On Crossdreamers 2

Crossdreamer Sidebars is a support blog for Crossdreamers.com, a blog devoted to crossdreamer and transgender issues.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

The SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies on Autogynephilia

This is what the SAGE Encyclopedia of LGBTQ Studies has to say about autogynephilia:

'The term autogynephilia was first used in 1989 by Ray Blanchard, a sexologist, to describe a purported class of transgender women.  Classifications of transgender women prior to this time tended to divide this group into those who were sexually and romantically interested in men as “homosexual transsexuals” and those who were sexually and romantically interested in women were classified as “heterosexual fetishistic transvestites.”   
Critiques of these classifications noted that the “homosexual” and “heterosexual labels were applied incorrectly, failing to recognize the gender identities of trans women themselves.   
These classifications also reflected mainstream stigma around transgender identity as they resigned many transgender women to little more than sexual fetishists.  The autogynephilia label only intensified this view of some transgender women as sexual fetishists.   
The theory of autogynephilia asserted that many of the trans women classified into the “heterosexual fetishistic transvestites” category were primarily attracted not to women but to the idea of themselves as women.  In this way, autogynephilia was proposed as a type of primary sexual-identity category for transgender women.   
Subsequent research has found little empirical basis for such a classification, and many researchers have criticized the classification as transphobic.  
One particular critique of this classification system concerns its failure to recognize the way in which all sexual attraction depends on one’s own gender identity.  For example, a critical component of both homosexual and heterosexual attraction among many cisgender men involves an erotic charge around one’s own manliness or manhood.   
To assume that such attachments to (and sexual desire motivated through) one’s own gender identity and expression, in relation to another’s, exists only among transgender women, is misguided.   
Despite a relative lack of empirical support for the diagnoses of autogynephilia among transgender women, some segments of the radical feminist community endorse this diagnostic category in their own writing as well. ( … )  
The most outspoken critiques of the theory of autogynephilia have emerged from self-identified transfeminist academics (e.g. Julia Serano and Talia Mae Bettcher), who have highlighted not only the lack of empirical support for these theories but also the underlying biases and assumption revealed in the very foundations of the theory itself.'

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How to Stop Transphobic Bullies

This is a sidebar to the post What Drives Transphobia over at crossdreamers.com.

A blogger over at tumblr asked me:
What can you do to stop transphobic
bullies? (Illustration photo: Photodisc)

What is the best way to teach others that alienating a transgender person is wrong? How should I, even as just one person...how can I make a difference?

I answered: 

Humanize transgender people!

Make the others see and feel that they are real people, just like them. This may require some kind of contextualizing: “How would you feel if you were harassed for identifying with your own assigned gender?”

If you know the person, it might help to bring up areas where they have been harassed for other things, just to remind them of how it feels to be excluded.

These kinds of arguments won’t work with the truly militant transphobes, but then again, it is not your job to convince everyone.

You can reduce the damage they do in your community, though. If one of the extremists brings up anti-trans propaganda, you may, in a calm and constructive manner, present some reasonable facts. The extremist won’t be convinced, but the other listeners may.

This requires that you have facts at hand, of course, so you would have to read up on the latest research and discussions. Much of this is available online. To give you one example:

Extremist: “Trans women are perverted men who want to molest women in public bathrooms.”

You: “I have heard of no cases where trans persons have harassed trans women in a public bath room. I am not saying that this cannot happen, as there are bad seeds among all groups of people, but if it ever does happen, it is extremely rare. Trans people, like other people, go to the bath room to relieve themselves.

“I have heard of many instances of straight non-transgender men harassing women in such places, however, not to speak of all the trans women who have been sexually assaulted and beaten up in mens’ bathrooms. Remember also that you by banning trans women from women’s bathrooms, will force trans men to use women’s bath rooms. Is that truly what you want?”

The point is to make everyone see how unreasonable they are.

Remember that transphobes will argue that anything bad a trans person does can be explained by them being transgender. Anything bad a non-transgender person does will be explained by special circumstances, unique to that person,. That is: Unless they belong to some other marginalized group. African-American criminals are criminals because they are black. White, rich, criminals are criminals because they are unfortunate, mad, had a bad childhood or whatever.

It helps to unmask the hypocrisy in arguing this way.

Please add comments to this post: What Drives Transphobia?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Ray Blanchard's Definition of Paraphilia (Perversion)

Blanchard's definition of "paraphilia" (sexual perversion) has absolutely no basis in science, only in his own hang-ups on what constitutes proper sexual behavior.
We believe this couple will pass Blanchard's
perversion test, even the woman is on top and the man
is fully clothed. It is hard to say, given the vagueness of
Blanchard's definition.
Photo: strigaroman


Ray Blanchard is the father of the "autogynephilia" theory, a stigmatizing and transphobic theory that reduces trans women who are attracted to women to sexual perverts ("paraphiliacs").

What people often miss in the transgender debate is the basis for Blanchard understanding of the term paraphilia.

The basis for Blanchard's thinking is the kind of quasi-Darwinian model you find in much of evolutionary psychology, that is: the purpose of sex is reproduction.

This is why he also argues that homosexuality is a disorder (even if he has made desperate attempts at proving that homosexuality can be evolutionary advantageous elsewhere).

Blanchard's (and the gay sexologists James Cantor's) definition of paraphilia therefore ends up like this:

"The term paraphilia denotes any powerful [intense] and persistent sexual interest other than sexual interest in copulatory or precopulatory behavior [genital stimulation or preparatory fondling] with phenotypically normal, consenting adult human partners. "

(Cantor et al., 2009, p. 527, text in brackets refer to the version proposed to the latest edition of the American psychiatric manual, the DSM-5)

To put this in  more everyday terms:

"The term paraphilia covers everything that cannot be classified as a traditional intercourse or traditional foreplay with an adult human partner that looks normal and who agrees to having sex."

Blanchard himself agrees that the definition seems to label everything outside a very narrow range of sexual behaviors as paraphilic. In his presentation, however, he puts up two slides that are supposed to show that this is not the case.

Paraphilic: e.g. 

  • enemas; 
  • feces or urine; 
  • generalized interest in amputees, 
  • paralyzed  persons, 
  • physical deformities; 
  • bondage; 
  • whipping; 
  • cutting; hypoxia, 
  • sneezing or smoking persons, 
  • obscene telephone calls.


Not paraphilic: e.g.

  • cunnilingus, 
  • fellatio, 
  • anal penetration with the finger, penis, or dildo; 
  • anilingus, 
  • intracrural intercourse; 
  • cross masturbation; 
  • kissing; 
  • and fondling.


And this is where he reveals that his science is nothing but an old man's desperate attempt at forcing his own view of what is "normal" upon a nature that does not care for these kinds of neurotic classification schemes.

There is actually no underpinning logic to what Blanchard considers paraphilic or not paraphilic, only his own personal prejudices as what should be considered kosher at this particular point in history.

This isn't science. This is sexist stereotypes camouflaged as science. This is the story about the blind leading the seeing. This is the story about the sexually obsessed telling healthy people that they are perverts. This is the story about sexology becoming a weapon of oppression. And they tell me I am the mentally ill one...


Friday, September 11, 2015

The Autogynephilia Theory is in Violation of Basic Research and Health Care Ethics

There can be no doubt that the autogynephilia theory and Ray Blanchard and J. Michael Bailey's research  on transgender people are in violation of fundamental ethical principles of both science and patient care.
Photo: Rawpixel Ltd


By reducing the identity of trans women to being men suffering from a sexual perversion or effeminate gay men trying to seduce straight men, the researchers are basically camouflaging sexist stereotypes  and transphobic beliefs as science.

By doing so they are not only invalidating the identities of transgender people. They are also contributing to the continuous marginalization of trans people by giving trans-phobic bullies arguments that can be used to harass them,

Indeed, this is exactly what we see right now: The autogynephilia theory is nearly exclusively referred to by anti-LGBT activists from the extreme religious right and so-called "trans-exclusionary radical feminists".

Below I have included some paragraphs from documents discussing the ethics of health care and research on humans.

As I see it, the autogynephilia theory is in violation of all these basic principles.


"7. Medical research is subject to ethical standards that promote and ensure respect for all human subjects and protect their health and rights.

8. While the primary purpose of medical research is to generate new knowledge, this goal can never take precedence over the rights and interests of individual research subjects.

9. It is the duty of physicians who are involved in medical research to protect the life, health, dignity, integrity, right to self-determination, privacy, and confidentiality of personal information of research subjects. The responsibility for the protection of research subjects must always rest with the physician or other health care professionals and never with the research subjects, even though they have given consent."


"Sexologists shall respect and uphold the dignity of those receiving their professional services."


"A member respects the client’s personality, experience and dignity. This means sensitivity to individual differences that are based on client’s age, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnic and cultural origin, language, religion, functional level, education and socioeconomic status. A member is also aware of the limitations that her/his own background might cause in these matters.

A member strives to be unbiased towards the client’s values, way of life and ideology. It is important to identify the impact of one’s own values, emotions and motivations on the client relationships, and one should always pay special attention to using neutral and respectful language when client is contacted via telephone, email or internet."


"A physician shall be dedicated to providing competent medical care with compassion and respect for human dignity and rights.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Autogynephilia defined (original version)


This is the original version of the Crossdreamer.com 2009 introduction of autogynephilia. Since this version could be interpreted as support for the theory, I have replaced it with a new.

[Click here for a more recent discussion of autogynephilia!]

When I started this blog last year, it was to have a place for discussing a phenomenon so rare that I it is never mentioned in popular media.

There are men (like me) that fantasize about having a woman's body and get sexually aroused by this. If you met me, you would find no sign of this inner woman in my outward appearance.

I do not look particularly feminine (quite the opposite, actually). I dress like a man, and have many typical male interests (including science and technology). I love women and have a  girlfriend.

Gay or what?

It is more than a little confusing, because -- even if I cannot for my life think of having sex with a man as a man -- my female self has no such scruples. I could be a closet homosexual, of course, living in denial. Still, going down a busy city street, I have only eyes for the women and rarely remember the men.

Sometimes I wish I was a homosexual, because then I get out of the closet and start living a normal life. I live after all in a country where the male finance minister took his male partner to a royal reception and noone objected.

But I am not. Sometimes I also which that I could just come out as a transsexual, get gender reassignment and start a life as a woman. But my inner man protests and tells me that I am definitely "more than a woman".

The search for language

Given that the identity of modern man is so strongly defined by sexual orientation and gender, I have a huge problem, and it is hard to grasp this problem out of lack of words. For a long time I found no words for this condition, and you need language in order to understand yourself.

This is why I was so relieved when I found the term "autogynephilia" on the net: "to love the image of one self as a woman". If there is a scientific term for this condition, it means that I am not alone. And if I am not alone, there may be others I can discuss this with.

So I started this blog. Then I stopped writing, because it dawned on me that this area of research is very much in its infancy, and also very controversial.

Although I recognized much of myself in the descriptions given, there were also parts of the research that did not ring true to me, not so much the descriptions of autogynephiliacs as the explanation -- the underlying narrative. I needed to read more.

Anne Lawrence



In a series of blog posts I will try to sum up some of this reading. I will quote Anne Lawrence liberally. She is an expert in the field. Moreover she is male to female transsexual herself, and a self-confessed "autogynephiliac".

Summary of autogynephilia

Anne Lawrence gives the following summary of what autogyenphilia is, referring to the researcher Ray Blanchard, who coined the term:

"Ray Blanchard proposed that these transsexuals have a paraphilia [i.e. sexual disorder] he called autogynephilia, which is the propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of oneself as female.

"Autogynephilia defines a transsexual typology and provides a theory of transsexual motivation, in that Blanchard proposed that MtF transsexuals are either sexually attracted exclusively to men (homosexual) or are sexually attracted primarily to the thought or image of themselves as female (autogynephilic), and that autogynephilic transsexuals seek sex reassignment to actualize their autogynephilic desires."

Two categories of male to female transsexuals
In another article, she makes the following summary:

"One category of MtF transsexualism includes persons who were overtly feminine as children, who are very feminine as adults, and who are exclusively sexually attracted to men; these individuals are usually referred to as homosexual MtF transsexuals (Cohen-Kettenis & Gooren, 1999). [called nonautogyephiliac by Lawrence].

"The other category of MtF transsexualism includes persons who were not overtly feminine during childhood, who are not remarkably feminine as adults, and who are not exclusively sexually attracted to men, but who may be sexually attracted to women, to women and men, or to neither sex; these individuals are usually referred to as nonhomosexual MtF transsexuals (Cohen-Kettenis & Gooren, 1999).

"Nearly all persons of this second MtF transsexual type have a history of transvestic fetishism or sexual arousal with cross-dressing (Blanchard, 1985; Blanchard, Clemmensen, & Steiner, 1987).[also called autogynephiliacs]"

Four types of autogynephiliacs

Autogynephilia denotes the propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as female. This imagening may take different forms. Blanchard operates with four types of autogynephilia:
  1. Transvestic (fantasy of wearing women's clothing)
  2. Behavioural (fantasy of engaging in typical feminine behaviour, let's say knitting together with women)
  3. Physiologic (fantasy of pregnancy, breast feeding, menstruating)
  4. Anatomic (fantasy of having a woman's body, including partial autogynephilia, where the focus is on a mix of male and female bodyparts, as in -- for instance -- becoming a "she-male".)

More autogynephiliacs take the plunge

The autogynephiliacs are, according to Lawrence, now dominating the group of men who undergo sex reassignment surgery:

"Most of the increase in MtF transsexualism can be accounted for by men who would have been considered atypical—and probably inappropriate—candidates for sex reassignment only a few decades earlier. These men are usually unremarkably masculine in their appearance and behavior, and they typically seek sex reassignment after having lived outwardly successful lives as men, often in male-dominated professions such as engineering or computer science.

"Most have been married to women, and many have fathered children. They invariably have a history of sexual arousal with crossdressing or cross-gender fantasy (Lawrence 2003, 2004). Most MtF transsexuals who undergo sex reassignment in the United States and the United Kingdom now appear to fit this pattern (Green and Young 2001; Lawrence 2005)."

Again: the reason I have found the term so useful, is because I recognize my own life in these descriptions.

That does not mean that I necessarily will accept the theories that lies behind these terms.

In the next blog post I will take a look at why this terminology has been considered so controversial.

[Note of September 2010: Due to the negative connotations following the world "autogynephiliac" I am no longer using it to describe men with feminization fantasies. Instead I use the term crossdreamers.]

[Note of August 2012: I realize now that new reader's who come to this blog and read this post only, may believe that I am a supporter of the autogynephilia theory. This is not the case: Although I know for a fact that crossdreamers (or "autogynephiliacs") exist, the theory used to explain their condition is seriously bad science). Take a look at the following blog post for an in depth discussion of the term and the theory:

Thursday, April 2, 2015

On male to female hormone replacement therapy

Sidebar to the Crossdreamers.com blog post "Does the effects of hormones on transgender prove that crossdreaming has a biological component?"
Illustration: designer491


The complexity of the effects sex hormones have on our minds and bodies is mind-blowing, and can be hard to grasp.

On this page I have gathered a few quotes from medical experts that might be of help.

Estrogen refers to feminizing hormones, and includes estradiol. Androgens refers to masculinizing hormones, including testosterone.

Note that hormone therapy is not a simple "adding more A" or "adding more E" to the body. Instead you add hormones that interfere with some rather complex feedback loops of hormone production in the mind/body-system.

You may, for instance, help your body transform your own testosterone into estrogen. You may also influence the way your brain absorbs and make use of sex hormones (i.e. influence hormone reception as opposed to hormone production). If the brain stops processing a hormone, it does not matter how much of it you find in your blood stream.

Male or female hormone replacement therapy

Here is an extract from Thomas E. Bevan presentation in the book The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism:

"Oral estradiol [estrogen] blocks release of hypothalamic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) that normally stimulates release of testosterone through other hormones. Release of GnRH in the hypothalamus causes the release of luteinizing and follicle-stimulating hormones in the pituitary. This, in turn, triggers synthesis and release of testosterone from the testes. Excessive testosterone feeds back on the GnRH mechanism in the hypothalamus and reduces the testosterone level. The GnRH feedback mechanism responds, not only to testosterone but also estradiol and progesterone.


On Anne Vitale's theory on testosterone-poisoning in MTF crossdreamers

Sidebar to the Crossdreamers.com blog post "Does the effects of hormones on transgender prove that crossdreaming has a biological component?"
Anne Vitale presents a theory aimed at explaining dysphoria
in MTF crossdressers and crossdreamers.
Illustration: Jupiterimages


One of the leading experts on crossdreamers  is Dr. Anne Vitale. She is herself a transsexual woman, and has helped a large number of transgender patients, from those who identify fully with their target sex and want to transition (transsexuals), to non-transsexual crossdressers.

She has written one of the best books on transgender conditions that also covers crossdressers and crossdreamers.

I must admit she sometimes appear a bit too essentialist for my taste. She writes, for instance, that the defeminization of the brain in perinatal males experience leaves them "incapable of female behavior and sensibility," (Perinatal refers to the period around childbirth).

I find no support for the idea of a unique "female behavior and sensibility", as no temperaments, interests, abilities  or behaviors are exclusive to one gender. The sense of feeling like a man or a woman cannot be reduced to a function of the way you behave. (More about this here!)

Still, her idea about crossdreamers and male to female transsexuals being poisoned by testosterone is interesting.
Anne Vitale (from her home page)

In her book The Gendered Self, Vitale suggests that the variation we seen between transsexual and non-transsexual male to female transgender is caused by variation in the prenatal androgenization/defeminization processes, leading to different degrees of feminization of the brain, including female like hormone receptors.

In a separate note on hormones she writes:
"It is beyond dispute that there are both androgen and estrogen receptors in the brain. Genetic males normally have more active androgen receptors than women and women have more active estrogen receptors than men. That this normal distribution of estrogen and androgen receptor cells can be different in some individuals appears to be a possibility. It therefore follows that androgenic and estrogenic compounds will result in a modified-to-counter expected behavior in affected individuals. For reasons beyond the scope of this Note and as counterintuitive as it may seem, it can only be assumed that testosterone plays a crucial role in forcing certain male individuals to crossdress and experience femininity to the maximum degree possibly."