September 18, 2012

My life as a transgender crossdreamer

Photo from Photos.com
Most crossdreamers are confused.

They are confused about who they are, what they are, why they feel the way they feel. What is wrong with them? Why do they get excited by the very idea of having a body of the opposite sex? Are they transsexual? Are they freaks? Or are they just a normal variation of the diversity of life?

Yes, most crossdreamers are confused. Very confused.

Many of them -- this one included -- therefore spend a lot of time reading and discussing, trying to find thinkers, friends and theories that may help them makes sense of their lives.

In this respect, they -- we -- are no different than other groups who find themselves on the outside of what "normal" people consider "natural" behavior.

I readily admit that I might have focused too much on the theory and too little on my lived life on this blog, making some blog post a bit too dry for comfort.

In this post I will draw upon my own life and show you how my own understanding of crossdreaming is very much anchored in my life experience.

Life narratives

Children start making up stories about how the universe works at a very early age. They rarely get it right at first, and they find it often hard to reconcile their own life experience with the "truths" of others (the "stork" model is, for instance, a tough one). But in the end they manage to develop a theory of their own self that makes sense within the context of their own culture.

 "I am a man. That is why I like cars!" "I am a woman! That is why I like kids." A man that find cars boring, may seek comfort in his love for soccer, and a woman that find children icky, will focus on her ability to keep them clean, and in this way their identity as a man or a woman is not threatened.


Crossdreamers are no different. We find ways of intepreting our own experience in a way that makes sense in our own social and cultural setting -- even if it means that we have to belittle and despise ourself:

Some crossdreamers are at ease with their fantasies, whether they crossdress or not: "I am just exploring another side of my psyche," they may say.

Others succumb to the self contempt and self pity: "I, being a man, dream about being a woman. That means that I an a sissy, a faggot, a loser, a narcissist,  neurotic, an obsessive wanker. I am definitely not normal."

I also developed a narrative of my own life, a narrative that seemed to make sense at the time, but which didn't -- really.

The split

I am normally considered a fairly intelligent man, but I actually managed to keep my crossdreaming completely separate from the rest of my life for a very long time, even if I was aware of its existence.

That's right!  When I made my own theories of self, I never included my crossdreaming in the narratives. I even went to psychotherapy, never mentioning the fact that I often dreamed about a life as a woman.

So, in my case, I not only failed to interpret my crossdreamer condition as something normal. I even failed to understand it as something "abnormal".

That did not stop me from belitteling myself, though.

My  story, version 1: Jack the Loser

Many male to female crossdreamers will find my first conscious theory of self uncanningly familiar.

In my late teens and my early twenties I developed an understanding of myself as a shy, socially akward and unattractive young man who were intimdated by women and who found it hard to adapt to a normal social setting.

I thrived in my own company, loved to read and write, but avoided the rough and tumble play of my fellow male citizens. I hated sports and felt extremely comfortable in social settings where you are supposed to drink, dance and have fun. Parties were rarely fun. No, strike that! Parties were never fun!

Since I was unable to include my crossdreaming into my self-understanding (as it was far too dangerous), I ended up with an image of myself as the nerd and the clever loser.

Because of this I interpreted my dysphoria (an emotional state characterized by anxiety, depression, or unease) as the result of my failure as a man. Of course I was depressed! I was the eternal outsider, the loser that is always harassed in high school movies.

Finding my inner man

As a student I took part in  psychotherapy. It was actually very useful and I learned a lot about myself and others.

Innwer woman expressing anger.
Photo from Photos.com
My objective was not to learn to know my crossdreaming self, however, but to regain my lost masculinity (!).

In some ways I succeeded in this. I mean, women may also benefit from finding their inner wolf, as it is simply a metaphor for the ability to say no.

I became more self confident, more assertive and I even managed to find a girl friend. I took this as an affirmation of the theory that a family of strong women and weak men had turned me into a weakling.

I now had a narrative that seemed to make sense: I had somehow been pscyhologically castrated during my childhood (or maybe I was just born weak), and because of this I was afraid of women. Women do not like "soft" men, right? So they were not interested. Case closed!

The problem with this narrative was that it was all wrong. And the fact that finding my "inner man" did not cure my dysphoria should have told me so.

My  story, version 2, The Strong Jack


I picked up an old photo album a few years ago. I rarely do so, as I -- like many transgender people -- hate looking at pictures of myself.  My memory told me that I was a fat and ungainly kid.

The teenager who looked up at me from those pages did not have a surperflous gram of fat on his body.

I am not really good at judging the attractiveness of boys and men, but this boy did not in any way look ugly, and definitely not uglier that most of my class mates and friends at the time.

I had clearly not been the fat, ugly, kid I had pictured in my mind.

This got me thinking. Why didn't the boy in the photos look anything like the boy in my mind? I mean, he hated sports, right? So he had to be fat.

Well, when I grew up I walked half an hour to school every day. I walked another half an hour on the way back. I was probably in perfect shape.

This was very bizarre. My therapy had thought me a lot about my "inner man" and the fact that I could be aggressive and assertive if needed. Now I was learning  that my image of myself as the timid, shy, nerd had -- at best -- only been partly true.

Not so shy anyway

Now, forced to reconsider my past, I started to rethink the life of the boy in the pictures.

He had not been the type to hide in the shadows. Oh, he definitely hated sports, but when it came to other types of play or games, he had often been the leader. The one that made up rules and initated games. He hadn't been shy at all -- in the right setting, that is.

In any scholarly context -- let's say a politcal debate -- he was one of the most active, and probably one of the most knowledgable. And these were all considered masculine traits in his day and age, as they are now.

And later on, as he grew up, he might not have been the competitive alpha guy, but God knows he was not a timid, shy, neurotic hiding in the shadows either.

So although my temperament and personality  in many ways had been "feminine", non-aggressive and conflict resolving, I had not been a wuss.

How others see me

One of my colleagues at work is very much into personality types. I guess she has discovered this way of thinking through management courses or management litterature. She is a good observer, and in one social setting she pointed out that "Jack is an introvert."

Several of my colleagues protestested strongly. No! No! No! Jack was definitely extrovert with a strong self confidence. After all, Jack was travelling all over the world talking to powerful men and women in conferences and meetings. There is no way he was introvert! He had always something to say about anything!

Indeed, many of them think of me as a dominant male, an insider, a doer -- a powerful man, even.

I am actually an introvert. My colleague is right. What the others see is the side I had spent years of developing: The person who contribute actively to the development of strategies and communication. But being introvert is not the same as being  shy. And I am definitely not weak.

I would definitely not have been able to keep this blog going if I had been a walk over.

So why did I think of the Young Jack as a weak sissy?

Protecting your ego

I know some of you have wondered why I spend so much time writing about Jung and depth psychology, and why I make everything so damned complicated.

This is why: In order to understand the split nature of my sense of self, I have to go to  psychology.

My own misinterpretation of my own life is a perfect example of why this is important. For me the main question should not have been: "How did I become a sissy?"-- because I wasn't one -- but "What did I achieve by understanding myself as a sissy?" or "In what way did the concept of sissyhood benefit me?"

I now believe that this was the only narrative that could bring sense to my life experience without acknowledging the elephant in the room.

By developing an image of myself as the shy and ungaingly nerd, I managed to explain why I found it so hard to approach women. And this was an explanation that didn't threaten my very fragile male ego.

The fear of women
Crossdreamer fear of women.
Photo from Photos.com

The reason I hated parties as a teenager was not the girls per se. I loved women, and loved to be with them. I still do.

The problem is that parties with alcohol and dancing are venues for flirting, necking, pecking and sex.

That scared me, for reasons I could not comprehend at the time. My explanation was my sissyness, but that was clearly a kind of after-rationalization.

I was  living in some kind of denial, but what was I denying?

Finding the answer to such a question is actually kind of easy, as soon as you have overcome the unconscious resistance: Look at the thing you are not talking about -- the thing you are not bringing into you theories of self! For me that was the long held dream of being a woman.

I had compartmentalized that dream. I had put it in a box that was supposed to have nothing to do with my life and how others saw me. And this might have been easier for me than for many other crossdreamers, as I never crossdressed. The very act of crossdressing makes it harder to deny the importance of  crossdreaming.

I had had crossdreaming fantasies of being a girl since the age of nine or ten at least. Maybe earlier. I cannot remember. Still, I never put these dreams in context with my self image of the unpopular nerd.

As soon as you add that piece of the puzzle, however, the whole image starts to morph and shift.

Sexual incompatibility 

A crossdreamer of the gender dysphoric kind, as I am, faces a horrible dilemma. I was attracted to women and wanted to find love with a woman.

On the other hand, it felt like I was wired as woman, with a female sexuality (which in my case included everything from a receptive copulatory instincts to a strong aversion against proactively trying to seduce anyone). Since women are supposed to prefer aggressive men with a thrusting instinct, I believed I was incompatible.

Women were dangerous because any amorous association with them would reveal my basic identity and sexuality, which in practice would reveal that I wasn't a "real man".

If that happened, the women would despise me. They would certainly leave me (I believed), and I would be hurt both emotionally and  socially.

In this context my constructed self-image of the nerdy loser fit a purpose. As a bland and boring male I could argue that the reason women did not approach me like that, was that I was unattractive, not that I was wired as a woman. In other words: Not only did I avoid heartbreak, I also avoided looking myself in the eye and admitting whom I was.

You could say there was a part of me that found it easier to live a lonely life of unfulfilled longings than facing "the fact" that love was impossible.
The forbidden sex.
Photo from Photos.com

Women in my life

In hindsight it is easy to see this was all wrong.

I cringe now when I think of the girl who crossed half of Europe to show up uninvited at my parent's place. I mean, she did not do that out of interest in parents!

I have also this clear memory of a moment of intense awkwardness when one of my best female friends at the university looked me into the eyes with an forcefulness that made me blush and stammer.

She was challenging me, and I failed completely to follow up. (I think now that she was a crossdreamer, so that was definitely a wasted opportunity).

This way of filtering out the interest shown by women became an integrated part of me. Even now I have to ask myself the same question over and over again: "Is that woman smiling to me because she likes me or because I have something on my nose?"

Intellectually I know that some women like me. I have female colleagues flirting openly with me, but that does not stop the inner defeatist voice from whispering in my ear.

What I have learned from this

When both crossdreamers and researchers try to make sense out of  crossdreaming, they make use of the mental maps and theories they know.

There are only two dominant mental maps available today: the mental disease map and the transsexual map, and most crossdreamers steer towards the one that feels less threatening.

That is: Those male to female crossdreamers who try to hold on to an exclusive male identity prefer the mental disease map to the point of embracing the idea of being a sexual pervert. The crossdreamers that have come to the conclusion that they belong to the opposite sex are more likely to embrace the transsexual paradigm. The rest of us are caught in the twilight zone, and in a world that hates that kind of ambiguity, Limbo is not a nice place to stay.

My own self discovery has forced me to question a lot of traditional "truths", being that those found in culture or those presented by scientists.

It is obvious that my life story  -- or my understanding of it -- does not constitute scientific proof. My story cannot be used as a map of crossdreaming in general. In fact, the most important lesson I have learned from working with my readers on this blog, is that the community of crossdreamers and crossdressers is extremely diverse. There are, for instance, many who have not experienced the kind of shyness I report here.

Still, I think it is fair to use my own story to check the validity of the various theories and models out there.

For instance: The fact that I am a crossdreamer who does not crossdress, proves that crossdreaming cannot be reduced to "transvestic fetishism". (I do not agree with Ray Blanchard in much, but here we are on the same page). My very existence proves that it is not the fetish that causes the crossdreaming, but the crossdreaming that causes the fetish.

Moreover, the fact that my crossdreaming appeared before puberty, tells me that my crossdreaming cannot be reduced to a purely sexual phenomenon.

And it is my own life experience that makes me question many other theories forwarded by both crossdreamers and researchers. Here are the most important ones:

1. Crossdreaming is caused by extreme shyness

Many male to female crossdreamers explain their crossdreaming as the end result of extreme shyness and a failure at being men. This is, actually, a very sexist attitude as it is based on the ancient idea that women are somehow failed men. Still, it is understandable in a cultural context like the Western one.

Sometimes crossdreamers will use psychiatric diagnoses to underpin their theory, explaining their condition as Asperger or autism. Asperger has the advantage that it can also be used explain a nerdy interest in computer games, which strengthens the image of the social loser.

I am sure there are crossdreamers with Asperger, and God bless them, because it is ultimately the extremely  focused Aspergers who will save the world. Still, there is no way Apergers, extreme shyness or lack of alpha male qualities can explain all male to female crossdreamers. This makes it more likely that the shyness is caused by the crossdreaming and not the other way round.

In my case it is pretty clear that my fear of women is not an inborn trait, but a psychological response to a seemingly unsolvable dilemma: That is the dilemma of being forced to play the stereotypical role of the manly man in order to win love, even if your basic temperament is  incompatible with this role.

2. Crossdreaming is a compulsive obsessive disorder

I have no idea how much time I have spent on this blog or other crossdreamer writings. A lot! And in one way this is an example of obsessive compulsive behavior.

But again, it is not the obsessive compulsive disorder or OCD that causes crossdreaming. It is the crossdreaming that causes OCD. If you are denied any outlet for you natural sexual inclination OCD is a natural response. If you are denied any other way of expressing your true self, OCD becomes close to rational.

After all, this is also about sexual desire, and sexual desire is one of the strongest drives there is. It will not be denied, and if it cannot find a natural outlet, it will find another way. Compulsive crossdressing or endless searches for transgender erotica online are two such channels of expression.

3. Crossdreaming is a masochistic fetish

There is one subcategory of crossdreamer erotic fiction that focuses on submission and humiliation. Some takes this as proof of crossdreaming being an extreme kind of masochism: Male to female crossdreamers are men driven by a male psychology who seeks the most extreme form of humiliation: The dream of being a submissive woman.

This may seem a very sexist theory, but we should keep in mind that fantasies like these reflect the prejudices of the time, and if you live in a culture where women are considered inferior, the masochist argument can be made. In fact, I am pretty sure that the popularity of such tales reflects the need for a time out. Forced sexual submission and humiliation relieves you of guilt. You are forced into becoming a woman. You cannot be blamed. Your male ego is protected.

But the question is not whether some male to female crossdreamers enjoy submissive fantasies, but whether this is common for all. The discussions taking place here and on Crossdream Life tells me that they are common, but not shared by the majority.

Supergirl from DC comics:
dominant crossdreamer
role model
I use transgender erotica as my way of exploring my crossdreamer self, and have also written stories about submission. Still, the first fantasy I can remember, which I had before puberty, was the dream of being Kara Zor-el, also known as Supergirl, not the most submissive of feminine role models. The submission fantasies came much much later, after puberty and after I had started to explore my crossdreaming in earnest.

Moreover, submission fantasies are common among women as well. I have seen research that indicates that more than 50 percent of women have had rape fantasies, and the common popularity of  the "mommy porn" bestseller Fifty Shades of Grey, proves that sado-masochistic submission fantasies are common among XX women. Submissive fantasies can therefore not be taken as proof of a male sexuality.

Then there are those pesky female to male crossdreamers, who often fantasize about being the dominant male. Researchers and fetish enthusiasts have tried to ignore them, as the basic theory requires that only men can be perverts, but -- hey! -- they are not going away.

4. Crossdreaming as autogynephilia

Ray Blanchard came up with the term auto-gyne-philia for male to female crossdreaming - "the love of oneself as a woman". Fellow crossdreamer Anne Lawrence expanded upon this theory, arguing that this was not only about sexual attraction to your imagined female body, but also a romantic kind of love.

In short, both of them argue that male to female crossdreamers have the hots for themselves, and are therefore more or less incapable of loving real women out there.

The fact that the word autogynephilia can be associated with the term autoerotic ( the arousal of sexual feeling without an external stimulus) and narcissism (excessive love or admiration of oneself.) has made the autogynephilia theory the ultimate tool in the persecution of crossdreamers. The message is that crossdreamers are self-obsessed wankers.

The reason Blanchard came up with this idea was him meeting male to female crossdreamers seeking surgery at the Canadian Clarke Institute. And yes, I guess many of them did report arousal from the idea of being a woman. Moreover, many of them lived alone and their sex life was limited to masturbation.

Blanchard is the leading paraphiliphiliac of the world (he is obsessed with the classification of deviant sexual behavior), and he therefore immediately took this behavior as proof of the crossdreamers being perverts.

For me, on the other hand, the social isolation and the lack of an active sex life, is simply a natural response to the ultimate crossdreamer dilemma: How to find sexual satisfaction with a woman, when she wants you to be the man, and you want to be the woman. For some this tension becomes intolerable, and the only solution is to become a woman in both body and soul.

At the same time as I dreamed of being Supergirl -- around the age of 11 or 12, I guess -- I also had a crush on one of the girls in  my class. I fell head over heals in love in the way only kids can, proving once and for all that I was capable of loving others.

However, as soon as I entered puberty this ability seemed to disappear. In hindsight it is easy to see why. It was not because I was incapable of loving others; it was simply because falling in love would lead to an impossible situation where the only way out was disappointment and hurt. I therefore suppressed the feelings I had for the women I loved.

Finally -- after mobilizing the bravery of my "inner man" -- I managed to overcome my fear and approached the most wonderful girl in the world. She became the love of my life and my life partner. So much for being incapable of loving others!

If you want to understand crossdreaming you have to understand the context. This is where Blanchard and Lawrence fail.

Lessons learned

The one factor all of these theories have in common is the idea that the starting point for male to female crossdreamers is that they are men with a male psychology and a male sexuality. The crossdreaming therefore always becomes the end result of some kind of perversion, whether this one is psychological (as in the fetish theory) or inborn (as in the autogynephilia theory).

Since this starting point is taken for granted the proponents of these theories, being those researchers, crossdreamers or the enemies of crossdreamers, will never try to interpret their observations within a different model, a model where the crossdreamers are truly transgender.

They therefore fail to see that the observed behavior can easily be explained as the end result of some kind of sex dissonance. If you do use such a misalignment between mind, body and social expectations as the starting point, the observed shyness, autoeroticism, crossdreamer fantasies and lack of a decent love life become logical outcomes of an unbearable dilemma: A situation where you have to play the expected role of a man, while your temperament and/or your sexual wiring are more similar to the ones of a woman.

For female to male crossdreamers the same applies. The desire to act like a man, dress up like a man and put on a strap-on and make love to a man as a man reflects an inner nature that is at least partly masculine.

Crossdreamers offended

I know that there are many crossdreamers who find this conclusion problematic -- yes, offensive even. They identify with their birth sex, they say, and do not want to be the other sex in reality. Their avid reading of stories about men being changed into women (or -- for the FTM - identifying with gay males in Boy's Love) is arousing not because they are the other sex, but because they have been conditioned to feel arousal from this image.

I think they are wrong, as I have explained here and elsewhere. But I do not think they are all living in denial, in the way I was for many years. In fact, many of them are probably right when they say they are happy living as their birth sex.

The reason for this is that crossdreaming not only varies in intensity, but will also be the end result of a mix of a large number of variables. For some this mix leads to a strong identification with the opposite sex, for others this is more a kind of weak sexual fascination.

But in spite of this diversity, I doubt very much that the crossdreamers who identify with their birth sex and those that identify with their target sex belong to two completely different categories. After all they have the same fantasies, read the same type of erotica and/or engange in similar erotic crossdressing.

Following the scientific K.I.S.S.-principle of Occam's Razor, which says that among competing hypotheses you should always select the one which makes the fewest assumptions, I  conclude that all crossdreaming has something in common, and that it is very unlikely that some types of crossdreaming are completely psychological and others only biological.

To me the explanation that makes most sense is therefore the one that understand all expressions of crossdreaming as caused by  a mix of biological, personal and cultural factors. This is what my own revised life story tells me.

49 comments:

  1. Good post, Jack. I like it most when people talk about the extremely personal issues of sex and gender from the basis their own lives; when it's not just theorizing from a impersonal position (and especially if they're theorizing about other people's lives).

    A few things on the end bit though:

    They identify with their birth sex, they say, and do not want to be the other sex in reality. Their avid reading of stories about men being changed into women (or -- for the FTM - identifying with gay males in Boy's Love) is arousing not because they are the other sex, but because they have been conditioned to feel arousal from this image.

    I agree that explanation is too simplistic, but perhaps not for the same reasons. For me it's more about accessing feelings that are falsely associated with women. Falsely, because such associations are a social construction and vary according to local history and culture.

    And yet cultural constructions have their own reality, so fantasies arising from within that culture have their own power. But what those fantasies represent shouldn't necessarily be taken at face value. That is (speaking personally), because my sexual fantasies might often incorporate "becoming a woman", they don't necessarily mean I am – or even want to be – a woman in any way. Instead, they're about playing with assimilated cultural ideas of sex and gender, because those cultural ideas have resonance. Therefore, it's not that we've been "conditioned to feel arousal from this image" exactly, but that these images are the most resonant cultural expressions of our own desires and fantasies. That is, we use (and have to use) female iconography, because our culture marginalizes anything equivalent for men.

    Also, to look at the root of the initial quote, my understanding is this: Rather than saying that such desires are female and that, because I have them, I must be female in some way, I completely reject that argument. Instead, because I have these desires and am male, such desires cannot be female at all. Hence the cultural attribution of these desires solely to women must be false as a point of logic. (This is essentially a feminist position.) And that such feelings are exist (or not) within the human population, not just the female one.

    As to cause/aetiology/whatever, this isn't really anything that interests me. Indeed, I think it's a pointless quest. But your conclusion does seem the most sensible one:

    To me the explanation that makes most sense is therefore the one that understand all expressions of crossdreaming as caused by a mix of biological, personal and cultural factors.

    ReplyDelete
  2. @Jack Molay,
    Would you consider a foppish sexy male who wants to be submissive to a male or female partner and wants to take a role in the stereotypical feminine position in sex as having crossdreaming fantasies? Would you think that a male who is more emotionally or romantically aroused as against being visual (as the common stereotype of men is), and is reactive or passive in sexual encounters is a crossdreamer in denial even if he does not otherwise have a self-image of being a female?

    Does crossdreaming and transgenderism solely depend on some sexual role preferences? Is that kind of preference in bed the only reason why you dream of having a female body and enjoy it?
    These are the important questions that need to be discussed at length.

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  3. Raju,

    For me being trans is completely detached from my orientation. In fact my dilemma is that I love women but also want to be like them. Its a frustrating problem which has now been responsible for and/or contributed to my only 2 long term relationships.

    Joanna

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    Replies
    1. I meant to say the breakup of my relationships...

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  4. @Jonathan

    "For me it's more about accessing feelings that are falsely associated with women. Falsely, because such associations are a social construction and vary according to local history and culture."

    I agree that most, if not all, of what we call a feminine temperament, abilities and modes of behavior is culturally determined and not biological.

    And if gender was all there was to it, I would have argued that this is all about "the software" and not "the hardware".

    But given that the social conditioning is so brutal, and I and many others have tried everything in our power to overcome our crossdreaming, it becomes very hard for me to explain most transgender conditions without some kind of instinctual trigger.

    Moreover, the many instances of botched attempts at turning intersex boys into girls tells me that there is more to the sex identity (which is not the same as the gender identity) than social construction.

    "Instead, because I have these desires and am male, such desires cannot be female at all."

    Yes, but this only makes sense if you reduce being male to having a male body, in which case the statement becomes a tautology.

    Given the complexity of brain development and the diversity of personality traits and temperaments it is not hard to envisage individuals who have a basic female sex identity while also having a male body.

    Even among animals you will find individuals who violate the standard inborn modes of behavior.

    I realize, though, that this is not an easy model. After all, given the enormous importance of social gender conditioning, it is hard to explain what is left for an instinctual sex identity. My guess is that this inborn identity is not defined by its content, but by a behavioral orientation.

    The best parallel I have found so far is one given to me by David/Davida: language. We are born with an ability to learn language -- indeed, an instinctual drive to learn language (biology) -- but not with a particular vocabulary or grammar (culture).

    In the same way we may be born with a basic sex identity, but not with a feminine urge to spend time in the kitchen.

    Can I prove any of this? No. But I find the assumption reasonable. The parallel phenomenon of sexual orientation points in the same direction.

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  5. @Raju

    "Would you consider a foppish sexy male who wants to be submissive to a male or female partner and wants to take a role in the stereotypical feminine position in sex as having crossdreaming fantasies? "

    As far as I am concerned crossdreaming includes the desire to be a woman, at least within the limits of the fantasy.

    There are crossdressers and crossdreamers, though, who fantasize about being a feminized man dressed up as a woman. Whether they should be included in the crossdreamer group is a matter of debate.

    I strongly suspect that the longings of many of these go beyond playing the role of a woman.

    But please note that "crossdreamer" is a term used to identify one group of people sharing certain dreams and desires. This does not mean that this is the only way of classifying different types of transgender people, or that this is a clear cut and unambiguous group. Nature is analogue, not digital, and there is a lot of variation and overlap.


    "Is that kind of preference in bed the only reason why you dream of having a female body and enjoy it?"

    Some crossdreamers say that sexual arousal is the only reason. Some argue that this means that they are not even transgender. For me crossdreaming is associated with severe gender dysphoria and a strong alienation from my own male body and from my life as a male. In other words: There is a lot of variation.

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  6. @Jack

    But given that the social conditioning is so brutal, and I and many others have tried everything in our power to overcome our crossdreaming, it becomes very hard for me to explain most transgender conditions without some kind of instinctual trigger.

    Ah, but I wasn't at all trying to posit some universal theory of trans* identities. Quite the opposite. By explaining my own I was attempting to show why explanations such as "wanting to be the other sex in reality" or "conditioned to feel arousal" are not necessary. There are other explanations (based on culture and socialization) that work just as well (or better). That's not to say that the original explanations may not be correct for some people. They may well be. On these matters it is for each of us to explain ourselves. (This is another reason why I think the search for aetiology is pointless.)

    "Instead, because I have these desires and am male, such desires cannot be female at all."

    Yes, but this only makes sense if you reduce being male to having a male body, in which case the statement becomes a tautology.


    No, I wasn't saying that either. Rather than suggesting that a male body is de facto proof of maleness, I believe that our individual sex is what we each know it to be. For instance, a trans woman knows she's female despite her original morphology. Similarly, I'm male because I know I am.

    The danger is in supposing that, because I have desires that are culturally regarded as female, I am therefore female in some way. This is a logical falsehood. There's no logical necessity for me to be female at all. On the other hand, it would be quite possible for me (or anyone else) to be female as well (i.e. trans*), but it wouldn't be because I have these desires. Because I don't think these desires are female at all; it is only our local cultures that says they are.

    The rest of what you say, I agree with.

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  7. @Jonathan

    "The danger is in supposing that, because I have desires that are culturally regarded as female, I am therefore female in some way."

    Absolutely! And I see that that might be a danger among readers of this blog, given that the topic of sex and gender is taboo in many circles.

    In fact, it is first when you start to problematize sex and gender that such misconception appears, and the ones that feel that this is a problem are those that are unsure of their own sex and/or gender identity.

    For most people language and culture is flexible enough to allow for a male tailor and a female soldier, a man who loves to be tied up and a woman who likes to dominate in bed.

    By the way: I will never argue that all male to female crossdreamers are women (or vise versa), but that some of them may perfectly well be.

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  8. @Jack Molay,
    You say-"There are crossdressers and crossdreamers, though, who fantasize about being a feminized man dressed up as a woman. Whether they should be included in the crossdreamer group is a matter of debate.

    I strongly suspect that the longings of many of these go beyond playing the role of a woman."

    If a male fantasizes being dressed up as a woman, it is different from a male who simply takes on the same traditional feminine role but still wearing a male dress and remaining masculine in all other aspects. Many otherwise masculine men strongly relish taking the receptive role in sex. So, indeed, it does seem that there is some additional factor besides sexual kink of being the receptive partner, which causes a male to fantasize being dressed up as a woman, isn't it? Because, if sex role preference was the only factor, why would he need to wear a female attire and present himself as a sexy bitch and not a sexy dude?

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  9. Jack your analysis is very spot on and I really appreciate so many points that apply to my own life. There is likely a mixture of biology, psychology and rearing at play here. One of the common elements I see also is a kind of self masochism where we beat ourselves up constantly for not measuring up. That anxiety and tension is something I have experienced first hand and it wears away at your being...

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  10. Jack,
    This is a fantastic post I cam up after a bit of google search.
    For a long time I had thought mistakenly that I was just an effeminate gay male due to my crossdreaming tendencies. The fact that I was never attracted to boys but only girls, never seemed to make me feel quite different from the effeminate gay males and I thought I must be hiding my sexuality from myself. After experimenting with boys a short while ago, however, i realized that I genuinely have little interest in boys and that, i indeed do prefer girls more.

    However, why is is Jack that majority of people equate our transgender condition with being homosexual? I suppose that if I change my sex, in a way I would be gay, because I would be "lesbian".

    That apart, I am quite confused as to why I feel girly afterall. I am completely aware of the existence of my male body but I feel alienated from it. I often feel like having a female curvaceous body, and from a very early age, have had fantasies of being a nimble agile girl. The fantasies came very naturally and spontaneously and I had no control over them, they just felt right somehow-, as much right as my outer physical shell is. It did happen long before I entered puberty and it has remained fairly consistent with time. Could it be some biological reason that I have developed a female psyche inside a male body?

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  11. Hi Medusa

    That apart, I am quite confused as to why I feel girly afterall.

    Following on from my comments above (and even though you didn't ask me) I would suggest that you feel girly because you are girly. But with the very important qualification that being girly isn't something that's restricted to women. For me such things reside in the human population, and that it's just culture that divides them into two groups, as belonging to either the male box or the female box. I think it's perfectly appropriate for anyone to be girly, regardless of sex.

    But please note I'm talking in a general way there. Whether you're just girly, or actually trans, or both, or neither, is ultimately only for you to say.

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  12. Hi Jonathan,
    Yes, you are absolutely correct. Natural variation ensures that women should not be the only people on earth who are necessarily feminine and men are not the only people on earth who should be masculine. This compulsion is imposed on males and females only by culture and religion, which are oppressive and reduce things to black-and-white from the very beginning. However,we as human beings are much more than this. We are prone to a lot of individual variations than culture really wants us to be.

    However, that said, it does seem that there are multiple factors at work here. Why is it that many girly males are compelled to seek sex-change and feel more transgendered than others? Are they changing sex only because their culture represses their inherent femininity so much that they can no longer bear it?

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  13. Why is it that many girly males are compelled to seek sex-change and feel more transgendered than others? Are they changing sex only because their culture represses their inherent femininity so much that they can no longer bear it?

    I'd distinguish between girly and female in this context. In the same way that "girly" doesn't imply "femaleness", nor does "femaleness" imply "girly". So I think physical changes (when desired) are about embodying femaleness, rather than seeking to express femininity. As with any other woman, a trans woman isn't necessarily girly at all; whereas femininity can theoretically be expressed from any body-type (e.g. male). Again, it's only culture that insist that femininity belongs on a female body.

    That said, because our culture does mostly restrict femininity to female bodies, and because the cultural images of femininity (feminine aesthetics) are mostly female, it's understandable that "girly men" might desire to express femininity using a female body image (e.g. in the transvestite world, by using breast forms, hip pads, and suchlike). Ultimately, I think it would be better – more progressive – to develop feminine aesthetics as men, but of course it's not for me to prescribe behaviour for anyone ;)

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  14. Hi Jack,

    its sahar, long time no speak.

    this post really caught my attention. The description of who you are sounds so familiar to me. I think we are very similar people.

    I feel as though our opinions are very similar except from one thing. You keep saying a female sexuality, I would regard it to a feminine sexuality. And i have fully accepted it and embraced it. I am actualy gettign to the point of being happy. Last year, i was really suffering with some serious gender dysphoria, and i think you know how bad I was too.

    Over the last year, through talking to girls and one in particular that have masculine sexualities. I no longer feel a mismatch, my sex is male, my sexuality is feminine. Im pretty masculine in appearance but ive embraced that too. my feminine sexuality meshes so well with a female crossdreamer's masculine one. It really is perfection, and things keep surprising me as we learn more about each other.

    The mismatch only happens when you cant imagine the two fitting, when you havent seen examples, when you havent had another give you confirmation. The experiences of the last year have given me confirmation of who i am, and i really like it.

    cicero2111@hotmail.com

    hope we can talk soon again x

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  16. This is a very interesting post and i think that it underscores the fact that we are not just perverts of sickos because of who we are. I am right now in my early twenties and i feel much the same way you did. I don't like to go out much and don't do well at social parties or bars, i think this is because i feel awkward about my body or who i am. I am very smart and for the most part have an idea about a wide range of things i am the type of person that likes to know a lot of things. But if i do feel a dissatisfaction with my body or that their is something wrong with my body it could account for that.
    An interesting thing is that i have always been an introvert and very shy this is the case since i was a little kid and there are many things that i wonder about in my childhood that relates to who i am now. I have never been good at making friends, at least that is keeping a connection with them and there are many people that now me through out my schooling days.
    What's interesting is that in a small group of people i easily take charge, i am the taskmaster and get other people to interact but when i get to a large group i don't talk as well. And i know that AGP is wrong because i love women, in fact i think that i love them more than most other people.
    I share many things with you, and i realize now that there are many things that men and boys did that i learned to do, i played sports in school but not much beyond that. Also i was overweight as a kid and that did not help the way i see myself either. The fact is that what makes us up is much more complex than what are biological sex is, it is based on are social influences as well as society and family and biology.Plus i think that many of the things about gender aren't completely true for example i see those ideas on TV or in shows and now that's not who i am and i feel no connection to them either.

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  17. @ A Quiet Voice

    What you two have done is defined and and then accepted the false dichotomy. Despite your protestation to the contrary, it clearly demonstrates your limited perspective as men/not women.

    "defined" - where? "accepted the false dichotomy" - what and where? "protestation to the contrary" - what and where? But thanks for the "limited perspective" insult.

    My only concern is that this desire not be conflated or confused with absolute NEED

    Okay, that was worth saying, yes. But if it was your only concern you'd have omitted all the previous crap.

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  18. @AQV,
    "My only concern is that this desire not be conflated or confused with absolute NEED, (NOT compulsion), which is what distinguishes the woman born transsexual, from the rest of the trans-gendered 'spectrum or continumm."

    There is just a small difference between a male who feels totally female inside and has no male identity at all and another male who feels part-male,part-female. It could just be about the degree of female inside and the nature of it. Why should you dismiss the plight of the non-binary TG folks only so that you are recognized as a biological woman?
    Afterall, will you classify in the same way for natal females? There are natal females who are extremely flamboyant and sexually charged and there are the ordinary plain-janes and there are also the tomboys.

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  22. @AQV

    I didn't reduce "a woman's perspective" to "crap", I called some of what you personally were saying as "crap". You don't get a special pass because you're a woman. And regarding insults: I find "demonstrative of your perspective as stereotypically male" as even more insulting, not least because I detest gender stereotyping.

    As to the "false dichotomy" upon you've now amplified – thanks – I didn't actually say any of that at all. In particular, regarding: 'they change', "sex only because their culture represses their inherent femininity so much that they can no longer bear it?", in fact I said the exact opposite: "I think physical changes (when desired) are about embodying femaleness, rather than seeking to express femininity". You can call me on using the word "desire" rather than "need" (and I'd accept that), but not on anything else.

    Similarly, I haven't called girly men or effeminate men, transsexual. (I haven't called them – us – transgender either.) Instead, it seems you've entered this thread to begin a transsexual vs. transgender argument with me where there wasn't one.

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  24. @Jonathan,
    What according to you is the difference between a "feminine male" and a transgender?
    Not transsexual but transgender strictly.
    If effeminate males are not transgender then what does the gender diversity account for?

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  25. Jack,
    The "male lesbian" is a typical example of an androgynous male who might be possibly called as feminine by temperament enough although not transsexual, but transgender possibly.
    Male-lesbian is something new to you I know and understand. But it is something I have been identifying as personally for a long time. I think it fits me well because even though I see myself as a male and have no desire for a sex-change like many others here such as you, I do feel like I have an extremely feminine temperament and subconsciously see myself as a lesbian in a relation with a woman, atleast on some theoretical if not actual practical level.

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  26. Please note that A Quiet Voice has been banned from this blog, for consistently delivering stigmatizing and derogatory remarks on transgender and transsexual people. Unfortunately Blogger does not let me filter out her comments automatically. Please ignore her. I will delete her comments eventually.

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  27. @ Medusa

    I wouldn't really bother to define a fixed difference. If transgender is used in its inclusive form – i.e. people who transgress gender boundaries in some way – then feminine and effeminate males fit under the transgender umbrella. In those terms I do define myself as transgender.

    But in other terms, where transgender implies a crossing from one binary gender position to another (which in this case would be male to female), then I don't define as transgender. Because I see my gender diversity as a valid (if culturally less usual) facet of male gender and hence there is no "crossing" to anywhere (and it is only local culture that might insist my gender is female in some way).

    As a sort of label I use "femme" (rather than feminine), because femme denotes both a gendered and an erotic identity, and these factors (sexuality and gender) are deeply intertwined for me personally. Also, and very importantly, femme (and butch) is independent of binary sex. For instance, in the traditional lesbian paradigm, a butch woman is "masculine" in some sort of way, but she's not male. Similarly, I see myself as femme but not female. It works for me anyway :)

    "What does the gender diversity account for?" If you mean by that (and possibly you don't) where does it come from and what does it signify, then I'd say it comes from natural human diversity and signifies only itself. In other words, we are who we are – if we are ;)

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  29. @Medusa

    "However, why is is Jack that majority of people equate our transgender condition with being homosexual?"

    I think this debate has brought up some very interesting points illustrating this.

    Many (most) seem to think that the following variables follow each other automatically, or at least that they should do so:

    1. Sexual orientation (I am attracted to women)
    2. Sex identity (I feel like a man)
    3. Gender identity (I feel masculine)
    4. Gender expression (I like to behave like a man is supposed to do in my culture)

    It is certainly true that statistically speaking there is covariation.

    A majority of biological males are heterosexual, identify as men, feel masculine, and like to follow the stereotypical behavior of men in their culture.

    But there is variation, and most male to female crossdreamers seem to tick off the female box in categories 2 AND/OR 3.

    I have written about Gilmartin's study of male lesbians here.

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  30. @Jack,
    Sexual-orientation has been observed to vary across time ad cultures. In the Greco-Roman cultures, most men have had a kind of bisexual lifestyle and so, is western brand of exclusive heterosexuality sort of a social imposition?

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  31. @Medusa,
    I think that sexual preferences are inborn but the culture does have a role,yes. It plays a role in that, it makes it seem like a black-and-white phenomenon, as if most people are either heterosexual or homosexual.
    However, reality is far more complex. Sexual orientation lies in a spectrum and the same can also be said about gender-orientation.

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  32. @Medusa

    "Sexual-orientation has been observed to vary across time ad cultures. In the Greco-Roman cultures, most men have had a kind of bisexual lifestyle and so, is western brand of exclusive heterosexuality sort of a social imposition?"

    This is a tricky one, for many reasons.

    First, even among other mammals we see a lot of same-sex action. That does not mean that they are homosexual in the human sense, but it certainly tells us that even among animals -- where sexual behavior is much more likely to be instinctual -- same sex attraction exists.

    See my post on gay animals.

    Different cultures have different ways of defining what same sex sexuality is permitted and which one is not.

    As far as I can see, Europe up till the late 19th century was dominated by a taboo against feminization for men. That is: Same-sex sex with a man was somewhat tolerated as long as you were the active one, and not the receptive one.

    Among the ancient Athenians, sex with young boys was tolerated, but not with adult men. The young boy was in the same category as women and slaves, i.e. considered unfree and effeminate.

    You may argue that the basic heterosexual orientation among men in Athens was expressed as an attraction towards feminine features and not the female body as such.

    Still, we know that there were men who were attracted to older masculine men in Athens as well, in spite of the stigma attached to it. And the fact that men at that time, as now, have been willing to risk social ostracization, tells me that there is more to this than culture.

    I suspect the sexual orientation of most is much more fluid that we would like to admit, though.

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  33. Great article, Jack. Moving, honest and wise. You are certainly strong, as you note.

    My jury will remain forever out, I think, but I certainly find your theory credible.

    I feel I must challenge you, though, on your use of the word 'pervert'. This is an inherently abusive term. Do you actually disdain certain sexual minorities?

    Love,
    Deborah xx

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  34. "I feel I must challenge you, though, on your use of the word 'pervert'. This is an inherently abusive term. Do you actually disdain certain sexual minorities?"

    Not at all!

    I have many gay friends of both sexes. I have allies in the asexual community and have even posted material provided by the Norwegian BDSM community.

    For me there are two lines that are not to be crossed: 1. To truly hurt someone physically or mentally and 2. To use children or others who are not physically or mentally able to resist.

    But these are moral and criminal acts in my book.

    The reason I used the word "pervert" in this post, is because there are fellow crossdreamers who actually embrace theoretical concepts that are deliberately developed in order to label us as perverts.

    The people who develop such theories are not surprisingly the same who feel this incessant need to sort people into "normal" and "paraphiliacs".

    As far as I am concerned, those are the real perverts, and I think it is absolutely destructive for us to embrace such terms.

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  35. @Jack,
    "Among the ancient Athenians, sex with young boys was tolerated, but not with adult men. The young boy was in the same category as women and slaves, i.e. considered unfree and effeminate."

    But the important point here is that inspite of being socially not ideal, there have been recorded instances of relationships between adult men too at that time. Like, Alexander-Hephastion, Hercules-Patrocules, Enakidu-Gilgamesh etc.
    Most likely, there was something preached at the formal level while at an informal level, we had more variations.
    Jack, I think I should mention that formal society is not necessarily the same as informal world practices. Things banned and taboo to talk about in formal spaces don't necessarily mean we cannot do the same thing in private without talking of it openly. That is one thing transgenders have been through for generations as well, especially the gynephilic ones among us. I would guess that masculine men attracted to men are as much oppressed formally as gynephilic crossdreamers ad transgenders because both violate heteronormativity pattern of our western culture.

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  36. @ Jack: Gayle Rubin in "Thinking Sex" (1982) put it like this:

    A democratic morality should judge sexual acts by the way partners treat one another, the level of mutual consideration, the presence or absence of coercion, and the quantity and quality of the pleasures they provide. Whether sex acts are gay or straight, coupled or in groups, naked or in underwear, commercial or free, with or without video should not be ethical concerns.

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  37. Thanks for your reply Jack. I appreciate that you are not actually hostile to sexual minorities.

    I do think that sometimes your taking such strong exception to the claim that dysphoric crossdreamers are fetishists can read like a confirmation of the normal/perverted judgemental distinction, with an insistence that the right sort of crossdreamers (or all crossdreamers, although some don't realise it) are on the right side of the divide.

    Maybe putting inverted commas around the word 'perverts' might help?

    Love,
    Deborah xx

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  38. @Medusa

    "Jack, I think I should mention that formal society is not necessarily the same as informal world practices."

    This is a very important point. The Kinsey report shocked America because it told the powers that be that Americans were actually not behaving in the ways the authorities believed. There was, for instance, a lot of same sex action between men who clearly identified as heterosexual.

    This tells me that the social mores and categories are more flexible than the moral teachings of a culture lead us to believe.

    The problem for many crossdreamers is that their gender confusion is so severe that they are unable to make use of this flexibility. What others consider practical adaptation becomes a threat to their carefully constructed gender identity.

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  39. @Jack,
    "The problem for many crossdreamers is that their gender confusion is so severe that they are unable to make use of this flexibility. What others consider practical adaptation becomes a threat to their carefully constructed gender identity."

    Yes this is right. But not that we don't try. For a long time, I used the formal definitions and cultural morals to explain to myself such things as-"Well, how can I be a transgender,if I am attracted to women?"
    But I could not still accept the definitions and be the "man" in any relationship with women. It just did not fit, something told me that I am suffering not because of my nature but because of the lack of formal theories or concepts to define my very existence.

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  40. David/Davida sent me this comment:

    Let me suggest another analogy to add to the language analogy that I offered in two earlier pieces on this site. A sense of hunger is a biologically based motivation to seek out and consume food. Eating behavior, which covers what one eats, how one eats, where one eats and when one eats is largely determined by socio-cultural context. Similarly, one's sense of sexuality, I believe, is also biologically based and is realized, in whole or part, through gender behavior, overt or covert, which is largely determined by socio-cultural context.

    David/Davida

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  41. You used words to identify one of two energies that live in each person.

    "receptive copulatory instincts"
    is one of them and usually found in a female bodied person.

    This energy also is the basis for compassion,empathy,intuitive experiencing because it is about connectivity by being a part of something larger than oneself

    The opposite energy is usually found in male bodied people and is expressed as an "acting on" and is penetrative.

    We have walked a very similar path except that I transitioned to possess the body that was best suited to the energy that I was made up of.

    I was born with this energy and it made the adoption of a male identity impossible because only a female identity was natural to the structure (expression)of my brain.

    The subconscious knows the truth that the conscious refuses to accept,identity is predetermined so we are attracted to what we are.

    We are sexual beings but identity comes first and both are determined by similar forces, they are separate but intertwined

    Excellant post and blog, you are very gifted.

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  42. @Kelly

    Thank you for your kind words!

    Using "energy" as a metaphor for this inborn way of interacting with other people makes sense to me, because both the "penetrative" and "embracing" orientations are active and energetic in one sense or the other.

    You will find both in most human beings, but in people like use the "embracing" one is clearly dominant.

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  43. Here is another comment from David/Davida:

    "One of the things that resonated with me was your discussion concerning your adolescence.

    My ambigendered identity was largely dormant until puberty. At this time, it hit me like a tornado and left me reeling in confusion.

    I was sexually attracted to women and sought out hetero-erotic material. I also recall having penetration fantasies, which was hard to fit into my understanding. Just as confusing, if not more so, was an expectation that I would develop breast. I recall massaging my breasts trying to stimulate them to develop. I don't know what I'd
    have done had I succeeded. It all just seemed insane.

    During this time, I was very conflicted and in retrospect I'm sure I suffered from depression. I grossly underachieved in school. I was also
    angry and hostile but not violent.

    I am not a large nor pugnacious person and was an easy target for bullies. I fell in with a gang of youth many of whom were older than I, but I was well accepted by them. I didn't understood exactly why but I took friends wherever I could find them.

    They provided me with a social network of sorts and passive protection from bullies. Passive because they were feared by most of the youth in our community, once I became associated with them I was off limits. Most of my adolescence was spent essentially as a delinquent.

    Obviously, I had to tightly compartmentalize my masculine/ feminine gender identity because this group was hyper-masculine. My best gender presentation was probably modal as opposed to hyper or hypo but was accepted.

    Looking back, I think one reason I was accepted was that I was recognized as being exceptionally smart and willing to apply my intelligence to some of their activities, which were often illegal.

    I have since observed that tolerance for deviance from group norms is tied to competence. The more competent one is the more deviance is tolerated.

    Another reason I think I was accepted is that I fearlessly embraced high risk behavior they engaged in for "sport" and that almost got me killed several times and seriously injured twice.

    During this time, I went to lots of parties and was around lot of young women. The parties consisted mostly of drinking and dancing. I focused on the drinking because I was uncomfortable with dancing. I was afraid my body language might reveal my hidden feminine aspects.

    I got along well with women my age at these parties and could talk with them pretty easily but not in a flirtatious manner. I was sexually attracted to them but did not pursue that attraction.

    During the fall of the year, there were often football parties (American football). Many of my friends would bring dates who were then neglected as the guys all sat around watching ball games on TV and drinking. The women would often congregate in the kitchen and talk.

    I had no interest in sports so I ended up in the kitchen talking with the women. My friends found this behavior a bit strange but didn't make an issue
    of it. I did pick up a nickname "sister Dave" but it was not used in a malicious way.

    I eventually did begin dating but was at a loss about how to negotiate this activity. I knew how my friends acted both from things they related and things I heard from their girlfriends. Their aggressive style did not appeal to me and so I just followed my

    inclinations to relate the way I usually related to women in non- dating situations. My first regular girlfriend broke up with me for not being aggressive enough, which was confusing since I regularly had heard complaints about the aggressiveness of men.
    I decided to try to be more aggressive.

    My next regular girlfriend broke up with me for being too aggressive. For several years I just couldn't find a mode of interaction that I was comfortable with and that would sustain a relationship.

    cont...

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  44. David/Davida continued.

    While I was in college, which I didn't start until I was in my early 20s, I began dating a young woman who was about as confused about the male/female relationship scene as I was and we sort of worked out our own style of interaction.

    I subsequently married her. I also told her about my ambigendered identity. She said she had suspected as much and that was largely the end of it. It has never been an issue in our relationship.

    Her casual acceptance gave me room to work out an accommodation to my confusing inner life and related behavior. I accepted myself and worked to find a way that we could integrate this into our lives and our narrative about our life together.

    For most of my life, I have kept my dual identity
    compartmentalized into a public and a private presentation. The public presentation has, of course, been by far and away the dominant presentation due to career and family and such.

    In the past few years I've begun what Ekins would probably call "transcending" or what I think of as blending gender aspects. This has been limited by one of my adult sons living with us while he goes back to school in an effort to improve his employment prospects in the depressed job market here in the U.S.

    I feel like I've begun to ramble so I'll stop.

    Regards.

    David/David

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  45. Male lesbians are nothing new. The French writer and poet Pierre Louÿs wrote erotic poetry and a romance or two about lesbians. He also turned his hand to grittier topics later in life. He was a friend of the composer Claude Debussy. His novel Woman and Puppet was later tha inspiration for Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage.

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  46. Interesting! I have to find that one. I have even heard those that said Proust was a male lesbian!

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  47. Hi Jack, interesting article. I must say I'm a confused guy as well. I'm biological male and I identify myself mostly as a guy too. I'm attracted to men, so I'm considered to be gay. However, sometimes I get sexually aroused by the idea/dream of having sex with a man, but having female characteristics myself (breasts for instance). I enjoy heterosexual porn too, thinking being a woman (on sexual level) would be more comfortable an exciting. The fact is that it's rather only on a sexual level. I don't feel the need for breasts or to be treated like a woman in my daily life, where I'm comfortable as a man. The problem is, however, I experience sexual problems when having sex with a man. I seem to avoid the male behaviour or expectations, what a gay or bi boyfriend expects when he chooses a man of course. This dilemma sometimes takes all the energy out of me... as it's so complicated to find a partner to share my life with...
    To summarise: I think sex with a man would be more exciting if I were a woman, but I don't want to be one in daily life...

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  48. Thank you for sharing this, anonymous. You present another example someone assigned male, who are attracted to men, but who nevertheless crossdream. There are researchers who say that you do not exist. We know better.

    Do you think that your problems with gay and bi male friends is grounded in gay culture? That is: That expressing femininity is looked down upon?

    I am asking because I know too little about this. The lesbian community have well known roles for this that lesbians may make use of, if that is what they want: Butch and femme.

    But your male partners do not want you to be femme? Is that why this is a problem?

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