December 25, 2014

How psychiatry and psychology have been used to suppress gender variance

We have to stop using psychiatric models and terminology that are clearly bigoted and aimed at upholding outdated views of sex and gender.

Modern psychiatry is moving from bigoted sexism to
more respect for sex and gender diversity
Illustration: Cienpies Design

There is a tendency in the crossdreamer and transgender debates to pretend that we are somehow having a kind of disinterested discussion, where scientific "facts" can be trusted to tell us what is the "objective truth" about sex and gender.

Since psychiatry has claimed the scientific authority over sexuality, sex identity and -- to a certain extent -- cultural gender, this means that we often go to psychiatrists and sexologist to find theories, models and narratives that can explain sex and gender variation.

Psychiatry and psychology are not exact sciences

There is nothing wrong in doing so, per se, as long as we keep in mind that psychiatrists (and psychologists) are like all other human beings: fallible and caught up in the prejudices of their time.

This only becomes a problem when we forget that the presence of a scientific-sounding terminology and a Ph.D. does not stop bigoted crap from being bigoted crap.

Psychiatry and psychology have been used to uphold political and social power-structures for more than a century.

From hysteria to autogynephilia

It wasn't that long ago psychiatrists fully believed that the diagnosis of "hysteria" (being over-emotional, seductive and displaying a lack of self control) could be used to describe the nature of the female sex in general.

It wasn't until 1980 the American Psychiatric Association acknowledged that the "histrionic personality disorder" (a less toxic name for hysteria) was "a caricature of femininity" (Tosh).

In the same way the medical term "nymphomania" was routinely used to invalidate women with a healthy appetite for sex. Since women were not supposed to be sexually aggressive, and many of the male doctors felt threatened by independent women, they used the term "nymphomania" as a scientific sounding way of branding these women "slut". In a similar way the "hysteria" diagnosis had been used to hospitalize and castrate feminists in the late 19th century.

My point is that we have to scrutinize all psychiatric theories about sex and gender to see if they are the product of cultural bigotry as well.

Psychiatry has been used to reinforce traditional gender roles

Having gone through many studies of the history of psychiatry, I am  convinced that diagnoses like "gender identity disorder", "transvestic fetishism", "transvestic disorder" and "autogynephilia" have much in common with "hysteria" and "nymphomania".

December 19, 2014

Magnus Hirschfeld's Theory of Transgender Intermediaries

The German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld presented a very radical theory of transgender and crossdreaming back in 1910, a theory that can enrich our understanding of sex and gender today.

Magnus Hirschfeld with friends. Hirschfeld with glasses, right.
In my previous post, I presented the German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld and his arguments against the tendency to pathologize transgender identities and sexualities.

While many -- if not most -- of the other sex researchers of his day developed elaborate classification schemes of sexual desire and sexual behavior in order protect the realm of imagined normalcy against "deviants" (see Tosh 2015), Hirschfeld mapped sex and gender variation for the exact opposite reason.

Elenea Mancini puts it this way in her book Magnus Hirschfeld and the Quest for Sexual Freedom:

"Hirschfeld canvassed and classified the rich diversity of people he encountered, not for the mere sake of accruing scientific data or accentuating that which separated certain groups of people from others, but rather to uncover the fundamental similarities between all people irrespective of their sexual orientation, identity, or ethnic and racial provenance. He did not establish hierarchies of qualities such as physical traits and characteristics or sexual practices. This gave his work a distinctive flavor in that it became not only an ethnographic recording of difference, but implicitly, a celebration of that difference as well." (p. 35)

Theory of intermediaries

What Hirschfeld suggests is an early incarnation of the non-binary continuum theory, i.e. that there is no clear and distinct boundary between the male and the female, the masculine and the feminine. He calls this his "theory of intermediaries" (Zwischenstufenlehre, literally: "the theory about the steps in between").

This theory of intermediaries applies to the physiological as well the psychological, as Hirschfeld understands it. In other words: He refuses to separate body from mind, biology from psychology. Instead he considers the human being as a complex system of mind and matter.

November 11, 2014

Magnus Hirschfeld's Understanding of Transgender People

It will probably come as a surprise when I say that the best book on transgender people  was published in 1910. It was written by the German scientist Magnus Hirschfeld, one of the pioneers of sexology. In this and the following blog post I will present his theory and explain why Hirschfeld's thinking remains very relevant.

The book, named Die Transvestiten, covered a wide variety of gender variant people. Hirschfeld used the word "transvestite" in the way we use "transgender" today -- as an umbrella term embracing both transsexuals, crossdressers, drag queens and other people transgressing the strict sex and gender binaries.

Transgender sexualities

Unlike many later researchers and activists he did not shy away from the sexual aspect of these various transgender expression, and freely talked about the erotic desires of his various patients and contacts, including erotic cross-gender fantasies.

Die Transvestiten contains a lot of historical examples of different forms of gender variance, including 17 elaborate presentations of crossdressing individuals, many of whom would have been classified as transsexual today. There is even a case of a woman wearing men's clothes daily, a female to male crossdreamer travelling the world, working in traditional male occupations.

Hirschfeld was the first theoretician who argued that crossdressing can exist independently of sexual orientation. Indeed, he noted that most of his cases were heterosexual (relative to birth sex). Hirschfeld claimed that among the "transvestites" he had encountered, 35% were homosexual, 35% heterosexual, and the rest asexual or bisexual.  (Mancini, p. 67)

The rainbow as something natural  

There is little here of the need to pathologize sexual variation and different gender expressions found among other sexologists of his (and our) time. Indeed, he is very critical of any theory that tries to set up an absolute divide between men and women, the masculine and the feminine, and then goes on to label those who do not live up to such divides as deviants.

He writes:

"The separation of humanity into male and female halves belongs to the doctrines and guiding principles that have crossed over into the flesh and blood of every person. Those who occupy themselves uniting opposites such as energy and matter, God and nature, one and all, body and soul, also unmistakably hold fast to the dualism of the sexes and, in fact, the masculine and the feminine are, in themselves, effective realities the duality of which admits no doubt." (p 17)

"But it is a mistake if one imagines that both are two fully separate entities, one from the other; to the contrary, the constantly present merging of both into one, the unending condition of mixing variables that begins with the man's semen and the woman's egg, each creating masculine-feminine, hermaphroditic organizations, this monism of the sexes is the core for the genesis and substance of the personality." (p. 17)

17 case studies

On the basis of the 17 case studies and other life histories he discusses possible explanations for transgender conditions, presenting the dominant scientific theories of the day. And this is where it gets really interesting, because most of the theories he discusses are more or less the same we find discussed today, more than 100 years later.  There has been practically no substantial progress in our understanding of crossdreamers, crossdressers and transsexuals.

September 25, 2014

Strong support for broad transgender and LGBT alliances found among gender variant people

The Crossdreamer Survey of Gender Variance shows that a great majority of gender variant people support broader transgender, queer and LGBT alliances.
Illustration by incomible

There has been a lot of discussion in transgender and queer circles about social, cultural and political collaboration.

This is partly a discussion on political convenience (they face similar types of oppression), and partly a discussion of what it means to be trans and/or queer.

The continuum interpretation

Since the early 1990s the dominant interpretation of the word transgender has been as an umbrella term embracing a wide variety of gender variant people, including crossdressers, drag queens, transsexuals and various shades of genderqueer.

The terms queer and genderqueer are normally understood to refer to those who fall outside the gender binary of strictly male and strictly female.

People supporting this position often believe in models describing continuums of both sexual orientation and gender variance. In other words: Transgender people may identify completely with one gender (their target gender), or they may see themselves as partly male and partly female or something outside the gender binary.

This kind of thinking is found both among gender variant people, the researchers studying them and the health personnel trying to help them.

The binary interpretation

Others focus more on the differences than the similarities between the different types of gender variant people. This especially applies to those who want to distinguish between transsexual men and women on the one hand and other gender variant people on the other.

They may argue that these two groups are fundamentally different (in the sense that the different "conditions" are caused by completely different phenomena), or that the problems they are facing are so different that it makes little sense for them to collaborate.

This position will be found among some representatives of the health systems, especially those who believe in more traditional gender norms, and among transsexual men and women who do not feel at home under the broader transgender umbrella. There are also gender variant people who do not like to be associated with transsexuals.

When we carried out our survey of gender variance, one of many objectives was to see if we could learn more about how gender variant people feel about collaboration and reciprocal support between various shades of queer and transgender, transsexuals included.

In this blog post we are going to present some preliminary findings from this survey. A more in depth analysis will follow later on.

September 21, 2014

The Crossdreamer Survey of Gender Variance, Some Preliminary Results

The Crossdreamer Survey on Gender Variance received 1202 responses, representing a wide variety of queer and transgender people. Here are some preliminary results.

In August we invited readers to fill in a survey on gender variance. There remains a lot of serious number crunching to do, but we would like to present some preliminary findings.

We have written a separate article that presents various methodological issues. Please read it if you have questions about why we carried out the survey the way we did.

Please note that this presentation is temporary. We will come back with an in depth analysis based on a more complex cluster analysis later on.

The number of respondents

All in all we received 1202 responses, out of which 1199 we consider valid and useful for analytical purposes.

1199 is a high response rate for a survey like this one. We are confident  that the data can be used to draw some general conclusions regarding the lives and attitudes of this group of gender variant people.

We were very much aware of the fact that the readers of are not necessarily representative for the population of gender variant people as a whole. With the help of our friends we therefore distributed the invitation to a large number of sites, forums and social media groups. (A warm thank you to all of those who helped us!)

We knew, however, that many of these channels were dominated by people assigned male at birth. To get input from more gender variant people assigned female at birth, we developed a separate (but similar) questionnaire to be published on tumblr. This invitation was eventually published on -- and reblogged by -- 105 different tumblr blogs. This second survey also gave us more data on the younger cohort.

More about the two sub-surveys

Here are the main numbers regarding the respondents:

The Survey (distributed via and forums and sites targeting crossdressers, crossdreamers and genderqueer people).
Number of respondents: 720 in all (out of which 718 will be used in the final analysis)
93% were assigned male at birth, 6% female.
The sample is dominated by adults, as shown in the figure below.

September 1, 2014

"I am something that does not exist!" (On queer schwulwomen, girlfags and guydykes)

In this guest blog post Ili tells about her life as schwul (girlfag). How do you explain something when the language you speak lacks the words for it, she asks, and when the culture you live in doesn't see it as possible? 
American comedian Margaret Cho modelling
the girlfag T-shirt over at Beyond the Binary

Guest post by Ili 
Note: I will use the German word schwul for “gay male” in this article because English has no single word for the concept, and because schwul has a subtly different meaning from "gay male".

A great many English-speakers are offended by the English term "girlfag," given that both"girl" and "fag" are at least potentially pejorative - a linguistic battle to which nobody has yet figured out a workable solution. Perhaps the German schwule mädchen will eventually be adopted into English.
I am something that many people will tell you does not exist. Schwulwomen (“girlfags”) and lesbian men (“guydykes”) cannot, by current gender-bound linguistic standards, be real.

While the advent of trans identities in the last few decades has brought significant changes in the meanings of “man” and “woman," the words “
schwul and “lesbian” still have rigid definitions, even within the LGBTQ communities: only men can be schwul, only women can be lesbians. Anything else isn’t possible, per definition.

And yet I, as well as an uncountable but significant number of men and women like me, feel strongly that we are these impossible identities, the schwul female, the male lesbian. To say that these identities are problematic is to understate the case dramatically.

Thinking the impossible

To begin with, it often takes years, perhaps even decades, for a nascent girlfag or guydyke to realize her or his tendencies. A woman may identify with schwul culture since puberty – but until she accepts the "impossible," she may think she’s crazy, or the only one of her kind. She may try for years to reconcile herself to normative heterosexuality - after all, she likes guys, she must be straight, right?

August 18, 2014

Take Part in our Survey on Gender Variance!

You are invited to take part in our survey on gender variance and cross-gender expressions, identities, concepts and fantasies.
Illustration:Robert Churchill

The objective is to gain a better insight into the self conception and ideas of gender variant people of all shades and colors.

These include -- but are in no way not limited to -- crossdressers, crossdreamers, transsexuals, drag queens and drag kings, girlfags and guydykes, non-binary identities, queer and genderqueer.

The results will be published on the Crossdreamers blog, but the data will also be made available to researchers.

The survey is completely anonymous. You will not be asked for your name or email address, and we have no way of tracking your real identity. 


August 17, 2014

The Gay Male Friends of Girlfags

In spite of what the girlfag-bashers on tumblr say, gay men are not the enemies of girlfags and female to male crossdreamers.
Katharine Hepburn, the girlfag

Tumblr is one of the favorite social tools of the new generation, including male to female crossdreamers and girlfags.

Some of you will have noticed that I have put up a tumblr blog in order to get in touch with them. My wife, Sally, is also blogging on transgender issues over there.

(By girlfags I mean female bodied persons who are attracted to gay and bisexual men. A majority of them can be understood as female to male crossdreamers, as they express some kind of masculine sexuality and/or identity.)

The young and restless

One strength of tumblr is that the audience is young. 66% of all visitors are under the age of 35, while 39% are under 25 years old. If you want to know about their interests and problems, this is the place to go.

On the other hand, the young age of the majority of users is also a problem, as some of them have still not developed the social antennas needed to sense the suffering of others. Some are also too angry and frustrated to treat people with love and respect. Tumblr is like a school yard where the bullies roam unsupervised.

Bullies and trolls

I have rarely seen so much aggression and hate. The girlfags are targeted by some bloggers. Some of them are separatist "truscum" FTM transsexuals, who clearly see the female bodied crossdreamers as a threat to their own social acceptance.
Another one with Hepburn

The standard argument is that girlfags are "sexual fetishists", who are objectifying and preying on gay men. And yes, the autogynephilia theory has been used, as well.

Because I defend these fellow crossdreamers, many of them believe I am a young girlfag. This has made me the target of much aggressive misogyny. The levels of irony in this scenario are mind-boggling.

Gay men accept girlfags

But here's the thing: I find no such hostility towards girlfags among gay men in general.

My girlfag friends report the same. Their gay male friends are just that: friends. They accept them in the same way they accept the "fag hags". The whole "fetish" argument makes little sense to them, probably because gay male culture has a lot of "fetishistic" expressions of the gay identity.

I am going to share a quote with you which illustrates this. It was written by a gay man in a girlfag Facebook group. I have his permission to republish it.

August 10, 2014

Input on Crossdreamer Survey

I am planning a short survey where I ask readers of this blog and the Crossdream Life forum about their lives and ideas.

Photo: Andrey Popov
I would, for instance, like to ask you questions about gender identity, how open you are about your crossdreaming, what you think causes crossdreaming, and how you feel about being (or not being) part of the transgender alliance.

Are there any questions you would like to see included?

Are there any methodological traps I should avoid?

You could add a comment to this post or reply over at Crossdream Life.

Thank you for your help!

August 3, 2014

What is crossdreaming?

Crossdreaming means dreaming about being  another gender. 

Crossdreamers are people who dream about being another gender than the one they are presenting as.

Crossdreaming explained

The term crossdreaming was originally coined to describe the phenomenon that some people get aroused by the idea of being the "other sex" (relative to the gender assigned to them at birth).

Since then the term has gained a broader meaning and is now used in reference to all kinds of cross-gender expressions, dreams and fantasies, erotic or not erotic.

Crossdreamers are found everywhere

I found that although such fantasies are quite common in transgender circles (I use the word "transgender" in its broad umbrella sense here, covering all types of gender variance). Indeed, recent research documents that we find cross-gender and embodiment fantasies among all kinds of people: Cis and trans, straight and gay, female, male and nonbinary. However, very few talk about such fantasies, and especially not about the erotic kind.

This is mainly caused by the fact that crossdreaming is taboo in most contemporary cultures. This especially applies to so-called Western societies, and to male bodied crossdreamers more than to those assigned female at birth. 

 People have a tendency of looking down at men who feel an affiliation with anything female. Add sexual feelings to the mix, and you are immediately facing a lot of prejudices. This negative view of male to female transgender feelings and expressions is also reflected in some of the relevant research.

This silence is causing a lot of unnecessary confusion, repression and shame. In my experience, anything that becomes such an important part of people's lives reflects a side of their personality that needs to be understood and integrated, regardless of what causes the phenomenon. 

We need to talk about this. That's why I made this blog.

The diversity of crossdreamers

In my discussions with crossdreamers and transgender people I have found that there are crossdreamers assigned female at birth and crossdreamers assigned male. Some identify with their assigned gender, others with their target gender, and some identify with both genders or neither. 

July 14, 2014

Summer Break, Comments Down

Photo: Ellen Smile will take a three week holiday.

In this period we will close down the comment section.

Welcome back to new interesting discussions in August!

July 5, 2014

All you need to know about "autogynephilia"

Here is all you need to know about Ray Blanchard's "autogynephilia" theory about transgender women and male assigned people who dream about being "the other gender".

With irregular intervals there pops up a new article discussing Ray Blanchard's "autogynephilia" theory, often written by someone who knows enough about crossdreaming to be interested, but not enough to see through the jargon of Blanchard.

Autogynephilia times two.
Photo: Dmitrii Kotin
This is a comment I wrote as a reply to Joseph Burgo's recent article on autogynephilia.

"Autogynephilia", huh?

Blanchard argues that there two separate types of transgender, both defined by the sexual orientation of the transgender person. The theory covers both male to female crossdressers and trans women, but the vocabulary refers mostly to trans women.

The first type is the "homosexual transsexual" (by which he means trans women attracted to men). These are effeminate gay men who transition in order to attract straight men, according to Blanchard.

The other is the "autogynephilic transsexual" (those who are not attracted to men). These he considers heterosexual paraphiliacs (perverts) who are sexually attracted to the image of themselves as female. Neither Blanchard nor his supporter J. Michael Bailey, recognize any of these as women.

Blinded by Science

Needless to say, the Blanchard model invalidates the identities of trans women. And from where I am standing it is also clear that the theory does not reflect the real lives of non-transsexual crossdreamers and crossdressers.

We live in a culture, however, where scientists are expected to be disinterested and objective, while the trans activists are -- for obviously reasons -- both emotionally and existentially involved in what's being said about them. This has led some to believe Blanchard (who is not transgender) knows more about transgender issues than transsexual women, crossdreamers and crossdressers.

Let me therefore make this perfectly clear: The theory has been thoroughly falsified and dismissed, also by scientists.

Here are some of the main arguments raised against it:

1. Crossdreaming is not limited to men who love women

The "autogynephiliacs" are defined by what I have called crossdreaming. Crossdreamers may get aroused by the fantasy of being their target sex. The androphilic trans women ("homosexual transsexuals" in Blanchard's misleading and offending terminology, i.e. those who are attracted to men) never experience such fantasies, according to Blanchard.

June 16, 2014

A Transgender Novel Discussing "Autogynephilia" - Imogen Binnie's Nevada

Imogen Binnie has written a novel about the lives of two male to female crossdreamers. And yes, you should read it!
Photo of Imogen Binnie byJulie Blair 

There have been novels about crossdreaming before (Ernest Hemingway's Garden of Eden comes to mind), but I have never seen one who includes a discussion of the concept of "autogynephilia" (defined as men who get aroused by the idea of being women).

Imogen Binnie's Nevada does. And it does so because it is about two male to female crossdreamers: one lesbian punk trans woman, Maria Griffith, and one MTF crossdreamer living as a  heterosexual man: James.


It is a roller-coaster ride of a book, completely unlike any trans autobiography you might have read.

The language is colorful and explicit, and Binnie does not sugarcoat the lives of transgender people. Both James and Maria are suffering from the kind of traumatic stress disorder that gender confusion can bring. They are struggling with self acceptance, and find it hard to believe and embrace the love of others.

Maria is definitely intellectualizing  in an attempt to avoid feeling the hurt.

Crossdreaming unfiltered

Unlike many trans authors Binnie does not hide the crossdreaming -- i.e. the fact that trans people, being those crossdressers, transsexuals or other gender variant persons, may get aroused by the idea of being their target sex. She faces it head on, bringing it out into the open.

June 3, 2014

Janet Mock and Laverne Cox Embrace a Broad Interpretation of Transgender

Janet Mock and Laverne Cox are supporting the
transgender umbrella. Photo: Jamie McCarthy
Trans activists Janet Mock and Laverne Cox supports a wide definition of the word transgender. Mock's new book explains why.

Janet Mock's new autobiography should be obligatory reading for everyone interested in trans issues, and for various reasons. 

One is the fact that she throws light upon why some transsexual people feel such a need to invalidate other members of the transgender family.

Getting validation as a "real woman"

Mock tells the story about how she as a young transsexual woman ended up distancing herself from other trans people, insulting them in the process.

She writes:

"Growing up, I learned that being trans was not something you did take pride in; therefore, I yearned to separate myself from the dehumanizing depictions of trans women I saw in popular culture..."

Mock starts out by pointing out that umbrella terms like transgender can cause difficulties, as society often blurs the lines between drag queens and trans women.

This is highly problematic, Mock says, because this causes many people to believe that trans women, like drag queens, go home, take off their wigs and chest plates, and walk around as men:

"Trans Womanhood is not a performance or costume. As [Mock's friend] Wendi likes to joke, 'A drag queen is part-time for show-time, and a trans woman is all the time!"

Gender dysphoric drag queens and crossdressers

Still, when Mock does not dismiss the broader transgender alliance (or end up as truscum), this is because she learned to know drag queens and divas personally, and found that many of them are, in fact, transsexual women.

May 28, 2014

How I found out my husband is a woman inside and what happened next

Photo: Robin Beckham
Buried Treasure, a Love Story

By Sally Molay, Guest Blogger

Different but the same
Where I stumble across the surprise of my life

"He is no different than he was yesterday. He is straight and he loves me."

These were the first thoughts I put on paper after I found out that my husband, Jack, is transgender, a woman in a man's body.

I was literally dizzy for days, and very frightened. But I was also eager to find the truth about the man I loved and I was overwhelmed thinking about how lonely he must be carrying this huge secret, scary on his own, how frustrated and sad. My heart was breaking for him. (Pronouns are difficult in this case. I use the ones Jack use.)

This is how I found out: I stumbled across his pseudonymous twitter account, which linked to a blog authored by the same pseudonym, a person living as a man, but perceiving himself as a woman. Some days later, I gathered the courage to read more and learned that, in his own words, he was attracted to women and happily married. Knowing this gave me a measure of security.

But so much remained unresolved: If I confronted him, would he freak out? Would I freak out? Would I still be attracted to him, knowing there was a female identity inside the body of the man I loved? The blog went back seven years. Could I live with the fact that he had kept this from me all that time? Could we make it work?

May 19, 2014

Anne Vitale on Crossdreaming in Middle Age

What happens to gender dysphoric crossdreamers when they enter middle age?
Illustration photo by Volodina

The psychotherapist Anne Vitale has written a very interesting book on various transgender conditions -- including various shades of crossdreamer -- called The Gendered Self.

I am taking the liberty of quoting the book liberally, as I think the book contains an important discussion of the gender identity struggles of adult crossdreamers, crossdressers and transgender.

Gender expression deprivation anxiety

Vitale points out that mid-life brings up new challenges for what I call crossdreamers -- especially the gender dysphoric ones (i.e. those that suffer from what Vitale calls "gender expression deprivation anxiety").

"Decades of trying to overcome their increasing gender expression deprivation anxiety begins to weigh heavily on the individual. Family and career are now as deeply rooted as they will ever be. The idea of starting over as a different sex seems impossible."

These persons often show up in therapy offices with symptoms mimicking depersonalization disorder, depression or generalized anxiety disorder, Vitale points out. They complain of panic attacks, irritability, sleeping disorder, inability to concentrate and weight loss.

Some disconnect from their families emotionally. Others find it hard to keep up their job performance. Some get suicidal at this stage.

The problem is that the feeling of dissonance does not go away as you get older. It might just as well get stronger.

The life of John

Vitale tells the story about John, a 51 year old male assigned medical research scientist, married for over 20 years and with three children, who came to her after a severe panic attack.

May 12, 2014

On the Various Shades of Transgender

Photo: anopdesignstock 
On why it is impossible to draw firm and unambigious borders between the different shades of transgender.

faekingit over at tumblr asked the following question:

"Though I’ve seen other people do this before, I’m curious to get my own responses.

Yes, I’m truscum, but I’m open to listening to answers without flipping out and threatening you with death or something. I probably won’t even reply unless there’s something I want to correct.

And the question is this - what exactly makes you another gender if you don’t experience sex/body dysphoria (not dysmorphia, keep in mind the difference)? How do you feel, say, in the case of a demiboy, “partially male”, without using gender roles and stereotypical expectations and gender expression to describe it? Answers are appreciated; ignore it if you want since I’m “disgusting true scum”.

The question forced me to try to simplify the complex matter of sex, gender and transgender in a way that makes sense, even for those who do not know all of the background. It is an impossible task really, but this was my attempt:

"I am gender dysphoric, so I can relate to your view of the world. But let me try to answer, anyway, as I believe much of the fighting going on in this area is caused by some basic misunderstandings.

People do not agree on what they mean by gender. In the social sciences it refers to culturally defined mores and ideas. In biology it refers to the end effect of a complex interplay of biological, environmental and social factors. Needless to say, your choice of point of view here makes a huge difference.

Blank slate vs. biology

Personally I find the "blank slate" idea of everything sex and gender being cultural or political hard to understand. We are also animals, with all the instincts and drives that this entails.

But it is equally clear that much of what people understand as typically male or female is cultural. Female liberation has shown us that there are few differences between the sexes as regards personality traits, abilities, temperaments and expressions.

Dimensions of gender

So none of the following dimensions alone determine whether you are a man or a woman. Nor can they be used to decide whether you feel like a man or a woman:

1. Personality traits, including abilities
2. Sexual orientation
3. Genitals and other bodily features
4. Femininity or masculinity, in the sense of a drive towards expressing whatever your culture defines as being such.

May 9, 2014

Survey of truscum transsexual separatists

raeltran over at tumblr has published a survey of truscum.

Truscum is a predominantly online phenomenon playing out on the social media site tumblr. This is group of transsexuals who are trying to appropriate the word "transgender" for themselves, and forbid non-transsexual gender variant people from using it. For some reason they feel embarrassed by using the word transsexual, but think the term "true scum" is a good one.
Photo: Bs/Wei, thinkstock

I am not sure to what extent this survey is representative, but if it is, it gives us some interesting information about the composition of the  truscum  separatist tribe.

1. Most of them are female to male transsexual.

Unlike the previous separatist movement, the "Classic Transsexual/HBS tribe", they are men (assigned female at birth).

This rhymes with my general impression: The younger generation of trans women are not following the separatist line. This also helps explain the lack of co-operation between the old female and the new male  generation of separatists.

2. The truscum are young. 

Over 80 percent are between 15 and 25 years old.

This may partly explain their lack of knowledge of transgender history. It seems to me that most of them truly believes the word "transgender" equals "transsexual". I do not think they are lying or trying to deceive (at least not most of them). This paradox can only be explained them lacking an understanding of transgender history.

3. 75 percent are white and  73 percent are American. 

All the respondents come from English speaking, Anglo-Saxon/Irish, countries.

In short: We are talking about a movement predominantly driven by American white men.  This may partly explain their desperate need to purify the word transgender from crossdresser/crossdreamer/genderqueer contamination.

In the US we see an increasing acceptance of transsexuals following the traditional "men trapped in a woman's body" narrative. We do not see a similar acceptance of non-dysphoric and non-transitioning transgender people, who often are considered sexual perverts by "experts" and laypeople alike. In other words: Expelling crossdressers, crossdreamers, girlfags and other questionable individuals from the transgender movement may allay any suspicions people have of the truscum being "unclean".

That being said: The great majority of truscum accepts that non-binary identities are valid with gender dysphoria.  In this they differ from the previous generation of separatists, where most required gender dysphoria and a strong identification with the traditional interests, abilities and temperaments of their target sex.

See also:
"You are not one of us!" said the separatist transsexualTruscum and the Transgender War of Words

realtran has also written a post on the reception of the survey, which is worth reading.

PDF-version of survey (date May 9 2014)

May 6, 2014

What happens to crossdressing and crossdreaming in the ICD-11 manual?

As noted in my previous post, the recent edition of the Amercian psychiatric manual, the DSM-5, has gone a long way towards depathologizing some transgender conditions. Gender dysphoria, for instance, is no longer considered a mental illness.
Peggy Cohen-Kettenis

Note that DSM subworking-group members Peggy T. Cohen-Kettenis and Jack Drescher are also members of the World Health Organization’s Working Group on the Classification of Sexual Disorders and Sexual Health.

This group will address sex and gender diagnoses in WHO's forthcoming revisions of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).  That manual is expected to be published in 2017. The WHO most often follow up changes made in the DSM.

The current manual has two different sections on crossdressing,  one clearly referring to what I call crossdreaming, and one referring to the mythical mirage of the asexual crossdresser. It is all pretty bizarre, if you ask me. (More about this here!)

Some countries have already made changes to the current ICD-10 edition, removing the sections on "transvestism".

In a recent paper the ICD-11 Working Group on the Classification of Sexual Disorders and Sexual Health, states that it "believes it is now appropriate to abandon a psychopathological model of transgender people based on 1940s conceptualizations of sexual deviance and to move towards a model that is (1) more reflective of current scientific evidence and best practices; (2) more responsive to the needs, experience, and human rights of this vulnerable population; and (3) more supportive of the provision of accessible and high-quality healthcare services."

Before the a preliminary WPATH consensus meeting the working group had proposed the term "transsexualism" to "gender incongruence", moving gender incongruence out of the chapter on mental and behavioral disorders, and deleting the categories "dual role transvestism" and "fetishistic transvestism".

In other words: Not only is the ICD-11 process moving in the same positive direction as the DSM; it is taking this process further, suggesting that one removes crossdressing and crossdreaming altogether.

If the ICD-11 takes crossdressing and crossdreaming out of its manual, it will be very hard for the Americans to keep the "transvestic disorder" in the  DSM.

May 2, 2014

What the DSM-5 says about terms like transgender, transsexual and gender dysphoria

The recent edition of the American psychiatric manual, the DSM-5 distinguishes clearly between the broader umbrella term transgender and the much narrower term transsexual. The text gives, in fact, a pretty good summary of the dominant model of gender variance. It is time transgender people get a chance to read it.

In the transgender debate words like "transgender", "transsexual" and "gender dysphoria" are used often without there being any clear, common understanding of what the terms really mean.
Photo: Janka Dharmasena

Unfortunately sex and gender is one of the most controversial topics around. We need love to thrive and be happy, and any real or perceived threat against the possibility of finding real love and affirmation as a sexual being can therefore be life threatening.

Because of this people seem to be willing to do anything to be included in the category of "normal", to the point of excluding other  people from the transgender community, often by attempting to  take full control over the meaning of essential words.

The purification of the term transgender

This especially applies to so-called transsexual separatists. Some of them redefine the word "transgender" to mean any gender variant person who is not like them ("classic transsexuals" and the HBS tribe). Transgender people can therefore not be "real transsexual women", as they see it.

Lately we have also seen separatists who want to appropriate the word "transgender", in effect redefining it to mean the same as the word "transsexual" (the truscum tribe). The end result is the same: The expulsion of all transgender people who do not adhere to their idea of what it means to be a real woman or a real man.

April 4, 2014

New Study Dismisses the Autogynephilia Approach to Transgender

Are there really two types of transgender people, or are there only different blends of characters and personality traits? This may seem like a purely academic question, but the answer has actually strong repercussions for how people look at both crossdreamers and transsexuals.
Different but the same
Illustration photo by Tomwang112/thinkstock.

In a new paper, Dr. Jaimie F. Veale, brings new evidence that the various shades of male to female transgender are indeed variants of something related, and not two distinct categories.

The two types of trans women

One common idea regarding male bodied transgender people (including transsexual women) is that there are two distinct types.

Since most of this research is on transsexual women the types are often referred to as late onset and early onset, referring to when they used to go to the heath system to get help transitioning.

Both health personnel and researchers noticed early on that the ones transitioning late in life where more likely to be sexually attracted to women, while the early onset were more likely to be attracted to men.

Since all healthy women were supposed to be attracted to men, the early onset ones soon became the model for the perfect transsexual woman. Indeed, as some transsexual women scrambled to get access to the group of real women, the two categories became more than practical descriptive categories used to discuss the different variations of transgender. Now they were referring to tow distinct phenomena, with completely different causes, an A team and a B team.

Are the differences categorical or dimensional?

In her new paper on Dr. Ray Blanchard's variant of the two type typology, Dr. Jaimie F. Veale refers to this as the difference between what she calls categorical constructs (as in the difference between cats and dogs) and dimensional constructs  (as in the difference between black and white cats). A categorical difference is one of either/or, while a dimensional difference refers to a continuum.

March 26, 2014

From MTF Crossdreamer to Transsexual Woman

Those who have followed this blog post for a while, know that I believe that there is a wide variety of crossdreamers, some of them transsexual, some of them not. Most (?) crossdreamers and crossdressers
Photo: fatchoi/iStock
do not feel the kind of deep misalignment between body and sex identity that transsexual men and women experience. But some do, and we can all learn something from them.

Heather made some comments about her crossdreaming here at this blog some two years ago. Now she is back as the woman she has always been. She has given me permission to publish her new comments as a blog post. The headlines are mine.


Guest post by Heather Roslyn

I have been thinking that perhaps I should come back and post a follow-up here as it has been some time since I originally posted my story on this thread July 3rd 2012. A great deal has happened in my life since then.

The AGP/Crossdreamer descriptions were something of a stepping stone for me, a language of self-discovery that helped me come to terms with who I am and have always been.

Beyond repression

After a lifetime of hiding, I finally came to terms with the truth that I had been transgender all my life, repressing it for years with what can only be described as unbearable guilt and self-loathing.

In the months following my original posts here I began gender therapy for the first time in my late fifties. Despite the fear and resignation I expressed in my earlier posts, it gradually became clear that I could not go on repressing my true feelings. After once again nearly taking my life one day, I finally concluded that I would have to transition to female to survive.

March 25, 2014

A Creative Transgender Vocabulary - from Butch to Woodworking

Photo by Jayfish, Thinkstock
Here is the final post in my Crossdreamer Vocabulary. In this post I include the remaining letters of the alphabet (W and beyond) as well as entries that have been suggested by others (and me) since the first post.

Remember that these entries are not so much dictionary definitions as mini blog posts on topics of relevance to crossdreamers and transgender people.


A butch is a lesbian woman who expresses a strong masculine identity.Her masculinity is real, and her butch appearance is her way of expressing that identity.

In spite of what many people believe, she is not necessarily  imitating men, although she will often make use of clothing of symbols associated with male masculinity. She may also express some of the personality traits associated with men. Many butches will, for instance, stress the role of being their lover's protector.

Butches may often hook up with more feminine "femme" lesbians, but butch/butch relationships are not unheard of. If you are searching for simple models of sex and gender, this is not the place to look.

Photo by Scott Griessel, Thinkstock
The reason crossdreamers should study the loves of butches is found in the similarity between some female to male crossdreamers and lesbian butches. Some (but in no way all) FTM crossdreamers express a masculinity similar to the one of butches, the main difference being their sexual attraction to men as opposed to the lesbian desire for women. This tells me that sexual orientation is not the only way of approaching the mysteries of sex and gender.

Note also the similarities between the butch/FTM trans man debate and the discussion of the relationship between crossdressers/crossdreamers and transsexuals on the other. There is no clear border between being butch and being a female to male trans man. Many trans men starts out as butches. In the same way many  trans women start out as crossdreamers. In spite of this, transsexuals and non-transsexual gender variant people spend a lot of time distancing themselves from the other group, most likely because they fear that the other group implicitly threaten their sex identity.

Many butches crossdream, in the sense of getting aroused by taking on the traditional male role in seduction and love making. The art of "packing" strap-on dildos as part of the ritual tells me that this crossdreaming also includes the bodily aspect.

Cultural dissonance

My friend Natalie from Thailand suggested that I include the term "cultural dissonance" in the transgender vocabulary. She writes:

 "This one I feel refers to how many enlightened and educated transgender and other gender-variant folks and even homosexuals/bisexuals suddenly feel a sense of total alienation/isolation in the respective cultures they are brought up in after they learn about their condition either from internet or from other sources. 

"Not because of the fact that they are different from the norm (which they anyways have felt forever) but because of the simple realization that their society is not aligned along the way they feel it should be to accommodate such a huge gender and sexual diversity, and also the awareness that such a massive change may not even take place for long unless a huge cultural war takes place soon.

March 11, 2014

The latest Crossdreamer and Transgender posts from XD Express

XD Express is my tumblr blog for quick and targeted posts about crossdreaming and transgender issues. I have also found myself using it as some kind of rapid deployment blog for the defense of harassed girlfags.

Comic by Humon presenting the
love life of bonobos.
From the blog post on transgender animals.
Click on image to enlarge!
There is a lot of aggression on tumblr, where some transgender people spend more time on hurting each other than fighting their real opponents out there. Which is a shame.

But this is what societies based on fear of gender ambiguity do to people. We all try to find a dry spot of normalcy in a big sea of social exclusion, and if that means drowning other trans people in the process, so be it!

The real trick is to help the people find themselves, without adding fuel to the fire.

Here are recent some posts that might be of interest:

How to Effectively Invalidate Marginalized People!
I present the the concept of "Master Suppression Techniques", which are used all the time in order to invalidate crossdreamers, girlfags and transsexuals.

Transgender animals  
I present some wonderful comics which illustrate the diversity of sex and gender in the animal kingdom. They prove that our normal concepts of "natural" and "unnatural" are very narrow, indeed!
Some transgender bloggers have developed cisphobia, an intense hatred of non-transgender people. Some may think "cissie" is a good pun on "sissy". I think it is horrible!

Dear Truscum: This is What the Word Transgender Actually Means.
Unlike the previous generation of transsexual separatists, who hated the word "transgender", the new one tries to appropriate it. I wrote this blog post as a possible reference point for future discussion. I prove that you do not have to suffer from gender dysphoria to call yourself transgender.

Is Gender Really Nothing More Than a Performance?
Reflections of Julia Serano's response to  post-structuralists reducing everything gender to language and performance.

Yes, there may be such a thing as an inborn sex identity!
A short reminder to those that think that sex and gender is nothing but culture. I am pretty much convinced it is the end result of an interaction between nature and nurture, and that the nature/nurture divide maybe was a mistake in the first place.

Do you know what a girlfag is? Really?
Girlfags, and in particular female to male crossdreamers, have been under intense attack on tumblr. The usual refrain is that they are nothing but fetishists. 

See also these blog posts: On the girlfag and guydyke issueGirfags, crossdreamers and trans men and Stop the Harassment of Girlfags!
Memes and illustrations

Tumblr is a very different platform and community from Blogger. The most efficient way of communicating is by pictures and short "memes". I have published a few of my own over there:
Click on image to enlarge!

March 3, 2014

On Getting Your Identity Affirmed (The Rayka & Jack Crossdreaming Dialogue 3)

Last year I had a very interesting email conversation with Rayka, a young Iranian girlfag and female to male crossdreamer. This is part three of our edit of that conversation. Part 1 can be found here.
How do you get accepted for who you
are, if there are no words to describe
who you are?
(Photo: Stockbyte)

In this part we discuss the difference between gender roles, gender traits and gender identity. We also look at what the lack of visibility, recognition and affirmation means for you mental health.

(About words: A crossdreamer is someone who gets excited by the idea of being or becoming the other sex. A girlfag is female bodied person with a strong affinity to gay male culture and who may imagine herself being a gay man with a gay man).

A difference between MTF and FTM crossdreamers

At first I believed that the main difference between MTF [male to female] and FTM [female to male] crossdreamers was the FTM focus on gay men and gay relationships. In MTF erotica the relationships are just as often male vs. female. It as if there has to be a male involved for many MTF crossdreamers to feel affirmed as woman in their fantasies. If you ask them, however, whether they are truly attracted to men, they will say no.

I have made myself "a sexual orientation test", asking selected MTF dreamers the following: "Go down the main street of your town. At the end list up the people you remember. If the majority is female, you are predominantly gynephilic [sexually attracted to women]."

This applies to me, as well. I am attracted to women and not to men. I do believe I have a preliminary solution to the puzzle, though, and I got it when I read a wonderful lesbian love story written by a MTF crossdreamer I know. The story is widely read by lesbians. I doubt very much if a man would be able to write such a story if he didn't have some kind of inner female identity. The point is that if you remove the erotic part, the crossdream that remains is the dream of a lesbian romantic relationship.

Maybe you can come up with an explanation for why FTM crossdreamers do not need to be a man with a woman in their fantasies to have their masculinity affirmed.

Words for what we are

I realize that it must be hard for you to even try explain what you are to your friends, given that the only terms are lesbian and trans. I have tried to use the term "straight gays" to explain this to non-trans friends. Sometimes it works, sometimes it causes even more confusion.

How it feels to be a girl

You wonder how it feels to be a girl with a girl´s emotions. I can completely relate to this. "How can you possible now how it feels to be a girl?"some people ask. My reply is much like yours: "Í have absolutely no idea how it feels to be a man!" But I do know what if feels to be human, and have found that most of what it means to be a man or a woman is something we have in common.

February 21, 2014

Is Crossdreaming really Transphobic and Cissexist?

I have been active over at tumblr lately, partly because of reports of harassment of girlfags and crossdreamers and partly because of so-called "truscum" (separatists FTM trans men) who are trying to throw crossdressers and gender queer people out of the transgender family.
Photo: Tomwang112

This has been a fascinating journey into a world of conspiracy theories and hazing, invalidation and marginalization.

But I have also learned to know many courageous, creative and intelligent crossdreamers and trans people, transsexual as well as non-transsexual, who stand up to the abuse, defending their right to define their own identity.

Weaponizing science and philosophy

What really fascinates me is the way some people are weaponizing philopsophy and science in order to put down people who threatens their point of view. In this post I am going to use  Mahō Shōjo Naomi's presentation of me and my Crossdreamer blog as an example.

This is an interesting attempt at developing a narrative aimed at undermining the legitimacy of your opponent, by presenting a clever mix of half truths and untruths.

I believe it is extremely important for gender variant people, including crossdreamers, crossdressers and genderqueer, to understand and see through these techniques.

I guess that the main reason for all this hurt is that most of us, consciously or unconsciously, have bought into the idea that there is something wrong with us, and that we are diseased, perverted or abnormal. This leads to a desperate scramble for a dry spot, where we at least appear a little bit more normal than all the other "freaks" out there. As one crossdreamer told me: "Thank God! At least I am not gay!" We had a loooong conversation about that one, believe me!

The messages I get from especially girlfags on tumblr, tells me that this quest for gender purity they can be extremely damaging to their self esteem and undermine their ability to explore their identity.

Define your opponent as transphobic from the start!

Mahō Shōjo Naomi calls herself a transfeminist. From what I can see from her blog, she and I are not really that far apart as regards our views of sex and gendeer. It is a bit hard to say, but she seems to believe in a broad and diverse family of transgender people, and like me she is a strong supporter of women's rights, as well as the rights of trans men and trans women. We also agree that there is a biological component to the transsexual identity, although I suspect I am a little bit more holistic than she is in this respect.

But she is also clearly one of those who have been hurt so much, that she is now lashing out angrily at a lot of people, rarely giving them the benefit of doubt, and mostly in order to redefine them as the enemy. I am clearly the enemy.

The blog post, with the telling headline "Crossdreaming: Its Transphobic Roots, and Current Transphobic, Cissexist Content" gets off to a promising start:

February 11, 2014

How post-structuralist feminism has become a weapon used to invalidate transgender

I have spent some time over at tumblr, lately, mostly discussing the lives of female to male crossdreamers and girlfags. Sometimes it feels like being back in the school yard, with bullies honing in on you from all directions. This is probably because so many of the participants are very young and have still not developed the necessary empathy and patience needed to treat others with respect.
Using the fetish theory of modern feminists, lesbians
are invalidating the lives of FTM girlfags and crossdreamers,
arguing that these persons have no male identity.

There are some patterns here, the most important being the use of modern "post-structuralist" feminist theory to invalidate girlfags in particular and trans people in general.

Lesbians attack girlfags for "fetishizing" gay men. Since most of my readers do not spend much time on tumblr, I will republish a couple of my entries here.

The following is a response to impostoradult, who gives a very good presentation of post-modern accounts of sex and gender in her response to my blog post om sex, gender, mind and body. You do not have to read the original posts to make sense of this one.

Dear impostoradult,

I have actually no problem in accepting most of what you write here, both as regards post-modernism and your understanding of understanding in itself.

I guess I am more of a 'philosophical hermeneutics' kind of person myself, but the basics remain the same: Our life word, the sum of our experiences, put limits to what it is possible to think.

And yes, categories like gay, girlfag and crossdreamer only exist in our mind. You will not find them 'out there', in the 'real world'. However, our sense of self and our bodies are anchored in the real world, so we do have some access to "the world in itself", if no through language.

My admittedly popularized and simplified presentation in this blog post was aimed at those that systematically use parts of post-modern theory to invalidate the experience and identity of girlfags, crossdreamers and other gender variant people. And in this respect reminding people of their animal nature makes very much sense.

The current atracks on girlfags and crossdreamers, reducing them to unreal 'fetishes' and body-less 'semiotics' have their roots in the thinking of the post-structuralist philosopher Judith Butler and her fans. Having read all the books written by the lady, I can confidently say that this is a woman who have left the physical world behind and is now living in a mirage of literary references.

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!