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

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!