April 19, 2016

An introduction to the autogynephilia debate

So someone has brought up Ray Blanchard's concept of autogynephilia in a discussion of gender variance and transgender women. They are all sexual perverts, they tell you. The science proves it! 
The autogynephilia theory says that MTF crossdressers
and trans women who love women are men driven by a desire 
for their inner woman. Yepp,it is yet another attempt at 
invalidating a marginalized group by sexualizing them.

Photo: Voyagerix

Actually it doesn't. 

Here is some essential reading that will bring you up to speed on the topic of cross-gender arousal, crossdreaming and transgender identities. 

Welcome to the seedy side of sexology. Welcome to the autogynephilia debate.  

Julia Serano, leading trans philosopher and trans activist, presents cross-gender arousal in her highly influential book Whipping Girl, which has just been published in its second edition. 

She understands crossdreaming (i.e. arousal from imagening yourself as your target sex) as an expression of a subconscious identity. Serano has written about her approach to what she calls female embodiment fantasies here. 

Dr. Charles Moser has identified "autogynephilic" fantasies in non-transgender women. Yeah, i know, cis women have had a different life experience than trans women. The point is simply that they too can get excited by feeling sexy; that does invalidate their identity.

If anyone tells you (as Blanchard will) that there are no female to male crossdreamers, you should take a look at my research. I have written several posts on the lives of FTM crossdreamers and "girlfags", and know many of them. You may start here: "The Yaoi Culture and the Female to Male Crossdreamers." 

The novelist Imogen Binnie has written a very sarcastic and funny review of J. Michael Bailey's book, The Man Who Would be Queen. Bailey attempted to popularize the autogynephilia theory, revealing the underpinning sexism and gender stereotypes in the process. Binnie captures this in a brilliant manner!

If you want a different take on autogynephilia from an MTF crossdreamer who has not transitioned and who does not plan to do so, you should take a look at the writings of Felix Conrad. He has published a series of well-written (and funny!) reflections on crossdreaming.There is even a couple of books!

For more resources, you may look at Lynn Conway's site and the resources listed by Andrea James I also recommend Kelley Winter's paper on autogynephilia.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!