May 8, 2020

Some reddit polls indicate that an increasing number of MTF crossdreamers would like to transition

Over at the Crossdreaming subreddit two members have posted some polls that give surprising results. They indicate that  male to female crossdreamers are much more likely to want to live as their target gender than many  previously thought.

By crossdreamers I mean people who dream about being "another" gender.

The methodological foundation for these polls are weak, as the concepts used are not clearly defined and we are not completely sure who the respondents are.

That being said, r/crossdreaming is a subforum that attracts people who are interested in the concept of crossdreaming, and the history of that forum tells me that most of the respondents are most likely people who are experiencing crossdreaming fantasies themselves, including – most likely – erotic ones.

The great majority are also male to female crossdreamers, i.e. they were assigned male at birth.

We should keep in mind that it is possible that those who are most likely to find this forum and its poll interesting are those crossdreamers who struggle with their gender identity. We do not know this for sure, but this may represent a selection bias.

In any case: The data tells us something interesting about this specific part of the transgender community.

So, what do the polls tell us?

88 percent would like to transition

The main message is that a significant majority of those who have answered would like to transition. 88 percent say they have wanted to transition.

We do not know why they would like to do so, but we know from the survey that a lot of crossdreamers experience gender dysphoria, and that might be the case here too.

I know that some would like to dismiss this as a result of erotic fantasies only, but cross-gender erotic fantasies might also be a sign of gender dysphoria or some kind of underlying transgender identity.

63 percent will or may transition

The members were also asked whether they believed they actually would transition.

63 percent answered "yes" or "maybe." That's a lot.

86 percent desire to be female

An additional poll asked whether the members have a desire to be female. This is a bit tricky, because the question seem to indicate that the respondents are all expected to be assigned male at birth. That is not self evident, but as noted, that is not an unreasonable assumption for the members of this particular subforum.

86 percent say they would like to be and live as their target gender.

Are MTF crossdreamers transgender?

In the comments there is a debate on whether this means that the majority of MTF crossdreamers are transgender. As often is the case, such a discussion becomes problematic because the participants have different ideas of what "transgender" means.

I use the word "transgender" as an umbrella term for all kinds of gender variance, which means that most crossdreamers are transgender, while others understand it to mean something in the line of "transsexual", i.e. someone who wants or plans to transition.

In any case the answer is yes. The majority of these crossdreamers are transgender people.

In our own survey of crossdreamers back in 2014 we did reach a significant number of gender dysphoric people, as 853 out of 1199 reported some form of gender dysphoria. On a scale from 1="It does not bother me much" to 6="It causes me severe distress", 30 percent selected the most severe degrees (4 and 5). Severe gender dysphoria is by many considered a precursor for transsexuality. 24 percent of all respondents considered themselves transsexual (we gave them a definition of transsexual in line with the DSM-5 manual).

Whether the diverging results from the reddit polls are caused by a real shift in the way crossdreamers see themselves or whether it is caused by different samples and different methodology is unclear.

We do know that the increasing social and cultural acceptance of transgender identities have also affected those that used to be classified as "crossdressers" and "tranvestites". The crossdresser culture of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s was often dominated by male assigned people who went out of their way to deny that they where transsexual, often out of fear of losing their loved ones. These days the term "crossdresser" is rarely used, and the term "transvestite" is considered offensive. Indeed, most crossdreamers now see themselves as some shade of transgender or non-binary, as these polls confirm.

I think that we can conclude that the old divide between "true transsexuals" on the one hand and cisgender "crossdressers" on the other is meaningless. A lot of crossdressers and crossdreamers are gender dysphoric. Indeed, a lot of them do transition.

Links to the questions and comments:

Do you have a desire to be female?
Do you think you will ever transition?
Have you wanted to/considered transitioning?

The photo at the top is by RoBeDeRo, and it reflects some of the confusion regarding terms. It pops up in searches for "transgender" over at Gettys. However, the photographer describes the photo as a "CloseUp Portrait Of Androgynous Man Crossdressed As Woman". 


  1. In my opinion, crossdreamers are transgender regardless of their desire or eventual transition.

    I was a crossdreamer from about four years old. In elementary school I learned something about "sex change" (as it was called in the 60s), followed Christine Jorgensen when I came across articles about her. But like we've all heard I just dreamed of flipping a switch, waking up female. This continued through decades of my adult life. I couldn't imagine a scenario where I could have confidence that I should or would transition.

    Now, in my early 60s, I have transitioned. Even as I started seriously started exploring where I might be on the Benjamin scale I was pretty sure I'd never end up solidly in the right hand column.

    My point? It's that (here again, IMHO) people who have any gender dysphoria are trans, whether they know or acknowledge it. I have heard that there are some trans people who don't have GD. Fine, but that's not something I understand!

  2. I agree. A lot of trans people suppress their true nature out of fear of being socially excluded and of losing their loved ones. There is a lot of internalized transphobia and homophobia. Many do not even understand that their depression and despair is caused by gender incongruence, but they are transgender all the same.

    As for those who do not report gender dysphoria: I suspect that the mismatch between the role you have to play and your true gender may manifest itself in many ways, and that alienation from your own body is one of them. Some may also be dysphoric, but they interpret these feelings as something else.

    1. Excellent point, Jack. Thinking back, throughout my life (pre-transition) I was uptight, desperately trying to hold on, create balance in my personal, family, and career lives. I really didn't know why I was so sensitive to perceived slights or disrespects. I was a perfectionist's perfectionist, very self-critical and often frustrated when I made mistakes, which at least some of which were due to my rigidly trying to make it through the day.

      I wonder if this is where some of the rage and discontent in today's world comes from: people who're frustrated/ashamed/fearful of acknowledging and being their true selves whether that's sexuality, gender, religion, and certainly, feeling that they're being trod upon by those who have the education and means to live more fully.

      An ex-girlfriend, who is non-binary, used to say "You be you," to me, in encouragement of my occasional self-consciousness about being a (trans) woman. "You be you" might be a useful name for a movement or program trying to reach and teach that being true to oneself is so foundational to mental health and well-being.


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