December 4, 2013

A Creative Crossdreamer Vocabulary, from "Dark Crossdreamers" to "Misaffirmation"

Here is the second part of my new Crossdreamer Dictionary. You can read the first entry here!

Crossdreamers are men and women who get excited by the idea of being the other sex. In this series I try to present imaginary (and not so imaginary) terms that can help us understand what crossdreaming is about.

Dark crossdreamers*
Some crossdreamers have suppressed
their other side completely.
Photo: michele piacquadio

Dark crossdreamers are people who have managed to suppress their transgender side completely. They are not even aware of splitting (i.e. a mental compartmentalization of their other side).

The dark crossdreamers are as mysterious and invisible as dark matter, although some dark crossdreamers may have a breakthrough, as the suppressed side forces its way to the surface. This is why we know they exist.

The existence of dark crossdreamers makes it impossible to determine how large a proportion of the human population is actually crossdreamers.


Dysphoric crossdreamers feel a strong sense of misalignment between their bodies and their minds. Quite often they will feel completely alienated from their own bodies and the gender role they are forced to play. They only manage to live the "normal" lives of someone assigned to their birth sex through great sacrifice. Many of them will end up transitioning.

In spite of what some  would like you to believe, most transsexual men and women have been crossdreamers.

Erotic dissonance

Crossdreaming or being turned on by something (song, movie scene, etc.) that is not meant to be sexual but simply funny, exciting, etc.

(Hat tip to Hagia Sofia)


Euophoria is the intense sense of joy a crossdreamer may feel when he or she is able to express his or her hidden side. This may be male to female crossdresser's joy of wearing feminine attire, the female to male crossdressers mischievous sense of power from "packing", or it may be the emotional release that comes from writing a story, a caption or a comic that make perfect sense.

Euphoria is related to soaring.

Flash flood*

Overwhelmed (photo: Jochen Schönfeld)
An extremely strong and fast oncoming surge, where the desire to become the other sex overwhelms you. For some this experience may lead to madfear (i.e. an intense fear of going insane).

Forced feminization

A recurrent theme in male to female crossdreaming is forced feminization, where a man is changed into a woman against his will. The transformation may be complete or partial (crossdressing). Such fantasies may also include elements of forced sex. In this respect they are similar to the rape fantasies you often find among women.

In Almodovar's movie The Skin I Live In, the doctor
played by Antonio Banderas uses surgery and drugs
to turn Vincente into Vera. 
A common explanation for such fantasies among women as well as male bodies crossdreamers, is that the forced aspect relieves them of responsibility and guilt: "I am not to blame. I could not stop it!"

An archetypal forced feminization fantasy can be found in Pedro Almodóvar's movie The Skin I Live In, where the disturbed Dr. Robert Regard kidnaps Vicente and changes him into Vera.

Female to male crossdreamers rarely fantasise about forced masculinisation, most likely because masculinity is not associated with helplessness in our cultures. They may make up stories about feminizing men, however.

Gender Queer

Some crossdreamers do not seek to be the opposite sex in their fantasies and role playing. Or if they do, this is part of a process where they try to integrate their masculine and feminine side.

The gender queer refuse to be reduced to male or female only. Some of them use the word "androgynous" instead, which may be a bit misleading, as many of them do not necessarily appear androgynous. A similar term is "non-binary".


Genderstretch, also known as "gender impatience", is the feeling of frustration that comes from feeling stuck in between being male and female.

As Hagia Sofia over at Crossdream Life puts it: "Wishing your mind could, well, make up its damn mind and choose one or the other, dammit!"


Crossing borders. Photo: Hemera
Wide term encompassing both female to male crossdreamers and non-transgender women who feel an affinity for gay and feminine men. Crossdreaming girlfags often fantasize about being a man in a gay relationship.

A related Japanese term is Fujoshi, used about female fans of manga comics and novels that feature romantic relationships between men. Currently the most popular form for creative girlfag crossdreaming is found in yaoi comics, made by girlfags for girlfags.


Wide term encompassing both male to female crossdreamers and non-transgender men who feel an affinity for lesbian women.

Crossdreaming guydykes dream about being a lesbian woman.

Gynephilic and Androphilic

Crossdreamers dream about being the opposite sex. Some of them identify with their birth sex, while others (and especially transsexual crossdreamers)  identify with their target sex. Because of this the traditional terms for sexual orientation, homosexual or heterosexual,  are confusing. What do you mean when you say "heterosexual"? Are you referring to the birth sex or the target sex?

To avoid this confusion it helps to describe people who are predominantly attracted to men "androphilic" (meaning "loving men"), and those attracted to women "gynephilic" (meaning "loving women"). Bisexuals are bisexuals regardless of point of view.


Male to female crossdreamers may engage in hypercorrection, i.e. attempts at killing off their crossdreamer feelings by engaging in stereotypical manly activities.
Ernest Hemingway succeeded
in presenting himself as the
tough macho man, while
secretly writing about

Kristin Beck, born Chris, fought as a SEAL in Afghanistan, believing such hypermasculine activities would help her cope as a man. I would guess that Ernest Hemingway cultivated his macho man image, partly to handle his crossdreamer side.

Hypercorrection never works.

Hypercorrection seems to be less common among female to male crossdreamers, possible because women are given more leeway to use masculine clothing and gender expressions.


A crossdreamer gets ideoflustered when the words used to describe him or her cease to make sense. This can cause much confusion and uncertainty, and may lead to an identity crisis.

A typical example of ideofluster is found when some crossdreamers try to define themselves as men or women. Does the word refer to their bodies, their sense of self, their intellectual understanding of themselves, their gender typical interests, their temperament, how others see them or what?

Comments made by crossdreamers may also cause ideofluster in others. Dr. Ray Blanchard, the man who developed the infamous  "autogynephilia" theory, is know to have been extremely frustrated when some male to female crossdreamers told him they were attracted to women as men, but to men as women. Blanchard solved the problem by referring to their genitalia. Unfortunately, that did not resolve the issue for the crossdreamers.

Inner Woman/Inner Man

Inner Woman or Inner Man are shorthand for whatever it is that causes the need to crossdream or crossdress. A male to female crossdreamer does not have to identify with the opposite sex to have "an inner woman".

For the gender dysphoric crossdreamers this inner persona (often expressed as a ponyo) may be a better representation of their psyche as a whole than the face they normally show the world.


Photo: Stockbyte
Madfear is the feeling the crossdreamer experience when they face a flash flood -- i.e.  when a crossdreamer surge becomes too intense. This normally happens after the crossdreamer is starting to explore this side of his or her psyche consciously. Basically the crossdreamer is overwhelmed with suppressed psychic content and believes that he or she is going insane.

This panic normally subsides as the crossdreamer finds a way of conceptualizing these feelings. Crossbonding with other crossdreamers also helps.

Male lesbian

Some crossdreamers identify as male lesbians. There is no clear definition of the term. Dr. Gilmartin's love shy male lesbian's are apparently not crossdreaming. Guydykes may be understood as male lesbians. Some of them are crossdreamers, while others are non-trans men attracted to lesbians.
British comedian Eddie Izzard identifies
as a male lesbian

To make this even more complicated: Many male to female crossdreamers are clearly attracted to women, but may also imagine themselves as a woman having sex with a man. They may be latent bisexuals, it could be that they want what in our cultures is considered the ultimate affirmation as a woman. It could also be that they are wired to be mostly submissive in bed. 

I suspect the whole hetero/gay dichotomy is far  too simplistic.


Normalian crossdreamers  (i.e. crossdreamers who have managed to live up to the requirements of their birth sex publicly), often find themselves objects of misaffirmation.

Basically, they have succeed so well in their attempts to blend in, that they are praised and rewarded for being -- in the case of male to female crossdreamers -- male pillars of society, and in the case of the female bodied ones: feminine and demure or whatever it is women are supposed to be in their local community.

As any psychologist can tell you, a sound and stable soul is built on affirmation from other people, and in the case of crossdreamers who are anchored firmly in the identity of their birth sex, this type of affirmation may work as intended. For those whose inner identity is not aligned with their birth sex, however, this affirmation only make their misalignment more visible to themselves and therefore harder to bear.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!