Autogynephilia refers to a male sexually aroused at the thought of being female. It’s a highly controversial issue that most trans people say has been discredited, but I think that’s because of trans person fear of rejection, fear of shaming. For what it’s worth, I disagree with some of it as presented, I even disagree with other definitions including for “transsexual,” but I’ve nonetheless seen a lot of it in my decades inside T areas and endeavors.
Per definition, I am not autogynephilic, falling into the category of transsexual referenced as “homosexual” (Blanchard, Bailey, Lawrence). My sexuality is female; I’m aroused by men/males. I believe my need to be female is likely because of a neuroanatomic feature in the brain as yet not identified, possibly a non-differentiation in the brain in utero. I do not know this, yet, but I was 3 at my first notice of need, and it’s been with me every moment of my life.
Autogynephilia is sold as a paraphilia and has resulted in some heated discussion and internet slamming (Alice Dreger, Ph.D.). I believe it’s a real phenomenon, but—to reference respectfully in discussion for the evolution of ideas, not discredited radical internet slamming—I don’t look at it as a paraphilia. Paraphilia, from the Greek (philos) to “love” something (para) beside or aside, is meant to refer in English to loving something different or “abnormal,” a sexual “deviance.”
I believe researchers trying to communicate hair-splitting concepts with other researchers around the world, in different cultures, have to be precise, try to be scientific in a certain way so that someone else will get a specific meaning. But I believe most trans people are not detailed, scientific researchers—are, instead, people living with stigmata from which they feel the pain, every day, of slams from others in society for acting like a “freak,” who are discriminated against, ousted, rejected, assaulted and even murdered. And when a trans person is a scientist, issues of fear of shaming, fear of rejection, interfere with perspective. With autogynephilia, trans people feel painted by officials with yet another stigma, and so they fight.
The two mind-sets are incompatible: the scientific mind involved in the evolution of ideas through academic freedom and the scientific method; and the other trying to live as an unwanted and misunderstood minority. After looking at the concepts and talking with researchers, I believe no slight was intended, though at times more concern could have been paid to how an idea would be received—and also that there are trans people who way over reacted, no where near a fair response, who discredit themselves as individuals and all of us as a group.
I look at autogynephilia differently. Not as a paraphilia but as fantasy that is common (just kept in the shadows to avoid rejection, so it seems rare).
People need to calm down about this concept.
Remember masturbation decades ago before you were allowed to touch yourself? You’ll go to hell if you do it? Grow hair on your palm? Sounds crazy, but people were ridiculed for it.
Remember Woody Allen’s famous comic line from the movie “Annie Hall” (1977)? Arguing as Alvy Singer with Annie, Woody exclaimed,
“Hey, don’t knock masturbation; it’s sex with someone I love.”
The audience loved that (I should watch it again). It helped demystify it. It’s “sex” that doesn’t go to reproduction, so it’s deviant, right? Wrong: It’s normal, common, just hidden. It’s pleasure that doesn’t hurt anyone…
I see autogynephilia rather that way. It’s not rare. It’s zest in cross dressing or fantasy to be the other. Life is short. It’s common in the cross dressing world, somewhat in the transgender (B) world, and sometimes transsexual (A) world. It’s a fantasy now and then that males have— So what? Why can’t it be a thing that’s part of male fantasy sex life without trans getting bent out of shape over it?
Because most MtF trans people are insecure and fear rejection, based on real life experience: defamation, derision, denigration, degradation, prejudice, oppression and hate crimes. The U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime states, “…One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives. Me too; time’s up. Some reports estimate that transgender survivors may experience rates of sexual assault up to 66 percent, often coupled with physical assaults or abuse. This indicates that the majority of transgender individuals are living with the aftermath of trauma and the fear of possible repeat victimization.”
Trans life is not a Disneyland fantasy cakewalk like others seem pleased to make it out to be. It can be exhilarating to finally try to become the person you are, but it also involves difficulties most others seem pleased to ignore. The calm, confident presentation that isn’t ruffled by looks and gossip is usually denial; offense and pressure are there, and most of it can’t be directly handled. Why do you think our suicide rate is so high. We have to develop the internal strength to overcome known fears to even begin—and that leaves little to deal with others.
I urge people to quit worrying about autogynephilia. It doesn’t hurt anything; we have enough to deal with. Our demeanor will sell our nature. Radial fighting with the concept or with people who promote it can harm us all more than any perceived notion of the concept, itself.