What Autogynephilia is, and what is it not; a brief note

I wanted to explain some aspects of what autogynephilia is. It was initially posted as two separate post on MumsNet in response to questions about what it is, and a number of limiting preconceptions a number of people had (mainly that autogynephilia is confined solely to erotic cross-dressing) which limited their ability to get a grasp on this fascinating subject. I’ve posted it here as I didn’t want what I’d written to be lost forever in a long discussion thread. I will use this as a basis for a more comprehensive essay at a later point in time.

Ray Blanchard realised was that transsexuals fell into two types; homosexual (males who are attracted to males) transsexuals and non-homosexual (males who are romantically attracted to females, both females and males, or who are asexual) transsexuals, and that non-homosexual transsexuals are autogynephilic; they are stimulated erotically at the thought of themselves as a female.

Thus, transsexuals generally fall into two types: homosexual transsexuals and non-homosexual autogynephilic transsexuals. Blanchard observed that males (MTF/MTT) who are attracted to females are autogynephilic.

Why would someone who is attracted to females be autogynephilic? It has been suggested there is an ‘erotic target location error’ in the autogynephilic male, the erotic target is not outward (a woman) but inward (the transsexual’s fantasy of themselves as a woman). Anne Lawrence explains how autogynephilia leads to males transitioning in the essay ‘Becoming What We Love’.

There are several questions about autogynephilia that remain which can be resolved by empirical testing, for example are there any homosexual autogynephilic transsexuals? This is a very good question and I have seen examples of autogynephilia in homosexual transgender individuals. I have also had reported to me, from two gay males I know personally, and have done for some years, that some gay men have a history of childhood/pubescent autogynephilia (this activity was not confined to merely ‘dressing up’!). So, I know that some gay males also have histories of autogynephilia.

Cantor has suggested that MRI scans on the brains of homosexual and non-homosexual transsexuals supports Blanchard’s ‘two type’ theory of transsexuals.

There are four different types of autogynephilia which may occur completely, partially, or in combination with other types (complete or partial):

  • Transvestic autogynephilia: arousal to the act or fantasy of wearing typically feminine clothing (this is what people often mean when they talk about autogynephilia, but it is much more nuanced);
  • Behavioral autogynephilia: arousal to the act or fantasy of doing something regarded as feminine, also covers ‘interpersonal autogynephilia’;
  • Physiologic autogynephilia: arousal to fantasies of body functions specific to people regarded as female (there’s some way-out stuff on the Internet of males getting a kick from pretending to be pregnant); and
  • Anatomic autogynephilia: arousal to the fantasy of having a normative woman’s body, or parts of one (breasts are a common fantasy, often the autogynephile will want breasts but to keep his penis and testicles, this is an instance of ‘partial autogynephilia’).

Autogynephilia can also be compared to being a sexual orientation.

Here’s a piece I put together taking something someone else has written and pointing out the real world instances of autogynephilia the author was (unwittingly) describing ‘17 signs I am an autogynephiliac and didn’t know it‘. If you read my critique or even just the original piece ‘17 Signs I was Transgender But Didn’t Know It‘, it is apparent the use of pornography played a role in the evolution of he subject’s sexuality.

I think it’s always good to look at real world examples as it makes the topic easier to understand and it also demonstrates the phenomena does exist, and once you know what you are looking for, examples of autogynephilia are easy to spot, for example in this piece by Juno Roche ‘Other Lands: The great unexplored realm of the trans vagina‘. Note also, through their own use of language, the apparent influence of porn on the author’s sexuality:

 

Juno Roche 600

 

 

Further reading:

Dr Anne Lawrence ‘Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies’

9 Responses to “What Autogynephilia is, and what is it not; a brief note”

  • lila

    Thanks for this article. I saw Juno Roche interviewed by a trans man in a video and did some searching. I just read ‘her’ article about her ‘vagina’ and wanted to vomit and did a google search to see if anyone else saw what I saw. It reeks of autogynephilia, not transgenderism. I can say as a cis-woman, we do not have these thoughts about our vaginas. From speaking with my girlfriends, we think out vaginas are ugly. For many women it’s a source of trauma and pain- rape, childbirth. What she said about fantasising about having a vagina, was gross and disturbing. And sounds like something out of a male porn fantasy, not a woman’s true experience of having a vagina.

    You can always tell apart a true trans women and an autogynaphile, because the autogynaphile will only talk about their wanting to be a woman in sexual terms and most of their fantasies revolve around sex. Not the mundane existence of womanhood, like trans women want to have.

    These autogynephile ‘men’ make my skin crawl and I felt violated just reading that article.

  • Bronwyn

    Lila, I can only speak as a lesbian women, but we don’t think our vaginas are ugly and our sexual fantasies often involve similar ones to those described above i.e.. a woman’s hand touching us, feeling our cunts etc. However, we actually do have cunts so it is obviously very different to the experience of autogynephilia. My problem is men who decide that this fetich males them a woman and entitles to enter women’s spaces. Fuck No!!

    • lila

      Yeah, good point. My friends are all straight so I guess maybe our feelings would be different. Glad you have positive feelings towards yours! We all should do!

      Yeah, I agree. I think unfortunately, these autotogynephiles make it harder for true trans women to be accepted. This is why it’s good to have guides like this to help us spot them.

  • jo

    Lila,
    i am a heterosexual woman and i don’t think of my vagina as an ugly source of pain and trauma.
    Giving birth to my children was the most powerful thing I have ever done in my life.
    It is/has been a source of great pleasure over the years!

    What gets me is the fantasy that being a woman is JUST about being a vagina. That all the dreams of womanhood are dreams of having a vagina, a vagina that will be sexually pleasurable to have.

    What about all the things that go along with owning that vagina?
    All the experiences that women go through in a lifetime because they own a vagina?

    • penny

      I’m glad you vagina isnt a source of trauma to you. For many women it is the source of extreme trauma and agony, including FGM, rape, child abuse , abortion, child marriage, forced pregnancy and traumatic childbirth. For many women lucky enough to escape all of that, the vagina and its functions can simply be a deep source of shame and guilt.

  • Brandy

    I am transgender. I am also what I assume they would describe as ‘non-homosexual transgender’. I find this to be ironic, because as a MtF transgender, while I understand that I am (by the strictest biological definition pertaining to reproductive organs) a male, my gender identity is female, and I am attracted to women, which would make me homosexual (lesbian).

    In any case, while I find the idea of having a ‘female’ body exciting, I am not *sexually* aroused by the thought of becoming ‘female’. I have never used thoughts of my ‘female’ body as a masturbatory aid. The closest that I have come to this is imagining myself in a sexual relationship with another lesbian women, in some detail. I am not completely sure, but I suspect that this doesn’t qualify, as it only indirectly involves my ‘female’ body.

    I’m afraid that I am either the exception (rather than the rule), or that this study (which ‘proves’ that non-homosexual transgender are autogynephilic transgender) is flawed, and that the subject requires more research to reach a more substantive conclusion.

    • miranda

      Thanks for the comment.

      “The closest that I have come to this is imagining myself in a sexual relationship with another lesbian women, in some detail.”

      Dependent on the context, this could be interpreted as behavioural autogynephilia and anatomical autogynephilia, if you have the body of a woman in these fantasies.

      I would always recommend this piece as a good introduction and explanation of how AGP works:

      http://www.annelawrence.com/becoming_what_we_love.pdf

      Good luck on your travels.

  • Ally

    I am a young trans woman, having been in transition for three years now despite being only age 23. I have a lot to say about the AGP phenomenon…

    See, when I started my transition, three years ago, it was with the goal in mind of making my life and romantic pursuits easier on me. Additionally, I decided it was time to embrace my feminine physical features, as opposed to unhealthily trying to combat them with steroids and the like. I was a male fitness model, which worked well for me because I was very toned with quite androgynous features. I was also gay, and did a lot of unorthodox things to get through through my first two years of college.

    Nonetheless, it was clear that transitioning would lead to a more fulfilling life because of how feminine my bone structure, etc., was. As an example, I’m currently between 5 ft. 8 and 5 ft. 9, weighing 135 lbs., and wear 32B in bras. I also sound entirely female, have big eyes and dainty hands, and look like any other woman you’d run into in public.

    I transitioned to fit in more easily, to not have to monitor my every move out of fear of seeming too “gay”, and because it was the obvious answer to my problems. I didn’t even see therapy for it; that’s how apparent my need to transition was! I was under the impression that the bulk of the trans-woman community was the same way, and I’ve been entirely wrong. 🙁

    See, the attempts I’ve made to connect with other trans women, over the years, have been met with at least 75% of them coming onto me. A couple of them had even voiced seeing porn videos/photos of mine, which made me so embarrassed that I wanted to faint. Many of them have also made me feel like I was taking part in a perverted “bro-to-bro” conversation with them by talking about their deep-seated attraction towards young pre-op trans women in front of me. Better yet, one insisted that I see her motorcycle, and revved it loud and clear for me, as I stood there dumbfounded that women even engage in such masculine behaviors.

    I tried to rationalize for a long time that maybe it’s just my geographic area, but I’m learning that it’s an age thing, as well as AGP. It just becomes so obvious whenever over half of your hangouts with the trans community are met with extremely masculine behaviors or perverted looks/comments towards you.

    I’ve recently admittedly regretted my transition because of how few “homosexual” transsexuals there are. I realize that I’d probably be so much happier hanging out with the gay community, which is difficult unless you’re a drag queen or a guy. I just miss the warmth, the lax attitude, and the overall hubbub of it all. 🙁

    I thought the trans community would be the same, but most of the ones I knew are so radically pro-“trans” that they waved trans flags after the Orlando Massacre, as opposed to gay pride flags. They have profoundly hurt me, and they know nothing of legitimate trans women. I forayed into the TS porn industry, to pay bills, at age 21—and I’m “all woman” socially. I’m not some self-absorbed upper-middle-class man, who decided that getting a sex-reassignment at age 40 would solve my issues! Heck, I don’t even want SRS! Haven’t the autogynephiles caught on that trans women nor cis women possess obsessions with getting vaginas like they do?!? I wish I could just put a stop to the absurdity, but they compose like 90% of our demographic, especially if you live in a less urban area!

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