I came across a couple of interesting threads on one of the forums I keep an eye on this week. One concerned the number of transattracted men who are themselves to some extent transgender, in that they like to cross-dress, and sometimes to be cross-dressed.
Ray Blanchard’s Theory of Autogynephilia, which describes a condition where a man is attracted to himself in the form of a woman, has been hotly criticised by many in the transsexual lobby, and even as a partial explanation of the cause of transsex as a phenomenon, it remains somewhat controversial. However, as a description of the behaviour of auto-erotic crossdressing men or transvestites, it is hard to better.
Blanchard proposed that autogynephilia (and by extrapolation autoandrophilia, which affects women) operates as a distinct but related sexual orientation to the usual homosexual/heterosexual sex drives. So transvestite men can be, indeed in Blanchard’s definition always are, both attracted to women and autogynephilic; they are not attracted to other men. After all, the reasoning goes, you can’t be attracted to yourself as a woman (presuming you were born male) unless you are first attracted to women (gynephilic.) It’s pretty hard to argue with that.
To understand autogynephilia, you have to understand a group of sexual disorders called ‘Erotic Target Location Error’ or ETLE, another of Blanchard’s inventions. To explain, most of us are attracted to someone else. Autogynephiles are attracted to themselves. This is the fundamental ‘location error’ in their erotic target. However, because they are not homosexual they are not attracted at all to their physical form as men, and indeed, as their condition develops, may come to hate their male bodies, which can never be sexually attractive to them. Therefore they have to transform themselves into women, in order to have sexual gratification. This may become so powerful that the man will live full-time as a woman and even have SRS. However, this is always fuelled by his auto-erotic desire for himself as a woman. To put that another way, the ideal partner for an autogynephilic man is himself, as a woman, and since he is actually a man, he will pursue this doggedly, even to becoming, in every outward way, a woman. But as has been said, autogynephiles are not women; they just want to be women.
Because they are already so powerfully attracted to one man who dresses in women’s clothes, autogynephile men may also be attracted to others who have the same characteristics. There is plenty of evidence that this is the case. If you go onto one of the popular transvestite networks, like BirchPlace, you’ll find transvestite men (who are by definition autogynephilic) organising ‘dressing parties’ where they get together and dress as women. Dressing up is in itself a sexual thrill for these men. There may be no conventional sex between them, and if there is it will be conducted with a toy, because these men are heterosexual and autogynephilic. They are not attracted to men, as a homosexual man would be, but to themselves as women. This is a subtle but important difference. So if they desire to be penetrated it is to reaffirm their sense of being a woman, not in order to have sex with a man; so the use of a dildo is appropriate. However in most anecdotal evidence, no physical contact takes place at all, instead the gratification comes partly from the dressing itself and partly from the affirmation, by the others, of the individual’s feminine charms. This is is relived in memory later during masturbation.
The transsexual woman is in many ways a target for these men, even though it is likely to be a highly corrosive experience for her. This is because the pre-operative TS woman, if she is ‘functional’, in other words, can get and maintain an erection, can penetrate the autogynephilic man without him ever having to deal with the powerful sexual dilemma which would certainly arise were he to get a man to do this. The autogynephile is not gay and so he is not seeking sex with men; rather, he is seeking to have sex as a woman. Remember that his erotic focus is entirely on himself, not on his partner. It is the penetration that thrills, not the partner. His is an intensely narcissistic condition in which the sexual partner is simply a means to gratification.
The autogynephile man may completely misunderstand the transsexual woman by thinking she is like him, a crossdressing, auto-erotic man, attracted to femininity, when in fact she is a heterosexual woman who is attracted to men and masculinity. Really though, he doesn’t care, since he has no interest in his sexual partner other than that she can make him feel like a woman without appearing to be a man. The autogynephile man is attracted only to the affirmative experience of being in a female sexual role, with a person who does not look like a man, and not the other person.
This certainly should lead us to wonder whether some men who are transattracted are indeed autogynephiles, and the anecdotal evidence backs this up. The transsex women on the forum I mentioned, who are mostly sex workers in some way or another, emphatically supported the suggestion that their clients often liked to cross-dress themselves, but did not classify themselves as gay.
This seems a very strong vindication of Blanchard’s theory, at least insofar as it may be applied to transvestite men and some transsexual women. His theory predicts that autogynephilic men will go to great lengths to ‘be women’ yet remain attracted to women. So in this instance the man receiving anal sex from the transwoman is indeed, not acting homosexually: he is acting autogynephilically.
I’ve already pointed out that for a man, being sexually receptive is a transgender experience, since being penetrated is such a powerful affirmation of femininity at the point it happens, and here again we have evidence for this. Autogynephile men do appear to use transwomen to penetrate them specifically as a means to reaffirm their own ‘female’ natures. Some add into the mix other typically autogynephile behaviour like cross-dressing, shaving body hair, possibly wearing make-up and so on. The fact that they hide all this, except from their (usually) paid-for lovers, may simply be because they are in a hidden category of TS/TG. I’ll discuss the idea of hidden and overt TS/TG in the next article.