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dysphoria comes first

Being able to look past how my gender dysphoria impacted my sexuality has allowed me to better get to the root of who I am.

For years this was a key roadblock in which I was mired: the idea that my gender dysphoria was foremost a problem of aberrant sexuality when exactly the opposite was true. It was instead the sexuality which had been shaped by a pre-existing conflict of gender identity.

Understanding this has been an epiphany and actually helped make my decision not to transition physically much more certain although I completely understand why many of you have decided to do so. After all, there are definite advantages to living in only one gender role.

I wrote recently about the need to look past cross gender arousal because it can distract you from understanding your true feelings. One simple litmus test we know of is to administer estrogen to the transgender person and watch their lucidity increase as they become more unburdened with the sexual aspect. What remains is a feeling of calm, peace and reconciliation.

As we age our cross gender identification remains solid and unwavering and that is how we know we are transgender. It returns to an incarnation closer to when we were young children innocently raiding our mother’s closets; well before the onset of puberty began to confuse us.

But rest assured that no matter where you reside on the spectrum, you can live comfortably with the idea that you are part of a collective group of people who experience much the same thing and have responded to their situations in the best way they know how; that there are no easy fixes or responses but only ones that work for you and in that reality you can be happy and be glad.

The key is to abandon a coordinate system for which we are simply not wired and make our own way.


  1. "Cross Gender Identification" - A great description of our internal feelings. A wonderful thought proving post, as always.

  2. There is so much with which I can identify in this message. Thank you, Joanna, for verbalizing what often rattles about my brain, but never quite comes to together with any sense of clarity. I don't deliberately resist "knowing thyself," but somehow things get muddled as I try to navigate my duel existence. It's good to have someone who can articulate that which eludes me.

  3. You know, I remember quite clearly, looking longingly at the girls in my neighborhood when I was a toddler. The sense of female identity was very strong, and a source of depression back in my earliest years in the early 1970s. I was not in any way a sexualized being; I was a small child for crying out loud. But my own sense of self resonated girl.

    I also remember becoming a sexualized being as I entered my early teens. And I watched my gender identity fuse with my sexuality. I wanted so badly to feel what other people seemed to feel so instinctively: attracted TO ANOTHER. Gay, straight, whatever. But instead, I felt disembodied. The only time I could be aroused was by imagining my body transforming. To fantasize such that I could feel that seems not that much different from fantasizing about being with someone, convincing your mind for the sake of the fantasy that it's happening.

    I don't view this so much as a fetish (though I suppose it could meet the technical definition). It has always seeemed more of a kind of immature sexuality, the only one available to me while feeling disembodied.

    How infuriating that some pseudo academics picked up on this aspect of transgender sexuality and declare, that's all you are. That's the end all be all of your entire sexual life. This is akin to telling anyone who masturbates at all that that's as good as it will ever get. If you're by yourself when being sexual, clearly you are just a self-fetishist. Please.

    I didn't alter my body to feed my fetish. I did so in order to feel at home and at peace. And so that I could graduate into a more mature sexuality where I could be with someone else, and feel comfortable sharing myself.

    Does this mean the cross gender arousal is gone? Nope. Kinda hard to completely rewire one's brain once patterns have set in during developmental years. And it has taken decades for me to fully understand who I am and to be able to share myself sexually.

    But jiminy Christmas, if I had been in the care of some notorious "doctors" my very maturity would be actively stifled for the sake of their academic poison.

    In any case, observing oneself carefully is of paramount importance to a healthy life as a transgender person. Brava, Joanna for doing so yourself, and sharing it online.

    1. Caryn your commentary is like a breath of fresh air...thank you so much

    2. Why thank you. And you're welcome.

      I have plenty to say on this subject. It's fascinating. In fact, when I first read of "autogynephilia," I didn't fully understand what it's proponents were saying. I wanted to embrace the idea that the erotic component did not disqualify me from being transsexual. Back then, the CD/TS distinction prevailed in the community.

      The more I learned of Blanchard, his methodology and his background assumptions, though, it became clear that his hypothesis was abject nonsense.

      Frankly, but for having cross gender arousal, I defy most of the parasdigm. When did I transition? In my early twenties. Was I overtly feminine from early on in life? So much so that I spent the 80s dodging the rocks thrown by bullies chanting, "faggot!" Was I attracted to women? Sort of. I knew I had no interest in being a gay male. That form of sex was a bona dude turn off for me. So, I experimented with women, but feeling disembodied meant I couldnt really be there in the moment with them, and that's rather unfair. And it all felt wrong anyway.

      Ultimately, I had to understand that I was not actually disembodied. I was a body, and for whatever reason, the consciousness that exists on a continuum with it resonated female. My life became about embracing my body, not rejecting it. What's that old serenity prayer? Change what can't be accepted; accept what can't be changed; know the difference? Yeah. A lot of that.

      Once I was able to find that kind of serenity, I didn't need to be anything but my authentic self, changing physically that which I needed to, accepting the limits of modern medical abilities in my time, and just living.

      With that serenity comes answers to questions the world continually asks about people like me. Do you harbor delusions about yourself or body? Hardly. I was ostensibly reproductively male at birth, and I will never transition to functionally or genetically reproductively female. I know this, and I embrace who and what I am. Do you resent your boyhood? Hardly. I got to do a lot things I probably wouldn't have that I loved, like little league baseball. And I have a tomboy streak, even as obviously feminine as I am. So, you had male privilege. Some, yes. I don't claim that my experiences are the perfect equivalent to a cis-female. Then how do you know you're a woman? The same way I know I'm right-handed.

      And you know what emerged through this process of self acceptance? A definite sexual attraction to men. It was new, and scary and exciting. And cultivating it required a lot of introspection, with which I'll never really be finished. And I'm honest about myself with any potential lover, out of respect for that person and my own integrity.

      So that two-type and two-type only paradigm of sexual-orientation whither into history's dustbin as far as I'm concerned.


    3. Caryn you are validating all of my suspicions about gender dysphoria and of course you break the ludicrous two type transsexual model of Blanchard's in that we were not clearly androphilic and yet transitioned young. Thank you for being so forth right and in sharing this with us you are helping others who are questioning. Bravo!

    4. I meant to say you not we...


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