January 13, 2014

New web site on girlfags and guydykes (+ the story about the blind men and the elephant)

Activists trying to describe the transgender continuum.

Ili has put up a new web site for and about girlfags and guydykes.

The site is bilingual: In German and English. It is currently under construction, so watch out for scaffolding and fresh paint!

The goal is to gather new and previously published material that may throw light upon the lives and feelings of girlfags and guydykes (gfgd).

gfgd and crossdreamers

The girlfag/guydyke concept overlaps with the crossdreamer term, in the sense that some (but not all ) girlfags and guydykes are crossdreamers. That is: They fantasize about being the other sex (relative to their birth sex) in a sexual or romantic relationship.

Female bodied girlfags may write and read stories about gay male relationship, identifying with one of the male partners while doing so. Male bodied guydykes will often dream about being a woman in a lesbian relationship.

Note, however, that at the core of the gfgd concept you find a strong affinity with gay or lesbian culture. This is not always the case for crossdreamers.

Moreover, I do not think I am far off the mark if I say that the gfgd term is also defined by the person's sexual orientation. A girlfag is mainly attracted to men. A guydyke is mainly attracted to women. You will, for instance,  find that many girlfags have a lot in common with lesbian butch women, the main difference being their sexual orientation.

The more I learn about crossdreaming, the clearer it becomes that crossdreaming is not restricted to "heterosexual" men and women who are mainly attracted to people of the opposite sex (relative to their birth sex). Both gay men and lesbian women may engage in crossdreaming.

The gfgd concept and the crossdreamer term also overlap in the sense that some girlfags and gudykes are gender dysphoric  (they suffer severely from a misalignment between an inner sex and their body). The same applies to some (but not all) crossdreamers.

It is all the overlaps that have made me interested and engaged in the girlfag and guydyke cause.

The blind men and the elephant

I think it is important to keep in mind that both the girlfag/guydyke concept and the crossdreamer concept are attempts at describing overlapping realities. We are looking at related phenomena from different angles.

There is no clearly defined group of people out there that can be called "crossdreamers" and who are completely distinct from all other people. This term, as well as the gfgd concept, are man made words we make use of in our attempts to understand ourselves and others.

The Indian story of the elephant and the blind men comes to mind.

One version of the story says that six blind men were asked to determine what an elephant looked like by feeling different parts of the elephant's body. The blind man who feels a leg says the elephant is like a pillar; the one who feels the tail says the elephant is like a rope; the one who feels the trunk says the elephant is like a tree branch; the one who feels the ear says the elephant is like a hand fan; the one who feels the belly says the elephant is like a wall; and the one who feels the tusk says the elephant is like a solid pipe.

They were all right in a way, but none of them were able to comprehend the totality of the elephant.

I have met quite a few transgender people,  crossdreamers and girlfags included, that become frustrated by all the terms that pop up in the sex and gender debate. They want something measurable, definitive and clear cut. They want something "scientific". What they really want is to cut of the elephant's leg and present it as a completely separate phenomenon:

"See! This is what I am!  I am a crossdresser. I can be defined as 'something pillar like'. I have nothing in common with the 'rope people' over there!"

This need becomes especially urgent if they associate the "rope people" with something negative: "At least I am not homosexual!" As if being homosexual would be in any way more difficult than being a heterosexual crossdresser.

It is all such a waste of time and opportunities for learning.


9 comments:

Elsa Delyth said...

I wonder if polarization is avoidable. I was talking to someone the other day about different philosophical traditions surrounding materialism, and idealism -- and I was attempting to, in my normal dialectical style bridge them, when they reminded me that idealists believe in a divine or metaphysical origin to the forms, and essential natures of things. Tending to conservatism, and demonization of deviation.

So, intellectually it is all well and good for me to try to find some balance, but practically, politically, socially only one side is tolerant of deviation from their ideal of things. Only one side will have me.

One makes a lot of sacrifices, and compromises with themselves in order to attempt to be accepted by people that will never accept you, for as long as they have idealized the world.

Jack Molay said...

@Elsa,

You make a very interesting point. There are primatologists who argue that homo sapiens, like most primates, are tribal, and will immediately sort people into us and them. The Buddhist and Christian gospels of all men and women being of your tribe become too much to stomach.

I have heard about lesbians who want the drag queens and the drag kings out of the Pride Parade, as they make people believe that gays and lesbians are not normal. Depressing.

On the other hand, the fact that homosexuals increasingly become "like us" instead of "outsiders" proves that much can be done. Conservatives prefer the status quo, but when the status quo is inclusive, they will defend that to.

Racism can also be reduced, if people are made to see and feel the common humanity of "the others".

The most important example for me, however, is the liberation of women. Much remains to be done, but for one living in a country run by women I must say I believe anything is possible.

Kathryn Dumke said...

Interesting isn't it? The simple solution is to understand that of course each of the differentiated conditions of humanity are each an elephant in their own right. Then we could begin talking about each elephants body parts and in doing so find some common ground. The real problem is that six blind men touch six different elephants and, alas because they are blind think that each part they touch of each elephant defines their whole universe.

The real trouble is that they are not blind at all, they just wear blinders. \how about taking them off?

Jack Molay said...

@Kathryn,

"Each is an elephant in their own right".

That won't work, Kathryn, and not because you and your transsexual sisters are not real women. You are.

The reason is mainly that too many trans women and trans men start out as crossdresser, crossdreamers, gender queer, exploring different terms and identities before they sort it all out and accept themselves as who they are.

Secondly, you underestimate the pressure many transsexuals have towards adhering to traditional gender roles, blending in.

For some adapting such a role is not a significant problem. Their personality profile and temperament might fit well with the stereotypes of the surrounding culture.

For others this may be a problem, and they will make enormous efforts to fit in, in the same way some women born women find it hard to adapt to contemporary gender roles.

My point here is not that they are wrong in doing so. We all have to live in the real world. My point is that the divide between transsexuals fully identifying with their target sex and other gender dysphoric transgender people is not as clear cut as your multi-elephant model would have us to believe.

joannaS said...

everything I now know about this topic starting first and foremost with the work of Harry Benjamin leads me to the conclusion that there is indeed a unifying theory of dysphoria. These are not separate phenomena and never were.

Jack you are correct to say that many transsexuals gradually started off as crossdressers not understanding the true depths of their feelings and many others stayed as they are and did not transition.

I recommend that everyone as a start read "The Transsexual Phenomenon" and go from there.

Elsa Delyth said...

@Jack

Sure, there is movement, epochs, a constant redefining of normality -- but as long as there is normality at all, there is abnormality, the outliers. Rejected not because of what their effects, but because of what they are.

Religions, which hold that everything can be harmonized under the same ideology -- but a harmony is difference working together, not a squelching of difference in order to render everything the same.

No, I think that the world is differential, unities are myths, ideals. Ideals that attack things at their characters, that which makes them unique, and individual, in order to reify a category, a generality.

Ideals falsify the world, generate dogmas, and aim to control our vary natures.

Jack Molay said...

@Elsa

There are religious thinkers who would agree with you. There are both Hindu, Christian and Muslim mystics who argue that enlightenment can only come from breaking down all categories -- the Via Negativa.

Buddhism has at its core the idea that everything we see, and all our concepts, are Maya, an unstable flux of being or an illusion.

What I find fascinating, though, is how quickly dogmatists are able to turn such radical views of the diversity of life into restricting dogma.

In the gospels Jesus again and again chides the Farisees for focusing on the letter instead of the spirit of the law. In spite of this large groups of Christians behave like dogmatic Farisees.

The recent bath room spectacle in the US, where religious right wingers try to keep MTF trans kids out of women's bathrooms is an extreme example of this. Rituals of "cleanliness" are used to expel the people who threatens their belief system. The most efficient way of doing so is to sexualize your opponent.

So, yes, again, there seems to be a very deeply anchored need in at least some people to stick to very simplistic maps of how the world ought to be.

Jack Molay said...



It also seems to me that this need is more clearly expressed in some personality types than others.

On the plus side we also find people who are extremely creative when it comes to redefining concepts and opening up for more variation.

There are also those who may agree to the dogmas in principle, but who understands the human condition and urges caution and humility. The contrast between the previous and the present pope is very intersting in that respect.

Unfortunately sex and gender is the most charged topic of Western culture, which is why the need to conform, belong and be loved is so strong in this arena. That explains much of the violence we find in the transgender community.

Elsa Delyth said...

"Maya" used to mean "wisdom" before coming to mean deception, fraud, illusion, witchcraft, magic, and such. Maya is the old wisdom.

Jesus, and the Buddha are examples of the polarization I began with. A rejection of tradition, and idealism in favor of materialism. To idealize their teachings is to render them Maya.

There are people within the Christian, and Buddhist traditions that are great examples of the materialist tradition, or at least sympathizers to it -- but they are not representative, and to the extent that they are, they are opposed to all dogma.

I shouldn't single out religions there, every tradition is capable of being idealized, and crystalized, or progressive and open ended. Some though, I think are clearly more conducive to idealism than others.

Religion is more conducive to idealism, but it also has its share of materialists, and science is more conducive to materialism, but also has its share of idealists.

I don't mean to take a position against any particular tradition, per se, rather than idealism itself. This is the polarization I do not think can be avoided.

Death to the old wisdom. Lets discover the world anew each day!