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.
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.
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.
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.
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: