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some clarifications....

After reading liza`s comments to my post on AGP, I thought I would be more clear on my thoughts on the subject by using an analogy. Let’s use the example of a drag queen versus a crossdresser (ie. essentially a homosexual versus heterosexual man in women`s clothing).

Assuming neither experiences gender dysphoria, the drag queen (having no sexual interest in women) will find no erotic interest in the clothing whereas the crossdresser is more than likely to.

If we now add the component of dysphoria (depending on strength) we then typically (but not always) end up with an androphilic early transitioner and a gynephilic late transitioner. This is almost always the case although it is in the process of changing.

The idea that there is such a thing as a `true transsexual` is difficult to prove since there isn’t any real litmus test for legitimacy. The term originally comes from Harry Benjamin`s own scale type 6 which was the most severe and persistent level of dysphoria. Does that mean that someone who transitions and would have been considered as a type 4 under the Benjamin scale wasn’t a transsexual?

Anyway I prefer not to use the term transsexual in this blog and stick with gender dysphoria which is the current accepted terminology.

Since the biological evidence for gender dysphoria is still inconclusive, we are left with psychoanalysis and the insistence of the patient that they are doing the right thing. This is not much of a litmus test since it is entirely subjective and relies on patient responses rather than hard science.

The fact that there is an erotic response from the gynephilic does not negate the fact that they experience real dysphoria. The problem is that the desire to be with a female competes with that of wanting to be one. This is something that the androphilic does not have to deal with since their sexual leanings are towards men.

As the studies point out, the relative level of happiness between androphilic and gynephilic is about the same post-surgery with the only difference being the age at which one transitions.

So if we go back to the original Benjamin work and think of dysphoria as a graded spectrum we can see that the only element that matters is its strength and how much the person is able to live in their current gender role without extreme distress.


  1. I'm sure I'm going to get short down in flames here, but to my mind, a transsexual absolutely identifies themselves as a sex other than that they were born into, and wants to live in the role they identify with permanently and full time (whether they elect for surgery or not).
    A cross-dresser, on the other hand, wants to act that opposite gender role for shorter or longer periods (days, weeks, maybe months) without committing to it as a permanent life change. But as in most things, there's a continuum where the boundaries blur. They are fuzzy sets rather than exclusive either/or.

  2. that is precisely right Susie there can indeed be a continuum and what you think you are today you may not be tomorrow. Virginia Prince used to think of herself as a heterosexual cross dresser and ended her life as a woman. The absolutes don't apply in this field because the human mind is so complex and ever evolving. Only you know what you are...

  3. Well I would have to agree that it is a whole gray zone. I was always curious about the people that have dysphoria versus the people who have dysphoria mixed with eroticism. Sometimes I feel that people think that eroticism in this case in some how a perversion. I can't stand that. Eroticism drives normal daily life for all. Normal heterosexual people are driven to do things for the same feelings of eroticism and to make big lifes decisions on them as choosing a spouse and getting married.....

    I also am confused at the terms of androphilic and gynephillic and how black and white they can be. I know in my own experience I felt gynephillic in my younger life. There was a lot of homophobia so I never even considered myself attracted to men and it almost felt safer to say i was at least heterosexual even though i prefered to wear women's clothing to my girfriends. However I must admit as time went on and I felt more relaxed about who I was I opened myself up to the thoughts of being attracted to men and the experience of sex as a woman(being penetrated). I found that I enjoyed it. There was a part of me that always had a sense of competing with a woman.....doing it better than a woman.....I don't know how that fits in....Perhaps I am bisexual and don't fit the black and white definition.

    However it does make me wonder what would happen to an individual....what would have happened to me if at the time of the dysphoria comes out at an early age...that we lived in a world that was completely supportive and accepting . How my life would have been different.

  4. Liza it is not uncommon to have fluidity in orientation. Once somone has ingested female hormones over a sustained period it changes brain chemistry and you can begin to like men. When I use these terms I am referring to sexual orientation pre transition process. Even Blanchard got this part right in that his homosexual and heterosexual groups had distinctly different histories. I strongly recommend that you go to Anne Vitale's website and read some of her work. Things will become much clearer.

  5. The dysphoria and eroticism are not separate be careful. When androphilic gender dysphorics imagine themselves being made love to by a man they masturbated like any other male. They reported this in smaller numbers than gynephilics under questioning but of course it was there. We are all sexual beings and you cannot remove that element from the desire to be female.


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