Autogynephilia – An Introduction

Not long after I began researching the trans subject I came across a term I hadn’t seen before. The word is autogynephilia and it basically describes a man who gets off sexually on imagining himself as a woman. Ray Blanchard, a sexologist, coined the term and wrote about the idea there are two distinctly different groups of trans-identified males. Those two groups are crudely separated into homosexual transsexual and heterosexual fetishistic transvestites, although there are exceptions to every rule.

Main differences

Homosexual transsexuals will often display stereotypically feminine behaviour from a young age. There are considerably fewer of them who are autogynephilic – but they do exist. I’ve seen people throw stats around such as 80/20 for gay trans people not experiencing/experiencing autogynephilia and 20/80 for the straight ones. Those stats are unlikely to be accurate but they are in the sense of the majority of gay trans do not experience whereas the heterosexual ones do.

Heterosexual fetishistic transvestites are the ones I’ll be concentrating on today – they usually begin having fantasies during the teenage years. Imagining themselves as female provokes a sexual response. There is often little to no feminisation during childhood – they climb trees and do whatever else boys are supposed to do, interestingly, many of them end up in typically masculine professions. They don’t show a preference for pink and they don’t want to play with dolls. Autogynephilic males may, or may not, go through a medical transition. Research has shown that up until now, most autogynephilic males do not have surgery. Suggestions for early conditioning have been put forward as to the origins of autogynephilia; I’ll be staying away from those for the sake of simplicity, although I have included links at the end of the post if you would like more detail.

For the record: Research has found that preferences for pink, playing with dolls, being gentle – more likely to be gay than trans. In fact, and I’ll repeat this often, when a child experiences gender confusion, they are statistically more likely to grow out of it and simply be gay (male or female). Most kids with dysphoria don’t end up going through transition.

Denial from the men themselves

I soon learned not everyone agrees with Blanchard. He has received extreme criticism, as have others, for suggesting some males are wanting to be women to simply get off on it. I realise this is a simplified attitude to take but the distinction needs to be clear. Very few trans-identified males want to be seen as autogynephilic, although I have come across a handful of men who are happy to admit they’re AGP (admittedly many hide their public identity) and will talk openly about their desires and motivations with regards to wearing the female form (whether clothes or surgery). These particular men do not feel the need to lie and say they are real women. I’d suggest the reason most won’t admit to their proclivities is that they feel ashamed.

From the crow’s nest

Yeah, I’ve seen it. There are two distinctly different groups operating under what is now one umbrella. Actually, with the recent explosion with ‘trans-identifying’, you could probably add a third group to the pot – the rapid-onset types with no real previous history of identifying as trans  The latter are, more often than not, teenage girls. I’ve watched many back and forth arguments between people who are on one side or the other and unfortunately, the ones being the most demanding and unreasonable are people who would fall into the heterosexual fetishistic transvestite category.

Fake versus real?

Some people do require extensive (surgical) treatment for autogynephilia and it’s exactly the same for gender dysphoria. I’ve seen accusations of ‘not true trans’ and similar thrown about and the more balanced from both sides wouldn’t stoop so low as to say anything like that. It is similar to – not a real Christian unless, not a real witch unless, not a real man if you do/don’t do and so on. It follows the assumption that criteria to the ‘in group’ has to be restrictive (and inadvertently(?) repressive) and is usually enforced by those who are dealing with a deep split in the personality and have an immature defence mechanism. The point is trans/transition is what a person goes through to alleviate suffering, the reasons for transition among individuals within each group will be highly nuanced. I suppose if there had to be a fake trans – those would be the men demanding other people use female pronouns and see them as a real woman whilst still having a penis…and sometimes even a beard. I do wonder if it’s important to be able to distinguish between the fetishists and those who have dysphoria. I’ve certainly witnessed homosexual transsexuals attempt to distance themselves from the more aggressive representatives of the AGP’s.

But I’m not like the others…

Not everyone makes it clear whether they’re gay or straight, gender dysphoric or autogynephilic. We, as people in general, cannot be expected to know what type of tranny we are dealing with and it is both unreasonable and unacceptable to ask someone which type they are unless they’re a close personal friend or we’re getting to know them with the hope of becoming friends (or more). Being specific, the trans people causing problems are human, we cannot know what type of human we are dealing with. Some humans are complete shits – we know this. Clothes and surgery can’t change someone’s personality but there are plenty of shits who will take advantage of political correctness, social graces, and anything else they can think to take advantage of.

All normal enough…

The problem I see is we have a whole heap of people who are basically too ashamed to admit to having a sexual fetish – and that is a problem which needs addressing. The thing is, it is NEVER appropriate to expect another human to personally accommodate your sexual desire/inclination/whatever-you-want-to-call-it. Plenty of us have a fetish whether it’s for feet, other body parts, shoes, rubber, the list is endless, it truly is endless. Numbers are said to be over 70%; that’s adults who have a fetish. All of it is perfectly fine between consenting adults. But it’s the consenting part which is key. No one is compelled by law to give validation to another person’s sexual inclinations. When people force their need for gratification on another person it’s usually classed as sexual assault or rape. Not sure how it’s not classed as emotional or psychological abuse for an autogynephile to demand validation from an individual if the primary motivation is sexual gratification.

Stereotypes

After a while, we end up developing stereotypes which are supposed to be the dominant characteristics of a whole group of people. They may be accurate – as in, a group of blind people are all going to have problems with their sight to various degrees. A group of lesbians are all going to be attracted to other women. But, then you get ones which stray away from the absolutes – gay men are promiscuous, lesbians hate all men, muslims are terrorists, black men are criminals, single parents are scroungers who give birth to criminals, and so on. I can perfectly understand the stress of having to explain how you’re not a stereotypical representation of a group you’re associated with. I’ve had six kids and done a hefty stint as a single parent – too often I chose to do battle with people’s misconceptions about what I was like as a person. It’s exhausting and adds way too much pressure to what is already a heavily stressful and emotionally demanding lifestyle, and yeah, I’m gonna call it (being trans) a lifestyle for now (it’s definitely not a sexuality). The less desirable a lifestyle, the more negative stereotypes are going to be central to the social conversation. Any group can attract negative stereotypes and we need to understand that anything which relates to a sexual fetish is more likely to be weighted towards the negative. It has been suggested, wisely, the more recent push to allow the medical transition of children is an attempt to distract public attention away from the adult men who use dressing as a woman to gain sexual gratification. If we accept the narrative of being born in the wrong body it means less questioning of the reasons and intentions of the person presenting as trans.

So why the issue?

I happen to identify with people who have issues with their own identity. I would rather be able to give open support to anyone wishing to live life on their own terms, but then I’d be falling into the trap of acceptance without exception – and that is dangerous and stupid. Much depends on the individual concerned, but the bottom line has to be safety, not fairness. It is an unfortunate state of affairs that a significant number of men with autogynephilia also have other fetishes which don’t respect the boundaries of women or children. The safeguarding of women and children has to be acknowledged as THE priority here. I probably won’t be writing about that next but it does need to be mentioned now because it’s one of those bottom-line considerations. There’s a noisy group of trans-rights activists currently pushing for self-id and most, if not all of them, are classic AGP types. Again, AGP in and of itself does not correlate to an abusive personality. But, unfortunately, the ones pushing for access to female-only spaces, which are protected by law I might add, have an over-representation of AGP types. This isn’t just about changing rooms in Top Shop, it’s long-standing institutions like Girl Guides. Can you imagine the safeguarding nightmare this becomes if a sexual fetishist is allowed free access to girls under the age of fifteen? This isn’t about gender-confused children, and let’s be honest here, any parent worth their salt would NOT be so cruel to lie to their child by saying they were a ‘real’ girl or boy just because they felt they were. This issue is being pushed under the guise of saving the feelings of the children when in actual fact, it’s manipulative adults who want access to women and children to gain sexual gratification. Do I need to say it again? AGP in and of itself does not dictate the personality of the person and the good ones will most likely tell you it isn’t safe to let any old trans into female spaces…they’ll also tell you they know they’re not real women, won’t demand you use female pronouns, and they sure as fuck won’t call you names if you point out the obvious a.k.a men can’t become women, men can’t have periods, men can’t know what it feels like to be a woman, and so on.

Criticism of the establishment

There needs to be some accountability on the part of the psychologists and psychiatrists working in the field of all that is transgender. I haven’t seen many who have openly spoken about the need for caution nor the acknowledgement that AGP is even a thing…  I’ve already mentioned my own angst in regards to demonising a fetish which doesn’t seek to impose itself on the general population – and I probably can’t stress that enough. Humans are, for the most part, simple creatures – and to assume most people will be able to distinguish a predator from a regular person is short-sighted, narrow-minded, just plain-old unrealistic. You can’t put that shit on the general population and expect it to end well. Do we really think the political parties supporting self-id have safeguarding at the heart of their policies?

Bottom line

You have no idea who you’re dealing with. As humans, we have a tendency to think everyone thinks the same way, and is motivated by the same things we are ourselves – this can’t be helped. Even with training, most people will still fall into the trap of projecting their stuff onto others. If you’re not a predator, or if you’re lacking a decent dangerous person radar, you’re going to be an easy target. The people who tend to be good at spotting predators have usually suffered abuse in the past – it’s a skill that only some former victims acquire and not exactly a trophy to be proud of…especially when warnings tend to fall on deaf ears.

An Entry Point

This post isn’t going to delve too deeply because it’s really just an opening to discuss the massive increase in people, and especially children, identifying as ‘trans’. Having had half an eye on the subject for the last four, maybe five years, I’ve involved myself directly over the last eighteen months. I immersed myself in the Twitter wars and read plenty elsewhere – arguments from both sides of the fence and even stuff by those who were sat on it. The transition of Caitlyn Jenner is obviously the most public within recent memory. He had more press coverage than necessary and before he’d even finished his transformation (he still had a penis), he adorned the cover of Vanity Fair and even won an award for woman of the year (complete with his penis). The media appeared to be largely in support of the whole process and as usual, the do-gooders, social justice warriors, and the so-called left-leaning liberals all came out in full force to say what a great thing it was. There seemed to be little criticism, or more accurately – little critical thinking about the issue as a whole. I found it disturbing to see the way everybody was supposed to celebrate his transition and see him as brave or you were labelled as shit.

Fake it – especially when you’re making it

I couldn’t help but think of his family – a mainly female household, and in particular his kids. As the weeks moved on, we were encouraged to forget his past and any reference made to his former life as Bruce was automatically assumed to be hostile. I was uncomfortable with the clear sexualisation of his image as a woman…and he was so often heavily airbrushed. And, let’s not forget how much money he had at his disposal to pay for the surgery. So, yes, there was much that pissed me off yet much of it, I felt, was me being trivial. I didn’t initially want to look closer at the reasons I was being so reactive to the whole event when it clearly wasn’t my personal life being affected. Instinct can be funny at times. Funny in the sense it’ll scream at you and it takes your rational mind a while to catch up. So, what was it about the Bruce Jenner situation? He was sixty-four when he came out of the tranny closet. Sixty-four? Essentially, here we had someone who had lived an outright lie for over forty fucking years and yet it was spun as some kind of victory when he was finally able to be the person he always was? Not only was he sixty-four, but he also had an incredibly successful life as a former athlete. Not only was he a man, but he had been successful at being a man and taking all it had to offer. Marriage and children too…so he clearly didn’t mind using what was between his legs. Lots of advantages… and fair play to him regarding the athletic stuff and making the most of his testosterone and all else he had. But if he really thought he was a woman, why had he not been more feminine in his youth? I thought trannies were supposed to be more like your stereotypical woman? Did he counteract his femininity deliberately by pursuing manly sports?

Courageous or coward?

The thing is, men have been transitioning for a few decades now and there has been limited public interest for the most part. Sure, there have been a couple of ‘high-profile’ trans-identified males – I’m thinking of Lily Elbe and Christine Jorgensen, who undoubtedly had considerably more challenges to face than any man wanting to transition these days. They both managed it…1882-1931 and 1926-1989 respectively, and with respects to Christine Jorgensen – had an enormous amount of popularity and acceptance. My point being, if Jenner wanted to be an honest man, he could’ve been – the precedents were there in history and if he wanted to pretend to be a woman he could’ve done so. I don’t deny it takes strength to defy stereotypes and neither am I ignorant of the abuse some trannies receive. People can be cruel, horrifically so, but it’s been a long time since it was deemed acceptable to level cruelty at someone for simply being a tranny. Many who don’t have Jenner’s public status or bank balance have, and are, living as they see fit and have done for years. Oddly, there’s a good number of them who refuse to lay claim to womanhood and can perfectly accept themselves as men. That’s not to say those men haven’t at some point flirted with the idea they were real women too…but their journey ultimately led them to accept who they were without shame. Some of those same people lived their truth through the 1970’s and had an inordinate amount of shit to tolerate – all without the cushion of wealth, status, or celebrity. I’d consider those types brave. But is Jenner? Is he fuck. He’s a privileged male who knows exactly how to court the media and make money from it.

Politicising the personal

With the identity of Caitlyn Jenner firmly established there was a shift to make it political. The media slant made it clear that no one was to question why people chose to transition – the preferred narrative fell along the lines of ‘born this way’ and that it should be seen as no different to sexuality. Except, being trans has fuck all to do with sexuality. In the UK, there has been a stream of constant pressure to relax laws around who can declare themselves a woman, and up until recently (like a month ago), I bore witness to some shocking stances by mainstream politicians and councillors who categorically stated that anyone who wanted to identify as a woman could do so and to call them men was a hate crime. They further insisted these men had the rights of women, as women, and should be allowed access to women only areas. I saw tweets by green party spokespeople who referred to women as ‘non-men’ so as not to marginalise the blokes who wanted to be seen as women – by this point, there had been a fair few public disagreements over who could actually be called a woman. I think it was their way of getting around the issue of what to call anyone with a penis who didn’t want to be called a bloke. Seriously. Then there’s a Labour party ‘women’s officer’, an official position, held by a then-teenage boy (he only recently crept into his twenties) who still has a cock and balls – demanding that all women shortlists be open to anyone who saw fit to call themselves a woman, even if they still had a cock. The elephant in the room here is those lists are seen as essential to get more women into politics – kinda defeats the purpose if half those women are actually blokes. But, more on the politics another day.

Down the rabbit hole

And then I fell down the rabbit hole. Honestly. I’m not quite sure when I realised what a complex issue I was looking at. It wasn’t as simple as some bloke getting more publicity than he was worth or Joe Public fighting for acceptance without exceptions. I’ve studied many subjects in my life and if ever there was one which needed someone standing there with a hand up saying ‘wait, it’s not what you think’- it’s this one. I began in earnest, fearing I had an irrational prejudice and simply needed to understand something. I sit here now wondering what fucking planet I’m living on..admittedly it ain’t the first time I’ve pondered that one.

Acknowledging the tree

I’ve been fearful of saying anything at all until I had the bigger picture, and part of the problem is there are many branches coming off the main trunk. It didn’t seem fair to have a half-arsed opinion when there was so much at stake for the individuals who are directly affected by it. I’m not. I have an interest in identity in general, and I feel strongly that people should be able to live their lives without too much interference by 1) the state and 2) shitty people who think it’s okay to abuse other people for lifestyle choices. Although to say I’m not directly affected isn’t entirely true – as a woman, it does affect me if there are men wanting to change in the same room as me if I go swimming. And do I really want any of my daughters having to deal with a grown man in the female toilet? Or my granddaughters? There has always been a part of me which felt compassion towards regular trans-identified men and women. I had long-since wondered what drove them to reject their bodies so vehemently and how hard it must’ve been to not just acknowledge those feelings, but to actually try and do something about it. I still feel that compassion – probably even more so now, and if anything, I’m more likely to shout louder in support of those regular trans people who have always battled with an intense rejection of their bodies. But, there’s a problem because not all trannies are cut from the same cloth. I’m not talking about your average human differences here – I’m talking a gulf so wide between the two main groups you’d need an aeroplane to get from one side to the other. Tis the group of ‘others’ who are the main problem in this whole debate and they really do not stand in representation for all trans-identified males. I’ll be posting about these ‘others’ next because I feel it’s important to differentiate between these two obviously different types early on. And yes, I’ve already found exceptions to the rule and will make sure to quote them. To end this introduction, I’ll say a heartfelt thank you to Miranda Yardley for writing so honestly and being brave enough to openly stand against the narrative.

Just a couple of links but much more worth reading.

‘Transwomen’ are not Women

Responding to Suggestions I’m A Big Meanie For Stating The Fact That Aimee Challenor is a Man