Jack Replies to Give and Take
I get your point. I really do! Your argument is that we as freethinking adult individuals have to look at any theory as one of many inputs to a wide debate.
It is ultimately up to us to decide whether we will allow them to affect us or not. Blanchard is just one voice of many. There are other experts who have other points of view.
You may also be right in that the heated debate on Blanchard & Co is a reflection of the narcissism of the participants. Many are angry at Blanchard because his observation about obsession hits to close for comfort, and they therefore try to silence him and his followers. But again it is important to remember that there is a huge difference between saying that you are a narcissist by nature to saying that you are self-obsessed because of a trauma.
I also agree that the ultimate objective for all of us is to heed the moral and existential call of becoming whole human beings who have integrated our masculine and feminine sides and who are able to see and help the ones we love in an adult way. This should not be about satisfying desire, or happiness even.
But we have not all reached that level of enlightenment, I am afraid. I have not, in spite of my many years, although I am hoping that my work on my blog will help me get there.
I have also been in touch with teenage crossdreamers who are in that phase of their lives when the affirmation from others is very important for the development of the self-esteem and the emotional stability you need to reach your objective.
They search the web and find nothing about their feminization fantasies, as it seems most transgender activists are focusing on repressing any proof of their existence. When they finally do find someone writing about such fantasies, it is nearly always based on the autogynephila theory, and that theory tells them they are self-obsessed perverts without any hope for a good sex life. Heck, they are even told that they cannot have a real love life.
If they ask questions about this they are attacked by classic transsexual furies who call them fetishists and perverts. Some of the youngsters become suicidal at this point, as they realize there is no way they can get rid of these desires.
Then there is the fact that most transgender people are suffering from psychological problems, not because crossdreaming is a paraphilia, but because it is so hard to reconcile crossdreaming with a traditional, normal, life. Many of them keep this side of themselves completely secret, and do not get the emotional catharsis a confidante with a sympathetic ear may bring them.
This also means that they are scarred, and that it is hard for that vulnerable child inside them — the one who needs to be recognized and loved — to grow up.
That is why words can break their heart. And that is why I think the theories matters more than you believe.
Moreover, that is why blogs like ours are important. Crossdreamers get to see that there are others like them and that we are not some subhuman perverts that deserve to suffer in silence.
As for the female crossdreamers. Well, I have learned so much about the prejudices of researchers now that I question everything, including the truism that men are more kinky than women. I have known too many wonderfully “perverted” women to believe it.
Moreover, historically speaking the idea that women are less “perverted” than men is pretty recent. Before the 19th century it was the women who were considered libidinous, sex obsessed and unstable, while the men were clean and clear-headed.
It is the idea of female purity that stopped Blanchard from looking at F2M crossdreamers in the first place, but now that there is a word for them, you will see more research and more of them will come out hiding. I see, for instance, that the usage of the term “girlfag” is increasing. But I cannot prove any of this, of course.
Hi Jack. It’s a pleasure to have received a reply from you once again. Gosh! I feel I am in the presence of royalty as your name comes up so often now on the internet. (Ha!) Seriously, it is wonderful to dialogue with you once again as I think everyone in the autogynephilia community would say you are the perfect book-end and foil for Ray Blanchard. (Take that as a compliment please.) I have been musing over your letter the last few days and believe I have a response that expands on some of the ideas I have previously blogged. It is my sincere hope that what I write is not seen as offensive to anyone, but simply an expression of what I have learned over the last few months about accepting who I am on this journey of self-discovery and my place in the many and varied communities of human response to their gender and sexuality which I perhaps knew all along.
That being said, it was only in opening up to my wife, and myself for that matter, that I have been able to look life squarely in the eye and say “I am who I am.” One of the traits of my character I have succumbed to since my epiphany (some say to their annoyance) is pragmatism and by that I mean I have a matter-of-fact way of approaching or assessing situations or of solving problems; that the meaning of our lives falls within the observable and practical outcomes of the consequences of our actions. It may at times sound that I am being too harsh in my opinions and perhaps even hypocritical given my previous writings, but I remain open to persuasive arguments none the less. It should be noted I pass no judgments on others chosen life styles as all my life (and I continue to be so) endured the desire to see my feminine side become a more predominate aspect of my personality, but in saying that I have also had to look upon my autogynephilia in light of reality, thus a more realistic approach to life. In any case, finding the balance between my emotional make-up and that of societies need to temper individual desires for the better good of all, is always a problem. But as most people do; one finds a way to co-exist with both and get on with living.
You mentioned the word trauma. I believe this to be an expression that is much over used and perhaps even misused today when one discusses the subject of autogynephilia or sexuality in general. A real trauma, in the medical sense, is a situation whereby as a result of certain horrific events that took place in the past or the present of one’s life; prevents one from functioning or living a normal and healthy life. Used in the context of defining gender issues as I witness on most web sites, or in describing ones emotional state as a result of autogynephilia, I believe is a gross misrepresentation of the term. Most, but I will grant you not all I have had contact with or in reading blogs, are dealing with the disappointments of “personal preferences” rather than medical issues (a rather substantial difference in definition,) that for whatever reason allows them to feel they are being marginalized by a set of social standards they believe prohibits them from becoming the person they wish to be. This unfortunate approach to life thus leaves them incarcerated in a voluntary prison of idealism and romantic naiveté.
I am not aware of any social rules, aside from murder, robbery and other breaches of moral behaviour, that would prevent anyone from dressing as they please or expressing their sexuality. Of course there are always those who will trample on one’s individual expression by promoting violence and that is always an issue of consideration. But even those are relatively minor (or non-existent in my part of the world) and to blame all of society for the exception of the few who make headline news is simply an excuse to cast culpability on a social order for ones inability to find a comfortable place of expressing one’s own self-awareness.
Empirical Observations of Life
Having gone though many trials of doubt myself, I am mindful of the fact there are people who cannot deal with daily life in their perceived sexuality. But I honestly believe these people are rare as witnessed from my own empirical observations of personal experience which is all anyone can really use as proof of one’s experience of life. Reading books and studying theories of medical evidence put forth by others may provide us with “food-for-thought,” but in the final analysis we must decide for ourselves from personal observation and experience whether those theories and studies are in fact true. It is only through this personal observation of the world around us that we can produce honest and educated evaluations in approving or dismissing a theory or others assessments of life. Choosing to ignore these observations in favour of hear-say evidence or personal preference to justify a preferred life situation, must surely lead to a confusing and perplexing existence.
My brother and his partner are gay and have lived together for 30 years and several others I call friends are gay as well. Thus I have firsthand experience of the struggles they encountered for recognition in their lives and yet as difficult as that was, all of them managed to come to terms with daily life and societal pressure without a so-called traumatic mental disability to “conform” long before gay acceptance became the norm.
Again, through empirical observations , I have witnessed real trauma when seeing a friend returning from a theatre of war who`s life debilitating mental issues make sexual and gender concerns pale in comparison though I will reiterate that I am very much aware there are some who may suffer because of their sexuality, however real life experience of psychological trauma is something far different from that referred to by the transgender community.
I have three sons, two of whom are graduates in the field of sociology and in my many discussions with them one fact becomes very clear. Researchers and academics live in a vacuum and an environment of theory’s and psychological investigations which try to make sense of human life. Ray Blanchard and company may get under the skin of some but in reality neither they nor anyone else prevents one from seeking ones aspirations of dressing as a woman nor transitioning to whomever they wish or feel they are. However to listen too many, one would think there is a vast and evil conspiracy being perpetrated against the transgender/autogynephilic community to quell freedom of expression which anyone living in a civilised world knows is pure poppy-cock and if this is not the case, I extend my deepest sympathises.
You also made mention of teenagers. There are without a doubt, many problems in a teenager’s life and as you and I, or anyone for that matter growing up with autogynephilia can attest, life can be that much more confusing without adult guidance to dialogue with. However, crossdreaming as I have mentioned, is not as debilitating a process in becoming a well-adjusted adult as you appear to imagine unless, (and I stress unless,) one is a true transsexual, which most statistics will bear are not as numerous as the community we presently blog for believes. I have no doubt the teens you have spoken to honestly felt their problems of sexuality were confusing and frightening, but these feelings and emotions are not a new phenomenon when one considers the vast array of hormonal activity that teenagers go through which, for the most apart, are basically a part of the evolution process of becoming adult and any reputable medical professional will tell you, that evolution is not complete until brain development and the ability to separate impulse from discernment is complete which in most cases is between 21 or 22 years of age.
In my blog I have tried to be as objective as I can, offering the view-point of man who suffered much with his own identity through those teenage years and onward into adulthood; who married, had children and despite his at times, difficult psychological syndromes, managed to survive into my 64th year and I should add, did it without traversing the internet, something despite what you and I do in researching our autogynephilic dilemmas, can in many cases prove to be a more harmful arena for information than good to young minds in search for answers.
Regardless, my salvation as it is has only come about through writing and an epiphany of understanding that life has its own set of rules which are divorced from the individual’s. Yet somehow I managed, as it would appear you have as well, to remain sane and enter our adult years with our male bodies still intact. Autogynephilia may be an issue in our lives but it does not prevent us from living a normal life in non-traumatic fashion.
That may sound rather harsh, but as I mentioned before, it is a significant step forward towards adulthood when one comes to understand, that if we live within a social network, like it or not, we must learn to deal with the realities of that network or approach life as a series of barriers which we place on ourselves which will in all likelihood, inhibit our ability to be fully human. Though I am fully aware that many may disagree, I honestly believe that much of the social problems in society today are a reflection of this dilemma; putting ones individuals wants ahead of societies requirements for, however unmerited, the overall good; thus my continuing mention of the narcissistic mind-set.
One can very easily retire into the cloistered world of the “self” by refusing to become a member of society and instead choose the world of an internet community that fosters and promotes ones idealized life style, but it very soon becomes an illusionary world that feeds one’s erroneous rationalization of reality with regards to one’s wants and wishes and in return, uses that illusion of reality to accuse the world of an injustice in not allowing one freedom of expression.
I believe your comment about teenagers searching the web makes my point a valid one with regards to the transsexual and transgender community becoming the prevailing manifestation of autogynephilia. Once one becomes mentally seduced by a topic for which we seek answers, it then becomes the assumed version of life, real or not and if that is all one perceives as reality, it will soon come to play on ones psyche that there is “something wrong with me. Why am I not like the rest?” I think some of the hardest issues teenager face are in trying to decipher what’s “acceptable” and what’s “expected.” Teenage years are a time when the sole decisions of evaluating right and wrong are based on what they see and hear (empirical observation again) and in today’s world, the internet often offers up an unjust, mistaken and erroneous concept of identity, where one can very easily come to believe one is a transgender person or (“self-obsessed perverts without any hope for a good sex life.”) as you so rightly put it, by believing prevailing web assumptions and self-diagnosis, when in most cases this is not true at all.
Women as Sexual Beings
Regarding your theory of female crossdreamers; you mentioned: “Before the 19th century it was the women who were considered libidinous, sex obsessed and unstable, while the men were clean and clear-headed.” I believe you will find that religion had a great deal to play in the part of formulating the social norms prescribed for women prior to the 19th century. Burning women at the stake or believing them to be the “downfall” of MAN-kind, or as in Victorian times, placing them in mental hospitals as nymphomaniacs, was a most predominate belief at the time. The idea that women were more promiscuous than men became the prevailing scape-goat pattern of thought in justifying many acts of perversion by males themselves. I suppose much of our present knowledge of how we perceive women’s sexuality today comes from three factors. One the internet world of porn. Two the company we choose to keep and three, the relationships we entrust our sexuality to. Though I will grant that women today are much more open in discussing their feelings and attitudes on the matter of sex, most women are in point of fact, sexually wired differently from men despite the humanist and feminist point of view that equates all humans as simply primates and though I can only speak from my own observations of the women around me, my surveillance of that world speaks loud and clear that patriarchal notions aside, women are far less likely than their male counterparts to be overtly obsessed with sex and gender issues.
In the final analysis, autogynephilia is a theory and a word for a theory and nothing else. How we ourselves interpret such words and apply them to our lives is a matter for the individual to decide but most importantly, it is how we as adults, living in a social network come to terms with ourselves and our knowledge of our own make-up AS ADULTS that will determine our mental and social health and we in the western world at least, regardless of what others may think or say, have full control for the most part in deciding our own sexually and gender way of thinking and absolutely no one can keep one from becoming the person one may want to be.