January 1, 2014

A Creative Crossdreamer Vocabulary, from "Separatist" to "Surge"

Here is the fourth part of my Crossdreamer Dictionary. You can read the first entries here!

Are there any crossdreamer phenomena, feelings or ideas you think is missing? Please add them as a comment!

And again: I am not suggesting that we are going to make use of all these words in our everyday conversations. Many of them are only meant to function as triggers for self-discovery.


Separatists are transgender people who for some reason do not like to be associated with other transgender people, often -- but not always -- out of fear of contamination and negation.

I have identified at least four such tribes on the male to female side:

1. There are some organized male to female crossdressers, who insist that they are straight men with a feminine side only, and who would rather not see homosexual men or transsexual women at their meetings.
The operative phrase here is "We are heterosexual men".

2. Some crossdreamers believe their cross-gender erotic fantasies are purely fetishistic, and that they therefore have nothing in common with transsexual people. Alternatively: They believe all trans people are fetishists, and fetishists only.
The operative phrase here is "We are normal men/women with a sexual kink".

3. Then there are the "Classical Transsexuals" (CT) who argue that they have nothing in common with "fetishistic crossdressers" and "gay effeminate men".
The operative phrase here is "We are women, and they are not".

3. The Harry Benjamin Syndrome crowd (HBS) preaches an extremist version of the CT gospel, where even feminine looks and mannerisms are inborn.
The operative term here is "We are ladies, and they are perverted men".

4. The transkids have adopted Blanchard's and Bailey's theory using it to establish a difference between androphilic (man-loving) transwomen on the one side and gynephilic masculine "autogynephiliacs" on the other.
The operative phrase here is "We are naturally feminine, and they are not."

On the female to male side we find a tribe of trans men over at tumblr called truscum. Some of them make arguments similar to the ones of the classic transsexuals. Moreover, some lesbians may view female to male androphilic trans men with suspicion. Others, though, cannot seem to get enough of them. Recent developments on tumblr also indicate that some transgender people and feminists have not really grasped what a girlfag is. 

If you instead focus on the diversity of both humanity in general and gender variant people in particular, these distinctions  become less relevant. The fact that you will find crossdreaming in all these groups tell me that they have something in common. But the fact that they have something in common does not mean that a transsexual woman is the same as crossdresser who identifies as a man  or a lesbian who makes use of masculine expressions. This is basic set theory, really. A Norwegian is not the same as a German, even if they are both European.


A soarer  is a crossdreamer who is overwhelmed by beauty. Male to female crossdreamers may feel something akin to a mystical religious experience when watching a beautiful woman. Many male to female crossdreamers may be caught up in stereotypical feminine clothing, hair and make-up, but this is not always the case. This ecstatic experience may be followed by crossgrief.
Both MTF and FTM crossdreamers
are attracted to feminine aesthetics.

Some would probably expect that the female to male crossdreamers would feel soaring from watching stereotypical male attributes, i.e. an Arnold Schwarzenegger type brute of a Neanderthal. The fact is, however, that FTM crossdreamers, like the MTF ones, often (but not always!)  find feminine features much more pleasing to the eye. They are attracted to feminine looking men. All of this makes much more sense if you think about the teenage girls' love for Justin Bieber.

Soaring has been used as a tool for enlightenment in some philosophical and religious traditions, including Platonism. In The Symposium Plato lets Socrates argue that contemplation of the feminine beauty of young men and boys is the first step towards grasping the very Idea of Beauty in its ideal form. In Medieval Europe this was turned into a mystical meditation on the beauty of the feminine, and its ability to lead men towards the goal of unity with God (cp. the troubadours and the role of Beatrice in Dante's Divine Comedy).


Some male to female crossdreamers
explore sexist stereotypes in their
crossdreaming, being sissified
into a French Maid being one
such theme. (Photo: Hemera)
Even if crossdreaming in itself cannot be reduced to a fetish, crossdreamers -- like other people -- fetishize people, objects and clothing.

Some male to female and female to male crossdreamers fantasize about feminizing men and turning them into the stereotype sissy or bimbo, sexy but dumb. In some male to female erotica the man is turned into a sissy (by crossdressing or bodily change). In the more hard core variants of  the yaoi erotic comics for female to male crossdreamers, the protagonist feminize men or boys by force.

I guess that this is an example of hypercorrection: Forbidden sides of the psyche become overcharged in sexual fantasies of some crossdreamers. They make use of extreme stereotypes of sex and gender.

For the male to female crossdreamer the element of forced feminization also relieves the dreamer of guilt (I was forced to do it!), while the female to male crossdreamer may revel in a kind of power of dominance she has been brought up to think of as unfeminine.

There is to my knowledge no parallel term for female bodied persons who get turned on by the gender expressions of our society's male stereotype: the strong, aggressive, testosterone-driven brute. There is no "brutification", for the simple reason that our sexist societies only men seem to be in full control of their own lives.  You cannot force someone into becoming strong.

This does not stop some lesbians and girlfags from making use of masculine clothing, symbols and expressions, however. Some are, for instance,  clearly fetishizing  heavy boots, crew cuts and leather jackets. And no: There is nothing wrong in that!


From the Japanese comic Ranma 1/2
The first impression that made a crossdreamer realize that he or she was different. This is often a presentation of sex or gender change in the arts or the media.

One male to female crossdreamer told me, for instance, about the excitement he (or she, rather) felt when reading the Japanese comic Ranma 1/2 for the first time. Ranma is the story about a 16 year old boy who becomes a girl when splashed with cold water.

The first spark often happens at an early age, before puberty.

(Hat tip to Flexor)


Splitters try to suppress their "other side"
Splitters are crossdreamers who manage to split their minds in two, leaving one part for the inner sex and one for the outer.

Extreme splitters are not aware of the split, and believe themselves to be perfectly normal. This does not mean that they are not aware of their crossdreaming fantasies; they just fail to connect these fantasies to other aspects of their psyche.

Moderate splitters are aware of the split. If the moderate splitter is a crossmopolitan, this does not lead to any significant mental suffering. If he or she is dysphoric, however, the split may cause intense pain. The extreme splitter may try to explain away this suffering as the result of something else ("depression", "stress", "bad childhood").


The feeling of spotlit equals gender anxiety or the intense fear of being "found out." This can lead to repression or overcompensation.

Hagia Sofia over at Crossdream Life puts it this way: "For me, it leads to social anxiety when I'm feeling dysphoric in public."

One example of usage would be: "I felt intensely spotlit and had to leave the party."

Straight Gay*

In one way it makes sense to think of the gynephilic (woman-loving) male to female crossdreamers and the androphilic (man-loving) female to male crossdreamers as straight gay people. They are straight in the sense that they are predominantly attracted to people of the opposite sex (relative to their birth sex). If you relate this attraction to their target sex, however, they are predominantly homosexual.

The similarities between "regular" gay people and such crossdreamers are also found elsewhere. Many of them struggle with shame, guilt and continuous harassment. Many of them live their life "in the closet". And both gay men, lesbians, FTM crossdreamers and MTF crossdreamers may engage in crossdressing.

Some  may try to get you to believe that a lesbian butch dressing up as a man and packing a fake penis is not getting aroused by what she is doing. She is therefore fundamentally different from a male to female crossdresser wearing panties. I am sure some of them do not get aroused by the idea of having a male body, but anyone having read butch erotica knows that many of them do.

In the comic and movie Tonari no 801(Yaoi) Chan,
the main character Yaoi-Chan has her
crossdreaming surges expressed by a green monster.


Crossdreamers will often experience that their desire to be the opposite sex, or to express part of the nature of the opposite sex, will vary in strength over time (see crosswaves). During a surge these feelings become much more intense, and the need to express them in some form becomes intolerable.

Among ways of letting out steam we find crossdressing and creative crossdreaming. In Japanese female to male yaoi comics the surge has been depicted as "the green monster".

*An asterix indicates terms that have been coined by me.

To be continued...

UPDATE: The Creative Crossdreamer Vocabulary has become a book!


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  2. With regard to your entry on separatists, I think it is important to distinguish mutual sympathy and political support from a belief that everything trans has the same underlying cause. xx

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  5. Hi Jack,

    Reading this I was both greatly entertained and actually saddened. While I believe that from a diagnostic point of view there are significant differences if a full medical anamnesis and diagnosis has been done, the terms you have listed do not reflect such diagnosis. What in my view is missing is a category of people who believe that differentiation for the purpose of appropriate health care is unavoidable. This is less separatism but rather common sense.

  6. ..and by the way this differentiation from a diagnostic and therapeutic point of view was one that Benjamin fully embraced. You quoted passages in your previous posts that underline this quite clearly.

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  8. @Kathryn

    " What in my view is missing is a category of people who believe that differentiation for the purpose of appropriate health care is unavoidable."

    The term "transsexual" will appear in the next post, under T.


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