December 18, 2012

A typology for understanding sexual variation
When I started writing this blog, I was struck by all the linguistic complexities I had to face. The standard model of sex and gender is extremely simple:

Any person who has a female body is a woman. But that is not all:

  1. She feels that she is a woman
  2. She thinks like a woman (whatever that is supposed to mean)
  3. She is attracted to men

The only complexity most people try to handle these days is item number 3: Sexual orientation. More and more seem to agree that same-sex sex is OK, and therefore add sexual orientation as a second dimension to the model.

Sexual orientation is by most considered binary, as well. There are those that are heterosexual and those that are homosexual. Bisexuals are often left out in the cold, in the same way many people find it hard to cope with people who do not clearly respect the sex divide. Children soon learn to search for subtle signs that can help them classify a person as a girl or a boy.

The everyday model conflates the biological sex and the cultural gender. I my language, Norwegian, we actually use the same word for both concepts: kjønn. That is: Language itself forces Norwegians to think of the two as one.

I use a very essayistic style in this blog, but sometimes it is useful to take a completely logical approach to typology and classifications. David/Davida, my fellow crossdreamer and author of Some Thoughts on Crossdressing, has developed a systematic classification of the various dimensions of sex, gender and sexuality, which I find very useful. He/she has given me permission to publish it here.

December 11, 2012

Is there a cure for "autogynephilia"?

A cure for autogynephilia.
No, there is not a cure for "autogynephilia" or erotic crossdreaming (also known as crossgender embodiment fantasies). Such fantasies are natural expressions of gender variance, and not signs of a mental disease. There are many ways of handling "autogynephilia" though.

My site statistics cannot tell me who my readers are, but the numbers do tell me what search terms they used when finding the site. The most popular search phrase is variations of "Is there a cure for autogynephilia?" (or "Is there a treatment for autoandrophilia?" as might be).

I will,  to the best of my ability, try to answer that question in this blog post.

An important disclaimer

Before I do, however, there are a few points that have to be made:

1. "Autogynephilia" is a term made by the researcher Ray Blanchard meaning "the love of one self as a woman". The idea is that autogynephiles are men sexually attracted to the image of themselves as women (as opposed to "normal" men who are attracted to real women "out there").

This explanation is definitely wrong. Male to female "autogynephiles" do fall in love with real women "out there" all the time, and are often very loyal partners and husbands. Nor can crossdreaming be reduced to a sexual condition only. Ray Blanchard has proven himself to be a transphobic activist and this also colors his research.

I have coined the term "erotic crossdreaming" as a neutral alternative to the term "autogynephilia". It simply refers to men (and women) who get aroused by imagining themselves as the opposite sex. 

As I understand it crossdreamers is a subcategory of the umbrella term transgender (referring to all people who diverge from the normative gender roles allotted  to their original biological sex).

Note also that cross-gender fantasies and arousing embodiment fantasies are found in all types of people, cis and trans, straight and gay, female or male. These fantasies are quite common and therefore not "abnormal" in any sense of the word.

2. There is in fact no scientific consensus on what causes crossdreaming. I belong to those that believe that it has a biological core that is expressed through culturally determined symbols, but you should not take my word for it. All crossdreamers have to determine for themselves what makes sense to them.

3. I am not a certified doctor, psychologist or sexologist. I probably know more about crossdreaming than most professionals, but you should always seek professional guidance before you do something drastic. If you find a therapist with and open and emphatic heart, that may compensate for their lack of crossdreamer competences.

Is there a cure for "autogynephilia"?

Is there a cure for what Blanchard calls "autogynephilia" and I call "erotic crossdreaming".

The short answer to this question is no. 

I have been in touch with a large number of crossdreamers and crossdressers, and I have read most of the literature. I have so far not found one reliable story about a crossdreamer who has been cured of this condition.

But do not despair yet. There are ways of coping.

In the following I will discuss what strategies seem to work and what clearly does not work. I am not going to burden you with a lot of academic references in this post. If you want to explore the literature, explore this blog. Many posts contain extensive discussions of research in the area.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!