I recently published a piece looking at commonality in the narratives of juvenile ‘trans kids’, and thought it would be interesting to compare narratives of some transsexuals who did not transition as children and establish what if any commonality there is between each of these, and the narratives claimed on behalf of these children.
There now follow sections from the narratives of four male transsexuals who did not transition as children, none of whom I believe identify as ‘homosexual transsexuals’, that is each of these sources are from a transsexuals whose romantic/sexual history is stated as, or is apparently, either bisexual or heterosexual.
The first narrative comes from someone who transitioned in their forties, and wrote a powerful piece detailing their gender reassignment surgery (creation of a neovagina through a surgical process on penile tissue).
I spent many years dreaming about (my vagina), imagining how it would feel to reach down and discover an opening, to feel right. I had sexual dreams about having a vagina from my teenage years onward. I dreamed that a hand would slide into my knickers and find a moist slit. That a finger would push in and then a phallus – plastic or real, would push in slowly and deeply and make me gasp. I carried on dreaming that dream until the night before surgery. The same faintly naive dreams that my vagina would work like any natal females. My surgeon told me he would make me look realistic, with a vaginal opening, a sensate clitoris and lips; inner and outer. I was told I couldn’t have sex for at least three months. For 4 days after surgery I didn’t have sex dreams as I fell in and out of morphine-consciousness. I only wondered what my vagina would look like once the packing and bandages had come off. People post photographs but they tend to be the ‘butterfly’ ones. “Look at me they” they say “I’m a beautiful pussy fuck me.” (Roche 2016)
In place of the descriptions of stereotypically feminine behaviours and preferences from young children, we have the recollection of teenage fantasy, describing the author’s erotic dream of having female genitals, and the description of their own or other person’s interaction with this feminised version of the young male they were. The language used is overly sexual, seemingly colloquial to pornography, with the vagina described as a “moist slit” and finishing with “I’m a beautiful pussy fuck me.”
This appears to be a long way from the narratives of the young children discussed in my piece referred to above. The admission of the consumption of pornography is not rare.
I did have a history of cross-dressing fetishism, with a particular predilection for nylon. In a nutshell, I would wear women’s clothing and become aroused… In highschool and college, I discovered porn with trans women. If I was having sexual fantasies at all back then, it was probably about trans women, not myself as a woman with a vagina living in a female gender role… I eventually came to realize that the reason I was so fascinated by trans woman porn was that I was projecting myself into the bodies of the trans women as I watched and identifying with them. I realized over time that I wanted the body of a non-op trans woman. I liked that aesthetic. I wanted that for myself. I am becoming what I love. (Williams 2016)
Another piece from the web discusses how the author reached the conclusion they are transgender:
Anyone who knew me growing up knew that I was fascinated with women. I was the first of my friends to think that Playboy was a must-have magazine; I even remember begging my mom to buy me a copy for my 10th birthday! I also secretly wanted to read magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and any woman’s shopping catalogs that came along. As a kid, I was relatively shameless about these kinds of things, but my obsession with looking at women made me feel ashamed as I got older.
Why? Because my interest wasn’t just erotic. What I was never able to explain until recently was the confusion in my head between being attracted to a beautiful woman, and wanting to actually be one. As a result, I spent so many years wondering if I was the only guy that felt this way, or if all guys did and no one was willing to talk about it. But it turns out, that like sexual preference, gender identity is also a spectrum. (Egan 2016)
The internet is rife with narratives connecting the consumption of pornography, particularly involving transgender people, and self-realisations of transgender. For example, in a thread on Reddit “Question About Porn” the following question is asked. A number of the responses are reproduced. (Reddit.com 2016)
Q: Did anybody masturbate to transgender porn before they realized they were trans? To be more specific, captioned images. Edit/update: ordered whipping girl on Amazon
A1: Yup, I’m not afraid to admit it either. 🙂 I also host and help run the TFGamesSite.com page, which primarily deals in TF / TG adult games and RP. 🙂
A2: It’s a common genre that a lot of us seem to have been into. Checkout Julia Serano’s book Whipping Girl. She talks about it briefly in one of the very short later chapters.
A3: Yes, even when I was really repressed about it. I would watch videos of both trans guys and trans women. Yet… I didn’t even realize I could possibly be trans. I was in deep denial for a really long time. Sometimes I still prefer it because it’s easier to relate to someone with the same “configuration” as me, I guess.
A4: so like 100% positive response to watching T-porn? …so anyone ever take the next step and make it real with a ts escort? Just curious…i’m starting to wonder how many of my former clients might have ended up transitioning, lols!
A5: Yup, eventually got to the point of exclusively looking at it. Now I mix it back up; but I’m incredibly vain and aroused by my own self, so I fetishsize my own transition from time to time. No idea if that’s healthy or not.
A6: Yes, a lot… I also really like futa hentai. Trans porn is the only thing I masturbate to, whether it is lesbian videos or amateurs here on reddit
A piece by Sam Riedel on The Establishment (Riedel 2017) provides insight into both the pornography known at ‘futa’ as well as the important role this type of pornography had in the formation of the author’s own transgender identity:
… futanari, commonly shortened to “futa,” is a genre of Japanese cartoon porn that stars women with penises. Some have testicles, some don’t; some have vaginas, some don’t. Internet perverts have argued for years over what types of futa, if any, make the consumer gay, but at 13, I had no interest in codifying the nuances. The extent of my thought process at that time was my sudden knowledge that being a dickgirl was probably the best thing I could ever be.
Like the other pieces cited above, Riedel’s autobiographical account gives intimate detail over their use of pornography and their fantasies which resulted directly from this, including cross-dressing and fastasies of having a female body:
Over the next few years, the way I related to myself and my sexuality shifted dramatically. I read what seems in retrospect to be hundreds of hentai stories in dozens of disparate genres, always coming back to sci-fi and fantasy tales of my beloved futa. I thrilled to the misadventures of the stud-slash-sub Yukito in Kawaraya Ata’s Kopipe, in which a mad scientist copies body parts from one person to another — a trope that thrilled me but was unrealistic enough for me to convince myself that this fetish was just that, not an indication that I was unhappy being a boy. After all, wasn’t I surrounded by hundreds of people on the internet who also got turned on by this stuff? And it’s not like anything like that could ever happen anyway, right?
But it only took so long before I had to admit: I was jealous. I could barely contain my envy when the hero of Hinemosu Notari’s Mirror Image crossdressed so hard he became a futa, and I saw too much of myself in the shy-but-slutty futas and femboys of the artist InCase. Still, I managed to convince myself I wasn’t trans; I just wanted to live in a girl’s body, like the protagonist in Custom Girl who plays a futuristic VR game that allows him to experience sex as a woman! That’s normal for boys to desire fervently and constantly, right?
I realized later that I’m not the only one who felt this way. Many trans women in my community with whom I’ve spoken have expressed similar feelings about futa and “trap” comics — about boys who are girlish enough to “trap” straight men into having sex with them. Thirty Helens, a trans woman who is herself a creator of futanari comics that she posts on her Tumblr, told me in an interview that consuming futa material before transitioning “helped partly fill a void left by being in the closet while maintaining a mental distance from transness.”
Riedel even goes as far as to acknowledge the influence this porn consumption had on their decision to transition:
Transitioning was inevitable for me… Once I read Katou Jun’s Avatar Transform!, there was only so much I could do to deny it. Similar to Custom Girl, the hero in Katou’s story explores a futanari body in a VR world, while slowly abandoning all pretense at maleness in real life. The more I read the chapters in which he realizes a woman’s body in VR feels more natural than his own, the less I could deny it: I wanted that. I wanted to be cute, girlish, even beautiful. It took until the summer of 2015 — more than 10 years after I first read Tilt Mode — to begin coming out to my friends and family, and months more to begin hormone therapy. But I did it, and the results have been more fulfilling than I could ever have imagined.
This is a great piece analysing media-induced transgender identification ‘Masculinity, Anime and Gender Dysphoria‘ which goes into much more detail on anime and transgender identity.
These narratives have little in common with the ‘trans kids’ narrative, yet certainly do themselves share commonality: there is an influence of pornography either intimated through use of language, admitted within the passage or even hypothesised as motivation for transition. There are strong erotic aspects within each narrative and fantasy-based visualisations of the transsexual male as having female anatomy as well as allusions to cross-dressing and aspects of stereotypically feminine behaviour.
The fantasies and behaviours described here can all be contectualised in terms of autogynephilia, ‘love of oneself as a woman’. I wrote a very brief guide to this (which refers to the Roche and Egan pieces above) last summer “What Autogynephilia is, and what is it not; a brief note“. Autogynephilia can be interpreted as an ‘erotic target location error’ whereby the erotic target is not outward (a woman) but inward (the transsexual’s fantasy of themselves as a woman) and it may manifest across four types 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 is not confined to just being erotic, rather it may be conceptualised as a form of romantic love, even a sexual orientation with attachment or affectional elements; the identity of the autogynephilic male evolves over time and may eventually lead to transition, which frames autogynephilia as an erotic-romantic orientation (Lawrence 2007). The interpretation offered by Lawrence appears to me to be compatible with the four narratives reviewed in this piece.
To my knowledge, there has been no formal academic work to connect pornography to autogynephilic transsexualism, this was confirmed by Dr Ray Blanchard in a private conversation with me last year. Just as I believe that in order to have productive and beneficial conversations about trans issues we need to be honest about autogynephilia, I also believe that if we are to have productive and beneficial conversations about autogynephilia we need to be honest about the influence of pornography on young boys and the influence this may have on the sexual identity of young males. We need also to question the motivations, indeed be suspicious, of male transsexuals who are advocating for and supporting the transition of young children. These individuals clearly do not share a common narrative with the young boys they advocate transitioning to girls, and I would go as far as to suggest that word of these campaigners should have absolutely no credibility when considering the transition of young girls into boys.
Egan, N. 2016. “17 Signs I Was Transgender But Didn’t Know It.” Trans Cafe. 27 June. Accessed February 14, 2017
Lawrence, A. 2007. “Becoming What We Love: autogynephilic transsexualism conceptualized as an expression of romantic love” Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, volume 50, number 4 (autumn 2007): 506–20
Reddit.com. 2016. /r/asktransgender. 24 March. Accessed February 14, 2017
Riedel, S. 2017 “Japanese Cartoon Porn Helped Me Understand My Trans Identity” The Establishment. 2 January. Accessed 15 May 2017
Roche, J. 2016. “Other Lands.” The Queerness. 1 August. Accessed February 14, 2017
Williams, R. 2016. “Autogynephilia – A Critique and Personal Narrative.” Philosophical Percolations. 8 February. Accessed February 14, 2017
The featured image is the cover from ‘Pornography: Men Possessing Women‘ by Andrea Dworkin. I would recommend this book to anybody whatever your political position on sex, gender, trans issues or porn, and I would not object if it became compulsory reading for every teenage boy.
12 Replies to “Pornography And Autogynephilia In The Narratives Of Adult Transgender Males”
I’s a very well-written piece, and as interesting as I assumed it would be.
I do feel slightly concerned that all those examples seem to link porn with their transition. I’m worried if that’s healthy. With the whole ‘pornification of culture’ thing, are we looking at a group of transpeople who think that ‘femininity’ is just something that someone does in porn?
IF this is true, then it kinda adds some explanation as to why so many transwomen go into porn, since their primary motivation for transition is erotic?
BUT since we ALL know (or should) that porn and actual eroticism are two very distinct expressions, then I’m becoming dangerously convinced, that for a good number of these people, their transition is a fetish taken too far.
For adults it is typically an erotic fantasy.
And real women are being forced to let these people into our public/private spaces???????
We’ve gone from psychologically treating people like this to accepting them as normal members of society without treatment.
Trans people when they decide they are trans go to a special psychiatric counciler who specializes in trans gender mentality and then after a year of treatment they get the gold stamp of approval and that’s the extent of their treatment. The treatment is all about how innate the feelings are about being one sex that feels like another. As long as this innate feeling is established in the trans person they are approved as transgender. No need for any objective psychological treatment. No need to actually transition, you can stay as you appear, a male and we now have to some how interpret you as a woman because you feel like one. Just one year with a therapist who is already on board with the idea that trans gender is a phsysical bio-chemical reality of which we have not found the source for yet tells society that men are now women no matter if they transition bio-chemically and surgically or not.
And again real women are thrown under the bus because men claim to be women. We are being forced by men who believe they are women to share our private personal, public spaces with them.
Our scholarships are now being gifted to men who believe they are women. Sports competitions are now being won by men who believe they are women who join the women’s categories for competitions. Men who believe they are women are now telling women what it means to be a woman while also telling us that the language to describe what female is needs to change as to not offend the man who has chemically and surgically change their physical appearence to mimic women or even if they haven’t. Not all women have vaginas don’t cha know.
This is probably the most interesting post on your blog.
Here are my first thoughts on this (not scientific… just my brain working through all of this):
Their sexual development seems to be tied completely to the fetishization of the female body as detachable parts.
A “normal” male watching porn fetishizes the female body and it’s “parts” in a way that places him in control of all aspects of the dehumanization of that woman.
These men do the same only they place themselves in the role of the woman while simultaneously holding onto their male role in the fantasy.
Pretty screwed up.
Basically these men don’t view the female bodies as a real (whole)human beings but rather pornographic “parts” that their mind becomes obsessed with. But unlike “regular” males they want to become the parts as opposed to just abusing the parts.
They don’t see women as human beings with unique personalities and experiences. Women are simply fuck parts. Like a Barbie doll.
Detachable roles and sexual organs with no other purpose but the sexual gratification of men. To be harassed on the street and abused in the sheets.
And they see women as so lucky to be treated that way. To them women being treated that way is a privilege. To have one’s secondary sex characteristics fetishized is a privilege because that is the fantasy they have built their new identity on.
Zero understanding of women as autonamous organisms with their own unique hopes and dreams.
Zero ability to recognize porn as the damaging poison that it really is. Damaging to both males and females.
Speaking as a mature adult male who suffers, yes I do mean suffers, from autogynephilia, I am reasonably confident in saying that pornography is not the prime culprit in the initial development of autogynephilia. It starts in early childhood and may be influenced by a whole range of parental behaviours. Nevertheless, access to pornography in puberty may well hasten the journey of the autogynephiliac along the spectrum towards wanting to transition.
A couple of things:
I bet a lot of trans kids, especially the type used in this article, are introduced to being trans through porn because transporn was the most accessible thing to them, i.e., positive trans-visibility in kids & adult media is rare and/or they were never taught about it in an inclusive way.
Kids aren’t challenged to think about their own gender identity, in fact, they are actively treated according to their assigned gender. Nor are they often given options to explore/tryout genders other than the assigned one. And even if they are, prior internalizations or other social pressure may impede their self-discovery.
Porn forces you to come into contact with your sexual identity, and to a lesser extent your gender identity, in ways kids just otherwise aren’t. It makes sense that a lot of young trans kids get those identities muddled together. And since cishet romantic and sexual roles are the overwhelming norms in media, it’s understandable so many are confused and think they just have some fetish.
It’s pointless, possibly even disingenuous, to talk about the trans experience in relation to autogynephilia without including this. Without it, examples are just flawed data.