For me it has transformed into such a big deal and huge life dilemma. The fantasy part is just the start, the gateway drug if you will.

Although I have crossdressed since I was 4-5, I can link it to a certain event. When I was 4 years old in the early eighties, my parents let my hair grow quite long as was the style back then. My father was an alcoholic and I remember one incident while drunk, where he grabbed me and forced french kissed me. I immediately fought against this with disgust by trying as hard as my 4 year old muscles would allow, to push away from him.

But by then the psychological damage was done. I was not aware at the time, but following that event, the curiosity into mommies clothes, pantyhose, maxi-pads, lipstick began. Finding my first porn mag by 7-8, I immediately found myself identifying with the females in the mag and their body parts.

Anyway, that just to say that while I have found a reason for me having this condition, it doesn't change the fact that I have it. I wish I didn't, but I do and the battle continues on.

On another note, I have gotten deep into the study of ego, eastern philosophy, Advaita Vedanta, and Dzogchen. It seems to be that the ego is an illusion, simply said its just the thought "I".

I have experienced this in meditations, that I am an Illusion in real what is left over is the Isness of all things at once.

Either way, I wonder if having thoughts/fanatasies while aroused with lust, doesn't in some sort of mystical way charge these fanatasies with sexual magnetism and therefore giving them more power over a person. Sexual energy is a huge topic in religion and philosophy and is said to be extremely powerful. Its just something I wondered about.