February 25, 2010

Jack and Jackie: A dialog about sex and gender

Those who have followed this blog, know that I have been obsessed with the theory of autogynephiliacs (men who dream of having a woman's body) having a kind of erotic target location error. In this blog post "my inner woman" tells us where Blanchard went wrong.

Fetish Land

It was Ray Blanchard who came up with the idea of AGP men internalizing their external love object, in an attempt to explain why crossdressers and what I call crossdreamers get aroused by the idea of being women.

The logical progression towards Blanchard and Bailey's conclusion is something like this:

  • There are fetishes where sexual energies are channeled into objects that seem irrelevant to the "normal" sexual act (like getting turned on by nylon stockings).
  • Crossdressing is understood as a fetish due to the role of garments.
  • Some types of "transvestic fetishism" are relabeled as paraphilia because of the inclusion of "crossdreamers" (i.e. men getting turned on by the idea of having a woman's body without dressing up).
  • The fetish/paraphila concept is expanded to defining autogynephilia (AGP) as "an erotic target location error". In the autogynephiliac the natural attraction to a woman has apparently been transferred to the idea of having a female body of your own. All fetishes are in fact considered target location errors, but this is the big one!
So it doesn't matter how strongly an autogynephiliac feels that he has a strong inner woman. If he admits to having erotic fantasies of this kind he is automatically labelled as a fetishist or a paraphiliac, which in this context can only be understood as a pervert.

This means that if the autogynephiliac is to be true to himself (or herself in the case of AGP transwomen), he will have to keep quiet about his fantasies if he wants people to believe him when he says that he has some kind of innate femininity.

The AGP Dialog

It is the man in me, I guess, who believes that if you intellectually understands something, you can handle it. So if I just managed to find an alternative explanation to why we are as we are, I would be able to get people to understand that this is so much more than a fetish.

The good thing about being an autogynephiliac is that we do have a strong inner woman, and she told me to stop fussing.

"You think too much," she said to me. "Take a deep breath. The answer is right in front of you!"

The rest of my admittedly fictitious inner dialog can be reconstructed as something like this:

JACK: Right in front of me? What do you mean, right in front of me?

JACKIE: Well, you have never really believed in that theory, have you? It is convoluted, inelegant, too much an attempt to make the facts fit with a theory where good old fashioned heterosexual love is the only kosher love that makes sense evolution wise. Blanchard cannot make you fit in with the homosexuals, so he have to put you in the paraphilia category.

JACK: Well, yeah. I guess he just took the idea of the fetish to the next step.

JACKIE: Exactly, but you and I know that there is more to autogynephilia than a fetish for clothes or a fetish for a female body, do we not?

JACK: Yes, it is just as much a deep instinctual urge to have sex as a woman. In the case of the crossdressers it is also a deepfelt need to express a strong feminine side.

JACKIE: Don't be shy, you can say it!

JACK: They want to express their inner woman.

JACKIE: That's a good boy! Don't worry, Jack, you are not schizophrenic. In this blogpost I am nothing but a literary device.

JACK: Good to know!

Loving someone else

JACKIE: So why does Blanchard's idea about autogynephiliacs internalizing their external love object sound so convincing to many?

JACK: Because they find it creepy that someone can get turned on by the fantasy image of their own body. It is as if they are not able to have a relationship with a real woman.

JACKIE: But you have a relationship with a real woman, don't you, in spite of me?

JACK: Yes...

JACKIE: And you love her very much! And you know of a lot of other crossdressers and crossdreamers that have real love relationships with women.

JACK: Yeah, but still. There are so many of us who become obsessed with our inner girls.

JACKIE: Fair enough, but there are a lot of self obsessed people around. If you had to keep a secret like that, you would be a little self obsessed as well, wouldn't you?

JACK: Tell me about it!


JACKIE: OK, so what is it that makes autogynephiliacs perverts?

JACK: Their sex life is unnatural!


JACK: They are autoerotic!

JACKIE: There you go again with all your fancy words!

JACK: They get off by fantasizing about sex! You know, all by themselves.

JACKIE: They get turned on by imagining themselves having sex? Alone?

JACK: Yes!

JACKIE: And "normal" people never do?

JACK: Exactly!

JACKIE: Have you ever heard about masturbation, Jack?

JACK: Heh? Oh! .... All right, all right! Most people masturbate.

JACKIE: So being autoerotic is OK?

JACK: I guess...

JACKIE: So what's the difference? Normal people masturbate to the idea of having sex. So do autogynephiliacs.

JACK: You are twisting my words! Normal people dream about having sex with another person. They get turned on by imagining themselves having sex with another person! They do not get turned on by the idea of having a woman's body!

JACKIE: Well, I have read the same transgender erotic stories you have, Jack. I seem to remember that they all include having sex with other people! And since you have a strong inner woman it shouldn't come as a surprise at the idea of having a woman's body is such a turn on for you. You associate that body with the pleasure of sex.

Faceless men

JACK: Yes, but I sometimes imagine myself having sex with faceless men.

JACKIE: Yes, and what is wrong with that? You are not gay, Jack. I know who you are looking at when you walk down Main Street. You are not looking at the men. But your female instincts long for submission and penetration, and men have the necessary tool.

JACK: They are faceless! I have turned them into masturbatory props!

JACKIE: Oooh, what a naughty boy you are! And the teenage boy down on the second floor only dreams about real women, right? Real blonde bimbos with huuuuge tits and complex personalities. And the girl next door, when she takes out her vibrator she only dreams of realistic knights on realistic white horses sweeping her off her realistic feet and making rough love to her up in their realistic company jets. Oh yeah, no one but autogynephiliacs make use of mastorbatory props!

JACK: Now you are making fun of me!

JACKIE: Yah' think?

JACK: Normal straight men do not dream about submitting to masked men!

JACKIE: What do you know about what normal men dream about? You are not exactly normal are you, Jack? You share your body with me, and in my mind your body is female. No wonder our instincts drive you to dream about being mounted instead of being the mountee. That's what girls do dream about!

JACK: But I am not a girl now, am I?

JACKIE: No, you are a boring straight boy. But I am a girl, Jack, and I am part of you! And I know what I want.

JACK: You said you would not go all schizo on me!

JACKIE: Oh, my dear Jack. I am not saying that you are normal. I am not saying that you are not in trouble. I am just saying that you are not a fetishist or a paraphiliac. You have the sex drive and the sexual orientation of a straight man. At the same time you have the sexual instincts of a woman. That has to get messy.


JACK: But wait! Classical male to female transsexuals do not get turned on by the idea of having a woman's body, right? They are not fetishists. That proves that I am a creep and they are normal women.

JACKIE: There you go again! Most of the classical transsexuals are attracted to men, Jack. If you ask them if they get aroused by the idea of having a female body, they will have to say no. The correct answer is that they get aroused by the idea of having sex with a man in a female body. They are probably as horny as you are, and in their dreams they have tits and a pussy, just like an autogynephiliac, but since they are women loving men there is nothing controversial about this.

JACK: Well, if you put it that way...

JACKIE: I do put it that way! You should listen more to your female intuition, Jack.


JACK: According to Blanchard and Bailey I do not have a female intuition!

JACKIE: It's me, Jack.

JACK: Oh, give me a break! You are just a figment of my imagination. This doesn't prove anything!

JACKIE: Blanchard and Bailey haven't proved anything, so why should you? They have given good evidence to the fact that there are different types of transsexuals. Good! That is useful. But their erotic target location error theory is nothing but a theory, and you know it. They haven't got an explanation for why a heterosexual man should want to internalize their external love object.

That's me, Jack. I am your target location error. So tell me, where do I come from?

Emasculation theory

JACK: I don't know. Some childhood trauma, maybe. God knows I had enough of them.

JACKIE: We all have childhood trauma, Jack. Why would your trauma lead to me?

JACK: I was very shy and timid as a boy. I guess I felt emasculated. And I worshiped women. Maybe I gave up on the idea of becoming a "real man", so dreaming of becoming what I admired the most was the only option. If I had been a woman, people would have liked me for my looks and not only for my bloody personality!

JACKIE: Yeah, yeah, yeah, and I am the only reason they like your personality at all. Hah!!!

Anyway, this emasculation of your explains why you feel alienated from your own body? Is that what you think? Why you avoid looking at yourself in the mirror. Why you unlike most men feel no pride in your manly bits?

JACK: Exactly! And although I am not a crossdresser myself, this also explains why so many of my fellow autogynephiliacs dress up in women's clothing.

JACKIE: They dress up as sexy women, dreaming of being sexually attractive?

JACK: It is as if you are reading my thoughts!

JACKIE: That's because I am reading your thoughts, Jack.

So!... Let me get this straight. Crossdressers dress up as women because they imagine themselves being attractive. But that is not the same as being in love with yourself, now, is it Jack? All people dream of being liked, and testosterone driven beings like you have a bad tendency of mixing up human attraction with sexual attraction.

Of course crossdressers dream about being sexually attractive! In this respect they are no different from other men or women. We all long to be loved.

By the way, for you to be in love with yourself would have been a huge improvement. As I see it, the main problem is that you do not love yourself. And you definitely do not love me. I make you feel ashamed.

JACK: Eeeh...

Inner woman

JACKIE: But it is a good theory, Jack. This emasculation theory of your. It really is! And parts of it may even be true. The problem is that it doesn't explain why you started out as a timid boy in the first place. There is something in your genetic or biological profile that made you less like the archetypal rough and tumble boys.

JACK: What "something"?

JACKIE: Well, we do not know, now, do we? But I like to think of that "something" as me.

JACK: Of course you do!

JACK: Listen Jack, there are male to female transsexuals out there whose inner woman is so strong that they are women, no questions asked. When they say they feel trapped in their male bodies, they are correct. When they transition they become what they should have been, all along.

But nature is messy. In many cases it isn't that clearcut. All men and women, natural born or trans, have a mix of male and female traits along a large number of axis. In most cases the nobs and sliders are set in positions that make it easy for that individual to identify with one and only one gender.

In some cases, however, these traits cancel each other out, and the individual seems neither masculine or feminine. In other cases you can find one very masculine trait in parallel with strong feminine one. This makes the person appear both masculine and feminine at the same time.

Our language and our natural logic is able to accommodate for a lot of such variation, as long as the individual appears predominantly feminine or masculine on an aggregate level. But some are caught in the twilight zone, Jack, and in the twilight zone it is hard to decide what way the tree might fall.

JACK: Now you are mixing metaphors!

JACKIE: Yes, Jack, we are mixing metaphors, and that's why this is so hard to understand! There is a difference between men and women, but it is not absolute.

JACK: You have lost me now. I thought I was to be the analytical male and you the emotional woman, and here you go making another theoretical exposition. So you are saying being a man or a woman is about being placed somewhere on a scale. So that I am, let's say, 40 percent woman and 60 male?

JACKIE: So I am the weak one, now, am I? So typical male of you! 40 percent? Huh! Keep on dreaming, boy!

No, there is not one slider with female at the top and male at the bottom. That is far too simple.

There are hundreds of sliders relevant to the development of both sex and gender, probably thousands. Some of these sliders are genes, some are the production of hormones, some are the absorption of hormones, some are the digestions of food and toxins and some of them are social and cultural. What happens to one of them, may influence some of the others. And that influence goes both ways. Your life experiences change your brain, and those changes may change the production of hormones, which again change the way you experience the world.

JACK: It is a mess!

JACKIE: It is a complex system that doesn't care a fig about what some people believe is the proper order of nature.

JACK: Is all of this supposed to make me feel better?

JACKIE: I don't know. Does it?

Coming up next: Jackie gets some unexpected support from modern brain science!


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.

February 21, 2010

Samantha Speaks

There is a video blogger over at YouTube that might like to listen to. I have mentioned her before: Samantha Zero, an American Transgirl in Denmark. I admire her a lot.

Here's a woman who consciously calls herself transgendered, not transsexual. She doesn't follow the traditional narrative of the classic transsexual. She once identified as a man, loved a woman, used to crossdress, and has even admitted to having had autoerotic feelings before transitioning.

In other words: She may have a lot in common with some readers of this blog.

Enough said. Here she is.

Links to her videos on:
Transgender terminology
Losing her relationship

February 16, 2010

How many autogynephiliacs are there?

In the post How many male to female transsexuals are there? I pointed to Professor Lynn Conway's calculations on the number of M2F's transsexuals in the US.

Conway made an estimate of at least 40,000 postoperative trans women in the U.S. in 2005. These women had transitioned out of a population of roughly 100,000,000 adult males. She therefore concluded that the inherent condition occurs in at least one in every 500 children born as males.

Gynephiliac vs. autogynephiliac

But if you accept the idea that there are two distinct types of transsexuals, some of them predominantly androphilic (man-loving) and the other predominantly gynephilic (woman-loving), you are left with some interesting questions: How many woman-loving transsexuals are there? And: how many of these are autogynephiliacs (AGP) crossdreamers?


Before we try to answer that question, there are a few points to keep in mind:

1. Blanchard and his followers believe all gynephilic, bisexual and asexual transsexuals are crossdreamers ("autogynephilics" i.e. they get sexually turned on by the thought of being a woman).

Not all non-androphilic transsexuals agree that they are "autogynephilic". They could be in denial, of course. If being autogynephilic stops you from getting the much coveted surgery, it would make sense to shut up about it. Still, this is an uncertainty, for sure.

Personally I see no reason to believe that all gynephilic [woman-loving] male to female transwomen who ask for surgery lie when they say they have not had such fantasies.

2. If you do manage to establish how large percentage of the transsexuals are gynephilic, you do not necessarily find the same proportion in the non-op transsexual population, i.e. in the number of transsexuals who have not applied for surgery.

Given that androphilic transsexuals in general apply for SRS at an earlier age than gynephilic transsexuals, it could be that the proportion of gynephilic transsexuals is larger in the non-op population. But it could also be that a larger percentage of androphilic transsexuals decide not to transition. As Cloudy points out, very few of them chose to do so after the age of 25. They decide to live on as a feminine, gay, men instead.

The fact is that we do not know, because the research only includes respondents who have applied for SRS.

Counting noses

Cloudy has put up some very interesting calculations over at her blog On the Science of Changing Sex. Using recent research, she argues that the percentage of autogynephilic transsexuals is 45 percent at the very least. Personally she believes it could be up to 80%.

In order to get to the higher figure, she does include respondents that  she believes may may lie about their condition. She includes those that report to be bisexual and asexual, and those who say they are androphilic but who have not had sex with men. She also includes people like me, autogynephiliacs who do not crossdress and who's sexuality has not been included in the questionnaires. In short: In the end the only transsexuals that are not considered to be autogynephiliacs are androphilic transsexuals who have had sex with men.

She argues well for why it is sensible to do so,  but I am not convinced that all of her methods are completely kosher. It is fair to correct for the fact that "crossdreamers" like me are not asked about their fantasies. But it is a problematic to assume that all the non-androphilic respondents are mistaken when they say that they have not experienced arousal of this kind. Some of them  may be lying to themselves and the observer. But if you let your theory decide what response is the correct one, you can prove anything.

Cloudy's response to this criticism is based on personal experience:

"You do bring up an important point, how do we know that there are isn’t a special type… a type that is as obviously feminine as the feminine androphilic type (the same kind of femininity) yet still potentially gynephilic? One that doesn’t have any autogynephilia? We can’t 'prove' that from the published data. But I have personally been on the quest to find one… just one… to offer a proof of existence. I’ve failed. Again, in 35 years of meeting literally hundreds (it may be over a thousand now) I have never met one that fills that criteria. Lack of evidence is not evidence of lack… yet, the chances of one existing are statistically vanishingly small. So, clinically, we can ignore such possibility until it is found."

Note that there are probably a significant number of gynephilic M2F transsexuals who would say that they have found a large number of transsexuals that fills that niche, so it all boils down to whom you believe.

How many AGPs are there?

In the end, however, this probably doesn't make much of a difference. As a minimum some two thirds of the woman-loving transsexuals report autogynephilic arousal. That alone means that a significant proportion of the people applying for sex reassignment surgery are autogynephiliacs.

Following the calculations of Conway, that would mean that at least one in a thousand Americans is an "AGP transsexual".

Note that the large majority of autogynephiliacs do not transition. The survey of crossdresser I referred to earlier indicates that only 17 percent would even consider a sex change operation. 9 percent were using or had been using hormones. At the most this would mean that 1 out of 10 crossdressers are doing something actively to change their sex.

Note that these crossdressers were members of crossdresser clubs. Most crossdreamers do not get organized. Many of do not even crossdress. Among the unorganized crossdreamers the propensity to change sex is probably even lower. That would mean that the crossdreamer percentage of the total population is much, much higher that 1/1000 or 1/500. It is probably as high as 1/100. If Cloudy is right about her 80% the number may even be higher than that.

This means that there could be between 1 and 2 million autogynephiliacs in the US alone. On a global scale 1 percent would equal 25 million men (2,5 billion adult men/100), and that is a conservative estimate. If this really is the case, autogynephilia becomes one of the largest cover-ups in human history!


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.

February 13, 2010

Autoandrophilia, on women who fantasise about having a man's body

From time to time this questions pops up: Are there women who get turned on by the idea of having a man's body?

The term sometimes used for male assigned persons who dream about having a female bodies is autogynephilia ("self-woman-love"). The term comes from a transphobic and misleading  theory developed by one Ray Blanchard, but since we know that many search for terms like these, we will refer to them in this article. 

A search for autoandrophilia (Greek aner, man) on the Net brings up very little, however, and in many cases the term is used for gay men who tries to impersonate the men they are attracted to.

Given that Blanchard and his followers only studied MTF (male to female) transsexuals when discussion eroticism of this sort, there hasn't been much discussion online regarding this phenomenon either. It apparently isn't controversial enough to merit much activism.

Then there is the problem of identifying female to male crossdressers. Nowadays it is very easy for women to crossdress without being "outed". Jeans and a T-shirt? Works fine. She can even wear a suit like attire and look very business-like, yet feminine. (The tie would be a dead giveaway, though).

All of this has led some to doubt the very existence of what I refer to as erotic crossdreaming in people assigned female at birt ("autoandrophilia"). Apparently, we still are culturally inclined to believe that what transphobic researchers refer to as "fetishes" and "perversions" are limited to the XY part of the human race. Women are pure, men are pigs. A parallel phenomenon is found in the male idea that gay male sex is disturbing, while lesbian sex is OK.

O'Keefes tales of autoandrophilic women

Anyway, I have found a few reports on erotic crossdreming ("autoandrophilia") among heterosexual women, and I take the liberty of giving a few quotes below.

The first ones are fetched from Dr Tracie O'Keefe's Autogynephilia and Autoandrophilia in Non-Sex and Gender Dysphoric Persons.

Note the "Non" prefix in the title of this paper. Dr. O'Keefe belongs to the minority that believes that erotic fantasies of this kind are pretty normal and can be integrated into a healthy sex life.


Clair was married to a man with autogynephile fantasies. Sometimes he wanted to play out the role of being a man in bed.

"She enjoyed having sex as a woman with men but also particularly enjoyed living out her sexual fantasy of being male with a penis. She was a self-declared bisexual who, apart from having sex with Robert [her husband] and other couples, would also go off to visit female sex workers herself. She particularly enjoyed the fantasy of raping someone else. This was generally played out with female sex workers who would be accommodating and compliant with the fantasy to her satisfaction. The only male she carried out this sex fantasy with was her husband Robert and at the time of penetrating him she said she clearly envisioned herself as a man with a penis, dominant, powerful and aggressive. Clair was quite clear that although she might run these fantasies in her mind they were just sexual fantasies. "

She had no wish to become a man in real life.


O'Keefe presents Suzie as "a wholly feminine petite woman" and "a typical heterosexual twenty-five-year old professional accountant."

She had found her fantasies during sex, particularly visualisations and kinesthetic imagination, about her having a penis very distressing.

O'Keefe says:

"During psychotherapy Suzie decided to split up with her boyfriend and leave her parents' home to try and explore who she was and what might be available to her from life in a wider world. The penis fantasies that only happened during sex did not diminish but she was quite sure that it had nothing whatsoever to do with her experiencing sex or gender dysphoria or wanting to be a man."


Shelia described herself as "a twenty-three-year-old confused bisexual with a big question mark".

She had a boyfriend with whom she had a traditional "passive" love life, but where also having secret affairs with women without her boyfriend's knowledge.

O'Keefe says:

"She found her elicit affairs with women, however, very raunchy and she always played the dominant role, often role-playing herself as having a penis and behaving almost like a man. She commented, however, that, although she imagined having a penis, wearing a strap-on and having sex with women with it, there was still part of her that wanted the sex to be lesbian sex because that was part of what got her excited.

"She said, 'I am unsure I'm cut out to be a lesbian because I don't really know what it entails. At least this way I'm not really committed because I'm not a woman having sex with a woman but a woman half pretending to be a man having sex with a woman.' "

By the way, having sex with a woman did not count as cheating in her book!


There are also lesbian "autoandrophiliacs".

O'Keefe again:

"This highly educated and enormously well read forty-eight-year-old woman 'queer identified dyke' (participant's words) lived alone but was in a very rewarding successful two-year relationship with a woman of her own age. She also reported that she had slept with men and very much enjoyed the experience."

O'Keefe reports that when Julia was younger she had felt disappointed that she had not been a boy, often passing as a boy and being pleased by that. She had imagined having a penis and said if she had access to male hormones she might have considered taking them.

She had sex games with her female partner where they both fantasised about being males, wearing strap-on dildos.

"It is not that we want to be men," she said. "We are enjoying as part of our rich and varied sex lives fantasy games that involved exploring male energy through homoeroticism and I can do that because I am now powerful as a female."

Other research

I have found only two other studies of FTMs that look at the difference between classic transsexuals (in these studies called homosexual -- i.e woman-loving -- transsexuals) and autoandrophilic transsexuals (called nonhomosexual, meaning man-loving and bisexual, transsexuals).

The problem with this research -- as with so many of such studies -- is that they focus on people who have applied for sex reassignment surgery only. They do not cover the lives of all those transgendered people who do not ask for such treatment. This means that you do not capture those that actually manage to include their crossexuality in their love life.

J. Michael Bailey has collaborated with Meredith L. Chivers on a paper on "Sexual Orientation of Female-to-Male Transsexuals: A Comparison of Homosexual and Nonhomosexual Types". Yes, this is the same Bailey that wrote controversial "Queen" book on autogynephila.

The gynephilic, woman-loving, FTMs were found to be more masculine-oriented than the androphilic and bisexual FTMs. According to this research gynephilic FTM transmen had been more cross-gendered in childhood and preferred more feminine partners. They experienced greater sexual rather than emotional jealousy, were more sexually assertive, had more sexual partners, and had more interest in visual sexual stimuli than the androphilic, man-loving, FTMs. With respect to treatment, they had a stronger desire for phalloplasty [getting a penis].

In short: the gynephilic FTMs seem to adhere more closely to the stereotypical behavior of men.

Transsexual subtypes

In the article "Transsexual subtypes: Clinical and theoretical significance", Yolanda L.S. Smith, Stephanie H.M. van Goozen, A.J. Kuiperc and Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis look at both FTM and MTF transsexuals.

This is what they say of transsexuals in general (i.e both MTF and FTM).

"In this study the two subtypes were indeed found to differ on many characteristics. Replicating some of the previously observed differences, we found that compared with nonhomosexual transsexuals, homosexual transsexuals reported more cross-gendered behavior, appearance and preference in childhood, and they reported less sexual arousal while cross-dressing in adolescence, applied for SR at a younger age, and fewer were (or had been) married.

Unlike Blanchard et al. (1995), we found no differences in height, weight or BMI [body mass index]. Contrary to our expectations, we found the homosexual group not to be different from the nonhomosexual group in the extent of gender dysphoria and body dissatisfaction at application. Despite a less extreme cross-gendered childhood, the nonhomosexuals seemed to suffer no less from their situation than the homosexuals, while having an equally strong aversion to their sex characteristics when they applied for SR [sex reassignment surgery].

As expected, the homosexual transsexuals' appearance already better matched the new, desired gender, and they functioned better psychologically than the nonhomosexual group.Thus, our data largely support the idea that homosexual and nonhomosexual transsexuals are different subtypes with distinct characteristics. "

Note that this applies to both FTMs and MTFs.

This is what they have to say about the FTMs in particular:

"Unlike their male counterparts, nonhomosexual FMs [man-loving female to male transsexuals, i.e. those that could be considered "autoandrophiliacs"] appear to suffer so strongly from their gender dysphoria that they apply for SR in young adulthood, despite their less extreme childhood cross-genderedness compared with homosexual FMs. As sexual arousal while wearing men's clothes is almost absent in adolescence, other factors must contribute to the development of their SR [sex reassignment] wish.

Our data show higher levels of gender dysphoria in both FM groups than in the two MF [male to female] groups, but they do not provide indications of what those other factors might be.

It is of interest, though, that a few FMs reported to have been sexually aroused in adolescence when dressing in male cloths, as this has never been reported before. Furthermore, the more favorably appraised appearance in both FM groups probably facilitates living in the opposite sex role, increasing the chances of and possibly explaining a similar age at application for SR."

What does it mean?

There seems to exist a mirror image of the "autogynephiliacs", in the sense of FTM "autoandrophiliacs". The Blanchard et al and Goozen et al studies do not tell us much about their erotic fantasies, though.

Smith & Co argue that there is little cross dressing going on, but in the few cases they found crossdressing is followed by erotic arousal. They do not say anything about crossdreamers and crossenacters, i.e. women that get aroused by the idea of having a man's body or by acting like man. The reason for this is that they only asked about sexual arousal in connection with cross-dressing (bummer!). O'Keefe has documented that such fantasies exist.

I would guess that crossdressing does not have the same symbolic value for FTMs as it has for MTFs, simply because women can dress up like men anytime and get away with it. Therefore it makes sense that the erotic feelings arise as crossdreaming or crossenacting instead.

Erotic crossdreaming is a human trait, not a "male" one

Could the very existence of "autoandrophiliacs" be of help for "autogynephiliacs"? I think so. There is so much guilt and shame involved with having erotic crossdreaming fantasies, especially when it comes to initiating relationships with women.

For those assigned male it helps to know that there are also women  and transmasculine people out there with secrets of this kind. That makes it all less dangerous.

O'Keefe's message is useful also in another way. Her's is the message that a lot of women and men have these fantasies. It is normal. Still, since nearly all of us keep quite about them, we tend to believe that only men can feel this way.

According to O'Keefe erotic crossdreamers are not freaks, but natural expressions of the variety of life. I kind of like that.

May 2019 UPDATE: New post on women who have sexual fantasies about being men.

See also:


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.

Minor edits January 4 2023

February 8, 2010

The evolutionary advantages of feminine men and masculine women

In an earlier post I noted that crossdreamers ("autogynephiliacs", men who dream about being women) may actually be at an evolutionary advantage. I criticized Joan Roughgarden for not doing the obvious: exploring the possible social and evolutionary role of the crossdreamer within her theory of social selection.

(If the sentence above makes absolutely no sense to you, do read the post about Roughgarden and autogynephilia.)


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".

Bailey and the feminine man

It turns out I am not the only one who has looked into this possibility. I have found a paper written by J. Michael Bailey and his friends, where they try to explain how homosexuality can survive as a genetic trait. Homosexuals are, after all, less likely to get offspring.

Their hypothesis is that there are other family members that get some -- but not all -- of the same genes. These are feminine, but heterosexual men, who for some reason have more sexual partners than the average Joe, and who are therefore able to spread their seed more liberally.

Notice the irony in all of this. Roughgarden has really nothing good to say about Bailey -- the man who popularized the autogynephilia (AGP) concept in his "Queen" book. But here he is, presenting a theory that fits well with Roughgarden's new approach.

February 5, 2010

A survey of crossdressers

Image: Jude Law as crossdresser in Rage.

There is an overlap between this group and the crossdressers. Not all crossdreamers are crossdressers. But a lot of crossdressers get erotically turned by dressing up as a woman.

Knowing more about the crossdressers will help us get a better insight into erotic crossdreaming.

My online friend Colin has set up some tables based on an interesting survey of cross-dressers in 1992 compared to a similar sample from 1972. Some of the questions relate to gender identity. Colin suspects a lot of crossdressers fantasize about having a woman's body.


Demographic, Childhood, and Family Variables: 1992 and 1972 data

Note the large number of married crossdressers, and the fact that most of them believe their fathers provided a good masculine image. They were not raised as crossdressers, if anyone suspects that.

TABLE I(%)(%)
Education past BA19921972
Marital Status19921972
Married now6064
Separated, Divorced, widowed2314
Never married1722
Ever been married8378
Fathered children6974
Raised by both parents7682
Father provided good masculine image7672
Raised just as a boy8683

Sexual and Cross-dressing variables: 1992 and 1972 Data

The fact that most identify as heterosexual, should not come as a surprise. That as many as 29 percent some kind of homosexual experiences probably points to a desire to have sex as a woman.

72 percent report that crossdressing brings sexual excitement and orgasm occasionally to nearly always. It is fair to say that these probably are autogynephiliacs.

66 percent began cross-dressing before the age of 10. If most of these crossdressers truly are crossdreamers, this means that crossdreaming appears before puberty and is not the result of increased testosterone production in puberty.

A large majority of them believe that they express a different part of themselves when crossdressing, i.e. they believe they have an innate feminine side.

71 percent have crossdressed in public, although they do not necessarily do this often. Note that most of the respondents are members of crossdresser clubs. This may influence their tendency towards going out dressed as women.

Their wives are normally aware of their habit. Only a minority was told about it before marriage though, even if the number of crossdressers revealing their condition at an early stage is increasing. Their wives have mixed views about their men's crossdressing.

The authors draw attention to the "purges" of crossdressers:

"There appears to be pervasive guilt associated with transvestism, for we found three quarters of our subjects reported a purge of their feminine attire at some time in their history (75 vs. 69%). This is invariably described as a product of intense feelings of wrongdoing and shame."

TABLE II(%)(%)
Sexual Orientation19921972
Some homosexual experiences2928
Sexual Interest in women19921972
Above average1724
Below average2614
Age began cross-dressing19921972
Before age 106654
Between 10 and 202937
After age 2058
View of self when cross-dressed19921972
Express different part of myself8078
Just myself with different clothes2022
Cross-dressing brings sexual excitement and orgasm19921972
Nearly always21
Enjoy feminine clothes when orgasm is not feasible19921972
Prefer complete cross-dressing9385
Frequency of public cross-dressing19921972
Have appeared cross-dressed in public71
Activities while cross-dressed19921972
Ride on bus, train, etc.10
Eat in restaurants28
Plays, lectures church18
Tried on feminine clothes in stores22
Used ladies' room26
Seen by acquaintances who knew me17
Experienced a "purge" of cross-dressing7569
Wife is aware of cross-dressing8380
Wife's acceptance or antagonism19921972
Completely accepting2823
Mixed view4757
Completely antagonistic1920
Wife knew of your cross-dressing before marriage3227

Cross-gender Identity, Hormones, and Sexual Reassignment

Colin points to the fact that 60% of current cross-dressers prefer their masculine and feminine selves equally. This means that their gender identity is male and female.

The authors add:

"A marked change from 1972 data was seen when our subjects were asked whether they preferred their masculine selves, feminine selves, or both selves equally. Sixty percent of our sample preferred 'both selves equally,' compared to only 12% in 1972. This unusually great change may be a reflection of a theme strongly advocated in transvestite magazines and newsletters--that it is healthy and desirable to have an integration of the masculine and feminine components of one's personality. Personality integration, of course, is also a major objective in many forms of counseling and psychotherapy."

Only a minority consider themselves "women trapped in a man's body", although this percentage increased from 1972 to 1992. It is interesting to note that as many as 43 percent would like to use female hormones, although only 9 percent had done so.

Colin adds: "Also interesting is that 17% want a sex-change if money and partner were not a factor."

As many as 45 percent of the 1992 sample had sought counselling.

I feel myself to be a19921972
Woman trapped in a man's body1712
Man with feminine side7469
Fetishist, favor women's clothing912
Preferred gender identity19921972
Masculine self1129
Feminine self2856
Female Hormones19921972
Not interested in using4841
Would like to use4350
Using hormones now45
Used hormones in the past54
If I were single and financially able at the present time, I would have a sex change operation even now1714
Consulted psychologist or psychiatrist4524
Helped by counseling6747

An important research objective of the project was to identify variables discriminating between so-called "Nuclear" (stable, periodic cross-dressers) and "Marginal transvestites" (more transgendered or transsexually inclined).

The authors say:

"We divided the present sample into two groups using the following question: "I feel myself to be: (a) awoman trapped in a man's body (b) a man who has a feminine side that seeks expression occasionally (c) a man with a sexual fetish for feminine clothing."

"Group 1 was defined as the 747 cross-dressers who selected item (b); Group 2 was defined as the 172 cross-dressers who selected item (a). (...)

"No difference between Groups 1 and 2 were seen for the following variables: married now, ever married, fathered children, parents divorced, separated, or deceased, parents overprotective, parents discouraged rough-and-tumble play, hugged and stroked as child, sexually aroused by specific items of women's clothing, enjoy cross-dressing even when sexual release is not feasible, age of first cross-dressing, prefer complete cross-dressing, experienced a "purge" of cross-dressing, consulted psychologist concerning cross-dressing, and belong to cross-dressing, organization."

10 strongly discriminating parameters were found. The most important were, according to the authors: cross-gender identity, commitment to live entirely as a woman, taking steps toward body feminization, low sexual arousal to cross-dressing.

"Neither age nor experience as a cross-dresser were found to be correlates of cross-gender identity. Although the present generation of transvestites describe themselves much as did similar subjects 20 years ago, the percentage migrating toward full-time living as a woman is greater."

If you do crossdess, please feel free to add a comment on where you stand on this map, and the challenges you are facing!

Richard F. Docter , Virginia Prince: "Transvestism: a survey of 1032 cross-dressers."

The authors says this about the sample:

"Our subjects were 1032 self-defined periodic cross-dressers, all of whom were biological males, ranging in age from 20 to 80. This volunteer nonrandom sample was acquired from throughout the United States by announcements at transvestite club meetings, conventions of cross-dressers, and in magazines and newsletters for cross-dressers. Nearly all subjects received the self-responsive survey form at one of these events; a small percentage were mailed to individuals who volunteered to participate. An unknown number of survey forms were reproduced by support groups and distributed to interested members. Our best estimate of the overall response rate is that roughly 30 to 35% were completed and returned. The data were collected over a 2-year span ending in 1992. All participation was anonymous. ... Eighty percent said they were affiliated with either a cross-dressers' club or national organization."


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.

See also our own Crossdreamer Gender Variance Survey of 2014!

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!