November 21, 2012

The Yaoi Culture and the Female to Male Crossdreamers

Typical yuoi manga cover.
From Houyou Hikken.
Note the German title: Your Heart! Yaoi is a
global culture.

What makes women, world wide, write and read comics about men having sex? Crossdreaming, of course!

There are scientists who deny the existence of female to male crossdreamers, that is female bodied persons who get turned on by the idea of being a man. As far as these scientists are concerned only men can be what they consider "paraphiliacs" or "perverts".

Ray Blanchard, who came up with the "autogynephilia" theory, belongs to these researchers.

I have through several blog posts documented that not only are there female to male crossdreamers among us now; we find them in a wide variety of cultures and they have most likely always been here.

In other words: This is not a purely cultural or psychological phenomenon.

The reason the researchers do not see the FTM crossdreamers, is that they do not look for them.

Today I am going to present to you the fascinating world of female to male crossdreaming, and prove to you that there are large numbers of girls who dream about being boys out there.

They have their own thriving crossdreamer and crossdresser culture, in which we find a lot of parallels to their male to female counterparts.

Welcome to the world of Boy's Love and yaoi!

Thanks to Uli Meyer

I am very grateful to the German researcher Uli Meyer. In her article "Hidden in straight sight: Trans'gressing gender and sexuality via BL" in the anthology Boys' Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genre  she has managed to make the female bodied crossdreamer visible for themselves and for the rest of us.

She has put them within a framework that makes sense, not only for the people involved, but also for people like me. I am using that article actively in this post. Do read the original! Her work is going to change our understanding of what it means to be transgender.

Some words about words

When you try to write about female and male bodied crossdreamers at the same time, it is easy to get lost in the terminology, as the inter-gender dynamics are a bit unusual.

Rutta to Kodama, yaoi comic presenting
a male same sex relationship. Note that
both look quite feminine, but the
uke to the left more so than the
dominant seme to the right. In manga
large eyes might signify both
child like innocence and femininity.
In this post MTF refers to male to female, i.e. male bodied persons who dream about being women or -- in the case of transsexuals -- transsexual women who have realigned their female mind with their hormonally and/or surgically altered female body.

FTM means female to male, meaning people with two X chromosomes who fantasize about being men, male being their target sex. FTM crossdreamers might call themselves "girlfags" online, a word most of them  do not find offensive.

Some crossdreamers may identify with their target sex, living at the transsexual end of the transgender scale. Unless they have transitioned, these often experience gender dysphoria, a deep unease from not having a body that fits their "inner woman" or "inner man".

Other crossdreamers identify with their biological birth sex, arguing that their fantasies do not entail another sex or gender identity. Most of these do not report  dysphoria. Note, however, that there is a lot of denial and repression going around. The crossdreamer's journey may be a trip from  one end of the scale to another.

I consider all of these people transgender, in the umbrella term sense of the word.

The terms "inner  man" and "inner woman" are metaphors referring to whatever it is that seeks expression through crossdressing and/or crossdreaming. I truly believe there is a biological core to crossdreaming as well as the transsexual condition, but the terms are helpful even if there isn't one.

To avoid confusion as to what the terms "heterosexual" and "homosexual" refer to (birth sex or target sex), I refer to people who are predominantly attracted to women as "gynephilic" and people oriented towards men as "androphilic". Believe me, it is easier this way!

I refer to FTM crossdreamers as women if it is clear that they publicly identify as such, and as men if they tell us that they are men. Transmen are men in my book. End of story!

What is BL and yaoi?

An uke is the submissive receptive partner in a yaoi gay
male relationship.
From the blog Manga Freak.
Male bodied male to female crossdreamers have different ways of expressing their "inner woman".

Some crossdress. Some explore their female avatar in online gaming. Others write stories or TG captions (illustrations accompanied by ultra short TG transgender stories).

They are all trying to express a side of their own self that the society around them does not accept. These are men who not only dream about being women, but who even would like to have sex as women.

The FTM crossdreamer culture has had a different cultural trajectory and history. At this moment in history their main way of expressing their "inner man" is through Boy's Love and yaoi, which at its core is a genre of Japanese style comics.

Boy's Love,  BL  or yaoi comics contain stories about gay male relationships. They are written by women, though, and the readership is mainly female. Boy's Love female readers identify with one or both of the male characters in these stories.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!