September 22, 2010

Guest post: A theory about the regular crossdresser's sexuality

Here is a guest post written by Nadia-Maria Soraperra for the Knowing about CDing forum over at Flickr (an invite only forum).

Here are her reflections on crossdressing and sexual orientation:

You can read everywhere that "sexual orientation" and "crossdressing/being transgendered" are independent variables.

I will admit they are, because I'm not aware at the moment of any fact that would prove the contrary.

From the most reliable countings, gay people are a small minority among crossdressers, whereas bisexual ones are of a much greater number, almost challenging the number of straight CDers. It's a rather "new" finding because they believed in the past that straight CDers were almost (or at least) 80%, what we now know as strikingly overestimated.

What means : the proportion of 'bi' is much higher in the CD population than in the general population.This 'fact' would incline me to guess that Regular Crossdressing and sexual orientation are not so "independent" as once thought.

One issue we are facing to is the poor definition of being straight/bi /gay. Most polls do not warn about any precise definition, so that many people chose more or less arbitrarily.

Why is it difficult to have an accurate definition ?

For instance let's imagine a genuine boy, a married man, having had in his life 1000 intercourses with GGs [genetic girls], and only 3 with men. Would you rate him as either straight or bi ? If he added that he had preferred these 3 orgasms with men over those with women, would you rate him as gay?

Moreover we know that many men, lacking the opportunity of dating GGs (for instance when they are in jail), would not mind exhibiting gay behaviour, as an "ersatz" (better to have a relation to another man than no sexual relation at all). Would you rate them as bi or still as straight?

We know that some straight TG admirers (see for example old threads in the Flickr's group "Relationships - Dating a Transgendered Person") began to date TGirls because they were not enough successful at dating GGs. They tell us that they consider TGirls are women, so that they consider they are still straight.

Faced to such confusing opinions and experiences, I wonder what can be concluded at all, without the need to revisiting all the matter!

(Originally posted 6 June 2009)

In a separate comment Nadia writes the following about crossdreamer sexuality:

What I find pretty fascinating is the puzzle of the crossdressers' sexuality.

In my opening post of this thread [over at Flickr]: How sexual orientation interacts with Regular Crossdressing? I wrote :

'You can read everywhere that "sexual orientation" and "crossdressing / being transgendered" are independent variables.(...) the proportion of 'bi' is much higher in the CD population than in the general population.This "fact" would incline me to guess that Regular Crossdressing and sexual orientation are not so "independent" as once thought.'

Moreover I already pointed out the flaws of the "autogynephilia" theory, as a general explanation especially to closet CD's sexuality, while that theory still appears to be a rather convincing one even to many in our community.

I find it surprising they can accept, with so few critical mind, the point of view of some established psychiatrists who still see crossdressing either as a definite mental disorder or certainly not as a healthy behaviour.

Whereas I firmly disagree with regular crossdressing being directly linked to any mental disorder (whether the GID or any sexual disorder), I can of course accept that some crossdressers (just as some people from the general population) may exhibit themselves one or several disorders. In addition of that, I think that autogynephilia may have a limited amount of insight in it, regarding some obvious cases, yet in a clear minority among RCDs [regular crossdressers].

After a lot of pondering about all these matters I may come up here with this theory of mine.
I believe that you can explain all the observed facts, provided that you simply admit that the sexual orientation of any transgendered person would have 2 different components:
  • that of the male within (sexual orientation of the male self).
  • + that of the female within (sexual orientation of the woman self).
Both components appear to be basically unrelated to each other.

Thus, you may combine a heterosexual sexual attraction with a homosexual one, or have 2 heterosexuals or even 2 homosexuals. Both are competing within, while only one is exhibited at a given instant.

You may either shift very quickly from one to the other - in a matter of seconds - or stick to the same for extended periods of time (almost all your life in some cases, often plagued with denial of being transgendered at all).

The first issue most of us have to face - especially these who do no more live in denial - is integrating both components of our sexual orientation in an acceptable view of only one self, the self-awareness of our whole personality/sexuality. And the biggest problem is then at finding one (or more) partner(s) able to give us the proper sexual satisfaction we deserve and need.

Anyway, as RCDs [regular crossdressers], we are prone to rationalizing our own behaviours, jumping to unprovable beliefs, and often quick at calling - or at 'not calling' - our sexual behaviour in many different ways, or at seeing it as something essentially specific to ourselves not having to match any (scientific) reality.

According to my theory, what's specific to each of us is the way we are rationalizing from the reality within, not this reality itself which relates to the fundamentals of any sexual attraction that are vastly beyond our own control.

According to my theory, that's very challenging to find a romantic mate who can satisfactorily meet all your sexual needs, when you may have for instance 2 different modes of heterosexual attraction, whether you are crossdressed or not, or whether you feel a man or a woman.

Some of the consequences of our strange condition are :
  • most (if not all) RCDs are not sexually at ease in a standard marriage to a heterosexual GG having neither trans nor bi tendancies herself.
  • many married RCDs have to find other means to meet some of their 'legitimate' needs, for instance at cheating their wife with other TGs or men or just at masturbating themselves (a behaviour much less threatening for the couple)
  • many RCDs have a sexual life involving multiple short term partners, since they can't find any proper sexual mate qualifying for a LTR due to the duality of their sexual orientation and complexity of needs.
Autogynephilia is a spurious explanation for a puzzling behaviour that is as a rule adopted by someone who can't find the proper partner around, apt at exhibiting the proper sexual behaviours.

The 'autogynephilia' concept is mainly a mere optical illusion, a sweeping generalization and essentially a mistaken interpretation of a reality being in fact the product of a sophisticated sexual orientation, combined with an incomplete self-understanding of their own needs, and with the 'diktat' by an unaccepting society around us as well.


(Originally posted 17 June 2010)


  1. As always, I have to politely disagree with the notion that so many "cross dressers" are heterosexual.

    1. Making oneself appear as a sexual object for men is not heterosexual behavior, whether or not you act on the desire, or not.

    The list of gay men who remain in heterosexual relationships for "cover" is legion. Because they are married to a woman and have children with her does not make them "heterosexual." Ditto for cross dressers.

    2. Just because someone has never slept with another man, and "believes" they don't desire to, doesn't necessarily mean they know themselves and their true desires as well as they think they do.

    Most cross dressers are the most suppressed individuals you will ever come across. Most spend their entire conscious hours hiding who they truly are from everyone else. Not hard to imagine that this is often accomplished by hiding much of themselves from themselves, too.

    I do believe "transvestites" can be heterosexual, however. But no one these days seems to any longer want to fess up to their dressing as a woman being a fetishistic behavior.

    It's so much cooler now to be "transgender."

  2. To call crossdressers who are attracted to women, date women, love women, marry women and want to stay with women homosexual men makes the word "homosexual" meaningless in my book.

    So the question is: How can one explain why biological men who fulfill so many of the criteria of being gynephilic, nevertheless fantasize about being a woman having sex with a man?

    Nadia's theory is daring and challenging, but an interesting none the same.

    Nadia suggests that the sexual orientation of any transgendered person would have 2 different components: that of the male within + that of the female within.

    Would that even be possible, given that sexual orientation seems to be inborn?

    Yes, it could, if you accept that bisexuality is a real phenomenon. And I see no reason to doubt all the men and women that feel bisexual and have a bisexual life stye. To deny their existence on the basis that they do not fit the theory, is no a scientific observation.

    There is also the possibility that the very idea of two distinct types of sexual orientation is bogus and an effect of socialization. I am not so sure about that, but it is an option that has to be considered.

    If bisexuality exists, would it be possible for this underpinning condition to express itself in two different personas: a male and a female?

    We have a tendency of looking at our ego as a master in its own house. "I" am all that "I" am. Both depth psychology and modern studies of consciousness have proved that this is not the case.

    Jung imagined "Das Ich" (the ego) as a small spot on the surface of a big sphere, the Self, the totality of the conscious and the unconscious psyche.

    When I go up some stairs I make a million small descicions to keep my body in balance, none of which I am aware of consciously.

    Furthermore, we all "split" our personality. We are talking to ourselves, we do role playing games, we show different faces to different people and very often uncosciously so.

    You do not have to be insane to have different personalities -- as long as you understand they are part of your larger self.

    So yes, the theory is not implausible. It is possible to imagine a person who tries to reconcile an inner bisexuality with the conflicting cultural demands of society, by developing one male and one female personality, both with their own sexual orientation.

  3. Jamiegottagun;

    your post makes the assumption that cross-dressers are dressing to attract men rather than to express their own gender identity.

    Yet you provide absolutely no justification for this assertion. The vast majority of cross-dressers that I know are attracted to women only. as such it appears that uyou are simply repeating the tired and discredited old assumptions about crossdressers that they are all gay.

  4. Here is where it all goes weird for me. Who ever came up with the idea that in the first instance gender has anything to do with sexuality. And what is the real utility in asserting such a connection.

    The view that dressing as a female is "Making one appear as a sexual object for men" is one of the most sexist statements I have heard in a long time. It is sexist in the sense that it assumes that genetic women dress to "catch" men. While there is unquestionably an attractiveness issue during the procreation phase of womens' and mens' lives, dressing in it's psychological aspects has more to do with self confidence and feeling as a woman or man for that matter, and less with being swarmed by men or women for that matter.

    I dress not at all to be attractive to men, but rather to be attractive as a person. This is denied by society at large by some by some of the weirdest intellectual contortions I have seen in my lifetime. Whether it is Blanchard and his group of boys in Toronto, or Jamiegottagun in the discourse here, no one ever seems to challenge the assumptions underlying the arguments put forth by them. To date no one has managed to persuade me that these assumptions are true. We know historically that the modern view of transgenderism and the dichotomy of gender is indeed modern in that is arises as a societal issue only a few hundred years ago. And it is entirely built on sexual deviancy as the motivator for action. (see Freud etc.)

    What gets me in this regard is this: I could make any argument for anything you ask me to (I do this for a living) but it simply advances a position but has nothing to with reality. When it comes to the field of Psychology we are into pseudo-science in any event, because it has failed over it time of existence (which is roughly 120 years) to develop a methodology and theory of knowledge that actually is capable of describing the subject matter it deals with. And because it can't properly explain why it has failed so consistently, it pretends to apply a scientific methodology to discover essentially whats in the mind of the researcher. Have you ever tried looking at a cut and plate of a flower stem by using a wrench. It is so obvious that this is the wrong method to discover something about the cell structure of the flower stem that anyone watching us would think we had gone mad.

    The only homoerotic connection, my gender location has is that I could be considered attracted to the same sex when I am expressing as a woman. But what that yields in insight is beyond me. It is like saying the sky is blue today because there are no clouds. It is a good conversation piece but has 0 utility in any serious discourse.

    Thanks for reading


  5. "It is possible to imagine a person who tries to reconcile an inner bisexuality with the conflicting cultural demands of society, by developing one male and one female personality, both with their own sexual orientation. "

    This is exactly what I do Jack. I am bisexual and I play with my femininity by having sex with men. Nit that I crossdress or am womanly to any extent,but I am somewhat feminine and metrosexual.
    But I don't just happen to emotionally like men, I just love their attention and flirting which is a turn-on for me and my inner femininity.
    However, I tend to be highly emotional and selective with women and don't tend to be promiscuous with them.
    In thsi way, I play both my male and female within me from time to time.

  6. Anonymous:

    I wasn't saying that they are "gay," but, if you are supposedly attracted to women, then engaging in a behavior that makes you less attractive to the opposite sex, and more attractive to the same sex, then that is not either biologically or psychologically "heterosexual" behavior.

    My life experience has taught me to pay more attention to what people DO, than what they SAY.

    To reference that, I will point out the majority of cross dressers who proclaim their attraction to women, yet, as soon as you get a few drinks in them jump in bed with other another cross dresser.

    But they all seem to think that because that other cross dresser "looks" like a woman, that doesn't count as homosexual behavior.

  7. @Jamie

    Yes, if "gay" is defined as a man having sex with a man, then this is homosexual or bisexual behavior.

    I suspect there is something wrong with our terminology. It does not capture the heterogeneity of neither sexual desire, sexual identity nor sexual behavior.

  8. Interesting theories.

    Here is mine = I never saw this theory online but it applies to my case

    Transvestites have a very narcissistic personality

    They are attracted to girls, even more than "normal straight" men as they admire girls.

    But they have a problem to put their libido on other people.

    Their libido flows on themselves instead on girls. So as they like women, to love themselves, they become the woman they love.

    Plus, as they are very attracted by women, they consider that women hava a power on them and on other people. They don't like when people have a power on them and they like to have the power on others.

    So becoming a woman allow them to be self sufficiant, have sex with themselves. They don't need a women anymore to be sexualy happy.

    The question is then why do they have sex with men and like to attact men if they don't like men.

    The reply is simple : 2 ways to feel like a woman :

    1) look like a woman
    That's why they not only dress but dress like a stereotype of woman = as sexy as possible

    2) behave like a woman
    That's why they have sex with men as most women like sex with men

    If suddently the social norms for women was to dress like men and have sex with kids, would the transvestite go on dressing like women and having sex with men ? Not sure !

    Most women have sex with men and adore that.

    Actually, in my case, I like to have sex with very masuclin men, I like hairy men and macho men.

    In life, i am not passive at all and rather dominant but dressed in woman, I like to feel dominated as in society women are supposedto be dominated.

    The man needs to be hairy to allow me by contrast, in a mirror game, to feel like a female next to a male. With not hairy men, I feel more masculine than them (desite I am shaved) and so my fantacy doesn't work.

    What do you think of my theory ?

  9. @Anonymous

    Your theory of the crossdreamer as a narcissist is very similar to the autogynephilia theory proposed by Ray Blanchard, and i written a lot about that one on this blog (click on the Blanchard tag in the right hand column).

    First: I am not doubting that you experience your own sexuality and gender identity this way, and I am also sure there are quite a few narcissist among crossdreamers and crossdressers. But they again, you find a lot of narcissists among other people as well.

    For your theory to be the ultimate explanation for all crossdressing and crossdreaming, all crossdreamers would have to "love themselves, [so that] they become the woman they love.

    If fact, from all the life stories I get, I see no such pattern. Crossdreamers are as able to love others as most people. One of the reasons some crossdreamers decide not to transition is because of their love for their wives and girl friends.

    I suspect that the narcissism you and Blanchard see may be real in many cases, but that it is caused by the huge problem of not being able to integrate ones sexuality and alternative identity into a "normal" life.

  10. Everyone always has problems trying to smash gender identity and sexual orientation together and trying to make some sense out of it. Maybe the issue isn't with the various "categories" under the gender identity and sexual orientation but rather with the limitations of "sexual orientation".

    Sexual orientation is defined as one's sexual attraction for a partner. This orientation is determined by one's sexual identity.

    Looking carefully at this definition, it is unidirectional in nature. This is where the confusion starts when trying to overlay gender identity.

    What if sexual orientation is looked at as if it functions as a two-way street? Maybe there is an "out bound" part in who we are attracted to (traditional sexual orientation) and an "in bound" part which would be our "attraction point". For example, the MtF CD "attraction point" is "a man who wears women's clothes". The crossdreamer's "attraction point" is a man who fantasizes about being the women sexually.

    A relationship works for two people when there are opposite pairs of in-bound and out-bound orientations.

    Maybe this just makes everything more confusing...

  11. Some researches divide sexual orientation into four layers:

    1. Sexual behavior (sleeping with men, women or both)

    2. Sexual desire (getting aroused by men or women or both)

    3. Sexual fantasy (getting aroused by the idea of having sex with some type of human being or playing the role of someone)

    4. Sexual identity (believing and arguing that one IS a heterosexual man or whatever)

    One of the problems is that researchers and "commoners" have a tendency of reducing all of these aspects to one: "sexual orientation".

    If there is a conflict between the various dimensions, they stick to one of them and consider the others false. Some say that any man that has had sex with a man is gay. The followers of Blanchard say that any man that has had sex with a woman is "heterosexual" and so on.

    The fact is that a lot of gynephilic men report homosexual experiences. The definition of homosexual activity also varies a lot. In Brazil, for instance, you are considered homosexual only if you take the passive role during intercourse.

    For crossdreamers this is even more complex, as they may get turned on by the idea of having sex with a man as a woman but is turned off by the idea of having sex with a man as a man. That is definitely outside the realm of common language.

    Robyn's idea of attraction points makes this even more complex (but interesting). She brings in the sexual dynamics between two human beings. Traditional heterosexual men and women has a cultural script that introduces a kind of obligatory tension or dynamics (opposites attracts): active vs. passive, aggressive vs. emotional, mounting vs. receptive and so on.

    These are the stereotypes. In a lot of relationships the roles are switched or mixed, but for the crossdreamer it is hard to imagine what his/her dynamic opposite is.

    I guess that would be an androphilic woman having fantasies of being dominant in bed. Such women do exist, from F2M crossdreamers at the one end, to broad minded "normal" women with a rich inner life at the other.

  12. Robyn's theory is very interesting and as a feminine bisexual male, I can really confirm this. When I see a type of man whose face is somewhat aggressive and also a bit protective or caring,I instantly feel like feminizing myself and want to be romanced by him in the feminine way. When I see a pretty guy or woman who is typically feminine (more than me), I still get attraction, but the sexual roles change completely, this time, I being active.
    I sometimes think I am a bisexual guy but would be better off as a bisexual woman because I enjoy my feminity a lot.

  13. My "theory" about people having "attraction points" is just some of the flotsam in my brain that spills out every so often.

    I am not saying that for two people to "click" they need to have opposite pairs of in-bound and out-bound attraction points that a person's in-bound and out-bound attraction points are opposite but the same pair has to be in both but reversed.

    The easiest example is when a man is attracted to a woman and a woman is attracted to a man, then the man has to have an "in-bound" attraction point of "man" and the woman has to have an "in-bound" attraction point of woman. The woman's in-bound attraction point clicks with the man's out-bound orientation or attraction to women.

    A more difficult example is when an crossdreamer man is attracted to women. His "in-bound" is "crossdreamer" and "out-bound" is "heterosexual woman". This man would "click" with a woman whose "in-bound" is "heterosexual woman" and her "out-bound" would be a crossdreamer man.

    Problems occur when the crossdreamer man realizes that most women are attracted to men but very few are attracted to crossdreamer men. So to increase his chances with women, the man mangles his "in-bound" attraction point to make him look like a hetrosexual man. Once the man and woman "click", he either has to continue spend energy morphing his in-bound of crossdreamer man to hetrosexual man or come clean and admit who he is.

    This concept of "attraction points" probably takes into account one or more layers in the four layer orientation matrix. The big difference is that looking at ONE person's sexual orientation doesn't mean a lot unless viewed with a potential partner's orientation. The concept of "attraction points" says that it "takes two to tango".

    There has been a tremendous amount of debate and research to determine if someone's sexual orientation changes. I am not going to discuss any of that here. I do think, however, that we can and DO change our "in-bound" attraction point with our current level of "sexualness".

  14. Robyn P,
    What is worse is that the in-bound attraction may as well depend on the out-bound object of focus.
    I am not physically attracted to men as to women, but I really do feel an urge to be cuddled and caressed by good looking affectionate guys. I want to be adored and admired and foreplays like oral-sex might be quite interesting. But usually, if I look at some hot guy with whom I desire sex, I don't like to imagine myself as a macho man at that time, because to me, a macho man cannot be an object of affection, something for which I need to deliberately sensually feminize myself.
    I hence find it a turn-off imagining myself as a masculine dude during romance with a guy. I may have a feminine side with expresses itself most strongly during such romantic and sexy thoughts about guys.
    With women however,I can swing both ways as I am not too bothered about getting their affection.

    Now, would you call me transgender?
    The point to be considered here simply is whether your inner female makes you desire sex with guys (usually in such cases the man may even be faceless prop), or your desire for intimacy with a good looking guy makes you bring out your feminine side (something which more or less is present in every male and female).

  15. it seems to me that crossdressers try too hard to rationalize some basic desires into political categories that somehow -- in their minds--make sense. Most crossdressers start with one or two articles of clothing and a fantasy of being a woman. The fantasy often escalates, often one piece of clothing at a time. What was once panties and nylons then escalates to bra, which, in turn, moves to stuffed bras and a feminine top. Before long full makeup is in force, and, low and behold, a wig appears, often a long blonde wig -- the ultimate fantasy (being a blonde with long hair.) The blonde wig gives way to something more believable (passable), which turns to heals, nails, jewelry, and, perhpas, shaved legs and bodies. Soon, our little friend finds the gumption to take a walk around the block. Before long, the walk around the block moves downtown and then, ultimately, to a welcoming bar. It's at that point that the crossdresser must confront the choice -- what do I do with this guy who is hitting on me. Awkwardly buy him a beer, as if we were all a bunch of guys out on a Friday night? Or demurely accept his offer for a drink, flick one's hair aside and order something less obviously masculine -- like a beer. At this point, the mind whirs. I am not attracted to men in the locker room at the gym. In fact, they repulse me. And yet, the thought of a man penetrating me, moving inside of me, and ultimately coming inside (bareback or not), completes the fantasy of me as woman. He has taken me and I,in all my feminine glory, have received him. I am woman. I come just considering it. I am oddly hetero.


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