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. 

For some the crossdreaming seems to be an isolated "gender violation" -- sometimes  purely sexual. For others crossdreaming is just one of many ways of expressing the "other gender".

Some crossdreamers are attracted to men, some to women and some to both, although in online crossdreamer forums you will find that a majority is sexually oriented towards people of their target sex. That is: If they identify with their assigned gender they will consider themselves heterosexual. This applies to both female bodied and male bodied crossdreamers.

There is an overlap between crossdressers and crossdreamers, in the sense that many -- if not most -- crossdressers also crossdream. There also crossdreamers who do not crossdress, however. I am one of them.

There is also an overlap between crossdreamers and women and men who refer to themselves girlfags and guydykes. A girlfag is a woman who feels a strong affinity with male gay culture and who may imagine herself as a man having a relationship with another man. Guydykes often think of themselves as "male lesbians".

Note also that many crossdreamers change their understanding of who they are as they discuss their crossdreaming with others and learn more about themselves. Some crossdreamers ultimately find that they are transsexual. Some transition. Others don't.

A majority of crossdreamers do not transition, but some do, and a lot of trans women and trans men report that they have had such fantasies before transitioning -- some also after.

In other words: There is a lot of diversity among crossdreamers, in the same way that there is a lot of diversity in transgender circles in general.

On using the terms

Please note that anyone can use the term crossdreamer to describe this phenomenon, regardless of what they believe causes it. Unlike related and more toxic terms like "autogynephilia" or "transvestic fetishism", this term does not point to one particular explanation.

I should also add that I have never personally considered crossdreamer a new identity, in the way that transgender, gay or lesbian are used as identities. For me crossdreaming is primarily a term used to describe one of many facets of the lives of gender variant people.

Note also that there are crossdreamers, girlfags and guydykes who do not identify as transgender, even if they formally fit under the transgender umbrella. It must be up to them to decide what words to use to describe themselves.

More information about crossdreaming.

On why I do not use the term autogynephilia to describe crossdreaming.

Edit May 2019: Update of terminology.
Illustration: Midjourney