July 24, 2017

Telling your Girlfriend About Being a Crossdresser or Crossdreamer

Last week I got an email from a male to female crossdreamer and occasional crossdresser who wondered what and how he could tell his girlfriend about his gender variance. 
Illustration: nuravectorgirl

His girlfriend had taken an open approach to his story, but was hesitant about the crossdressing. Now he was looking for ways of explaining his feelings to his girlfriend.

He is using male pronouns.

He also wondered if this crossdreaming would progress into something more, like in wanting to transition and live as a woman. At the moment he expresses no need to transition or dress publicly as a woman.

Here is my reply:

I wish I had a simple answer for you. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) there is so much variation among crossdreamers that it is hard to foresee what is going to happen in the future.

There are, as I see it, two main reasons for this:

1. Gender variance is a continuum, and whatever it is that triggers these dreams and desires come in different forms and intensity.

2. Some crossdreamers are on a journey. They gradually find out that they are somewhere else in that landscape than they originally thought. There is -- for obvious reasons -- a lot of repression going on.

There is a lot of variation among crossdressers and crossdreamers

I our survey of crossdreamers we found that 1/3 reported severe gender dysphoria (in the sense that they could be considered transsexual, and transitioning would be one possible solution).

I reckon that another 1/3 lives in what I have called the twilight zone, being some shade of non-binary or gender queer, while the final 1/3 feel comfortable in their assigned gender and their crossdreaming and crossdressing is more like a trait spicing up their life.

July 19, 2017

The Transgender Clash of Narratives

Much of the conflicts and misunderstandings in the transgender debate seems to be caused by what we can call the clash of transgender narratives. As I see it, they do not have to be in conflict.
Photo: Jupiter Images

The trapped in body narrative

We hear the phrase over and over again: "I feel like a woman trapped in a man's body." "I feel like a woman trapped in a man's body".

For many (but not all) transgender people, the phrase does capture something essential about how they feel about themselves, especially if they are suffering from gender dysphoria, a deep sense of discomfort caused by a mismatch between their assigned gender and the way they feel gender wise.

The narrative is popular among sex and gender researchers steeped in the neurophysiological tradition.

The main explanation given is that during the pre-natal brain development of a fetus it is exposed to an unusual flow of hormones that feminizes the brain of male to female transgender persons and masculinizes the ones of those assigned female.

This model  does leave room for nonbinary persons and those who do not fully identify with one or the other gender, as the exposure to this unusual hormonal mix may vary. However, these people are often ignored in the debate.

The main problem with this narrative is that many of its supporters have a tendency of turning the concept of female or male into a well defined "thing", and that the definition of a woman or a man is reduced to a well defined list of abilities, interests, personality traits and expressions.