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the question of eroticism

It is very difficult to be transgendered MtF person with male plumbing.

Autogynephilia hinges on the proposal that you suffer from a paraphilia because you as a male have masturbated to the idea of being or becoming a woman. That idea, used to derail my thinking but it no longer does because I have come to possess a more comprehensive and complete portrait of what it means in general and for myself in particular.

I have a past dotted with innocent crossdressing followed by post pubescent erotic episodes which led to my throwing away all of the clothes I possessed in shame and disgust. Here I was doing something I found very innocent and hoping desperately to avoid the spectre of an orgasm but it somehow seemed unavoidable in the end.

As I have aged that connection and need continues to progressively erode while the identity builds, however the erotic closure is still there at the end of each outing. It has become somehow hard wired as part of my sexuality because my gender dysphoria somehow piggy backed itself onto my sexual development. It came along for the ride and fused itself to my being as I was developing.

I view calling this target location error as a misnomer because I am still very much drawn sexually to women. The problem is that I cannot perform normally as a male due to this anomaly.

I personally have no history of fetishist behaviour, have never read erotic fiction, have never dressed provocatively or overtly sexually and my social exploits as Joanna consist of going out shopping or having coffee with a friend. Yet there is a subdued element of sexuality present in the very act of transformation which I am hard pressed to explain.

Some transsexual women, looking to distance themselves from us, revel in calling us perverts while AGP enthusiasts gleefully tell us that our activity is rooted in paraphilia brought on by some sort of childhood trauma. Each of them has their axe to grind and am at a loss to explain their motivation. None of the duelling factions have any proof to speak of however and, for that matter, neither do I.

My only proof lies in the careful examination of my behaviour over a lifetime coupled with delving into the literature of people I respect. Researchers like Harry Benjamin and Anne Vitale have dealt with this difficult topic with intellectual honesty above all and have left its politicisation to those who would use our lack of scientific certainty to unscrupulously discriminate against others.

I like the analogy using Anne Vitale’s term “gender expression deprivation anxiety” in that one needs an outlet which may have a sexual component to it. It may get mingled with other sexual desires, to the point that they seem like one and the same. This is why many of us can love women but also find it arousing to think of ourselves as being them.

It is interesting to note that the early diagnosing of whether a claim of transsexualism by a patient was valid was to ensure that there was no sexual motivation present. It’s almost as if the person had to be asexual to qualify and to admit that one had masturbated in women’s clothes was tantamount to heresy. Many of these early patients simply said what they needed to in order to receive the treatment they so required.

Things have changed considerably since then and a more complete and less monolithic portrait of transsexuals has been pieced together.

For that we can all greatly be thankful because human beings are not caricatures but are instead very complex models of nature.


  1. Hi Joanna. I can see that you and I have a lot in common. We are clearly both struggling to make some sense out of a phenomenon which seems to have no basis in common sense at all. I admire your honesty in putting your thoughts and feelings on your blog like this. I started my blog as a means of putting my own views out there and making contact with others (like you) who see where I am coming from.

    I flatter myself that crossdressing isn't a sexual thing-- yet why does it make me feel sexy? Why does it have this inescapable frisson?

    The autogynephilia theory offers some answers, but not all. I probably haven't read as much of the literature as you have. Nonetheless, I have come across very little of what I would call real science in this field.

    Different groups seem to be quite ready to bicker with each other, without recognising their common points of interest. Worse, they seem very keen to push their particular agendas, sometimes at the expense of other groups, and often at the expense of objectivity. Therefore much of the literature (at least the stuff I have read) is basically opinion and wishful-thinking. (But the fact that some people misuse, or dislike, the autogynephilia theory, doesn't make it wrong. Conversely, the fact that I think it is a reasonable model for my own behaviour does not make it correct).

    The Internet is drenched in websites and images associating transgenderism with sex in some form. Therefore, whether we like it or not, there is a very large body of opinion (and behaviour?) out there which links the two. This makes me think that, one way or another, there is something deep which connects the two things, but the aura of weirdness, shame or distaste around this subject makes good study extremely difficult. Most people are very reluctant to reveal their genuine feelings and motivations, for fear of what it might say about them.


  2. the way I explain all this to myself Vivienne is that this desire to express ourselves in a female fashion was there very early. Before the age of sexualisation it is innocent and natural but as we pass into puberty it gets fused into our sexual identity as well. We have male plumbing but we have female desires and the result can be confusing given that we are drawn to women and we want to be "normal" for them.

    The internalised message is that we need to repair ourselves and the guilt and shame cycle begins in earnest.

    This vicious cycle keeps you trapped and feeling like you cannot repair yourself and so most of us buy and purge repeatedly. I have stopped that cycle because it was going to destroy me. I needed to accept that this forms part of the way I am made and is not a hobby or a past time. It is an important element in the way I was made.

    There are currently no answers in science for either transvestism or transsexualism but amongst the most honest and purest works you will find is the 1966 book "The Transsexual Phenomenon" which I have strongly recommended you read. The book was written after Benjamin had worked with hundreds of patients and he was able to formulate a gender disorientation scale based on his findings.


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