Last post on paraphilia for a while, I hope. The reason I bang on about it is that I have suffered from crippling shame, and I seek all ways: cognitive-behavioural, psychological, emotional, rational- to overcome it, without denying truth.
I sought help from James Cantor, and am grateful for his generous and detailed response. He referred me to his article “Is homosexuality a paraphilia?” This title seems to assume that it is helpful to lump together shoe fetishism and lesbian transsexuality as a single phenomenon, paraphilia, from which homosexuality, a characteristic of Dr. Cantor, may be distinguished, but the article includes this passage, which helps me in my task:
Other than by being sexual, the most salient feature on which male homosexuality and the paraphilias resemble each other is their lifelong nature—starting in childhood and being immutable despite all efforts to convert them to conventional sexual interests. There have periodically been claims of successful conversion of homosexuality to heterosexuality or of paraphilia to euphilia, but such observations are perhaps better attributed to more mundane reasons, such as demand characteristics, suppression of only the overt expression of the undesired behavior(s), or a reduction of sexual desire in general, rather than in any change in actual focus of whichever sexual interest. Similarly, reports of adult-onset paraphilias might instead be attributed to (typically neuropathological or drug-induced) loss of the ability to suppress already-existing interests.
Unfortunately for me, academics usually have to charge for their work, but a search on that site for paraphilia produced this. Click on “Show summary” to see the abstract. It says that researchers looking at Body integrity identity disorder (BIID) first classified it as a paraphilia. Rather than being impartial investigators assessing evidence, they reacted out of emotional revulsion, and linked BIID to things also conventionally found revolting.
I wondered if lesbian transsexuality may also be distinguished from paraphilias. A shoe fetishist will agree that there is no point in licking and kissing a Jimmy Choo apart from arousal, and if he ceased to be aroused, he would cease the fetishistic act. Whereas, there may be a reason for imagining myself expressing myself female separately from being aroused: gender dysphoria. The gender dysphoria may arise prior to the sexual arousal. There is no reason to assume otherwise. This is true whether or not gender dysphoria in people with testicles who are attracted to women, and those who are attracted to men, is more than one phenomenon. Indeed, I was more committed to transition after taking testosterone suppressants.
In his article in The Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology on “sexual disorders” Dr Cantor is careful to distinguish autogynephilia from gender identity disorder. They may co-exist, but he does not posit a causal link either way.
That is the crux for me. I am quite happy to admit that I was aroused by fantasies of me as female and pictures of me dressed female. I have no wish to distance myself from the shoe fetishist, who gets aroused by one thing other than a human partner, I by another. What hurts and shames me is the idea that that is all it is, that I am recognised as different by everyone I speak to and all it is is a sexual fantasy, rather than the Real Me.
The intellectual basis for freedom from shame is established.
Today, Gauguin, to cheer us all up: