Few clinical definitions, established by obscure researchers in obscure institutions, referring to an obscure subject, can have caused more brouhaha than Ray Blanchard’s definition of autogynephilia as ‘a man’s paraphilic propensity to be sexually aroused at the thought or image of himself as a woman.’
But what does it actually mean?
‘Paraphilia is any intense and persistent sexual interest other than sexual interest in genital stimulation or preparatory fondling with phenotypically normal, physically mature, consenting human partners; if a paraphilia causes distress or impairment to the individual or if its satisfaction entails personal harm (or the risk of such harm) to others, it is considered a paraphilic disorder.’ Guy E Brannon, MD
A paraphilia is ‘sexual interest other than sexual interest in genital stimulation or preparatory fondling with phenotypically normal…partners.’ Ahm…
What the fuck does that mean?
What is ‘phenotypically normal’ anyway? According to the trusty Oxford, the only dictionary I use:
The set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment.
(In this case ‘individual’ means singular organism and ‘environment’ is meant to indicate the hard, physical one, not the social one.)
Rly? I went to school with a girl who had six toes. She was pretty cute. I am sure she fell in love, got married, had kids and in doing so, had a whole heap of sex with one or more men. Were they paraphilic because she was ‘phenotypically abnormal’?
Branner either means something else or he has a logic problem. Suppose I have sex with a woman dressed as a man or a boy might. Say my girlfriend. She likes to slob around the house in an old t-shirt and a pair of training pants ’cause it’s comfy. If I get the hots and tell her ‘On the bed, honey, now’, is that paraphilic? I is confused.
Clothes are not a part of a biological phenotype. Gender is not a part of a biological phenotype. Gender is a social construct. So sex with someone conforming to gender norms not consistent with social expectations according to their birth genitalia, is that a paraphilia, Doc?
Of course it’s bloody not. It’s just sex.
Now the good doctor goes on: ‘…physically mature…partners’. Oh yes, so all those teenage pregnancies are a result of paraphilias. Nothing to do with teenage boys being randy little fuckers. Got it.
‘…Consenting partners.’ OK that I buy.
Eh? I like it when she sucks my balls. Is that ‘preparatory fondling? What about mutual masturbation that does not lead to coitus? That’s a paraphilia? Who knew? What about I tickle her feet, she likes that — fetish?
Give us all a break and say what you mean: ‘missionary sex only’.
Only a sexually fucked-up, Western person could come up with that. This definition of what is non-paraphilic sex would please the Pope.
The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), lists the following specific paraphilic disorders:
Exhibitionistic disorder (including type I, the inhibited flaccid exposer, and type II, the sociopathic exposer who may have a history of other conduct)
Sexual masochism disorder
Sexual sadism disorder
(this is the current version.)
Yahoo. One is curious as to how dressing in clothes not conforming to social expectations based on your birth sex causes ‘distress or impairment to the individual or personal harm (or the risk of such harm) to others’.
Getting twanged in the testicles by knicker-elastic, perhaps? Smacking someone in the eye when your bra pings loose?
I am reminded of when I took my ex, a lovely girl, zip-lining in Palawan. Basically this meant getting strapped into a parachute harness and then flying through the jungle. Shouting ‘AAAAAIIIIEEEEEIIIIAAA’ was optional.
Anyway, after we got back on terra firma and were heading for lunch, I was aware that my gorgeous companion was limping and leaning on my shoulder heavily.
‘What on Earth is wrong?’ I asked her.
‘Oh, my balls,’ quoth my amour. It seems the harness was not well adapted to a tucked transwoman.
That sort of ‘risk of harm’? Doctor?
The DSM-V goes on to say:
‘Other paraphilias, almost any of which could develop into a paraphilic disorder in certain circumstances, include (but are not limited to) the following:
Asphyxiophilia or hypoxyphilia
Infantophilia (a newer subcategory of pedophilia)
I’m having trouble not laughing here. Look, a significant proportion — possibly a majority — of Western autogynephiles are unqualified dickheads. There’s no doubt that there are few classes of people more likely to be a complete pain in the neck, especially the late-transitioning gynephilic ones.
(Oh, and those guys who demonstrably are guys, with their nicely trimmed beards and business suits, but who ‘identify’ as women. Clever scheme to weasel your way into women’s private spaces and ultimately their pants.)
But, returning to actual transwomen, is being attracted to the ‘thought or image’ of yourself as a woman really the same as getting off by shitting on a telephone (Telephone scatologia)? Or fantasising about sex with dead people? Eating shit? Suffocating or being suffocated?
Well, I get that you might be a lil bit pissed off. I really do. I mean, come on.
And this could ‘develop into a …disorder’. LIKE WHAT??!! Actually becoming a transwoman? Holy fuck the patriarchal sky will fall on our heads, we can’t have that!
Thankfully, Blanchard was aware that some confusion might arise from his concept of autogynephilia, which it clearly has, as you can see. So he explained:
‘Autogynephilia denotes the propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of oneself as female. The actual occurrence and extent will vary with time and circumstance. An autogynephile does not necessarily become sexually aroused every time he pictures himself as a female or engages in feminine behavior, any more than a heterosexual man automatically gets an erection whenever he sees an attractive woman. Thus, the concept of autogynephilia — like that of heterosexuality, homosexuality…–refers to a potential for sexual excitation.’ Blanchard 1991 (Underscore mine, italic author.)
Let’s deconstruct all this, shall we? It’s a propensity. A potential. OK. So, it only might happen. It’s a possibility with some added probability. Somewhat more than an outside chance, somewhat less than a likelihood.
So let’s think. Autogynephilia, as a sexualised reward-based concept, must be based in sexuality. And we are talking about people born male here, so it’s male sexuality.
So far so good. I am male, and pretty sexually motivated. I like wearing suits and I think I look pretty fucking hot in an Italian three-piece, you know? Nothing makes a man look better than a good suit, except maybe full Highland. Does that make me want to crack one off when I look at myself in the mirror? No. Does it make me think, ‘Hey, you sexy beast?’ Well, yes.
If I happen to meet a woman while looking like that and it becomes obvious that she’s having difficulty focussing on anything other than what she’s sitting on, is that a nice wee reward for me? YES! Yes of course it is. It’s a sexualised reward, not a sexual reward.
All men are attracted to the thought or image of themselves — it’s just that for most of us, that image is a man.
The non-sexual sexualised reward is mental gratification, afforded by my male sex drive, that does not actually involve physical sex. Men do this ALL the time — and if they tell you different, they’re lying. And we re-live the experience. I remember all the times a woman went dewy-eyed on me. I like remembering that. It feels good. It feels sexy. And ALL MEN DO THIS. That is why they are forever talking about the women they have had. It’s partly status, partly a reliving of the sexual hit.
An autogynephilic transwoman has a MALE SEX DRIVE. She’s doing exactly what I do. Precisely. She gets her gladrags on, whacks on the warpaint, looks at herself in the mirror and thinks ‘Baaaaabe!’ It’s just that her idealised sexy image of herself is AS A WOMAN while mine is of myself AS A MAN.
Which tells us that most men are — guess what? Autoandrophilic. They are rewarded by the thought or image of themselves as sexually active, powerful MEN.
Why Moser fucked up.
This is why Moser fucked up, by the way. Women may have an equivalent system, but it is unlikely to be exactly the same, since women have female sex drive.
The neurological studies show no evidence for shifted brain morphology in AGP transsexuals (while they do in HSTS). Trying to show autogynephilia in women misses the point. It’s a variation on MALE reward in which the man is turned on by the thought or image of himself as a dominant, sexually successful MAN. If Moser had thought it through and conducted the exercise I just have, he would have found that autoandrophilia is common in men. His photo shows us that he exhibits it himself.
A variation on the propensity to be aroused at the thought or image of ourselves.
Autogynephilia is not a function of female sex drive (though there may be equivalents) but of male sex drive. It is a variation on the propensity to be aroused at the thought or image of themselves, which all men show to a greater or lesser extent, but focussed on themselves as women rather than as men.
(By the way, if you want to see autogynephilia in serious action, assuming you are a man, try fucking a transwoman in front of a mirror. Trust me. Well, not one of the deranged homophobic Western Autogynephile profile. But any Asian who’s up for it.)
So lets go back to Blanchard:
‘An autogynephile does not necessarily become sexually aroused every time he pictures himself as a female or engages in feminine behavior any more than a heterosexual man automatically gets an erection whenever he sees an attractive woman.’
Check. I do not have a permanent erection from wearing, or imagining myself wearing, a nice suit and shoes. An AGP transwoman dressed in a miniskirt does not have a raging hard-on all the time.
‘ The concept of autogynephilia — refers to a potential for sexual excitation.’
Check also. Transwomen in Asia, who live all their lives as women, do not constantly untangle their engorgements, any more than I do while nicely dressed. Indeed, because of the hormones they take, they may well experience less physical arousal than a man does; but the psychological arousal, the ‘feeling good about oneself as a sexual being’? They do. Just like everyone else.
Being autogynephilic is not the problem.
Both HSTS and AGP transwomen of the Asian profile (not the Western profile in Asia) are well-adjusted, generally happy, fulfilled people. Being autogynephilic doesn’t make you an Andrea James. Growing up as a hostile, aggressive, thoroughly unpleasant man, will make you a hostile, aggressive, thoroughly unpleasant transwoman, if you transition.
You can’t unlearn how to be a right cunt. Nor can you unlearn your internalisation of Western rape culture, or your expectation of male privilege, or your masculine assumption that all women are sexual targets. You can’t unlearn your conditioning that it is the duty of all women to afford you sex — as the ‘Cotton Ceiling’ fiasco demonstrates. You can’t ‘learn to be a woman’ after 30 years as a man. Old dogs do not learn new tricks.
Asian transwomen, the Asian profiles anyway, don’t do that. They learn to accept themselves and how to be happy and satisfied as transwomen, while they are still young enough for these lessons to stick.
Western culture is the problem.
The problems in the West are caused by Western, particularly USican culture, which ferociously denies sexuality as a motivation for anything. In the USA, baby boys’ genitals are routinely surgically mutilated to prevent them fully enjoying sex, ever. US Government policy to reduce unwanted teenage pregnancy is ‘preach abstinence’. Fathers ritually ‘marry’ their daughters to ‘ensure’ their sexual ‘purity’ without thinking that this is beyond creepy.
USican culture derives this nasty and wholly counter-productive attitude towards sex from the profoundly disturbed Anglo-Saxon culture it is based on. THEN it adds in bucket-loads of shame and guilt from, you know, stealing the land the US is on and committing genocide on the real owners. The US was built on slavery and the oppression of non-whites and on a bloody civil war which, 150 years after surrendering, the losing side does not accept that it lost. Then there is the guilt from massacre after massacre, to the tens of millions, all over the planet. It is a culture that REWARDS rape and violence and punishes not being a white, gender-conforming, middle-class person. A culture that forbids any non-conformity and sanctions violence against it. (Just ask any atheist in the Bible belt.)
Add to this rabid religious conservatism and a failed education system. Then, to put the icing on the cake, adopt the homophobic attitudes of religionards and make them social norms.
Make it so that anyone showing any sign of gender non-conformity will lose all their social status. Consider them a disgrace to their families and encourage those families to eject them from their homes. Then make sure they are beaten regularly if not killed.
Western culture perverts autogynephilic transwomen.
I give you this, gleaned from LisaT on Reddit:
‘As a late transitioner myself I don’t believe there is such a thing as ‘late onset transsexuals’. There may be late self-acknowledging transgender people, who have managed to hide/suppress their feelings for decades, but they are not late onset by any means.
I have had some very interesting conversations with people and how they tried to cope/cure/deny/run away from/etc their gender feelings.
(They do things like) STEM work, military service, dangerous sports, periods of hyper masculinity and so many others.
If you are in your 40s and 50s or older you grew up in very hostile anti GLBTI environment, so you hid. And those that managed to develop…coping skills lived long enough until there was a more accepting time (or those mechanisms broke down). Those that didn’t manage (to do) that died…one way or another. I just made it…by skin of my teeth.’
In Asia today, Lisa might well have transitioned at 15 or younger. Her life might have been very different. She might have taken hormones and fought the masculinisation of her body. She might have grown up a normal, well adjusted, socially functioning and happy transwoman. Western culture denied her that.
It is Western culture that makes bitter, angry, late-transitioning transwomen, not autogynephilia. That should tell you something about Western culture.
Also published on Medium.