On Crossdreamers 2

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

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:

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