November 8, 2013

When men loving men crossdream

Part 1 of the "Gay" vs. "Straight" Crossdreamers Series.

Crossdreamers get aroused by the idea of being the opposite biological sex.
Feeling sexy, AKA autogynephilia.

It was the existence of crossdreaming male bodied persons who made Dr. Ray Blanchard of Toronto develop his infamous autogynephilia theory, where he argues that (1) male to female crossdressers and transsexual women who love women are of the same kind and (2) none of them are women.

One of the fundamental tenets of the autogynephilia theory is that male bodied persons who are attracted to men (homosexual men and androphilic/man loving trans women) cannot experience crossdreaming fantasies (called "autogynephilic fantasies" by these researchers).

That is: Male bodied people attracted to men can not get aroused by the idea of being a woman -- not even if they are trans.

(I guess it is implied that the same applies to XX lesbians and XY trans men. Female bodied persons are for some bizarre reason often exempt from the pathologization of trans people.)

The main point here seems to be that it is the very arousal from imagining yourself as a man or a woman that marks you as a paraphiliac or a pervert. Gay men and women and heterosexual trans men and women are also considered mentally ill by Blanchard, but then for different reasons.

Being a sexy woman

I have always found the idea that pre-op man-loving (androphilic) trans women do not get turned on by the idea of having a female body strange. After all, how can trans women attracted to men imagine themselves having sex if not as women?

And if they do fantasize about having sex as a woman, wouldn't the very idea of being a sexy woman become arousing by association? After all, women born women experience "autogynephilia". Women's sexual fantasies are full of scenarios where their beauty makes men (and women!) desire them. And yes they get turned on by this very scenario. Read a couple of steamy romance novels, if you do not believe me.

Which leads me back to the main question: Why do not androphilic male bodied gender bending people report crossdreaming fantasies?

The story of jynx

It turns out they do. 

Here is  a comment  over at PsychForums. written by "jynx", which gives one clear example of a gay man getting excited by the idea of being a woman. I am taking the liberty of quoting some of the text here.

I am using the male pronoun as he is identifying as male in the text. He is in his early 20's now, but tells of early childhood experiments in femininity. Please note that English is not his mother tongue:

"When i was 3-4 years old, i put towel my hair. I imagined towel is my girlish hair and i was a girl. I often imitated female characters on tv. My dad reprehended me because of these things so i didn't put towel my hair anymore."

The feminine side of his personality continued to express itself as he god older:

"When i was 5-6-7 years old, i played playstation with a guy. When it was a fight game and included female characters, i always chose a female character. When we played wife-husband games, i was always a wife. But i didn't play barbies, try to wear female clothes or try to damage my penis. But my acts was so femimine. Also, my face had feminine traits. I had big, innocent eyes, red, shining lips like a girl."

So far, this story reads like the stereotypical narrative of the effeminate gay boys of researchers like Zucker, Blanchard and Bailey. But then the story moves in another direction. jynx does what many gynephilic crossdreamers do at an early age. He tries to adapt to the life of a man. He goes on to tell about being bullied for his feminine acts in primary school, and his attempts at trying to act like a guy.

It is absolutely clear from what he tells us, though, that he is clearly sexually attracted to men, unlike the more typical male to female crossdreamer, who is attracted to women.

Attracted to the male form

"I was attracted to only guys since i was 5/6 years old, especially masculine guys. Thinking of kissing a female disgusted me. I masturbated to think only[of] guys."

According to Blanchard & Co, "autogynephiles" may imagining themselves having sex with men, but they are never attracted to the male form. jynx clearly is.

jynx says that he did not do "classic masturbation", as it caused him pain. Instead he rubbed himself against the bed (a kind of masturbation preferred by many crossdreamers at this age).

"I only did this masturbation when i was dressed (underwear, tracksuit). I was only sexually aroused watching straight porn, man/woman kissing. Man/man kissing, sex didn't turn on me so much. Because i liked imagining myself a female."

I am sure there are those that will argue that him watching straight porn proves that he is not androphilic (man-loving) at all, but an "autogynephile" pretending to be attracted to men.

The fact is, however, that watching straight porn make perfect sense if you are a androphilic transsexual woman. As such, you are heterosexual, and straight porn should turn you on.

Turned on by being female

But is he crossdreaming for real? Or is he just enjoying the idea of having sex as a woman?

To tell the truth, I find it hard to understand the difference, but for the "autogynephilia"-tribe this is very important. You have to get turned on by the idea of having a female body.

He does:

"Sometimes i imagined myself having woman breast and vagina and wished i was a female. I really don't like anal sex. I thought I wish i was female and have vaginal sex."

One might argue that this paragraph is ambiguous. His fantasy of having a female body is a practical one as he finds gay anal sex painful. But given that this is written in the context of him having sexual fantasies of being a woman with men, this looks very much  like crossdreaming to me.

Failing the stereotypes

The myth is that drag queens dress up as
women in order to violate gender roles. It is
all about art, apparently. Really?
Photo: Karen Struthers
He continues to stray  from the script of Dr. Ray Blanchard, the creator of the autogynephilia theory.

As an androphilic (man-loving) effeminate male or transsexual woman, he should behave according to feminine stereotypes, also as regards mannerisms and interests.  He does not. Instead he follows the script given to many "autogynephiles".

"İ entered puberty very earlier. I became hairy and had a beard very earlier. My feminine face turned into a very masculine, macho face. But i still felt somewhat a girl. i didn't like my hairy body and beard. I didn't have a problem wearing men clothes except suit, pants and tie. I also didn't interest in women clothes, makeup, shopping, fashion. I liked wearing plainly. T-shit and jeans. That's all."

This paragraph reminds me of what trans activist Julia Serano tells us in her book Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity. The fact that she did not lived up to the feminine stereotypes did not make her less of a woman.

In spite of not behaving like your typical crossdresser, jynx does identify with traits considered more feminine in our culture:

"Since i was [in] elementary school, my voice was neither very feminine or very masculine. But i didn't use any cusses when i was talking. Using cusses felt me weird. I also didn't interest football, basketball, cars. Now, i asked some people i am feminine or not. They all say i am not feminine. Even when i say i am attracted to males, they are surprised. But i was very confused my sexual identity in my whole life time. Maybe i suppressed my feminine side since i was bullied in primary school. Maybe i also wanted to wear woman clothes and be a real woman but i suppressed it too. I don't know."

Like many of us, jynx tries desperately to find a template that can fit his life, but he does not find it.
By the way, the fact that he avoids wearing women's clothes does not mean that he is not a crossdreamer. Many crossdreamers, myself included, do not crossdress. The reason Blanchard gave up classifying "autogynephilia" as a fetish in the first place, was exactly because he found too many non-crossdressing "autogynephiles".

Gay male or straight female?

"Do you think am i a gay male," jynx asks, "or a straight female in a man's body?"

I cannot answer that question, as jynx does not fit well into the pigeon holes provided by society.  But it is clear to me that jynx is a crossdreamer.

What this tells me is that any attempts at sorting trans people into two distinct categories in the way Blanchard and others do is impossible. Since sex and gender are the end result of a complex interplay between genetic, hormonal, personal and cultural factors, diversity is what you should expect to see. Diversity is -- in fact -- what we see.

In my next post I will look at female to male lesbian crossdreamers, before looking at the sexual expressions of man-loving male to female trans people.

Next: On crossdreaming lesbians and sexy trans women

[One paragraph and one sentence was added to this blog post a few hours after publication].

This blog post is part of the following series:

  1. When men loving men crossdream
  2. On crossdreaming lesbians and sexy trans women
  3. Autogynephilia: Bad Science Revisited
  4. What explains the difference between the two types of MTF transgender?

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!