Autogynephilia is a self-reinforcing, sexualised self-reward system. It is stimulated by a man’s desire to be, or appear to be, a woman. It is satisfied by achieving this. Although there are other rewards, the main one is by having sex as a woman.
Because it is self-reinforcing, the more often the satisfaction is achieved, the stronger it gets. It is narcissistic because it is focussed on the male self as a woman. Because sexualised reward is so strong, autogynephilia is extremely powerful and compelling. Sex as a woman turbo-charges it.
This reward is not always dependent on orgasm. It acts through other psychological reward systems too. So a person with it may receive sexualised reward from dressing as a woman, from going to the hairdresser, from being complimented by men, from being courted by men and having sex with them as a woman and so on.
When a woman puts on lacy lingerie or conforms to other gender-typical norms, she might feel sexy. She is receiving, through this culturally-contextualised idea of gender, affirmation that she is sexy and feminine. (This is absolutely not to suggest that all women take pleasure from satisfying cultural gender stereotypes, but most do, at least to some extent.) When an autogynephile does the same thing, that person is receiving affirmation that she is a woman.
This explains why Moser and others have observed what they suggested was autogynephilia in women. But it’s not the same. A woman knows she is a woman. Her reward is to be affirmed as a sexy and desirable one, in the context of the culture and its gender roles.
For an autogynephile it is much more complex. Her first need, and as the condition progresses, this need becomes increasingly intense, is to ‘be a woman’. The reward of being a sexy one is dependent on that initial one. First you must ‘be a woman’ in order to be affirmed as a desirable one.
Men do not normally find sexualised reward in wearing frilly panties or stockings and make-up. If they do, then they are expressing autogynephilia.
Now this presents an interesting conundrum: what in the first place makes the autogynephile desire to be a woman? Well, this again has to do with sex, and here Western ‘queer theory’ hits the buffers with a bang.
Sex as a woman: what binds all MtF transsexuals together
Transsexuals are divided into ‘homosexual’ and ‘non-homosexual’ variants. In Blanchard Theory, these are ‘HSTS’ and ‘AGP‘ (for autogynephilic transsexual.)
HSTS tend to be, on average, light in build, small, have more feminine features and feminised speech patterns. All of these they have in common with feminine homosexual men and the link is easy to make. What makes them transsexual is their understanding that their desire for male sexual partners makes them women.
Remember, this is not about sex; it’s about gender. That’s a social concept. So HSTS naturally allow their femininity to become dominant over any vestige of masculinity they may have in order to be more affirmed as women, by appearing sexy and desirable to men.
They don’t need these affirmations to become women: their sexual desire for men does that. So, like natal women, HSTS have a solid, realised understanding of their gender: they are women because they desire men. (And it is well known that by and large, women who desire women become more like men.)
This holes ‘queer theory’ and particularly its ridiculous assertion that ‘gender identity’ and ‘sexual orientation’ are separate, beneath the waterline. HSTS are women because they want to be penetrated by men. Sexual orientation — who you want to have sex with— and ‘gender identity’ — who you want to have sex as — are two sides of the same coin. Simple as that.
This makes HSTS really easy to identify and that is what Ray Blanchard did, along with virtually every other serious researcher before and since.
But what about non-homosexual transsexuals?
We know that these tend not to look anything like as feminine as HSTS. They are, on average, taller, bigger, more heavily built, have more masculine voices, do not move in a feminine manner and so on.
Further, we know from their narratives that they are not initially attracted to men. Instead they are attracted, often from childhood, to the idea of being women. They only become attracted to men as their gendered identities as a women develop. In other words, they are attracted to the idea of being women, but have no obvious means of affirmation.
Let’s make a generalisation:
HSTS become women because they are attracted to men and AGPs become attracted to men because they want to be women. Both understand that having sex as women is the strongest and most rewarding affirmation of femininity that they can aspire to.
In the West and especially in Anglo-Saxon cultures, gender non-conformity has historically been suppressed with extreme violence both by the broader culture and the political authorities.
Further, homosexuality — which is understood badly in the West — is profoundly suppressed. On top of that, if it were not enough, anal sex is condemned such that in many jurisdictions it was illegal for a man to penetrate even his own wife anally.
So, appearing to be a woman — dressing in public as one — is banned. Being attracted to men, if you are male, is banned. Behaving like a woman sexually — having recipient sex with men — is banned.
What affirmation can the Western autogynephile have other than sexual fantasy and release through masturbation? None. Thus is born the idea that ‘fetishistic masturbation’ is a core reward in autogynephilia. It’s not. It only becomes one if the other reward systems, like going out shopping with women, discussing crushes on boys, canoodling with boys and so on, are outlawed. It is a function therefore, of social intolerance.
It’s easy for an AGP to play a male role in public. And this is what they do in the West: they live as men and satisfy themselves in private.
It’s almost impossible for an HSTS to do this. She’s just too feminine and her sexual desire is not to become a woman, but to have sex as a woman. She doesn’t need to become anything: she’s a woman. Her sexual need to be penetrated makes her that. She just needs some sex like any other woman.
Fetishistic masturbation may be useful, in the West particularly, as a diagnostic aid; but far too few who discuss this — and that includes the vast majority of Western autogynephiles — understand that this part of the condition is a consequence of social intolerance.
This doesn’t mean that autogynephilia does not exist in Asia: it does. For many years I and others believed that if autogynephilia did exist there, it was very rare indeed. And it is true that the Western profile, with associated cross-dressed masturbation, wearing women’s underwear under male clothes and so on, is rare. But that is not because autogynephilia is rare: it’s because social intolerance is lower in Asia.
Although gender non-conforming behaviour is often discriminated against in Asia, the level of social intolerance is much lower than in the West. It’s largely OK to be homosexual; Boy Abunda, a major star in Philippines television, has stated on air, ‘I am gay’, several times to my personal knowledge. It doesn’t damage his ratings at all. The highly gender non-conforming Vice Ganda (Vice means what you think, ‘ganda’ means beautiful) is one of the biggest stars in the country.
No big deal.
In the Philippines and Thailand homosexuality is a big ‘so what?’ It’s OK to grow your hair long and wear hot pants to show off your legs — which, if you’re 5’11” are probably pretty amazing. Across south-east Asia, finding yourself standing next to a tall transsexual with big feet is not even remarkable. It happens every day. The insertion of penis into rectum is not considered a criminal offence and never has been.
What this means is that while the Western autogynephile is desperately trying to make sure nobody finds out and is reduced to masturbating in panty-hose, the Asian one is out and proud, dressed as a woman, socialising as a woman, and probably having sex as a woman — with men. She doesn’t ‘transition’ at age 65. She transitions perhaps at 13.
Western autogynephiles are fond of saying that the differences between them and HSTS are to do with age of transition. This is partly true. The effects of testosterone on appearance are drastic and may make it impossible for an AGP in the West ever to be convincing as a woman. Her Asian counterpart is scoffing birth-control pills from puberty. Yes, it makes a difference.
Add to this that Asian men are markedly less masculine in appearance than Western males. They tend to be smaller, have finer features and so on, even if they are completely straight men. You take one of these guys, do a feminising make-over and he could walk down the street in Paris or New York, as a woman, and nobody would have a clue. That means that for a person so inclined, dressing as a woman and behaving socially as one, is much easier. Even autogynephilic transvestites — who don’t take hormones or desire sex change and wear women’s clothes only part time — pass easily in Asia, which they rarely do in the West.
Further, in all Asian cultures, it is bad form, to put it mildly, to offend another person. So people are inclined to go along. It is unusual to hear anyone misgender a transperson, even in the highly religious Philippines. You want to present as a woman, it’s fine. Nearly everyone you meet will call you ‘maam’ and treat you as one, even if you’re six foot with size 10 feet. This extends to social courtesies; men will give up their seats for a transsexual, just as they would for a woman, even if they know that she’s TS. (Of course, often they don’t.) This is because, even if the person does not really approve of your behaviour, in Asia, it is deeply impolite — and may result in violence — to compromise anyone’s assertions about themselves. To do so would cause loss of face, and there is no greater insult.
This, by the way, gives the lie to Western academics’ attempt to explain the differences between the West and Asia on the ground that the West has more ‘respect for the individual’. It doesn’t. Yes, Asian culture is in many ways more conservative, but attacking someone’s identity is one of the biggest taboos that exist. It’s simply not allowed. If you disapprove of transsexuals, culture, in Asia, tells you to just play bonny anyway.
So we have sympathy here for the Western non-homosexual transsexual. They frequently assert that they have, all their lives, struggled to hide their condition — whereas their Asian sisters were busy flaunting it, mama.
Once you know what you are looking for, it’s quite easy to distinguish HSTS and AGP transsexuals in Asia. The former tend to be smaller, lighter and cuter, to have more naturally feminine voices and to be more like women in their comportment. Further, HSTS are more sexually motivated than AGPs.
In essence, an Asian HSTS is motivated by sex and a powerful desire for men. She knows that her need to be penetrated makes her a woman. The AGP desires to be a woman and she knows that being penetrated by men will make her so. It’s really very simple.
There is no compelling reason for an AGP to have sex with women. Remember, her passionate desire is to be a woman.
Sex is a powerful reward: you can learn to like sex with just about anything, if you’re a man. That is the foundation of ‘situational homosexuality’ as found in prisons, navies and all-male boarding schools. Asian AGPs are conditioned by their childhood support network — the other gender non-conforming children they grow up with — to see sex with men as affirmative. While it is be possible that primary homosexuality in men — with its concomitant physical attributes — may be innate, it is a simple fact that any man can learn to like anal sex. If such sex makes you what your dream says you are, then of course it’s attractive. Asian AGPs like sex with men because of its affirmative power.
Attraction to women.
Why then, in the West, are so many AGPs attracted to women? Well to begin with, that is how they start off in life: they are attracted to the whole idea ‘woman’, especially as a role they can invest themselves in.
AGPs do enjoy sex with women although such sex may not be affirmative. In addition, all AGPs, everywhere, prefer the company of women to that of men. (HSTS generally do not; they prefer men’s company to either women’s or gay men’s — though their best friends might be gay men.) This might be why Western AGPs are so strident in insisting that they are ‘real’ women; involved as they so often are in sexual relationships with women, they do not have the powerful affirmation that comes from sex with men. (Asian transwomen tend to be much less afflicted by this delusion.)
This explains the almost Platonic relationships evident between Western AGPs and their wives: they have actually become sisters. In many cases the relationship will lose its sexual component, or it will have been of low importance ever since the beginning. The AGP would be penetrating her best friend and in a culture where to be penetrated incurs a reduction of status, this causes problems.
Unfortunately however, the main reason appears to be simple homophobia. Western autogynephiles often, like Bruce ‘Caitlyn’ Jenner, express a level that is truly shocking. Of course, this represents a conflict that could hardly do other than cause neurosis. The AGP wants to have sex with men, because she knows it will affirm her as a woman, but she knows she is actually a man. So to be penetrated would be a homosexual act, which she has been conditioned to think is something completely unforgivable.
For a man to become a woman is the greatest contumely possible in the Western patriarchy. It destroys, entirely, a man’s being. What makes men so special? They can penetrate. A man can penetrate and be penetrated, a woman cannot. Just as giving birth is unique to women, penetration is unique to men. Men are conditioned to reject the fact that they can indeed be penetrated and enjoy it, because to do so destroys their patriarchal status. If men start playing women in sex the patriarchy itself collapses.
Nearly all AGPs in Asia are either attracted to men or analloerotic (asexual). The latter derive their sexual reward from such things as winning beauty pageants, becoming models or entertainers and so on. This is a specific substitute for affirmative sex. Others may take jobs as women — result the same. Only a vanishing minority seek relationships with women. When they do, they often form them with other transsexuals — usually transmen. Of course,they desire the underlying femininity, wrapped up in an affirming appearance.
Finally, for now, the Asian example shows something that might be unexpected in the West: once we take out of the equation the ‘fetishistic cross-dressing’ masturbatory element, there is practically no difference in the rewards sought by homosexual and non-homosexual transsexuals. In other words, they are both motivated by autogynephilia, if we define that as ‘a male’s propensity to be attracted to the idea of himself as a woman’.
It begins to look as if autogynephilia is the stimulus for all male-to-female transsexualism. The difference between the profiles appears to be about sexual orientation rather than underlying cause. HSTS are the way they are because underneath, they are classic homosexual males; AGPs are heterosexual males. But they both desire sex as a woman, though in the case of AGPs, this may be overlaid with a form of pseudo-lesbianism.
In other words, all transsexuals are to some extent autogynephilic (using my definition) and the differences between the types is a result of orientation, which itself has been shown to be associated with different physical profiles, and of cultural pressures.
Also published on Medium.