August 24, 2009

Autogynephilia as something normal

I have spent quite some time discussing the autogynephilia theory as it has been developed by people like Blanchard and Lawrence.

In short they believe men fantasizing about having a woman's body are displaying a kind of disorder, where their sexual energy is misplaced. Instead of loving a real woman, they love the idea of themselves as a woman.

Their writings present it all as something extraordinary. Since Blanchard's study was based on responses from clients visiting his clinic looking for sex reassignment surgery, he never looked into the possibility that this may be a rather common fantasy, shared even by people who cannot be called transsexuals (and who do not seek sex reassignment).

When your read the discussions on forums for transgender fantasies like Rachel's Haven and Feeling Femme Sanctuary the discussants range from transwomen who have transitioned, to men but who feel well at ease with their male identity and would not like to become women. They still fantasize about what it would feel like.

These are people who have found the forums, signed up and takes part in the discussion. But it is a fair guess that there must be a very large number that have never gotten that far. How many, we don't know, but I guess it is much larger than the specialists believe.

The British-Australian psychoterapist Tracie O'Keefe has a very interesting discussion of 10 cases from her own practice, all men and women who reports that they have fantasies of having the body of the opposite sex, autogynephilia for the men and autoandrophilia for the women.

She says:

"It seems likely in light of this study that autogynephilia/androphilia is far more common than current literature depicts. Far from being solely a psychopathology or paraphilia it is likely that many people experience autogynephilia/androphilia as part of their ordinary everyday sexual fantasy lives.

"For some of those people the experience gave them great pleasure, for some it was confusing and for others it is even disturbing; but what is clear is that each case is bound up with the person's own individual psychodynamics. Those psychodynamics are undoubtedly, as with every person, the results of the person as a whole self and should not be viewed purely in isolation."

Most of her respondents did not experience "gender dysphoria" (i.e. a gender identity disorder, where they feel that they are the wrong sex). Instead they used the fantasies to enrich their sex lives or to handle other psychological pressures.

She tells about the married couple Robert and Clair where the autogynephilia and autoandrophilia "seemed to be a dance of role reversal and power brokerage that in some ways stabilised a relationship where both partners could be very dynamic and forceful personalities."

Then there is the man that has heavy responsibilities in his job, and that uses autogynephiliac fantasies to get a respite:

"In men fulfilling such subservient roles through autogynephilia it may mean giving up total control and being almost natal once again, having someone else make their decisions for them."

She makes some very good observations about how many in the Western tradition tend to sort sexual fantasies into "sinful" or "accepted" in the religious sphere or "pathological" or "healthy" in the medical arena.

"Blanchard's study was based on a strictly bipolar male/female paradigm to examine and explain human experience. To see the human condition and behaviour as only heterosexual, homosexual bisexual or asexual is unenlightened. People are sexual and clusters of sexual stimuli can be triggered by all manner of fantasies that would not be pathological except for narrow monocultural interpretations. In the case of Canada, to a large extent, it would have included a Judeo/Christian element that historically saw only heterosexual males as healthy men."

But what do we know about people's fantasies and sexual desires, really?

An autogynephiliac may think that other people are "normal", dreaming of having normal sex in the missionary position (after the required bonding through foreplay, of course). His girlfriend may actually be dreaming about being taken roughly from behind up against the wall. Not that she would like all sex to be like that, but her sexuality is probably not as "pure" as some would like us to believe.

The enormous amount of porn online, and the great variety of topics we find there should tell us something about the variety of sexual imagination.

It would help if we could stop looking at sexual desires and fantasies as "sins" or "perversions", and instead look at them as what they really are: variations of the strange and fantastic world of human sexuality.

Sin is about hate and hurting other people, not about gender roles.

Do read O'Keefe's paper: Autogynephilia and Autoandrophilia in
Non-Sex and Gender Dysphoric Persons

See also: What the sexual fantasies of non-transgender people tells us about the dreams of those who are trans


Since this blog post was written I have stopped using the terms "autogynephilia" and "autoandrophilia" to describe people. The reason for this is that the terms implicitly communicates an explanation for why some people get aroused by imagining themselves as the opposite sex . This explanation, that this is some kind of autoerotic paraphilia,  is both wrong and stigmatizing. Instead I use the neutral term "crossdreamers".

Click here for a discussion of the dark side of the autogynephilia theory.

August 13, 2009

Beyond the Perversion

In my previous post I discussed why the theory underpinning the term "autogynephilia" (men loving themselves as a woman) can be so offensive.

Behind all the scientific jargon lies the idea that "autogynephiliacs" are in some sense sick deviates. In this post I will see how Lawrence and others try to solve this dilemma.

[Update: Note that I am no longer using the term "autogynephilia" to describe transgender people. Instead I call people who have erotic cross-gender fantasies crossdreamers.]

The compromise

First it should be said that I do not think Blanchard tries to solve this problem at all.

To him paraphilias are a fact of life like other (in his opinion) misdirected desires. There is pedophilia, there is autogynephilia, there is exhibitionism  and many more.

He has tried to describe the phenomenon, and he has come up with some hypotheses as to what causes this phenonmenon. As a scientist he must be allowed to do that, even if he should happen to be wrong. Science is about finding the truth through sound methods and an open discussion. It is not about pleasing people. 

Note, however, that he says very little about how "autogynephiliacs" are supposed to cope with this condition. He reminds me of a collector of rare specimens. He is obsessed with coming up with new names for what he considers rare perversions. He is not really interested in helping these people.

Although Lawrence goes a long way towards accepting Blanchard's theory of "autogynephilia" being a paraphilia (i.e. a mistargeting of desires), she is open to the other models as well .

She quotes researchers like Langevin and Johnson and Hunt who argue that "autogynephilia" may be caused by "real" gender conflicts. "Autogynephilia" could be the effect instead of the cause of "atypical gender identity".

In normal terms: These men have -- in a sense -- had an internal conflict between their female and male side all the time. Their sexual fantasies of becoming a woman or behave like a woman is caused by the fact that they have some kind of female identity inside of them.

"Other commentators -- often transsexuals themselves -- suggest that some sort of gender dysphoria may be primary, and that autogynephilic eroticism may develop when gender dysphoria interferes with 'normal' sexual interests. I suspect that this latter explanation is true at least part of the time. It seems most consistent with my own experience, and with the reports of many others."

Indeed, in many of the case studies she presents, the respondents report that they have thought of themselves as girls since early childhood, before puberty.

"Keeping both models in mind can offer the clinician a more nuanced understanding of sexual motivation," Lawrence says. She is right about that, but she does not follow up her own advice in this respect.

Masculine autogynephiliacs

Indeed, in  other places she goes out of her way to explain why Blanchard's approach make more sense.

"Why would men who have been successful fighter pilots, construction workers, or captains of industry -- men who seem not the least bit feminine, and who appear entirely comfortable being men -- want to undergo sex reassignment? Attributing this solely to some long-hidden inner femininity might implausible."

This is where I find it so hard to follow both Blanchard and Lawrence. What has the looks of these men to do with it all?

If there is a biological basis for  male to female crossdreaming ("autogynephilia"), that same biology has given them a male body. There is no reason for this body to look feminine. If their crossdreaming  is caused by hormonal disturbances in the womb, it does not logically follow that this will give them a more  feminine appearance. If the cause is genetic, I doubt there is one gene for "autogynephilia", in the same way that we do know that homosexuality is not caused by one single gene. The phenomenon must in that case be caused by a combination of genes, none of which need be connected to looks.

My point is that there isn't necessarily one to one relationship between how you look and how you feel. If the cause is mainly biological one set of genes may trigger feminine looks, another set feminine mentalities and yet another feminine mannerisms. And at this point we haven't even begum to discuss the roles of hormones or psychological development.

As for their success as men: Well, women may succeed as fighter pilots, so why not "autogynephiliacs"? Moreover, they have lived under a strong cultural pressure to act like men. They are rewarded for it.

And as for them appearing comfortable being men... ah, well, appearances can deceive. I appear comfortable being a man, but I am not!

On the other hand Lawerence has a point when she draws attention to the fact that sexual obsession can drive a man to do all sorts of things.

Let there be no doubt about it: the urges that follows crossdreaming fantasies can be very strong, probably strong enough to drive some men to sexual reassignment even if they didn't have a strong "inner woman". That doesn't prove that there is no "inner woman", however.

Autogynephilia and other erotic interests

The strongest argument in support of defining "autogynephilia" as a parahilia (an abnormal sexual activity or "perversion" in laymen's terms) is the connection to other types of erotic interests.

If you read transgender erotica there are a large number of sex change stories that contain elements of for example BDSM, exhibitionism, and infantilism.

Lawrence refers to research that documents that there are many fetishists among transvestites and transexuals.:

"If transexualism and transvetism are purely gender-identity-based phenomena, then these associations make no sense," Lawrence argues.

It is a fair argument, although it may be that these fetishes are caused by the fact that the person has to struggle with his "autogynephilia", and not that "autogynephilia" automatically leads to "other" fetishes.

If you have spent your whole life suppressing your true identity (which definitely undermines your self-esteem as a man) humiliation as a way of getting off may make sense. Fantasies where the man is forced into feminization solves the problem of having to chose a new life. The conflict is resolved by others.

Infantilism, i.e. regression to a child-like state, is a fantasy often used by people who live extreme conditions where it is hard to cope as an adult. Feeling that you are a woman in a man's body is at times completely unbearable. Regressing to a more care-free, innocent and pre-sexual state where others take care of you may give psychological relief.

Sex as a woman

Lawrence also points to the fact that "heterosexual" autogynephiliacs" (i.e MTF male assigned transgender people who love women) may fantasize about having sex with men. Yes, they may even have sex with men when dressed up as a woman.

I have myself had these fantasies, and again -- if you read transgender erotica -- you will find a lot of writers that find the idea of having sex with a man as a man revolting, happily writes captions about being taken from behind by a man.

Lawrence is absolutely right when she says that these fantasies are not like the fantasies of "genuine androphiles":

"...there is little emphasis on the specific characteristics of the imagined male partner. Often the imagined partner is faceless or quite abstract, and seems to be present primarily to validate the femininity of the person having the fantasy, rather than as a desirable partner in his own right (Blanchard 1991)."

[Update 2020: Since I wrote this article there has been a lot of research that document that crossdreaming fantasies are common among cis men and women, gay and straight. We also find cis women fantasizing about faceless men.]

She also refers to all the "autogynephiliacs" who start having sex with men after their surgery. This is not, she argues, because they have changed their sexual orientation: "Rather it is because they can finally actualize their fantasy of having sex with a male."

In other words: They are having sex with men not because they are sexually attracted to them, but because they use them as a kind of masturbatory props!

I see that the fact that some MTF crossdreamers fantasize about faceless men as opposed to real men requires an explanation, and I can see how this phenomenon strengthens Lawrence's belief in the paraphilia-angle.

The idea that someone should go completely against their sexual orientation to actualize some abstract masturbatory fantasy is hard to believe for me, however. As an experiment, maybe, but to take real pleasure from it over time?

Admittedly, fantasizing about men like this before the transition may feel "safe" for the autogynephiliac, but many of them establish stable relationships with real men after the surgery. It is hard to believe that they could do that without having changed their attitude to men. Unless they have been closeted homosexuals all along, of course. But the point here is that Blanchard & Co are convinced that they are not.

Are we all bisexuals?

One counter-argument could be that all human beings are born bisexual and that their gender identity is a social construct. When becoming women these "autogynephiliacs" just switch to another narrative.

However, i find that unlikely as well, because the theory does not explain why exactly these men have become "autogynephiliacs". It is very unlikely that their parents have raised them as such!

Another narrative

I suspect there are other explanations that makes more sense, and I am working on one such possible narrative (although this is nothing more than an hypothesis at the moment):

MTF crossdreamers like myself do indeed have a strong inner woman, but we are also to certain degree men. After all, we all carry the genetic code for both sexes.

The man in us loves women and is sexually attracted to women. The woman in us loves the idea of being a woman, but she may (i underline may) also be attracted to men.

This man and this woman are both heterosexual. Before the transition the male sex-partners are faceless, but after the surgery the woman gets free reins. Now she may approach men as a woman.

She could be lying, of course, both to herself and to the researchers. She may think that she has a normal heterosexual relationship with a man, while she is in fact using the man for pleasuring herself. Her relationship is in that case in no way similar to a normal female-male bonding.

This is where both Blanchard and Lawrence run into methodological difficulties, because it does not matter what their respondents reply to such questions. The "wrong" answers can always be interpreted as lies.

Some research indicate that as many as 50 percent of transsexuals change their sexual orientation as the result of hormone treatment. If the hormones are causing the change in sexual orientation before the sexual reassignment surgery has taken place, that may indicate that the change is caused by a change in "normal" biology, and not by some misdirection of sexual desire.

If they do change their orientation,the question that has to be asked is whether their relationship with men is "normal". Do they enter into stable, long-term, love based relationships or are they just fooling around? An answer to this question would in many ways help us ascertain whether they have become real women or whether they still are suffering from paraphilia. I cannot see that Blanchard & Co has done this research.

I suspect that many post-op "autogynephiliacs" are perfectly capable of having real relationships with their partners after the surgery, also if they end up with a man.

I would love to hear from post-op transsexuals out there about your experience regarding this.

Yet another hypothesis

Another possible explanation is that the longing for submission and penetration is a genetic trait that normally belongs to females. I mean submission in the neutral sense here, as being the "catcher" instead of the "pitcher".

It could be that "autogynephiliacs" have this urge, in spite of their Y chromosome. After all, many "normal" men may display some traditionally feminine traits without being considered effeminate. You know: "He is a kind and patient man, a good listener."

There are lesbians who do not feel the need for penetration, which proves that the opposite may be true, as well.

If "autogynephiliacs" have inherited a submissive trait, the need to "mask" the male in their fantasies is quite understandable. Other "autogynephiliacs" "solve" this problem by imagining themselves penetrated by a woman with a strap-on or by a pre-op trans woman. There are a lot of pre-op trans sex workers out there that advertise the fact that they are "active". Maybe their customers are "autogynephiliacs"?

An oversimplified view of sexuality

I strongly believe that our traditional concepts of both sexuality and gender are to simple and binary.

If we instead of thinking in a binary way (as Blanchard does) - man vs. female, masculine vs. feminine, heterosexual vs homosexual, "homosexual transsexual" vs. "autogynephiliac" – we could think of this as a gradient, a mixture of a large number of genetic, biological, psychological and cultural variables, crossdreaming makes more sense.

I think an answer to that riddle will bring us a long way towards getting a better understanding of what Blanchard and Lawrence call "autogynephilia".

The truth is out there

So Blanchard and Lawrence are wrong then, are they? Their theories are politically incorrect, I can embrace my inner woman and accept the transgender narrative as my own?

There is a good chance that I will.

Still, when you are struggling with topics of this kind: sexuality, identity, strong cultural frameworks, it it easy to adopt the narrative that feels most comfortable.

I have lived for a few years now, and I know that people deceive themselves. I have done so repeatedly. I also now that psychological disorders do exist, and that there are ways of treating some of them. I have been in psychotherapy for other problems and that therapy has changed me – to the better, as I understand it.

So, I cannot just dismiss the idea out of hand that my fantasies of being a woman are "wrong", "dysfunctional", "misled" or whatever.

If that is the case. If Blanchard and Lawrence are correct in their assumptions, I have three options as I see it:
  1. I should find ways of redirecting my desires to its "proper object". They never say how this is to be done. Through psychotherapy maybe?
  2. I will have to live with it, as a person with CP or MS will have to learn with his or her fate.
  3. I can ask for sex reassignment surgery, knowing that I will always be a male "autogynephiliac" in a woman's clothing and never a proper woman
I can't say that I like any of these options.

I know for sure that Blanchard and Lawrence have given me something very important, though:
  1. They have given me a language that gives a more nuanced view of what it is to be transgender. They have given us more more terms and categories, which is very helpful when you try to find out who you are. Whether these term capture "reality as it is" or their explanation of these terms are correct is another problem.
  2. They have killed this strange idea that gender is completely separate from sexuality. I know that especially American universities have been strongly influenced by postmodern philosophy and feminist studies where gender is seen as a social construct only. It cannot be, as I see it.
In my next blog posts, I will try to explore the alternative to Blanchard and Lawrence's explanation for MTF crossdreaming ("autogynephilia").

Minor edits February 2014 and April 2020.

Further reading

For Blanchard's view on the topic, see his article The Concept of Autogynephilia and the Typology of Male Gender Dysphoria republished at the All Mixed Up site, which also includes a well written crituque of his work.

An interesting article from a transsexual, Willow Arune, supporting Blanchard can be found here.

See also links in the right hand column of this page.

August 9, 2009

Autogynephilia: The Dark Side

In my previous blog post I presented the concept of autogynephilia and what it means to me.

In this blog post I will try to explain why it has become so controversial in trangender circles, and what I personally find most disturbing about it.

[Update: The original August 9 2009 version of this blog post is available here. I normally do not change blog post after publishing them, as this makes the comments harder to read, but my choice of terms in this one has clearly caused too many misreadings.

Why the term is so controversial

The controversial part is the idea that "autogynephiliacs" (male bodied persons who get aroused by the idea of being women) are driven by sexual desire.

To quote Lawrence again:

"In 1989, psychologist Ray Blanchard made the controversial proposal that the “atypical” male-to-female transsexuals described above, and the heterosexual cross-dressers with whom they seemed to have so much in common, both experienced a powerful sexual attraction to the idea of being or becoming women. This unusual sexual interest, or paraphilia, he theorized, was the driving force behind their behavior. Blanchard called this paraphilia autogynephilia, meaning 'love of oneself as a woman' (1989a).

"He formally defined autogynephilia as 'a male’s propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female' (1989b). According to Blanchard’s formulation, heterosexual cross-dressers were men who were sexually attracted to women and who had a paraphilic sexual interest that made them want to episodically impersonate the objects of their attraction. Autogynephilic transsexuals, he theorized, were men who were also sexually attracted to women, but whose paraphilic sexual interest made them want to go farther and permanently change their bodies to become the objects of their attraction, or the best possible facsimiles thereof."

This theory caused an uproar in transgender circles. Lawrence find this, for some reason, surprising. I do not.

The sexless transgender

Now, if you read the debate, it might seem that the main issue is that Blanchard argued that the driving force for these male to female transgender people is sexual desire.

It is argued that many transgender persons found that this undermined their legitimacy vis-a-vis the doctors, and that they would not get surgery if they admitted they found feminization to be sexually arousing.

Because of this, the story goes, many transgender activists opposed Blanchard because it would damage the cause of transsexuals. Some of them argued strongly that they were not driven by sexual desire; others admitted that you needed to keep the erotic component hidden in order to get the surgery.

I find it hard to understand transgender conditions without the sex. To me the sexual drive and gender identification is strongly connected, and the fact that male to female transgender persons get sexually aroused by imagining themselves with a female body is pretty obvious. This does not mean that sexual desire is the only expression of gender variance, far from it! But it is one of them.

I mean, look at non-transgender women. Many of them spend hours shopping for clothes, dressing up, putting on make-up, looking at themselves in the mirror. Of course there is a sexual component in this behavior. Many of them like their own bodies and femininity. They are at peace with themselves. That is a good thing! Moreover, research indicate that non-transgender women experience "autogynephile" sexual fantasies!

Moreover, male assigned crossdreamers (called "autogynephiliacs" or "autogynephiles" by Blancahrd and his followers) are in a life situation where it is hard for them to have a normal sex life. They love women, but find themselves inadequate as men. This may lead to a lot of sexual frustration -- celibacy even. No wonder their sexual libido is channeled into fantasies of this kind.

So why the idea that male to female (MTF) transgender people fantasizing about being women get aroused should be offensive, I don't know. It is a sad fact, though, that the medical establishment used to frown upon these things, and that MTF transgender kept quiet about it. They often pretended to be sexless women trapped in a sexless man's body.

The real reason why Blanchard's and Lawrence's theory is problematic

The real reason I find Blanchard and Lawrence's theory so problematic is another one.

What this theory says is that these men (or transsexual women, if they identify as such) are suffering from "erotic target location errors”. They are supposed to feel desire for the women out there. Instead they internalize the object of desire. They want to become that woman.

The narrative here is that the "autogynephiliac" is really a heterosexual man that would -- under normal circumstances -- go out and find a woman to desire. But, because of some error (being that biochemical or psychological) he has "malfunctioned".

His sexual desire (or, as Lawrence expands: his erotic-romantic orientation, which also includes other forms of pair-bonding) is channeled inwards instead of outwards.

If we now for a moment drop the scientific jargon, what I read is the following message:

This man is not only a "freak" in the eyes of others. He is truly a dysfunctional person. Scientific words like dysphoria and paraphilia cannot hide this message. Unless you think this kind of self-obsession is a good thing the verdict is devastating.

Lawrence's solution to this problem is (in some places, but not in others) to define "autogynephilia" as a sexual orientation in itself (on par with heterosexuality, I suppose).

She defends the rights of "autogynephiliacs" to have sexual reassignment surgery on this basis. She doesn't say as much, but I guess the underlying message is that since "autogynephilia" is a natural phenomenon the male to female crossdreamers should be allowed to live out their obsession.

The problem is, however, that as the phenomenon is described by Blanchard and Lawrence the male to female crossdreamer does come out as a kind of narcissist, a self-lover, a person who wants to become the object he loves, and therefore wants to make love to himself as a woman. That does not sound particularly good to me.

The potential male partners in this narrative become mere props: large human dildos the male to female crossdreamers can use to fulfil their fantasies.

Because of this is seems like Lawrence and Blanchard think that crossdreamers will be unable to enter into a normal love/sex relationship with another human being.

The controversy summarized

Here is a crystal clear summary of the Blanchard narrative made by Michael Bailey:

"Currently the predominant cultural understanding of male-to-female transsexualism is that all male-to-female (MtF) transsexuals are, essentially, women trapped in men's bodies. This understanding has little scientific basis, however, and is inconsistent with clinical observations. Ray Blanchard has shown that there are two distinct subtypes of MtF transsexuals. Members of one subtype, homosexual transsexuals, are best understood as a type of homosexual male. The other subtype, autogynephilic transsexuals, are motivated by the erotic desire to become women. The persistence of the predominant cultural understanding, while explicable, is damaging to science and to many transsexuals."

What this means is that MTF trangender men having undergone the transformations are not women at all. They are at best a category in themselves, or they remain men in spite of their appearances. There is no "feminine essence" that makes them women; they represent an evolutionary blind alley.

The other transgender narrative

Now, compare this narrative to the one that is gaining acceptance in modern societies: A male to female transsexual is really a woman, truly a woman, a normal woman living "inside" her male body.

There is no denying that something is different in the lives of male to female trans women compared to the ones of non-transgender women. There has after all, been a misalignment between her physical sex and her inner gender identity.  Her life experience is different. But she is not a freak. What's needed is a gender confirmation therapy that gives her the body she should have had all along.

Note that in this narrative it does not matter whether she is heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual. In the US and Europe at least, these sexualities are accepted as normal for both women and men.

So a male to female crossdreamer accepting this narrative can think of herself as a healthy woman that has become herself in body and soul.

A male to female crossdreamer accepting Blanchard's narrative in full will naturally think of himself as disturbed person even after having had the sexual reassignment surgery.

Is it possible to reconcile the concept of "autogynephilia" with a narrative we can live with, or do people like me just have to accept that we are perverts?

That will be the topic of my next post.

August 5, 2009

Autogynephilia defined

The "autogynephilia" theory classifies male to female transgender persons into two distinct categories based on their sexual orientation.
Illustration by castanedasevilla.

There are people assigned male who fantasize about having a woman's body and get sexually aroused by this. There are also people assigned female at birth who get excited by the idea of being a man, and by having sex as a man.

I call this crossdreaming. Dr. Jaimie Veale, who has done extensive research on transgender people, calls it cross-gender arousal. Trans-philosopher Julia Serano has suggested the term female/feminine or male/masculine embodiement fantasies. 

Not all crossdreamers are transsexual, but quite a few of them suffer from gender dysphoria (distress caused by a mismatch between gender identity on the one hand and biological sex and/or social role on the other).

Trans women and trans men may have been crossdreamers in the past.  This should not come a surprise. If you present as male, and your inner sense of self is female, one of the few ways you can explore your female sexuality is by imagine yourself having a female body, and fantasize about having sex as a woman.

Because of this even the idea of being transformed into a woman can become arousing. The transformation makes the full life of a woman possible.

Misogyny and transphobic medicine

Unfortunately we live in a world that has been quite unforgiving as regards gender violations of this kind. In the previous century doctors and other "experts" found it hard to believe that this kind of arousal could be caused by a female sexuality. Women were not supposed to have strong sexual desires.

Besides, this was the age of misogyny. A man who wanted to be a woman had to be mentally ill.

The only trans women who were accepted as "real" women (if they were accepted at all) were therefore those that could say that they had never had such erotic fantasies. Those who had were dismissed as "transvestic fetishists" (sexual deviants).

The "autogynephilia" theory of Dr. Ray Blanchard of Toronto, Canada, is part of this tradition.

In this post I will, for practical reasons, quote Blanchard-supporter Anne Lawrence when presenting the theory. Blanchard has given her interpretation of the theory strong support.

Summary of autogynephilia

Anne Lawrence gives the following summary of autogyenphilia:

"Ray Blanchard proposed that these transsexuals have a paraphilia [i.e. sexual disorder] he called autogynephilia, which is the propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of oneself as female.

"Autogynephilia defines a transsexual typology and provides a theory of transsexual motivation, in that Blanchard proposed that MtF [male to female] transsexuals are either sexually attracted exclusively to men (homosexual) or are sexually attracted primarily to the thought or image of themselves as female (autogynephilic), and that autogynephilic transsexuals seek sex reassignment to actualize their autogynephilic desires."

August 4, 2009

The hidden ring

I am not sure about this, but I do believe my fantasies about being a girl came with puberty.

In this way I do not follow the more "traditional" transgender story, where the man knows himself to be a woman at a very early age.

I remember a cosmetic box. It had been used for hand cream, I believe, and belonged to my mother. It was circular and blue.

It was a large NIVEA box, not the flat one made of metal, but a larger one made of plastic.

In this box I put a ring made of chocolate tinfoil wrappers. I used to fantasize that if I put on the ring, it would turn me into a woman.

From a psychological point of view the symbolism is clear:

The ring and the circular box refers to completeness (the ring never ends) and femininity (the curves and softness of women). The box is the womb, where my unborn self lays dormant.

The box is blue, which symbolizes the sea (the feminine side) and the sky (the masculine side).

There are two possible messages from this fantasy.

One is that I am truly a woman that expects to be born as a woman, into the world as a true transsexual.

The other one is that I am to unite the feminine and masculine sides and accept that I am both, regardless of whether my sexual organs point outwards or inwards.

This is a the most important question for me right now.

Dear fellow autogynephiliacs crossdreamers, can you remember when these feelings awakened in you?

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!