My autogynephilia story

AGP drove my own transsexualism. But in a debate where the condition is simultaneously denied and monstered, it is unsurprisingly also misunderstood.

We are fuelling the fantasies of impressionable children

Autogynephilia — literally “to love oneself as a woman” — is controversial stuff. Men are not supposed to fancy themselves; at least they weren’t when I grew up in the Eighties. Back then, the idea that any of us might be “sexually aroused by the thought or image of our self as a girl” was unthinkable.

Kathleen Stock recently suggested in UnHerd that autogynephilia (AGP) was a motive for “some but not all within the male trans demographic” to immerse themselves in the fiction of changing sex. Ray Blanchard, the sexologist who coined the terminology, went further. Last year, he told me that “in the Western Hemisphere and English-speaking Commonwealth countries, the overwhelming majority of adult natal males presenting with gender dysphoria are of the autogynephilic type”.

Continue Reading [on Unherd]

By Debbie Hayton

Physics teacher and trade unionist.

3 replies on “My autogynephilia story”

The term “autogynephilia” doesn’t really explain anything. It is one of those medical terms that gives a name to a collection of symptoms or behaviors, and in so doing hopes to shed some light on them. So now we can say things like, “Bruce Jenner has autogynephilia”, as if that explains why this former athlete and macho man is now running around in high heels and silk dresses. Personally, I believe in reincarnation. In children I see the undeniable character traits they exhibit as evidence that they have lived before — that’s my explanation for transgenderism in children.

Debbie’s description of her childhood is so convincing that it almost convinces me that children should have the right to transition — but there are just too many of them who are imitating what they see, or otherwise want to transition for the wrong reasons. Children must be allowed to grow up naturally, and then, as adults, decide what to do.

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Thank you. But, actually, I don’t think that we should be socially transitioning children. I think AGP is one of several real psychological conditions that can lead to the distress that we call gender dysphoria. But we are not the opposite sex, and I don’t think it is helpful to pretend that we are.

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Thank you for sharing that account, Debbie. I imagine it took some courage. I’ll add a few thoughts, partly informed by my past work as an addictions therapist.

Autogynephilia may merge with transexualism at one extreme, or lead to it, as you suggest, and it may be seen as a “psychological condition”, a problem, but I think the definition could apply to perfectly healthy behaviour too. For example, heterosexual couples not uncommonly indulge in a bit of transvestism, and its appeal is not only due to arousal by the partner’s attire, but by one’s own. This is a feature of all diagnosed conditions, that they lie towards the problematic end of a continuum, the other end of which is considered part of normal human behaviour.

Part of the problem with regard to the current explosion in “gender issues”, I think, is that we have developed an absolutist and binary understanding of sexual arousal (as well as gender). We imagine there are heterosexuals who are just aroused by the opposite sex, homosexuals by the same sex, and bisexuals by either, when in reality sexual response is complex. People respond to a wide range of arousal stimuli, many of them not even remotely to do with gender, only the extremes of which are documented (because they are pathologised or culturally shocking), while many of us have a range of milder turn-ons that we accept as “a bit of fun” or keep to ourselves from shame.

Breaking taboos is an exciting act in itself, and explains a great deal of fetishistic behaviour and problematic conditions such as sex addiction. As with other addictions, sometimes the shame of having engaged in the addictive behaviour can immediately reintroduce the tension that led to it. Addiction is commonly cured only when the addict finds healthier outlets for their emotional distress. This is true even without drug use, because our behaviour produces drugs naturally.

A lot of “women’s clothes” are designed to look sexy, and many are also tactile stimulants. As I’ve indicated before here, though, in reality, there aren’t “men’s clothes” and “women’s clothes”, the norms are just asserted and reinforced by the culture we live in. Hence the taboo of “cross-dressing” is a cultural problem – indeed, a cultural delusion – rather than a personal one, and the life trajectory of individuals will in part be due to how they manage to accommodate their predilection.

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