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.

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.

October 8, 2012

Finding love as a crossdreamer

Photo from
My post on my life as a crossdreamer has generated several very interesting comments, both online and in emails.

Joanna sent me the text included at the end of this post as a response to my discussion of the crossdreamer and/or  crossdresser's dilemma when it comes to establishing steady love relationships.

Sexual orientation

It seems to me a majority male to female (MTF) crossdreamers, whether they are crossdressers or not, fall in love with women. In the same way, female to male crossdreamers seem to be primarily attracted to men. Like most human beings they long for love and someone with whom to share their lives. 

But many MTF crossdreamers feel like they are wired like women sexually, which is one reason for why they often fantasize about being women when having sex. Needless to say, on the long term it may be hard to "play" the role of the man in bed, when what you desire is another role entirely.

It may be slightly easier to be a female to male (FTM) crossdreamer taking the proactive role in bed. In the dark undercurrents of our cultures being an aggressive man is still considered more admirable than being  female. Still, for a female bodied person not to live up to the gender stereotypes of the day is definitely not a walk in the park. There will be feelings of confusion, shame and guilt.

Establishing a relationship

Normally this has not stopped  crossdreamers from going steady or getting married. One of the reasons for this is that many crossdreamers truly believe that a regular heterosexual relationship  will cure them of their crossdreaming.

October 2, 2012

The Trans “Sense of Community” Survey

Cristan Williams has put up a trans community survey to study the way gender variant and transsexual people understand the notion of a trans community.

Those who have followed this blog know that this is not a simple questions. There are, for instance, crossdreamers and crossdressers who are clearly transsexual at heart, while others argue strongly that they are not even transgender.

They are all invited to take this survey, however.

Like Cristan, I mostly think of the trans community of a community of interest. The members of this community is a diverse bunch, but they have one thing in common: They violate the cultural mores of their own society by overstepping the borders between male and female in one way or the other.

This applies to crossdreamers and crossdressers, who commit the cardinal sin of dreaming or fantasizing of being the other sex, and it applies to transsexuals whose sex identity is clearly and indisputably misaligned with their birth sex. They therefore have an common interest in making society more tolerant towards those who find themselves on the outside.

Besides: The border between crossdreamers and crossdressers on the one hand and transsexuals on the other is blurred. Some transsexuals start out as crossdreamers, which tells me that there is much to gain and learn from interaction and collaboration.

UPDATE: Note that the survey seems to be targeting US citizens. I guess non-Americans may enter the name of their country instead of the ZIP-code. The survey also seems to be oriented towards "off-line communities", i.e. organized meetings of people in the local community. Again, I suppose you may add "online" as a location, if your main interaction with the trans community is online.

UPDATE 2: The survey is for Americans and is not anonymous. See comments below.

Cristan has more about the survey here.
You can take the survey here.

October 1, 2012

The Other Side of your Transgender Soul -- Body and Mind

Here is my final post on Jung and a transgender psychology.

The starting point for this series is the idea that the subconscious psyche compensates for what the conscious ego considers taboo and therefore denies.

For instance: All male bodied persons have psychological traits associated with culturally defined feminine values, but they find it hard to admit to these feelings and therefore suppress them.

Among many transgender people these suppressed feelings find a way to  the surface through crossdreaming and crossdressing.

The anima and animus becomes one

As I noted in my post on the anima and animus archetypes, the anima and arnimus archetypes may be understood in at least two ways.

The traditional way is to think of the anima as the underdeveloped feminine side of man and the animus as the primitive man in the woman.

The second explanation is to think of the anima and the animus as the gateway to the unconscious. In this sense they are parallels to the persona, the "mask" we show the people around us. The persona helps us interact with the world outside. The anima/animus helps us to interact with the world inside.

In order to function as a gateway to "the other side" the anima/animus compensates for what is lacking in the persona and the ego. If the persona is hypermasculine the anima appears as hyperfeminine in dreams, fantasies and projections. If the persona of a woman is emotional, her animus becomes quasi-intellectual.

I add the term "quasi" to signify that this intellectual side is underdeveloped, for the simple reason that this particular woman has never been encouraged to develop that side of her psyche.

The anima  of a male bodied person does not have to express culturally defined feminine traits only. Nor does the animus of a female bodied person have to be symbolized as a man in dreams and fantasies. It all depends on to what extent "the other side" has been integrated into the ego and the persona.

If the cultural ideas of what it means to be a man or a woman changes, the anima and animus are also likely to generate different content. If a woman is allowed to explore her aggressive and dominant side, her animus is less likely to express this part of her psyche in dreams and fantasies.

Murray Stein's interpretation

There are Jungians who have reinterpreted Jung for a the contemporary age, somewhat in the same vein as I have done here.

Murray Stein asks the same question in the highly recommended book Jung's Map of the Soul: An Introduction:

"But what about women who are not very feminine and men who are not very masculine in their personas? Does a not-very-feminine woman have a nonmasculine animus, and a not-very-masculine man have a nonfeminine anima? Jung would be obliged to follow this line of thought, given his premises."

September 18, 2012

My life as a transgender crossdreamer

Photo from
Most crossdreamers are confused.

They are confused about who they are, what they are, why they feel the way they feel. What is wrong with them? Why do they get excited by the very idea of having a body of the opposite sex? Are they transsexual? Are they freaks? Or are they just a normal variation of the diversity of life?

Yes, most crossdreamers are confused. Very confused.

Many of them -- this one included -- therefore spend a lot of time reading and discussing, trying to find thinkers, friends and theories that may help them makes sense of their lives.

In this respect, they -- we -- are no different than other groups who find themselves on the outside of what "normal" people consider "natural" behavior.

I readily admit that I might have focused too much on the theory and too little on my lived life on this blog, making some blog post a bit too dry for comfort.

In this post I will draw upon my own life and show you how my own understanding of crossdreaming is very much anchored in my life experience.

Life narratives

Children start making up stories about how the universe works at a very early age. They rarely get it right at first, and they find it often hard to reconcile their own life experience with the "truths" of others (the "stork" model is, for instance, a tough one). But in the end they manage to develop a theory of their own self that makes sense within the context of their own culture.

 "I am a man. That is why I like cars!" "I am a woman! That is why I like kids." A man that find cars boring, may seek comfort in his love for soccer, and a woman that find children icky, will focus on her ability to keep them clean, and in this way their identity as a man or a woman is not threatened.

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. 

July 30, 2012

Researcher studying bigender transgender is looking for study participants

In April I reported on a fascinating study of the bigender sex switchers.

The study, made by  Laura Case  and Vilayanur S Ramachandran, presented a group of transgender people for whom their sex identity would change or oscillate over time. One day they will feel like women, the next like men.

Laura Case is now following up this study with a new one, and she would very much like to get in touch with people who have experienced something similar.

This follow-up involves completing a 20-30 minute survey/task online on 8 different days, during alternating gender states (spread out over months if need be), and freezing saliva samples (all materials provided and costs covered) on each of the eight days to mail us for hormone testing.

She tells me that the goal is to establish whether there is are any changes in cognitive profiles or in sex hormone levels between different gender states, to provide evidence of biological/physiological underpinnings of bigender and clues about brain-cognition- gender identity links.

She says:

" Prior to enrolling a person in the study, I conduct a 1-1.5 hr phone interview which is similar to the online survey but more extensive. In experimental research we must necessarily begin with individuals who most clearly demonstrate the phenomenon we are interested in studying (gender switching, in this case), and so we are looking for individuals who meet specific criteria in regard to their experience of body and gender, as well as an absence of some conditions that would confound (provide alternative or additional explanations for) their gender switching, such as DID."

People who switch at least a few times a month are probably the most helpful logistically. Laura says that they are definitely looking for people who feel strongly male and then strongly female in those different gender states.

If you are interested in taking part in this study write to Laura at 

July 28, 2012

Can marriage survive one partner transitioning?

Photo from
I do not believe there is a clear line between crossdreamers and crossdressers on the one hand and transsexuals on the other.

There are crossdreamers and crossdressers who identify fully with their birth sex and who do not experience sex dysphoria.

But there are also those for whom the dissonance between their body and soul becomes unbearable. They are truly transsexual.

Many of them have made heroic attempts at fitting in and playing the role society expect of them. Those of them who are gynephilic (who are attracted to women) are probably more likely to try to fit in, as excelling in the male role may seem to be the only way of finding love with a woman.

Some manage to bridge the gap between their inner psyche and the external world, but for others the gap becomes too wide. They have to chose a new life or go under. That choice is not easy. Not for themselves and not for their family.

 I don't think there is an easy or correct "solution" to their dilemma. But I do believe we have to talk about it.

I got the following email from "Mary" the other day. I have the permission to republish it here at Crossdreamers. I have made only small changes to the text by anonymizing it and by adding headlines. Any constructive comments are welcome.


Hello Jack,

My name is Mary [name altered]  and I wrote a comment on your crossdreamers blog yesterday. You did comment on what I wrote and I wanted to elaborate somewhat however I am not sure it is best to do it there or privately as I do not want to upset anyone. Also I have yet to come across anyone who wants to say what I need to say. So here I am. 

Married to a transwoman

I wrote that I am a straight female living with a straight man who crossdresses and is now taking medications with the intention of transitioning sometime soon. What I did not say is I am 53 years old and he is 63 years old, he is masculine,always played football,snowboarding, has always surfed and still does, ran a pub and a restaurant. His voice is deep, his body is wiry, his arms muscular and he is definately not outwardly feminine . 

I have know him for 20 years, lived with him for going on 8 of those and it wasn't untill we became interested in each other romantically that he told me of his desire to change gender. My reaction was 'Oh good, that gives me a new girlfriend, what fun'. 

July 25, 2012

Campaign against pathologization of transgender in medical manuals

The Coordination Team of STP 2012, the International Stop Trans Pathologization Campaign, has published a document called  “Reflections on the ICD Revision Process from a Depathologization and Human Rights Perspective”.

The document includes a good discussion on the way the American manual for mental diseases (DSM-5) and the UN/WHO International Classification of Diseases (ICD) cover transgender issues.

The team argues that both the gender identity disorders and the transvestic fetishism categories ought to be removed from the manuals.

The group is also initiating an International Day of Action for Trans Depathologization, which  will take place on Saturday, October 20th, 2012.

July 16, 2012

Summer Break

I am taking short summer break. I will be back with new posts in a few weeks.

I am following comments made on this blog and over at Crossdream Life.

For other blogs covering crossdreaming, see Channel 2.

June 25, 2012

The Transgender Jung

Carl G. Jung
On using  Carl Gustav Jung's model of the psyche to describe transgender experiences.

I have posted a few articles where I have been using the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung to discuss the transgender psyche.

Only one post remains, but before I publish that one, I would like to take a look at to what extent Jung discussed transgender conditions.

Here are all the posts in the transgender psychology series:
1: The Role of the Unconscious
2: The Ego and the Complexes
3: The Shadow
4: The Animus and the Anima
5: The Other Side of your Transgender Soul - from Dostoyevski to Buffy the Vampire Slayer
6: Transgender and the mind and body conundrum
7: Spellbound transgender
8: Ponyo for Crossdreamers
9: Falling in love with your own anima

See also guest post by  Jocelyn Muchlinski: Waking Up the Anima – Jung Applied to Transgender Women

Jung ignored the transgender

Did Carl Gustav Jung himself say anything about crossdreamers, crossdressers or transvestites?

As far as I can see, he did not.

That is a bit peculiar, really, as there had already been  published some interesting research on trasvestites in Berlin, which might have given him some input on his discussion on the crossgender nature of the collective  unconscious (Magnus Hirschfield: Die Transvestiten 1910)

June 18, 2012

Sex and Gender: Different but the Same

A new line of biological research turns the model of the interaction between the brain, sex and gender upside down.

I have written quite extensively on the research on sex and gender on this blog, focusing on both the biological and socio-cultural factors that may or may not influence gender development.

What I have learned from all of this is (1) that gender roles and behavior are predominantly influenced by cultural factors, while (2) sex identity (the sense of being a man, a woman or neither) has a much stronger biological basis.

The story so far.

So far biological research on the interaction between the body, the brain, the embodied sex and gender expressions has been based on the idea that sex identity (the sense of self) is based in unique properties of the brain.

That is: Due to prenatal hormonal influences, the brains of men and women are different, and this makes them men or women, not only on the outside, but also -- to a more limited extent -- psychologically.

Secondly, natural scientists tend to believe that much of our gendered behavior is partly influenced by this core identity, in the sense that women are -- for instance -- more likely to express empathic traits and men analytic capabilities, on average and statistically speaking.

All serious researchers in this field accepts that much of our gendered behavior is heavily influenced by culture as well, though. I have so far seen only one study that tries to prove that women prefer pink for biological reasons. (God, that was a stupid study!!!)

I have become more and convinced that much of what we consider "natural" behavior gender wise, is indeed cultural.

Much of this is caused by the fact that I live in  a country where women are found in all types of work. The fact that women now dominates universities tells me that the old idea that women are less analytical than men makes little sense.

It is not that long ago that a woman who wanted to go to university would be diagnosed as a hysteric and sent to a sanatorium.

Why do not men and women differ more from each other?

The new radical approach to sex and gender does not ask what makes men and women behave differently.

These researchers ask the following questions: Given the fact that men and women differ significantly body wise (size, muscle strength, hormonal balance, sex organs, the ability to develop a fetus etc), why is their behavior so similar?

June 8, 2012

Some Thoughts on Cross Dressing

Today I have the pleasure of presenting an essay written by Davida, a fellow male to female crossdreamer.  I think this essay presents a very useful approach towards developing an understanding of what crossdressing and crossdreaming is about.

There are a lot of crossdreamers and crossdressers out there that work hard on finding a narrative that makes sense for people like us. If you have done research of a similar kind, do not hesistate to contact me.


Some Thoughts on Cross Dressing

By David/Davida

As a young adult and as a student of behavior, I read extensively in an attempt to find an explanation for my cross dressing behavior. Several psychological hypotheses were proposed in the literature but I did not find any of them to be compelling.


While I don’t think it is an explanation for cross-dressing, one hypothesis that resonated somewhat with me was what is called petticoating or pinaforing. Petticoating is feminizing (cross dressing) males as a method of discipline and control. 

The basic hypothesis is that petticoating was used as a maternal discipline technique or punishment that relied on eliciting humiliation and submission to discipline a boy. This experience it is proposed leads to the boy becoming a cross dresser. 

The woman petticoating a boy calls him her sissy boy, which through association becomes a verbal trigger for the same feelings of humiliation and submission aroused through the actual petticoating.

This hypothesis in another permutation substitutes an older sister or other female relative such as an aunt for the mother. A final permutation proposes a role for the practice in older males in which the petticoating is applied by a girlfriend, spouse or even a relative stranger such as a neighbor.

I don’t think that this hypothesis accounts for cross-dressing as a behavioral phenomenon. I don’t believe that I was subjected to petticoating as a young child and don’t have any recollection of it, if it occurred. 

June 6, 2012

Falling in love with your own anima

Betty Boop falls in love
There i an interesting parallel between Carl Jung's anima-theory (that each man has an unconscious feminine side) and Ray Blanchard's autogynephilia-theory (that some men get aroused by the idea of having a woman's body).

A man will repress not only associated with what he and his culture considers the negative nature of woman, Jung argues. His anima will also be projected onto other women.

His unconscious misogyny may, for instance,  turn many of the women he meets  into stupid airheads.

But he will also project his inner ideal woman, i.e. the image of the beautiful, loving, merciful and perfect woman.

As Jung points out the man projects his own feminine side onto a woman, and then falls head over heals in love with her!

Yes, according to Jung infatuated love is indeed autoerotic, but unlike Ray Blanchard  -- who believes that it is only the "autogynephilac" who can fall in love with the image of himself as a woman,  Jung believes this applies to all men.

At this point it becomes, of course, meaningless to label this as a sexual perversion.

May 20, 2012

A Transgender Psychology 4: The Animus and the Anima

In Dante's Divine Comedy, Beatrice,
his anima, guides him through
One of Carl Jung's most famous concepts is the Anima/Animus duo. The anima is said to be the woman in the man. The animus is said to be the the man in the woman.

It would be tempting to say that the animus is the inner woman of male to female transgender person and vise versa. That would be a mistake.

I will not argue that male to female transgender persons are possessed by their anima, or that female to male crossdreamers have suppressed their true femininity.

In fact, the Jung interpretation you find in this series, is very different from the standard "men are from Mars and women are from Venus narrative" many Jungians love.

The two stories about the anima and animus

It helps to keep in mind that Jung is telling two stories at the same time when presenting the anima and the animus. The first one is partly  misleading, I am afraid. The second one is more useful for exploring the transgender psyche.

The first story says that the anima is the unconscious feminine side of the man, the animus the unconscious masculine side of the female. Given that men and women are forbidden to accept their "opposite side", this unconscious side is underdeveloped.

When the man projects this anima onto women out there in the real world, he therefore reduces them to clichés. He might despise her or he might fall in love with her, but he is not seeing her for who she is. He is, in fact, not falling in love with a real woman out there, but in his own underdeveloped feminine side.

May 11, 2012

Are people becoming more tolerant of transgender?

Carmen Carrera as waitress
Now that Obama has come out in defense of same-sex marriage and a majority of Americans actually accepts homosexual relationships, it might look as if Western culture has reached a water shed as regards attitudes to what was once considered perversions threatening civilization itself.

I would guess that the fact that homosexuals have become visible, makes it much harder to keep up the idea that gay men are sex obsessed, child molesting, auto-erotic perverts, or that all lesbians can be cured by being taken by "a real man".

When the gay come out, the fact that they are complete human beings that cannot be defined by their sexual orientation becomes obvious.

The following TV program seems to indicate that this tolerance also encompasses transsexuals.

ABC is staging a transphobic scene in order to see how ordinary Americans may act, and they do -- in fact -- come to her defense.

It is interesting to note how men, who are supposed to be more prejudiced in this area, decides to defend Chris, the transgender waitress (played by Carmen Carrera,  at ranswomen who clearly identifies as "transgender".)

It was Cheryl who made me aware of this video, and she says that she would wish they would "repeat the experiment with a TS who did not pass or who was not good looking."

That would be interesting, as it would indicate if the tolerance also extends to those transwomen who cannot (or will not) live up to the feminine ideal of the day.

ABC article on the show.
Carmen Carrera on Facebook.

May 4, 2012

A Transgender Psychology 3: The Shadow

Voldmort may be understood as Harry Potter's Shadow
In this post I will look into the role of archetypes in the development of the transgender psyche, focusing on the "dark side of the soul": The Shadow.

The discussion is based on a model developed by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung.

(Click here for the previous posts in this series).


One of the parts of Jung's theory that I find problematic, is that his categories have a tendency of becoming absolute.

He warns us against this, though, reminding us that the psyche is not a rational place organized on the basis of scientific principles. This is probably why some of his concepts contains contradictions that are hard to sort out.

The word "archetype" is, in my opinion, very useful. It is used to describe the natural basis of many psychological experiences.

The archetypes -- or "primordial images" -- are expressed through symbols in dreams and art. The symbols may vary from person to person and culture to culture, but the underpinning reality may be the same.

In fact, even the symbolic expressions of these archetypes are often very similar across cultural borders. It seems to me, for instance, that we in nearly all cultures find the image of the nurturing mother goddess.

Strongly inspired by a patriarchal Judaism, Christianity tried to get rid of the mother goddess, but lo and behold: She popped up again in the shape of the Virgin Mary. The Virgin Mary even took over associated symbols from the Sumerian goddesses, like the moon crescent and circle of stars.

In other words: There is a psychological need underpinning the appearance of such symbols, and that the basis for that need can be described as archetypes.

(For a critical discussion of the interaction between archetypes and the mind, see my post on the mind/body conundrum.)

Related to instincts

Jung compares the archetypes to biological instincts. In the same way there is a hunger instinct that causes the sensation of hunger and the desire for a burger, there is a mother archetype that shapes your attitude towards motherhood.

April 28, 2012

Transgender and the mind and body conundrum

An instinct for soccer.
Given the strong criticism om the very idea of using Jung for studying the transgender psyche, I think it is time for me to make clear what I mean about the interaction between mind and body and terms like "the inner woman" and "the inner man".

Can instincts and archetypes generate symbols?

In the discussions at this blog wxhlup has repeatedly criticized  me for arguing that crossdreaming may have a biological core.

Her argument argument seems to be that crossdreaming is an expression of symbols, semiotics or language, and instincts have no language. Instincts cannot be expressed in symbols, and therefore they cannot influence the way we think about ourselves and others.

Because of this, the argument goes,  it makes no sense to talk about "an inner woman"  or "inner man", as I do, or about  instincts or archetypes that shape the way we see the world. Instincts and archetypes are not cultural and therefore cannot be translated into language or symbols.

Similarly the biological base cannot generate the desire to be a man or a woman, since both sex and gender -- according to this line of thinking -- are social constructs and social constructs only.

If I understand this line of thinking correctly, this also means that Jung's idea of primordial biological patterns or archetypes influencing the content of dreams, myths and fantasies, must be wrong.

These symbols are not produced by the human body, but by the "language games", "schemata", "belief systems" or "semiotics" of human culture. They are produced by the "cultural software" and not the "biological hardware".

The role of symbols

I have actually learned a lot from the kind of post-structuralist philosophy wxhlup is so fond of. I have no doubt the cultural belief systems we grow up in wields enormous power over our way of understanding the world. That is: Our words and concepts and the word views they are part of, forces us to think in certain ways.

My deconstruction of the "autogynephilia" narrative of Ray Blanchard is indebted to the postmodern philosophy of Michel Foucault, and my constant nagging about the differences between the genders being negligible as regards abilities and personality traits is also based on this way of thinking.

April 24, 2012

The bigender sex switchers

A new study by Vilayanur S Ramachandran and Laura Case covers a transgender group that has gotten little if no coverage: the bigendered. These are people who experience a blending or alteration of gender states.

A new understanding of sex and gender

The variety of gender-challenging conditions seems to be growing day by day. Maybe it is the fact that scientists are finally beginning to realize that nature thrives on diversity and does not really care about our cultural stereotypes, or maybe it is caused by a morbid curiosity for new "perversions".

Regardless: The new concepts may make it easier for transgender people to gain respect for their humanity and unique abilities.

By the way: Vilayanur S. Ramachandran and Laura Case do not consider gender variants perverts or paraphilicas, and treat transgender with respect.

The study is based on a questionnaire sent out to members of a bigender internet forum. The researchers excluded individuals with personality and identity disorders.


The authors point out that sex and gender are most commonly considered a single entity, but dissociations between external morphology, gender identity, body image sex, and sexual orientation demonstrate that at least four components interact together create a consistent - or less consistent- sex and gender identity for any given individual:
" Bigender individuals who alternate gender present a unique case where single components of sex and gender may vary within an individual."
That is: one day the person may feel like a woman, the next as a man.  A majority of the respondents reported that their gender switches at least weekly.

April 20, 2012

Ponyo for Crossdreamers

Another conversation between Jack and his inner woman Jackie, this time on what the Japanese animated movie Ponyo has to teach transgender crossdreamers (Yeah! Really! And it has a bit about Jung too...)

I wrote this dialogue between Jack and Jackie over a year ago, but at the time I decided not to publish it, as I considered it too strange.

It probably wouldn't make much sense to most of you. Now that I have started presenting my Jungian approach to the transgender psyche in detail, however, I believe  it may be of help.

Ponyo certainly helped me understanding more of myself.

 JACK: What do you mean, I get too academic? This blog is born out of my own life struggle, dammit. It is not academic!

JACKIE: Of course it is academic, Jack. There are not many in the world who have spent more time than you on deconstructing the autogynephilia theory of Ray Blanchard.

Not all transgender crossdreamers, crossdressers or transsexuals are interested in that kind of thing.

JACK: Well, they should be!

JACKIE: Yeah, yeah, yeah... but they don't, so get over it! They want to share their life experiences, be seen, respected, affirmed, comforted.

JACK: This is a girl thing, isn't it?

JACKIE: I hope for your sake that that was a joke!

JACK: Of course it was. Now, what do you want me to write about?

Writing about Ponyo

JACKIE: I want you to write about Ponyo.

JACK: "Ponyo", the Studio Ghibli movie? You want me to write about a Japanese children's manga?

JACKIE: Yeah, that is what I want, and since I am the one with the female intituion, that is what you'll do.

JACK: But why?

JACKIE: Because the movie is about you and me!

JACK: Really? Ponyo is about you and me?

Sosuke and the gold fish

JACK: Let me see... The movie is about a five year old Japanese boy Sosuke who lives with his mother and father in a house at the top of a hill. His mother is working at a service center for the elderly and he goes to a kindergarten nearby. And yes, his father is a sea captain who is always absent... I fail to see...

April 16, 2012

A Transgender Psychology 2: The Ego and the Complexes

In my first post in this series I argued that there is a need to develop a language that makes it possible for transgender people to analyze and discuss their feelings and experiences.  I proposed that we make use of Carl Gustav Jungs's model of the psyche as a starting point for developing such a language.

Jung's model simplified

I have made an illustration of the model of Jung's in order to speed things up.

Think of the psyche as an onion. The whole onion constitutes the totality of the psyche. This totality, which consists of the psychic content you are aware of, the things you have suppressed and the parts of the psyche you still have not become conscious of,  he calls "the Self".

My interpretation of Jung's model of the psyche.  The sphere represents the totality of the psyche: "the Self".  The "normal" male psyche to the left, the female to the right. Click on image to enlarge!

I have tried hard to find texts where Jung discusses the transgender conditions. The closest I have come is a text where he writes about homosexuality. That text is relevant, and I will discuss it in a separate post, but please note that when I interpret crossdreaming and the transsexual experience within a Jungian framework, that is my interpretation, not Jung's.

The Persona

The outermost layer of the Self, the one directly visible to the world, is the Persona. The persona is the mask we show the world, a reflection of what we would like the world to see.

Jung says:

"The persona is a complicated system of relations between individual consciousness and society, fittingly enough a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and, on the other hand, to conceal the true nature of the individual." 
(CW 7 paras 305-9)

April 9, 2012

A Transgender Psychology 1: The Role of the Unconscious

Transgender people need a language that can be used to describe their feelings. In a series of posts I will see it it is possible to use Carl Gustav Jung's model of the psyche as a tool for understanding the various transgender conditions.

Transgender crossdreamers, crossdressers and transsexuals may go through periods of emotional pain and confusion.

The most scary part of their experience is the fact that they lack the language needed to make sense of it all. Their surrounding culture -- family and friends -- have no idea about what they are going through, as they all lack the necessary reference points.

Fear and loathing

For crossdreamers this is especially difficult, for the simple reason that sex is defined as a unique and separate sphere of living in Western culture. In spite of all the talk of sexual liberation and tolerance, sex remains sullied and unclean in the minds of many, especially the kind of sexual fantasies and practices that lie outside the limited repertoire of traditional vanilla marriages.

Indeed, to the extent other people do have concepts of men and women getting excited about the idea of being the other sex, these are often followed by feelings of revulsion and contempt. Most transgender therefore go through periods in life where they try to forget or suppress their feelings.

At this moment in time the only transgender narrative that is accepted by society at large, is the classical transsexual narrative. This is the story where a person completely and unequivocally identifies with the culturally defined gender role of the opposite sex, and who -- without any doubt -- express a wish to transition.

The "ideal" transgender is a therefore a person who never has had any doubts about his or her cross-sexual identity, even as a child, and who therefore can use the  traditional language of sex and gender to express his or her feelings. Moreover, he or she is very careful not to talk about his or her sexual desires.

In fact, the reason so many seem to accept this narrative is that it is not a threat to the dominating ideas of gender roles and sex identity. Homosexuality is much more threatening, as is any fantasy or identity that blurs the line between men and women.

March 24, 2012

A Young Crossdreamer's Tale

I got an email from an 18 year old crossdreamer a few days ago. I asked him for permission to publish it on this blog, as it describes how it may feel to be a crossdreamer in a clear and succinct way.

When we are alone with these feelings they may seem insurmountable. But the fact is that there are literally millions of men and women out there who have such feelings, and even more who fear being out of the norm. 

In fact, having studied gender and sexuality for quite some time now, I have come to the conclusion that most people are "abnormal" in one way or the other. Being rare is not rare and nature loves variation.

Note that this text contains some explicit language. To those of you who find that so offensive that you won't read it, I would say that you have lost the proper sense of perspective.

The life of Z

"Hello. My name is Z. I stumbled upon one of your blogs about a week ago. I read through articles and links for hours that day.

I can find no easy way to put this. I'm basically e-mailing you because you obviously understand the general situation I am experiencing. I thought typing this would be easier because I don't even know you AND we are from different countries but I find it almost impossible to even build up to say what I want to scream in my head.

I'm 18 and am trying to face my feelings. I'm in my last year of high school, I have an amazing fiancee, and some of the best friends I could ever ask for. I am estranged from most of my family but [has] the most supportive aunt. (...)

None of these things have any importance to you, I'm sure but they do help me come to what I want to say. 

Childhood dreams

"I have had these feelings as far back as being a small child, around 5 years old. I never cross-dressed (not until I after I met my beautiful fiance anyway), never had an interest in girly toys or anything like that. But I always thought about being a girl.

From early on I knew this was a taboo. Both my mother and step father taught me about sex and homosexuals and all that when I was still very small. They taught me being gay wasn't wrong and what mattered most was being happy. 

March 15, 2012

New study indicates that female chromosomes may make males more masculine

I am always taking biological research on sex and gender with a grain salt, as many of the studies are both reductionistic (in the sense of reducing amazingly complex phenomena to one or two variables) or plain out sexist.

I continue to read them, though, as many of them give additional input and additional perspectives that may be valuable in our journey towards a better understanding of transgender conditions.

Here is one such study.

Hormones in the womb

Remember that the ruling paradigm on the biological side of sex and gender research is that the sex of a boy or a girl is determined by pre-natal hormones, i.e. the hormones the fetus is exposed to before it is born.

"The predominant idea is that the difference between male and female behaviours is down to hormones," says Emilie Rissman at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. Male fetuses are exposed to testosterone from 4 weeks old, while females are not.

In this scenario the role of genes is reduced to being triggers deciding which hormones are to be produced and in what quantity. Because of this, sex variation -- including transsexuality -- may be understood as the result of genes not producing the normal amount of the  expected hormones. 

Rissman's team wanted to find out of if genes -- or, to be more precise, sex chromosomes -- could influence sex-specific behavior directly, i.e. beyond what could be expected from the pre-natal flow of hormones. 

Remember that the XY sex chromosome combination will normally make a boy, while the XX variant normally leads to the fetus becoming a girl.

XX does not a girl make

What they seem to have found is very unexpected: An extra set of female (sic!) genes appears to make males more -- not less -- masculine. And yes, the effect is not the result of the production of pre-natal hormones.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!