|Photo from Photos.com|
The Internet is slowly changing the way crossdreamers seek help. They are more likely to realize that they are not alone at a much earlier time than before, which is good.
On the other hand, they are also exposed to all the crap that is written about "paraphilias" and "autogynephilia", which is not equally helpful.
I have been in correspondence with a young male to female transgender in her early teens. She is very mature for her age -- which is probably why she found a way to get in touch with me -- but she is nevertheless struggling hard to cope.
With her permission, I will present some of her thoughts below.
Constructive comments are very much welcome!
I have done my out most to anonymize the text to protect her and her family. I have changed the spelling to mask her easily identifiable writing style, but the quotes included below are true to the original.
Since R's female identification seem so strong, and since she wants me to use her female name, I have used female pronouns in this post. Let's call her R.
The content of the complete set of emails has convinced me that this is a genuine case and that R is who she says she is.
This is what she says:
"Basically, this all started when i was about 7. I cant remember what exact age, but I remember what year I was in in primary school. I used to think about this one girl (i had a crush on her, but i didn't know it) tying me up and dressing me as a girl and forcing me to do things. I found this very sexually arousing."
She also had submission fantasies about being treated as a baby.
She tells me she hit puberty at an early age. Searching the Internet she found that diagnosis like autogynephilia, infantilism and "parts of masochism" fit how she felt.
Reading TG erotic fiction
"When i was 11/12 i started researching some things. I read stories, and I used to do it any night I could (usually 4-5 nights a week) and only at night because my parents would walk in on me a lot, and I didn't want them finding out. I had to stop reading stories because my hormones were just screaming and it tickled.."
The stories she found online made her feel even more of an urge to try out what she had read. The stories were often about was relationships between a dominant wife/girlfriend and a submissive male being turned into a woman.
She also read crossdressing-stories.
"So when I was home alone next, I decided to go and try on some of my mum's tights. that was the thing I was most interested in and I could easily access. I really liked them, and because it was a pack of five i took one. I now have 5 pairs of tights, all taken from my mum. I also found out my skirt size and my friend bought me a skirt."
Desire to become a woman
She tells me that she hopes someday to completely become a woman, with a woman's life.
The debate on autogynephilia far too often dismiss the fact that crossdreamers dream about the full life of a real woman, not only the sexual side of having a woman's body. Young crossdreamers like R try to imagine what it would be like to live such a life.
"I want to become a woman as soon as possible, but since if I became a girl id be a lesbian then I couldn't have babies, and adoption isn't the same, but I'd have to see if the girl I would be with (if I can get a girl...) wouldn't mind."
Questions about arousal
However, R is very much aware of the fact that some find the erotic aspect of crossdreaming problematic:
"A good question my friend asked me, 'If you became a woman wouldn't you arouse yourself all the time though?' I'm not sure of the answer. I'd have to find out if eventually I would stop being sexually attracted to seeing myself as a girl, and I'd settle down. At the moment I dress as a girl whenever as I love the feeling and find it addictive and sexually arousing."
Note how R has adapted some of the ideas from the autogynephilia theory, saying that she is attracted to seeing herself as a girl.
R. has already told her closest friends.
"I told a few trusted friends it, and my girlfriend. I only told people i could trust and i knew wouldn't judge me as being gay or weird or anything else, because I do like girls."
"... I've told 3 boys and about 9 girls I think. The ones that I trust and I know wont think differently of me, and they are really kind and helpful. Like one, she basically my girlfriend, well she will be soon, and she said she will support me all the way through everything I wanna do... She would, she has for other guys. I suppose I'm lucky I have such amazing friends who will support me and help me!"
The fact that she finds being a crossdreamer less "weird" than being homosexual says a lot about her cultural context.
Affinity with girls
As Anne Vitale and other researchers have pointed out, young crossdreamers often report a strong affinity with girls. They reject the typical boy culture with its rough and tumble play and embrace a more traditional female psychology.
R puts it this way:
"I always find it easier to tell girls about myself. And another reason i want to be a girl, they are kind. [I am] not saying boys aren't but more girls are kind than boys. Girls go through so much and still are kind to you. But that's all I can think about at the moment..
This is also why she is more likely to confide in girls:
"I like telling girls because i just find them so much kinder, and they wont talk about you and they are just really kind. well... the nice sort of girls, not the bitchy ones... if you know what i mean! Yeah, if I can get people to see past me being a transgender to who I really am they should like me. I hope."
"I always find it hard to make friends. Especially with boys. I just can't get along with the boy crowd... Its just so hard for me."
A lot of crossdreamers end up as confidantes of girls. I have experienced the same thing. It is as if they sense that the crossdreamer is more like an understanding girl -- at least on some levels. R's idea that he can understand girls better than other male bodied persons is therefore not without basis in reality. The reason they confide in her, is because they find her an understanding (and less threatening?) listener.
The problem with R's scenario is that she might try so hard to be liked, that she denies herself the right to be angry and hurt.
"Yeah, I do see their [the girls'] point of view. I can easily understand girls. I get told a lot about girls who have problems with their boyfriends and stuff. Mainly, I just am really kind to people and they usually like me and stuff, once I've been kind a lot. So as well, you could say I have an advantage over other people who like girls because.. I partly am one so I now how they work, and I know how to make them happy, and not jealous and upset..."
"I've told a few friends, but I'm really scared about telling my parents. Sometimes I just think [to] do it but other times... I just get so scared. "
"[There is] another reason I'm scared. [My mother] thinks transgenders and transsexuals are gay or bisexual.. You don't have to be gay or bisexual right??"
As far as I understand it, she has now told her mother, who only reluctantly accepts the crossdressing. The fear of homosexuality seems to be stronger than the fear of being transgender, though, which may explain R's idea about homosexuality being more "weird" than being transgender.
Here are some of the points I have made in my response to R.
"What you are feeling is actually quite normal for male to female crossdreamers. There are also female to male crossdreamers who get excited about being the man in a relationship. Instead of reading Storysite, they read Japanese manga about being a man with a man.
Although I am not a crossdresser myself, I experience -- or have experienced -- many of your feelings as well, so I know a bit about the place you are in right now.
It is confusing, scary at times, and most often very lonely. I am now 95 percent certain that what we feel is caused by some kind of female wiring of the brain. I am uncertain about how this comes about, but the end result is most often the same.
There is a natural part of your mind that needs to express itself, that needs to be heard, and that needs to be recognized. It is this part of your mind that causes the urges, and the desire to be a woman. For some these feelings are weak. For others -- like us -- they are very strong.
I believe the infantilism and the masochism are just the mind's way of handling the pressure. Being dominated by another relieves you of the demand for having to do anything, and it also relieves you of guilt. Infantilism takes you to a land where you are not required to struggle with the close to impossible task of aligning your male body with your other self. A child is supposed to be taken care of.
Such fantasies subside when you learn to accept yourself, and I am told they may even go away if you transition. These fantasies are just what they are. They are neither good not bad. But I have found that such taboo fantasies tells me a lot about what is going in inside us.
By writing what you write and talking to friends about this, you are already on the road to self discovery. That is a good thing, because these feelings will not go away by themselves, and you need to find a way of integrating them into you life, whether you end up living as a man or a woman,
The fact that you live with your parents, tells me that you are relatively young [This was cofirmed in a later email]. That gives you a wider set of choices, and some time to think about this.
Things to do
I have no recipe for the correct way of handling this. Each and every one of us will have to find our own way, but there are some things other crossdreamers have found helpful:
1. Find yourself a therapist, someone who have real knowledge of transgender problems: a psychiatrist, a psychologist or sexologist. It is not that being a crossdreamer makes you mentally ill or a pervert. It is just that being a crossdreamer in a world that does not have a clue about who we are may lead to a lot of emotions: depression, loneliness, shame.
Talking to someone who accepts you for who you are and who knows a little bit about people who have been down this road before will be of help. I know this from my own experience.
2. Crossdressing is another way of learning to know your inner woman. There is nothing wrong in that.
3. You can try writing stories, comics or captions. That helps me.
4. If the urges becomes all consuming and stops you from functioning in your daily life, some crossdreamers report that a low dose of anti-androgens may be of help. By reducing the level of testosterone in your blood, the systems calms down. This may be because we have too much testosterone for a brain that is more like the one of a female, and this makes us "hyper". Or it could simply be that lowering the testosterone just weakens the sex drive.
But remember that these feelings are there for a purpose. Don't let the anti-androgens stop you from finding yourself. Low doses of anti-androgens will not give you breasts or female features.But do contact a doctor before taking pills of any kind!
5. Others take female hormones in order to change their bodies. You absolutely must see a doctor before you ask for anything like this, because the changes are irreversible. The good thing about being young is that you are more likely to pass as a woman. The bad thing about being young, is that you might end up rushing into actions you will later regret.
6. The final stage is surgery and a change of gender status. Your friend asked you: 'If you became a woman wouldn't you arouse yourself all the time though?' The answer is most likely no. At that point the crossdreamer urges will most likely have subsided due to the new hormonal mix and the fact that your female side is no longer denied.
If your only motivation for transitioning is sexual desire, transitioning will be the wrong move. But from what I read in your email, there is much more to it than this.
You are in for a rough ride, so hold on tight! There are ways of handling this, and there is also so much good to be had from this. Few people get the privilege of seeing both sides."