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.

So this has nothing to do with Virginia Prince's femmiphilia concept?

...Whoops... this is where I admit I never got round to checking that out. So... that's a 'no.' To be honest... it's not a term I'm wildly enamored with. I use cross gender arousal and crossdreaming more.

You say you coined the term femephilia to avoid the term autogynephilia. Still, you call your book Everyman's Guide to Autogynephilia, and you use the term in the book. Is this an attempt to catch the attention of crossdreamers who have seen this term used online?

It's logistical. If I didn't use it... no one would find it on Amazon. The term is, I imagine, still the most common point of entry into our community.

I can't remember what I entered into the internet to discover more about my sexuality ... but the first thing it showed me was autogynephilia. That is something we should work on, by the way: we can't have people having that as their first exposure to crossdreaming culture.

The deeper female self

In your book you elegantly dismiss simplistic models of what causes crossdreaming, to the point of arguing that the discussion on whether it is caused by a sexual drive or a manifestation of a deeper female self is irrelevant. What do you mean by this?
Felix Conrad has brought a new sense of aesthetics to
the crossdreamer community.

The main reason it's irrelevant is that it's impossible to prove either way. I really don't understand why people don't get this: you cannot prove that autogynephilia causes transsexualism or vice versa.

Recently, though, I just feel burned out on the whole 'sexual motivation issue.' I've spent months writing about autogynephilia theory and my honest feeling is it was a waste of time.

Once you seriously analyse it from a philosophical perspective - and not a 'stroppy transgender perspective' (what I had before), you see that it really is laughable and so full of logical fallacies it is not worthy of serious contemplation.

My philosophy more and more these days is...

....' is what it with it.'

What I mean is that the causes of the condition just aren't going to help you in any way... so you should focus on living with it here and now... not where it came from.

Coming out as what?

You have chosen to focus on what you call late onset crossdreamers and transsexuals who were born as men and who have a history of femephilia. I guess this is partly because of your own life experience. Can you tell us something of your story.

You know something Jack... for all my words, and blog posts, and books... I can honestly say that I don't know what the fuck is going on with me. I would probably like to come out to my friends... but I don't know exactly what I'd be coming out as.

ME: "Hi... everyone... I've called you all here so I can finally come out."
FRIENDS: "Come out as what?"
ME: "I'm still working on that one."

All I know is the following: my whole life, crossing gender was just about sex... and then one day it wasn't.

I will - over the next months - tell more of my story; I'm tiring of semi-scientific analysis and think I should just get to the point. It's what I call the 'mirror conversation'... you look yourself in the eye and go "who are you... and what the fuck do you want?"

Crossdressing and behavior

You write: "There isn't really such a thing as a transvestite -- there is only transvestite behavior." Could you tell us what you mean by this?

Transvestitism implies a hierarchy of desire with women's clothing at the top. But the clothing is just a medium of the true desire: to be a woman.

Coping with crossdreaming

I really appreicate you matter-of-fact, pragmatic, approach to crossdreaming. In many ways your book is a help-book on how to live with crossdreaming if you are not transitioning. Can you tell us what you consider the three most important coping strategies?

Alcoholism, excessive masturbation, and online communities.

No seriously, the three most important strategies are...

1. Reinvent what 'being a man' means to you - .
2. Reinvent what 'being a woman' means to you - .
3. Mash together 1 and 2... and create the new you.

Giving in to oppression?

There is one thing that worries me a bit, though. Your test for whether you should transition is "Am I going to be happy?" I am simplifying a bit here, but you seem to base the possibility of MTF happiness on whether you are going to pass as a woman or not. Isn't this playing up to the rules of a transphobic society? Shouldn't this be as much about changing society as us adapting to it?

This is a very, very important issue, Jack. You are absolutely right. A large part of my argument is that the person won't pass and will get a lot of negativity, and therefore shouldn't transition.

By this logic... a psychologist would have said to a gay guy in the 70s... "don't go out hand in hand with your boyfriend cos they'll beat you up." But it was only the pioneers going out hand in hand that conditioned people to the idea and then made it stop looking so strange and hate inspiring. So I get your point.

However, you forget one thing... as stated in the blurb for the book... it is specifically designed for people who - for whatever reason - can't or wont transition. I specifically warn that serious dysphoria cases should not read or buy the book. The book is to help people like you and me deal with never transitioning... and thus intentionally looks for the negative in transition.
Allesandra Ambrosio's reaction to
hearing about Blanchard's autogynephilia

That book was written from that perspective. My most recent essay was written more from a militant transgender perspective, and has a different approach.

However, I won't deny that I think 'passing' is an extremely difficult issue on so many levels. We live in an appearance obsessed society. Basically, Jack... I'm working on this issue.

Given your studies of crossdreaming and transgender, what books would you recommend to other crossdreamers, and why?

You always make me feel guilty because you are so well read in this area. I am appallingly under read. My recommendation would be general books that can be applied to crossdreaming. The one that comes to mind is Think your way to happiness by Windy Dryden.

This book is a basic course in critical thinking about your own thoughts and emotions. Every crossdreamer needs to know the difference between 'dream' and 'reality' and critical thinking is the key. That is one of the main reasons I like the term 'crossDREAMING'. Dreams fascinate me... dreams are both beautiful and powerful and dangerous.

The male to female crossdreamers without the ability of critical thinking soon get wrapped up in their dreams and when that happens they can start believing anything... that they look like Alessandra Ambrosio for example.


The Transcend Movement, Felix Conrad's Crossdreamer Beach Club.
Autogynephilia: Everyman's guide to autogynephilia, crossdreaming and late onset transsexualism, by Felix Conrad (available as ebook from amazon and other online stores).
Think Your Way to Happiness (Overcoming common problems), by Windy Dryden.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!