But what happens when there is a strong connection to something in absence of arousal? Is this still considered a paraphilia?
Before AGP theory existed, we used the term transvestic fetishism to describe the act of becoming aroused by the wearing of women's clothing by a male. Typically such a male would begin acting out his fantasy at or after the age of puberty and develop a repetitive and self gratifying routine involving female clothing. This activity did not interfere with his identity as a male.
But what about those children who had already developed gender confusion due to their strong attraction to a female identity well before the age of puberty?
Proponents of AGP theory state that children as young as 3 can have erections when wearing clothing of the opposite sex which is evidence that their theory holds water.
This is indeed a stretch because speaking from personal experience, I did not experience an erection until after the age of 12 and I was able to enjoy expressing myself as a female in private without being hindered by one. Once the orgasms began to hamper my experience,I actively began my attempts to destroy my feminine side.
And here is where, I propose, we can separate disphorics from non disphorics.
Whereas the fetish transvestite relishes and actively seeks out masturbation while dressed, the disphoric is horrified by its first appearance. His identification to the feminine has just been marred by his burgeoning attraction to females and his parallel self identification as a female. These things are at cross purposes and, not unexpectedly, confusion reigns.
Deeply now aware that his attraction to all things female should be diverted towards an external target and not towards himself, the arousal that comes with the thought of feminization brings tremendous guilt and shame. Every time there is arousal, the thoughts and the clothes get put away or thrown out and there is a promise that it will never happen again.
But is it correct to label someone paraphilic without the intent or even the presence of sexualization which occurs before puberty? Perhaps but then the paraphilia would need to be hard wired and simply manifest itself at a later stage. But if this were true then you should show no signs of interest in female things until the onset of puberty when the sexual identity is constructed?
Why are so many of us fascinated from such an early age? I do not know but these questions put grave doubt into the validity of the paraphilic model because it does not explain the pre pubescent fascination and draw to the feminine in the first place and suggests that it was always sexually based; which is much too simplistic.
This does not jive with my personal experience nor, I suspect, with many of my readers' s.