December 2, 2018

Crossdresser, Transgender, Bigender: In Search of an Explanation


A gender variant person explores their gender identity, their sexuality and what has made them who they are, with a special emphasis on being bigender.

By Guest Author Jemimah/Jeremy

Recently I bought my first reasonably lifelike wig. This, together with some good concealer I bought a little earlier, are my first steps towards creating an ‘en femme’ persona which is not laughable. Good – but is it taking me into a different world.

Two or three years ago, when I first realised that I was at least attracted by the idea of crossdressing, I wrote a rather wild note entitled ‘why me, why now’.

I now feel the need to do something more rational and try to work over the ideas which relate to where I am – which I think for the moment is bigender. Lots of wandering the web and reading books has provided lots of theories and opinions and probably most of it is covered somewhere on the Crossdreamers web site but I wanted to work it out myself.

Brain types

Also I wanted my understanding to be based on academic, or at least unemotional, sources.


I started by reading Bevan: The Psychobiology of Transexualism and Transgenderism; A New View Based On Scientific Evidence. This is a pulling together of facts taken from a large number of peer reviewed papers.


An important concept for me is that there is a TG brain type to go with a male brain type, a female brain type and a gay brain type. The causes of this brain type are disputed and this has caused one of the few critical discussions on the book.

By far the most complete critique of the book is by Pat on the crossdressers.com forum together with extensive posts by forum members.

In the main this discussion is very complimentary but a point is made about fitting in late onset transitions. Pat, in reply quotes an almost philosophical point made in the book, which given the factual nature of the book, is not really satisfactory. As a very late onset person this is a concern. If I have always had a TG brain why did I wait till I was 76 to realise it?

Identity-defence model

Jaimie Veale.
My next reading was the Identity-Defence Model For Gender-Variance Development by Veale, Clarke and Lomax published in the International Journal of Transgenderism. It can be downloaded from there.

Veale et al construct diagrams explaining how biological, enviromental and personality factors create different transgender outcomes. Sexuality is both and input and an output. The use or not of defence mechanisms is an important factor in the outcomes.

This deals quite well with the late onset problem raised above but does leave me with having to understand defence mechanisms. 

Diagram of the Identity-Defence Model of Gender-Variance development by Veale, Lomax and Clarke, showing factors influencing gender-variant outcomes. 

As with the Bevan book, I searched for comment on this paper and found on the Crossdreamers forum the wonderfully titled thread ‘Jamie Veale’sIdentity-Defence Model (aka how did I not know about this until now???)’.

Many of the posts, and referenced papers, require much more knowledge than I have on sociology, sexuality and so on, but the general view seems to be that it is a very good start on developing a coherent theory. There are also suggestions that a working group could be formed to enhance the arguments.

With defence mechanisms the articles and papers I have found have seemed either trivial or are too academic for me but again the idea seems easy enough to understand. Some event – being shouted at by my formidable grandmother – probably caused me to suppress my gender-variance and forget the event itself.

Crossdresser vs. transsexual

Which brings me to ask why is one person a crossdresser and another a transsexual.

It seems likely that the transgender spectrum is a continuum and is more than two dimensional. A criticism, and a comment made at the end of it is that Veale et al’s paper is simplistic in this regard.

I have come across comments and discussions about the relationship between crossdressing and being transsexual and, in some cases, finding it a progression. I think of myself as being bigender but one well known member of that community is talking about the increasing dominance of their femme side which I suppose is a move towards being transexual. I need to think about this because I want to know where I am going.

A suggestion in a post at the end of ‘Jamie Veale’s Identity-Defence Model (aka how did I not know about this until now???)’ is that interested members involved in the thread should try and build on the concepts of the paper.

Bigender

There are lots of different statements and ideas attached to ‘bigender’ so here is a very general definition based on the one found in the Wikipedia.

Bigender, or bi-gender, is a gender identity under the multigender, nonbinary, and transgender umbrella terms. Bigender people have two distinct gender identities, either at the same time, or at different times.

The latter is a form of genderfluid identity, and may involve only two distinct genders, or it may involve "shades of gray between the two." The two genders of a bigender person can be the two binary genders, male and female. This is what people usually assume bigender means.

However, some people who identify as bigender have a different pair of genders. For example, their two genders might be female and neutrois. Or the two genders might be both nonbinary, such as agender and aporagender. 

Bigender is recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA) as a subset of the transgender group.

Then there is the concept of switching:

Bigender people "move between feminine and masculine gender-typed behaviour depending on context. Some bigendered individuals express a distinctly ‘en femme’ persona and a distinctly ‘en homme’ persona […] others have shades of grey between the two."  (Urban Dictionary)

And this is different from being a crossdresser eager to get home from the office to be able to relax in dress, heels and makeup.

What bigender people say

Visiting crossdressers.com again, There is a discussion there on bigender  and here forum members talk about being bigender both in the formal and the ‘wanting to dress as soon as I can’ sense. I am sure that I switch; that I have a different personality one day from another so I would like to talk about my investigations and a little more about myself.

I did get a nice reassurance that I was not alone. I saw a British Morning TV interview  with Ryan/Ria and his/her pansexual partner Krystal and, apart from the fact that her/he, unlike myself, is fairly free to express the personality that he/her wake up with, I can relate to the feelings and the switching.



There are other interviews including the rather difficult one with Paige Abendroth and its follow up.  Talked about here again is the progress from bigender to being a transwoman.

Brin, one of the well known names in the bigender world discusses this progression in  YouTube videos. Brin had been taking hormones for some time and this may have had an effect; I am not. This could be a factor or the transition could be something which catches up with many bigender persons in time. They did an interview with the UK BBC which gives a short biography.

Learning process

It has been an amazing learning process finding the academic papers, reading the books, wandering the web, avoiding the pornography. It would have been easier to have had a better grounding in psychology, sexuality and similar.

At least I was aware of the trials and tribulations of crossdressing after reading the enthralling Alice in Genderland by Alice Novic and on aspects of being bigender from James-Beth Merritt in  Bi-Gender: A Candid Nonbinary Memoir.

James-Beth then pointed me in the direction of Brin’s site bigender.net.

The actual start on this journey was probably reading the April 24, 2012 entry on the Crossdreamers.com site and I have to thank Jack Molay and others for kind comments on my attempts to explain myself.

The other difficult book I have read is Julia Serano: Whipping Girl. This is mostly about political and other issues relating to transexualism and so does not directly concern me, but any less chance of me – with my blue eyelids and pink nails – being harassed on the London Underground is gratefully accepted.

The difference between Jemimah and Jeremy

As to explaining myself; I am mostly comfortable. I am almost entirely in the closet but I think that my age reduces the trauma of this. I probably wake up about half and half but mostly Jeremy gets to dress and Jemimah suffers.

I can usually tell who I am when I wake because Jemimah is aware of her body in a way that Jeremy is not. There may be more sexual tension, sort of Tantric, for Jemimah and on the rare occasions our ageing body achieves orgasm Jemimah’s is much more full bodied, again Tantric. Even if it is Jeremy who wakes up dressing can be fun and can trigger a switch however Jeremy enjoys being a crossdresser if a switch does not happen.

That a big difference exists between Jemimah and Jeremy was a surprise. We are both numerate, runners – as far as I know our performances are the same – and food and wine lovers. We like dressing all in black and quite a lot of other things. The differences are in the emotional and touchy-feely side of things.

I have read about the theory of Alexythmia, that is concerned with people with no emotion and no empathy. A symptom of Alexythimia is that a person with it is often not, or at least less, aware of physical signal within the body.

Not sure how this relates to being bigender but it does describe Jeremy very well and is also associated with a trauma early in life. I do not think that being without to usual feelings had too bad an effect on his life but being, some of the time a much more emotional Jemimah is an amazing experience even if we usually cannot show it.

Does all this answer my original question? Perhaps I am going to move towards being a transexual but, with luck, not for a while and by then it might be fine for me to come out.

Jemimah and Jeremy

A postscript about sex and sensuality

We are quite relaxed without surgery at the moment. I suppose that this is part of being bigender and being different from many transexuals. Jeremy needs a penis and, at the moment Jemimah is happy to have one to play with.

I have read Nicola Jane Chase’s very moving memoir and cannot say that I am sorry to be missing all the distress but that does bring me back to my concerns about bigender being a way point towards becoming transexual. And sex is fun at the moment for Jemimah, so much better than it had been for Jeremy for a quite a while .

What happens is not what I was expecting when I first decided to try and follow my desires. One comes across phrases like ‘taking the woman’s part’ but with a male body you really cannot. You can be submissive and that can be very comforting and that could be what is meant by the phrase but penetrative sex with a male body cannot be close to that with a female body.

Another item on my reading list is the interestingly titled Fucking Trans Women by Mira Bellwether – it was fun typing ‘fucking’ into the Amazon search box when I was thinking of buying it but they did not blink an eye and it duly turned up.

I am beginning to think that I do not have a penis and I certainly do not have a clitoris but that there is this part of our body which is a source of pleasure in many different ways. This is good because at our body’s age the magic blue pills are not reliably any more.

It is also good that in this part of the trans world there are much more imaginative ways of playing with oneself and each other than in other worlds. Going back to the blue pill problem, some things work well for a soft penis. It can be stroked rather like a large more external clitoris again blurring the distinction.

As a lot of people have said recently, we are where we are. If I realise that pressure to transition is building I expect that I can cope. Again, age may soften the ups and downs. I am glad that I have done all the reading of rational books and papers because that gives Jeremy an intellectual basis to manage the future – and Mira Bellwether gives Jemimah an emotional/sensual basis.

Top photo: Visivasnc

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