I recommend to you all the book, “The Man Who Would be Queen: The Science of Gender-Bending and Transsexualism,” by J. Michael Bailey. It is FREE to read online. I thought it was an excellent read and is definitely one of the more helpful books/articles I’ve ever read for understanding myself and my crossdressing more fully. My main disclaimer is that the author’s perspective on homosexuality, crossdressing, and transsexualism is far more morally neutral than my own. He has a different worldview. But I want to recommend it to you so that you can understand these issues and yourself better. He tackles them from a social perspective and a scientific perspective, explaining many things that I had not realized before or talked about on this blog. My second disclaimer is that I definitely do not agree with 100% of what he wrote, and I don’t necessarily wish to defend his research methods, nor do I wish to defend all of his theories or statements. I’ll explain more as we go. But overall, it was an extremely helpful book to read.
Some of you may know, some of you may not know, that Bailey is a super controversial figure when it comes to these topics, and his book is very controversial. Some people love it, some people hate it, some people view it as a mixed bag. Some people claim that Bailey and his science have been completely discredited, and that his research methods were unprofessional. Others say he did a good job and regardless of any faults, his theories were correct. Others say that all the accusations against him were false and concocted. One thing is for sure, if you agree with his theories (or Ray Blanchard’s theories which he draws on), you will receive a hate-storm from many transsexuals. Just do an internet search and you can find countless articles and debates about these figures and their books that will keep you reading for hours.
You would think that in a country that prizes free speech, we could discuss theories like this peacefully and with curiosity and tolerance. But any talking about these theories usually meets with stiff resistance. Yet I venture in anyway. I think most of what is in his book holds true, is convincing to me, and helpful for understanding myself and my friends. Does he make things a bit simplistic at times? Yes. Does he say some things that might come across as insulting to some people? Yes. But in general, I found it a really helpful book.
Bailey’s book does not only deal with crossdressing and transsexualism but also with homosexuality. I learned a lot about homosexuals, what they are often like and what struggles they face. I thought I already knew a lot about homosexuality, but I learned even more. Let me tell you a couple things I learned about homosexuality. One is that homosexuals really do tend to be more feminine, which puts them in a really difficult position because they are attracted to what is masculine. This can lead to femmephobia among homosexuals. They do not like what is feminine in themselves or in one another, even though that is what they are naturally born like. I learned that many of the stereotypes people have about gay men hold true. They do “tend” to walk a certain way, talk a certain way, and act more feminine. But like all stereotypes, these are stereotypes and don’t ring true for every individual. Bailey’s view is quite interesting. He observes that many transsexuals are actually gay men who are naturally feminine, but feel like they could better attract a masculine heterosexual man as a woman, rather than a masculine gay man as a feminine man. Some may argue with this, but it was really interesting and thought provoking.
Let’s move on to some of his theories about crossdressers. Here is Bailey’s contentious view in summary – “Those who love women become the women they love.” He affirms Ray Blanchard’s theory that there are two types of transsexuals. There are those who are homosexual like the type of person I spoke of in the above paragraph. They are naturally feminine, usually start living as girls at a younger age, they are able to pass well, and they are attracted to men. And then there are those that are autogynephilic. Some of you probably know this term already if you read other websites about crossdressers. The term itself is quite loaded and leads to feisty debates. I have usually avoided such technical language in most of my blog posts to be able to communicate to a general audience of people who are struggling. But it’s a good term and theory to be familiar with – autogynephilia. From wikipedia – “Autogynephilia (/ˌɔːtoʊˌɡaɪnəˈfɪliə/; from Greek αὐτό- (“self”), γυνή (“woman”) and φιλία (“love”) — “love of oneself as a woman”) is a term coined in 1989 by Ray Blanchard, to refer to “a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman.”
In other words, autogynephilic men are sexually aroused by the image or idea of themselves as women. This could be through fantasy or actual crossdressing. I would fall into this camp. Most of us are not naturally feminine (though of course I would say there are exceptions). Most of us didn’t truly want to become girls when we were just young boys (though if you are like me, your fantasies about crossdressing started at a very young age). We are attracted to women and most of us are married. For many of us this tendency to crossdress remains a sexual addiction but doesn’t go further. For others of us, we continue down this path to the point of living as women, getting surgery, and becoming the women we love so much and want to be (though of course you can’t truly become a woman). The claim is that if a man becomes a woman later in life, or after being married already, he is probably one of these autogynephilic crossdressers.
In general I think Bailey and Blanchard are right on when describing these two types of transsexuals. Before I started to become familiar with the theories and these researchers a few years ago, this was the idea I had just from reading the stories about crossdressers and transsexuals online. It seems pretty obvious just from my personal experience alone that most of us fall into one of these two camps. Now, where I differ from them perhaps, is that I would never say that ALL of us fit neatly into one of these camps. We are all complex and messed up people. We are broken and confused in a myriad of ways because of our sin, because of our genetics, because of our upbringing, and because of our environment and different experiences. So no, I do not believe that all of us fit neatly into one of these two categories. There are going to be exceptions and people with other combinations of feelings, sexuality, and gender manifestations that won’t neatly fit these categories. But broadly speaking, I find these theories to be convincing and true to my experience and what I’ve read about others’ experiences.
Bailey talks about two sub-types of men with autogynephilia. There are those, like me, who are aroused by the idea of crossdressing as a woman, that is, to look like a woman with clothes on. Then there are those where their fantasies are more focused on the body. They have fantasies of being nude women. He says it is those with the nude fantasies who usually are not content until they get a sex reassignment surgery. They can’t just crossdress to disguise themselves. They are obsessed with the idea of actually having breasts or a vagina. This seems to make sense, but as I’ve counseled so many men on these issues and read so many blogs and stories, it seems that it is more than just these people who are getting surgeries and living as women full-time. I think there are many who only had the crossdressed clothed fantasies, and spent so much time rationalizing their behavior and their “inner woman” that they fell in love with the new identity and continued in it. They want “her” to be real so badly that they become “her”. That reminds me of this article.
Bailey says that these autogynephiles who try to live as women and think they are attracted to men, are not actually attracted to men, but just the idea of having a man attracted to them as a “woman.” That is, the arousal is focused on them thinking about themselves not someone else. I imagine some people find this really offensive, and maybe it’s not really true, but it makes sense to me, and it’s a common theme in crossdressing fiction.
Bailey isn’t sure what causes us to become autogynephiles. I am glad he admits this. He thinks it is innate but doesn’t have a good argument for this and admits it. He mentioned a story of a crossdresser with a father who also crossdressed. He says we are not at all close to identifying the real causes.
One interesting thing he talked about was that crossdressers on average have more paraphilias, especially masochism. This was disturbing to read about, but again it rang true based on my experiences and talking to so many others. If our sexuality has been diverted, and misplaced, so that we are attracted to self, it’s not difficult to imagine our sexuality has been warped and broken in other ways as well. This would also explain why crossdressing fiction sites are some of the most disturbing places on the internet, filled with stories of masochism, sadism, infantile fantasies, incest, exhibitionism, and other strange fetishes.
Bailey claims that most crossdressers deny this sexual component, and that they are lying to themselves and others. They want to portray themselves as multi-faceted, courageous, and empathic to their wives especially, to show that they are having courage enough to portray their inner femininity, which sounds a lot better than saying your sexual attraction is misplaced from others and instead to yourself. A lot of people have taken issue with Blanchard and Bailey for accusing crossdressers of lacking such integrity and accusing them of lying. I want to be slow in accusing crossdressers of lying, and yet at the same time, I know how much I allowed myself to be deceived while in the throes of crossdressing, and how much I even purposely deceived myself in order to rationalize my behavior. I have seen such self-deception many times in others as well. So I don’t think what he is saying is a stretch. When we are faced with looking at ourselves truly and deeply, of course we would not want to admit that such an important part of ourselves is just a misplaced broken sexuality. That would force us to deal with it and try to get help. But if we claim it’s a part of our soul that needs to be brought out, then we and others can’t tell us to stop.
Bailey is a researcher and as such he doesn’t make many moral claims or many suggestions about what the various types of people he’s discussed should do and how they should live. He personally doesn’t hold out much hope for change or happiness for people with gender dysphoria except for them to get surgery and live as women.
This is where I differ the most. I have been fighting and resisting my crossdressing desires for a very long time, and over time those desires lose their power and my attraction to real women grows. It’s a process of healing, but it’s very possible. I have experienced tremendous change, and you only have to read some of the comments on my blog, or join our prayer group, to find out how many men there are who have also experienced great change and healing (both of Blanchard’s types have found help). The situation is far from hopeless. Bailey, as far as I can tell, is not a Christian, so I’m not surprised that he sees no hope for change. Without a Christian worldview, it would be hard to believe there is much hope for any of us in our brokenness, whether it’s selfishness, greed, sexual problems, marriage problems, etc. But we know that in Christ, we are not left alone in our brokenness. And I would also go so far as to say that even without a relationship with God, you can still overcome and heal from crossdressing. It’s not so terribly difficult as people would have us imagine it to be.
So in conclusion, if you want to understand yourself more, please read this book.