That is the best explanation of “trans” issues that I have ever read.
As I understood the author, the desire to dress in women’s clothes is a type of sexual fetish which usually starts in very early age. In some, it becomes a compulsion which can lead to living full-time in women’s clothes and, famously, even cosmetic surgery to change the appearance of sex organs.
This helps answer a lot of voguish questions. Has the man actually become a woman? Obviously no.
Should we penalise other people – female athletes, female prisoners etc – because this man was gripped by this compulsion? Again no.
Should we allow boys under 18 who feel this way to indulge these feelings (by wearing girls uniform or taking hormone treatments)? Again it would seem crazy to do so.
Should we treat these men with sympathy and understanding? Should we protect them from violence? Of course we should. Should we offer support and guidance to young people with these feelings? Yes.
Great article Debbie and UnHerd!
I wonder where all these cheerleading comments come from.
Did it ever occur to you that some people in the trans community are more than willing to indulge sexist stereotypes that denigrate them so that they can make a living selling BS tomes to right-wing suckers? After all, what else can they do except sell out when they are routinely demonized and the only thing they have to sell is their own lived experience after a lifetime of discrimination? Everybody has to eat.
When it’s a black person hating on ‘black culture’ it’s called an Uncle Tom. Bill Cosby is a great example of such a person who has written an incredibly disingenuous book entitled, ‘Come On People’.
That’s right, the black icon who encourages black teens to speak standard English omitted the comma in the title of his book. Was that deliberate? One would think so, since he’s such a stickler for details.
He also sneaked drugs into women’s drinks and raped them. The only reason he got out of jail is because the prosecutor promised not to prosecute him in order to compel his testimony in civil lawsuits so that the 50 women who accused him of rape can seek damages.
“According to the ruling, written by Justice David Wecht, Cosby’s 5th Amendment and 14th Amendment rights were violated when he was tried a decade after then-DA Castor issued a press release, carried by multiple major media organizations including CNN and MSNBC, unconditionally stating Cosby would not be prosecuted, with the specific intention to allow a civil court to compel testimony from Cosby and deprive him of the Constitutional right to remain silent so as not to incriminate himself. Cosby was subsequently required to testify during a civil trial that he gave Quaaludes to women before engaging in sexual intercourse, doing so, the majority held, under the belief that he would not be prosecuted over his testimony. There was no documentary evidence that any agreement not to prosecute had been reached, but the majority held that Castor’s statement was binding on any district attorney who succeeded him and that Cosby should never have been tried, so it ordered him released immediately. Cosby was promptly released that day.”
Those lawsuits are finally coming to fruition. The man may escape punishment, but it’s less likely that he is going to get off scot-free.
How do we distinguish AG from non-gender conforming? As a child, in dressing up games, I always dressed up as a male knight or ‘red indian’ brave. I never dressed up as a princess or a squaw. I felt like a male warrior to the core of my being. I played with toy soldiers and train sets. Dolls left me cold. In my teens I became interested in boys and women’s fashion (a little) but in my twenties I entered a profession dominated by males and also was one of the first women in a male Territorial Army unit. I’ve never been very ‘feminine’, When wearing trousers or leggings I instinctively sit like a man. Yet I’ve never questioned my identity as a woman.
So much of these preferences are within a network of social constructions. In Pakistan a man identifying with women might choose to wear the kalmar shameez – baggy trousers with shirt, whereas in the west he would turn to skirts and dresses.
In other words, I’m still not convinced that medical alteration of the body is a natural next step from gender non-conformity. Could it be that it’s a late 20th and 21st century pathway that’s as socially conditioned as gender stereotypes?
Very interesting. It does sound like two different phenomena. Could the distinction be by the presence / absence of a shivery sexual feeling attached to those clothes? Being interested in a male interaction style / behaviour, but not in a male sexual role? Or is it just different for girls?
You sound like an acquaintance of mine: Very knowledgable on the rules of Rugby, drinks a mean pint, direct way of talking, has a wife and a son. Easy to interact with, actually, more on a male wavelength if maybe slightly less of the implicit status/respect dynamic that you always have with men – but never any funny feelings (among men at least) that she is not a fully qualified woman.
The absence of this ‘fetish’ in the ICD and the DSM is a red flag that it’s a BS hypothesis.
So is the absence of a complementary ‘autoandrophilia’.
I think you’re too hung up on cultural artifacts. The problem is in identifying with the opposite sex. The clothing and stuff just flows from that. Even if we lived in a world where males and females all had shaved heads and wore jumpsuits and there were otherwise no strong cultural signifiers around sex or gender trans people would still exist because ultimately those who transition physically are expressing an identification with the other sex that transcends culture. This is also why you get things like trans women who aren’t even particularly interested in femininity. Some will even get bottom surgery then detransition because they just wanted a vulva and don’t otherwise care about performing femininity.
Maybe the identification happens sort of like how imprinting works for baby ducklings? Where something happens and you are drawn to following members of the opposite sex in whatever it is they do instead of your own sex.
Or maybe it is a sexual thing, but even then Blanchard himself said that the quintessential AGP arousal would be devoid of any artifacts or symbols of femininity. It would just be a person aroused at the idea of having a female body.
In any case creating a perfectly egalitarian society by abolishing gender would probably do away with non-binary people but would have no impact on the existence of transsexuals who are here to stay so long as the human race has sexes.
Finally, a sane comment among a sea of insanity.
I agree. This article also represents the experience of just one individual, and I think each person who is trans will have somewhat different reasons for being moved in that direction with different forces having propelled them. It is a complex issue.
Your experience is similar to most gender nonconforming people. Find Peachyoghurts channel on Youtube. She is the quintessential butch lesbian, and is clearly a woman. I could make a similar video of myself, except that I’m heterosexual.
Gender is a construct, it’s not defined by biology.
Frozen section and functional MRI say that you are wrong.
Thank you, Judy. I still love trucks and trains and tools! But like you, I have never questioned my identity as a woman. I have questioned what being a male or female means in our society and the strictures that result from some of the “rules” of behavior and dress that go along with it. In my view, medical alteration is fraught with all kinds of dangers, both physical and psychological and is another way to imprison oneself, really, because going back should you change your mind is really not possible, as the treatments alone change the mind and body so dramatically, as does the surgery. So one can never be quite the same. There will always be trans people, however, and I am sure there have always been, and for at least some of them, the medical alterations have provided them with a sense of wholeness and completion. This is an important consideration.
Thank you for trying to explain this in a cool and straightforward way. It still remains an impenetrable mystery for me, but at least I understand that it is not the preserve of the unpleasant trans bullies who dominate a lot of this debate.
Good comment, except that the bullies are not usually themselves trans. They merely appoint themselves to speak on behalf of the trans.
True across: race, queer, gender, disability, and post-colonial topics.
The reason it is an impenetrable mystery is because the entire premise of autogynephilia is sexist BS.
Just because a person has an M.D. or Ph.D. doesn’t mean the person isn’t a narcissistic manipulative creep with an ax to grind. In Blanchard’s day, ‘legitimate’ sexologists wouldn’t touch transgender care with a 10 foot pole. That left people like me in the hands of creeps like Blanchard.
There was even a routine practice of using electroshock torture as aversion therapy in Utah where sexist Mormon bigots tortured their own kids into brain damage. I met one at a support group. Later in life, during her 60s, the neural pathways finally healed enough for her to start feeling sexuality again, and she embarked on transition, seeking to piece together a shattered life that had been completely devoid of joy or sex and full of amnesia from the brain damage. She was quiet in the meetings, subdued and somber, and only revealed minimal details to the group because it was so excruciatingly painful for her to speak of the horror she had endured.
Just because you read it on the Internet doesn’t make it true…especially if it’s on a multimillionaire-funded right wing propaganda site like Unherd.
Thank you for another well written and refreshingly sane article, Debbie. I always make a point of reading your pieces and invariably come away the better informed for it. Best wishes to you and yours!
But I was arrested by the suggestion that ‘eighty’ suggests ‘tights.’
Sorry, I failed to get my head round that.
Ninety and nightie, perhaps.
Probably me being obtuse.
I struggled with that as well, although t ight s and e ight y have a group of common letters so synaesthesia might be playing a role.
At age three?
That was my question!
More likely your confusion is rooted in the entire premise being total BS that isn’t in the ICD or the DSM.
There are lots of legitimate conditions that aren’t in the DSM, and increasingly, non-conditions that are.
I’m female and grew up with brothers and sisters in a household that had very little spare money and clothes were often hand me downs. It was difficult to get any sense of individuality or pride in one’s appearance. When once I was cast as a snowflake (I know…) in the school play, along with a group of other little girls, I was absolutely mesmerised and thrilled by the prospect of wearing the costume, which was silver Lurex tights and yards of white net curtain material. It felt impossibly exotic and I had feelings about it very similar to ASMR tingles. Very odd. I had a similar thing the first time I saw tinsel for the Christmas tree. As a girl, there was no shame attached to these strange feelings whatsoever, and I thought nothing of it. Girls have easier access to shiny, sparkly things. Maybe these feelings are very common but suppressed in young boys. Maybe there would be benefit in simply giving them free expression without assuming there is any link to confusion about gender identity.
Nice example. On the ‘free expression’ point, though, part of clothing is a signalling function, to show who you are and which group you belong to (it was very easy to distinguish the scientists, the managers, the techs, and the marketing guys in my factory canteen). Particularly with children where identities are formed and may be more policed by the group it would seem hard to decouple expression from the group identity you are trying to / seen as expressing.
When I came out as gay I got a lot of joy from the freedom it gave me in terms of expressing myself. I wore more interesting clothes. I got a cool and distinctly un-straight haircut. I dated a frat boy who was openly gay and very handsome. It was super. Except I still felt depressed that I could never look pretty. My friends were all girls and they would want to take me shopping with them, this was the 00s so I guess I was their Queer eye or whatever, and I just felt .. sad. I could and did do drag but it still wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want to be their gay shopping buddy I wanted to fit in and feel like a normal part of my social group. I went to a drag show and saw a queen who looked incredibly “fish” (it’s a mean term that just means she looked genetically female) and I asked about her and I learned about HRT and I got on it within a year. Before I was done with college I didn’t even “pass” as a male anymore which was awkward but also what I always wanted. I still have the same best friend from back then (we’ve been pals for 16 years!!) and she and I and my other friends are all on equal footing and our husbands even hang out together. It’s the life I always wanted and while sparkly pretty things were a part of it, they weren’t the whole story. I still participate in the gay community and I know that most homosexual males aren’t like me and don’t mind not being female or seen as an equal among their female peers but I also know that some are like me and just weren’t lucky enough to “pass” and so they repress and live their lives with a tinge of sadness at all times. I think it’s better for us to not have to live with that sadness and feeling of otherness which can never really be fixed by clothes or makeup because what we (those few of us who are like this) want is to be treated as if we were female.
I’m very happy for you.
A refreshingly sane look at the issue.
Very interesting essay by Debbie and wise counsel on the need to avoid early affirmation to the young that they are indeed the opposite sex to the one they are born to. It is unfortunate that trans ideology has existing therapists in its grip.
Yes it’s so easy for a despised and oppressed minority to take over medical science because after having all our family, finances, and dignity stripped from us, we are sitting on top of the world.
The bigotry on display is stunning.
I always welcome your insights on trans issues as refreshing, because they sound grounded and moderate in a debate that definitely needs to lower the volume. Specially interesting is what you don’t say, but only suggest here: that AGP is a psychological condition which should be addressed, but that doesn’t mean everyone who has it is destined for salvation – I mean, transition.
So interesting. Thanks, Debbie.
Thank you, Debbie. A sane, reasoning voice amidst all the noise and great writing too.
I think that Debbie speaks for the silent majority of trans people who are just as sane and sensible as the rest of us, and who must bitterly resent their traducing by the woke smurfs presuming to speak for them.
Thanks for sharing. Really helps understand things.
I’d say that autogynephilia is not the only paraphilia/fetisch/whatever that can manifest strongly in pre-school age. Some of the others would be even harder to explain as rooted in evolution. ‘We are a rum lot’, as one sexologist said. That still leaves two points: These things are important parts of who you are, and deserve being taken seriouisly for that. But also it is kind of hard to imagine how all these weird and wonderful urges could be accepted and treated as normal from school age. BDSM, anyone?
Thank you, Debbie, for having the courage and kindness to share your personal experiences.
Interesting article thank you Debbie. Please correct me if I am wrong but am i right in thinking that with AGP there is a sexual element involved rather than just a compulsion or desire for femininity? and if so wouldn’t transitioning be the (somewhat muted) 24/7 living out of that fetish? Innate or driven by pornography it wouldn’t make any difference. if I were work with an AGP trans woman or know them socially, by interacting with them as a woman wouldn’t I just be playing into that sexual fantasy of womanhood? I’m sorry but that just makes me feel uncomfortable.
“ by interacting with them as a woman wouldn’t I just be playing into that sexual fantasy of womanhood? I’m sorry but that just makes me feel uncomfortable.”
I hope you have a full autonomy of your own thoughts, boundary, and expectation rather than “responding” or becoming “subject” to what “you” may think others are wanting from you.
You may be feeling uncomfortable from your own thoughts of the other. Not because the “other” can “force” you to feel anything.
Sexual gratification from dressing up as a woman has nothing to do with believing you are a woman. AGP is a sexual fetish and no man or boy who presents with it should be described as a woman or a girl – they are not ‘transwomen’ or ‘transgirls’. They are simply men and boys. Some AGPs are quite dangerous and care needs to be taken about not allowing such people into women and girls spaces. They cannot – since they understand nothing about what it is to be either a woman or a girl – speak for women or girls in any way. As Allison Bailey has so succinctly put it, such men have no frame of reference from which to know what it is to be a woman. They are merely turned on by the stereotypes of women which they see around them. For many men it’s clear that AGP is a means of dominating women to such an extent that they can actually inhabit their fetishised notion of what women are. It’s a facet of rape mentality or psychology. There is often deep seated resentment and hatred of women involved – hatred of the object which they long to consume and possess to an extreme. And now because of self-ID, the AGP sufferers are being given a free pass into womens and girls spaces. What could go wrong?
News for you: No biological male knows what it is to be either a woman or a girl. Further, in today’s climate, any young male exhibiting said fetish would be manipulated into believing they needed “gender affirming” medical attention.
I posted my personal experience in the replies to those recent article on the same topic (in the replies to my original post if anyone is interested)
I feel I have a very unique perspective on trans issues. The topic in general is minefield of misunderstanding and confusion. There are often multiple different ‘conditions’ implied and then within that there seems to be multiple interpretations of the root cause of those conditions going on.
I am not like the trans people who reject AGP completely. A lot of it chimes with my experiences, but other things I’ve felt are in direct conflict with it (of course it could be a real thing it’s just that it doesn’t apply to me) I
However I would say that there is something a little unbalanced (and sadly predicatable) at how willing people on one ‘side’ of the debate are to accept AGP as ‘science’ while rejecting any other possible explanations. There is no science behind anything in this debate. That’s the problem. No proving anything. No ‘evidence’. It is all just coming up with explanations that in theory make sense. I can see the logic behind AGP. I can also see the logic behind other explanations.
Debbie tries hard to blame the internet for causing people with AGP/Gender Dysphoria to transition and yet that initial cohort of people who were “making it work” existed prior to the internet didn’t they? The sad fact is that gender dysphoria doesn’t ever go away and so your good options are to transition, cope by being in the gay community where you can be more feminine without fully transitioning (but the sadness still lingers for many even still), or shut yourself away from society. The bad option is to do what Debbie did and repress and in doing so pull other people into your suffering. I feel like a lot of Debbie’s worldview is built around protecting herself from the sad fact that it was her own choices that caused this.
I say this as someone who began transition in the 00s at age 19. All these years later I have a husband and a career unmarred by the process of changing gender during a later stage in life. No spouse whose world was shattered. No children to pass my trauma to. My only regret is that I couldn’t have done it sooner because then the process would have been even less painful. Less pleading with me to: “just be gay” as if I hadn’t tried that or as if the people who said it weren’t the same ones who’d side eyed me when I was out with one of my college boyfriends.
One of the reasons I transitioned when I did was the movie Brokeback Mountain, serously. Because it showed me what repressing could do. How it could ruin not just your own life but the lives of others. And here is Debbie putting all the blame for the trauma that she and other trans people have put wives, husbands and children through onto the existence of the internet as if people like her weren’t doing the same stuff in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s. What’s more advocating for young trans people to be put in a position that will make them more likely to make the same mistakes she did. Sad.
All of you fundamentalists and gender critical people should really ask yourself if you’d be happy to have one of your cis children marry a repressing trans person (or whatever mean word or acronym is in style for us among you these days) who will ultimately break their heart and perhaps outright destroy them emotionally. Just let us live openly and freely and let us transition. It’s better for all of us.
Nobody is stopping trans people from transitioning. The problem is that lots of girls, esp. but also boys are being manipulated into transitioning by activists and “allies” and this has leached into the education system. In other words, the problem is with trans activists, not trans individuals.
Many thanks for this. I just wish other first person narratives such as this were given more air by the MSM – it would go a long way to oiling the wheels of calmer, and more reasonable conversations.
I appreciate the “let them at least grow up” comment the most, although I do wonder how many youngsters in this position are actually managing to cope right now even with / in spite of the higher visibility of gender and sexual variability in human relations.
As for autogynephilia being a psychological condition – I can appreciate that it manifests itself in an individual’s feelings and thinking but the fact that it can manifest so ealy in some people would lead me to think that the die is cast very early on – that is prenatally and yes … there is some reseach on this. A half decent review here for those who are interested :
Prenatal endocrine influences on sexual orientation and on sexually differentiated childhood behaviorhttps://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3296090/
The brain sits marinading in an ever changing neuro hormonal soup, all the time. Neurologists / neuro cognitive scientists / psychiatrists / psychologists know next to nothing about how this chemical smorgasboard effects thoughts, behaviour, brain plasticity … anything. Terra incognita for now.
In order for them to grow up, they need to survive. Parental acceptance is the single largest determining factor of whether a child ideates on suicide.
The thought of puberty permanently transforming the body is the second largest determining factor. The harassment and rejection of society at large is the third largest determining factor.
Changing hearts and minds is the most effective way to save these lives on the precipice. Delaying puberty is something I wish that I’d had access to because one of the worst things is enduring expensive and painful electrolysis in addition to not being able to change the shape of one’s skeleton so that it fits into normal female clothing.
However, I always wanted children of my own, and puberty blockers plus early hormone treatment to preserve my physical reassignment options would have made that an impossibility for me. The single largest personal dilemma facing a transperson is the fertility question. There’s no winning on that front, at least not without expensive fertility technology that preserves sperm and egg, and then a surrogate of some sort is also required because it’s unlikely anyone else who is fertile will be interested enough to start a family with a transperson. Most transpeople end up alone and isolated. I didn’t know that at the time, but the social stigma was a strong indicator, so I buried everything so deep into myself that I completely lost touch with who I was and got married so I could have my family. My ex didn’t appreciate that and neither did anyone else in my family.
I would have loved the option to be open and I would have loved to have access to expert counseling plus adequate medical technology. I didn’t. It was hard on us all because homophobia damages everyone.
There’s no good solutions on the fertility compromise. There’s only optimization of a set of highly suboptimal choices. This is the most difficult part of being trans. We have reproductive instincts too, and they are 100% at odds with who we are on the inside.
“Tony Blair tells Starmer to drop ‘woke’ politics and focus on economy” (Guardian). Best thing Blair’s said in decades.
I may be way off the mark here – thinking out loud – but I can’t help but wonder about boys having nipples and the possible relationship that the “female blueprint” in utero has on some men. Since all embryos are female until about 6 or 7 weeks. It seems the statistics favor more trans women than the more recent phenomenon of transmen – which I also wonder might have to do with trauma, abuse, shame and body dysmorphia. Any studies out there about this?
Rodfleming.com has a wealth of information including links to numerous studies.
That’s a pretty heavy duty justification site. Parts make a lot of sense.
There are several factors at play and nobody has funding to do a comprehensive study, or the interest either.
1) Men traditionally make 25%-50% more money than women. It is a lot easier for closeted transwomen to save up for and fund an uninsured transition than it is for closeted transmen. That’s probably a large factor behind the perception that more ‘biological men’ are out seeking transition than ‘biological women’. I’m using quotes because transsexuality is known to be a physically intersex condition of the gendered brain, at least in credible research circles anyway.
2) Women are traditionally more accepting of sexual diversity than men are. This is because women aren’t infused with a complementary analog culture of estrogen-driven toxic femininity to parallel the testosterone-driven toxic masculinity. It is a lot easier for lesbians to accept transmen as lovers than it is for gay men to accept transwomen as lovers. It is also a lot easier for women to adopt a masculinized butch lesbian identity and pass in a sexist society than it is for men to adopt a feminized femme identity and pass in sexist society. The industrial revolution made skirts and dresses obsolete in most settings and now nearly everyone ‘dresses like a man’ because there’s no time to fuss with clothing that gets caught in gears.
3) “It is easier to dig a hole than it is to construct a pole.” Surgical transition from male to female genitalia is more sexually functional and more sensate than surgical transition from female to male genitalia. Clitoral release will not create a p***s and skin flap from an arm is not sensate nor is it erectile. There is more demand for bottom surgery in the MTF market because it’s more practical.
4) Items 1)-3) indicate the past history. The recent controversy about the alleged surge in female-to-male teens undergoing puberty blockers and transition could have more to do with endocrine disruptors than medical or social factors. The association with autistic spectrum disorder is an indication that more than gender identity may be affected, although people in the know have long contended an association of gender dysphoria with ASD dating back in history from the disproportionate presence of Asbergers-like driven MTF transitioners in the tech industries. Due to right-wing deregulation of environmental toxins and food contamination, we have more chemicals in circulation than ever, and many of them are poorly understood in isolation never mind when combined with each other. How do we know that endocrine disruptors aren’t responsible for the recent surge in ASD MTFs?
Biological levels of environmental contaminants that are actually measured in people can exceed 100 times the allowed standard. What is that doing to people? Gender identity/sexual orientation has been successfully repolarized during gestation in laboratory experiments on animals by administering cross-sex prenatal hormones. With endocrine disruptors, we’ve turned the entire world into a gigantic laboratory experiment and we’ve got no way of determining what the end result is.
If I were out recruiting transpeople, I’d be all in favor of endocrine disruptors because that could create more people like me and that would be the most effective way to conscript new recruits because it would be entirely involuntary and coerced without the need to invest any personal effort on my part. However, I’d never wish transsexuality on my worst enemy. The condition is bad enough by itself, but when taken in the context of a bignorant hostile populace, it’s absolutely murder. I mean. literally. My ex threatened to kill me and I’m constantly afraid of what could happen to me if a particular sort of predator gets a mind to come after me. I’ve faced down a concrete truck driver who I recorded illegally washing his chute, and after calling me a ‘freak’ the guy attacked me. Do I want anyone else to enjoy these indignities? No.
However, for all we know, it’s the right wing deregulation craze that is fueling the surge in demand for FTM transition. That makes the singular focus on erasing transpeople at Unherd an especially toxic ideology. Let’s assume for the moment that I’m right about the endocrine disruptors. In that case, the right wing isn’t merely creating more of us with industrial deregulation of environmental contaminants, they are also publicly lynching us in the press and letting us twist in the wind. It’s disgusting.
Given the 1000% increase in female to male transition, I believe the stats will change dramatically soon.
It is a fetish or sexual paraphilia. Just because you were very young when you experienced it first, doesn’t mean it isn’t. Sexual sadism or masochism is experienced by many sadomasochists as early as at an age of 3 or 4.
I warmed to this piece so much that I’m returning to it. And much as I admire (with affection from a distance) the wonderful Kathleen Stock, No, esteemed philosopher, it’s not — I can vouch not always it’s not — “likely to be influenced by pornography”; if ever, really. A drive found its own direction, libido would out, for as ever it bloweth where it listeth. For whatever reason — neuroanatomical, hormonal quirk, evolutionary spandrel, psychodynamic introjection with maternal milk (I made that one up) — phenomenologically it comes from within, a boy one day just finds it possesses him like nothing ever did before (and perhaps wont ever hence). Long before he’s assaulted by porn. But never mind the theories (no offence, researchers and theorists, boy do we need you!) most of us just want to find a way of living with the unliveable, forging a possible life from an impossibility, or what the late Jan Morris once called a ‘conundrum’.
Debbie is an inspiration and in my view, a pioneer in her sanity about this psychological human variation. Some of us don’t have the need to travel so far: see below the extract from a 2017 article by professors Blanchard and Bailey; as ever with the things of nature, there’s a normal curve of distribution, a centre and two ends, or a spectrum, it’s not an either / or, the whole hog or nothing. A boy, or a man, can have some of it without all, and it can wax and wane. And because it’s essentially heterosexual, it has room in an AGP life (thank goodness!) for women too. (And, AGPs, do be honest about yourselves to girlfriends before you and they get serious. They should really know the centre, not just the peripheral appearance. If the relationship is to last, best be upfront. Difficult of course, but nowhere as difficult, potentially, much later, as the alternative.)
QUOTE “…It is important to distinguish between autogynephilia and autogynephilic gender dysphoria. Autogynephilia is basically a sexual orientation, and once present does not go away, although its intensity may wax and wane. Autogynephilic gender dysphoria sometimes follows autogynephilia, and is the strong wish to transition from male to female. A male must have autogynephilia to have autogynephilic gender dysphoria, but just because he is autogynephilic doesn’t mean he will be gender dysphoric. Many autogynephilic males live their lives contented to remain male. Furthermore, sometimes autogynephilic gender dysphoria remits so that a male who wanted to change sex no longer does so.
In general, adolescent boys are unlikely to divulge their sexual fantasies to their parents. This is likely especially true of boys with autogynephilia. Furthermore, many boys who engage in cross dressing feel ashamed for doing so. The fact that autogynephilic fantasies and behaviors are largely private is one reason why autogynephilic gender dysphoria usually seems to emerge from nowhere. Another reason is that autogynephilic males are not naturally very feminine. An adolescent boy with autogynephilia does not give off obvious signals of gender nonconformity or gender dysphoria. …” END QUOTE from “Gender dysphoria is not one thing” Posted on December 7, 2017 at 4thWaveNow by J. Michael Bailey, Ph.D and Ray Blanchard, Ph.D (4thWaveNow is a community of people who question the medicalization of gender-atypical youth)
So, given that there isn’t really a rational argument to dismiss the discussion in this article the question for me is how do we decide when someone is mature enough to undertake surgical reassignment (apologies if this is clumsily written)?
I appreciate that adolescence is a massive change and an unsettled period for many but “16” or “18” seem like random ages to choose – should it be 27 which is apparently when the brain is fully developed or something else?
The AGP male would be quite unlikely ever a surgical candidate. See https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-016-0768-5 where the male homosexual may very well aspire surgery at some point.
One can argue all male trans individuals have a degree of AGP, it is found throughout the phenomenon.
Even those exclusively attracted to males, “homosexual trans” individuals, who routinely dress in traditional clothing worn by females, present as women to other males, and in the process experience attraction, arousal. This combination of dressing, presenting as a woman and finding men interested in them is highly valued.
The person’s erotic response is a function of that combination and their image of themselves as a women who men find attractive. This hence serves to reinforce their image as being a woman. The fantasy thus continues and enlarges. Some, not most, will seek surgical genital modification.
The attraction of female clothes to young boys could be their association with mothers and maternal protection. Likewise the fetish for big breasts could be an association with breast-feeding and the satiation of hunger. Having neither fetish turns a man into a woman.
Gender-dysphoric males have commonly said, ‘I feel like a woman’. What might this mean? It echoes the ‘It-relaxes-me’ account often given by male crossdressers which, as Dr Ray Blanchard commented, is more likely to be about a low level of fetishistic sexual arousal, but not experienced as that. Most autogynephilic (AGP) men would object but it’s likely that similar psychological mechanisms are in play here. In the book ‘Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies’, Dr Anne Lawrence (herself self-identified as AGP), discusses Erotic Target Location Errors (ETLE). Some men internalise an image and concept of ‘woman’ which then becomes the location of their erotic interest.
A man who does this is likely to have an underlying narrative that equates a concept, ‘being a woman’, with an inherently erotic ontology. (We may conjecture how this equation has been glamorised in recent times by such as Hollywood, advertisers and indeed by global capitalism.) It’s as if a man were to tell himself a story based on an idea such as: ‘‘I know that I really am a woman because I experience myself, sexually, the way a woman experiences herself.” The sexual component is denied for various reasons (propriety, displacement from ‘lower’ to ‘higher’ and so on) and experienced as an appropriate restitution and the righting of an innate bodily wrong.
One can transition to presenting as though the opposite sex/gender; even after surgery and opposite sex hormone injections one doesn’t transition into the opposite sex/gender. Transition a lifestyle, sure, but one can’t transition into the opposite sex/gender*.
Gender was a simple synonym for sex, a genteel option. At some point someone in academia suggested there was a difference for some reason – that whether a baby is male or female was ‘assigned’, as though the result of a coin flip and nothing else. That person was confusing sex with sexuality.
Tragically, it was accepted by cultural elites who didn’t want to hurt feelings. Now, as a result, we have a new mental health crisis amongst young people who have been told they must accept this cognitive disconnect madness.
My congratulations to Debbie, who hits the nail on the head time and time again. Thank you. But I do wonder why many of those with no personal experience of the issue at hand feel so free to conjecture on what is right and wrong about the article or the condition being explained or under examination. My advice is to read and learn.
What this article and the comments clearly show is the discrepancy between our modern way and desire of naming things and the way each of us lives and experiences things. It is normal to want and name things, it helps in organising a society. It becomes a problem when naming and classifying become the only way.
This is why medicine and social care are in such crisis for the moment. Medicine has become quite good at saving lives but really poor at helping people (and animals and plants in farming) with their chronic issues. Unless we move away from pure clinical approaches to human science (medicine, social, etc ) and start accepting that everything has its own narrative, our currently quite serious issues in medicine and social care will continue, whatever money we throw at it (most of this money only ends up in the industry of illness and much less to the benefit of patients), there will not be a solution.
The tools are available but because they are not clinical enough and do not fit well in spread sheets they are ignored or criticised….
Just thought people should know that autogynephilia is not in the ICD or the DSM and is a fabricated diagnosis with no science behind it.
This entire autogynephilia thing is literally BS.
There is no complementary diagnosis of autoandrophilia, so this BS only applies to MTF transgender people. Why is that? Could it be that a certain type of repressed sicko queer man fetishizes the image of transgender women? I’ve run into a few of them that treat us like kleenex to ejaculate into. They don’t want us as girlfriends or wives. They want us as sex dolls.
The autogynephilia hypothesis of Blanchard is: “a male’s propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female”.
Linguistics is everything. Note that Blanchard defines his ‘paraphilia’ as sexual arousal from the thought of being a woman, instead of sexual arousal from the thought of having sex as a woman. Why is that? I don’t know of anyone who fetishizes the thought of being the opposite sex, but I know of plenty of transpeople who fantasize about have sex in the gender-appropriate body. Crossdressing is a part of that because it helps enable the fantasy of having the gender-appropriate body.
Here’s the absurdity of Blanchard’s hypothesis. If a transgender person experiences any arousal from the thought of having sex as a woman, that means the person isn’t a ‘true transsexual’ and therefore not a true woman at heart. Blanchard used this twisted interpretation of transsexuality to deny appropriate medical care to thousands, to the point that transsexuals who went to Northwestern and were well aware of his mind games warned each other to deny ever having masturbated while crossdressed.
Let’s follow this hypothesis from its absurd premise to its logical conclusion.
1) Every transgender woman who is basically a woman in her soul must get no sexual arousal from the fantasy of having sex as a woman, or she’s not a true transsexual woman and thus not a true woman. She can’t ever masturbate while crossdressed, or it’s not that she is a woman on the inside, but rather that she is fetishizing the thought of herself as a woman.
2) Every true transsexual woman is basically a woman, so let’s apply the same standard to cisgender women. That means that every cisgender woman who experiences sexual arousal from the thought of having sex as a woman is also not a true woman. She can’t ever masturbate while dressed in female attire and can’t ever think of herself as a woman while masturbating. She must be absolutely asexual in order to be a true woman, or alternatively she can masturbate while dressed as a man and think of herself as a man, and that’s okay because no true woman gets off on the thought of looking like a woman and having sex as a woman.
Can you imagine anything more absurd than insisting that every cisgender woman must be asexual, or at most get off on the fantasy of having sex as a man while dressed as a man, in order to qualify as being a true woman?
An interesting account thank you
Blanchard’s theory of AGP has proved ammunition to those at war with the trans community. However, Blanchard’s own position is actually much more nuanced than it is often claimed to be. Here is an example (https://4thwavenow.com/2017/12/07/gender-dysphoria-is-not-one-thing/)
“The first type—childhood-onset gender dysphoria—definitely occurs in both biological boys and girls. It is highly correlated with homosexuality–the sexual preference for one’s own biological sex–especially in natal males…The second type—autogynephilic gender dysphoria—occurs only in males. It is associated with a tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of oneself as a female. This type of gender dysphoria sometimes starts during adolescence and sometimes during adulthood”.
They go on to say:
“The most obvious feature that distinguishes childhood-onset gender dysphoria from the other types is early appearance of gender nonconformity…A very gender nonconforming boy may dress up as a girl, play with dolls, dislike rough play, show indifference to team sports or contact sports, prefer girl playmates, try to be around adult women rather than adult men, and be known by other children as a “sissy” (a term generally used to ridicule and shame feminine boys).”
This paragraph certainly describes me as a child: I believe I displayed all of these traits. I cannot speak for Debbie, although sadly she seems to feel able to make pronouncements on behalf of an entire community, but the description she has provided seems to be closer to Blanchard and Bailey’s characterisation of childhood-onset gender dysphoria than autogynephilic gender dysphoria.
I know many people in the trans community who cheerfully admit to being autogynephiles, but I know many who do not. What is dangerous and wrong is to make blanket pronouncements about a community of human beings so diverse as this. I have suffered from gender dysphoria all my life but I do not experience arousal when I put on a frock. When my wife snogs me, I get a stiffy, even after three decades of marriage; I know what arousal feels like. Dressing as a woman does not create the faintest whiff of tumescence. In any case, based on Blanchard’s own evaluations, I don’t fit the AGP profile. It hurts me that people who have never met me, never so much as exchanged an e-mail with me, would want to make pronouncements about what I feel, about what I am. I don’t know why they feel able to do that, but there is no doubt that it feels like an attempt to dismiss and to explain away a community of people – and myself as a member of that community.
There is a debate to be had here, about important issues, but it will be pointless unless those engaged in it can have a bit of respect for the integrity of those about whom they are trying to make pronouncements.