April 1, 2013

The love life of non-transsexual crossdreamers -- getting real

More and more crossdreamers are able to establish loving relationships with partners who accept their other side. Are we facing some kind of positive cultural shift?

I see from some of the emails I get, that some of my readers believe that I believe that all crossdreamers are transsexual. This is probably because I do write a lot about transsexual crossdreamers on this blog.
MTF crossdresser, photo: Olga Ekaterincheva

There are good reasons for this. 

Firstly, transsexual crossdreamers face challenges that deserves our attention, for their own sake. 

Secondly, I do not believe there is a clear cut divide between transsexual and non-transsexual crossdreamers. Non-transsexual crossdreamers can therefore learn something about themselves by listening to those that suffer from "gender dysphoria" or "gender incongruence," i.e. a complete mismatch between their inner sex identity and their bodies.

Most crossdreamers are not transsexual

That being said, it seems to me that many crossdreamers are not gender dysphoric. They are transgender (in the sense of belonging to a wide group of people challenging gender stereotypes), but not transsexual (in the sense of feeling that they are of the "opposite" sex).

Sure, quite a few of them may be deceiving themselves, using every trick in Psychiatry 101 to suppress their true identity. Still, it is also clear that many, if not most, crossdreamers are not gender dysphoric. This applies to both men and women.

Expressing the other side

These crossdreamers face different challenges than the transsexual ones. They need to find a way of including and expressing their crossdreams, while still identifying with their birth sex.

A male bodied crossdreamer who get aroused by the idea of being a woman, while still thinking of himself as a man, needs to find a way to express the other, feminine, side of his being.

This has been a huge problem for both male and female crossdreamers, simply because  the surrounding culture and the medical establishment have insisted that the fantasy of having the body of the opposite sex -- or having sex as the opposite sex-- is wrong and some kind of perversion or paraphilia.

Misogynistic repression

This especially applies to male to female crossdreamers, as there is a deep undercurrent in many cultures that being woman is "less" than being male, and therefore something negative.

Indeed, this bias against women is apparent in psychiatry as well. Until recently most of the so-called "experts" would deny the existence of female to male crossdreamers, partly because they mistakenly believed only men have the kind of sex drive needed to develop such fantasies, and partly because wanting to be a man is a good thing, while wanting to be a woman isn't.

This socio-cultural bias against gender challenging dreams and desires has made it impossible for most crossdreamers to include crossdreaming in the love lives they share with others, because they had reason to believe they would risk losing everything if they revealed their inner dreams to their partner.

Many crossdreamers have therefore chosen to keep their fantasies in the closet, some to the extent that they have stayed alone. And it is this tendency to keep to themselves that has led researchers like Ray Blanchard and others to conclude that crossdreamers are autoerotic narcissists in love with themselves (autogynephilia).

In other words: Stigmatization leads to isolation, and this isolation seems to confirm the prejudices that led them into the closet in the first place. Damned if you do, and damned if you don't!

Cause for optimism

I must admit that I have been rather pessimistic as regards the possibility of crossdreamers being able to include their crossdreams in a stable relationship.

Recently, however, I have read and heard a lot that seems to indicate that I have been far too pessimistic. It is possible for both male to female and female to male crossdreamers to find partners  willing to give room to their "other side".

This is not a kind of tolerance or understanding you will find everywhere, and especially not in very conservative or fundamentalist societies (whether these are countries like Afganistan or subcultures like Christian fundamentalists in the US). Still, it is becoming more common in broad circles in some Western countries. 

The fact that a majority of people in countries like Norway, Sweden and the US supports gay marriage, demonstrates that deeply held prejudices may be overwon. 

Moreover, the fact that the bestselling novel among women last year was a book about sado-masochistic sex, also tells me that we are finally overcoming the widely held belief that women are  less "kinky" and sexually oriented than men. It seems modern women refuse to be reduced to a madonna or a whore.

I am not saying that crossdreamers and crossdressers can expect the same kind of respect as homosexuals or women enjoying a bit of spanking -- at least not yet -- but these trends show me that people are getting increasingly more open to the idea that human sexuality is diverse and should be diverse. The new tolerance says that people should be able to please each other in the ways they like, as long as no one gets hurt.

Sex with a crossdreamer

Here is a quote from a discussion over at reddit that can serve as a good illustration of this. "throwawaynutella" writes:

"My boyfriend told me a little while ago that he likes crossdressing (in a sexual setting only) and I was super excited to explore it with him! We trade panties all the time and I peg him occasionally. The thing is, lately he's been taking it farther and I don't know how I feel about it. He's been talking about role switching, him acting like a girl during sex and wearing a wig or fake breasts. This hasn't happened, and I don't know if I want it to. He also wants to get a corset for himself (...)

I really do enjoy pegging him and trading panties, but I don't know if I want my boyfriend to act like a woman during sex. Help me please, I don't know what to do."

Yes, this is a 19 year old woman who thinks her boy friend's crossdreaming is going a bit too far and who tries to put up some kind of boundaries. That is very reasonable, if you ask me. 

What makes me interpret this as an amazingly positive statement, however, is the fact that she have no qualms about accommodating some of the wishes of her lover, and even find this exciting.

The discussion following this question is even more revealing. One commenter after the other give practical advice about what they can do and where to draw the line, all mixed in with humor. Most commenters find pegging (anal sex with strap on) OK, but agree that "throwawaynutella" has the right to say no to anything she is uncomfortable with.

It is the common sense approach to it all that gives me hope.

Girlfag liberation in Iran

Note also an exchange taking place on this blog:

"God I'm finally writing this! I'm a ftm [female to male] crossdreamer, 22, from Iran and it sucks! here, I have no chance to express myself and really don't know what to do. I can cross-dress just at home! so I spend all day confused, lost and invisible. 

I read these posts and reverse them to ftm and they really make sense. I was always a normal girl with some weird dreams! I can continue being a girl if they let me to throw away almost all the signs of femininity! Here in Iran transgenders are allowed to fully transition if they completely feel like the other sex and homosexuality is illegal!!! So I try to continue, repeating day and night to myself that I'm a girl and end up watching gay movies or porn and dreaming of turning to a boy someday! 

The man inside me has grown up more and more and wants to come out, he's driving me crazy. I tried to forget about him but...he has made strong muscles I guess! I found a gay boyfriend in internet. exactly my style: submissive, younger, feminine. He assumes me a transgender who needs to transition. I told him that I'm not sure cuz I feel the both genders in me but he says I must accept that I'm a guy. Well it really makes me happy but is that the truth???"

You may not think there is much hope to find in a comment like this one, and -- indeed -- Rayka is facing some huge challenges. 

Still, one response to Rayka's prayer shows me that there is at least room for self acceptance, even when living in a country like Iran. And self acceptance is a huge step forward compared to living in fear and shame, and believing you are the only one on the planet who feels this way.

The fact that Rayka has become part of a global community of crossdreamers is also important. It may be hard for her to use this community to find love in Iran, but has, at least, become a little bit less impossible than it was before.

Be yourself!

Ariadna Azul wrote the following response to Rayka:

"Hi, I am fellow girlfag [female to male crossdreamer] from Peru. I guess being one of us in a country like yours must be hard. My heart is with you! Things in my country never were fair for women either. We are still 2nd class citizens here. Sons are still more welcome/loved than daughters. It is still expected that you are submissive and house chores are thought to be your responsibility just for the fact you are a woman. You have to 'man up' if you want respect from men and not even then. This is the story of my life. Sometimes the desperation can make you take paths that don't suit you, like transitioning or going for a lesbian relationship. 

In my case, I sometimes crossdressed in public to show my disgust for the macho culture that is dominant here. I denied my feminity and i engaged in lesbian relationships trying to find release. It was a hard path but then when you find out who you really are, things are easier. 

Don't deny anything that comes natural to you. Your sexuality, your masculinity and your feminity too. You'll feel at peace with yourself and you'll get to find a balance in your life. Transition ONLY if this is what YOU want, don't let other people decide for you, nobody knows you better than yourself. If you don't feel at ease with the idea, then don't even consider it. People tend to think things in black or white. We are the living proof that nature doesn't. 

Being accepting with my self, with feminity and masculinity as well has helped me a lot to achieve my own identity. Don't change what you are just because you want to fit. If this gay guy can't see it, then he is not worth your time. 

I have met wonderful people in this blog/forum (crossdreamers-crossdreaminglife). MTF crossdreamers are the only kind of guys that i have felt in tune with. I am able to fully understand their struggles and viceversa. It is pure understanding regarding sexuality. In fact, it is very satisfying and exciting (MTF crossdreamers are damn sexy). Finding the best match for you goes beyond sexuality although, (there are many factors, compatibility among them) but as long as you don't need to hide who you truly are, things are way easier. Being honest is the best start for any relationship. I really don't know how easy is for you to express yourself in your society, but i'd personally leave for a country that guarantee my freedom of expression. 

Repression is something really painful. In my case, it led me to think I had an authentic man inside me that was taking over and over. Once i found ways to express my true self, i stared being more accepting with every single side of me, even my feminity (I know, as FTM crossdreamers we tend to deny our feminity in order to benefit our masculine side but this proved to be painful for me too). In yaoi communities you'll find girls like you and me, that share the same dreams and fantasies. Contact me whenever you want!"

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!