April 29, 2013

Crossdreamers on British TV: Moving On

I love American TV. The arrival of cable has let lose a wave of high quality creativity.  I have found very few empathic presentations of crossdreamers, crossdressers and other transgender peope, though.

Scene from "Dressed to Impress"
The Brits, on the other hand, has produced quite a few episodes giving a more realistic view of what it means to be different, and without the sexist bigotry that often follows.

Cheryl made me aware of Moving On, a British TV series with stand alone episodes, one focusing on the life of a young male to female crossdresser living with his working class parents.

It' s a bit like Crossdreamers meets Eastenders, if you know what I mean.

The story does not give an easy solution to anything. In fact, misunderstandings caused by the boy's crossdressing creates havoc between the parents.

But the BBC has managed to depict the boy with sympathy. Besides, it is good to see a young crossdresser for once, as the actor undermines the standard stereotype of ugly old "autogynephiliacs".

For the time being the full episode is available on YouTube. You can see for yourself.

April 20, 2013

The Transmasculine Women of Ancient Baghdad

Shereen El Feki's fascinating glimpse into the sex life of the Arab World, Sex and the Citadel, includes the  amazing story about female to male crossdreamers in ninth century Baghdad.

Some of the Jasmines of ancient Baghdad
preferred the life of Aladdin (Image: Disney)
As the story has it, the wife of Sultan Harun al-Rashid, Zubayda, was starting to get worried about their son, al-Amin.

My sources are divided as regards his sexuality. Feki argues he was attracted to men, while the Wikipedia article refers to his fascination for castrated  eunuchs. Regardless: There would clearly be no heir from the heir to this throne.

Al-Amin and his girlfags

But Zubayda was a resourceful woman. She dressed up some of the slave girls up as boys and cut their hair, in the hope that they would attract the attention of their son.

This  seemed to have worked. Al-Amin's favorite boyish slave girl was 'Arib, famous for her beauty and her intelligence -- a singer, poet, chess player and excellent horsewoman.

The story may perfectly well be true. If al-Amin was attracted to eunuchs, he would be what we today call gender queer rather than homosexual, probably with some kind of trans-fascination. If that was indeed the case, an interest in girls taking over the role as boys would not be out of the question.

Be that as it may, to me story sound a little bit like an after-rationalization -- an attempt by non-transgender people to explain the unexplainable: the ghulamiyyat of ancient Baghdad.

There is no doubt in my mind that many of these girls were indeed what I call female to male crossdreamers, and some shade of trans in the wide umbrella sense of that word.

The gulamiyyat

This is what El  Feki says about them:

"In ninth-century Baghdad, the hottest girls on the streets looked like boys. These were the ghulamiyyat -- a feminine derivative of the Arabic word for a young man.

"These women were a curious combination of male and female. The ghulamiyat dressed like men, yet wore makeup. While they plucked their eyebrows and painted their lips, they also drew on mustaches in musk. 

April 1, 2013

The love life of non-transsexual crossdreamers -- getting real

More and more crossdreamers are able to establish loving relationships with partners who accept their other side. Are we facing some kind of positive cultural shift?

I see from some of the emails I get, that some of my readers believe that I believe that all crossdreamers are transsexual. This is probably because I do write a lot about transsexual crossdreamers on this blog.
MTF crossdresser, photo: Olga Ekaterincheva

There are good reasons for this. 

Firstly, transsexual crossdreamers face challenges that deserves our attention, for their own sake. 

Secondly, I do not believe there is a clear cut divide between transsexual and non-transsexual crossdreamers. Non-transsexual crossdreamers can therefore learn something about themselves by listening to those that suffer from "gender dysphoria" or "gender incongruence," i.e. a complete mismatch between their inner sex identity and their bodies.

Most crossdreamers are not transsexual

That being said, it seems to me that many crossdreamers are not gender dysphoric. They are transgender (in the sense of belonging to a wide group of people challenging gender stereotypes), but not transsexual (in the sense of feeling that they are of the "opposite" sex).

Sure, quite a few of them may be deceiving themselves, using every trick in Psychiatry 101 to suppress their true identity. Still, it is also clear that many, if not most, crossdreamers are not gender dysphoric. This applies to both men and women.

Expressing the other side

These crossdreamers face different challenges than the transsexual ones. They need to find a way of including and expressing their crossdreams, while still identifying with their birth sex.

A male bodied crossdreamer who get aroused by the idea of being a woman, while still thinking of himself as a man, needs to find a way to express the other, feminine, side of his being.