July 31, 2015

13 Books on Crossdressing, Crossdreaming and Gender Variance

For many the struggle with sex, sexuality and gender identity leads to reading -- a lot of reading. In this three part series I will present books that have helped me in my understanding of myself, crossdreaming, gender dysphoria and transgender issues.
Illustration by Olyzel

Please add a comment if there are other books you have found helpful and interesting. I will add them to the permanent list of trans-relevant books.

She is not the man I married. My life with a  transgender husband, by Helen Boyd
  • Boyd treats crossdressers and crossdreamers with respect and empathy, but without hiding the difficulties that follows from gender variance of this kind.
Gender Madness in American Psychiatry: Essays From the Struggle for Dignityby Kelley Winters.
  • Brilliant debunking of the autogynephilia theory and a good discussion on how psychiatry has contributed to the persecution of transgender people.
Nevada, novel by Imogen Binnie
  • This novel is hard to describe: Honest, funny, tragic, radical... Anyway, the book contains some of the best descriptions of crossdreamers I have ever seen in fiction, whether they are closeted or transsexual. (And then there is that wonderful description of autogynephilia-supporter J. Michael Bailey....)
Girlfag: A Life Told in Sex and Musicals, by Janet Hardy
  • Girlfags are not necessarily female to male crossdreamers, but some of them are. Hardy's book is part autobiography, part essay on women who identify with gay men.
Grrl Alex, a Personal Journey to a Transgender Identity, by Alex Drummond.
  • A fascinating book by male a to female transgender person who tries to find a place between crossdressing and transitioning. Part 2 of the book gives a good review of research on crossdressing, crossdreaming and transsexuality.

Autogynephilia: Everyman's guide to autogynephilia, crossdreaming and late onset transsexualism, by Felix Conrad
  • In spite of what the title might imply, Conrad is not out to pathologize crossdreamers. Instead, he tries to help MTF crossdreamers and crossdressers to come to terms with their own crossdreaming, presenting various ways of coping in the process. The book takes an extremely pragmatic approach to crossdreaming and transgender. This is a book about adapting to, rather than changing, society. Right now I am more into helping society adapt to us.
Alice in Genderland: A Crossdresser Comes of Age, by Richard J. Novic.
  • Alice AKA Richard is one of the most controversial crossdreamer authors around. This book gives a good example of crossdreamers who have done a lot to express their identity and sexuality without transitioning.
Shyness & Love, by Dr. Brian G. Gilmartin.
  • This is not a book about crossdreamers per se, but Gilmartin's love shy male lesbians have a lot in common with introvert crossdreamers.
Crossdressing, sex and genderby Vern and Bonnie Bullough (see also this link).
  • One of the best scholarly overviews of crossdressing.
The Gendered Self, Further commentary on the transsexual phenomenonby Anne Vitale.
  • Anne Vitale presents an alternative view of crossdreaming and transsexuality. This book is targeting health professionals, but should be of interest to gender dysphoric crossdreamers.
    Helen Boyd and her husband Betty.
    Boyd challenges some of the myths held dear
    by crossdressers.
Boys' Love Manga: Essays on the Sexual Ambiguity and Cross-Cultural Fandom of the Genre (including essays on girlfags and FTM crossdreaming).
  • This book includes Uli Meyer's fascinating essay on yaoi, slash and girlfag fiction, which includes many interesting reflections on female to male crossdreamers and their ways of expressing their gender variance through stories and comics.
Men Trapped in Men's Bodies: Narratives of Autogynephilic Transsexualism (Focus on Sexuality Research)by Anne Lawrence.
  • I have no idea what makes a trans woman support a theory that reduces her to a sexually perverted male, but that's Anne Lawrence for you. The book includes some very interesting crossdreamer life stories. The theory underpinning her book is toxic, however.


  1. "I have no idea what makes a trans woman support a theory that reduces her to a sexually perverted male, but that's Anne Lawrence for you."

    Answer: because she believes it to be accurate based on the evidence she has reviewed. She is a scientist (not an activist) and that is what scientists do. I am not expressing a view as to whether the theory you refer to is correct, but just explaining why Ms. Lawrence supports it. Scientists do science. Their job is not to make everybody feel good.

  2. Scientists are humans like the rest of us, and the science that have been used to invalidate and harass marginalized people proves this beyond any doubt.

    Eugenicists "proved" that black people were "less intelligent" and "primitive" than white people, strengthening the evil of racism. Psychiatrists "proved" that independent feminists were mentally ill women suffering from hysteria. Theories very similar to the one propagated by Lawrence were used to attack gay men, labelling them as sexual perverts, forcing them into hospitals, where they were tortured with electroshock and nausea inducing drugs.

    God knows how many male to female transgender people who have wasted their lives, hiding in shame in the closet, because they were labelled as "paraphiliacs" by people like Blanchard, Bailey and Lawrence. And I do not even dare to think about the number of suicides.

    Blanchard, Bailey and Lawrence are presenting 19th century sexist stereotypes as science. As Julia Serano and others have documented, the only way they can get their "evidence" to fit to their theory, is by fixing the numbers and ignoring all the evidence that points in another direction. If this is science, it is extremely bad science.

    A trans woman who embraces a theory that reduces her identity to that of a perverted man, and who is trying to convince the world that other trans women are like her, has betrayed herself, the trans community and the values of ethical science.

    Go to this page for a list of articles that thoroughly debunks the autogynephilia theory and show us its true nature.
    Here is my summary of why it is a pseudo-science.
    I also strongly recommend Felix Conrad's brilliant deconstruction of the Blanchard narrative.


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