October 28, 2010

Transgender life stories: Bert and Bea

I am going to share another reader's life story with you today, a male to female crossdresser -- "Bert"/"Bea" -- who believes he will have to remain single for the the rest of his life.

Now, the obvious argument against this conclusion is that a majority of crossdreamers do find love. Moreover, I have seen no proof that such relationships are more likely to fail than others. I have been together with the same fantastic woman for many, many years now, and would not even consider living without her.

Still, I can see why B/B has come to this conclusion. When you read between the lines, you will see that he makes his conclusion based on two factors:

1. He has never fallen in love.
2. Women do not want this kind of a partner.

But also note how accepting his friends are when his inner woman comes out of the closet.

I have often wondered if I would have dared to approach my girl friend the way I did back then if I had known what I know about crossdreaming now. At that time, in my twenties, I did know about my fantasies. But since I was not crossdressing, it was easier for me to live in denial. I believed -- or hoped - that this would all pass if I managed to get a girl friend. It did not, of course.

Like B/B I had never fallen in love. Or so I thought. The fact is that I was scared of women. I had probably loved many women, but never dared to admit as much to myself. The pain of never being able to do anything about it was just too much to contemplate.

At the time I believed this fear was caused some really bad childhood experiences. Now I suspect it was caused by a fear of being rejected because of my crossdreaming condition. I believed women were looking for "real men".

October 24, 2010

Strong resistance against proposed paraphilias in the DSM-5

The Forensic Psychology Blog reports that several of the proposed new paraphilias (perversions) that are included in the proposal for the next edition of the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-5) were rejected in a symbolic vote at the end of a debate at the annual meeting of the American Association of Psychiatry and Law (AAPL) in Tucson, Arizona.

The participants of this meeting sent a clear message to the DSM-5 developers: The proposed paraphilias, Paraphilic Coercive Disorder, Pedohebephilia, and Hypersexual Disorder, should not be included.

The main arguments are that all three proposed diagnoses lack a sufficient scientific basis and that they are highly likely to be misused in the forensic context, the primary site for their application.

The meeting did not vote on autogynephilia, probably because this diagnosis does not have the same legal ramifications.

It is interesting to note, though that autogynephilia has even less of a scientific basis than pedohebephilia, another of Blanchard's many paraphilias.

Thanks to ACH for the tip!

October 22, 2010

Autogynephilia: An Illuminating, Gut-Wrenching Conversation with Ray Blanchard, Ph.D.

Alice Novic has discussed autogynephilia with Dr. Ray Blanchard. Here is her report.

Jack's introduction

This a blog for and about crossdreamers, people who experience cross-gender arousal. There is not much research on the topic, and much of what there is is based on the studies done by Ray Blanchard, a highly controversial figure in transgender circles.

I am very critical of his research. Even if I find his observations very useful, his explanations of them are problematic, to say the least. Still, I believe in the development of open learning arenas where everyone has a chance to be heard. This also applies to Dr. Blanchard.


Autogynephilia: An Illuminating, Gut-Wrenching Conversation with Ray Blanchard, Ph.D.

by Alice Novic, M.D.

Dear Jack,

After reading my August interview with you, a kind Canadian psychologist offered to put me in touch with Ray Blanchard. Planning to say more about this controversial scientist in part two of our interview, I seized the opportunity to become a whole lot better informed. And Blanchard was so forthcoming, in fact, that his email reached me before I could get one off to him. He was rather open and happy to talk over the phone.

I delayed, though, for a week, while asking him for some of his most important articles to read. I wanted to make my own mind up about his ideas, and I didn't want him to have to simply repeat them for me after he'd already spent years articulating them and making them public.

He let me pepper him with questions the following Sunday and handled each one head on. In the process, I was surprised to learn how his work extended beyond the parts I knew and admired.

To me, he is responsible for three major ideas. I've been well aware of one and mostly oblivious to the other two.

Idea #1: There are two types of trans women.

The one I've admired is that no matter how inconvenient it is for us, there just plain are two types of trans women, who differ in terms of arousal, orientation, effeminacy, personality styles, and career interests. He calls them androphilic and autogynephilic (or as I would say started-out-gay and started-out-straight trans women).

I asked him as a scientist whether one or another does better with transition. And he explained that the majority of both types find satisfaction with their new role in life, and perhaps autogynephiles slightly more than androphiles.

Idea #2: Crossdressers have some close relatives, and our whole family needs a name.

Perhaps because the name autogynephile had rubbed me so wrong, I never thought of the brilliance it took to come up with the concept. Before Blanchard, we only had the term transvestic fetishist (or its equivalent, crossdresser).

Through surveys and studies, he observed that there were at least three other groups of people who resembled crossdressers but weren't especially interested in dressing up: men aroused by the idea of dressing up, men vicariously aroused by men who were dressed up, and men aroused by transforming their bodies but not by dressing up.

Blanchard realized that it would be very misleading to refer to these three groups plus crossdressers all simply as crossdressers or crossdresser types, because that is not the behavior they have in common. What they share is that all of them are (or originally were) aroused by the idea of themselves as women.

Which leads us to that now-notorious name autogynephile. Phile as in aroused by. Auto as in one's self as. Gyne as in woman. Hence, autogynephile is a very sensible name for all those men (presumably) who are aroused by the idea of ourselves as women regardless of how we prefer to act that out.

October 21, 2010

Online transgender reading

Here are some interesting posts and articles relevant to the crossdreamer journey.

Am I a transwoman?

Living with Autogynephilia has a post where he discusses the sexual frustration of being a crossdreamer, and the social isolation that follows, can be seen as an expression of transexuality.

He writes:

"My point being, that the social control of our society allows me (the real, truest me) to only exist when I'm not acting within it. And thus, I squeeze every damn second I can spare allocating it to things that the real me actually enjoys [i.e crossdreamingin private, my addition].

And this is why I want to know whether or not I'm a transexual. Transexuals (may) get to interact in real life. So if there is some confusion with my gender-identity, I want it solved."

The concepts of gender and sexual orientation

Crossdreaming ilas has a very interesting discussion about basic concepts like sexual orientation.

He points out that sexual attraction is not necessarily the same as physical attraction, and that sexual orientation is not necessarily the same as sexual identity.

He writes:

"Sexual Identity is something that is influenced by your behaviour and you behaviour is being influenced or directed by the situation you are in (i.e. when you are in a straight relationship and have bisexual feelings which you cannot act upon you identify with being straight because you cannot behave like a bisexual).

Does this mean that there are two essential parts to a person’s sexuality (namely Sexual Orientation and Sexual Identity) and that if those two are not the same that this creates a conflict in a person’s feelings?...

And if that isn’t complicated enough there are also people (like me) who would rather have had a woman’s body.

These people may be sexually attracted to men only when they think of themselves as female. But they can also be only sexually attracted to females when they think of themselves as a female and then there are also those that are sexually attracted to both men and women.

These feelings not only bring Gender Identity into the mix, but (for me) also raise the question that if an autogynephiliac has two separate sexual orientations (one for being a man and one for being a woman), can one orientation spill over to or have an influence on the other?"

I believe he is on to something important here.

In everyday speech as well as in the research done by reductionist biologists and psychologists there is a tendency of saying that sexual practice = sexual orientation = sexual fantasy = sexual identity = body image = gender identity = gender expression, and if they do not, we are talking about a perversion.

But what if crossdreaming is the end result of a statistically unusual, but nevertheless naturally occurring, mix of these dimensions?

Suicide is not a solution

Sarah, over at A Crossdreamer's Journey, has written a heart-felt and very important post about pain, depression, suicidal thoughts, and the spiritual meaning of life.

Sarah says:

"Statistics will show that us transgenders as a group have an incredibly high suicide rate. I have seen quotes pointing out that as many as 30% of us (hand raised) have considered suicide at one time or another. One would think that a large study would be suggested as to why this is so. But since most of society views us the way they do I'm afraid such a study will be long coming. I just hope it doesn't have anything to do with wanting us to disappear."

I don't think so, but I have even heard "classic transsexuals" urging crossdressers to climb into their closets and disappear, so there are definitely people out there that hold us in contempt. On the other hand, there is an increasing understanding for the needs of various types of transgender people among health professionals.

Sarah goes through different aspects of living in darkness, and suggests ways of handling depression and despair, gaining self acceptance and the acceptance of others, coping with harassment at school and work and more.

There is a lot of wisdom in that post!

October 17, 2010

New crossdreamer/autogynephilia blogs

Here are two new interesting blogs written by crossdreamers for crossdreamers:

Ilas over at Crossdreaming ilas says this about himself: "Simply put...I am a bisexual man who would have liked to have had a female body instead. Some call it a 'Lesbian trapped in a man's body', others call it an Autogynephiliac or a Crossdreamer. I am trying to find out what is true for me and where I think I fit in best. What I am doing here is write down my experiences, thoughts and theories to get them out of my head and out in the open for other people to react on. "

"Autogyn" calls himself "a confused genderqueer trying to navigate life's rough waters. Destination: unknown." This blog is called Living with Autogynephilia.

October 15, 2010

Guest post: Crossdressing is not a fetish!

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

Nadia argues that crossdressing is – usually - neither about sex nor fetishism:

When you are studying the crossdressing phenomenon in-depth, you are faced to the unavoidable, irrefutable, (irrefragable) observation that most crossdressers used to indulge in autoerotism (or in sexual acts with others) using women clothes.

It must be rare if you ever happen to know about one crossdresser who never did it, or never will do it, at least for a certain period of her life. For many CDers [crossdressers], discovering autoerotism whereas playing with woman clothes around puberty is exactly how the whole history has begun.

This sexual behaviour, involving pieces of women clothing, is not easy to understand from a layperson point of view (who is as a rule the CDer herself or of her spouse), but all seems to be clearer for them as soon as you call it a fetish, a sexual disorder known as fetishistic transvestism.

That’s why an easy conclusion has been consistently that crossdressers suffer essentially from that disorder and even dress ultimately for sex. Ironically, many CDers will eventually agree with being diagnosed as fetishists. For those who may not agree at being labelled as fetishists, so-called «experts» (the famous Ray Blanchard being one of them) have individuated various other disorders, and especially this one known as GID, the «Gender Identity disorder».

Attentive readers in this [flickr] forum already know that I don’t agree with that simplistic and biased view. I believe instead that our population of «regular crossdressers (RCDs)» don’t suffer any disorder at all, but from a severe unacceptance by society that may lead some of us to depression or despair.

To understand something about crossdressing you don’t have to be confused as taking consequences for causes. In an insightful paper, the author shows rather convincingly how sexual excitation from crossdressing is only a side-effect of crossdressing, not the cause. Please see : The causes of Transvestism I already quoted in an old thread.

Anyway, as human beings, all of us are «sexual» beings and we know that sex – if not driving the world – at least plays a (great) role for almost everybody , whether a man, a woman, or a transgender being. We devote considerable time to find partners for the sake of enjoying good sex.

October 10, 2010

Kaleasha's life story

I have another life story for you, this one from Kaleasha. When I asked her about her use of the word "homosexual", as opposed to for instance crossdreamer, she gave me the following reply:

"I use the word homosexual freely because at the time I first accepted my feelings that was the only way I could describe them to people. And even though people are not understanding of homosexuality, they understand it a lot more than autogynephilia or transsexuality."

Here is Kaleasha's story:

Hi I am now in my early thirties. I am masculine and have seriously dated two women in
my life.

But ever since the age of 13 I have been attracted to men. I would feel really guilty about this and I would not tell anyone. I was only attracted to older men so I never had the fear of being exposed, because I would not approach another male classmate.

One of the first men I experienced sexual desires for was this guy at a festival that had his shirt off. His chest and his muscles impressed me. Now, what makes my experience so unique is that I did not consider myself gay. Because I found women to be the most beautiful things on the planet. Sometimes I would see a pretty female and just stare at her beauty for hours. I could easily talk to my friends and peers about women and direct them to look at the cutie that was coming down the street.

While outside no one would ever see me look or smile at a guy. Only thing that I sometimes did if a guy sexually aroused me, I might start to walk a little funny but I would try my best to straighten up.

Now when I was home and got horny I would masturbate. But, unlike most guys I never just jerked off. In fact I still cannot masturbate with a hard penis. I would think of my self as a women and my penis as a vagina. And I’d fantasize about me being one whorish slut for some man. No matter how hard I tried to think of women sexually I never could.

In high school I would play sports and lift weights. By the time I graduated I was physically the strongest person at my school.

Through out my high school years I would classify myself as homophobic. When I was 19 I started to notice more gays, and transgender in the city. This gave me the idea that there was nothing wrong about being gay and perhaps I could let my real self come out one day. So, started to act a little girlish around my family and friends to see what their response was going to be.

Surprisingly, as long as I did not over do it or was playful, people still remained friendly. I discussed my feelings with a female classmate and she told me I was definitely gay. I was still in denial and I would try to give a bunch of reasons why I wasn’t. This friend was very important in my search for identity.

I decided then that I should eventually tell one of my best friends of 8 years that I was gay. I started by telling him that I wanted to dress a girl. He began to laugh. I said I knew this was going to happen. He stopped laughing and asked why? I then told him that Iiked men. He then stated that I he would still be my friend.

A month later I saw him and his girl going to the movies. I talked to them for a little bit and I asked him when was the next time he wanted to hang out. When I got home my brother told me that this friend just called.

When I called him back he began to holler at me asking me what was wrong with me. I said what are you talking about? He said all of this hanging out and that I was changing. I did not argue back because I did not know what it was all about. I just went to the bathroom and tried my best not to cry. I still tried to remain friends with him and I would periodically call him but things were never the same.

From that point on I was extremely careful on who I revealed my sexual orientation to. Never revealing it at work, or school, or to people that I knew were straight.

October 8, 2010

Girls who will be boys; on F2M crossdreamers, "autoandrophiliacs" and "girlfags"

The myth of the non-existent female to male crossdreamer is crumbling. It turns out that women can be gender confused as well, without being "homosexual" in any traditional sense of the world.

(Warning! This post includes explicit language that some may find offensive. Do not use the transphobic terms "autogynephilia" or "autoandrophilia" to describe gender variant people. )

One sign is the fact that "autandrophilia" (sexually aroused by thought or image of self as male) now has been included in the DSM-V proposal, another is the fact that an increasing number of female to male crossdreamers are embracing the "girlfag" concept.

Now, girlfag is not my term. I prefer the term crossdreamer, as you may know. But the fact that there are female-bodied persons out there that embrace the term is interesting and deserves a discussion.

The Wikipedia defines "girlfag" as "a biologically female individual who feels a strong romantic or erotic attraction towards gay males or male bisexuals or their milieu."

The Urban dictionary has several definitions, one of them being:

"A woman who is very attracted to gay/bi/trans men. She may (or may not) also feel she is (fully or partly) a 'gay man in a woman's body'. Girlfags identify primarily as queer, and are often attracted to more types of people than just gay/bi/trans men."

The opposite of a girlfag is a guydyke (male lesbian).

The Girlfag Community

When you take a look at the online Girlfag community, you will soon see that we are often (but not always) talking about girls that want to be like dominant boys in bed, regardless of the sexual orientation of the male partner.

Attracted to gay or feminine men

A few quotes:

"I'm yet another noob to the group who just found the wikipedia article on girlfags and guydykes, and was pleasantly surprised to find there's actually a term for this!! for so long I've struggled with trying to explain my sexuality and thinking I'm a completely and utter weirdo for only ever being sexually attracted to gay men, or super effeminate straight men (if only I could find more of those!)

"... manly guys do absolutely nothing for me, it's so sad because it totally limits me, especially since coming around to the conclusion that I'm more or less straight, after a couple of years of identifying as bisexual, and countless years before that of complete confusion about the whole orientation thing."

The feeling of confusion due to a lack of relevant terms is a concurrent theme in these posts. The traditional terminology does not fit.

A gay man trapped in a woman's body

Here's one girlfag talking:

"I found this community the night before last through the Wikipedia article on girlfags and guydykes after I typed in 'a gay man trapped in a woman's body' on Google and searching around a bit, after having just uttered that combination of words in an earlier conversation and finally wanting to come to terms with what I meant by that.

"This is an expression I've used on many an occasion when getting into a discussion about sexuality with friends to describe myself because it's the only seemingly-accurate descriptor that would pop into my mind, though it has often been met with varying degrees of puzzlement."

Being the dominant one

Most of these women cannot be mistaken for lesbians, as they are clearly attracted to men. Still, some of them argue that they are attracted specifically to gay men.

"I'm a 48-year-old cis-female who has always thought of herself as perfectly traditional in her sexual preferences. My relationships have always been with men who identified themselves as straight, and it was natural for me to regard my lifelong attraction to gay men as a slight quirk of my artistic personality: after all, they're MEN, right? Even the fabulous turn-on of having a straight lover with a penchant for receiving anal sex failed to expand my horizons: what I though I was enjoying was the new experience of being dominant in bed."

Crossdressing tomboy

Some girlfags grew up as tomboys:

"I came out as bi when I was 15, but was always a very masculine tomboy. I was even transgender as a toddler--I dressed as a boy for an entire year, and even had my parents call me a made-up male name. I have struggled to reconcile my feminine side with my masculine side for my entire life, and my love of men, yaoi [Japanese term for female oriented fiction focusing on male gay relationships] and male homosexuality with my own female gender and my innate feeling that I was not straight...

It is interesting to note that she finds gay male erotica fascinating. The reason is, of course, that she identifies as a gay man in her fantasies.

"When I came to college, I joined a queer sorority, and did not realize what the experience was missing until just recently, when I realized that I'm a girlfag, and quite possibly transgender. While I'm not really thinking of transition or surgery, or even that such concepts apply to me, I'm happy to know that many more people exist who feel similarly....I am in a long term, extremely committed relationship with a very feminine straight (dare I say metro) man...

I have often noted that it must be easier for F2M crossdressers to live out their fantasies, as they can get away with dressing as men. This can still be a problem, though, as this kind of dressing might not be accepted by parents during childhood. This girfag notes:

"I am also struggling to undo the stigma against wearing men's clothes that has been instilled in me since childhood. I love men's clothes and feel extremely confident in them."

October 7, 2010

The October Fantasia Fair, Massachussetts

Miqqi Alicia Gilbert, the professor behind the study of crossdressers and transgender people I mentioned in a previous post, has sent me an invitation for those of you who should happen to be in the neighborhood of Provincetown, Massachussetts, the US of A, on October 16 to 23.

Gilbert tells me that the Fantasy Fairs is part conference, part social gathering: a "full immersion experience":

"There are workshops in the morning and afternoon, a Keynote speaker following lunch, and special events each evening. You'll learn from community leaders, helping professionals, and your peers in formal and informal situations. You will be fascinated by the topics, which range from gender theory to hair removal to wig care to speaking in a feminine voice...

"Couples find support, friendship and caring, and enjoy the opportunity to participate in workshops that explore and recognize the ups and downs of a relationship with a transgender partner.

"In addition to lunches that are provided each day in some of Cape Cod's best restaurants, there are two formal banquets, a
fashion show, a cabaret/talent show, receptions and special events — all to entertain you while helping to develop the whole individual."

Click here for the latest Fantasia Fair newsletter, which has info on the event.

October 6, 2010

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!