January 29, 2014

A Creative Crossdreamer Vocabulary, from "Top/Bottom" to "Twilighter"

Here is the fifth part of my Crossdreamer Dictionary. You can read the first entries here!
I found this photo by nensuria over
at Photos.com. It was tagged "Concept
of Domination and Authority." The fact that the
tie is immediately associated with
 dominance, says a lot about how
many read the roles of
men and women.

You may consider each of these entries a mini blog-post in its own right, all covering topics that should be of interest to crossdreamers and other transgender people.

Are there any crossdreamer phenomena, feelings or ideas you think is missing? Please add them as a comment!

Top and Bottom

More than 70 million copies have been sold of the "mommy porn" novel Fifty Shades of Grey,  not only proving that a significant proportion of women  find the idea of bondage and BDSM tantalizing, but also that most people find this phenomenon completely undramatic.

Fifty Shades of Grey echoes the preconceptions that there are two kind of people in the world: "tops" and "bottoms, "dominants" and "submissives".

Men are supposed to be on top, while women are supposed to give themselves passively to the man. You will find such  hierarchies among gay men and lesbian, as well, and even there being the penetrator may sometimes seem to be "better" than being the "penetree". The reason for this is most likely that sexual dominance is mixed up with social dominance.

To make this clear: There is no correlation between your social power and bedside preferences. Really! Nor is the "bottom" always passive and reactive in bed. And yes, there are female tops and male bottoms, and many seem to thrive in both roles.

Although there is a lot of variation, there is reason to believe that many male to female crossdreamers are -- in fact -- "bottoms". They want to be at the receiving end in bed, and the closer they are to the gender dysphoric end of the spectrum, the less pleasure they take in being "the man" in bed.

Historical picture of Japanese
femme and butch. From flickr.
This causes obviously a lot of frustration for the MTF (male to female) crossdreamers who are attracted to women, as most women expect them to be the proactive one.  There are practical solutions to this, pegging being one of them, but not all heterosexual women are comfortable with this kind of role play.

As for the female to male crossdreamers, it seems a majority of those at the gender dysphoric end of the spectrum dream about being the dominant seme in the gay male relationship, and not the more submissive uke. However, I do not have sufficient data to confirm this.


A transfan is someone who is attracted to trans people. Some male to female crossdreamers are drawn to  trans women who for various reasons have kept their male genitalia, most likely because these women seem to be able to solve one of their major dilemmas: The conflict between loving women and wanting to be the receptive bottom in bed. They may think that a trans woman with a penis may be able to solve this problem.
Some feel an attraction to a
combination of masculine and
feminine traits.
Photo: John Sommer 

Indeed, this might work, but in most cases transsexual women would prefer to be the receptive party themselves. Moreover, many of them -- if not most -- are  alienated from their male sex organ, and this is not the kind of affirmation they are looking for. Because of this male transfans are often ridiculed, not only by society at large, but also by trans women.

Other men are drawn to other constellations of gender ambiguity, including "tomboys",  lesbian women or female to male crossdreamers. These types of attractions are not easily classified.

There are also a lot of  female bodied trans fans. Female to male crossdreamers are often attracted to feminine looking men, being those feminine gay men or male to female crossdreamers.

In the lesbian community you will also find many transfans, in the sense that they are fascinated by masculine butches or female to male transsexual men. There is also much lesbian erotica that explores gender ambiguity and male role playing, including the use of strap-on dildos and other masculine paraphernalia.

The thriving "shemale"or "t-girl" porn industry,  as well as the abundance of trans man erotica for lesbian women tell me that there are a lot of transfans around, and that many feel an ambiguity as regards male and female sexual expressions.

I suspect there is much more gender and sexual orientation ambiguity out there than most people would like to admit. Most of this ambiguity is denied, however, or repressed, as the strict taboos that exist against such violations of common norms  lead to severe punishment, ridicule and ostracism.


Some crossdreamers insist that they are not transgender. This reluctance is most often caused by a misunderstanding: They believe "transgender" means the same as "transsexual". Indeed, the word is sometimes used in this way.

So to be clear: Transgender is an umbrella term that embraces all types of gender variance, including crossdressers, crossdreamers, drag queens, gender queer and transsexuals.

You may perfectly well identify with your birth sex and still be transgender. Nor does anyone force you to believe in a specific model explaining how you came to be transgender if you call yourself transgender. (And no, this is not a definition Jack Molay is trying to force upon trans people. This has been common usage of the term since the early 1990s).

By the way, the confusion caused by the term "transgender" has caused many to coin new terms, "trans*" (with an asterisk)  and "gender variant" being the most popular right now.


A transsexual is someone  who  wants to transition, intends to transition or have transitioned, in this way becoming his or her target sex not only mentally, but also physically. Nearly all transsexuals have suffered  severely from a mismatch between their bodies and their experienced sex, i.e. they have been (or are) gender dysphoric.

When transitioning transsexuals undergo some kind of  sex realignment (also called reassignment) therapy. This treatment can include hormone replacement therapy to modify secondary sex characteristics, sex realignment "bottom" surgery to alter primary sex characteristics, as well as facial feminization surgery and permanent hair removal for trans women. Trans men will often have chest surgery. Trans men may also undergo genital reconstruction.

Transsexual people who transition usually change their social gender roles, legal names and legal sex designation. Needless to say, all of this means that they have a need for health care and social assistance that go beyond the needs of non-transsexual transgender people.

Transsexual men and women are as diverse as other people when it comes to temperaments, abilities, interests, and gender expressions. Most of them  (although not all) have one thing in common, though: At the time they are transitioning most of them  are deeply anchored in one, fairly distinct, sex identity. A trans woman's sense of self is female. She is a woman.

In this transsexual men and women are different from many other transgender people, some of whom may be more "gender fluid": These transgender persons may identify with their birth sex while at the same time exploring personality traits and expressions normally associated with the other sex, they may  identify with both or neither of the traditional two genders or they may be in the process of exploring their own identity.

I seems to me that most transsexuals have been crossdreamers, in the sense that they have had sexual fantasies about having sex as their target sex. There is simply no other way for them to fantasize about having sex. But note that not all crossdreamers are gender dysphoric. Moreover, not all gender dysphoric crossdreamers transition.

Tucking and chest binding

Crossdreamers may try to hide or camouflage their male or female attributes to look more like their target sex. Male to female crossdressers may  tape their male genitalia to their body, so that it looks like they have a smooth triangle in  front. Some also "tuck" their testicles back up into their body cavity. Some use tight panties or "gaffs" to keep it all in place.
Breast binder from T-kingdom

Female to male crossdreamers (as well as many butch and gender dysphoric female bodied lesbians) may bind their chest using bandages or special garments to make their breasts less apparent.

It seems to me that these are all attempts at realigning the outer body with a conflicting inner body image.


The twilighter gets his or her name from the twilight zone in between the crossmopolitan and the dysphoric. He or she is in the problematic position of being both male and female in close to equal proportions.

In the modern cultural context there is no role for the two-spirited, and they may find it extremely hard to make peace with themselves and the people around them. That being said, the female to male crossdreamer will normally experience more leeway in respect to unorthodox gender expressions.

Not all twilighters are androgynous. Much of the confusion felt by many twilighters is probably caused by the fact that we often mix up variables like sex identity, sexual orientation, romantic orientation, gender expression, masculinity/femininity and gender roles. Somehow, people expect all of these traits to line up on a masculine or feminine axis, while in the real world, they often don't.

A male to female twilighter may, for instance, have a male sex identity, but hate "masculine" rough and tumble play and love to express himself in a feminine manner. Other male to female twilighters may have a predominantly female sex identity, but find it hard to recognize it, as they have interests and personality traits that are not considered traditionally feminine.

To be continued....

*an asterisk marks a term coined by me.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!