"Autogynephilia": Views of one non-transitioner

Editor's note: I received the following essay in November 2003. While I respectfully disagree with many of the opinions expressed in this piece, I felt it was an interesting attempt to create a taxonomy based on personal experience and introspection. --AJ

I asked the author for a self-description:

Well, obviously I'm physically basically male, and I think other people classify me more or less as such. I'm fundamentally female in my core feelings and instincts, but maybe with just enough of a tomboy edge to appreciate the humor in it all. In other words, it's frustrating, but I still find a lot of joy and beauty in life, and I've never seriously considered committing suicide over the issue. Generally I find I'm usually treated pretty well by others and can be myself in most ways as long as I don't actually cross the line.

I doubt that I'm fundamentally different from most of your readers in the sense of being born biologically male with a female personality, and I don't see "non-transitional" as a matter of identity. Transitioning is a personal choice made according what values are most important to us, and what our individual options are. For me, I'd rather not freak out friends and family, I'm reluctant to be sterilized, and I have a deep-rooted, life-long distaste for submitting myself to shrinks, filling out forms, or being dependent on doctors, drugs and insurance policies. Since I want to live wild and free, it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to muck with a healthy body that supports me very well, thank you, without the need of reporting to a doctor for frequent checkups. And at my age, I've already missed some of the best years of a woman's life, and would probably have a hard time passing anyway.

I greatly admire you and Lynn and your many readers who have made such efforts and sacrifices to bring your bodies and gender presentations into line with your real personalities inside, and I warmly wish you all success in realizing your dreams. If I could live life over again from the beginning, with everything else about equal, there is no question that I would want to be born a girl. But as for changing horses now, I don't think I will be doing that. I don't rule out changing my mind some day, but I've made it this far through life like this, and I think I can probably make it the rest of the way as well.

I've just been reading your posted correspondence with Kendra, in which you encourage everyone who identifies as "autogynephilic" to send in their stories, and in which you refer to them as "paraphilics".

Following Kendra's account, it strikes me that one of the insidious aspects of this terminology is the way it can divide the MtF community. If an MtF does not qualify as a blatantly effeminate homosexual in Blanchard's model, then "he" must be an autogynephile, who is motivated by a twisted manly lust after himself in the image of a woman. Most thoughtful MtF's reject this model. Some, however, like Kendra, start out accepting the model and its restricted possibilities. Seeing that they do not really fit the first category, and admitting that sexual desire is indeed involved in their choice to transition, they conclude that they are in fact autogynephiles. They then carry this term, with its incendiary implications, to the MtF community-- (Hi! I'm a male pervert who gets off on visualizing myself as a woman, like the rest of you guys!)-- and are cruelly rebuffed. Licking their wounds, they retreat to the BBL side, which is glad to affirm their identity. They then identify in a political manner as autogynephiles, in enmity against the snobbish "true transsexuals" of the gender identity school. The latter, like yourself and Lynn Conway, then wind up allowing that autogynephiles do exist, as creatures of an entirely different nature, just as Blanchard's theory claims. But from the BBL point of view, you must now be in the homosexual class, or more likely autogynephiles yourselves in denial.

When someone claims to be an "autogynephile", we should insist that they analyze exactly what they mean by the term. Do they mean that they are MtF's who:

1) are not strongly and exclusively androphilic? (As may also be the case with normal heterosexual women?)

2) like dressing up in women's clothes to feel sexy and feminine? (As is certainly quite common for normal heterosexual women?)

3) crave an attractive female anatomy? (As is pretty universal among normal heterosexual women?)

4) transitioned late in life and can't pass? (This is largely contingent on external circumstances and personal choices. It is completely irrelevant to one's brain-identity.)

Or do they mean that they have a strong, male heterosexual type of arousal toward selected parts of the female anatomy, such as breasts, or Anne Lawrence's apparent fixation on vaginas? If a male characteristic like this occurs in a person who otherwise has a female type desire to be female and feminine, she may not be able to distinguish herself between the female sexual desire to be female built into a female-type BSTc, and the male sexual arousal toward those same female traits that may be neurologically encoded in a different part of the brain. In this case, she will be particularly susceptible to affirming Blanchard's theory, in which the two different sources of sexual arousal are cast as a single paraphilia.

I've read Kendra's writings twice. Cattiness included, I see absolutely nothing to make me doubt the fundamental femininity of her personality. If she transitioned for sexual reasons, they are still _female_ sexual reasons.

Accepting and encouraging her self-designation as "autogynephiliac" without challenging her to explain that diagnosis in terms more meaningful than "sexual condition" and "paraphilia" perpetuates an unnecessary division that gives the BBL side a cheerleader they don't really deserve.

I've become familiar with Ray Blanchard's autogynephilia theory over the last couple of years through a number of articles posted or linked to on Anne Lawrence's web site at http://www.annelawrence. com. These include:

"Men Trapped in Men's Bodies:" An Introduction to the Concept of Autogynephilia, Anne Lawrence, 1998.

Sexuality and Transsexuality: A New Introduction to Autogynephilia, Anne Lawrence, 2000.

Autogynephilia: Frequently-asked Questions, Anne Lawrence.

Janice Raymond and Autogynephilia, Becky Allison, 1998.

Autogynephilia and Denial: An Androphilic Transsexual's View, (Name withheld).

Women Trapped in Men's Bodies or Men Who Would Be Women? J. Michael Bailey.

A few general considerations have been touched on by some of these writers, but not really brought into focus. First, there is the question of what framework we are using to explain gender-deviant behavior. The old psychological approach is to view such behaviors as independent quirks to be explained in isolation, usually as some kind of confusion over what constitutes gender-normal behavior. The term "paraphilia", a polite term for "perversion", embodies this sort of conception. Seen as a paraphilia, autogynephilia might best be understood as a normal male attraction to females inverted onto the person of the autogynephilic male himself.

An alternative view is that human behavior is governed by numerous specific instincts congenitally wired into the brain. Instincts governing much of people's sexual and social behavior would vary by sex. Since essentially the same genetic code is used to build both males and females, sexual differentiation requires that the same code be "read" in either of two different ways, depending on which is being built. Further, this decision has to be made repeatedly at each stage of development that involves sexual differentiation, and the decision has to be made on the basis of prior features already present that can be trusted heuristically to indicate whether the current project is male or female. Such a system leaves considerable room for error, and errors sometimes occur. The result is an occasional individual that is basically of one sex, but who incorporates some specific "crossover" traits that are normal, characteristic and appropriate for members of the opposite sex, but not the individual's own. Seen as a crossover trait, autogynephilia is a suite of instincts that are normal and appropriate for women, but not for the men in whom they sometimes appear by mistake. By this model, the feelings that produce gender dysphoria and transsexualism are not isolated behavioral quirks unrelated to anything else, but perfectly normal drives simply occurring in the wrong context.

Both the "paraphilia" model and the "crossover" model are possible explanations of autogynephilia and other gender-deviant behavior patterns. Their implications differ, however. If the "paraphilia" model is correct, then the transsexual feelings of autogynephilic MtF's prior to HRT are not really female in any way, but are only masculine urges gone awry. This would tend to support the contention that autogynephiles are not really transsexuals, or that (MtF) transsexuals are not really women. If the "crossover" model is correct, however, then the transsexual feelings of MtF's really do reflect a female organization of their brains, and the validity of the transsexual impulse is partially confirmed. More significantly, it also gives us a key to the instincts not only of transsexuals, but of normal people as well. It is very hard to tell what is an instinct and what is simply common-sense behavior when your instincts are appropriate to your lifestyle and your lifestyle is directed toward Darwinianly logical pursuits. But when your instincts are dystonic to your circumstances, you know you have them, and you know what they are! Hence, if the "crossover" model is correct, we may be able to discover a great deal about the instincts of normal women by studying the fantasies of MtF's, male homosexuals and TV's, and likewise learn about the instincts of normal men by studying FtM's, lesbians and tomboys.

I personally lean strongly in favor of the "crossover" model. I concede the possibility that the "paraphilia" model is the valid one, at least in some cases. Further, I consider it very likely that some of the gender-deviant behavior we see derives from a combination of "crossover" traits with gender-normal traits to produce features unlike what any normal person of either sex has. Thus, what we call "autogynephilia" could be a combination of crossover female "narcissism" with a standard male attraction toward the same imagined woman, and the whole complex of sexual feelings intensified by standard male testosterone levels. Nevertheless, I would hold in that case that the crossover trait was the main issue.

Another consideration is a subject's motivation. We may recognize two forms of this. On one hand, there is primary, or unconditional, motivation when someone wants something as the direct gratification of a basic desire. If we ask why a person eats, then hunger, or the good taste of the food, would be primary or unconditional motivations. On the other hand, there can be secondary, or pragmatic, motivation. In this case, the subject's decisions are motivated by the calculation that the actions chosen may serve some other end. Preservation of life, improvement of health, or the desire to flatter one's hostess, would be secondary or pragmatic motivations for eating.

It is important to raise this distinction, because we commonly lose sight of it in our discourse. The reason is that motivation is most usually a topic in moral discussions, which are all about altering the other party's behavior. If I can restrict the primary motivations to a small number of standard, socially acceptable ends, then I can make a strong logical argument as to why you should change your ways. But if we admit that each of us actually behaves largely in accordance with a variety of immediate drives of our own, then any moral offensive we launch is apt to be thwarted immediately by the ideosyncrasies of the other party's unconditional motivations. Hence, as moralists, we have a vested interest in pretending that all motivations are of the pragmatic type. In other words, our opponent must defend his conduct by producing debatable "reasons" for his actions.

Psychology derives more from the iatric profession than from pure science. Its thinkers have been concerned more with the quest for cures than with understanding. As a result, its traditional theoretics are biased in favor of the assumption that conditions are curable. Since the conditions to be cured in this case are bad behavior, the cure must usually be some variety of a persuasive moral argument. To be able to make such an argument, the motivation for the bad behavior must be analyzed as pragmatic rather than unconditional.

Of the two frameworks described above, the first assumes that behavior is pragmatically motivated: the "homosexual" MtF wants a sex change for the ulterior purpose of sleeping with a heterosexual man, while the "autogynephile" wants a sex change in order to actualize the self-image-as-a-woman after which he lusts. The second assumes that the main motivations are unconditional: both varieties of MtF want a sex change because they have a deep and unconditional desire to be female, regardless of any other motivation. Under the first framework, one might be able to cure a willing MtF by showing him alternative means to his ends; but under the second, his drive to be female remains an immutable fact. The first framework allows the subject to be curable, and therefore mentally ill; the second sees only a character trait that, however unusual or maladaptive, is part of the subject's basic nature.

Finally, we have the vexed question of classification. Traditionally, we build our typologies and then try to classify people as belonging to them or not. At one point, we offer prescriptive definitions for our categories that may technically exclude some people that should be included, and at another point we are using the term loosely and heuristically. First, we define the space of variation, and then we use our powers of observation and association to shift the term to a real-world cluster. Meanwhile, whatever prescriptions are contained in the definition, and whatever stereotype typifies the cluster to us, is attributed to anyone named as a member of the class. The result is a good deal of heated discussion about terms, and not much light, because the discussion seldom dips below the level of the term itself. The worry about whether autogynephiles are "really" transsexuals is an example of this type of sterile classificatory problem.

A more fruitful approach would be to set the typologies aside and start looking at the elements upon which they are built. It is not enough to say that someone has wanted to be a girl all his life; we must ask about the emotional primitives that make him want to be female. If we can analyze ourselves in this way into a set of specific feelings and drives that exist independently of any higher-level intent, and which can be generalized to include corresponding feelings and drives in others, then we will have the beginnings of a chart of "sexual-instinct-space" upon which people in general can be plotted. Then, as we add data points, we may be able to discover specific clusters within our "SI-space" which can be named, and defined according to what traits are common to the cluster.

To illustrate what I think needs to be done, I will offer an analysis of my own sexual instincts, in comparison with the situation of other people insofar as I can infer these. Next, I will propose a tentative framework for a classification. Finally, I will consider the autogynephilia theory in light of that analysis.

Body Map.

First, there is the question of whether one likes to have penis and testicles or not. I think it is common with MtF's and presumably with normal women that they do not, and with normal men and FtM's that they do. I do not. This feeling of distaste and discomfort with my male genitals goes back at least as far as middle childhood, and at that time was not linked to any prior desire to be female. I then identified as male with no realization of serious abnormality, and I was not too clear about female anatomy in any case. I simply found the genitalia unpleasant and a nuisance, rather like a huge mole, and would rather not have had them. I always had the feeling that it would be nicer if my belly simply terminated cleanly at the groin, without that delicate and ugly growth. Although I have long since learned its use, I still find it irksome.

I can't positively claim to have an independent emotional primitive of desiring a vagina. Although it feels extremely right and satisfying now, in imagination, to have one, I don't recall ever conceiving of having such an organ prior to learning about female anatomy and wanting to have sex as a female. In fact, I think it is an emotional primitive with me, but I can't actually document the desire as something independent of the desire to be female.

I can't claim the desire for breasts as an emotional primitive at all. In this case, I can pretty definitely say that whatever desire I have for them is simply the result of a general desire to be a woman.

On the other hand, there are several other features of body morphology desire that I think are primitive and independent of the general desire to be female. I like being smooth-skinned, without body hair. I like being attractive in a cute, innocent, childlike sort of way. I like having a full head of hair-- I think baldness would bother me more than it does most men-- and I have always liked it to be at least moderately long: no butches. I like having a definite waist. I dislike having hair on my face, though I generally find beards attractive on men.

Body Map Summary.

  Man Woman Me
Want penis: Yes No No
Want vagina: No Yes (Yes?)
Want breasts: No Yes (?)
Want head hair: (?) Yes Yes
Want body hair: Yes No No
Want beard: Yes No No
Want cuteness: No Yes Yes
Want waist: No Yes Yes

In this table, uncertainty or indifference is indicated by (?). In the Man and Woman columns, the emotional primitives are predicted, but in the Me column, they must be attested as persistent desires that are not subordinate to any other desire, such as the desire to be female. If not so attested, they are marked with (?), however much they may be desired or repudiated for external reasons. Note that I tend to agree with the expected female desires in almost every case where I am not uncertain or indifferent.

Sexual Motor Instincts.

We should expect the basic copulatory drives to differ between the two sexes. Males should take pleasure and sexual satisfaction from stimulation of the penis, and the sense of thrusting it into a hole. Females, on the other hand, should take their sexual pleasure and satisfaction from the sensation of something stiff and elongate being thrust into their bodies through their vagina. For males, the penis is the center of sexual arousal, but for females, the center of sexual arousal is in the lower abdomen. The supreme pleasure of one sex should not be satisfying to the other.

This latter point needs to be underlined with a brief digression. When I was an undergraduate, a professor once told a story that made a strong impression on me, though I have not encountered it elsewhere. It seems that there are people who live in constant, incurable pain. Usually they have to be institutionalized and restrained to keep them from killing themselves in their frenzy to escape their torment. A few decades before, it had been discovered that if a certain portion of the brain were removed from these patients, they would settle down and could then live fairly normal lives. It was supposed that that portion of the brain controlled the pain, and that by removing it the pain was removed. The operation was performed routinely on these patients for a while, until one day a doctor spoke to his newly sedate patient after the surgery: "There! That feels a whole lot better now, doesn't it?" "No," said the patient calmly. "It hurts just as much as before." They realized then that that piece of brain did not govern the pain, but rather the _emotional reaction_ to the pain. The patients remained in agony, but they just no longer cared!

If this story is true, it means that a lot of our suppositions about the conditioning of behavior are too simplistic. We have often conceived of ourselves as programmable machines operating on one basic rule: to avoid what experience tells us is painful and to pursue what experience tells us is pleasurable. Instead, it would seem that we have specific neurological systems independent of the sense of pain or pleasure per se, which govern our actions and reactions.

I believe that transsexuals illustrate this same principle on the pleasure side of the ledger. I have a functionally normal male body with a penis that can be stimulated to erection and ejaculation. Climax produces intense physical pleasure. Yet it is a pleasure that does not produce any emotional excitement for me. This has been remarked by more than one of my female partners, classically by a vastly experienced young lady on the occasion of our first intercourse: "Did you come already? My God!-- you didn't even change expression!!"

All of my life, from at least as early as age 7 or 8, I have had a strong sexual craving to be penetrated abdominally. Satisfaction of that craving is infeasible or unwise for someone with a male body, so the way sex seems to work for me is as follows. First, I become sexually aroused, commonly by imagining myself as female, i.e. as physically capable of having the kind of sex that I want. The brain is titilated by this thought, and it sends out signals to the body, ordering it to prepare for sex. A female body might respond to these signals by lubricating the vagina, but a male body responds with an erection. This is annoying to the sexually aroused brain, which does not want to be reminded of its body's physical deformity at this special moment. Further fantasy, coupled with either stimulation of the penis or judicious hiding of it, will eventually cause ejaculation. This makes a mess, which further distracts and annoys the brain. Worse yet, the body then sends signals back to the brain announcing that the sexual event is now over. This kills the brain's arousal, leaving at least one neurological subsystem very frustrated. This subsystem is the female-type network that was responsible for the whole affair. It brought the whole body to arousal in hopes of a female-type sex experience, and the experience was cut short and left unconsummated by an inconvenient male-type ejaculation. This female-type network is indifferent to the ecstasy of a male-type climax, though the male-type body could never give it the female-type ecstasy it desperately craves. Meanwhile, the male-type ecstasy is left hanging, unappreciated, because the male-type network proper to receive it never developed in my head.

Closely associated with the lust to be penetrated are several other specific instincts. Nearly as thrilling as the sense of being penetrated abdominally are the sense of being held or squeezed around the waist, or of being on my back on the bottom. Also exciting are the sense of being attractive to men in a feminine way, of being pursued, of being captured, held, and forced down, and of being felt of and disrobed. In all of these instincts, there is the backdrop desire to be _victim_ of the agenda of a dominant and aggressive male. These instincts all go back to early childhood without dependence on any prior desire to be female. I became consciously aware of the bondage/domination/masochism instinct somewhere between ages two and four, though I really didn't know what to make of it.

These drives to me all seem clearly to be of a female type. They make sense only in the female context. Aside from the fact that I find women attractive (beyond which point I don't know instinctively what to do with them), I don't think I have any sexual drives of the male type. When female sex partners inquire what they can do to make my sexual experience better, I am completely at a loss as to what to tell them.

Sexual Motor Instinct Summary. Man Woman Me --- ----- -- Want to be femininely attractive: No Yes Yes Want to be "victim": No Yes Yes Want to be pursued: No Yes Yes Want to be captured, held: No Yes Yes Want to be felt of, disrobed: (?) Yes Yes Want to be squeezed around waist: (?) Yes Yes Want to be forced down: No Yes Yes Want to be mounted: No Yes Yes Penis-centered arousal: Yes No No Abdominal arousal: No Yes Yes Lust to penetrate: Yes No No Lust to be penetrated: No Yes Yes

These instincts are all distinct, but are related. They are probably controlled by one area of the brain. I can attest to every one of the ones marked "Yes" in the Me column as having been present and strongly developed from early childhood. They agree with expectations for women in every case. They were not derived from any prior desire to be female, but rather tended themselves to produce that desire.

Sexual Orientation.

I use the term "sexual orientation" here to mean what type of sexual partner one is attracted to. Like many autogynephiles, I am ambivalent on this.

We obviously should expect a normal man to be attracted to a woman that looks healthy and fertile, and a normal woman to be attracted to a man that looks strong and virile. We reasonably suppose that male homosexuals are males that have developed the crossover female trait of androphilia, and that lesbians are females that have developed the crossover male trait of gynephilia.

In fact, there are probably numerous sub-instincts that go into either androphilia or gynephilia, more than I can put my finger on. For now, I propose four major subsystems of attraction, which can occur on either side: 1) face; 2) figure; 3) personality; 4) specific bodily organs that are sexually distinctive. Of these, I can find both masculine and feminine faces attractive, both masculine and feminine figures attractive, and both masculine and feminine personalities attractive.

The fourth type of attraction is exemplified by homosexual and heterosexual graffiti on bathroom walls, or by people who say things like "Nice butt!" when a sexual delicacy walks by. I once read an account of a man who couldn't get it up without first visually inspecting his partner's pubic hair, and of his embarrassment one night when he attempted to have sex with a girl in the back seat of his car in the dark. These people all have a strong carnal lust after particular distinctive body parts of their preferred sexual partner.

This fourth type of attraction is fundamentally alien to me. I simply don't seem to feel that intense attraction toward particular body parts of either sex, be they penis, vagina or breasts. Huge breasts do not turn me on. I have no desire to suck a man's cock. I find cunilinguis downright repellent. My feeling is that the sex organs should take care of each other; I have no desire to contemplate them close up.

In general, I am inclined to look with longing at pretty girls rather than guys. Yet there is the occasional virile male that attracts me. My attraction to a man's figure is more aesthetic than sexual as it is with women, and whatever attraction I have toward a man is largely a function of his having a charismatic personality. A feminine personality is desirable in women, but is not entirely necessary for sexual attraction. Many women attract me, but men who attract me are rare. Yet I am not sure myself how much of my interest in women is lust, and how much is envy.

Sexual Orientation Summary.

  Man Woman Me
Attracted to men's faces: No Yes Yes
Attracted to women's faces: Yes No Yes
Attracted to men's figures: No Yes Yes
Attracted to women's figures: Yes No Yes
Attracted to men's personality: No Yes Yes
Attracted to women's personality: Yes No Yes
Attracted to large breasts: Yes No No
Attracted to penis: No Yes No
Attracted to vagina: Yes No No

By this chart, I do not seem to correlate well with expectations for either men or women in the area of sexual orientation. Instead, I seem to occupy a strange intermediate territory, or perhaps an undifferentiated state, in which I have both the male and the corresponding female instincts developed to some extent in some areas, while lacking both the male and the female instincts in other areas.

Perhaps in orientation I am bisexual. From early childhood on, I have had strong crushes on people of both male and female gender. And yet this bisexualism is tempered by another instinct. To me, proper sex involves a male copulating with a female. I find male-to-male sex rather disgusting, and female-to-female sex simply boring. Though I have indulged in many dark and kinky sex fantasies in my life, I don't think I have ever yet seriously fantasized being a male having sex with a male, or being a female having sex with a female. Neither of these scenarios is sexually interesting to me. I am what one of Anne Lawrence's autogynephilia respondents described as an "unapologetic heterosexual": whatever sex I conceive myself to be, I would only want a partner of the opposite sex. Supposing that this feeling is genetically determined, it is undoubtedly an adaptive one for people of either sex who may have cross-over traits.

Self Adornment.

How we clothe and ornament ourselves may or may not be related to our body map. It is probably related to our social instincts. In general, women take a stronger interest in dressing up than do men. Women dress up to make themselves sexually attractive to dominant males. Hence, sexuality is a primary component of female fashion. Men, on the other hand, dress primarily to project the image of power and dominance, if they dress up at all. Neckties and codpieces to the contrary, sexual insinuation is seldom a strong component of male fashion.

Sexual self-stimulation is another basic component of women's fashion. Women commonly like bright colors, delicate lacy things, and things that tend to caress them. Long, loose hair strokes the neck and shoulders. Earrings tug on their earlobes, which are sexually sensitive, and may swing against their necks as well. Necklaces crawl around their neck and upper breast like a man's probing fingers, and bracelets grasp their wrists like a man's hand. A dress caresses their legs in a way that trousers cannot, and a belt at the middle is like a man's arm holding them around the waist. Besides exaggerating her abdomen and vagina for the arousal of men, a dress also makes a woman feel femininely vulnerable to assault from below, a feeling which may be arousing to her.

I relate to many, but not all of these instincts. Some, like the desire to wear a belt, or a dress for all three reasons given, are strongly compelling. Others, like necklaces, earrings, bracelets and bright colors, are feelings that are present in me, but are not compelling. Still others, like the instinct for facial artistry that manifests itself in makeup, wigs and fancy coiffures, are nearly absent in me.

Again, these sexually oriented "dress-up" instincts are specifically female; normal men have no deep counterpart instincts to compare with these. If a man has urges like these, they are female crossover instincts, and they define him as a transvestite. There are no female transvestites because there are no sexually oriented male "dress-up" instincts to cross over. The nearest female correspondent to a transvestite is the woman who lacks these female "dress-up" instincts as do normal males, and who therefore resents dressing up in a feminine way, preferring to wear non-sexually demonstrative, practical, comfortable, male-type clothing (shirt, trousers, flat shoes, no jewelry) all the time. I have known at least two women like this, one of them my own mother. Both were recognized tomboys who loved standard male-type activities and who despised frilly femininity, but who appeared to be entirely heterosexual in their choice of sexual partners.

Self Adornment Summary.

  Man Woman Me Mom
Likes having long hair: (?) Yes Yes No
Likes earrings: (?) Yes No No
Likes necklaces: (?) Yes No No
Likes bracelets: No Yes No No
Likes finger rings: No Yes No No
Likes to adorn hair: No Yes No No
Likes to paint face: No Yes No No
Likes to adorn fingernails: No Yes No No
Likes to wear a dress: No Yes Yes No
Likes high heels: No Yes No No
Likes to wear perfume: No Yes No No
Likes bright colors: (?) Yes Yes Yes
Likes lacy things: No Yes No No
Likes to arouse men: No Yes Yes (?)
Likes to be carressed: (?) Yes Yes (?)

This listing is problematic because there are many instincts that may play in a person's taste in particular aspects of self-adornment. The four items listed last are basic instincts, but most of the others probably involve complex considerations. I've included an estimate of my mother's feelings in this list because we are closely related and she favors the predicted masculine side in many of these. Hence, if I am not particularly "feminine" in my self-adornment instincts, that may simply be a hereditary family trait, and not a limitation of the transsexual factor in me per se. Of course, the assumption that normal women consistently like all the items named is doubtful; these feelings probably vary greatly by individual.

Parental Instincts.

In deep evolutionary time, females have been dedicated to raising their children with little involvement of the males. Among modern humans, fathers have been brought into the process much more, especially with older children, and both sexes have some warm feelings for children. Nevertheless, the instincts for nurturing children remain much better developed among females than among males.

Females are particularly involved with taking care of children in their earliest years, and in fact they seem to find infants especially attractive. The instincts that cause a woman's face to light up in delight at the sight of a baby are alien to me, as I think they are to normal men. I find children cute and attractive from about the time they get a head of hair, lose their baby fat, and start walking and talking; but to me, and I think to most men, infants are grubs.

Men and women tend to relate differently to children, even given that they are attracted to them. Women have instincts to fuss over them, and to order them around for their own good. Men generally relate to children socially by teasing and testing them, but do not fuss. Women don't tease.

I seem to be lacking in both of these behavior patterns. I don't fuss, partly because that would be inappropriate behavior for a male, and partly because the instinct isn't well developed in me, as it also was not in my tomboy mother. Yet I can't tease either, because the male teasing instinct in me is rudimentary to non-existent. Yet I like children very much and enjoy their company. The result is often the absurd spectacle of an adult male acting as a passive nanny, letting himself be led around by a small child who directs the game, since his adult toy is incapable of taking a directing role in either the male or the female persona.

Playing with dolls is probably an indication of female-type parenting instincts. This is something I never really did, and had no significant interest in as a child. It would not have been encouraged anyway.

Parental Summary.

  Man Woman Me Mom Dad
Likes children: (?) Yes Yes (?) Yes
Likes infants: No Yes No (?) (?)
Played with dolls: No Yes No Yes (?)
Fussing instinct: No Yes No No Yes
Ordering-about instinct: No Yes No No No
Teasing instinct: Yes No No No (?)

By this table, I (and my parents) stand somewhere between normal males and normal females in the child-rearing instincts. Although I like children, I do not seem to have much in the way of the instincts of either sex for dealing with them practically.

In this chart, I include an estimate of my father as well. I suspect strongly that I inherited the autogynephilia condition from him. He always attempted to project a hearty, good-natured male persona, but I think this was largely an act or a habit. He teased a good deal, but this seemed a bit forced and non-genuine. He definitely liked children, and was inclined to fuss. His identical twin brother was more passive and reserved, was mawkishly sentimental about animals, tended to like sentimental images of children but never interacted with real kids that I ever observed, and did not tease.

Social Instincts.

In childhood, girls usually prefer to play with girls, and boys prefer to play with boys, which I understand is also the case with other primates. Before I started school, I had a strong preference for girls as playmates over boys, if both were available. When I started school, it was impressed upon me that that was unacceptable, and from there on I played with boys or played alone. If both had been equally allowed, I would certainly have preferred to associate with and identify with girls throughout childhood.

The reason for this, I think, lies in a basic gender difference in social psychology. Fundamentally, males are designed for fighting and dominance, while females are designed for nurture and support. Both sexes have to perform both roles at times, but their specialties are starkly different. Social standing for a male depends upon his ability to project an image of strength, confidence, self-control and superiority in prowess. He dare never show weakness, else females will disdain him and his rivals destroy him. He has no value to anybody but his strength, and that is highly esteemed. A female, on the other hand, sits outside the male dominance hierarchy. She has nothing to prove in that department. Her social value lies sometimes in her value as a sex object to males, and always in the network of nurturing and supporting relationships she builds with her children, her man, and her female friends.

A male's social discourse revolves around self-aggrandizement. His speech is bluff, bluster and braggadocio. He acknowledges no superior. He regales his audience with funny stories of other people's weaknesses and character defects. When he is feeling friendly toward someone, he teases them by probing for weaknesses. He meets any challenge to his own stature with scorn. Two men in friendly discourse are a competitive game of one-upmanship, tempered by an exchange of humorously derisive stories about third parties. A female's social discourse is entirely different. Her game is to gain social credits by offering moral support to the other party, and to solicit friendly critique and expressions of support from them. To this end, she will intentionally display vulnerability. A common form of this, which appears only in females and clearly effeminate males, is the humorously fatuous boast or command which the speaker is obviously incapable of enforcing. Female discourse is a game of exchanging sympathy for sorrows, advice and support for self-doubt, and shocked laughter for audacity. All parties are honored and supported, because they are not competing in the dominance hierarchy.

Social relations between males and females is problematic, because they are not playing the same game, and cannot. Females often have little sense of the prime male directive never to show weakness, and their attempts to draw out vulnerabilities for sharing with the circle can drive males to distraction. In turn, female feelings are hurt by the gruff rebuffs they encounter from males when attempting to approach them in their natural mode of trusting frivolity. When women complain about men not showing their feelings, they have in mind the lack of the female-type dialog which they are used to using to track each other's needs and feelings.

When dominant males engage in spirited conversation, nearby females generally lose control of the dialog and turn their attention to the males. They may occasionally interject a comment, but the game is no longer theirs. In part, this may be a female instinct of submission to males. But it may just as well be that the female game of tendering vulnerability and fishing for support simply cannot survive in an arena where some participants are playing a game of inflating themselves through disdain of other people's weaknesses. In that game, the female-type players can only look on in helpless bemusement.

I say "female-type" because I also fall into that category, though biologically and officially male. My basic instincts for relating socially are essentially of the female type as I describe it above. The male dominance instincts and the male wit are alien to me. When other boys in school would try to have a showdown with me, my emotional reaction was girl-like: I was ready to fight in self-defense, but I felt outraged and put-upon, because I had no sense of belonging to the male dominance hierarchy in the first place. As an adult, I can react to the dialog and teasing of a dominant man only as a woman would: that is, by helplessly smiling in admiration at his wit, and encouraging him to continue. In a circle of women though, I feel delightfully at home, exchanging expressions of support without bluster, and laughing with them as they giggle foolishly. This is what I liked about girl society as a small child, and it is still intoxicating to find myself thus as the only male in a circle of females. I don't have much experience in female dialog, and I have a lot of experience in suppressing female social instincts in myself, but this form of expression is what wants to come naturally.

There is also a feeling of subordination toward naturally dominant males. This isn't so much a sense of being subordinate to them as a competitor in the same hierarchy as it is the feeling of being intrinsically in the category of "child" in their presence. My instinct is to skirt them discretely so as not to disturb them if I come into their proximity.

Related to this may be a peculiar female-type gesture. About twelve years ago, I attended a public lecture by a lady anthropologist, who claimed that throughout the world young women cock their heads to one side when flirting. I apparently do the same thing when listening to someone, as a gesture of receptivity. This habit was brought to my attention by an older female cousin, who thought it was cute.

Social Instinct Summary.

  Man Woman Me
Want boy playmates: Yes No No
Want girl playmates: No Yes Yes
Braggadocio: Yes No No
Pick fights for dominance: Yes No No
Friendly harassment: Yes No No
Other-disparaging wit: Yes No No
Eager to give moral support: No Yes Yes
Self-disparage for sympathy: No Yes Yes
Fatuous assertion: No Yes Yes
Giggle over silliness: No Yes Yes
Deference to manly men: No Yes Yes
Receptive head cocking: No Yes Yes

These instincts are not quite as well-defined or individually discrete as the body map and sexual role instincts outlined above. There is probably a good deal of overlap between them, and the difference between Yes and No is much more a matter of degree. Nevertheless, the basic pattern is clear. In terms of raw social instincts, I am in substantial agreement with the women, and not with the men.

This does not mean that you would find me remarkably feminine in personality if you met me. I learned the score on that at an early age, and I have spent my life suppressing any obvious social effeminacies rather than cultivating them. The female social instincts I have are therefore untrained and subject to strong inhibitions. You would be more astute to look for female instincts that don't look obscene in a man, such as an unusual readiness to sympathize or to defuse criticism through self-disparagement, and to observe the absence of salient masculine behavioral patterns which can't be faked without the necessary instincts underlying them. If you are looking for obnoxiously feminine behavior in me you won't find it, because if it's that obvious I probably already figured it out myself long ago and put a check on it.

Hunting and Fighting Instincts.

Males seem to have a suite of instincts related to fighting or hunting, which females lack. When I was a teen in Sunday School, the lady teacher was once going on about a recent incident of vandalism in the community. "Why, I have never in my life had the urge to do anything destructive!" she exclaimed. "Have any of you boys ever had the urge to do anything destructive?" As one, we three teen-aged boys grinned sheepishly and nodded in unison. Our teacher was shocked, the more so since one of the pupils was her own son.

Although I was actually on the male side for once, this instinct to destroy things was sufficiently dystonic to my civilized circumstances to get my attention at an early age. Why was it that I had the need to desecrate pristine snowbanks by pelting snowballs into them? Why did beautiful statues in the museum arouse in my small breast the diabolical urge to smash them? Why did I spend fourth grade daydreaming about my own idea of paradise: a hammer, and permission to take the school apart brick by brick?

In high school, after reading Desmond Morris and Robert Ardrey, I realized that this destructive urge is a male hunting instinct. The high point in a movie for male viewers is somebody getting shot, or a building getting blown up. The essence of the instinct is this: to do something with your hands that produces the catastrophic collapse of a highly ordered standing object. That such a sequence should be as satisfying as sex makes excellent Darwinian sense if you are hunting elephants for a living.

This urge to destroy a target was intense in childhood, but seems to have atrophied in adulthood, perhaps partly because I had no real use for it and didn't care to cultivate it. I'm sure it's a prime motivator in most men who hunt for sport.

There are a couple of physical motor instincts that commonly support the instinct to destroy a target. One of these is the instinct to swing a club, which was also intense for me in childhood. The other is the urge to hurl a missle, such as a rock or a ball. This urge was apparently strong enough to have gotten me in trouble a couple of times, but it does not seem ever to have been so strong in me as in other men. This instinct must be well-developed in jocks who love to play ball games. I never had much interest in such sports, and never developed a very good throwing arm.

Another male hunting/fighting instinct is seen in their love for games of strategy, such as chess or checkers. Most females seem to have little interest in pure strategy. Strategic thinking depends especially heavily upon logical reasoning. Perhaps the strategic calculations involved in hunting activities is the reason that males seem to enjoy logic and mathematics more than females do. Again, I am mainly in the male camp on this one.

Finally, hunting and fighting often involve a physical struggle, and I enjoy this part, as I think most men do and most women probably don't. That is to say, I like fighting, though I hate quarrelling. I don't like dominance fights or any other fight where the opponent is actually hostile. Play fighting, or grappling with a hapless herbivore, or simply battling the elements is fun for me.

Hunting and Fighting Instinct Summary.

  Man Woman Me
Like strategy: Yes No Yes
Like destroying a target: Yes No Yes
Like a physical struggle: Yes No Yes
Like throwing an object: Yes No (?)
Like swinging a club: Yes No Yes
Like being strong: Yes (?) Yes

In this arena, I am in substantial agreement with the men. These instincts likely reside in a common region of the brain, which in my case was apparently more receptive to testosterone than some other regions.

Miscellaneous Instincts.

Women usually have a tendency to scream when startled. Men seldom display this except in extreme situations. I am with the men on this one. I never heard my mother scream; she apparently did not have this instinct any more than a normal male, and even in play she faked it as badly as a man would. My father, however, did scream readily if startled. His scream was in a base voice, so it fortunately didn't sound like a woman's scream, but functionally I think it was the same.

Women often tend to cry when upset. Again, adult males generally do this only in extreme circumstances. I don't recall ever seeing either of my parents cry outright, though my mother has come at least close to tears in a few cases of extreme vexation. I consciously gave up crying myself when I was about ten. I have never cried outright since then, and seem to have lost the ability, though I have often been depressed and choked up to the point where I would have if I could.

Males often like to show off by performing prodigious feats of prowess. This instinct seems to be rare or absent in females. It is rather overdeveloped in me, and was likewise in my father.

Miscellaneous Summary.

  Man Woman Me Mom Dad
Screams: No Yes No No Yes
Cries: No Yes No (?) No
Shows off prowess: Yes No Yes (?) Yes

Here I seem to be in the male camp again, along with my mother. My father (and uncle), however, show one salient female characteristic. I think the case of the startled scream is well-defined here, but I'm not so sure about the crying. The apparent absence of crying in my father and me, and even in my mother, may have more to do with self-control than with a genuinely masculine condition on this point.

Overall Instinct Summary of One "Autogynephile":

Body Map: Female

Sexual Motor Instincts: Female

Sexual Orientation: (?)

Self Adornment: (?)

Parental: (?)

Social: Female

Hunting and Fighting: Male

Screaming and Crying: (Male?)

Shows off Prowess: Male

I label an instinct catagory "Female" where my instincts are overwhelmingly of the female type, "Male" where they are predominantly of the male type, and "(?)" where they are of both types, neither type, or too near the middle to tell.

A Tentative Framework for Classification.

If we accept the "crossover" model, then we should be able to explain all commonly recurring varieties of human sexuality as permutations of male-type and female-type instincts within either male or female bodies.

The bodies are an important consideration because of the dual role of testosterone. Testosterone produces male traits and is maintained at a much higher level in male bodies than in female ones. Yet testosterone is present in both, and causes sexual arousal in both males and females. This leads to an asymmetrical situation in the case of crossover. If a male-type sexual instinct develops in a female body, it will be living in a low-testosterone environment and will therefore be weaker than in the case of a normal male. But if a female-type sexual instinct develops in a male body, it will be living in an environment much richer in testosterone than it was ever meant to be in, and the sexual compulsion will be inordinate. This explains the psychoanalytic observation that only males ever have paraphilias. It is not that females are intrinsically less sexual than males. Rather, it is that their sexual instincts are calibrated to a low testosterone ambience; given male levels of testosterone they go wild. Hence, males with crossover female sexual instincts become perverts; they are slaves to inappropriate sex drives of maddening intensity. Females with crossover male sexual instincts, on the other hand, are likely to be more sexually reserved and self-controlled than normal women, because their male-type instincts are operating on the testosterone levels of a eunuch.

This implies that males with crossover female sexual instincts will generally be easiest to study, because their inclinations are most spectacularly out of joint.

There are two clear varieties of crossover female instincts in males. Male homosexuals are one variety, and male-to-female transsexuals are another. The homosexuals can be simply defined as males that have the female sexual orientation instincts of androphilia. The transsexuals can be defined as males that have the female body map and sexual motor instincts that underlie female courtship and lordosis. Both homosexuals and transsexuals often have a smattering of other female instincts as well, but these alone are probably definitive of their respective conditions.

By my own experience, I believe that the sexual motor instincts are all closely related and derive from a single neurological complex in the brain, which in turn is very closely tied to the body map. If this is the case, then male-to-female transsexuality can potentially be explained as the result of a single mistake in the developmental script. If the instincts for androphilia likewise emanate from a single discrete neurological complex, then male homosexuality can also be explained as the result of a single mistake in a different part of the script.

Sexually dimorphic neurological complexes:

  Male Female
Orientation: gynephilia androphilia
Sexual role: mounting lordosis

Assuming just these two loci for crossover instincts, we get four possible sexual instinct patterns for each sex:

  Mounting Lordosis
Gynephilia: attracted to females, wants male role attracted to females, wants female role
Androphilia: attracted to males, wants male role attracted to males, wants female role

For biological males, this translates to:

  Mounting Lordosis
Gynephilia: normal male heterosexual "autogynephilic" M-F transsexual
Androphilia: normal male homosexual "homosexual" M-F transsexual

And for biological females, this should translate to:

  Mounting Lordosis
Gynephilia: "homosexual" F-M transsexual hormal female homosexual
Androphilia: "heterosexual" F-M transsexual normal female heteroosexual

Keeping in mind that there can be intermediate conditions between the two poles, these charts can be expanded up to nine cells:

  Mounting Either Role Lordosis
Gynephilia attracted to females, wants male role   attracted to females, wants female role
Bisexual     *
Androphilia attracted to males, wants male role   attracted to males, wants female role

* The asterisk marks my approximate location in this plane section of sexual instinct space.

The intermediate cells indicate either flexibility owing to elements of both sides within one dimension, or indifference through lack of both. Unlike the people at the two poles who are exclusively gynephilic or exclusively androphilic, or who have exclusively mounting instincts or exclusively lordosis instincts, the intermediates have the power to go either way in practice. Since they are usually subjected to strong social pressures to be normal, they will typically practise the behavior that is normal for their own sex within that dimension. Therefore, in actual sexual practice, the intermediate cells will be taken over by the nearest cell that is appropriate for the person's sex.

For males, we have:

Either Role
practicing male heterosexual
autogynephile *
practicing male heterosexual
"homrosexual" M-F transsexual

And for females, we have:

Either Role
"homosexual" F-M transsexual
practicing female homosexual
"heterosexual" F-M transsexual
practicing female heterosexual

Note that the asterisk which represents my position in sexual instinct space falls within the category of "autogynephile" if I present as male, yet would be comfortably within the category of "practising female heterosexual" were I to present as female. As a male, I am an "autogynephile", in contradistinction to "homosexual" MtF transsexuals, but if we were all to get sex changes I would join the latter set as a heterosexual female in contradistinction to some other "autogynephiles" who are exclusively attracted to women, and hence would be lesbians. The flexibility inherent in potential bisexuality, coupled with social pressures and personal scruples, would cause me to be heterosexual in practice no matter which sex I belong to! Similar seeming-paradoxes can surely be found for the inhabitants of other intermediate cells.

Obviously, there are also practising bisexuals. These would presumably be either latent bisexuals who lack the feeling that only heterosexual relations are acceptable, or borderline homosexuals.

This spread between the two poles of gynephilia vs. androphilia, and mounting vs. lordosis, seems to provide a place for most of the common sexual variants. Transvestites may indicate a possible third polarity.

My initial supposition was that transvestites were simply MtF transsexuals who did not, or could not, go so far as to get a sex change. This may well be the case. There is certainly plenty of incentive for a married family man to deny that there is anything wrong with his masculinity, and to partition his cross-dressing habit from the rest of his life by claiming that it is just his odd way of getting sexually excited.

On the other hand, the literature I have read on the subject seems to be unanimous that transvestites are heterosexual males who enjoy the male role and emphatically would not want to be physically female in real life. The same story is told of homosexual drag queens, who also would never want to be other than male.

If this is the case, then we may be dealing with a third sexually dimorphic neurological complex which can cross over on occasion. This complex would govern the female self-adornment instincts as described above. Affected males should be driven to gaud themselves up as females without actually wanting to be females. We would then have:

Sexually dimorphic neurological complexes:

  Male Female
Orientation: gynephilia androphilia
Sexual role: mounting lordosis
Self-adornment: dress-up  

This would give us eight cells. Crossing orientation with self-adornment, we get:

  No dress-up Dress-up
Gynephilia attracted to females; no self-gauding attracted to females; likes to gaud self
Androphilia attracted to males; no self-gauding attracted to males; likes to gaud self

For non-transsexual males, this would be:

  No dress-up Dress-up
Gynephilia normal male heterosexual transvestite
Androphilia normal male homosexual drag queen

Since the female self-adornment instincts are not dystonic for females, and are rather expected for MtF transsexuals, they produce results spectacular enough to be noticed only in non-transsexual males. Hence, only these four cells need to be shown.

It might be worth doing the chart for non-transsexual females as well, however. In my experience, there seems to be a certain distinction, and tension, between frilly, dress-up females on one hand, and gruff, tomboy females who despise female frippery on the other. The latter group seems to have distinctly male tastes in some other areas of life as well, such as work, social companionship, and perhaps even the hunting and fighting instincts. In females, neither group is considered psychopathological, but the difference between them may be equivalent to the difference between transvestites and normal heterosexuals in men.

For non-transsexual females:

  No dress-up Dress-up
Gynephilia tomboy homosexual female dressy homosexual female
Androphilia tomboy heterosexual female dressy heterosexual female

As noted above, my mother and at least one other young woman that I know would seem to fall into the category of non-transsexual, tomboy heterosexual female. If I were female myself, I might be in the same category, or perhaps intermediate.

If "tomboy" covers such traits as vigorous guy-type activities, perhaps including hunting and fighting instincts, as well as anti-dressiness, then it may be that the female dress-up instincts and the male hunting/fighting/vigorous-outdoor-activity instincts represent gender-dimorphic alternate developments of the same primordial neurological system. If this is the case, then these two instinct suites must be inversely related: the more inclined one is to guy-type activities, the less one likes to gaud oneself; and the more one likes to dress up, the less one likes guy-type activities. For the tomboys who love guy-type activities while despising dressiness, this seems to be the case. To check it from the other direction, we should interview ostensibly non-transsexual transvestites and drag queens to find out their feelings about vigorous guy-type activities, hunting and fighting, as compared with their non-crossdressing peers. If the predicted dichotomy holds, then sexual instinct space might range over three mutually orthogonal dimensions:

  Male Female
Orientation: gynephilia androphilia
Sexual role: mounting lordosis
Self-activity: hunt/fight dress-up

The first two of these dichotomies seem obvious; the latter one is highly speculative, and needs a lot more study of tomboys and transvestites.

The Autogynephilia Theory.

The theory of "autogynephilia" involves two components. First, it supposes a fundamental distinction between androphilic and non-androphilic male-to-female transsexuals. Second, it proposes an etiology for the non-androphilic MtF condition: while the androphilic MtF is a very effeminate homosexual who wants a sex change to attract heterosexual men, the non-androphilic MtF is basically a heterosexual transvestite who has become so enamoured with his own feminine image that he wants a sex change to perfect it. Thus, the two types of MtF are completely unrelated to each other, and both are simply extreme derivations of two other known sexual deviencies.

The first component, the classificatory distinction, seems the sounder of the two, and I think it is Blanchard's real contribution to our understanding of MtF transsexuality. Nevertheless, I think he and his disciples go overboard in trying to make the division absolute. One can have a definite distinction between two groups without having to assume that they have no unifying features in common. In this case, the two-factor analysis I suggested above should be an obvious possibility. If we accept a distinguishing factor of homosexuality depending on which sex one is attracted to, why should we not also accept a distinguishing factor of transsexuality depending on which sex one wants to be? In that case, a "homosexual" MtF is to an "autogynephilic" MtF as a regular homosexual is to a normal heterosexual man, and an "autogynephilic" MtF is to a normal heterosexual man as a "homosexual" MtF is to a regular homosexual. The fact that there is virtually no discussion of this obvious possibility by the defenders of autogynephilia, while they justify their absolute division by the fact that the two MtF groups have different life trajectories, is a little disappointing. Each of the other two groups has a different life trajectory as well.

Notably too, the etiologies given for both types of MtF avoid the possibility that the conditions reflect genuinely female instincts, by relating them instead only to other male sexual deviencies which are themselves unexplained. J. Michael Bailey does concede that male homosexuality may be the same as female heterosexuality, but finds autogynephiles unfathomable, even after praising Blanchard's conception as the "Unified Field Theory" of what makes them tick.

The conception is this: an autogynephile is a normally masculine, heterosexual male who conceives a female image of himself, typically by cross-dressing in adolescence for reasons unexplained, looks in the mirror and is so aroused by the image that he reaches under his skirts and masturbates, like a normal male over a hot pornographic image. Over the years, he becomes obsessed with this female image of himself, to the extent that he finally demands a sex change so as to unite in wedded bliss forever with his own female image. Thus, autogynephilia is really an orientation. Heterosexual men are hot after women, homosexual men are hot after men, bisexual men are hot after anybody, and the poor autogynephile is hot after himself in the image of a woman.

Well, I am a non-androphilic MtF, so I fall into the category Blanchard labels "autogynephiles". Granted, I like being pretty and attractive, as almost any woman does. And granted too, I am happy to gawk at pretty girls, as does any heterosexual man. But the idea that, at age 47, I am sexually aroused by what I see in the mirror, even on my best days, is absolutely ludicrous.

What does "the image of [oneself] as a woman" mean to a normally masculine heterosexual man? And why in the world should he wish to pursue that image in preference to the much better looking images of the real women that inhabit his world? And if he does for some reason fall in love with it in his youth, why should he not cheerfully abandon it without fear of alimony when it grows old and gray?

The idea that the MtF is pursuing an "image", as a sexually aroused man on the prowl, is the central error of the autogynephilia theory. Some "autogynephiles" have attempted to correct this, and have been accounted liars for their pains. In fact, the desire to be female is somatic, not visual. It rests upon the body map, and upon the sexual motor instincts of lordosis, and perhaps the feminine display instincts. Blanchard and his followers fail to appreciate the importance of these sexually dimorphic suites of instincts, or more likely do not recognize their existence at all. For them, sex is all about the target of attraction, and nothing else.

In this context, autogynephilia theorists argue that the non-androphilic MtFs are sexually aroused at the thought of becoming females, and are therefore just normally horny males. (This is why they want their dicks removed.) Apparently, only males can experience sexual arousal. Speaking for myself, I am quite sexually aroused by the thought of becoming female, because the moment I think it, all the lordosis centers of my brain break out the champaigne and party hats, and scream: "Yes!!! Now at last I can have sex!!"

The sexual arousal is of _female_ type. The excitement is from the thought of somatically experiencing sex in the body of a woman at the hands of a man. It has little or nothing to do with male-type arousal to the visual image of a woman, though if this male-type targetting interest exists it can be accommodated as well by mounting a mirror over one's bed, as Bailey's "Cher" did.

Blanchard apparently did a lot of work to determine that his autogynephiles were sexually aroused by the thought of becoming women, but did he ask about the nature of the arousal? If he did, he seems to have been told repeatedly that they fantasized about being women having sex with men of no particular description. Instead of recognizing this as the manifestation of a complex of female sexual motor instincts that underlies the whole impulse to transition, his school trivializes it by asserting that, since the autogynephiles are not homosexual, the only reason they want to have sex with a man is to validate the womanhood of their desired self-image!

J. Michael Bailey seems a little disturbed by the "faceless man" aspect of these fantasies, and draws all kinds of sinister conclusions. Unlike homosexuals, who may at least find him gorgeous and hunger to suck his cock, the loveless autogynephile has no interest in him as a person and uses him only as a prop in her fantasies of womanhood. Any man will do; the autogynephile is in love only with her imagined female self.

This is rather unfair, and Bailey completely misunderstands the situation here. The autogynephile is non-androphilic, and hence has no more or less interest in him as a person than does any other heterosexual man. Toward a woman, the autogynephile may be attracted romantically as much as Dr. Bailey himself might be. But the autogynephile has the body map of a woman and the sexual motor instincts for lordosis. These urges are compelling, female, and purely sexual. My own sex fantasies certainly involve "faceless" men, but Dr. Bailey may be reassured to know that my own female persona in these is equally undetailed. I am perfectly capable of falling in love with a whole person and delighting in their face and personality, and I have done so; but these feelings involve different parts of the brain than that which governs the sexual motor instincts. I also doubt that the pure sexual fantasies of people governed by targetting instincts that focus on boobs or penisses really pay much more attention to their objects' faces and personhoods than my lordosis fantasies do. Numerous sexually explicit stone-age statuettes of knob-headed women, likely carved by heterosexual males, suggest that they do not.

This matter does point up a serious life dilemma for gynephilic male-to-female transsexuals, however. They are born physically male, but with the body map and sexual motor instincts of females. Yet the orientation of their sexual and romantic attraction is toward women, as with normal males. For an androphilic MtF, transition is a no-brainer if she can afford it and can pass. For her, sexual and romantic attraction to a man grades smoothly into lordosis, as for a normal woman. For a normal man, sexual and romantic attraction to a woman grades just as smoothly into holding and mounting her. Even for a normal homosexual, attraction may procede straight into mutual holding and alternate mounting. These people all enjoy a single, non-schizophrenic sexual persona, and may even have trouble conceiving that separate instinct complexes may be involved. But this apparent simplicity falls apart miserably in the gynephilic MtF, whose curse is never to experience meaningful sex as a man, nor a meaningful romantic relationship as a woman.

Gynephilic MtFs are profoundly ambivalent in their sexuality. They are more masculine than androphilic MtFs and more feminine than normal men, yet they are not fuzzily intermediate either. Their feminine aspect is intense, and their masculine aspects may be equally so, and the two mutually irreconcilable. Their public personality must be built around one or the other of these. In transition mode, they may madden psychologists by marking down the views of both their traditional male and their newly liberated female on the same survey; but it would be less than candid of them to do otherwise, for both attitudes are perfectly real depending on which sex they conceive themselves to be.

Unlike their androphilic sisters, gynephilic MtFs can usually pass as somewhat believable males. This does not mean that they are "unremarkably masculine", though an imperceptive observer might suppose so. It just means that they can pass, and usually make an effort to do so. Any discussion of their behavior prior to transition needs to take account of the enormity of the social stigma that falls upon any blatantly effeminate male. The androphilic MtFs take their hit up front. They can't pass, and have little interest in trying. So they grow up openly girlish, at the very bottom of the social pecking order. The gynephilic MtFs meet rebuke for girlish behavior, and learn to suppress the behavior. They find acceptance and reasonable respect in their society contingent upon not showing any obviously feminine habits. In childhood, when their libido is low, they buy into their expected role and identify as boys. They are never jocks or studs, and they are painfully conscious of feminine weakness ever lying just below their cultivated surface. Since masculinity doesn't come naturally to them, they never become alpha males. But they find they can achieve status through the route of pursuing arcane specialties, so as to become the class brain or artist or clown or whatever. Since femininity is dangerous to their tenuous social standing, they may take care never to pursue traditionally female activities. Instead of playing with dolls, which would be an obvious giveaway, they may put together models instead, which is perhaps the nearest thing to dolls that boys are allowed to fuss with.

Puberty is a bit of a nightmare for gynephilic MtFs. They find themselves inundated with female sexual feelings that they dare not let anyone discover. At the same time, their bodies are changing in ways they do not like. They are attracted to girls, yet have no idea of how to relate to them as boys. Bullying by their peers reaches a peak, and the bullies are rapidly attaining the formidible size and strength of adult men. Now if ever they must not show female weakness, yet their female sex fantasies are overpowering. They indulge these in private if possible, and seek abnormal amounts of privacy. Yet in public they remain resolutely male, and desperately seek ways to validate that maleness.

As they enter adulthood, a pattern sets in. Their life alternates between phases of catering to their female sex drives in extreme secrecy, and vowing to overcome this disgusting vice and become real men. In the latter mode, sex paraphernalia are jettisoned, and virtuously masculine activities are undertaken. Career decisions may be based on this. The hope is that by taking up a stereotypically masculine occupation, some of that masculinity may rub off on them. The success of this strategy in at least keeping their male public image from scandal can be measured by Bailey's derision of an MtF ex-Green Beret's claim to have chosen this career as a means of hiding his femininity. In fact, Bailey's skepticism is surely misplaced; this is precisely the sort of thing that I have often contemplated doing, and occasionally attempted, in hopes of making a man of myself.

In youth, non-androphilic MtFs commonly expect to grow out of their female cravings. Like many other young people, they look forward to self-improvement and a glorious future. As they enter middle age, however, they begin to realize that their tawdry present is about as good as it is going to get. Some of them now despair of their forlorn attempt to be real men, and decide to transition into womanhood. Since they have spent their lives repressing their female instincts, at least in public, this transition is awkward for them. They may need lessons in femininity, which Bailey sees as indicating that they are really men underneath. This may indeed indicate a certain degree of masculinity, but also deeply cultivated inhibitions, and the absence of all the years of practice and social feedback in the ways of femininity that normal women, and even the uninhibited androphilic MtFs, have enjoyed.

These transitioners are the non-androphilic MtFs that Bailey and other psychologists see. The vast majority of the people with this condition are almost certainly those who simply live with it and make the best of it. Reasons not to get a sex change are formidable, including humiliation and harassment, loss of friends, family, career and hard-earned reputation, enormous expense and time commitments, loss of strength and health, loss of fertility, and for the gynephile, loss of the chance to be loved as a man by heterosexual women. Most simply elect to stay men with a secret vice, and having made this decision have no reason to admit their problem to psychologists or anyone else.

In this connection, it should be noted that we have no way of counting the number of people who have the condition, since those who have not decided to transition are downright paranoid about revealing it. It is commonly asserted that transsexuality, or GID, is extremely rare, on the order of one in some tens of thousands. This is surely false, and derives from some old estimates which counted people getting sex changes, not people who simply had the condition of wanting to be of the opposite sex. Lynn Conway, on her site at http://www.lynnconway.com, makes a case for the prevalence of the transsexual condition being on the order of one in two hundred. I think this figure is entirely reasonable, and would not be surprised if it were even higher. I would add that the reason for the very low figures usually given may reflect partly the vested interest of mental health professionals in considering GID so unlikely that many hours of their services are required to arrive at a diagnosis, partly to the interest of transitioning transsexuals in promoting the view that their condition is so intolerable that everyone who has it is compelled to transition, and partly to the extreme defensiveness of the non-transitioning, whose whole social life could be ruined by admitting their condition.

MtF's themselves have been sharply divided in their acceptance of the theory of autogynephilia. Much of the conflict is over the theory's revolutionary assertion that their motives for getting a sex change had to do with sex. The previous script was that they were simply female souls who just needed a bit of surgery to be able to express their true nature, and whole-hearted acceptance of that paradigm was needed to pass the gatekeepers. Blanchard's conception is certainly much more down to earth than this, and some thoughtful MtF's have been convinced by it because it confronts the fact of the sexual drive as a primary motivation for transitioning. Anne Lawrence herself is the most prominent MtF exponent of this position.

But the argument that sex is the main motivator is compelling only in opposition to the older paradigm. It does not demonstrate the validity of the theory of autogynephilia, which implies much more than that. To confirm or discredit this theory, we need to focus much more vigorously on the essence of the sexual drives involved.


I believe that the term "autogynephilia" embodies a misconception of the nature of transsexuality. It divides MtF transsexuals into two distinct groups that are supposed to be entirely different in nature, rather than simply differing in sexual orientation. At the same time, it lumps non-androphilic MtF transsexuals with the transvestites, which are probably a different group, though its members do have a similar life pattern for similar reasons.

The reasoning behind the theory assumes that sexual drives involve only the target of attraction; it fails to consider the role of the body map, sexual motor instincts, or sexual display instincts. In fact, these are the central issues involved in transsexuality and transvestism; targetting instincts, or "sexual orientation", certainly do play an important role in the life of T* people as with everyone else, but it is not what drives their inclination toward sex-swapping.

To seriously study sexual deviencies, we need to focus more on what specific instinct complexes drive their representatives. Without an understanding of these, classificatory terms are too subjective, and too prone to be misunderstood and variously interpreted. Also, we need to recognize the presumptuousness in this context of prescriptively classifying people as "men" or "women", and extrapolating their personalities out from there. It is understandable that transgender people may claim a normative gender for themselves to explain everything; it is less excusable for scientists to play the same game. The two sexes differ in general by numerous distinct factors, and in degree within these. Though abnormal, intermediate conditions do occur, and should be recognized as such.