Autogynephilia III

I need not to feel crippling shame when I think of autogynephilia. This is my position now:

While some radical feminists say that the word “female” only has meaning in the context of reproductive organs (which makes me male) and that concepts of feminine and masculine are defined by patriarchy, and are unnatural and oppressive, I think most people see that the words feminine and masculine have meaning, and while there is a wide range of behaviours and overlapping bell curves, women tend to be more feminine than men. This applies even if what may be thought of as feminine or masculine is a matter of culture, rather than innate.

In that sense, I am feminine. People say that I am feminine. Around transition, they noticed that I had to put on an act to present male. I had a sense of burying the Real Me very deeply, and when I had a sense of letting myself out, my sense was that the Real Me was female. Or feminine, whatever.

If the theory of autogynephilia is correct, then I am a man sexually aroused by the thought of myself as a woman. But that would make me masculine. So the theory cannot be correct.

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The theory of autogynephilia makes the theory of primary transsexualism, “homosexual” or androphile M-F transsexuality, inconceivable. For the diagnostic criterion of primary transsexualism is gender dysphoria. Imagine that I am a man, falling down the slippery slope of perversion to living female full time. That would give me crushing gender dysphoria, the sense that my physical body did not match my gender identity. But I do not, now, have gender dysphoria. I can see that the sexual drive may mask or overcome other feelings, but “homosexual transsexuals” claim that gender dysphoria is overwhelming, and given that I am not sexually aroused all the time, I would have thought that it would be strong enough to overcome my autogynephilia by now.

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When I was considering transition, terrified by the idea of autogynephilia and certain that if I were autogynephiliac transition would be wrong, I had a naive understanding of paraphilia, a “blank slate” view. This was that the paraphiliac is by default a normal heterosexual male, in whom the sexual drive accidentally gets attached to something other than people of the opposite sex- shoes, asphyxia, whatever- and that in the case of the autogynephiliac it is attached to the thought of himself as a woman. With a little self-control, he could have overcome these desires and been a normal heterosexual husband and father.

But that does not fit the passionate, determined drive I and other lesbian trans women I know had to make men of ourselves. Often we join hyper-masculine professions. One was in the police tactical firearms unit. Some were in the armed forces. One was in the secret service, and one in a criminal gang. Of course the sex drive is strong, but that drive seemed strong to me. We sought to make men of ourselves to fit in, because we were inculcated with patriarchal ideas of manhood, that being a sissy was the ultimate shame.

Again, our transition to expressing ourselves female seems more of an identity issue than a perversion issue.

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I internalised a great deal of shame at being TS, and especially at the thought of being TS because of a perversion. I need to manage that shame.

If the blank slate theory is correct, and I could have been a normal male if I had not masturbated to perverted fantasies- other men manage it, why not me?- a close analogy as far as concerns guilt and shame is the person sick because of smoking. He has only himself to blame, you might say. But wait. There are still strong social pressures on many groups to smoke, and once one starts there are strong addictive pressures. I would not necessarily blame the person who has lung cancer because of his smoking, and certainly the consequence is completely unfitting if thought of as a “punishment” for the unwise actions.

Yes. The shame is the important thing for me. Considering all the above, I realise that I can say,

I have nothing to be ashamed of.

And, even, I have nothing to be ashamed of, even if my condition is a paraphilia acting on a blank slate heterosexual normality.

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I have transitioned. I can see that other ways of looking at this may work for other people. For example, if the thought of transition completely terrifies you, by all means take refuge in the theory of Crossdreaming. I can see that it would be reassuring to believe that your condition is merely a sexual fantasy. And if you are androphile TS, it may help you to despise and distance yourself from lesbian trans women.

Gosh, that is all heavy stuff. Here are some landscape paintings by Vincent:

 

Autogynephilia revisited

Anita de la FerieIf I told my history to Ray Blanchard, he would say I was autogynephiliac. My history fits his idea perfectly. The idea does not ring true to me, and does not fit my understanding of myself, and he would say that the idea of being a pervert is unpleasant for most people, and I am in denial, having rewritten my history to make it seem more palatable.

How to take away the shame? It is shameful to imagine that I have steadily reinforced a perversion until I have disappeared into it, even if in the process it has burnt itself out and, doing what I fantasised about, I am not in a state of continuous arousal. Being attracted to women, I would have reduced substantially the pool of women who might be attracted to me, and destroyed my ability to have children. Perhaps with self-control I could have avoided this.

So how do I take away the shame (apart from denying the validity of the theory). I believe that even if it is true, there is something beautiful about where I am now, something magical, and I seek to bring that magic out with other people. However I got here, here is a good place to be. And if that is whistling in the dark, what good would it do to think this so important aspect of my life disgusting?

Crossdreaming may be closer to the truth, but I do not feel the need to know.

Added: James Cantor, a supporter of the AGP theory, has written a letter to the Archives of Sexual Behavior citing studies which appear to show that while M-F TS folk may have feminine brain structure, these are limited to “homosexual” (that is, androphile) trans women. However “heterosexual”, “autogynephiliac” (that is, gynephile) trans women also have brains distinguishable from those of cissexuals. He writes,

although these data disconfirm that the heterosexual type has a feminized brain pattern—the data nonetheless confirm that heterosexual transsexuals have a brain structure distinct from that of typical (nontranssexual) persons. Their gender identity is not a transient or ephemeral characteristic, but a likely innate and immutable characteristic, emerging from their particular brain structure.

That is the absolution I still need. It is not my fault.

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Monday 19th: Hang it. “I am Autogynephiliac”. I am autogynephiliac. I just am. I have been so ashamed of that, and the shame made me fight it for years, and try to make a man of myself, and I could not. Yesterday, ten years after transitioning, I was curled up in a ball on the floor crying over the shame of it. And. I do not think I could be other than I am. Had I exercised more self-control, could I be happily married with children and living as a man? Looking at that struggle, I have vast resources of self-control, and I showed courage and Tenacious Strength. I have carried the shame, and now Fireworks by Giovanni Boldini.jpgI have brought it to full consciousness and wept over it I hope I may continue letting it go. This makes me transsexual. Indeed there may be “Two distinct phenomena, with separate etiologies“, but no less moral value of one than the other, no less value as a human being.

The blog in the link has two purposes. One is to show that there are two kinds of transsexuality, what is sometimes called “primary transsexualism”, and autogynephilia, which is linked to erotic arousal; and the other is to show that the person writing anonymously is unequivocally and certainly of the first kind. It stinks. It is one long droning repetition of the refrain, “I may be a weirdo but at least I am not as weird and horrible as those weirdos”. In the post linked to, there is a sad insistence that there were gay people in her family! Yes, you who call yourself “silly”, there are some instances of TS siblings, but it is not the case that all siblings of TS people are TS.

She has turned off comments on her blog, because, she says, people attack her for telling the truth about the evidence. However, the truth does not hurt. It never does. What hurts are the bigoted and prejudiced reactions of others. There is nothing shameful in who I am, I feel shame because it has been inculcated into me in a toxic way. The silly one is reinforcing that prejudice. As Razan Ghazzawi says, we need to be as one, not divided into different groups.

28 December: I clicked on my own link, knocking on her door, so to speak, and see that in her first post since she has changed her name to “cloudy”. Don’t worry, cloudy, you will always be silly to me. This post is about how some studies fail to differentiate clearly between AGP and (in the words of the researchers) “homosexual” TS, but that is because the study is defective not because there is no genuine difference. The new name is well chosen, because the thinking is cloudy. The post still insists on her identity, and her difference from me. I find this suspect.

I think the introduction has been changed, though. In the sidebar, she writes that she is

working to reduce the internalized shame and intolerance between the two types of TranWomen by explaining the differences in a non-judgemental, scientific exploration. “Different than” never means “better than”!

To reduce the internalised shame, she could emphasise evidence that both manifestations of the phenomenon of transsexualism are innate. Repetitively pointing out difference does not reduce shame. I also prefer trans women to “TranWomen” (sic) because a trans woman is a woman who happens to be trans, and a transwoman is something different.

Here is a Swedish outcomes study.

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26 January 2012: I think if there is any causal link between autogynephilia and transsexuality in lesbian trans women, it is the other way around. We are innately female, and attracted to women, and because of that are aroused by the idea of ourselves as women. I do not think that the female identity could be so permanent if it arose simply from a sexual perversion. Jack Molay argues it is not a mental disorder.

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March: the silly one has broken her three months’ silence, with a long rant about how autogynephilia is exclusively a paraphilia. “You’re all perverts!” she screeches. “All of you!” This at least gives the lie to her claim, redolent of apartheid, that “different than never means better than”. Whereas, if she really were “working to reduce internalised shame” she would be considering the nature of a paraphilia. My old model of a blank slate, naturally heterosexual, me, by accident cross-dressing one day and slowly through obsessive thought and masturbation turning myself into a pervert, while if I had only had a little self control I could be a normal husband and father, really cannot be it. The silly one rants that AGP causes lesbian transsexuality. None of the data can be said to prove that at all. Full posts coming up on this.