November 29, 2011

On how to save a relationship

I have another email on love and relationships for you. agppartner ask for advice on how to save her relationship with a male to female crossdreamer.

Please do share your own thoughts on this matter!

This is what she writes:

"Hi Jack,

I write with sincere distress, as I really don't know what to do.

My parter and I started coping with his AGP [autogynephilia or male to female crossdreaming]  almost a year ago now. It has repeatedly almost destroyed our relationship and is a very tense subject to say the least. He has repeatedly lied, not only to me, but to himself, about the subject. And our sex life, even at its peak, is far from ideal. 

About 6 months ago, we came to the realization that he was addicted to AGP. We both agree that AGP is not an addiction, but, that, as is possible with any strong stimulus, he had become addicted to it.

We worked SO hard for months. We really focused on developing his masculine side and on finding ways to celebrate his masculinity. He lost 20 lbs and started to feel so much better about his body and to really own his sexual attractiveness as a man. Our sex life got better. Our relationship got stronger.

But, now, he has started lying again. Granted, its over rather small things, but it is the pattern that scares me. He set the rules and he agreed to talk with me about any gender-themed thoughts, fantasies or experiences that were a part of his life. Meanwhile, I find out that for the last "few months" shemales have been popping into his head in a sexual manner every other week and he as masturbated twice without telling me, which he had promised to do. He has also been looking at gendered porn, on occasion. Worst of all, the only way I found this out was by "policing" him (which I HATE, HATE, HATE to do, but my intuition was too strong to ignore). 

November 24, 2011

Crossdreamer Love

Sahar has sent me a very interesting email about the relationship between a male to female and a female to male crossdreamer that I think is highly significant.

He has joined up with a girlfag.

Note that "a girlfag" is often defined as  "a biologically female individual who feels a strong romantic or erotic attraction towards gay or bisexual men, or their social environment."

I suspect that many girlfags are in fact female to male crossdreamers who feel attracted to gay and bisexual feminine men because these men seem to leave room for women with a pro-active, "masculine" and  "thrusting", attitude. They may fall for the feminine side of gynephilic M2F crossdreamers as well.

I have already refered to Sahar in the post Girlfags and Gudykes, Unite! He clearly believes Girlfags are very much like male bodied crossdreamers, only in revers.

Talking to girlfags

"Well as you know, I've been talking to girlfags," he tells me.  "I actually seem to be one of the few that do this. They really are truly amazing and they always respond if you write to them."

Sahar's personal journey will feel familiar to many a male to female crossdreamer. He unearthed the crossdreamer side of his personality earlier this year, and his whole world fell apart. His academic achievements took a serious blow: 

"I had this just awful mindfog, the same one Renee talks about. I couldnt think of anything else but about agp [autogynephilia, ie. male to female crossdreaming]. I then went into a period of that gut wrenching feelings whenever I saw a beautiful girl. That got worse and by [late summer], I was having full blown dysphoria. I couldn't look in mirrors. I felt so terrible all the time. I didnt want to leave my room as i didn't want to see another beautiful girl. I stayed in my room nearly all day, sometimes I'd even shed a tear. I struggled with going out with friends. My mother would cry as i wasn't talking much and wouldn't tell her what was wrong. ... I was sooooo very confused, and just in a very bad place."

Dysphoria and narcissism

This feeling of gender dysphoria -- i.e. a strong feeling of being the wrong sex, often followed by deep depression -- is found among many, but not all, crossdreamers. I  definitely know what he is talking about. The mindfog he is talking about is very similar to the condition I have called spellbound. 

Among psychiatrists like Ray Blanchard this mindfog is taken as a sign of narcissism. You are an autogynephiliac, a man in love with the idea of himself being a woman. He has internalized his external love object, and the reason he gets depressed is partly that he is unable to love a real woman out there and partly the fact that he cannot really become the woman he loves: himself.

I find this theory extremely convulted. I believe it is a good scientific principle to see if there is a simpler theory that fits the observed facts first, and in this case that means taking the feelings of Sahar seriously. He feels pain because he wants to be a woman. Maybe this is because he, in some way, is a woman. Not in the sense of a person being a helpless, submissive and caring Barbie (or any gender stereotype you might want to consider), mind you, but in the sense that parts of his basic level "wiring" or "programming" is more like the one you would find in a majority of women. 

Sahar's experience may be interpreted in both ways.

Help from Jasper

Sahar took control of his own life:

November 21, 2011

Americans believe "transgender" means "transsexual"

Those who have followed the transsexual/transgender debate (or "war", rather), will have seen that a major argument made by so called "classic transsexuals" against the umbrella term "transgender" is that it mixes up real transsexuals with crossdressers, crossdreamers and the genderqueer.

Because of this, they are trying to change the meaning of "transgender". They use it as a term for every type of transgender condition they do not like, and would like to keep the term "transsexual" for the real women.

Transsexual is not the same as transgender

I have no problem with limiting the use of the word transsexual those that have undergone surgery, who plan to do so or who want to transition. But the attempts at splitting at turning the umbrella term "transgender" into a label for everything perverted, makes me angry.

This is not because all crossdressers and crossdreamers are the same as transsexuals. Most of them are not.  Most of the male to female crossdreamers and crossdressers do not even identify as women. Nor do the female to male crossdreamers and crossdressers always identify as men.

Click on comic to enlarge!
That does not stop them from having a lot in common with transsexuals, though. They all are, like the transsexual men and women, suppressed by people who feel threatened by those who do not adhere to the gender stereotypes of the day.

And whatever the classic transsexuals say or believe: The real bigots out there do not accept any male bodied person who feel like a woman.

What is even more important, though, is that there a quite a few crossdreamers and crossdressers who actually suffer from severe gender dysphoria. Some of them again are actually transwomen.

If you ban every transwoman or transman who has ever crossdressed or crossdreamed from the transsexual family, there won't be that many left.

The American public supports transsexuals

It now turns out that the term "transgender" does not undermine the status of transwomen and transmen in the eyes of the American public.

It, is in fact, the non-transsexual transgender who are under threat, including many of the readers of this blog.

A study made by the Public Religion Research Institute seems to indicate that overwhelming majorities of Americans agree that transgender people should have the same general rights and legal protections as others.

Here is what they say:
  • Overwhelming majorities of all major religious groups agree that transgender people should have the same rights and protections as other Americans, including approximately 8-in-10 (83%) white evangelical Protestants, and roughly 9-in-10 Catholics (93%), white mainline Protestants (90%), and the unaffiliated (95%).
  • Overwhelming majorities of Republicans (86%), Independents (94%), and Democrats (92%) also agree.
Given the toxic atmosphere of current American politics, these are mind blowing numbers, indeed.

It gets better:

November 20, 2011

Unhate! Or: How love finds a way.

Benetton's unhate campaign communicates tolerance in a way that moves you.

 So is this another capitalist plot to milk the sentimentality of the masses? Well, if preaching love and tolerance is a sentimental sin, I am all for it!


Unfortunately, Benetton had to pull its pope kisses imam poster due to protests from the Vatican. I guess Mr. Ratzinger is too busy persecuting homosexuals and transsexuals to understand all the innumerable ways Love can express itself.

November 18, 2011

Gender and sexuality diversity is not a disease!

Imagine there was no social stigma attached to crossdreaming, crossdressing or being transgender.

Imagine you were allowed to talk about it without risking your job, you family and your circle of friends.

Imagine you could find friends with the same interest as yourself, not only online, but in the physical world. Imagine you could find a lover who, based on is or her own life experience, gets who you are.

As long as conditions like these are considered paraphilias and mental illnesses, that is going to be hard. As long as the medical authorities, the priesthood of the Church of Science, label you as a pervert, there will always be doubts.

For the gay movement, the removal of homosexuality from medical manuals in the 1970s was an important step towards social acceptance.

I am perfectly aware of the homophobia found in parts of the Western world (cp. the American Tea Party movement), but the fact that a majority of Amercians now support gay marriage tells me that the decisive battle has been won. It is clear to most sensible persons that the psychological suffering of gays and lesbians are not caused by their homosexuality, but by the way the surrounding society has treated them.

While I have -- partly for personal reasons -- focused on the gender dysphoria of crossdreaming and crossdressing, others have focused on the fact that such interests may just as well be harmless expressions of the diversity of natural sexuality.

Take away the stigma and "paraphiliacs", and crossdressers and crossdreamers are no more likely to be maladjusted, unhappy or mentally ill than other people. If society could accept, and maybe even embrace this diversity, there would be no mental illness of this sort.

In Europe these insights have led to the establishment of an alliance between homosexuals, BDSM enthusiasts and crossdressers aiming at the removal of "fetishes" from the WHO manual.

Among the leaders we find Svein Skeid, the leader of Revise F65, who has been working with gay and BDSM human rights for 30 years.  Another influential activist is  Odd Reiersøl, a well known psychologist in my country, from the University of Oslo and the Solverv Psychotherapy Institute. 

I must admit I cringe a little at their use of the word "fetish". I am still not convinced that the term may be salvaged from the stigmatizing use of the medical community. The term is also  often used to belittle those that suffer from a clear sex identity misalignment, and it is -- in may opinion -- hard to categorize non-crossdressing crossdreamers as fetishists. 

Still, their main message makes perfect sense to me:

"The fetish/BDSM group is an equal contributor to the society and scores on the level with most people on psychosocial features and democratic values such as self control, empathy, responsibility, love, equality, and non-discrimination. Because the ICD fetish and SM diagnoses are superfluous, outdated, non scientific and stigmatizing to the fetish/BDSM minority, these diagnoses have been removed in nearly all of the Nordic countries. The diagnoses are so seldom in use, that neither care, statistics, nor research are affected by their abolition."

Revise F65 has now presented a report to the Word Health Organisation where they explain why the diagnoses as mental illnesses have to go.

November 13, 2011

Watching the wildlife (on unnatural animals)

Ok, this is old news, but I would like to share it with you anyway, as the story says a lot about people's reluctance to abandoned cherished prejudices.

In 2006 the Natural History Museum in Oslo arranged an exhibition called Against Nature. The idea was to document same-sex relationships between animals.

The project leader for the exhibition, Geir E. Søli, hoped that it would weaken prejudices against human homosexuals.

"It turns out that as many as 20 percent of the black-headed gull [Larus ridibundus] pairs are of the same sex. Same sex relationships have been documented among 1500 species in modern times. The percentage of 'gay' animals varies from five to forty percent. The record is held by a species of parrot."

He pointed out that 100 percent of our nearest relative, the bonobo, is bisexual. Among the orcas scientists have found life long sexual relationships between males.

I have argued that information on "gay" animals is important for transgender people, partly because it tells us that the word "unnatural" is meaningless. If animals display same-sex behavior,  same-sex relationships between humans cannot be "unnatural".  

Secondly: What we are seeing here is not necessarily homosexuality in the modern Western sense, but various types of gender-crossing behavior. Being transgender is not "unnatural". Male birds who behave like female birds are not "autogynephiliacs".

And if this is the case among other mammals, we should be very careful before we reduce all human transgender conditions to sexual perversions or merely a cultural phenomena.

The reaction to the exhibit demonstrated clearly that many use the word "unnatural" to brand people as perverts. It has nothing to do with nature per se.

Jan-Aage Torp, pastor in a local Pentecostal church, was for instance shocked when told about the exhibition, arguing that there must be better ways of using the tax payers' money.

"These are two separate sexes, meant by nature to produce kids," he argued, Tea Party wise, doubting that these researchers could be right.

At his blog he argued that the exhibition  photos showed "animals in natural play" (ref. photo of playing males above).

"But if this was true, that does not mean that it is good," he continued. "This might be a perversion or sickness we should help the animals cure."

I still have this image in my head of him running around in the Norwegian forests with a looking glass, checking the sex of blue tits, and stopping them from unnatural fornication.

November 4, 2011

What is the difference between fetishistic and non-fetishistic crossdressing? (The ICD and beyond)

The WHO medical manual says that only crossdreaming crossdressers can become trans women, not the ones that do not get aroused by the idea of being a woman. How did sexual arousal become such a sin?

I have spent some time looking at the American DSM manual here at Crossdreamers. The American psychiatric manual say a lot about how some psychiatrist try to draw the line between different types of cross-gender identification.

There is another manual that is just as interesting, namely the WHO ICD  manual  (International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision, Version for 2007)

Under "Mental and behavioural disorders" there is a category called "Disorders of adult personality and behaviour", where you will find both transsexualism and crossdressing/crossdreaming categorized as mental illnesses. 

On the difference between transsexuals, crossdreaming crossdressers and non-crossdreaming crossdressers

I am not going to repeat my objection to transsexuals and crossdreamers being classified as ill here. Instead I am going to draw your attention to the fact that this manual classifies crossdreamers (people who get aroused by the idea of being the other sex) as completely separate from other crossdressers. In this manual the crossdreamers are actually overlapping with the transsexuals!

There are three categories of interest to my readers:
  • F64.0 Transsexualism
  • F64.1 Dual-role transvestism
  • F65.1 Fetishistic transvestism
What I find so utterly bizarre is the fact that "fetishistic transvestism", which includes -- I surmise -- crossdressing crossdreamers, is categorized as "a fetish", while the other crossdressers are given "a gender identity disorder". 

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!