April 12, 2024

Trans woman: Am I a woman or is it just "autogynephilia"?

"Am I a woman or is it just a fetish?" This question pops up from time to time in queer and transgender forums. This is a question created by a culture that use sexual variance to invalidate gender variance. As soon as you see erotic crossdreaming fantasies as an effect of gender variance, they all makes sense.

In spite of all the transphobic activities we see around the world today, the "autogynephilia" theory has lost much of its traction. Sure, "gender critical" TERFs ("trans-exclusionary radical feminists") make use of the theory from time to time, as it allows them to portray trans women as sexual perverts. 

Still, the main  argument used against trans-people today is that is that they are  victims of some kind of left-wing/Marxist/postmodernist plot run by a hidden cabal of transgender activists (a variant of the old Bolshevik/Wall Street/Hollywood/Jews conspiracy of the 1930s, if there ever was one.) 

That narrative is extremely harmful, but it does not do the same direct damage to the souls of trans people. Younger  people are in general much more tolerant of sexual variance, so it is easier for them to see that the "autogynephilia" theory is just another example of old people trying to uphold the values of an oppressive society.

However, older trans people and trans people who are growing up in extremely conservative environments may be led down into this rabbit hole of old fashioned medical pathologization. This is partly because they are much more likely to be looking for a disease explanation for their crossgender dreams. If it is a disease, there might be a cure, they think.

This blog was originally set up to tackle this way of thinking, so it makes sense that we come back to the issue when needed. 

Trans woman in doubt

Over at Crossdream Life one member reports struggling with understanding their gender identity in relation to Ray Blanchard's autogynephilia (AGP) narrative. They recount experiencing sexual fantasies about being female or emasculated during childhood. At 34, they are now undergoing medical transition, having lived as their female self since 2022 and started hormone replacement therapy (HRT) soon after. 

Despite initially believing their feelings were solely a fetish, they say that they now realize the depth of their gender dysphoria and are therefore pursuing gender-affirming surgery. However, they question whether their past erotic fantasies have influenced the development of their transgender identity, potentially causing them to question their sanity.

The autogynephilia hypothesis is part of a so-called two-type model of transgender identities.Dr. Ray Blanchard of Toronto argues that there are two types of transgender women: (1) Effeminate gay men who play the role of women to have sex with straight men (HSTS) and (2) perverted straight men who have fallen in love with their inner woman ("autogybnephiliacs"). The latter category is a variant of the older "crossdressers are fetishists" theory. All transgender people (as well as homosexuals) are mentally ill, according to Blanchard, a person who is now actively helping TERFs and white supremacists in their war against trans people. 

The autogynephilia theory has been debunked by science.

Here is my answer:

//Well, you know my view of the AGP theory. It has been thoroughly debunked by serious science. But your fear is real. It is not surprising given that we live in a culture that tries to control both gender variance and sexual variation by labelling them as "sexual fetishes" or "sexual perversions".

So if I understand you correctly, your fear is that it is your previous fascination for feminization and emasculation fantasies have rewired your brain somehow, leading you to a point where you feel the need to have a female body, even if you no longer have such fantasies.

Three observations

Let me make some observations first that are clearly true:

1. There are many male assigned people who experience themselves as women. This conviction and feeling can be so strong that it colors their whole life. They experience a severe discontent and dissonance because of the mismatch between their assigned gender and their desired gender. They are suffering from gender dysphoria.

2. Practically all non-transitioned gender dysphoric trans women crossdream. That is: They have fantasies about living as a woman and/or having a woman's body.

3. Some of the gender dysphoric transgender women are drawn to erotic feminization or emasculation fantasies. Many more have other types of dreams and fantasies while they are still presenting as men, however. They may dream about taking part in typical female activities. Being a woman in a group of female friends. Having romantic relationships as a woman. Having sex as a woman etc. 

The content of the crossdreams vary from trans woman to trans woman, in the same way the fantasies and daydreams of cis men and women vary from person to person.

Two possible explanations

We can hypothesize that there are at least two explanations for becoming a trans woman. 

Theory 1: There is a mismatch between assigned and experienced gender based on a mix of genetic, hormonal, personal and cultural factors (as is the dominant explanation for transgender identity formation today). 

Theory 2: There has been a change of the brain and/or the psyche caused by feminization fantasies. 

To me all fundamental scientific principles and observations point to Theory 1 being the right one.

The reason the fantasies of trans women vary is the same as for why the fantasies of cis people vary: Personal experience and history (including trauma) and dominant personality traits. 

Gender incongruence among those assigned male at birth may express itself through dreams of wearing pretty dresses, become a female astronaut, becoming a mother, being a female fashion model and so on and so forth, in the same way cis women may imagine their future selves.

The fact that some dreams are sexual in nature does not make them make them less of an expression of a fundamental female identity. Indeed, the whole idea that sexual fantasies that do not fit the ideas Ray Blanchard has about "normal sexuality" are signs of mental illness is truly crazy. 

(For a discussion about the unscientific nature of Blanchard's definition of paraphilia (sexual perversion), see this article of mine.)

A common sense explanation for feminization fantasies

The much less complex and reasonable interpretation of feminization fantasies are that they are created by the mind's need to reconcile cultural taboos with a natural desire to have sex as the one you truly are. 

People who present as men are ridiculed for wanting to be a woman, and to look for a way to become a woman is taboo. The feminization fantasies may seem to solve this dilemma, as they include an element of force  and domination to the dream. The "man" is not be blamed for becoming a woman, because "he" is forced into "femdom". 

Trans women with a different and more tolerant background will often skip this step, because they do not see being trans as an illness but as a gift. 

On top of this may add the fact that a lot of people, men and women, cis and trans, have submission fantasies. This seems to be a natural trait among many people, so why not among trans people? See my article "What the sexual fantasies of non-transgender people tell us about the dreams of those who are trans" for more about this.

To conclude: The most reasonable explanation is that there is only one type of gender incongruence, but that the crossdreaming that follows from this gender dissonance will vary based on personality and experience.

Besides, to argue that the gender dysphoria is caused by the feminization fantasies requires a much more complex type of reasoning. It becomes harder, for instance, to explain why some "men" are attracted to feminization and emasculation fantasies in the first place, while others are not. Blanchard's explanation has clearly been debunked. It makes much more sense to explain the attraction of these fantasies as a sign of some shade of gender variance, rather than the other way around.//

Let me add here that, as the member of CDL explains, using hormones and expanding your fantasies about becoming a woman into real life do not make the desire to live as a woman less urgent. If this kind of gender dysphoria was caused by a sexual paraphilia you should expect that taking estrogen and anti-androgens (which will reduce the sex drive significantly) would "cure" that person from their gender dysphoria. That does not happen.

The autogynephilia theory explained and dissected

On using "autogynephilia" as a transphobic tool of oppression and invalidation:


  1. It was me who wrote that comment. Thank you for posting this.

  2. Thank you for this article. I'm in my eighties and you have explained what has lived with me since at least age 12. I was told it was a fetish, even my wife accepted that. Not fetish, just who I am

  3. Exactly, it is simply what it is, no need to add guilt and shame to something natural.

  4. Jack I always go back to the fact that many if not most transgender people have feelings of gender incongruence which predate the formation of the sexual identity. It is only once they cross into puberty that the desire to be the opposite sex is tinged with sexual energy perhaps as fantasy filling in for what is yet unfulfilled.

    Since this is a phenomenon which has been found repeatedly all over the world it shows that people aren't deluded. If the feelings were not genuine once a transition had been undertaken then the regret rate should logically be high but it is in fact the opposite and when the gender dysphoria is treated the results are almost always positive.


Click here for this blog's Code of Conduct!

Discuss crossdreamer and transgender issues!