Towards a more complete understanding of autogynephilia
Updated: 5 days ago
Guest author: Limpida
Please note: Opinions expressed in guest articles are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect positions held by the Gender Dysphoria Alliance. We have published this article as one person’s account of their own AGP. It has not been reviewed for evidence-based accuracy.
I considered myself a member of the transgender community for several very formative years before I underwent hormone replacement therapy in 2019. This perspective stems from my experiences and from several months of obsessive research trying to get to the bottom of why this happened to me and where to go from here.
Transparency Podcast interview with this author: https://youtu.be/hjjPFoKnYk8
At first I thought my next piece was going to be about the contemporary proliferation of leftist cults and their relationship to NGOs, media, and academia, but it’s become much more involved than I initially intended it to be, so I’m giving myself some more time to work on that to give the subject justice. In the meantime, I was struck wanting to explain some things about autogynephilia. It’s a sensitive subject with a lot of baggage. No matter how much effort I put into something like this, the people who feel a certain way about AGP are going to continue to feel that way. That’s their problem; I see childhood transition and grooming by sexual predators as a serious risk for people with this paraphilia, whether innate or imposed. There are some things that need to be understood by the circles which have a vested interest in discussing it (feminists, detransitioners, self-aware transsexuals), even if they also feel (as I do) that it should not be openly celebrated.
In my big personal essay talking about the complex interplay of autism, intrusive thoughts, and autogynephilia that led to my transition, I mentioned that there was a significant emotional component to my cross-sex delusions that I am still struggling to shake off and may never be able to completely; that in my efforts to keep from destroying myself entirely, I rebuilt myself in a feminine image. From the other self-aware AGPs I’ve met who are around my age and who have experienced similar formative events in youth, this seems to be fairly common among people with this condition. I believe that one of the main reasons AGP is so widely denied by younger transsexuals especially is that the circles that regularly discuss it usually do so in an ignorant manner that seeks to demonize individuals who have it by focusing heavily on the more disturbing erotic components, even though it is clear to me that many of these individuals aren’t transitioning solely to engage in elaborate erotic fantasy. I do think that some level of stigma is necessary to keep its social ramifications under control (and there are many), but only the healthy kind that advocates the creation and maintenance of clear societal boundaries while doing battle with malignant social forces, rather than the unhealthy kind that only creates individual scapegoats. Currently, the debate is almost solely focused on the latter, and it is hindering many who have a stake in reversing the damage of the transgender movement. I’ve seen swaths of feminists scolding bureaucratic psychopaths advocating child transition not for their deranged policies, but for poorly-laced wigs and shitty fashion choices. Given that there are also individuals who look the same as these people and yet share no culpability for these wrongs (and in fact may be victims of them), I think it’s clear that this is not a project interested in providing a coherent social, political, and psychiatric response.
As with any paraphilia, there are many dimensions to it, dimensions that are similar to a normal sexual orientation. One can experience romantic, emotional, compassionate attachment to their non-human erotic target. What makes autogynephilia complicated is the fact that that target isn’t actually non-human. It might be directed at only an illusory person, but it’s still based on a real one, and that’s the person experiencing it. Many of the young MtFs I’ve spoken to have endured some sort of major trauma in their past, were conditioned to believe that men and masculinity were inherently toxic, and/or failed to assimilate into their social circles due to autism or some other set of circumstances. Whatever the case may be, even without these factors present, many of them directed substantial amounts of self-compassion towards a version of the self that does not exist anywhere but in their own heads. At the depths of their pain, they still felt love for this other self, while convincing themselves (or, in many cases, being convinced) that they could not be loved as they were. This disruption of the ego can lead to gender dysphoria if left unchecked, especially if surrounded by reading material from transgender communities that actively encourage the development of body dysmorphia. If you’d like to read more about autogynephilia as it existed prior to the proliferation of transgenderism, I’d recommend Dr. Anne Lawrence’s Men Trapped in Men’s Bodies and Becoming What We Love (warning you now, there’s an ick factor involved, and the works are fairly anachronistic). I’d provide a link to the free PDFs but I think that’s illegal; just know that they’re not hard to find.
Based on the testimonies provided in those works, I think there’s a straight line from the way clinics chose to administer sex changes in the past to the transgender lunacy we’re enveloped by today. Autogynephiles seeking transition, many of whom were genuinely suffering from gender dysphoria, were turned away if they exhibited signs of the condition causing their dysphoria; only the “true-trans” homosexual transsexuals were eligible, the naturally effeminate gay men who could transition and pass flawlessly as women (although, I’m not sure there’s such a thing as any man who passes flawlessly as a woman). This, I think it’s uncontroversial to say, is a form of gay conversion therapy and it is still being practiced, especially on younger gender non-conforming children. Autogynephiles, on the other hand, mostly presented as older, more masculine, sometimes having had successful lives as men, but when met with crisis in midlife, sought out transition. Many, whether due to addiction to their fetish, due to intense and persistent dysphoria, or just due to the unconscious crafting of a more compelling personal narrative caused by a persistent delusional state, would lie about their histories in order to receive treatment.
Over time, clinicians specializing in this just started handing out hormones and vaginoplasties without worrying about the AGP elephant in the room. It didn’t matter whether anyone was telling the truth about their struggles with dysphoria anymore; the motivated got what they wanted. It went unacknowledged and largely unstudied, despite observations of autogynephilia forming the very basis of transsexual medicine. Acknowledging the fetishistic component was offensive both to autogynephiles and to doctors who really believed gender identity existed somewhere in the depths of the brain. Rather than correct this clear error on the part of medical personnel or look more closely into the etiology of gender dysphoria or hell, even try to run some long-term studies on their cohorts, they instead decided (on the advice of their patients, some of whom were delusional) that everyone who says they feel they are the other sex is innately transgender — just wanting it is enough, even if you don’t understand why. Sexed souls are a stand-in for the hard science that wasn’t done, their theoretical basis courtesy of notorious psychiatrist (and pedophile) John Money, the man who coined the term “gender identity” in the 1950s. Don’t worry though ladies, it’s not just a “man” thing; Andrea Dworkin, Gloria Steinem, and Judith Butler all utilized aspects of Money’s theories (written at the same time he was diddling little kids) as the foundation for their new postmodern feminisms. There is also the reality that there are a substantial number of AGP individuals who don’t experience any dysphoria or ego disruption at all, and instead are transitioning merely to fulfill their latent desires. For $ome rea$on, today’$ medical profe$$ionals openly cater to them as well, using the more severe and sympathetic cases as their justification for doing so.
The erotic component is an important contributor to this; indulging it can strengthen the bond one has with that self-image, just like ordinary sex can strengthen the bonds between two people. This, in itself, is not inherently dangerous to the person experiencing it nor to the people around them. With the appropriate internal boundaries, self-awareness, self-discipline, and open communication with their actual partners, men with autogynephilia can coexist peacefully with this part of themselves. There are many feminists who suggest that men with AGP should simply suppress or refrain from indulging it at all; this may work for some, but not for all. Though it is a fetish, the emotional components to it can be extremely difficult to overcome and may even eclipse the erotic components under the right set of circumstances (as in my case). Suppression may work for a time, but the urges always return because they are an embedded part of one’s sexuality, and if it’s progressed past a certain point, even one’s outward personality. It may only develop into an artificial femininity, but contrary to popular belief, it can be convincing. People are usually surprised when I tell them I’m male, provided I’ve been taking proper care of myself. I’ve met plenty of AGP MtFs and ex-MtFs that pass convincingly and were even somewhat feminine as boys. The old stereotype that we’re all gruff, unaware ubermasculine men who get off on being perverts in public is not really accurate in all cases (though it is in many).
It is specifically in cases like mine, which are far more common than the cases that receive attention, where I feel that the prevailing narratives around AGP fall apart. While there is a sexual component lying at the very base of my gender issues, by the time I actually went through with transition, I had no compassion for myself as a man, and only for this illusory version of myself as a woman. I felt like my masculine body was dead weight and had convinced my OCD-addled mind that testosterone was literally, physically killing me. Wearing masculine clothing, being perceived as a man in public, even hearing my own voice, these things brought intense shame, emotional turmoil, aggression, anxiety, panic, and confusion for years. In some ways, I brought that on myself, but I also didn’t understand the other angle of what I was going through. I didn’t really start to figure that out till the end of this past spring. “Trans” as an innate identity was the only thing that made sense at the time, and “dysphoria” the only description of the problems I was having. AGP wasn’t even on the horizon.
It did not help that my long-term girlfriend was also mired in this ideology, as she was the one who introduced me to it. Feminizing me seems to have been as much a fetish of hers as it was mine. Given that I was dependent on her for so many things — in particular, safety from my abusive domestic situation — it was incredibly hard for me to leave or to truly interrogate where these cross-sex feelings were coming from. I don’t harbor any ill will towards her though, she was just as autistic and just as misled about all this as I was; she didn’t understand the ramifications. Neither did I understand the ramifications of getting all of my sex ed from older Tumblr SJWs directing their mixed messages towards women in my age group; I didn’t have any men to listen to about men’s issues in puberty, only women, many of whom openly hated men. I was trained to think of “men’s issues,” as a dogwhistle, that the only real men’s issue that existed was that we were not enough like women. Radical feminists often talk about AGPs who trick lesbians into fulfilling their fetish (for good reason), but this wasn’t as clear-cut a case; at certain times, it was reversed. That’s not to say I was the victim in this relationship; emotionally unstable men leave damage in their wake, and I’m no different.
I firmly believe that the obfuscation of AGP is intentional on the part of the people who initially propagated transgenderism, and I know I am not alone in that belief. However, I don’t think the only reason it’s been propagated is to conceal the erotic component. Many AGP transsexuals lacking in self-awareness openly celebrate the erotic components to their transition, and still hold that AGP is a shitty theory for why it is they’ve transitioned. I don’t think this is an inherent contradiction; the way that Dr. Ray Blanchard (the researcher who coined the term) discusses the condition, in my opinion, needlessly and harmfully reduces the entire phenomenon down purely to eroticism. He may be biased though, because many of the people who come to him for treatment (such as the much-discussed James Shupe) are sex addicts. Most autogynephiles are not. These are parallel phenomena that are only tangentially linked because they both pertain to sex, but figures like Shupe and Blanchard have a tendency to marry the two, and choose to observe it purely on that level.
I think this is harmful precisely because most cases of transitioned autogynephiles are not doing it for overt sexual reasons, but to soothe a significant, undeniable disruption in the development of their internal identity. I don’t mean to say that gender identity is a real thing; it definitely isn’t and any “scientific” framework that revolves around it should be avoided. However, the fact remains, if you’re in love with a version of you that doesn’t exist, won’t go away, and can’t be explained in simple terms, that’s definitely going to fuck up your sense of self in some pretty profound ways, especially if it was already fucked up to begin with.
This is exactly why I’m struggling with detransition. After realizing I had AGP, I immediately wanted to cease hormones and go back to living as a fully-fledged man – not even a normal man, a detransitioned man – but found that the thought of doing so brought on intense and persistent suicidal ideation. As a side note, this is also partially the result of a manipulation tactic to keep people in the cult: telling people who’ve transitioned that they can’t detransition lest they try to kill themselves. I’m eternally grateful to my detrans friends for proving to me that this is not the case. That’s not as much of a problem anymore, and I have a tentative plan to detrans by next summer when I have less going on in my life, but I am also coming to an understanding that were it not for the profound health risks associated with long-term use of cross-sex hormones and anti-androgens, I would absolutely prefer to remain a trans woman because this is how I’ve found at least some degree of peace within myself. Shedding my love for this internal persona who has always been there in the background, who has opened me up to so many beautiful things in life, who taught me how to take care of, maintain, and advocate for myself, just isn’t going to be possible, nor is it even necessary in order to detransition. She’s a large part of how I’m able to understand myself, and she’s not going away; I’m just learning to exercise some healthy boundaries I wasn’t able to in the past.
In my view, framing the discussion around AGP as being solely the purview of unadulterated perverts, craven narcissists, or rampant sexual abusers does a lot to demonize the growing ranks of men and boys who haven’t actually done anything wrong, but have found themselves on the other end of a sex change without really understanding why. This will alienate them from polite society and lead them to seek comfort from circles that seek to abuse them, doctors, rapists, and pedophiles alike. Feminists often talk about the damage that transgenderism does to young women, and rightly so, but they often demonize AGP in the process, completely unaware that there is a community of pedophiles with an interest in underage MtFs. These predators are not exclusively AGP, nor are they exclusively men (there is actually a troubling amount of women involved too, more than I expected).
I have known several AGP MtFs/ex-MtFs who have fallen prey to such sexual abuse, and I have had to convince a teenage MtF friend of mine not to join a sex cult luring financially vulnerable MtFs by promising free food, estrogen, and housing – but only if they prostituted themselves. Vulgar Blanchardians would say that these sorts of things only really affect the ultra-fem homosexual transsexuals, and that AGPs tend not to run into this issue because they aren’t as sexually desirable to others; I can’t begin to express my disdain for such views.
The reason they believe this is because autogynephilia is practically synonymous with “predator” in some circles, and honestly, it’s not for no reason. However, to then say that the children being groomed into transitioning and then trafficked as prostitutes cannot possibly be AGP because they are the ones being preyed upon is a disgusting exercise in semantics done only to justify their theory that autogynephilia is the root of all evil. It doesn’t matter to a predator why their victim might be interested in transitioning, all that matters is that they have an interest; young AGP boys clearly would be (and are) their preferred victims. An oft-repeated wish among transitioned AGPs is their desire to have transitioned earlier, sometimes at the very start of puberty, believing that this would have enabled them to pass better as women later in life (which on top of not necessarily being true, is also extremely detrimental to one’s health and should be a criminal offense for any doctor willing to carry it out). AGP internet erotica pretty much exclusively fetishizes young transitioners, in part because younger trans women are the most sexually prized in these circles.
When I tried to find advice on how to handle detransition in an AGP forum a few months ago, I got many replies begging me not to detrans because I’m “so lucky [I’m] only 23,” and “an ideal partner for an older GAMP,” (gynandromorphophile, the clinical term for people who are sexually attracted to trans women; many AGPs are also GAMPs). Boys without autogynephilia, without gender dysphoria, without attraction to trans women, have no particular reason to gravitate towards so-called “trans elders” trying to get them hooked on estradiol.
And all of this? This is just the side of the story that has to do with people like me, my fellow young adult transitioners. For actual women, the people AGPs are most often attracted to, there are other concerns just as cruel and just as vile. Exhibitionism, voyeurism, sexual predation, fatal acts of misogynistic violence; it’s happening, folks. It’s serious stuff. It’s easy to turn a blind eye when you don’t associate with the worst parts of your own broader subculture (thankfully I was never in any porn-centered online community), but having left the whole thing behind, it’s definitely real.
If most of the men transitioning just have a fetish for what they assume it’s like to be women, then it stands to reason that letting us LARP as women in every single last social capacity is extremely dangerous. This is why I say it’s for good reason that people are wary of men with AGP, especially those who refuse their own awareness of it. However, a healthy wariness for one’s own safety based on evidence and experience should not necessarily translate to demonization of AGP itself, as an overall phenomenon, nor a blanket prejudice against individuals who merely happen to have AGP but do nothing to impinge against the personal boundaries of others. Stigma, yes; demonization, no.
These kinds of people are not everywhere, and there are many trans women (AGP or otherwise) just trying to live out their lives. We’re a very small, spread-out percentage of the population, not all of us are involved in this craziness. Even as I continue taking hormones, I grow more disgusted with it all by the day. All the same, it has to be mentioned just because of how many people I’ve come across who’ve had stories like this. I don’t think I would have met so many people who’ve been groomed in this fashion if not for the fact that I’ve transitioned. I think more people becoming aware of it might lead others to think twice about what “gender identity” means to them.
I don’t really have an answer for what social boundaries should exist to regulate and confine AGP. I don’t quite yet understand how to subvert transgender political networks or address the growing problem of human trafficking at large or push back against the behemoth that is Big Pharma. I can’t even convince the youth MtFs in my life to consider AGP as a possibility for their struggles. It’s all a little bit beyond me right now. My take on AGP isn’t going to be that important in the continued expansion of these markets. What I will say though, is that treating AGP as the sole root of all trans lunacy is a horrible misstep. We are well past the point where this is contained solely to a small group of weird fetishists. Most of the mainstream grooming networks don’t even involve AGPs directly. Consider for instance that I was recently banned from a youth LGBT club for asking the adult who runs it if I could speak about my negative experiences with the medical industry and coming into contact with gender ideology as a teenager. She (a natal woman!) coldly told me it was a safe space for trans youth, and that I was not welcome. The way most people think about AGP in trans-skeptical circles, they’d assume it’d be the other way around.
Obviously, some common sense policy fixes would be to reassert the sanctity of single-sex spaces, repeal self-ID laws, and ban gender clinics for children, but all of that’s easier said than done, definitely isn’t all that can be done, and I’m not really in a position to be doing much about them right now. I can talk about it, and I do (some would say too often), but that’s not enough to stop accelerant market momentum dead in its tracks.
This is going to take some very savvy political coalition-building and maneuvering, and I think despite the efforts of many, the proper pieces haven’t yet been put together. I think this is in part because transgenderism is just one of several major planks in the much larger leftist political project. Trying to address this and this alone often swings the hammer of a sophisticated and coordinated state-sanctioned machinery down on small-time groups and individuals trying to keep from letting sociopaths and pedophiles sterilize their kids. Like I said though, I don’t really have any answers. I’m just spit-balling. Let me know if you do though.
Published with permission by author. https://strigoi.substack.com/p/a-few-notes-on-agp