Most of my posts on this website are written from my Christian perspective on crossdressing, but sometimes it is helpful to delve into what secular researchers and psychiatrists have discovered about crossdressing. I’d like to share here an article written by Ray Blanchard – Early History of the Concept of Autogynephilia. I have written about autogynephilia before. While this theory doesn’t answer every question I have about crossdressing, it certainly explains a lot and describes my own experience of crossdressing very accurately as well as many of the other guys here. See my post for my agreements and disagreements – Book Recommendation – The Man Who Would Be Queen. Overall I can say I very much appreciate Ray Blanchard. His writings have definitely helped me to understand better and articulate my own experiences.
This short article is worth a read to understand the history of psychologists commenting on and theorizing about autogynephilia. In this post, I want to highlight a few quotes from the article and comment on them. The written testimonies of experiences of those with autogynephilia are extremely illuminating about the autogynephilia experience.
“Wearing women’s clothing and feminizing my body has
always been sexually exciting for me—even after SRS
[sex reassignment surgery]. . . . it was and still is sexually
exciting for me to have female body “functions.” Before
my SRS, I would pretend to menstruate by urinating
in sanitary pads. I particularly enjoyed wearing the old
fashion belted pad with long tabs. (Narrative #16)”
This comment is quite shocking about how autogynephilia pleasure can continue even after SRS. I remember watching a video testimony from an elderly transsexual who admitted that he actually had autogynephilia. He said waking up every day as a transsexual woman was like Christmas every morning. He was in love with himself. He was in love with his reflection in the mirror. He had constant sexual titillation and stimulation because he was living as a woman. But when his sexual desire started waning in old age, and his body started to age and was not as beautiful, he realized what a horrible mistake he had made. He realized he was not really a woman. It was all about the sexual pleasure, and he deeply regretted how much he had messed up his body as well as his life.Now he was old, alone, lonely, and with a messed up body.
“My first experiences reading Playboy found me almost
instantly aroused by the idea of being the model. When I
was about 18, some friends took me to an old fashioned
strip show, and I got aroused, all right—as soon as I got
home, I put Noxzema cream on my nipples to simulate
pasties! Even the idea of owning a girl’s bike has aroused
me. (Narrative #53)”
This comment is fascinating and so true. It is not simply the crossdressed reflection in the mirror alone that stimulates us, but somehow it is the feeling of being a girl, or being a woman, that is also itself stimulating. Thus why this person as a boy could find the idea of owning a girl’s bike sexually stimulating. Does this mean that we don’t really have true gender dysphoria? Perhaps some of us really don’t. Perhaps for some of us our desire to be women or thought of as women is really a sexual temptation that needs to be shut down just like we would shut down temptation for pornography. This would sort of seem to go against my other post – Integration and Contentment. People are complicated. I’m not sure what to think. Perhaps some of us with autogynephilia have gender dysphoria on top of it and need to pursue what I’ve outlined in the Integration and Contentment Post for the dysphoria. Perhaps others of us with autogynephilia don’t have any true gender dysphoria but only sexual arousal at the idea of being feminine, being a woman, etc. that we sometimes confuse as being gender dysphoria when it isn’t. I used to think I had a lot of gender dysphoria rather than only a sexual addiction. But more and more I think my desires to feel feminine or to be a woman, were more like the man in this quotation. It was part of the arousal rather than real problems with my sex/gender.
Ray Blanchard says –
“The fusion of the longing to have a woman and the
longing to be a woman—the confounding of desire and
envy—which is often apparent in clinical interviews with
autogynephiles, is typified by this statement:
“At the very moment that most young males are first be-
coming aroused by the opposite sex, there are apparently
a few of us who are becoming aroused at [the idea of]
being the opposite sex. I remember this with a great deal
of clarity—I became aroused by those blossoming young
girls in their short skirts, wishing I was them. (Narrative
This goes back to my comment above. I think for many of us, myself included, we confused “wishing I was them” with thinking we had gender dysphoria and transgender wishes. But in reality, wishing I was them, could have been about the arousal of thinking about being them. It could have been both thinking about how it would be total bliss to be in a feminine aroused state at all times (by being them), but it could also have been that thinking about being them is arousing in itself. Dressing as a girl is arousing, but thinking about being a girl is also arousing. I’ve written about envy before – Crossdressing is about Envy. Perhaps the envy is different from what we may think. Maybe we don’t actually want to be girls or women, we only tell ourselves that we do. Or we may even believe it. But maybe it’s actually not about envying being a girl and the things they have, but envying what they have because for us those things are sexually arousing. Thinking about having their experiences is also sexually arousing. So we become envious of their clothes and their experiences, but not truly because we want them, but because for us thinking about having them is sexually arousing, and actually experiencing them would also be sexually arousing. In other words, we may envy the girls’ bike, not because inherently we somehow like the color pink better, but because we are aroused at the thought of having a pink bike as a girl.
In the same way, autogynephiles who have sex with men while crossdressed are probably not actually same-sex attracted for the most part. Humanity is complicated, so there may be some. But for most it is the idea of being a woman with a man that is arousing. It is not attraction to that man. It is sexual pleasure you experience by thinking of yourself in the most feminine and womanly way possible – a woman being with a man sexually. It is the ultimate experience of being a woman, to be desired by a man sexually, and to have the sexual experience with him. So again, the envy about a woman being with a man sexually might not be about actual desire for that man, but rather sexual arousal at the idea of having the experiences that women get to have. The act ends up being the same, a homosexual sex act, or sodomy. But the motivation behind it is quite different. On a lesser degree, it can be sexually arousing just to be crossdressed and have a man say nice things to you or open doors for you. Not that you are falling in love with that man, but he is treating you like a woman, and that is what brings the arousal.
Last, Blanchard says –
“Some autogynephiles conceptualize their rather compli-
cated erotic dynamics in language similar to that of
clinical observers whom I quote in the next section: “The
person I was looking for in a woman turned out to really
be me. I never found that person, except in myself”
(Narrative #11). “Real girls come and go, but my one
true and permanent girlfriend was myself in female role”
(Narrative #52). “Indeed, I do believe that, underneath it
all, the overpowering desire to be female is simply the
urge to procreate turned inside out” (Narrative #3)“
This has been talked about much on my website already. For example in my post – Becoming the Woman my Wife is Not and in the old but still great article – The Transvestic Career Path. Crossdressers often deny this reality, but for many of us it is exactly what we experience, and it’s hard to believe that others with autogynephilia are not the same. When we say that crossdressing is narcissistic, it is not intended to be a way to insult crossdressers. It is not a way to brand them as “bad people” or more messed up than other people (though I know some blogs and websites do actually say that). It just is the fact that crossdressing for sexual pleasure is by definition a self focused activity. You are getting pleasure alone, by yourself, by being attracted to your crossdressed self. As the crossdressing addiction grows, it consumes more and more of your time, and more of your focus goes on yourself. Of course, there remain some questions about crossdressers who also prefer to be sexually active with their wives while crossdressed or sexually active with other crossdressers. Obviously in such cases they are not completely self focused and alone.
All in all, this article reveals to me the complexity and brokenness of humanity. Our sexual desires are fallen, our gender identities are fallen. We are broken. Left to ourselves we would just be slaves to our passions and our depravity. You can see that in the quotations – crossdressers in love with themselves and mutilating their own bodies for sexual pleasure. But for the grace of God, there go I. But in Christ we can overcome these sexual passions. We don’t have to be enslaved to them. We can live free and full lives enjoying the goodness of Christ, enjoying victory over these passions, slowly putting them to death rather than continually feeding them so that they grow stronger. We can accept who we are as God made us to be, we can experience healing, and we look forward to the day when Jesus returns and our brokenness will be fully healed, and we will no longer have any struggle with identity, gender, or distorted sexual attractions. Thank you Lord Jesus.