August 27, 2012

The Other Side of your Transgender Soul - from Dostoyevski to Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Anima as the archetypal hero. Joss Whedon
turned the anima archetype upside down, turning the
brainless bimbo (Buffy) and the introvert nerd
(Willow) into fearsome warriors.
Image from the Dark Horse comic book.
Our understanding of what it means to be a woman or a man is changing. That has repercussions for how crossdreamers and transgender people see themselves.

The changing anima 

In my previous posts in my series on transgender psychology I argued that Carl Jung's concept of the anima (the repressed woman withing the man) and the animus (the unconscious masculine side of women) may be useful in a transgender context, but not in the way most people think.

Far too often the anima is understood as a given, biologically determined,  set of feminine personality traits that the man suppresses in order to live up to the masculine stereotype. According to this model the feminine side of man will always be - for instance -- emotional, irrational and opinionated.

But what happens if the cultural stereotypes change?

Will the anima represent the same timeless traits like  -- let's say -- being emotional as opposed to analytical, conflict shy as opposed to aggressive?

I find that very unlikely. The psychological traits found in the anima and animus will change in accordance with what is considered accepted behavior in that culture.

The traditional anima

In the 19th century and much of the 20th century the female archetype or anima appeared in novels written by men as the comforter, the emphatic and forgiving soul, the kind of woman who helps a man reconcile a tortured soul with the undercurrents of nature.  Goethe's Faust had Gretchen. Ibsen's Peer Gynt had Solveig.

In several of Fyodor Dostoyevski's books we meet men who have gone so far in the analytical direction, that they lose touch with Nature, God  or the Harmonious Life (which in Dostoyevski's case seem to be one and the same).

August 17, 2012

The story about Viktor and Viktoria and the inborn gender identity

Viktor in 2010, photo: Dagbladet
Is your gender identity inborn, or is it not? Here is a story that explains why I believe there is a biological component to our sense of being male or female.

In 1985 a boy named Viktor was found in a basket on the stairs of a hospital in the capital of Quito, Ecuador. No one knows who had left him there, but one reason may be  his parents were poor (he was malnourished) and that he had ambiguous genitals.

XY does not a boy make

A genetic test told the doctors that he had male chromosomes (46 XY) and that the testicles were intact.

Still, the penis was shorter than the 1,94 cm needed to be considered functional by the medical establishment. In accordance with the ruling paradigm of the day, the doctors therefore decided to turn him into her.

The doctors believed that gender identity is something that is created throughout the upbringing. Since it is easier to create a vagina surgically than extending a penis, the doctors chose the easy way out, believing that Viktor would thrive as Viktoria.

John Money and the John/Joan case

This way of thinking had been strongly influenced by the famous psychologist John Money over at Johs Hopkins Gender Identity Center. He had studied a lot of intersex children who had undergone surgery, and had concluded that it was the upbringing that determined their gender identity, not biology.

(“Intersex” and "disorder of sex development" are terms used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male. See ISNA.)

Some experts disputed this finding. Dr. Milton Diamond of the University of Hawaii had studied the sexual development of guinea pigs and found that they changed behavior according to the amount of testosterone they had been exposed to in the uterus.  He doubted that human beings were that much different.

August 12, 2012

I have had enough of the extremists

Lately there has been a lot of discussion about the real nature of crossdreaming on this blog.

There is particularly one aggressive activist who feel extremely offended by my suggestion that crossdreaming has a biological core. There are also others who take comfort in "the fact" that crossdreaming is "only a fetish".

Blank slate

The underlying premise seems to be that the very concept of a inborn "sex identity" is bogus.

We are facing another variant of "the blank slate" theory, which says that both sex and gender identity is nothing but a social construct, forced upon us through upbringing and social conditioning.

Jack in denial

The fact that I think otherwise must therefore be caused by some kind of denial on my side. According to these people I cannot stomach the idea of being a fetishist and therefore construct a fantasy where male to female crossdreamers have an inner woman waiting to be born.

The fact that it is easier to adapt to the expected role as a man if you have a feminization fetish rather than an inborn transgender condition, makes the "denial" argument hollow, in my opinion, but that does not bother the  "militant fetishians" or the separatist transwomen, who both attack me for being naive.

Transphobic crossdreamers

Some of the "post-structuralist" even go as far as to arguing that all transsexuals are nothing but fetishists living in denial, an argument that is so grotesquely offensive that its like can only be found in deeply sexist and racist subcultures.

New comment policy

The latest discussions at this blog has shown me that it is becoming hard to distinguish between all the different "Anonymous" that are taking part in the debate.

I know that several of you have asked me to do something about this a long time ago, and I have not listened. Sorry about that! I get it now.

From now on you will need a Google or OpenID identity to comment on I do not expect you to use your real name. Make your own alternative identity for this purpose.

If you take part in the discussions over at Crossdream Life, it would be helpful if you use the same nick name here.

August 7, 2012

A young transgender teenager asks for advice

Photo from
Here is the story about a struggling  male to female transgender in her early teens.

The Internet is slowly changing the way crossdreamers seek help. They are more likely to realize that they are not alone at a much earlier time than before, which is good.

On the other hand, they are also exposed to all the crap that is written about "paraphilias" and  "autogynephilia", which is not equally helpful.

I have been in correspondence with a young male to female transgender in her early teens. She is very mature for her age -- which is probably why she found a way to get in touch with me -- but she is nevertheless struggling hard to cope.

With her permission, I will present some of her thoughts below.

Constructive comments are very much welcome!

I have done my out most to anonymize the text  to protect her and her family. I have changed the spelling to mask her easily identifiable writing style, but the quotes included below are true to the original.

Since R's female identification seem so strong, and since she wants me to use her female name, I have used  female pronouns in this post. Let's call her R.

The content of the complete set of emails has convinced me that this is a genuine case and that R is who she says she is.

This is what she says:


"Basically, this all started when i was about 7. I cant remember what exact age, but I remember what year I was in in primary school. I used to think about this one girl (i had a crush on her, but i didn't know it) tying me up and dressing me as a girl and forcing me to do things. I found this very sexually arousing."

She also had submission fantasies about being treated as a baby.

She tells me she hit puberty at an early age. Searching the Internet she found that diagnosis like autogynephilia, infantilism and "parts of masochism" fit how she felt.

Reading TG erotic fiction

"When i was 11/12 i started researching some things. I read stories, and I used to do it any night I could (usually 4-5 nights a week) and only at night because my parents would walk in on me a lot, and I didn't want them finding out. I had to stop reading stories because my hormones were just screaming and it tickled.." 

The stories she found online made her  feel even more of an urge to try out what she had read. The stories were often about was relationships between a dominant wife/girlfriend and a submissive male being turned into a woman.

August 1, 2012

Causes of Transgender Conditions

Here is another guest post from David. In this post he discusses possible causes of transgender conditions (TG). 

David argues that sex identity cannot be explained by social  factors or by genes. The most reasonable explanation is found in the hormonal development of the fetus. 


Speculation about Transgender Conditions

By David/Davida

[Note: Personally, I make a distinction between sex identity (biological basis), gender identity (requires a biological basis but largely socio-cultural) and sexual orientation (biological basis). I consider each to be a separate factor in every individual, in whole or part. I also consider these factors to be variable and interactive producing a wide range of outcomes. While some outcomes are atypical relative to the norm, I consider all to be natural outcomes.]

No experiments possible

It appears that TG has a wider occurrence in males than in females so this speculation will be largely focused on TG in males. Thinking about biological factors in males who are TG it seems to that a definitive answer is unlikely simply because such an answer would require experimental research on humans, which would be unethical to perform in the first case and would never be permitted by a human subjects review board even if some scientist or group of scientists had no ethical qualms about performing the research. 

The animal alternative will not provide a definitive answer because animals aren't human beings and generalization from animal studies to humans will always be open to challenge, especially in something as unique as human sexual identity.

The case of David Reimer

What is left then? I would suggest that the next best thing to controlled, experiments on humans is what's often called a natural experiment. These are unplanned, unintentional events that often provide a source of data that would otherwise simply never be available.

For example, there is the case of David Reimer. Reimer was born a male along with a twin brother. Shortly thereafter, the two brothers were taken for circumcisions. The operation on David was badly botched. After consulting with "experts" on sex and development, David's parents decided to have him surgically modified to be structurally female. 

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!