April 19, 2016

An introduction to the autogynephilia debate

So someone has brought up Ray Blanchard's concept of autogynephilia in a discussion of gender variance and transgender women. They are all sexual perverts, they tell you. The science proves it! 
The autogynephilia theory says that MTF crossdressers
and trans women who love women are men driven by a desire 
for their inner woman. Yepp,it is yet another attempt at 
invalidating a marginalized group by sexualizing them.

Photo: Voyagerix

Actually it doesn't. 

Here is some essential reading that will bring you up to speed on the topic of cross-gender arousal, crossdreaming and transgender identities. 

Welcome to the seedy side of sexology. Welcome to the autogynephilia debate.  

Julia Serano, leading trans philosopher and trans activist, presents cross-gender arousal in her highly influential book Whipping Girl, which has just been published in its second edition. 

She understands crossdreaming (i.e. arousal from imagening yourself as your target sex) as an expression of a subconscious identity. Serano has written about her approach to what she calls female embodiment fantasies here. 

Dr. Charles Moser has identified "autogynephilic" fantasies in non-transgender women. Yeah, i know, cis women have had a different life experience than trans women. The point is simply that they too can get excited by feeling sexy; that does invalidate their identity.

If anyone tells you (as Blanchard will) that there are no female to male crossdreamers, you should take a look at my research. I have written several posts on the lives of FTM crossdreamers and "girlfags", and know many of them. You may start here: "The Yaoi Culture and the Female to Male Crossdreamers." 

The novelist Imogen Binnie has written a very sarcastic and funny review of J. Michael Bailey's book, The Man Who Would be Queen. Bailey attempted to popularize the autogynephilia theory, revealing the underpinning sexism and gender stereotypes in the process. Binnie captures this in a brilliant manner!

If you want a different take on autogynephilia from an MTF crossdreamer who has not transitioned and who does not plan to do so, you should take a look at the writings of Felix Conrad. He has published a series of well-written (and funny!) reflections on crossdreaming.There is even a couple of books!

Note also that the sexual fantasies that are used to invalidate transgender identities, most often are variations of common fantasies found among non-transgender people. See my review of the research on sexual fantasies and gender variance for more. 

For more resources, you may look at Lynn Conway's site and the resources listed by Andrea James I also recommend Kelley Winter's paper on autogynephilia.

Update January 2019: Added paragraph on research on sexual fantasies.


  1. Thank you for this resource!

  2. Sarcasm but based on what Blanchard, etc have all stated.

    'Autogynephilia' (AGP) the mysterious ailment with strange symptoms and effects:

    It is only about sexual desires, there is no such thing as gender identity.
    If you deny having it, it means you have it.
    Applies to any trans women 'coming out' after puberty starts.
    'EVERY' female attracted trans woman (no matter by how little or how seldom) has it.
    It distorts memories to make people believe they had trans feelings as a child, no AGP person has ever had trans feelings as a kid..
    It distorts memories in trans women to make them believe they never got sexually aroused at 'purely' thinking they were a woman.
    If a trans woman gets aroused at the thought of having sex with someone else, their mind is being distorted and it is really just about them about being self aroused at being a woman.

    Trans men can never have it.
    Women (straight or lesbian) can never have it.
    Gay men can never have it, so if a gay man transitions they don't have it.
    Trans women who starts life as a gay man and have a positive AGP score are really straight.

    Asexual trans women have it, even though they have no sexual interest in anything else.
    A single occurrence in your life means you always have it (even if it was 50 years ago and you were 12 ans drunk),
    It causes all bisexualty in trans women.
    It causes all asexualty in trans women.
    Cis bisexual men are all really gay, but bisexual trans women are all really straight (relative to birth sex).

    Unlike any other sexual paraphilia reducing sex drive (T blockers) does not affect it.
    Castration does not affect it.
    Removal of penis does not affect it.
    It causes, or is caused by (the literature is confused) transvestic fetishism.
    Trans women who deny having it are lying or mentally ill.
    It is so strong a sexual drive it causes trans women to give up everything (jobs, relationships, houses, etc) just to fulfil a sexual fantasy.

    EVERY trans kid is really a gay man or a lesbian, if they are AMAB and female attracted then they are really AGP. and not a trans kid.
    If they are AFAB and male attracted then we don't talk about that..
    Some argue that AGP can start before puberty and before any sexual feelings....

    Wait, there is more:
    Proponents of AGP are telepathic and can read trans women's minds, even from the other side of the world.
    If a bisexual trans woman wants to have sex with a man, the proponents read their mind and can tell that they are not really attracted to the man at all, they are just having an AGP fantasy..

    Wow what a condition. We need more work on this unique, like no other sex (or anything actually) related condition in the world......

    Then again you could just treat it as stigmatising pseudo-scientific claptrap invented to fulfil an ideology originally invented to 'cure sissy boys' of homosexuality.

  3. You can see the real motivation, Ray Blanchard spends his declining years retweeting TERF anti-trans sites. Ones that argue that trans reparative therapy is 100% successful (even Zucker never claimed that) and that no one should be allowed to transition until their are 25 or older.

    That every trans kid is really a gay or lesbian one that is 'transed' because of homophobia... None would transition if not for those horrible trans activists and gender therapists forcing them to........

    All the poor non same sex attracted (relative to birth sex) trans kids are totally ignored of course.

    Nice to see him come out of the closet and show his real feelings.
    Naturally he has never said anything against all the US 'bathroom' laws, or the use of his work by NARTH, FRC and the Catholic Church to argue that no one should be allowed to transition socially, medically or legally.

  4. Brilliant summary, Lisa. Can I get your permission to publish this as a blog post? (jack.molay@gmail.com)

  5. Above and beyond catagorising all trans women as

    (a) Sex mad gay men, who grew up as 'sissy boys' and are obsessed with having sex with straight men.
    (b) Heterosexual 'autogynephiliac paraphiliac' men.

    Note none of them accept trans women as women, or trans men as men in any way at all. Blanchard: "It must be stressed that homosexual transsexuals typically do not label themselves as "homosexual" ….We do not recommend that scientists adopt the "subjective" labeling of sexual orientation because it obscures important developmental similarities between ordinary homosexual persons and those with GID."

    The autogynephilia (AGP) proponents and supporters have endlessly tried to link it to other paraphilias...especially paedophilia.

    Lawrence, Men Trapped in Woman’s Bodies
    ” A few years later, I described additional instances of pedophilic men who displayed analogs of transvestic and anatomic autogynephilia (Lawrence, 2009a )”

    ”I consider it more parsimonious to theorize that autogynephilic MtF transsexualism and the analogous conditions that exist in men who are sexually attracted to children, amputees, plush animals, and perhaps real animals, all represent manifestations of an unusual type of paraphilia in which affected men feel sexually aroused by the idea of impersonating or becoming whatever category of person or thing they find sexually attractive.
    Their paraphilic desires, in turn, often give rise to strongly held, highly valued alternative identities that ultimately become their dominant identities.”

    And of course good old Blanchard:
    ” Blanchard (2008) argued that the collective data on homosexual men and women, pedophiles, and transsexuals suggest that the hypothesized "additional neuronal connections" made possible by less asymmetric hemispheres might lead to an array of different psychosexual outcomes.”

    ”…. reported that a sex-dimorphic structure of the brain, the central subdivision of the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BSTc), was shifted in size toward that of the opposite sex in a small series of transsexuals examined postmortem.

    There are at least three reasons to be skeptical that this unconfirmed finding has conclusively identified a neurological substrate of cross-gender identity.”
    “Third, BSTc volume has been reported to be smaller among male pedophiles than among controls (Schiltz et aI., 2007), which suggests that the structure may be related to sexual anomalies in general rather than to cross-gender identity specifically. “

    See even our brains are the same as paedophiles according to them. But they are really just 'truth seeking scientists'.....

    Like Michael Bailey:
    "It is neither prejudiced nor ignorant to hypothesize that autogynephilic natal males are at least a bit more likely than natal women to be sexually violent.”
    "…. as Blanchard and I have called them “homosexual male-to-female transsexuals” do not present a risk to women of sexual violence. …. I could imagine different “risks” with them, including their having sex with men in women’s rooms."

    And Bailey again:
    "It is WPATH that seems to be promoting the false idea of female gender identity that is common to all kinds of male-to-female transgenders."

    ".. WPATH promotes the false belief of equivalence between adult transitioners who are likely autogynephilic and children with gender dysphoria. The former advise families with gender dysphoric children what is best for the children. But autogynephilia and childhood gender dysphoria are quite distinct, almost completely non-overlapping conditions. The social transitioning of children has become the "right" thing to do, despite lots of evidence that most kids will desist and thus can avoid serious surgery and lifetime hormones. The illegitimate participation of adult transitioners has, I think, influenced this development."

  6. I know I have a fetish, but I object to being branded gay. I relate differently to women, that's all.


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