July 5, 2014

The Autogynephilia Theory, Again...

With irregular intervals there pops up a new article discussing Ray Blanchard's "autogynephilia" theory, often written by someone who knows enough about crossdreaming to be interested, but not enough to see through the jargon of Blanchard.

Autogynephilia times two.
Photo: Dmitrii Kotin
This is a comment I wrote as a reply to Joseph Burgo's recent article on autogynephilia.

Autogynephilia, huh?

Blanchard argues that there two separate types of transgender, both defined by the sexual orientation of the transgender person. The theory covers both male to female crossdressers and trans women, but the vocabulary refers mostly to trans women.

The first type is the "homosexual transsexual" (by which he means trans women attracted to men). These are effeminate gay men who transition in order to attract straight men, according to Blanchard.

The other is the "autogynephilic transsexual" (those who are not attracted to men). These he considers heterosexual paraphiliacs (perverts) who are sexually attracted to the image of themselves as female. Neither Blanchard nor his supporter J. Michael Bailey, recognize any of these as women.

Blinded by Science

Needless to say, the Blanchard model invalidates the identities of trans women. And from where I am standing it is also clear that the theory does not reflect the real lives of non-transsexual crossdreamers and crossdressers.

We live in a culture, however, where scientists are expected to be disinterested and objective, while the trans activists are -- for obviously reasons -- both emotionally and existentially involved in what's being said about them. This has led some to believe Blanchard (who is not transgender) knows more about transgender issues than transsexual women, crossdreamers and crossdressers.

Let me therefore make this perfectly clear: The theory has been thoroughly falsified and dismissed, also by scientists.

Here are some of the main arguments raised against it:

1. Crossdreaming is not limited to men who love women

The "autogynephiliacs" are defined by what I have called crossdreaming. Crossdreamers may get aroused by the fantasy of being their target sex. The androphilic trans women ("homosexual transsexuals" in Blanchard's misleading and offending terminology, i.e. those who are attracted to men) never experience such fantasies, according to Blanchard.


Well, I have been in touch with many androphilic crossdreamers, and Jaimie Veale's recent studies also confirm that they exist. There are also woman-loving (gynephilic) trans women who report no crossdreaming. This should be impossible, according to Blanchard.

It should be noted that Blanchard's own data shows the same thing. He dismisses his own findings by arguing that the relevant "autogynephiles" are lying. I am sure some of them are, but the androphilic ones have the same reasons for not telling the truth. Blanchard does not even consider this option, because it would make a mockery out of his theory.

2. There is no clear divide between straight and homosexual

The theory is based on the premise that homosexuality on the one hand, and heterosexuality and bisexuality on the other, are two completely different categories with no overlap. This is a dogma of his. It is not something he is able to prove.

We have known since Alfred Kinsey that sex. gender, gender identity and sexual orientation are fluid and often overlapping categories. Preferences may also change over time. Some woman-loving trans women actually report a change in their sexual orientation after transitioning. This may be caused by them now being allowed to recognize feelings which they have previously considered taboo, but that does not change the fact that Blanchard's classification system is too crude to capture what is truly going on.

3. Blanchard is not a disinterested and objective scientist 

Had he been wise enough to stick to publishing in academic journals, he might have gotten away with this, but in 2013 he agreed to an interview with the web site Motherboard. In this he speaks plainly about his own beliefs.

The interview shows us a man trapped in a 19th century male view of sex and sexuality, where anyone who does not conform to his strict rules of sexual normalcy are considered paraphiliacs (perverts). He defends the use of terms like "sissy" and "tranny", and argues that homosexuality should have been kept in the American psychiatric manual.

4. There are female bodied crossdreamers

In the Motherboard interview Blanchard also confirms that he believes that sexual perversions are only found among men, and that there therefore can be no female bodied crossdreamers ("autoandrophiliacs"). It seems his view is based on some kind of quasi-evolutionary idea that men are the sexually aggressive, while women are passive wall-flowers.

My female to male crossdreamer friends (sometimes referred to as "girlfags") are a bit miffed by having a researcher telling them that they do not exist. I tell them not to worry. There is a thriving FTM crossdreamer culture out there, with its own literary genres (like yaoi and M/M). But that's not all: You also find crossdreamers among lesbians and pre-transitioning trans men.  In many (but not all) of the FTM crossdreamer  fantasies of being a gay man with a gay man, the dreamers or trans men take on the traditional aggressive male role.

5. The theory is based on an extremely narrow view of sexuality

Blanchard reduces desire to some kind of simplistic stimulus/response system, where the image of  a man's or a woman's body or body parts triggers arousal, and such signals only.

Blanchard & Co completely miss the point that non-transgender men and women may also get aroused by the idea of being sexy or being desired. Arousal, desire, affection and love are complex phenomena with a lot of biological and psychological feedback loops.

Dr. Charles Moser has documented "autogynephilia" in non-transgender straight women, and I have found it among some lesbians and trans men.

6. There are simpler explanations

Blanchard is so locked into his old fashioned view of sex and sexuality, that he forgets to consider simpler explanations for what he sees. There is no doubt that crossdreamers (whom he calls "autogynephiliacs") exist. I am one of them. But for most crossdreamers there is a more elegant explanation that makes much more sense: Crossdreaming is not an "erotic target location error" or a separate sexuality. It is, rather, an obvious expression of a repressed sexuality and/or gender identity.

The trans activist and philosopher Julia Serano refers to a subconscious sex which has been repressed throughout a misogynistic, homophobic and transphobic upbringing. Dr. Jaimie Veale argues that many crossdreamers start out as introvert people pleasers, who are willing to do anything to gain the respect and love of family, friends and peers -- to the point of completely obliterating their gender variance. This is a reaction similar to the total denial found among some gays and lesbians. The sex drive is strong, though, and it pushes its way through into dreams and fantasies.

The difference between crossdreamers and non-crossdreaming transgender, or between "late onset" and "early onset" transsexuals, is therefore not primarily about sexual orientation, but about personality traits and temperament.

As a shy kid I managed to completely separate my crossdreamer fantasies from my understanding of myself as a non-transgender straight man. I interpreted my gender dysphoria as anxiety and depression caused by other factors. The fear of being considered a freak was so strong that I found it hard to approach women.

The isolation some crossdreamers' experience is not a lack of a capacity for the love of others, but a belief that there is no one there who would love them for who they are. They are wrong about this. I am happily married to a woman who loves me as I am. But the fear is not without reason. Having people like Blanchard running around classifying us as mentally ill perverts is certainly not helping crossdreamers find love and respect!

References and further reading


58 comments:

  1. Jack,

    I not convinced that "repressed gender identity" is really a simpler explanation than "target location error" While it is more elegant and intuitive as a narrative the component psychological or biological artifacts that would be required to support such a model appear to me to be more complicated. Occam did not mean that a solution that appeared simpler was the likely answer, but the answer that was simpler, by requiring less assumptions, was the likely answer. I am not launching a defense of Blanchard, but for a lot of us, I think target location makes sense, especially in the context social anxiety that suppressed contact with females in adolescence.

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  2. I too have wondered whether i would be jacking off to this stuff (or escalated to this stuff) if i knew i could get any woman i wanted.. i always wanted to have sex with somebody but i was very shy.. only recently have i started to feel naturally confident and masculine when i resolved my old issues (not gender related)..

    As regarding the target location error thing.. whats arousing about AGN is that i imagine being a woman i find sexually arousing as a man, not whoms persona i find admireable..

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  3. Actually target location error, (TLE), is the one thing about the AGP theory that has a solid basis in empirically observable fact.

    The rest of the theory is a total "miss". The biggest error is caused by the false assumption that sexual identity is somehow related to sexual orientation. There is no relation.

    Another glaring error is that the theory specifically excludes those female psyches born with male bodies that are forced to endure all those testosterone related side effects, (including attraction to other females), all the while knowing/realizing/understanding that they are in fact female. They were never 'effeminate homosexuals'. These statistically insignificant unfortunates were described by Benjamin as your Type V and VI transsexuals.

    Effeminate homosexuals, on the other hand, generally have no interest in transforming their body, beyond possibly some cosmetic feminization. Very muck like their heterosexual counterparts, (cross dressers/transvestites), they like and enjoy their male genitalia.

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  5. Anon1,

    Are you implying that that the true TLE is toward women where it should be toward men and that T is the cause? Testosterone does not cause a person to be attracted to females. Women have T, as do gay men and more of it does not change orientation in either.

    I know a lot of people subscribe to the "T poisons my female brain' idea (and E heals it) but lets not go overboard. I can't say that is wrong, but seems unlikely to apply to everyone.

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  6. @Anonymous wrote: "Actually target location error, (TLE), is the one thing about the AGP theory that has a solid basis in empirically observable fact."

    No, to present a description of the lives of transgender people who have been traumatized, isolated and shamed into submission as an "empirical fact" is nonsense.

    We must always look at the broader context of human behavior, and when it comes to crossdreaming the context is a culture colored by misogyny, homophobia and transphobia.

    If you are led to believe that a man who wants to be a woman is a pervert, you will keep your crossdreaming a secret. And if you live in a relationship with a woman who expects you to live up to the masculine stereotypes, you will fail.

    An escape into sexual fantasies and/or erotic crossdressing becomes an obvious response to this scenario, and it is this isolation that is interpreted as a target location error and narcissism.

    The "empirical fact" Blanchard and Co ignore is that if crossdreamers do get the validation they hope for, and they are accepted for whom they are, their sexuality is not that different from others. They may love, desire and have sex with another person in the same way as everybody else.

    Remember that Blanchard is caught up in an simplistic model of sexual attraction. He completely disregards the fact that sexuality is not only a response to visual stimuli out there.

    Many MTF crossdreamers find it hard to accept the feminine side that surfaces in their fantasies, as they have been taught over and over again that being feminine is bad. This is why they keep this side of themselves secret from others, and that is why they turn inwards instead of outwards.

    Blanchard also ignores that most people are autoerotic at times. We no longer believe that erotica or masturbation are target location errors -- yet they are, if you follow the underpinning logic of Blanchard's theory.

    In interpersonal relationships arousal and desire are the effect of a complex interaction between two people, where affirmation and the ability to love and accept yourself a person to be desired is essential.

    Ironically, even Blanchard and Bailey will accept that women have a more complex sexuality, but since they are unable to read MTF crossdreamers as female, they must interpret MTF crossdreaming as a target location error (and deny the existence of FTM crossdreamers).

    I have accepted this side of me as female, and I know of a lot of transgender and transsexual people who have done the same and who have rich and fulfilling love lives with other people. They are not suffering from a target location error.

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  7. @Koloa,

    I hear you, Koloa. If this is what you believe, this is what you believe. But I must also add that I think you are off target, and that you are missing an amazing opportunity to learn a side of yourself that is very much worth knowing.

    If you buy into the theory of Blanchard, this fulfillment will probably not happen, because you will always think of yourself as a pervert. You are not.

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  8. My main problem with AGP and BY FAR its weakest link is that it must rely on the premise that very young children can have fetishes. This is not likely and speaking as a gender dysphoric I can tell you that my cross gender expression from age 4 through age 12 could not have been more devoid of any eroticism. I was just expressing who I was.

    There are more gynephilic transsexuals than androphilic so to assume that all of these people are perverts is a ridiculous premise.

    Gender dysphoria is scaled and vsries in strength from person to person. The stronger it is the more likely you will consider transition.

    Neither Blanchard nor anyone else understands this phenomenon and tagging it as target location error or as an alternate orientation simply adds fuel to the fire and does nothing for the scientific discourse.

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  9. @Joanna

    There are enough different perspectives in the spectrum that multiple causes seem possible. The favorite perspectives that I know of are: biologically driven identity, trauma, or early conditioning/imprinting by circumstance, but there could even be more. There are probably real life examples of all of these walking around, but I would tend to agree that if someone has had gender issues from the age of 4, there is something more fundamental going on. In contrast, my first TG moment/'crossdream' was at 17.

    But it would seem that Blanchard's model is pointed at the dysphoric set with long held pubescent yearnings which I totally get why that annoys a lot of people.

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  10. @Koala. "..
    Are you implying that that the true TLE is toward women where it should be toward men and that T is the cause?"

    Not in the least. Therefore if you are basing your rebuttal on this false assumption, then I suggest you back up and try again.

    @Jack Molay: I am afraid that you too are basing your attempted rebuttal on a false and fabricated 'red herring'.

    "No, to present a description of the lives of transgender people who have been traumatized, isolated and shamed into submission as an "empirical fact" is nonsense."

    I have made no such representation or grossly over-generalized over simplification. I will than you to please stop ascribing your own prejudices to my words.

    The facts are clear as Joanna pints out that such fetishes/paraphilia/TLE's are in fact formed in childhood although in most cases do not manifest until early puberty or even later.

    Just look to your own experience.

    Anon. 3(?)

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  11. @Koloa

    "But it would seem that Blanchard's model is pointed at the dysphoric set with long held pubescent yearnings which I totally get why that annoys a lot of people"

    This is precisely right. Blanchard is pointing to all gynephilic transsexuals and dysphorics and telling them they are fetishists and androphilics fare no better as they are men who want to have sex with straight men.

    There is no scientific evidence for these conclusions other than Blanchard's own twisting of phenomena he observed. its no very good science I am afraid and yes it annoys and disrespects people who have had dysphoria all their lives.

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  12. @Joanna: I actually agree with this...
    "This is precisely right. Blanchard is pointing to all gynephilic transsexuals and dysphorics and telling them they are fetishists and androphilics fare no better as they are men who want to have sex with straight men.

    There is no scientific evidence for these conclusions other than Blanchard's own twisting of phenomena he observed. its no very good science I am afraid and yes it annoys and disrespects people who have had dysphoria all their lives.

    However, you too are engaging in over generalization and conflating tow distinct conditions: IE transsexuals and (gender?) dysphorics.

    Again, apples and oranges, benefiting from distinctly protocols for effective treatment.

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  13. I really don't understand the obssesion with attacking Blanchard. At no point does he meantion AGP as a perversion... he explicitly states that, though technicaly it's a paraphilia, it's much deeper and humane than that... it's a form of sexuality.

    Because Blanchard is only dealing in theory... it's not perfect.... its a theory... so yes there are some problems...

    But his basic premise is correct...a certain proportion of transexuals are motivated by what is, deep down, an erotic desire. Yes, it becomes not blatantly sexual, and idealised, and in its own way beautiful... but it fundamentally stems from the ontense love of oneself as a woman....

    And there's nothing wrong with that.

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  14. The previous commentor is almost correct.

    1. That there is an important difference between being turned on by being feminized, and that turn on developing into a deep emotional attachment to REALLY being feminized.

    2. The idea is false that a dysphoria derived from fetishism is inherently inauthentic.

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  15. Trauma, sexuality and dysphoria

    http://thirdwaytrans.com/2014/06/23/healing-from-trauma-titration/#comments

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  16. Anon,

    I did not write a rebuttal, I just did not understand what you where saying about TLE, but I guess you mean TLE as Blanchard meant it...

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  17. (E)TLE...Def.

    https://www.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rlz=1T4GGHP_enUS591US591&q=erotic+target+location+error

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  18. For me the problem with Blanchard is that he takes (what I see as) a specific phenomenon, an observational insight, and elaborates it into a Theory of Everything. And because people, rightly, reject his universalist claims, they risk dismissing some of the thought-provoking detail he uses to build up a rather shaky case.

    Jack, you say that ‘Crossdreaming is not an “erotic target location error” or a separate sexuality. It is, rather, an obvious expression of a repressed sexuality and/or gender identity.’ I find that too black and white. The word ‘error’ is unfortunate, I agree, because it implies something that is wrong, something that could and should be corrected. But I find it plausible that crossdreaming can be a manifestation of a misdirected erotic impulse, even if in the majority of cases it signals, as you say, the return of the repressed. The analogy I would point to is pornography use. There’s accumulating evidence that porn rewires our brains. The more often you watch porn and get the dopamine hit it delivers, the more the activity and the sensation become entwined in your brain. A teenage boy raised on a diet of porn can’t get the same high when he’s in bed with a real girl that he gets from watching sex on screen. In the same way, I suspect that in adolescence, at a plastic period of brain development, my neural circuitry wired itself to prefer the girl inside my head over the one out there in the real world. In terms of my adult relationships, that’s a misdirection of the arousal pathways which has caused me grief over the years.

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  19. Dabrela is right on the money. "Target location error" is a terrible choice of words. But I know what Blanchard means.

    A more trans friendly term would be "Alternative chanelling" or something like that. In other words, although in the majority of cases human sexuality is targeted in a classic hetero way, there are a number of alternative ways in which sexuality can be channelled and directed.

    Leky.

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  20. again please remember that AGP hinges on a paraphilia or fetish developed in childhood which is a huge stretch. For evidence of this read Anne Lawrence where she points to children as young as 3 having erections to the idea of feminization. This is one of gaping holes in the theory and because of this I point to a previous brain identity as the source and not the paraphilia creating the dysphoria.

    I am deliberately conflating gender dysphorics and transsexuals because a transsexual is a transitioned gender dysphoric. Extreme dysphoria often prompts transition but not all dysphorics transition.

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  21. there is absolutely no scientific basis for the conclusions of Blanchard and that makes his work pseudo science. Until some sort of brain or DNA evidence is found we can all postulate all day and we will get nowhere. However, I do find it disappointing that so much of his work is taken at face value without proper dissection.

    Anne Vitale who has a much more extensive patient history and is transsexual herself does not buy into AGP. Neither does Julia Serano or Jamie Veale who are doing important writing to counteract this crackpot.

    There are two basic groups represented on this site gynephilic dysphorics and fetishists. The key difference being that dysphorics discover their gender conflict well before puberty and the latter at puberty or later so there may not be much of a scientific overlap other than the pattern of arousal.

    Its an exceedingly complex subject.

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  22. Dear Joanna,

    It is a fascinating fascinating question - what prompts infants to crossdress?

    I don't think anyone can say with certainty, and anyone that does say with certainty should hold their tongue; speculating on motive in adults is tricky... in infants it's impossible.

    However, I would like to add something to the debate: I have worked with a lot of kids and I've noticed that some are erotic. In fact, I once saw a friend of my daughters on a sleep over - very very young - grinding herself against a pillow. I looked on the internet and apparently some infants do engage in forms of masturbation.

    Therefore, it is not so proposterous as it may seem to think there is an erotic motive for infant crossdressing.

    Leky

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  25. @Leky

    I can understand what you are saying but I think the child you witnessed is part of a tiny minority of toddlers.

    I had no arousal pattern to speak of at that age and yet desired to crossdress but am at a loss to explain it other than to say it felt right.

    It continues t feel right at the age of 51 and my arousal pattern continues to steadily diminish while the female identification strengthens.

    I cannot tell you why

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  27. Anon

    Your experience differs from mine obviously however the proof for your statements lie where exactly?

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  28. I will continue to delete posts containing verbal abuse. This has now become a very constructive discussion -- one I, at least, find informative and helpful. Let us not ruin it by calling people liers on and so forth. This is the final warning.

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  29. We accept the traditonal idea of normalcy far too easily. In spite of what religous moralists and social biologists may say, the only proper form of sexual desire is not a man being attracted to 'pheontypically normal' female. If you accept that kind of thinking you must also argue that gay men and lesbian women are suffering from erotic target location errors, as their same-sex love does not propagate the species.

    Gays and lesbians were dismissed as autoerotic narcissists for more than a hundred years. But now that so many of them have come out of the closet, it has become close to impossible to uphold this belief. People can see that homosexuals are just as capable of loving others as your regular Joe.

    Children are sexual beings. I agree. One six year old male relative told me enthusiastically that he loved riding the carousel, as it made his willy tingle. I believe Freud was right when he interpreted the rough and tumble play of kids as sexual in nature. But it is also so much more: There is social bonding, training for survival, preparation for adult life.

    I do not buy the idea that sex is something completely separate from the rest of our being. It is an integrated part. The crossdressing boy who gets an erection gets one because he is excited, and he is excited because he has the chance to express a part of himself that is important for him. This is not proof of him being a fetishist. It is proof of him being human.

    And if you leave the mental map of people like Blanchard behind, it may also be interpreted as sign of the kid being some kind of gender variant. Seen from this perspective this boy (or girl if the kid is transsexual) is not that different from the six year old pink princess girl who wriggles excitedly in her chair, basking in much welcomed male attention. And yes, I have seen that happen too.

    For me sex (as in sexuality) must be considered an integrated part of sex (as in gender identity), which is precisely why I consider crossdreaming fantasies a natural and obvious response to some forms of gender variance.

    It is fascinating to see how easily we reduce the crossdreaming kid's joyful arousal to a paraphilia, while our six year old friend's happy embrace of carousels is ignored with an embarassed shrug (if it is recognized at all).

    I agree with Foucault and Butler here: We must stop allowing curch and science to define us as "sinners" or "abnormal".

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  30. "I do not buy the idea that sex is something completely separate from the rest of our being. It is an integrated part."

    Jack what you just said about sexuality is exactly what Blanchard said and Lawrence develops further in "Becoming what we love." They are saying... yes, the origins of AGP are erotic but that is the person's sexuality and a sexuality is such a core part of a person's being that we must go beyond the narrow confines of paraphilia and see it as a sexual orientation. Therefore, just as a gay has many tastes and lifestyle choices that come from being gay (that aren't about sex eg... living in gay neighbourhoods, going to specific bars, fashion etc) the agp transexual will make many choices about his life because he is agp (for example - changing his sex to that of the sex he so loves).

    Your problem, Jack is that you just constantly focus on the paraphilia thing (which you label as perverted - not him)and you ignore all the other references to orientation, lifestyle, and in Lawrence's case, spiritual dimensions of AGP.

    I urge you to forget all the Blanchard stuff about homosexual and nonhomsexual Transexuals... because it is obvious complete nonsense, and I could go with having AGP declassified as a paraphilia. But what I can't take is somone knocking the much greater contribution Blanchard and Lawrence made to understanding a certain type of transexual: one whose TSexuality essentially comes from their sexual orientation - which is AGP.

    At the end of the day we are all trapped by our own stories and perspectives. I think alot of people have problems with Blanchard because they are a different type of trasexual... so the model does not work for them. However, talking of myself, I can only say that while the specifics of the model are wrong, the basic message is correct in my case. My desire to change sex comes from my absoloute love of women and my desire to be like them... and although this is something almost spiritual for me its origins are erotic. And notice my use of the word 'erotic' rather than 'fetish' or 'perverted'.

    'Perverted' is a subjective value statement that something is deviant. Although my transexuality is sexual in origins I don't regard it as 'perverted' I regard it as beautiful.

    Leky.

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  31. Crossdreaming as a sexuality does not resonate with me but it seems to for many including diverse views as Blanchard and Jack. It just does not seem to be the same thing to me because it is so naturally compartmentalized.

    Given that crossdreaming is entirely a solo thing for me and does not enter into my thoughts while with a women, that I am always turned on by the idea of penetrating my wife and before that, girlfriends, (just siting next them is enough to get me going), and that my crossdreaming arises in periods of low intimacy, or lack of a intimate partner, it occurs to me that I might not crossdreaming in the same sense as most here do and hints perhaps why porn is a greater issue for me.

    What do you make of a "crossdreamer" that only has a taste for crossdreaming when he is alone in fantasy and loves manly sex with a women when there is a women to be had? At the same time I wonder if I could had sex with a women as often I like to, would the novelty wear off and would crossdreaming creep more into the picture?

    Either I am a deeply repressed TG, or a pycho cis punishing the community with my HOCD obsessions. Either way, crazy as fuck.

    Crossposted on CDL.

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  32. One of the features of Blanchard's gynephilic transsexual patients is that they could only have an orgasm with a woman using imagery that they themselves were women. This is a common thread with all transsexuals but particularly disturbing for a gynephilic one who strives for normalcy and a normal relationship as husband and father.

    I am a victim of this same phenomenon and can do nothing about it.

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  33. Interbingung and ThirdWayTrans recognise that their dysphoria and desire to go through transition derived from their (prepubescent) fetishism.

    Jack has yet to clarify to everyone whether he thinks that their dysphoria and desires were authentic and legitimated transition, or whether he thinks that they are/were delusional perverts.

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  34. "I am deliberately conflating gender dysphorics and transsexuals because a transsexual is a transitioned gender dysphoric. Extreme dysphoria often prompts transition but not all dysphorics transition."

    O...Then I will conflated apples and tomatoes because, a tomatoe is just an "unrealized apple and they are both obviously red.

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  35. "There are two basic groups represented on this site gynephilic dysphorics and fetishists. The key difference being that dysphorics discover their gender conflict well before puberty and the latter at puberty or later so there may not be much of a scientific overlap other than the pattern of arousal."

    This is total and utter nonsense. I am neither a "gynephilic dysphoric" *OR* a fetishist! Unless of course you want to insist that my love for my husband and hetero-normative sex is a "fetish".

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  36. " The crossdressing boy who gets an erection gets one because he is excited, and he is excited because he has the chance to express a part of himself that is important for him"

    The argument could just as easily be made that this cd'ing boy is getting his erectionn because he has developed a paraphilia for cd'ing.

    As someone pointed out earlier Blanchard does not equate 'paraphilia' with sexual perversion, as Jack and some others here seem to insist upon doing. Rather a paraphilia is simply the experience of intense sexual arousal to atypical objects, situations, or individuals.

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  37. "...particularly disturbing for a gynephilic one who strives for normalcy and a normal elationship as husband and father.

    I am a victim of this same phenomenon and can do nothing about it."

    Is this the church driven "normalcy" that Jack refers to above?

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  38. On paraphilia's....http://allpsych.com/disorders/paraphilias/

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  39. I am afraid I must insist that all the different "Anonymous" taking part in this discussion starts signing their comments. By all means use a nick name, but as it is it has become very hard to track who is saying what.

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  41. @Leky says:

    "Jack what you just said about sexuality is exactly what Blanchard said and Lawrence develops further in "Becoming what we love." "

    No, if that is how you interpret what I have written, I cannot have expressed myself clearly enough.

    Blanchard and Lawrence explain crossdreaming as the end result of a target location error.

    I do not. Crossdreamers love other persons as much as everybody else. I am saying that for most healthy persons, gay or straight, trans or cis, crossdreamers and non-crossdreamers, sexuality includes arousal by the sight and smell of others as well as arousal from experiencing oneself as attractive and desirable. In this respect the crossdreamer experience is quite normal.

    Elsewhere Blanchard and Lawrence think of crossdreaming as third sexual orientation which comes in addition to homosexuality and heterosexuality.

    This variant of their theory not only undermines the original argument (that all crossdreamers are heterosexual), but also makes it impossible to understand why people like me can be attracted to women "out there".

    You might say that Blanchard accepts that crossdreamers may present a mix of a heterosexual and autogynephilic sexual orientation. But if you accept this, his insistence that there must be a absolute divide between sexual orientation falls apart which again makes a mockery of his divide between "homosexual transsexuals" and "autogynephiliacs". He cannot have it both ways.

    Julia Serano give a very good explanation for why the third sexual orientation argument must be dismissed:

    "This explanation is quite a stretch, as there is no biological evidence to suggest that humans or other animals are capable of pair-bonding with themselves and/or their own physically-sexed bodies.

    "Furthermore, the term pair-bonding has traditionally been used to de-scribe monogamous pairings. The fact that many MtF cross-dressers and nonandrophilic transsexual women continue to engage in relationships with other people after experiencing this sharp decrease in cross-gender arousal strongly suggests that they are not pair-bonded to their female selves.

    "It is far more parsimonious to suggest that cross-gender arousal is an effect of, or merely correlates with, MtF transgenderism (especially in its earliest stages) rather than being its cause."

    I strongly recommend that you read the full paper here!

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  42. @Koloa

    "Either I am a deeply repressed TG, or a pycho cis punishing the community with my HOCD obsessions. Either way, crazy as fuck."

    Did you notice what you did just now?

    You invalidated your whole being just because your variance of sex and gender does not fit into any of the pigeon holes defined by narrow minded scientists and uptight moralists.

    If our identities, our sexualities, our abilities and temperaments are the end result of a wide variety of variables, why shouldn't nature create a person as wonderful as yours?

    When I say that I believe crossdreaming is the expression of some kind of repressed identity and/or sexuality, that does not man that all crossdreamers must be like me. Nor does it mean that all crossdreamers are trans women.

    The facts on the ground are very clear: We come in wide variety of shapes and sizes, and many crossdreamers present a mix of male and female traits and drives.

    There is nothing wrong with that!

    Rikie Wilchins puts it this way in the book Queer Theory, Gender Theory (which I strongly recommend!!):

    "Tellingly there is not a single word for people who don't fit gender norms that is positive, affirming, and complementary. There is not even a word that is neutral. Because all our language affords is a sting of insults, it is impossible to talk about someone who is brave enough to rebel against gender stereotypes without ridiculing or humiliating them at the same time. Language works against you. It is meant to, because language of gender is highly political."

    Your reaction, Koloa, tells me the whole story about why theories like Blanchard's are so toxic. Blanchard is gender police, forcing people to adhere to his traditional views of sex and gender, and he does so by declaring those that do not fit mentally ill. Heck, they even allowed im to chair the paraphilia group of the DSM-5! His work is more about cultural power than it is about proper science.

    You are not alone! And I think it is time people like us stopped letting people like Blanchard define us.

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  43. Comment by T deleted due to verbal abuse.

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  44. That's the third (fourth?) time you've deleted my comment for verbal abuse. Only... there was none. At no point did I verbally abuse you or any other member.

    On the other hand, you have continued to abuse the terms paraphilia, gender, female identity, etc. and completely misrepresent Blanchard/Lawrence/Bailey's/others work as if it is some anti-trans conspiracy.

    I don't know what your agenda is here Jack but it certainly isn't the intellectual dialogue/conversation you claim to value.

    Doubtless you'll also delete this comment as "verbal abuse". Doing so, allows you to steer the cross dreaming narrative any which way you please.

    Have at it, my friend!

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  45. Regarding sexual behaviors in children: Research shows that this is very common.

    A year ago The Ameican Academy of Pediatrics published a report summarizing major findings. .

    Here are a few observations:

    "More than 50% of children will engage in some type of sexual behavior before their 13th birthday.5,6 In 1 retrospective study of 339 child welfare and mental health professionals in which participants were asked about their own experiences before 13 years of age, 73% recalled engaging in sexual behaviors with other children, 34% recalled showing their genitals to another child, 16% recalled simulating intercourse with another child, and 5% recalled inserting an object in the vagina or rectum of another child.7 Another study8 of female undergraduates reported that 26% recalled exposing themselves, 17% recalled unclothed genital touching, and 4% recalled oral-genital contact during childhood. "

    The point being that childhood sexual behavior is so common that it cannot be used to patholgize anyone.

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  46. Jack, thank you for those statistics on the sexual activities of children.
    You obviously have a great interest in this area.

    ==T

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  47. ===T

    Not sure why you are here? You want to public humiliate Jack in short lived comments, now accusing him of something universally despised, or do you want provide a counterpoint to his views on Blanchard?

    If your purpose is the later and for those of us that are on fence with the whole theory, your manner is not helping your case.

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  48. @jack,

    Thanks for that. I don't feel like I view myself that negatively but my distress and frustration with this is coming out which shows that there is some truth to that. Though my distress has a lot to do with trying to get a clear answer out of this because I don't want to have to revisit all of this 10 years from now. I want to settle on what I am build a life accordingly around that and that means understanding this completely before I recommit to any partner. I want to have that clarity.

    The essence of my OCD/distress is that I might meet and marry a beautiful and very feminine women, fall in love, and yet 10 years down the road be unable to be a good partner because this thing that I have escalates. I have no reason t believe it will but I worry about it irrationally. I don't feel like I need to share this with a partner and It is not that I would feel shame, its that I would betray that person and be left much older, alone, and isolated. I guess that is what I fear.

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  49. @koloa

    Your fear is not unfounded, and I respect your willingness to face this head on deeply.

    Yes, there is a small chance that you might find yourself unable to live up to the expectations of the one you love 10 or 20 years down the line. I have seen some nasty break ups of such marriages.

    But there is some really good news here, and I think we have a tendency to overlook them.

    The first one is that the sexual conservatives are losing ground in the democratic parts of the world (and beyond). This leaves room for more tolerance. Gay marriage world wide, Laverne Cox on the cover of Time, all of this contributes to an atmosphere of more tolerance.

    There were a time when the Western house wife was expected to live up to the Victorian ideals of child care and chastity (Kinder, Kirche und Küche), but now women are likely to be more educated than men, and even more open minded when it comes to sex and gender.

    In spite of Blanchard's denials there is a lot of female gender benders out there, including crossdreamers. The big romance publishers are now selling M/M novels by the tons.

    I am not saying that all of these readers are crossdreamers. But they will be able to understand when you tell them about your desires. There will be women out there like you, and others who will be more than willing to find ways of living with your crossdreaming.

    In other words: Maybe we are reaching the point where it is possible to be as open about this at the beginning of a relationship, as we must be regarding other secrets we may have.

    I must admit I feared my marriage was over when I accidentally "outed" myself to my wife earlier this year. It turned out my crossdreaming was not much of a problem, not of our love and most certainly not for our sex life. For her the main point was the she was now able to share this important part of my life.

    So what if you eventually find out that you are really transsexual? You cannot put your life on hold while waiting. Life is messy and hard for most people. There will be dragons out there that have to be faced, regardless of who you are. This is your dragon. Maybe you will defeat it. Maybe you will learn to love it. It seems to me you are doing the right thing.

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  50. "I must admit I feared my marriage was over when I accidentally "outed" myself to my wife earlier this year."

    Wow! You mean that you have been hiding this from your wife all these years? Would you be willing to share just how you were "outed". It is my understanding that you do not cross dress. So what was it, porn, your blog?

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  51. Anon,

    it is on his blog:

    http://www.crossdreamers.com/2014/05/how-i-found-out-my-husband-is-woman.html

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  52. Jack,

    Thanks for that post. There are good moments and bad moments in thinking about this stuff. I'd like to reply for some advice if you don't mind. If you are up for that how do you prefer a PM? thx

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  53. Elegantly written.

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  54. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  55. After a lot of thinking on the Blanchard theory and seeing comments here and elsewhere I think I can only come to a conclusion that the theory is good start but missing something. Do I have a theory of my own not really but here is where I think the theory fails.

    First of the English language is a funny thing. Why do I say that well I will give you two meanings to same phrase. AGP says that we love ourselves as women right that is not in doubt. Love thyself how is a more important question. Meaning I can love myself as a woman as in be enthralled with self aka narcissist. Yet another meaning is I love myself as a woman in that I am one and want others to see me for what I am. The difference being the latter is interested in other people the first is the problem of being overly self centered. The narcissist aspect I do believe is a mental problem but on flipside on wanting others to see you as you feel you are is not but rather normal.

    Sort of relating to the above is that the facts Blanchard has put forth are indeed facts but feel his interpretation is off. Of course what he classifies as the later identifying as AGP are not homosexual is the very fact that well they may have fallen in love with a women due to time and confusion. The other part that does not make sense of this is basing it on sexuality and one being true or not is simply this. If one views themselves as in this case woman yet born male then they are indeed trans. Both Homosexual transsexual and AGP variant. Why do I say both for the simple fact is if they didn't view themselves as woman in some way then the only logical assumption would be that they view themselves as male. Which of course would mean they are not trans. Unless of course they are deluded and think of themselves as animal or whatever.

    Maybe my comprehension of this is off but to me the theory in essence debunks itself. If homosexual transsexual don't think of themselves as women even erotically then what do they see themselves as? It doesn't make sense unless there indeed no correlation of sexual orientation that "distinctly" separates one apparent type of trans from the other.

    That being said there is a possibility that someone born male just may in fact be very feminine yet not female in every way save anatomy. That of course is just conjecture.

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  56. @Jen,

    I am also baffled by the idea that androphilic (man-loving) trans-women should no be thinking of themselves as women, or women with a healthy view of their own sexuality for that matter. In the same way cis-women can enjoy the feeling of "feeling sexy", androphilic trans women can too.

    I have never seen anyone seriously argue that androphilic trans women -- in general and on average -- are less interestied in expressing their sexuality or presenting as attractive women than the gynephilic ones (the ones Blanhcard labels as "autogynephiliacs".)

    I guess the solution to this puzzle lies in Blanchard simplistic, or -- rather -- simple minded, idea that gender in all its splendor is an effect of sexual orientation and sexual orientation only. Only "men" who love men can be truly feminine, according to this way of thinking. Given that gynephilic trans women until recently were more likely to transtion late and therefore more likely to appear "masculine" in the eyes of people like Blanchard, their problems of passing were taken as proof of them not being women.

    I guess this is what happens in a society that values women on the basis of looks only. Trans women are not the only women who suffer from this kind of sexism. Cis women who do not live up to the stereotypes may be invalidated in similar ways.

    I know there are a lot of people assigned male who are "feminine". Some of them are cis and some are not. Some of them love men, some women and others both. There is no one to one relationship between femininity and sexual orientation or femininity and gender identity. The only reason it may look that way to some, is that we have spent so much time chasing those different back into the closet. This is so sad.

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