On the Science of Changing Sex

How Should I Your True Love Know…

Posted in Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on October 21, 2010

female_scientist…From Another One?
-Shakespeare, “Hamlet”

Pseudo-Androphilia

A common argument against the data that shows a clear correlation between gynephilia and autogynephilia is to point out that a small number of “androphilic” transsexuals report having experienced erotic cross-dressing, a form of autogynephilia.  Thus, aren’t “homosexual transsexuals” autogynephilic as well?  No Virgina, they are not.  Instead, the small number of “androphilic” transsexuals that report such autogynephilic arousal are not natively androphilic, but instead experience an extension of their interpersonal autogynephilic ideation that includes sexual acts, most notably, sexual intercourse, with men, as female.

For a very clear description of this phenomena, by one who experiences it, please read this blog entry and then come back:

Kaleasha’s Life Story

A few key points in Kaleasha’s narrative are vitally important to understand.  Kaleasha is decidedly gynephilic as this quote makes clear:

“Now, what makes my experience so unique is that I did not consider myself gay. Because I found women to be the most beautiful things on the planet. Sometimes I would see a pretty female and just stare at her beauty for hours. I could easily talk to my friends and peers about women and direct them to look at the cutie that was coming down the street.”

And in fact, Kaleasha is sexually active and enjoys sex with women:

“Eventually, I had sex with two women. My last partner was really good in bed.”

Yet, we also read:

“I am too nervous and scared to dress up like a woman especially going outside like that. One fear is that I might get addicted to looking like a woman and never want to revert back to being a man.”

And finally:

“My homosexual desires are fantasies that I don’t have to act on because they consist of me being a woman (vagina and all).”

Kaleasha is clearly gynephilic and masculine, but hears the siren call to transition, and fears the repercussions.  Kaleasha also experiences autogynephilic pseudo-androphilia.  As clearly articulated here, this desire is dependent upon “being a woman (vagina and all)”, first and foremost.  With Kaleasha, we may be witnessing a stage in the development of an AGP’s feminine gender identity.  Many late transitioning transsexuals’ narratives mirror this snapshot.  When such an individual finally does transition, they can say with complete and utter honesty, “I’ve always been attracted to men”.  They may even then self-identify and report that they are now exclusively androphilic.  But this does not mean that they are etiologically HSTS.

Lest you think this story is unique, consider the six individuals who reported that their sexual orientation changed after transition in the Daskalos paper entitled, “Changes in the sexual orientation of six heterosexual male-to-female transsexuals”  As Alex Parkinson, one of the original Transkids.us website authors so brilliantly analyzed, none of the six were conventionally attracted to men, but either sexually inactive, involved with asexual men, or with another transgendered male (suggesting that their attraction was due to gynandromorphophilia, rather than androphilia).  But one individual, Luann, clearly articulated autogynephilic pseudo-androphilic ideation:

“There were times before I transitioned when I thought I was maybe gay because I was actually having some thoughts of other guys like in high school and that. Until I realized I wasn’t having gay thoughts, I was having male to female thoughts but I was thinking of being with the guys as a female.”

All of these individuals would self-report to a researcher as being “androphilic”. And many would then also report that they had experienced erotic cross-dressing or other autogynephilic arousal.  As Lawrence showed, we can sort out some of these individuals from those that are actually exclusively and genuinely androphilic, by their marital history to women.  However, not every gynephilic transsexual would have been married.  And, it is also possible that there are a number of etiologically autogynephilic individuals who have limited sexual experience with women, who experience autogynephilic pseudo-androphilia.  These individuals would, very honestly, report that they have only had sex with men… and that they also experience erotic cross-dressing or other direct autogynephilic arousal.  These individuals would be very hard to sort out, unless the phenomena of autogynephilic pseudo-androphilia was expressly tested for in a survey instrument.  So far, I know of no instrument that has such a scale.

Addendum 12/11/2013:  In another study in which Lawrence gathered data from 97 post-operative transwomen, 17 reported to have been always exclusively androphilic, but their history indicated that six of them were almost certainly incorrectly reporting their pre-transition sexual orientation, as they had had extensive sex with women, including being married and having fathered chilren, indicating that their actual orientation was bisexual at best.  However, of the 80 transwomen who reported that their pre-transition sexual orientation was gynephilic, fully 30 of them reported that their sexual orientation had changed to being androphilic.  This indicates that such perceived changes in sexual orientation are not rare, representing 38% of post-op transwomen.  Tellingly, when compared to those who reported having always been exclusively androphilic, those transwomen who reported changes in their sexual orientation reported less than half the number of sexual encounters with men, post-operatively.

Addendum 12/1/2014:  In a recent study from Europe, we see the same pattern of changes in self-reported sexual orientation in transfolk, both MTF and FtM.

Reference:

Daskalos CT., “Changes in the sexual orientation of six heterosexual male-to-female transsexuals.”
http://www.springerlink.com/content/pu44808u15q78k21/

Anne Lawrence, “Letter to the Editor” (in response to Daskalos)
http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1023%2FA%3A1018725518592

 


 

Fun Reading:

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