March 6, 2012

On crossdreaming, Asperger and Klinefelter

When I started this blog one of the very first topic that popped up was the relationship between Asperger and male to female crossdreaming.

Several online friends added comments arguing that they believed they suffered from Aspberger's syndrome.

My review of Gilmartin's "love shy male lesbians" also documented that there were some extremely shy and introvert men out there who dream of living the life of a woman.

They believe society will not accept shyness in men, while it is considered a virtue among women. They therefore dream about being women. The love shy male lesbians are probably neither crossdreamers nor Aspeberger, but the correlation between shyness and gender is definitely there.

What is Asperger?

Please not that Asperger is a clinical term for a mental disorder. The Wikipedia gives the following definition:


"Asperger syndrome, also known as Asperger's syndrome or Asperger disorder, is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that is characterized by significant difficulties in social interaction, alongside restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. It differs from other autism spectrum disorders by its relative preservation of linguistic and cognitive development. Although not required for diagnosis, physical clumsiness and atypical use of language are frequently reported."

Tina from India

Tina has sent me and email she has allowed me to share with you. She is a male to female crossdreamer who believes she has Aspberger. Links and comment in [brackets] have been added by me.

"Hi Jack,

First of all thank you so much resolving so many doubts I had in my mind.I have been reading your blog from quite some time and it was an eye opener. I resisted commenting before I wanted to understand what various theories are and I think I understand them to a good extent (just because of your awesome blog). 



It took me a lot of time to understand myself. I am regular crossdresser; however I do not go outside like that because it is not culturally acceptable in India (I am from India) for a man to be dressed as woman. One might be instantly branded as a Chhakka/Hijra (intersexed or castrated individual) if he wears woman's cloth, even though he might not be close to being intersexed at all.

Till now I thought it was a mix of some hormone that was causing me to crossdress and then masturbate thinking of myself as a women, but after reading your blog , I am convinced that it is actually crossdreaming that has additional feeling of crossdressing.

I don't know if I wanted to post this mail as comment in your blog or to send you a mail. But I decided to mail you first.

One of the reason I think and I feel I have "womanly" feelings most of the time, is genetic and hormonal composition. I have clear cut case of Klinefelter( though not decided by a doctor).
[Klinefelter is a condition where male bodied persons have an extra X chromosome. This may lead to gynecomastia, i.e. breast enlargement in men].

- I had gynecomastia , which I got removed by surgery
- I have a kind of female shape at the bottom ( wide hips and slightly curvy legs)
- I have female type distribution of pubic hair
- I have rounded bottoms just like a female
- I have a shape exactly similar to many of pics of people having KF on various authority sites on internet.

This is one part.

Next I feel that I have Asperger. People say that.

I am smart, intelligent, thoughtful , analytical, focussed on solving issues . I am also kind, have a child like innocence and cant relate to people who talks nasty about women (probably I am one). 

I also have problems with focussing for long, stressed by sound, difficulty having eye contacts and many other symptoms of syndrome. 

I have been quite successful in my career . People really value my opinion. I believe I have high functioning autism.

I am not a doctor not a psychologist but I love to research a lot on my "condition". I can also say with conviction that my father has a lot of symptoms of high functioning Asperger and my grandmother too had some of them. I think that it has been handed down to me and the three of us differ a lot in someways and are similar in many ways. However I know that my father is not a crossdreamer/crossdresser so it will be interesting to know your opinion as to how the genes mutated to give me this personality.

Fortunately my wife understands a lot ( because of your blog) about cross dreaming. I often find it amusing when I read articles about "what women/men want". They are so shallow and stereotype women. I have feelings of getting penetrated sometimes and I often dream the same things that most of c-dreamers do.

I have a strong crossdreaming fantasy that locks me in (just like pic in one of your post). I have waxing and waning desire to crossdress, tendency to have pink fog and crying and depression occasionally.


I look at women for their beauty and clothing rather than to satisfy sexual need ( 80 -20 ratio) , which may be good ( I don't know).

(...)

Do you think there is a connection between KF, Asperger , CDing, crossdressing? I would again thank you for writing such a blog which is a lifesaver to me."

My immediate response

In my correspondence with Tina I made the following comment:

"I think a lot of crossdreamers wonder about whether there is a connection between Asperger and crossdreaming, and it would be useful to get that discussion out in the open.

There is no doubt in my mind that there are crossdreamers who do have Aspergers, and you might be one of them. But it is also true that a lot of crossdreamers have no trace of autism or Asperger. In other words: The one does not require the other.

Personally I have always been basically introvert, and at times very shy. Still, I wonder what came first: the shyness or the crossdreaming. As i became older I managed, like you it seems, to overcome parts of my shyness, and is now considered outgoing and professionally very successful. I have become the kind of person that speaks on international conferences for hundreds of people without breaking a sweat, and i doubt very much that I would be able to do so if I had Asperger.

So I am starting to wonder if -- subconsciously -- our crossdreaming instill some kind of fear or shame in us that makes us antisocial: "I am not a man, I am not good enough, the women won't like me etc. etc." that makes us afraid of people judging us. The end effect would be very much like Asperger.

But I am not sure about this, which is why a discussion based on your email might help."

Traits that are common in Asperger, but not among crossdreamers

Let me add some additional observations:

In the proposed new edition of the American Psychiatric Association's  Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the DSM-5, Asperger is removed, to be replaced by a subcategory under autism. And, indeed, there seems to be general agreement regarding Asperger being a subset of autism, the main difference being early childhood language capabilities.

We find traits among those that are classified as Asperger that are quite extreme.

One is the lack of empathy. In my discussions with crossdreamers I have only faced one who clearly lacked the ability to feel and express empathy towards his/her transgender brothers/sisters. 

Tina is clearly able to empathize with other crossdreamers, and I would not have been able to edit this blog if I was not able to relate to the suffering of others.

Another trait is common among people with Asperger syndrome is that they may display  restricted and repetitive and sometimes abnormally intense or focused behavior or interests. I have no way of telling if Tina belongs to those. There is nothing in her email that says so.

I do not recognize myself in such a description, unless  you define the crossdreaming itself as an "abnormally intense or focused behavior or interest."

We know from psychology that obsessive behaviour can be caused by a wide variety of factors beyond Aspeberger, especially if social and/or sexual repression is involved. And in the case of crossdreaming there is always some degree of repression.

Among male to female crossdreamers there is clearly a lot of repression of both gender identity (in the sense of a natural inclination towards "feminine" interests and behaviors), sexuality  (in the sense of wanting to have sex as a person of the opposite biological sex) and -- in some cases -- sex identity and body dysphoria (in the sense of being alienated from ones own body).

There is a lot of shame associated with such feelings, which is why many if not most male to female crossdreamers do their best to ignore, deny or suppress them.

The sense of shame seems to be less strong among female to male crossdreamers, and I hear little about Asperger like symptoms among them. Our cultures remain sexist, and since men are often considered better, stronger and analytically superior compared to women, wanting to become a man seems to make sense; wanting to become a woman does not.

I suspect that this is the main reason for why women can dress up in male clothing without being stigmatized, while the men dressing up as women are ridiculed. That being said, it is clear that female to male crossdreamers also suffer  from gender confusion, fear and shame.

It is interesting to note that some therapists report  personality changes in male to female transgender persons who are allowed to express their other selves. I'll see if I can retrace the references, but the reports indicate that many M2F crossdressers change from being awkwardly shy and self conscious when playing the role of men to becoming self confident and outgoing en femme. This tells me that their Asperger like symptoms are caused by a dissonance between their inner sense of self and the role they are forced to play, and not some genetic defect.

The autism controversy

Also note that Asperger's and autism is at the very heart of the current controversy regarding the DSM-5. Dr. Allen Frances, the main editor of the previous edition of the manual, has had a change of heart and is now attacking the whole DSM process, arguing that the increasing number of diagnoses makes mental diseases out of normal variations of human psychology:

He says:

"The most likely cause of the autism epidemic [the significant increase in persons diagnosed with autism] is that autism has become fashionable – a popular fad diagnosis. Once rare and unmistakable, the term is now used loosely to describe people who do not really satisfy the narrow criteria intended for it by DSM IV. Autism now casts a wide net, catching much milder problems that previously went undiagnosed altogether or were given other labels. Autism is no longer seen as an extremely disabling condition, and many creative and normally eccentric people have discovered their inner autistic self."

His arguments align with the debate on how to distinguish Aspberger from giftedness. In other words: Talented, intelligent, and focused kids are diagnosed as having Asperger, as they thrive in their own company and do not share their doctors' enthusiasm for rough and tumble play.

Maybe they are just gifted kids, who refuse to live up to what the muggles consider "normal".

Back to Tina and Klinefelter

All of this does not mean that Tina is necessarily wrong about herself having Asperger. She reports more than one symptom fitting the diagnosis, and there is no reason male to female crossdreamers should be excluded from this condition.

So far I have not commented on Tina having Klinefelter. The reason for this is that I know too little about it.

The XXY condition is actually one of the most common chromosome abnormalities in humans (1 in 500 males), and XXY male bodied persons do not necessarily display the symptoms Tina describes.This means that there could be XXY crossdreamers out there who do not know they have Klinefelter.

There is no reason to believe that all XXY male bodied persons are crossdreamers, however, or that all male to female crossdreamers are XXY. In other words: Klinefelter cannot be the exclusive cause of crossdreaming.

But that does not mean that Tina's Klinefelter condition cannot influence her transgender condition in one way or the other. We should also consider the possibility that crossdreaming can be caused by many different variables, Klinefelter being one of them.

Please chime in on the topic of crossdreaming, Asperger and Klinefelter. You may also contact Tina directly at christina.indian@gmail.com .

The DSM-IV definition of Asperger's:

Asperger’s Disorder

A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction, as manifested by at least two of the following:

(1) marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction

(2) failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level

(3) a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest to other people)

(4) lack of social or emotional reciprocity

B. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

(1) encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus

(2) apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals

(3) stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)

(4) persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

C. The disturbance causes clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

D. There is no clinically significant general delay in language (e.g., single words used by age 2 years, communicative phrases used by age 3 years).

E. There is no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or in the development of age-appropriate self-help skills, adaptive behavior (other than in social interaction), and curiosity about the environment in childhood.

F. Criteria are not met for another specific Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Schizophrenia

14 comments:

Tina said...

Hey Jack,

Thank you so much for the detailed analysis of my email. As I keep learning about myself, I keep finding new things. Its just a peeling an onion, where things appear one after the other.
As I told in my mail that I am nowhere connected with medical profession. It might have a bearing on my knowledge. I established the connection between KF, Asperger and crossdressing when I read a number of articles which connected for e.g. KF and Asperger, Asperger and crossdressing and like that but never all together.
It was indeed rare to get an article which talked about all of them and crossdreaming /or AGP in the same article.
When I started looking at the individual characteristics, I found that most of the time I was an intersection of various characteristics of all of these phenomena.I still have for example difficulty in eye gazing even though I am not introvert. I shy from people and shun social gatherings but if I ever get into social situations, I can really become life of the party. This is kind of contradiction to me.
There are so many difficult problems that I have overcome only by effort, that now when I look at the symptoms I used to have, I often chuckle and say "yeah that one too".
Reading your post, I can easily say that I match many of the characteristics you have mentioned.
As I learn more about myself, I feel sad that sometimes people find it difficult to understand my behavior, which may get a little variable and which makes me an unpredictable person.Even my crossdressing/dreaming also waxes and wanes. Most of the time I cannot stop myself from for example having mood swings. I can talk whole day ;)

Its only with learning and reading your blog and articles on internet, I am able to know more about myself.

I really enjoyed this post and would love to hear from others. Of course they can always contact me on the email you mentioned in the post.

Cheryl Sussex said...

No mention of 'mono tonal' voice patterns with Aspergers symptoms? Usually the voice alone can give a clue to if a person has Aspergers.

AriadnaAzul said...

Hey, Jack, I am an aspie myself (although self-diagnosed). I have taken tests online for AQ and I always score moderately high. Some people around me might think I am "normal" and may not believe I am an aspie, bc female aspies cope better with it and can hide it. (in fact there's a book called: "Pretending to be normal" written by a female aspie)

"There's also a suggestion that Girls are generally recognized as superior mimics. Those with Asperger Syndrome hold back and observe until they learn the 'rules', then imitate their way through social situations." - Tony Attwood

Also as I have been reading online, there's a link between "tomboyish" behavior, "emotional maleness" and female aspies.

I don't know how all this could be linked to crossdreaming, but I have noticed it is a bit easier for me to meet aspie fellows in the crossdreaming community than in an average social environment (pls dear fellow-crossdreamers-aspies, rise ur hands!)

Also, it is said AS is not a condition itself but a certain point in a range of normality, (a range that could be called "neurodiversity", where aspies and neurtypicals belong to as a variety of normality). It is the thought of being "autistic" what could be misleading about a diagnosis. An aspie is a half way between neurotypical and autistic. People often takes into consideration only that autistic half, but not the other "normal" half.

I have read recently that "giftedness" could be confused with AS but I am pretty sure I am not gifted. Even if, when I was a toddler, my parents and people around me used to think I was "gifted" for some pseudo-symptoms of "hyperlexia": I started reading at a very young age, way before the other kids, also I had a remarkable manage of my native language at a very early age, according to what my mother say; among other "curiosities": mom says ppl used to say I was a "little adult", and my favorite toys were mom's dictionaries, books, notebooks and pens. My first readings weren't fairy tales but newspapers and "reader's digest" XD (in fact I still remember what those readings were about) But certainly my IQ is low to be considered "gifted" (130). I am aware of my limitations: I hardly find myself smart (and that... when I am not being a dumb... lol)

If anyone asked me why I think I am an aspie, I'd say: my lack of social skills/intense social ackwardness/physical clumsiness/intense focused interests. Even if I managed to have some friends during my life. i feel it costed me a lot (to make them and to keep them) bc of my frankness, narrow interests and uninterest in physical activities. Also, it is noticeable (for ppl who are around me) that I have intense intellectual obsessions and interests. I have been raised in an environment that wasn't the best for encouraging academic goals (I'd dare say, it was quite the opposite: intensely discouraging), but i have managed to learn English and other languages (also basic notions of music and classical piano) as a self-taught. I have an odd goal: to be able to sing in 20 foreign languages (so far I can in 9) and understand their basic grammars (besides I wanna speak at least 6 languages fluently). I always had hobbies that ppl around me found "odd" or "useless" such as learn cyrillic alphabet just for fun or learn everything about french revolution. They can't understand why someone would learn those things if it is not for an exam.

AriadnaAzul said...

Eye contact is still something extremely unbearable for me, and when I enter into a shop where I'll have contact with strangers (such as a the clerk) I kind of "rehearse" in my mind the things i'll say, the tone, and the gestures i'll do, all like a theather script: "good morning, would u help me, thanks.", and during my adolescence, I was considered a kind of robot with no emotions. Although, I have changed a lot since then, I have educated myself to a point I "made up" a new more social and confident personality: nowadays I can't recognize myself in that odd girl who never laughed, smiled or cried. To smile is a very calculated gesture I coulnd't do without a long training: it still causes me a bit of troubles, but certainly I am at a point I lead ppl to think my smiles are spontaneuos and natural (even "pretty").

I also have a disbalance in the sensibility of my senses: my hearing is over reactive to my dismay. Noises that can be bearable for others cause me extreme suffering, also my sight is extremely sensitive too, I tend to prefer darker environments bc of the extreme discomfort natural and artificial lights cause me. On the other hand, my taste is under developed and I often don't notice I am eating something rancid until my stomach hurts XD

Also, mom and one of my siblings have the same "symptoms". I guess they are aspies too. I have references about my grandpa (mom's dad) who was said to be a "loser" who lived on clouds, always obsessed with maths, never paying attention on "mundane" issues.

There are a lot of other aspie traits that I have that I won't mention. About the monotonal voice, I never had it, and surfing in those specialized sites, they don't list it as a distinctive aspie trait. Some have, other don't, but certainly i still have issues with my voice (i have different and unappropiate tones depending on my mood, i struggle to adjust it to be socially acceptable, but ppl barely notice this)

AriadnaAzul said...

p.s: I still can't read faces!!!! I always have to ask directly to the other person what emotions they r feeling, bc I really can't get the cues.....

AriadnaAzul said...

p.s: management of* :) (speaking of being a dumb lol)

Anonymous said...

I also can relate to many symptoms describing the daily life of an aspie although having overlapping behavior is by no means a proof of having the same core issues.

Social awkardness is something I believe most crossdreamers can relate. It may not be caused by some kind of autism, but result from having an identity that doesn't fit with social expectations.

I think I have become a pro at mimicking good social interractions, although I have a core feeling of playing a role each time I have to intervene, set up a discussion, or party with my peers. This feeling of role playing will never leave me.

I have grown as an introverted child who was told to be totally spaced out and daydreamy. I had a few friends who didn't care too much about my awkardness but usually I have a history of rejection and misunderstanding.

My langage was really different, and still is when I interact with other adults. I sometimes speak in a writing style, using a lot of conjunctions and polishing a lot the words that I use.

My dating failures are also linked to the fact that I have grown unable to pick nonverbal cues. I would see people dating and have no idea about what to do or say, the steps to follow, the posture to adopt whereas the girls I dated would have a clear understanding about how things are supposed to happen.

I have compensated a lot throughout years, and am now able to pass as a skilled social communicator but as I said this has always been some kind of role play for me. It means that social relationships are never inate for me. I don't automatically know how to behave according to a certain context.

I can also relate to the narrow interest trait. Although I think "narrow" is a very pejorative term since philosophy of langage,or epistemology of sciences open my mind much more than any social babbling. I feel often that those interest exclude me from conversations, and this exclusion is reinforced by symbolical violence.

Symbolical violence can be spoted in many situations :
- Which subjects are debated and who initiates them?
- Who is able to turn the tide of a conversation (ie switching the topic)?
- What topics are excluded from the scope of the discussion?
- What are the speech patterns required for someone to be listened?

and so on. I would often be pissed of being qualified as shy or introverted whereas I would be totally available and passionate to discuss topics that matter for me. There are also discussions in which I found myself disagreing with everybody, but feel that if I want to make things clear, I will have to lecture them for half an hour...

Sean said...

It is interesting to consider whether or not Asperger's has an effect it probably does, and i have no doubt that there are some crossdreamers that have it. Me personally i have had a few things that have affected me firstly i was overweight most of my life and secondly i was diagnosed with dyslexia(fun for a person with it) i am not actually sure if i have it but if i do i have worked past it. And i have always have difficulty keeping friends, not that i can't make them i just don't take it further for the fact of my personal problems.
I though of something about people who have identity problems. I think that the reason why people who have them became introverted is because of the pressure society puts on them. They want to be something other than what those people around them expect of them and so the withdraw inward so they can hid that part of them from other people,that's how i feel sometimes. I think that explains why some people with those kinds of problems have that have that with it. But there is a strong possibility that there are other influences as well.

Jonathan said...

Yes, I've wondered in the past whether I was somewhere on the autism spectrum, especially as there is already Asperger's in our family. But it doesn't quite fit really.

Whereas, this...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avoidant_personality_disorder
...on the other hand, seems absolutely spot on.

Kelly Jameson said...

I really relate to the comment made about symbolic violence, I avoid most men and women because there is an aggression in normal people that is completely missing in me.

I to have the xxy makeup and I'm a aspie (aspergers)and never was able to make the leap into becoming a typical male and my mind is calmed when I emulate a female but I have never experienced any erotiscism and find I'm largely indifferent to sex which comes from that lack of aggression that is in typical men and women but if I was a genetic female think I could sexually express who I am.

It is extremely easy for me to step into the social roles usually assigned to women. Kelly

Jack Molay said...

@Kelly

Aggression is one variable I have not had much time to discuss. It is clear that aggression is an important part of the sexuality of many men and women, but by all means not all.

Culturally aggression has been associated with male behavior, even if we all know very aggressive women.

Hence aggression is associated with dominance, seduction, testosterone and a strong libido.

If you have a low level of aggression, finding peace in the traditional woman's role should be easier than living up to the hyperactive standards of modern men.

Personally I am at loss when it comes to understanding my own life in this context.

I am normally known as a calm, peaceful and including man but on the inside I may become seriously pissed off. I can be dominant socially, but is clearly submissive sexually. I am introvert by nature, but can be very offensive in socia settings. These are very complex phenomena, indeed!

The fact that you as an XXY feel less aggressive or sexually driven, tells us that the theory that XXYs are more sexually charged is not necessarily true.

Emillie Vanya said...

Some of my traits,

I was born and raised in California, when I speak Hebrew I sound like a Russian, When I speak English I sound southern. Of course I learned Hebrew in the Israeli army my whole squad were mother tongue Russian, and I grew up interacting with allot of southern people form Texas and Louisiana.

My hearing is very keen, sometimes I can't deal with bright lights or flashing lights They hurt my eyes.

Though Ive always had empathy, an example when I was five my father and his friends were throwing darts at Saddam Hussiens face. I asked them to stop because it would probably hurt the mans feelings if he knew.

Another example I cried when they killed white fangs mother in the movie I was also a child than, Another example I wept when I heard about a hate crime in Texas where they dragged a man to death I was ten my empathy was natural I never had time to learn it.

Oh and I had a hard time looking people in the eyes lol

So they gave me drugs for adhd and autism and now my body is a little off male. I don't mind it though cause I'm a being in between anyways.

I'm just saying maybe being socially awkward is a of a nurture than nature thing

Jack Molay said...

@Emilie

I tend to agree. Being socially awkward or shy as an adult is most often caused by negative experiences as a kid.

On the other hand, it seems that basic psychological personality traits like introversion and empathy may be partly inborn.But you may perfectly well be socially confident and emphatic at the same time.

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