What is autogynephilia?
Autogynephilia is a term used by conservative sexologists to refer to the family of sexual behaviors where a man gets aroused by imagining himself as a woman.
To understand these behaviors, I would like you to imagine your average guy, jerking off to a picture of Julia. He is usually imagining himself doing all sorts of sordid things to Julia.
In the case of the Autogynephiliac, however, he is not imagining doing things to Julia, he is imagining that he is, Julia.
Now just in case you’re female and you’re starting to get scared and imagine a Silence of the Lambs scenario, I should clarify that the Autogynephiliac simply wants to look like Julia. He doesn’t want to literally be her, and steal her life, and make a suit made of human skin.
Is it useful to think of different types of autogynephilia?
Sexologists usually divide Autogynephiliac behaviour into three kinds. Anatomical, behavioral and transvestic. As each name suggests, the first is concerned with having the anatomy of a female, the second with acting like a female, and the third, as dressing like a female. However, these neat categories lack the nuance you really need to understand Autogynephilia. They make it sound fetishistic for the details and objects and gestures of femininity.
Admittedly, that is helpful in some ways, because Autogynephiliacs are fetishistic about the objects of femininity such as lingerie. But you must always remember that it is not because of the things in themselves. But what they represent. The state of being female.
‘Fetish’ or ‘paraphilia’ are not appropriate terms.
It’s necessary to capture this greater sense of, being, because the love of being a woman often goes beyond the sexual, and into the broader personality. Many Autogynephiliacs decide to live as women and it is not because it gives them a permanent hard on, but because their relationship with their sexuality has progressed beyond sex. That is why many sexologists believe that this form of sexuality is closer to an orientation than a paraphilia or fetish.
Anyway, my point is, that it’s more helpful to think of this as something deeper than a fetish, or you won’t understand the relationship between Autogynephilia and transsexualism. This desire to be a woman, sometimes develops over the course of the individual’s life, into a full blown case of transsexualism. In this case, the individual has the non sexual desire to be female forever and ever. Amen.
Nobody knows exactly which direction the causality flows. And if they insist that they know, they’re full of poo poo. However, the two arguments are well-established. Conservatives say that the Autogynephilia leads to the transsexualism, and transgender theorists, say that the innate transsexualism leads to the sexuality. Indeed, they see this sexuality is a symptom of being born in the wrong body.
And that’s a good way of telling you to avoid, at all costs, the use of this term when talking with transgender people. Autogynephilia is a little bit like the N word, of the transgender community. And if you don’t believe me, try asking a trans woman about her autogynephilia. Kids, don’t try this at home.
The reason is because the existence of a discreet fetish, has damning implications. It implies that many trans women have an advanced fetish. Or, a psychological condition which grew out of their sexuality. And this really messes with the transgender narrative. Thus, while a transgender woman is telling you of how she dressed as a teenager to express her true self, the sexologist says that it was just a transvestite with a boner.
In fact, the person who first coined the term Autogynephilia, wasn’t just happy to hang up his pen at the definition. Raymond Blanchard went on to develop a theory about how all trans women have the fetish. Something which, by the way, is certainly not true.
So I repeat…Autogynephilia. It’s not flavour of the month with transwomen.
Conclusion: why I opt for orientation?
However, in my unpopular opinion, there probably is, a discreet type of sexual behaviour where men get turned on as women. And the reason was noted by Blanchard. The existence of autosexuality has been observed in other paraphilias. Therefore, there are paedophiles who get turned on by being children, and zoophiles who want to be animals rather than have sex with them, and amputee fetishists who want the amputation performed on themselves. This prevalence of sexualities directed towards the self, leads me to believe that Autogynephilia is the heterosexual version.
However, just as we don’t describe a couple of queers getting married because of their fetish, we should not think of autogynephiliac transsexuals like that. When they choose to live as a woman, they are doing something that is natural to them. This brings me back to the point of Autogynephilia as an orientation, rather than a fetish. If we just accept that autosexuality is as acceptable as heterosexual and homosexual, then sexology and society would definitely have advanced.