May 23, 2017

Masculinity, anime, and autogynephilia

I noticed that some TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists) and other anti-trans activist linked to an article by SocialJusticeWizard over at Medium. The author makes some interesting observations about the Japanese fondness of cuteness and crossdreamer fantasies. But since they use the autogynephilia theory to interpret what they see, some of the conclusions are problematic, to say the least.
The extreme feminine cuteness in Japanese anime
might be an effect of forced hypermasculinity, but it
is not the cause of crossdreaming

The idea that porn turns people into crossdreamers is to put the cart in front of the horse, as I see it.

Here's my comment, as published over at Medium:

I do appreciate the effort in trying to understand male to female transgender people who crossdream. I am sure you are right about the feminine cuteness of Japanese popular culture being a hypercorrection to lives imprisoned in masculine hardness.

But the connection to “autogynephilia” is not convincing, and I am saying this as one who has worked with male crossdreamers (people who fantasize about becoming their target gender) for more than ten years.

You are clearly aware of the weakness in your theory yourself:
“I don’t have a straightforward explanation of why this identification also leads to the development of autogynephilia — why the boy begins desiring to be sexually passive and submissive, even becoming ‘pseudo bisexual’ in Blanchard’s terms, when he is originally heterosexual.”
First of all: Most male assigned people do not become crossdreamers. This also applies to those that have repressed their more vulnerable or feminine side to the point you are describing. The great majority of men watch porn. That does not make them crossdreamers. Many men read manga and watch anime. That does not make them crossdreamers.

Moreover, the majority of the male to female crossdreamers I know report crossdreams from an early age, before puberty. Many of them grew up before the Internet and did not have access to the kind of media you describe. Many of them hadn’t seen porn until long after they became aware of their crossdreaming. Some do not watch porn at all. They still dream of becoming women and have sex as women.

And yes, in spite of what Blanchard says, there are also a lot of female to male crossdreamers. They also love anime and manga, but of a very different sort.

All of this implies that there is something else that causes crossdreaming, a factor X that is there from a very early age and that might even be inborn. Your idea of a repression of the “feminine” still makes sense. They are drawn to such comics and stories because they find a language there that makes sense of their feelings. Transgender people, like all others, are influenced by the surrounding culture. If that culture is misogynistic, their fantasies might also be.

Most serious researchers on trans these days believe crossdreaming can be just one of many ways a repressed gender identity expresses itself. This even applies to the DSM-5.

I am surprised that you refuse to consider sexual submission as a natural instinct. Why shouldn’t it be? People in the BDSM community are very clear about this: Do not confuse the sexual instinct of being the receptive partner in bed with social submissiveness. Sexual submissiveness in neither good not bad. It just is.

The MTF crossdreamer may actually be wired for preferring the receptive role in bed (a preference shared by many cis women). This may also explain why some MTF crossdreamers who are primarily attracted to women have fantasies of being penetrated by men or women. The most meaningful parallel is found in the way some cis lesbians play with strap-ons and watch gay male porn.

For some crossdreamers sexual submissiveness is mixed up with fantasies of social submissiveness, as you point out, but I know enough about the fantasies of crossdreamers to tell you that a lot of them dream of becoming strong and independent women, not playthings for men. This is also reflected in transgender literature. Indeed, you will find that most of the MTF crossdreamers who do transition are not walk-overs in any way. (Julia Serano comes to mind. Read Whipping Girl!).

Research into the fantasies of cis women also show that many of them have fantasies of being forcefully taken, even if they would all agree that rape is a crime in real life. Fifty Shades of Grey is a horrible collection of badly written sexist clichés, but that does not stop many women from being turned on by it. You have to distinguish between sexual fantasies and what people think is OK in real life.

Finally: The autogynephilia theory is a collection of sexist and transphobic 19th century stereotypes that have been thoroughly debunked by both researchers and transgender activist. Seriously: Blanchard thinks gender identity can be reduced to sexual orientation! This is the classical inversion theory taken to its extreme. It is scientific nonsense. Read my write-up on autogynephilia here.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I have deleted your comment Vic. I would love to discuss negative gender stereotyping with you, but not if that entails stereotyping MTF crossdreamers.

  3. ah yes same old problem Jack...people who understand nothing about gender theory relying on Blanchard's hogwash. Wouldn't be the first time it happens.

    People don't become crossdreamers but are instead born with that predisposition and no amount of watching porn or anime will change that.

    I have never watched a porn film in my entire life and have always had a low libido and yet my sexuality has been impacted by my transgender nature.

  4. I imagine the following scenario:

    "I have this deep conviction. I am not sure where it comes from, but the people I want to please says it's true, it probably is. However, some people say I am a bigot, so I need proof.

    "Heck, if I can find proof of aliens landing on the moon, I am sure there must be at least one scientific report out there that proves me right. No one reads the footnotes, anyway, and when it sound scientific it must be true.

    "Hey, look at that! "Autogynephilia!" That has a nice sciency ring to it. And it proves that crossdressers and trans women are perverts. Perfect! I will go with that. And the great thing is, I do not even have to read the papers. Because I already know this is true, right?"

  5. Japanese popular culture being a hypercorrection to lives imprisoned in masculine dragon super online

  6. And even if there will be, you can never know when. It could be in a few months, in a year, in 2 years and even more (That's the only downside).
    watch anime


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