December 15, 2015

New Crossdreamer Ebook: A Creative Crossdreamer Vocabulary

New book explores the experience of gender variance through words and concepts.

My first ebook ever is now available for sale on Amazon.

A Creative Crossdreamer Vocabulary has its origin in a blog post series I wrote back in 2013. The idea was to find words that can help us feel, understand and express what crossdreaming and related forms of gender variance are about.

Words have power. They may limit us in our understanding, but they may also set us free from restrictive world views and invalidating narratives.

Good new concepts make us go: "Yes, that's it! That's how I feel. That's me. Now I get it." And we can then use those words to help others, who do not share our experience, understand. In other words: This book will also be useful for friends, family, teachers, researchers and others who relate to gender variant people.

Some of the words included in this book are already in use. Others are imaginary words, more meant for reflection than to be used in everyday speech.

Think of this book as a collection of mini-essays on crossdreaming and transgender.

You do not have to read them all in one setting. In fact, you do not have to read them in any particular order. But do read them!

You can buy the ebook now for US$ 2.50 over at Amazon.com. (In some countries VAT might be added).

You don't need a Kindle tablet to read it. You can read it in a browser, or use the Kindle app for smart phones and tablets.

The paperback version is a bit more expensive I am afraid, as this is print on demand.


EBOOK
PAPERBACK

Or by the ebook from Amazon Australia | Canada | Brazil | Japan | Netherlands | Italy | Spain | France | Germany | United Kingdom


The words included are:

December 14, 2015

The Crossdreamer Facebook Page Passes 3000 Followers

It could be that you don't know that we have our own facebook page for Crossdreamers.com.

This week the page passed 3000 followers, which isn't bad for a subject like this one.

I know that some of you hesitate before using your regular personal facebook-account to sign up to pages and groups like this one.

The good new is that you do not have to to read it. It is open to everyone.

Click here to get news and stories about crossdreaming, gender variance and transgender issues!

By the way: There is also a Crossdresser and Transgender page that has more than 7000 followers.

Illustration by Lucky Guy.

December 1, 2015

New Brain Study Indicates Great Gender Diversity

I would like to draw your attention to a recent article in the Guardian, which covers the research of a Israeli research team who have found that there is a huge overlap between male and female brains.

A complex mix of the "feminine" and the "masculine"
The volumes (green = large, yellow = small) of brain regions in 42 adults, showing
the overlap between the forms that brains of females and brains of males can take.
Image by Zohar Berman and Daphna Joel

The main point for me is not whether these researcher are "right" or not. Neuroscience is in constant flux, and there will probably never be a final theory that explains everything about this extremely complex organ.

What is interesting for me is how similar research data can lead to very different conclusions all depending on the point of view of the researchers.

The Guardian writes:

'Scientists analysed brain scans of more than 1400 men and women and found that while some features are more common in one sex than the other, each person’s brain has a unique “mosaic” of these features, as well as others seen commonly in both.

“What we show is that there are multiple ways to be male and female, there is not one way, and most of these ways are completely overlapping,” said Daphna Joel, a psychology professor who led the study at Tel-Aviv University.'


Scientists inclined towards gender stereotypes will focus on the macro level

This is nothing new. Even the neuroscientists who believes strongly in the dichotomy between "male" and "female" brains know that there is a lot of variation between individual brains, both male and female, but they interpret patterns they see on an aggregated level as proof of there being unique "male" and "female" brains. 

These aggregated findings are then used to confirm the gender stereotypes of the -- let's say -- sexually driven aggressive man and the passive and nurturing woman.

Overlap is the norm, stereotypical brains the exception

What is interesting with this study is that the researchers focused on the areas where there is least overlap between men and women on an aggregated level.

The Guardian again:

'Across the four different sources of brain scans they studied, the scientists found the percentage of “internally consistent brains”, in which all regions were at the male end or all at the female end, varied from zero to 8%, while those with both male-end and female-end features ranged from 23% to 53%.'

So even if you look at those regions who are supposed to prove that men and women are different, you find that most men have "female" traits and most women have "male" traits. At this point, of course, you have to ask yourself whether it makes any sense at all to call these traits "male" and "female."


November 17, 2015

Crossdream Life Forum Moves to a New Home

The Crossdream Life forum has moved over to a new address.

You can find the new forum over at crossdreamlife.lefora.com.

The reason for the move is simple: We do not have the resources needed to run our own bulletin board system on our own server.

We have therefore outsourced the technical part to Lefora.

I am afraid old members will have to sign up again to the new forum. But in return they get some nifty new features, like video embedding, chat, skins for personal home page, polls, photo albums and more.

The old site will be kept  as an archive for the time being.

Sign up for the new Crossdream Life forum today!

(Photo: Rawpixel Ltd)

November 15, 2015

10 Great Books on Sex, Gender and Sexuality

In this third part of my "must read gender/transgender books" series, I look at books that discuss sex and gender in general.
Illustration by Olyzel

Much of the pain gender variant people go through is caused by the fact that their family, friends and surrounding society do not understand them.

The reason they do not understand them is that they are trapped in a binary narrative that tells them that men and women are two different species with completely different temperaments, abilities and modes of behavior. Anyone who breaks with this binary is therefore mentally ill.

Recent research, in the social sciences as well as in biology, tells us that this strict binary is wrong on many levels. What is considered proper gender expressions varies tremendously between cultures and over time.

Moreover, it turns out nature is nothing like what your school text books told you. Did you for instance know that the bonobos, our closest relative, has a matriarchal society run by females? They solve conflicts by having a lot of sex with each other, regardless of age or gender. The next time someone tells you gay sex is "unnatural", tell them about the bonobos.

Click here for part 1 of this series!

Here are some of the books I recommend:

Those who follow nature programs on TV know the script: Violent and aggressive males stalk weak and passive females in an everlasting tale of evolutionary brutality. This narrative is then used to make fun of "feminine" men.

Roughgarden shows us a natural world that is nothing like the gender stereotypes of traditional evolutionary biology.

Like Roughgarden, Fausto-Sterling is good at seeing through the stereotypes of natural science. Most of the differences between men and women are created by culture and not by nature, Fausto-Sterling argues.

November 4, 2015

Nope, transitioning does not actually lead to suicide

This is story about "The Science Proves What I Believe Complex", and how a Swedish study of post-op trans people  is misrepresented in order to "prove" that gender reassignment surgery is harmful.

I have now been blogging on trans and crossdreamer issues for seven years, and there is one game that never cease to amaze me. I call it the "Science Proves What I believe" complex. And it does not matter what people believe; they always seem to find a report or a paper somewhere that seem to support their position.
Anti-trans activists often lie about research to
"prove" that transitioning is harmful.
Photo by SIphotography.
If they cannot find such a paper, they often start misrepresenting reports, probably hoping that no one will bother to check.

The Internet is vast, though, and with a lot of clever people. There are always some people out there who take the time to check and double-check dubious statements. Cristan Williams over at Transadvocate is one of them.

Like me, she will go directly to the researcher and ask, if needed.

"The Swedish Study"

Recently we have seen a lot of anti-transgender activity where people are trying to prove that trans people who undergo gender reassignment surgery are not helped by such therapy.

Indeed, the argument now is that transitioning in this way is harmful for the ones involved, and that the alleged failure of the treatment  proves that they were delusional in the first place.

People fighting against transgender rights (TERFs, Fox News and religious fundamentalists included) make a lot out of a Swedish study on transgender people, claiming that it proves that gender reassignment leads to suicide.


October 17, 2015

US Report Calls for Ban on Conversion Therapies for Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Youth

A short little update here on LGBT policies in the US, as it may help many of us gain some perspective on where the general consensus is right now as regards sexual diversity and gender variance.

The US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) has published a report on so-called "conversion therapies",  based on a thorough review of current research.

The expert panel was set up by SAMHSA and the American Psychological Association (APA) earlier this year, and included prominent American figures in LGBT human rights, policy, research, treatment, and advocacy.

"This groundbreaking report dispels widespread misconceptions about sexual and gender development and definitively concludes that treatments designed to change a child's sexual orientation or gender identity do not work, are devastatingly harmful to 'victims' of this type of therapy, and should not be considered appropriate mental health services," Dr. Celia B. Fisher, who served on the expert consensus panel says.

Conversion therapy does not work

Indeed, the main conclusions in the report are clear:
  • "Same-gender sexual orientation (including identity, behavior, and attraction) and variations in gender identity and gender expression are a part of the normal spectrum of human diversity and do not constitute a mental disorder.
  • "There is limited research on conversion therapy efforts among children and adolescents; however, none of the existing research supports the premise that mental or behavioral health interventions can alter gender identity or sexual orientation.
  • "Interventions aimed at a fixed outcome, such as gender conformity or heterosexual orientation, including those aimed at changing gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation are coercive, can be harmful, and should not be part of behavioral health treatment."
Gender variance is not pathological

The message from the American Psychological Association is also clear: Being a sexual or
gender minority, or identifying as LGBTQ, is not pathological.


October 8, 2015

What Dr. Zhana Vrangalova Taught Me About Transphobia in Science

This is the story about how science can be used to persecute transgender people, and on how some seemingly well-intended LGBT-allies can contribute to transphobia.
Zhana Vrangalova
Photo by Enid Alvarez, New York Daily News


In this post I will give you the story about Dr. Zhana Vrangalova's support for the transphobic autogynephilia theory.

The Vrangalova story is interesting because it is such a clear an example of how scientific theories can be used to recruit even  the most well-meaning helpers to the oppression of trans people.

And yes, in this post I will prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, that the autogynephilia theory is transphobic.

Context

Those of you who do not know the ins and outs of this stagnant backwater of transgender research, may make note of the following:

1. The auogynephilia/AGP theory, created by Dr. Ray Blanchard of Toronto, says that there is a separate category of trans women who are motivated by a sexual paraphilia (perversion) that drives them towards transitioning.  They are, according to Blanchard, sexually attracted to the idea of themselves as a woman. The word is also used to describe male to female crossdressers and crossdreamers who do not transition.

2. Dr J. Michael Bailey is a supporter of Dr. Blanchard, and the author of The Man Who Would be Queen, a book that popularizes Blanchard's theory, dividing the world of trans women into two: "autogynephile transsexuals" (non-homosexual perverted men, according to Blanchard & Bailey) and homosexual transsexuals (extremely effeminate gay men).

3. Zhana Vrangalova is a sexologist; she has PhD in Developmental Psychology from Cornell and is currently an adjunct professor at the NYU Psychology department.


SIDEBAR This is not a blog post about the scientific value of the autogynephilia theory. This is a post about how it is used to harm MTF crossdreamers and trans women. I have elsewhere documented that  the science is bad, and that it has been thoroughly falsified by other researchers. You will find links to papers and blog posts showing this hereI have also written several blog posts on the scientific defects of the autogynephilia theory.


LGBT-support and autogynephilia do not mix

On June 13 Vrangalova tweeted a link to an interview the religious site Patheos had made with Bailey, adding the statement "There are 2 types of trans women".

I have been following Vrangalova since she often tweets interesting links to all things sexology. She has become an active spokesperson for the polyamorous amongst us. I also knew her as a supporter of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights, so her promoting Bailey in this way surprised me.

After all, the autogynephilia model is considered to be one of the most invalidating and stigmatizing theories around right now. It is routinely used by right wing religious  fundamentalists and left wing trans-exclusionary "radical" feminists to harass and invalidate trans women. It has been dismissed by transgender activists as toxic and unfounded, and has very little support among front line health professionals in the field.

The Vrangalova Dialogue

I responded in accordance with this, hoping I had been mistaken about the dear Doctor's intentions:

September 21, 2015

12 Essential Books on Transgender

Here's another look at my transgender bookshelf. This time I present books on transgender and queer topics in general.
Illustration by Olyzel


Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, by Julia Serano.

Serano has become our leading trans philosophers. This book is of special interest to MTF crossdreamers, as she is one of the trans activists that openly discuss crossdreaming in a non-stigmatizing way.

A fascinating discussion of the the transgender history of ideas, not only in the US, but also in Europe. Most of the models of transgender we find among activists and researchers these days were there 100 years ago.

The transgender phenomenon, by Richard Ekins, Dave King.
    Magnus Hirschfeld
A sociological approach to transgender. Includes a discussion of the autogynephilia theory.

Transvestites: The Erotic Drive To Cross Dress (New Concepts in Human Sexuality), by Magnus Hirschfeld.

This book was originally published in Germany in 1910. It remains one of the best books on crossdressing and transsexuality, written with empathy and a deep respect for the life journeys of the transgender persons he presents. Please note that for Hirschfeld the term "transvestite" is an umbrella term for all shades of transgender.

September 13, 2015

The Two Traditions of Thinking about Transgender

There are two major strands in modern sexology, both going back to the late 19th century. One is binary, gender conservative and interprets gender variation as mental illness; the other is liberal, trans-positive and understands sex and gender as complex continuums.

I have read a lot of transgender history. Too much, probably. This also applies to the science of transgender and the philosophy of transgender.
In her book Sex and Temperament from 1935, Margaret
Mead presented an amazing variation in gender roles
and expressions in different cultures, debunking one
and for all the idea that all masculine and feminine
behavior is inborn.
(Cover of 1950 Mentor paperback edition).

There is one important lesson I have learned from all of this: Every single original idea  had been presented before 1915.

The binary, pathologizing, tradition

100 years ago you would find it all:

The binary theory of two completely separate sexes, male and female, was already there. So was the idea that gender variations are perversions threatening society's "evolutionary fitness".

As now, many researchers argued that transgender conditions was caused by variations in the presence of hormones in the womb. This applied to sexual orientation too; many researchers had some difficulty keeping the two apart, then as now.

Others argued that it had to do with bad upbringing, blaming -- for instance -- strong mothers and weak fathers. Feminists, homosexuals and "primitive", non-white, people could also be blamed for spreading these "diseases".

Then, as now, the main fear was of the feminization of boys. Society needed strong, masculine, rational boys to fight wars, colonize the world and govern society, and because of this the emotional, feminine sissies -- gay or trans -- were a threat to the system.

(Tomboys and FTM transgender were also a problem, but did not constitute the same threat to the social order. After all, the fact that women wanted to be men made sense; the MTFs, on the other hand, had to be mad to desire the life of a woman.)

This binary tradition can be traced from Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing and his book Psychopathia Sexualis in 1886. via the Freudian psychoanalysts and John Money of the 20th century, up to the current autogynephilia theory of Ray Blanchard.

What unifies this tradition is not the explanation for what causes gender dysphoria or gender identity conflicts. The researchers will blame it on inherited degeneracy, hormones or feminist mothers, all depending on the researcher's natural inclinations and cultural context. What unites them is the need to present gender variation as something unnatural and unacceptable.


September 6, 2015

Felix Conrad Talks about Transgender Research, Crossdreaming and Beach Clubbing

Felix Conrad recently set up a new site called The Transcend Movement, focusing on crossdreaming and transgender issues.  We have talked to him about how to cope as transgender, his new ebook, his devastating dismissal of the autogynephilia theory and Brazilian supermodels.

On the beach
Trans philosopher Felix Conrad brings crossdreaming
to the beaches of the Mediterranean
(Photo: Design Pics/Tomas del Amo)

Felix, you have taken an unusual approach to crossdreamer blogging. Your site is not so much a blog, but more of a beach lounge or club for all things crossdreaming. What made you chose this form of communication?

My philosophy of design is quite simple... I look at what everyone else is doing, and then kick it in the nuts. Within reason.

We - and especially you - are in the business of online community building, so I decided to play with the idea of giving that community an imagined space... a beach club located within an ideal, coastal transgender community.

In this case I think my imagination got the better of me...but this is about cross'dreaming' after all.

I have also noted that you do not shy away from communicating crossdreamer dreams and desires in an 'in your face' kind of way. There are Brazilian super models, and more Brazilian super models, which fit well with the beach club theme, I guess, but which some might find sexist. Is this your way of opening up a discussion?

Sorry, Jack... no such lofty intentions. I have a long running obsession with Alesandra Ambrosio which both I - and my children - find completely ridiculous. So, when I claim my book will 'guaranteed turn you into a Brazilian supermodel' I'm laughing at myself.

I sometimes think there is a remarkable lack of humour in the transgender community. Being able to take yourself and life seriously, but realize that, in another sense you/it are absurd, is an immense liberation.

Femephilia and autogynephilia

In your book on crossdreaming you use the term femephilia to refer to sexual arousal at the idea of being a woman. What is the difference between this term and the term crossdreaming, as you see it?

Femephilia is a sexological term - like homosexual. It's cold. Crossdreamer is a term of popular culture - like 'gay.' It's huggable.


August 24, 2015

Finding Yourself Through the Crossdreamer Community

Last year I contributed a chapter on the crossdreamer community to a book on trans people and the internet. The book project was ultimately cancelled, so I have decided to publish the paper here instead.
Crossdreamer liberation is about self-acceptance
Illustration: Molay/andresrimaging/Risto Viitanen

Gender variance is breaking cultural and social taboos. This is the major reason being trans and gender variant can be so difficult. By breaking taboos, you risk losing your friends, your family, and the respect of your community.  

There is another group of taboos that are just as strong, the ones associated with sexuality. Communities world wide police desire, forcing people into very narrow boxes of normalcy. 

Crossdreamers exist where the violations of the norms of gender and sexuality intersect. Crossdreamers are men and women who not only dream about being a sex different from the one assigned to them at birth, but who have erotic fantasies about this.

This is the story about how crossdreamers started organizing online communities to explore their identities and sexualities. This is not going to be an “objective” and “disinterested” article. I have played an active part in building this community. Nor do I claim to represent all crossdreamers.  

Note that I use the term transgender as a broad umbrella term for all gender variance. According to this definition all crossdreamers are transgender, even if they are not all suffering from gender dysphoria, and even if only a minority of them are transsexual.

Psychological repression

Some transgender people become what I have called “splitters”, people who manage to divide their psyche in two, leaving one part for the inner sex and one for the outer. I have been aware of my female side since I was nine years old, but I managed to keep this side of me separate from my conscious gender identity as I grew up. I thought of myself as male, even if I considered myself a “failed” one.

August 16, 2015

Resources for Partners of Transgender People

When I found out my husband is a woman inside, I started googling. I wanted to find information for people who have a transgender spouse, forums with support for partners of transgender people and stories of couples that had found a way to make it work. Here is what I have found.
When the one you love is trans. Image by Kannaa.

By Sally Molay

Blogs
Forums

August 9, 2015

Fixing up The Crossdreamer Portal

I have spent some time cleaning up The Crossdreamer Portal, our guide to sites and forums of interest to crossdreamers and crossdressers in particular and other trans and queer people in general.

Here's what has been done:

  • Implemented new visual profile, with a design more similar to Crossdreamers.com. (Text on white background is generally easier to read.)
  • Moved blog extracts over to the right hand column for easier access and less clutter.
  • Reduced the number of direct feeds from crossdreamer blogs. Blogs who have not been updated since 2013 have been moved into a "other" list at the bottom of the left column.
  • Reduced the number of links from the crossdreamer forums (Crossdream Life and the crossdreaming reddit). The previous list was a bit too overwhelming.
If there are sites you think are missing and should be included, please let me know. Add a comment to this blog post.

August 8, 2015

Must Read Transgender and Crossdreamer Reflections by Felix Conrad

If you have not done so already, you should go over at the Transcend Movement site and read some of the transgender and queer philosophy of Felix Conrad.
The Transcend Movement has a beach club feel to it.
This will all be explained later on.
(Illustration by alexaldo)

During the last couple of months Felix has written several very interesting blog posts on crossdreaming, crossdressing, trans and queer over at his Transcend Movement site.

We are on the same page, Felix and I, but he has his own, unique take on crossdreaming, and there are definitely places where we look at things  differently. This is exactly as it should be.

I should add that Felix has his own way of presenting his arguments -- provocative, with lots of irony, and a refreshing disrespect for political correctness. Don't let that stop you! There is gold here!

Here are some of the blog posts you may want to take a look at:

"Why Caitlyn Jenner is a bad role model for (some) crossdreamers"
Felix argues that whatever a rich American celebrity does transgender wise is of little relevance to most MTF crossdreamers.

"The cause of autogynephilia: erotic target location errors"
Felix is kinder to Ray Blanchard than I am, but read this intelligent critique of the "erotic target location error" part of the autogynephilia theory.  (And if none of these words and names mean anything to you, read the blogpost anyway! He is revealing the logical errors of traditionalist science here.)


July 31, 2015

13 Books on Crossdressing, Crossdreaming and Gender Variance


For many the struggle with sex, sexuality and gender identity leads to reading -- a lot of reading. In this three part series I will present books that have helped me in my understanding of myself, crossdreaming, gender dysphoria and transgender issues.
Illustration by Olyzel

Please add a comment if there are other books you have found helpful and interesting. I will add them to the permanent list of trans-relevant books.

She is not the man I married. My life with a  transgender husband, by Helen Boyd
  • Boyd treats crossdressers and crossdreamers with respect and empathy, but without hiding the difficulties that follows from gender variance of this kind.
Gender Madness in American Psychiatry: Essays From the Struggle for Dignityby Kelley Winters.
  • Brilliant debunking of the autogynephilia theory and a good discussion on how psychiatry has contributed to the persecution of transgender people.
Nevada, novel by Imogen Binnie
  • This novel is hard to describe: Honest, funny, tragic, radical... Anyway, the book contains some of the best descriptions of crossdreamers I have ever seen in fiction, whether they are closeted or transsexual. (And then there is that wonderful description of autogynephilia-supporter J. Michael Bailey....)
Girlfag: A Life Told in Sex and Musicals, by Janet Hardy
  • Girlfags are not necessarily female to male crossdreamers, but some of them are. Hardy's book is part autobiography, part essay on women who identify with gay men.
Grrl Alex, a Personal Journey to a Transgender Identity, by Alex Drummond.
  • A fascinating book by male a to female transgender person who tries to find a place between crossdressing and transitioning. Part 2 of the book gives a good review of research on crossdressing, crossdreaming and transsexuality.

July 21, 2015

What Caitlyn Jenner's Story Means for MTF Crossdressers, Crossdreamers and Transgender

Caitlyn Jenner's journey will make a huge difference for all transgender people, including crossdressers and crossdreamers. 
Caitlyn Jenner (Photo: Time)


2014 was declared the transgender tipping point, with black trans woman Laverne Cox on the cover of Time.

Fast forward to 2015: A late transitioning 65 year old transgender woman is on the cover of Vanity Fair. Like Laverne Cox and Janet Mock before her, Caitlyn Jenner gives transgender a human face. Laverne and Caitlyn express strong support for each other.

Late-onset trans icon

So why is this important, not only to transgender people in general, but also for male to female crossdressers and crossdreamers? Well, the big deal is that having Caitlyn Jenner as a trans icon in major media is no longer a big deal.

This also mean that more and more people ignore the old way of presenting trans women: as emotionally disturbed men.

According to the old narratives of transgender, the ones propagated by old fashioned researchers, transsexual separatists, and trans-exclusionary radical feminists, Laverne and Caitlyn are two different species.

June 2014: Laverne Cox on the cover of Time
Laverne, who is sexually oriented towards men, is at best a "real transsexual" or -- according to researchers like Ray Blanchard and J. Michael Bailey -- an effeminate homosexual man.

Cailtyn on the other hand, who would normally be classified as a "late-onset transsexual", and seen as a perverted heterosexual man, a transvestic fetishist or -- according to Blanchard -- a "autogynephiliac".

But no. This has not become a major issue in the public debate. With very few exceptions, no one cares.

Feminists criticize Jenner because she is a woman

Yes, Caitlyn has been criticized. Feminists activists have argued that she should not give in to the sexualized gender pressure of contemporary culture, dressing up as she did in the Vanity Fair photo shoot.

But when they say so they have already accepted her as a woman. Theirs is a feminist argument, and not an invalidation of Jenner's identity or of trans women in general.


July 15, 2015

On Being Transgender, The Jack Molay Interview

Felix C has basically turned crossdreamer blogging into transgender chill-out clubbing.
Who is Jack Molay?
Illustration by Jorgenmac

Really, there is no other site out there quite like the Transcend Movement.

Felix and I had a talk about how to make a good pasta sauce, crossdreaming, autogynephilia, my life as transgender, bullies, Sense8 and more.

You can read it all if you click here!


July 5, 2015

Conservative Minister Defends Transgender Right to Self-determination

A conservative minister of health becomes a strong supporter of transgender rights, changing the main principle of transgender health care in the process. Only the trans persons themselves can decide on their gender identity, he says.
Norwegian Minister of Health, Bent Høie,
and transgender lesbian activist Christine Marie
Jentoft agree that the transgender people are the
ones who should decide on their legal identity.
(Photo: Reidar Engesbak, Blikk)


The Norwegian Minister of Health and Care Services, Bent Høie, recently made an important argument about why there should be no trial period for people who want to transition.

He wrote:
"When I started working on these issues, I believed that a period of reflection was necessary -- before you take such an important decision. But, a meeting with Skeiv Ungdom [the Norwegian organization "Queer Youth"] made it clear to me that such a requirement is unreasonable for those concerned.

These people have had a lot of time for thinking. Some of them have felt a misalignment between body and gender since they were small kids, while others have spent a lot of time questioning and doubting their way to the same answer.

To demand a period of reflection means that they will once again feel that they are not believed or taken seriously. You tell them that they have not spent enough time to think this through on their own."
Høie is talking about a change of legal gender status here, which does not necessarily entail hormones and surgery, but in principle this is a radical shift in how transgender people are treated in this country.

Abolishing the gatekeeper function
Trans man Luca Dalen Espseth has argued strongly
against the current practice of health personnel asking
transgender people about sexual desires and
behaviors. (Aftenposten)
(Photo: Nathalie Wiik Lystad)


Høie's argument is a very powerful one. The current logic is that transgender people seeking a legal change of gender have to be protected against themselves by non-elected representatives of the medical establishment, the so-called gatekeepers.

By decoupling legal acceptance from medical transitioning, Høie gives the power back to the individual, following the principle that those who are going through this are more likely to know what's best for them.

Today castration is required

Currently Norwegian law requires that a person must undergo medical treatment that includes castration to achieve legal gender recognition. Moreover, the power to grant such medical treatment has been given to the National Treatment Unit for Transsexualism at the Oslo University Hospital, a unit that has repeatedly been accused for demanding that their transgender patients live up to traditional gender stereotypes to be accepted for treatment. 


June 29, 2015

Crossdreamers Continued

Some of you have asked we what is happening to my Crossdreamers.com blog. I have in no way abandoned the site and am planning a series of new blog posts.
The British TV series Hit & Miss presents
a trans female character who does not give a shit
about Ray Blachard and his autogynephilia theory.

Here are some of the topics I would like to address:

Caitlyn Jenner

I am preparing a post on what the Caitlyn Jenner case may mean for crossdreamers of all shades and colors. 

I believe her case will help us get beyond the toxic autogynephilia narrative and into a view of trans women that allows for more diversity and respect.

Trans TV

There will be a post on the way television is presenting trans women who may or may not have been crossdreamers, but who would definitely have been classified as "autogynephiliacs" by the dark side of sexology.

This applies to series like Hit & Miss, Transparent, Orange is the New Black and -- most recently -- the amazing Washowski/Straczynski series Sense8. All of them give a respectful and nuanced view of trans women and their struggles.

Hemingway

As previously promised, I am also preparing a story about the crossdreamer Ernest Hemingway, and his struggle to understand what his gender variance was about.

From eugenics to autogynephilia

Finally, I am working on a piece about science throughout history, and the way it has been systematically used to suppress and harass marginalized groups.

A typical tactic has been to label these groups as sexual deviants. This tactic has been applied to working class people, independent women, any man or woman that cannot be considered white or "Nordic", gay and lesbians and -- obviously -- people who challenge gender norms.

The similarities between racist eugenics and the transphobic theories of Blanchard and Bailey are uncanny.

Stories from XD Express and Sally Molay

In the meantime, some of you may be interested in taking a look at the tumblr blogs of me and my wife Sally.

These are both news curation sites with a broader transgender scope than Crossdreamers.com. Still, those of you struggle with dysphoria and your gender identity, should definitely find some interesting posts here.

Here are some of the more recent ones:

On people transitioning:
On hypersexualization and invalidation:

April 19, 2015

The Problem with Arousal

Guest writer Joanna Santos argues that it is time we liberate ourselves from  models that reduce gender variance to sexual arousal.
Trans people are liberating themselves from the
stifling theories of the past. (Photo: moodboard)


By Joanna Santos

I have lived all my life with the knowledge that something was different about me. By the age of 4 or 5 years old, although aware that I was a boy, I had an interest in playing with dolls and trying on my mother’s shoes. But quickly enough I learned to suppress those desires because the messages I received were that I was not to indulge in these activities.

Since then I have come full circle and after a long period of reflection and angst (during which time I kept an almost daily blog), I have come to return to the state where I began my life. I have returned to being as true as I can to a nature that was always there but within the confines of the reality that I now live as an ageing adult.

After having read every book and every article on the subject of gender dysphoria I could get my hands on, I finally had to concede that there was not going to be a conclusive answer regarding the way I was made and why I was drawn to being a female. I had to finally accept without question that it made up part of my natural wiring and nothing was going to change that.

My gender expression need not be tied to my natal sex. No matter what society expects of you, it’s best to adhere to an expression that fits your comfort level and your self-image. This lesson was the hardest to learn because I came from an era where there was little latitude or permissiveness on that front. One was a male or one was a female and that was that.

Things have changed considerably since then.

We are now on the cusp of a revolution which I am still young enough to be able to witness first hand. Yes the same old arguments exist among the academics who will argue about Blanchard’s two typologies of transwomen and which one is more genuine but for me that is now entirely irrelevant because the true question is: “in which form do you feel most comfortable to live out your life?”


April 16, 2015

Chevalier d'Eon: Early Transgender Role Model

Fencing Match between Monsieur de Saint-George et Mademoiselle La
Chevalière d'Éon de Beaumont 
at Carlton House on 9 April 1787.
Engraving by Victor Marie Picot

By Sally

Chevalier d'Éon (Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée d'Éon de Beaumont) was a French soldier, diplomat and spy who publicly lived as a woman in 18th-century London. 

image
Portrait by Thomas Stewart
D’Eon lived from 1728 to 1810 who appeared publicly as a man for 49 years, although during that time d'Éon successfully infiltrated the court of Empress Elizabeth of Russia by presenting as a woman. For the last 33 years, d'Éon lived as a woman.

The Chevalier d'Éon claimed to be assigned female at birth, and demanded recognition by the government as such.

King Louis XVI complied, but required in turn that d'Éon dress appropriately in women's clothing. When the king's offer included funds for a new wardrobe of women's clothes, d'Éon agreed.

April 2, 2015

Does the effects of hormones on transgender people prove that crossdreaming has a biological component?

Is crossdreaming purely psychological or does it have a biological basis? Hormones may give us part of the answer.
Illustration: xrender

There seems to be a general agreement among most psychiatrists who treat dysphoric male to female (MTF) crossdreamers and crossdressers that there is one "drug" that will alleviate some of their distress: Estrogen/oestrogen (the most important being estradiol/oestradiol), often misnamed the "female" hormone.

Estrogen and anti-androgens reduce possible emotional distress caused by crossdreaming

Harry Benjamin, the grand old man of transgender research, noted as early as 1966 that both "transvestites" (i.e. crossdressers) and non-transitioning transsexuals could benefit from taking estrogen, as it could be "helpful emotionally" or "needed for comfort or emotional balance".

There is little literature on this, but my contacts among therapists and activists confirm the well-known "secret" that doctors continue to prescribe estrogen to MTF crossdreamers, even when they do not plan to transition.

Some doctors  also prescribe antiandrogens, i.e. drugs that reduce the flow of testosterone, "the masculinizing hormone", in the bloodstream, or reduces the brains ability to make use of "T".

There are also antiandrogens that stop regular testosterone from being transformed into the more active dihydrotestosterone. The effects of antiandrogens are somewhat similar to the effects of estrogen: a reduction in the effects testosterone has on the mind and body.

Some doctors also combine the use of estrogens and antiandrogens to achieve the desired effect: a reduction in emotional distress and dysphoria. Crossdreamers who self-medicate on herbal alternatives often look for similar combinations, like when taking pueraria mirifica (for an estrogenic effect) and saw palmetto (for an antiandrogenic effect).

The two sides of sex hormones

It is important to note that you may influence the effects of sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen in two ways:

1. You may increase the amount of testosterone or estrogen in the body by way of pills or injections.
2. You may stop the body from absorbing the relevant hormones.

This relationship between "production" and "reception" of sex hormones is well known in sex research. It is not enough to produce the relevant hormones. You also need the appropriate receptors to absorb and make use of them. If a child with an XY "male" chromosome combination for some reason fail to develop the sufficient number of testosterone receptors, that child may develop a female body and mind.

It is also important to keep in mind that testosterone and estrogen are not really "male" and "female" hormones. A male fetus actually needs estrogen to produced the amounts of testosterone needed to develop a male body. The fetus transforms estrogen into testosterone, then the testosterone triggers the development of male sexual characteristics. At puberty another boost in testosterone turns boys into men.

On average men may have up till 20 times as much testosterone as women.

February 8, 2015

Young People Move from the Gender Binary to Believing in Continuum

Young people are increasingly believing
in a gender spectrum
Photo: Maruy75
There is a shift in attitude towards gender among younger people, at least in the "Western" part of the world. This has implications for crossdreamers and transgender people.

Fusion just published results from its so-called Massive Millennial Poll, which asked 1000 Americans between the age of 18 and 34 about various issues.

When asked about their understanding of gender, 50 percent replied that they believe that gender is a spectrum, and that some people fall outside conventional categories. 46 percent said that there are only two genders, male and female.

57 percent of female assigned respondents believed in a gender spectrum, reflecting --perhaps -- that society is more forgiving of gender bending among women than among men.

Tumblr reflects shift towards spectrum

Figure from the Massive Millennial Poll.
Click on image to enlarge.
My wife Sally and I are currently blogging at  tumblr, a social site dominated by the young "millenials". (66 percent of all visitors are under the age of 35, while 39 percent are under 25 years-old.)

We are mostly blogging as news curators for transgender and genderqueer issues. This brings us in direct contact with young people struggling with their gender identity and/or sexuality. At the moment some 4000 people are subscribing to our two blogs.

Our observations underpin what Fusion is saying. Among those who are interested in transgender issues (and I am using transgender as an umbrella term for gender variance here), a large proportion support the idea of a gender continuum. This also apply to many of those who are clearly transsexual.

We can see this trend in the response we get on our blog posts. Those that go viral are most often those that help readers develop concepts that make it possible to understand and communicate identities outside the strict male/female binary.

Here are a few examples:


February 1, 2015

Can the crossdreaming concept stop trans women from accepting their identity?

Recently there was an interesting discussion about crossdreaming at the /r/transgender subforum (or "subreddit") at Reddit, the online social community.
Illustration by cienpies

A trans woman who calls herself Vancitygal criticized me for hiding the fact that most crossdreamers are transsexual people living in denial.

I asked neotecha, one of those taking part in the discussion, for permission to republish the following comment, which I think goes to the heart of this issue.

neotecha on crossdreaming

This is what neotecha said:
I'm happy to discuss this to anyone has further questions. 
For myself: I actually founded /r/crossdreaming and was an active participant in /r/autogynephilia, back before we split the subreddit. Yeah, go in there and my name is still in there, and also the top sticky post asking for moderators. Yes, I did come out as female, and I have started transitioning and I love it, but my experiences don't imply that everyone there shares them.

I want to discuss something that I feel the nuance is not being addressed here. What is Crossdreaming and what is Autogynephilia?


January 18, 2015

Crossdreamers Really Do Love Estrogen

It's been just over three years since I wrote my "Autogynephiliacs Love Estrogen" mini bio, which my friend Jack kindly published on his blog. I was very surprised to hear that many of his readers were very keen on hearing an update to how I am doing today, but here it is.

Illustration by Sergey Nivens

Guest Blog Post by "Moon"

Being taken as a woman

"Hello ladies, can I get you some drinks?".....

"Madame, we have some other items over here"....

"No, no madame. The ladies is over there, this is the gents toilet"....

Being addressed by strangers as a female when you're out shopping or in a café with a friend is rather odd, especially if you are, or think you are presenting as a male.

So why do others sometimes think you're a female? Estrogen. Yes, the hormone you perhaps have always wanted to have running through your system.

For a reason you can't explain you have this desire to feminise yourself. You have had thoughts which have driven you crazy, you somehow know that this is what you want deep inside. You want to be a woman. Yet you do fear the unknown of the rather frightening path that you are taking. But hey, you have just been out to a cafe with a female friend and the waiter has just addressed you as a female.

So you have been taken as a woman, without even opening your mouth, you're dressed as a male but others are seeing something else that you’re not completely aware of. You're not even on a full transition dose of estrogen.

Feeling happier

All you know inside is that you do genuinely feel better about yourself. You feel happier, more in control, able to put your thoughts about being a woman into perspective. The obsessional thoughts are very much reduced and your thought patterns more logical. Estrogen is working for you, it makes you feel much, much better.

Before taking estrogen you were pretty much all over the place. Feeling like a car running on the wrong type of fuel - but now you're having to deal with the side effects of turning into a female. But why not? This is what you have always wanted isn't it?

Since the effects of estrogen have helped you feel more like you, should this feminization automatically follow?


January 11, 2015

What trans and genderqueer people think about the origins of gender variance

Our 2014 survey shows that a majority of queer and trans people believe their gender variance is caused by an interaction between psychological, biological, cultural and social factors.

There is a lot of debate among gender variant people about what causes their sexuality and gender variance. What is it that makes some of them feel alienated from their own social role, their bodies or the expected sexuality of their gender?

Illustration by Daria Karaulnik

A quest for identity and/or an attempt to fit in

This discussion is partly driven by a natural need to understand and define themselves or their relation to others.  It most often stems from a desire to find some sort of personal solid ground: "This is who I am!"

This kind of insight may also -- combined with personal strength and perseverance -- make it easier for a person to protect important aspects of their personality against the pressure of social conformity.

There are also those out there who are developing mental models that can help them fit into the gender role models of their community. Those who have accepted the the "Men are from Mars" and "Women are from Venus" binary are, for instance, more likely to be attracted to models that accentuate the differences between the genders.


Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!