Thirty-One New Narratives About Autogynephilia

Edited by Anne A. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D.

These new narratives were submitted by individuals who identified as transsexual women and responsed to a solicitation on this web site. I've numbered them 29 through 59, because they are a continuation of the series that began with the initial 28. Thanks to all the individuals who shared their experiences. As you read these accounts, note the following commonly expressed themes:


29. A post-op TS woman reports that autogynephilic feelings have driven her sexual life until recently:

I am 47 years old, postoperative by one month, and clearly identify with the feelings you describe. Imagining in some way that I had a female body has driven my sexual life for 40 some years. This was the key mental image to my own sexual release with my male equipment.

In my transition, on hormones, this feeling initially heightened as I actually saw some changes, and then faded as my testosterone was blocked. I began experimenting with sexuality with men (I never had before), and found it arousing; this has essentially replaced the female imagery as my arousal mechanism. I was aware that something like autogynephilia could be driving me, and I made sure that I could function in a female body before committing to surgery. I never have those kinds of thoughts now. I have arrived and I am very happy to be here.

30. A TS woman is comforted to learn that she is not the only one with autogynephilic feelings:

I have found your professional words of much comfort, support and reassurance. I am a 54 year old male who has been in a state of semi-constant denial for most of my life. I am married, have three adult children, and love ALL my family very much. I am now coming to terms with the fact that I am also transsexual. I have yet to come to terms with the need -- or at least decide how -- to tell my family of my secret.

When I read your essay on autogynephilia, I knew you were describing me. I have fantasized my change a thousand times. I have periodically crossdressed since my early teens, each time forcing myself to stop when it became "obsessive" because it "wasn't right." I have always had large breasts (an embarrassment when you are otherwise outwardly a male), and on several occasions over the last two decades have messed around a little with self-medication and enjoyed the experience of feeling them swell and become sensitive. I have had many extraordinarily realistic dreams in which I have given birth and suckled my baby, or in which I have suddenly had my male genitalia removed.

A few weeks ago I went to a clinic which specializes in gay, lesbian and third gender medical issues and have now started on estrogen tablets under caring supervision. I am still torn by an inner confusion; I don't know whether to persevere or whether to put it all on hold once again. I do know that I no longer fear that I am severely perverted or unstable and now understand that my feelings are real, not imagined, and that there are others who harbor similar feelings. I know I'm not alone.

31. A post-op TS woman reveals that self-feminization has been associated with her most intense sexual arousal:

I was used to wear my Mom's clothing and shoes from the age of five years. I liked this very much, especially because I had the feeling that I was a woman. I was jealous of many school girls, especially the beautiful ones. I wore my mother's clothes and shoes, and even had my own small wardrobe. I used to wear some make-up, lipstick, some jewelry -- all these contributed to a unique sexual exaltation! My only ideal was how to resemble a female, or how to get rid of that ugly ulcer between my legs. This idea could lead me to the most audacious thoughts and deeds. Sometimes, especially when I was in my teens years, I used to hide between my thighs that evil bulk -- which is now gone, after my SRS. I had a clear conception of myself as female, and detested, or rather hated, anything male. I considered myself a woman attracted to other women, even if now, after my HRT and SRS, I feel rather [more like] a heterosexual woman.

But the most exciting and pathos-emanating sexual conception of myself was my self-feminization, which was very prevalent, and drove me to doing anything necessary for it. My self-conception as a female, and the subsequent self-feminization, was enough to offer me a sexual delight so high and so intense that I never felt [anything like it] again until after my transition. The sole thing that interested me then was not to be with someone else, but [simply] to become FEMALE. I am now complete, I am a woman, a cute female and I enjoy my corrected life.

32. A TS lesbian feels like she only partly fits the autogynephilic pattern:

I want to commend you for your research into this topic. This is not an easy topic for many transwomen to talk about, given the taboos around sexuality in general in our society, and around transgendered sexuality in particular.

I'm pre-op MtF TS in her late 30s, on HRT for 10 months, planning to schedule a SRS date this year. My identification sexually is as a femme lesbian, with the usual experiences that one would expect from somebody who maps to that identity -- strong female identity, both internally and externally, and female-identified sexuality, both in relation to myself and to others since childhood. While my experiences map to what you're referring to as autogynephilic in some ways, I feel like I both fit and don't fit into this model at the same time.

I do feel a sense of my body being erotic as it changes, and yes, I have had fantasies of having a female body throughout my life, although I didn't cross-dress as a child. On the other hand, I am definitely not within the range of what you describe as "men trapped in men's bodies," and am much closer to what has been called a "primary TS", "woman trapped in a man's body", and so forth. I'm, well... neither and both, perhaps? Whatever erotic experiences I have had that may be labeled "autogynephilic" are definitely from this place of being female-identified, just as most of experiences throughout my life have been.

Have thoughts or experiences like these been sexually exciting for me in the past? With the exception of fantasizing about other women sexually (especially other lesbians), no. Did sexual desire play any part in my decision to transition? In the sense of acknowledging my lesbianism, yes. Was the desire to live out fantasies like these part of my reason for transitioning? No. Did I ever think that I couldn't "really" have been transsexual because I had such fantasies? Yes. Have I told others (friends, lovers, therapists) about your feelings? What was the outcome? Yes -- positive overall, with friends, my partners, and my therapist.

In my opinion, having erotic experiences as a TS lesbian that are within the "normal" range of lesbian erotic and cultural experience, either towards oneself or towards another is part of the process of discovering oneself during the so-called male to female transition process. The fact that that discovery is given short shrift among many gender professionals doesn't automatically make it equivalent with autogynephilia, although it is entirely conceivable to me that being both lesbian-identified and autogynephilic are possible. It may, however, be just another indication that some of us are "women with a birth defect," while others of us are different kinds of women, men trapped in male bodies, or whichever. As you noted, all of us suffer from gender dysphoria, and there's been a lot of cultural bias that has factored into decisions about who is TS and who's not, both historically and to this day.

Why even bring this up? Well, because of the taboos towards lesbian sexuality in general, and TS lesbian sexuality in specific. I am aware that this part of my narrative possibly doesn't map to the information that you're looking for. The Blanchard study does make specific reference to TS lesbians, however, and there is no apparent separation of people who are TS lesbian and aren't autogynephilic, other than to note that there was a percentage that the autogynephilic category doesn't fit. What about people who are TS lesbian, and whose erotic experiences more closely map to lesbian experience in general, both erotically and in terms of feminization? I'm concerned that a whole swath of experience may be being left out of the equation here, while another very important one is being discovered.

Hopefully someday all this won't be an issue, and we can just be the persons that we are. Until then, I do feel a need to speak up when I see the possibility of [some] transpeople's experiences being left out, just as I would with any other group of people.

33. A TS woman appreciates the validation she has received from discussions of autogynephilia but fears the topic's political repercussions:

Humans, as a species, are the most sexual animals on the planet; so it seems reasonable to assume that even we autogynephilic transsexuals would also be a part of this fact. Thank you for clarifying this. Your research has done a great deal to validate my being TS.

BUT, let me be the first to admit my continuing reservations about the topic, specifically, the definition of "autogynephilia." There are some in psychological and psychiatric circles who would use this definition to circumvent transition as a viable means of treatment. Case in point: Last May, a psychology professor with an extensive clinical background told my graduate psychopathology class, "The most feasible form of treatment for the transsexual [and he used the word autogynephilic] is through institutional care. In time, such individuals can be cured."

I realize that this philosophy is dinosauric at best. It does, however, raise the issue of how some communities handle behavior that they consider too deviant from the norm. I now live in less fear, though.

34. A TS woman who never fit the classic pattern is glad to hear someone say that it is OK to have sexual motives:

I have yet to read an explanation for my condition that more closely and accurately describes the motivation I feel than the narratives on autogynephilia. I have known since very early childhood that I was transsexual, though I had no term for it then. However, the standard or classic transsexual definitions did not seem to apply. This is the first time anybody has ever said it is OK to have sexual feelings and motives.

I have often fantasized about forced feminization and having a feminine body and have taken several steps in the past to realize such dreams, but within the commonly accepted standard of what the professionals have termed transsexuals -- which I don't fit into. I have been reluctant to proceed, [but] now with what I have learned, I will approach counseling with a new zeal. Thank you so much for bringing this much needed information to light. Please keep up the fine work.

35. A TS woman who experiences autogynephilia believes that it is only a symptom, not a cause, of her transsexuality:

I have just finished reading your "Men Trapped in Men's Bodies" essay for the third time. Much of what you say is very, very true for me. Ever since puberty, I have been highly autogynephilic. Furthermore, I have over time, but mostly when I was still living a male life, demonstrated each of Blanchard's four types of autogynephilia: transvestic, behavioral, physiologic and anatomic.

I'm 46 years old, married, and likely to stay so through transition. I'm a full-time stay at home parent and a part-time computer programmer/analyst. I was never effeminate as a child or as an adult. I'm not likely to ever pass well, but I'm still determined to transition. I am now just on the cusp of transition and well into HRT (6 months), under the care of the gender clinic in Canada. I'm pretty much asexual these days, but still feel twinges of arousal at thoughts of feminization. I suspect I always will.

But I don't think that autogynephilic sexuality is the reason I am transsexual. Rather, I think it is a symptom of my transsexualism. I had my first feelings of wanting to be female around the age of 3-1/2. All through childhood, I prayed that I could become a girl. I started crossdressing around the age of seven. However, since I was an extremely shy child, I was also an extremely compliant child. I was told I was a boy and would always be a boy no matter what. And so, I tried as best I could to get on with life as a male. Nowhere in those early years was autogynephilia present and yet my gender dysphoria was as intense, if not more intense, than it is now. It was only after puberty that autogynephilia began to display itself. I suspect many others will tell the same story.

I don't know what caused my transsexualism, and perhaps I never will. But I do know that I cannot subscribe to a theory that seems to ignore entirely the early childhood experiences of myself and many others. I think you're on to something really important, but I don't think you have gone far enough with it. Autogynephilia may well be common amongst us but that doesn't mean it is the cause of us, any more than a runny nose is the cause of a common cold.

36. A TS woman appreciates the explanatory value of autogynephilia theory and feels that it has allowed her to make clearer decisions:

You've published the concept I've been searching for for years, which finally explains my feelings. I've read all the traditional theories, yet I've always felt I was different, something was missing, and these therapists were missing the boat. The sexual drive is simply too powerful an instinct to ignore. In all my own writings, I've been circling this idea, but it never crystallized into such a clear, simple, and seemingly obvious thing. But that's how brilliant insights are, and this one is remarkable.

My gender journey will be much easier now, since I am the type of person who must understand before acting. With the transsexual drive so powerful in me, I've been consumed for the past several years with trying to decide what to do, feeling I didn't match the standard descriptions, yet knowing I had to do something, and it has affected every aspect of my life. With this cloud of confusion lifted, I can make clearer decisions.

I've been lately thinking, and preparing to write my next essay, about the common elements in many transsexual autobiographies, e.g. that most never really understand the incredible drive to change, they never quite feel mentally or physically like genetic women, they performed sexually with male genitals for some part of their lives, yet they are happy with their new bodies. It all adds up now.

For the record, I'm 43, pre-op MtF, hormones for two years, married for 20 years, three teen-aged children, and living a bi-gendered lifestyle (which is very difficult!). My transition dilemma has centered around how to keep my family and my career, yet acquire the rest of the body I so desperately want, the parts that the hormones can't help with.

Thanks again for courageously posting this article. The truth will set us free.

37. A TS woman reports that learning about autogynephilia has motivated her to seek treatment for her gender discomfort:

Thanks for writing your article on autogynephilia. It made me feel less lonely, and encouraged me to seek professional help. It has made me think that, perhaps my persistent and distressing fascination (some would say obsession) with transsexualism, and fantasies about self-feminization, may be amenable to treatment.

Prior to reading your article, I had assumed that the fetishistic aspects of my gender discomfort meant that it was somehow less genuine than that felt by individuals who identified as transsexual. The fact that I am not the only person who feels like a "man trapped in a man's body" (a phrase I thought I'd coined, by the way) makes me hope that there is some way to mitigate my increasing distress.

38. A lesbian-identified post-op TS woman reports lifelong femininity and denies having experienced autogynephilic eroticism:

I am a transsexual woman who has a sexual attraction towards women. I first knew of my lesbianism at age 10 or 11 when I was told the word and its meaning. Since my teen years, I have had significant romantic and sexual relationships, while living in male role, with perhaps half a dozen women who today identify as lesbian, or at some point in the past identified as lesbian. Since my pre-teens, I have behaved in a way that is quite consist with being a woman. While I may never have felt as if I "were" a woman (I still don't -- I feel like me and I'm a woman), my presentation, social attitudes, sexual behavior, etc. are all quite consistent with a life-long internal identity as a woman. In short, there is no "man" in here, nor was there ever a "man" in here. I was sharply criticized and frequently attacked for being a "feminist child" -- often promoting the needs, interests and desires of other women over those of men and boys who thought for sure that I was on their side. As an adult male, my behaviors in these regards continued to deviate far from the norm for other males, to the point that I was regarded by many to be a "man hater" as well as a gay male. I found sexual arousal of any sort to be extremely distasteful, male sexual aggression to be obnoxious and boorish, and the entire issue of "maleness" about as interesting as an ingrown toenail.

None of this experience agrees with the notion that I was some sort of "autogynephilic" male, with the single exception of a primary sexual attraction towards women. Blanchard seems to link "homosexual transsexuals" with the classic "women trapped in men's bodies" and "heterosexual transsexuals" with what you call "men trapped in men's bodies." While I have no doubt that there are some who desire to obtain a woman's body as a fetish object (in keeping with Raymond's theory that all of us are really just guys), I object to Blanchard's willingness to lump everyone who transitioned in their 30's, married women, and fathered children into the autogynephilic transsexual category.

39. An autogynephilic TS woman feels comforted and validated by discussion of this topic:

I was encouraged and comforted by your commentary on autogynephilia. After years of increasingly intense anguish, I began to take action. I found a source for hormones and began my quest to realize my goal, to become what I had only fantasized about for decades, being/becoming a woman. HRT seemed to satisfy my short term emotional and physical need to be that which I ALWAYS wanted -- to be a woman. After reading through the identifiers associated with autogynephilia, I realized that I related directly to EACH and EVERY ONE! Regarding sexual encounters with my spouse, my personal need (fantasy?) was to be the recipient of my wife's affection -- to play, if you will, the role of a woman.

The choice that so many transgendered individuals have to make between children, wife and family, and the NEED to be female, fell to my family. It has been two years since I began to forcibly regress. I stopped the HRT and regained some of the characteristics required to carry on the duties of father and husband. I feel as though I am now beginning my final journey as I have just started HRT again.

40. A TS woman describes her sexual feelings and reports that learning about autogynephilia has strengthened her determination to have SRS:

All transsexuals have different stories, and an exact match of circumstances is almost impossible. Some stories may have similar chapters, but in the end, the only [genuine] resemblance is in the covers. Your autogynephilia article helped find the missing chapters in my personal book.

I've experienced autogynephilia strongly while wearing women's clothes and have been ashamed. It has been so strong that it ruined my marriage, my job, and almost my life. The only way I could have an orgasm was the thought of forced feminization and the visualization that I was a woman. Not just in sex -- even the thought of just a cuddle and a kiss and sweet words would do. Conventional thought labeled me as a transvestite, but I refused to identify as TV.

I went to my doctor and asked whether she could give me anything to stop my strong sexual feelings. She warned me that my sex drive would go and my desire to dress might also go -- it was a novel way to find out whether I was TV or TS. Of course, as you described, my compulsion to dress did not alter -- just my sex drive, which I hated anyway. I went on to live full-time as a women, find a job, and do tertiary studies to further my career. I'm due for SRS at the end of 1999.

Making love to a woman as a man was always very confusing. It just didn't have that "knock out punch" unless I fantasized that I was a woman -- but that seemed wrong when I was making love to my wife. When a man finally seduced me while I was in the female gender, I went weak all over and could hardly move a muscle. I never got that from a woman. This was no fantasy -- I was the woman and he was definitely not what I was. My male sex drive is now depleted and been replaced by an euphoric feeling of caring and nurturing. Affection has replaced physical sex; once when a man gave me flowers at the doorway, I just about fell over. How do they have that power over us?

Rene Richards' book convinced me to live the rest of my life as a woman, and your article on autogynephilia cemented the fact that SRS would be the final chapter in my personal book.

41. An autogynephilic TS woman feels she has achieved greater clarity about her sexual feelings by understanding their relationship to her gender issues:

I am a 39 year old autogynephilic transsexual who has been on hormone therapy for 28 months, living very successfully full-time as a woman for 17 months and am planning on having SRS later this year. I have had strong feelings of gender dysphoria since around age 10. I was in a very loving and happy marriage to a woman for over 8 years until my decision to begin transition. After a period of "adjustment" on her part that took over a year, my ex-wife and I are now the best of friends. Other than a very brief, totally unfulfilling experimental period in my early 20's, I never considered myself to be homosexual. As a man, I was simply not attracted to men. But now, as a woman, I have found great happiness and fulfillment being in a relationship with a wonderful man.

I had not heard of the word autogynephilia before coming across your article. The intense burst of awareness that it gave me left me in a stupor that I am still reeling from even now. Everything rang utterly true for me. Never in all my research on this topic has any explanation nailed things down with such total obvious clarity for me. Like many of the other respondents, I too have always had these feelings of arousal at the mere thought of being female. And it always pissed me off! I hated it that putting on a dress, or wearing other feminine attire, or even just fantasizing about being a normal woman would elicit such an un-female response, both physically and mentally. I wanted so badly for the things I was doing to simply feel "normal." I didn't WANT to be aroused by them! Because of my attitude, I never felt right feeding these paradoxical reactions to crossdressing by masturbating during them. I was therefore never [overtly] fetishistic with any clothing or with anything else --a fact I took comfort and pride in.

And now, thanks to you, I think I realize the true reason why: NOT giving into these "non-female" feelings... NOT doing anything that would to bear witness to the fact that I wasn't what I deeply, more than anything wished I was... NOT allowing anything to awaken me from my pure, perfect dream of what I truly believed my reality SHOULD be... was an even greater turn-on.

It was only in fantasies that the perfect reality I strove for existed. Only there could I be the person -- the woman -- that I so longed to be. And it was only there that my true sexuality could express itself. Even in my marriage, the vast majority of the time with my wife in bed was spent in fantasy. What I was doing to her, in my mind, was really being done to me by someone else. It was ME that was the beautiful woman. The kisses I was giving her I could feel on MY cheek. The breasts I was caressing I could feel on MY chest. The penis I was inserting I could feel entering MY mouth and MY vagina. It was rather like an out of body experience, I suppose. The reality of the situation --that I was a man in bed with a woman -- was wholly insufficient to arouse me. Dear God, the lie I was living with her.

And now: Reality at this point is finally MUCH closer to being what I have always wanted, and seen in my mind. Now I AM the woman having her cheeks kissed by a loving man. Now I AM the woman having her breasts fondled by a man who only sees her as a beautiful woman. Now I AM the woman taking her lover's penis into her mouth.

I never wanted to admit to myself or to anyone what a turn on just thinking about all this was to me. That separation of sexuality and gender was always vast in my mind. You have shown a pure light on the connection between the two for me and brought me to a greater union with myself. My whole reasoning for going on this Journey was a search for the Truth. I say it to people all the time. The Truth can be a very startling and blinding thing when you come upon it at first, but the longer you look straight at it, the more you can't imagine looking in any other direction.

42. A TS woman offers a thoughtful analysis of her autogynephilic feelings and describes some of the ways she has tried to cope with them:

I have followed the controversy that has resulted from your essay, and have read your most recent additions on the subject. As I study responses of other TSs, I find many similarities with my own experiences. Many of the things discussed are only whispered about or alluded to in the transgendered community. Until I started reading the comments of others, I thought I was alone or crazy. I was having an incredible problem reconciling my desire to physically change my sex with most of the literature I had read on transsexualism.

I have a few comments I would like share with you:

1. I was intrigued by one post-op's comment about how she spent many years as a male trying to live a fantasy life through heterosexual relationships with women. This describes my entire life. I have been in many short term turbulent relationships with women. At the beginning of a relationship, my dysphoria was almost non-existent, but after a period three months to a year, I started having erotic fantasies about being a women. Eventually, I needed to fantasize about being a women to perform sexually. This led to depression and anxiety, which in turn usually caused the breakup of the relationship. I always believed that if I found the right women, the problem would go away. As I look back, I think my whole life has been a search for a women that is the ideal of what I want to be.

2. You talked about how autogynephiles often compartmentalize their lives, and that this may work, at least for a while. This fits my own experience. While it may create some guilt and depression for a male to fantasize about becoming a women, as long as this stays a fantasy, one can live a fairly normal life. I know -- I have used all sorts of mechanisms to deny what I have felt since early adolescence. There have been times when having these fantasies has caused me to question my manhood; I have responded to such doubts by engaging in hyper-macho behaviors (womanizing, obsessing on career, macho sports).

The trouble has been what I call the "bleed through" effect. When my dysphoric feelings have been particularly strong, they don't stay in the bedroom. I recall being in business meetings, and having dysphoric feelings come over me -- that I was in the wrong body, and was being perceived in a totally wrong way. These episodes have been disruptive to me, but until recently, they have been fairly transitory. This has changed in the last couple years. These episodes now occur with great regularity, and they have seriously impaired my ability to function. I cannot understand why I can no longer put these feelings back in a box.

3. You discussed the issue of whether autogynephilia is a cause or an effect of dysphoria. I found your response to be very interesting and relevant to my experiences. As I look back on my life, my autogynephilic fantasies long pre-dated any notion of actually identifying as being a women. On the surface, this seems to indicate to me that autogynephilia is a cause rather than a effect. But you suggest that in your own life, you think it was the other way around.

If I understand what you are saying, some cases of autogynephilia might be manifestations of an underlying dysphoria that is different from what is experienced by classical transsexuals. Not long ago I read a paper by a graduate psychology student that proposed that gender dysphoria has three dimensions to it (core identity, social identity, sexual identity). The paper suggested that being highly dysphoric in any one of these dimensions would cause an individual to pursue SRS. Could it be that autogynephilic transsexuals are highly dysphoric in sexual identity but not necessarily in the other two dimensions, and that autogynephilic fantasy is a mechanism to reconcile the dysphoria?

There have been times in my life when I have enjoyed sex without fantasizing about being a woman -- usually at the beginning of relationships. I call this being in my "male mode." But even at its best, sex this way has always had a certain inexplicable weirdness about it. It seems be more like pure lust without any emotional satisfaction. Some of my strongest dysphoric periods have come on the heels of periods of rather intense sex in the male mode.

I was amazed how many respondents experienced their first episodes of dysphoria at the onset of puberty. This was true with me as well. At the very moment that most young males are first becoming aroused by the opposite sex, there are apparently a few of us who are becoming aroused at [the idea of] being the opposite sex. I remember this with a great deal of clarity -- I became aroused by those blossoming young girls in their short skirts, wishing I was them.

4. I see myself as a switcher in terms of sexually preference. In other words, I have been exclusively attracted to women in my male life, but I cannot see myself as anything but a heterosexual women. I have done a lot soul searching on this issue. I do not dismiss the possibility that I could be bisexual, but if I am so, these feelings are heavily buried under a deep layer of homophobia. I am clearly much more physically attracted to women than to men. Yet, my primary fantasies are about being a woman with a man. As I think about this, I would concede that this may have much more to do with feminine validation than attraction. The very idea of being desired by a heterosexual man is erotic for me. And in regard to the sex act, I identify femininity with a passive sexuality that is defined relative to a stronger, testosterone-driven male.

43. A post-op TS woman acknowledges autogynephilic feelings but says that her real reason for having SRS was to become genderless:

I think every transsexual has at sometime in their life experienced many of the feelings you have described in your article. Anyone choosing to gaze at a Playboy centerfold has at sometime contemplated what it would be like to have such a beautiful body. We are sometimes deluded into thinking we can change into something that we can never achieve.

I wish to propose yet another twist to a very complex understanding of transgenderism. I'm a 43 year old post-op, and my reasons for the change are not listed in your article. I very simply do not want to be [either] male or female. Maybe genderless might actually be the term needed. I am attracted (not sexually) only to those who seem to have a handle on life, and are spiritually good souls. I tend to associate more with females due to their [greater] overall acceptance of non-conformity.

By having the SRS, I set myself free from the sexual tensions of being male. I also had my breast tissue (gynecomastia) removed, to enable me to function in both genders. I have lived as both male and female for many years now, and refuse to categorize myself. I went to Dr. Brassard in Montreal for my SRS, and I have experienced several orgasms without the need to fantasize about anything except for the love being shared between two individuals. I am very happy and pleased with my results. I'm convinced that there are many reasons why people travel the different paths they do. Who are we to restrict them? Safe journeys to all.

44. A TS woman describes her anatomic autogynephilia and how its intensity has been affected by her sexual relationships with women:

I began seeking therapy for my gender dysphoria about 18 months ago. My therapist was caring, understanding, and allowed me to confront and understand a great deal of my dysphoric feelings. I was never satisfied, however, with my inability to establish a clinical connection between my gender and sexual feelings.

I have vivid memories starting from about age six or seven of wanting to be a girl, and of sexual desires which accompanied it. I also remember feeling ashamed of those feelings, though I do not remember any particular incident that instilled such feelings. Fantasies of intentionally becoming a girl began around age 10. They started as a dream in which I became a girl. It became my favorite fantasy, each night I would hope it would return. At puberty my testicles switched on and began transforming me. I remember being elated when small lumps formed under my nipples, and just as disappointed when they vanished a few weeks later. My growing masculinity was a source of disappointment and dread through the next few years. During that time I discovered a cache of my older sister's clothes which I would wear every chance I got (she had gone off to college).

All this changed when I entered my first sexual relationship. I had always been attracted to women (I was once sent to the principal's office for French kissing a fellow first-grader), and lesbian sex was highly erotic. We were MUCH too young for such things (I was 17, she was 16), but our sexual relationship definitely overwhelmed my dysphoria for several months.

Over the next couple of years, she and I remained sexually active, but I began to fantasize that we were lesbian lovers. It became so intense that I actually convinced her to assist in the fantasies occasionally. I don't think she ever really understood what it meant to me - it was just one in a long line of experiments to her. I didn't have any serious relationships for five or six years after that, but I did become close friends with a number of lesbian women. I really wanted to have a relationship --sexual and otherwise -- with a woman, as a woman. I hung out and played pool and went to clubs with them as "one of the girls," though I was never date material. During that time I kept my dysphoria down to a manageable level through fear and alcohol -- I was in the military in Europe, so both were available aplenty.

I got married about five years ago, and again the feelings of dysphoria faded for a time, just as they had before. When they came back, they hit with a vengeance, as if I was making up for all those years of suppression. A marriage counselor helped me sort things out. That was when I learned the term "gender dysphoria," and first sought counseling, about 18 months ago.

I am now no happier than I was before therapy started. My therapist's advice to me was to try some cross-dressing, to see if it helped while I sorted out my feelings. It has had little effect, perhaps since my desires have always centered around possession of female characteristics. Crossdressing always seems like a cheap imitation of the way things are supposed to be.

45. A TS woman is desperate to achieve peace and wholeness by making her anatomic autogynephilic fantasies a reality:

I found your article extremely revealing for me. I have always felt aroused by the fantasy of having a female body, with or without a partner. I also find that clothes are of little help in the arousal if I can not disassociate myself from my penis. Experimenting during periods of desperation, I found ways to numb and damage my penis over the years. I also found that experimenting with breast pumps helped me to develop breasts, and that has been a lifesaver for me.

I have always been confused as to my own identity because I have been so successful in the male role and as a family member, in spite of my "secret" side. I was blessed with a partner who was able to accept my confession after ten years of marriage. Looking back, she has said that it is obvious to her now that I was always the same, even before marriage.

I am now in my late 40s and at the end of a line. It seems time has run out, and I have to find peace. I finally caved in to the expected rules for SRS and found a source for hormones. My sexual desires seem to be dampened, but my desire for SRS has increased with time. To my surprise, my doctor has suggested SRS [for me] in the near future. He is researching centers for the best options to protect me and help me. I hope my doctor helps me soon. I know SRS will make me whole and complete, and even the thought of it relieves my deep depression and hopelessness. Even though I confess that SRS to me is as much a sexual high as it is a completion in reality of my own identity physically, I feel I must become the woman that I know I am inside. I want to enjoy being that woman in fantasy and in body.

You may not understand my willingness to surrender my profession and all I have attained, but I find that as time goes on, the girl that looks back at me in the mirror is becoming an older woman, and that frustrates me beyond acceptance. I want only to be real and to have a loving relationship with someone who knows me as I really am. Thank you for helping me to see I am NOT alone, and that others feel the same as I do.

46. A TS woman who is attracted to both men and women has experienced compelling images of sex transformation during self-pleasuring:

I'm preparing for surgery later this spring. I lived as a heterosexual male until age 30, at which time I 'fessed up to myself about being attracted to men. I then spent 10 years in the gay community, but missed women greatly; and although I often enjoyed having sex with men, there was still something missing in my life.

One thing that continued to trouble me was that I was totally nonplussed by gay porn. In fact, although I am sexually and emotionally attracted to men, I could never become excited except with female partners. I would (and continue to) rent only "straight" porn videos. Even though I thought of myself as a gay male, I always identified with the female partner. When I asked a straight male friend about this, I was surprised to find out that he always saw himself in the male role, something I had never done. I figured that I needed time to adjust to being gay and that sooner or later, my desire to watch male-female scenes would wane (internalized homophobia I was told). Then, something quite extraordinary happened to me.

But first, a note of explanation. While masturbating, I often like to smoke marijuana and inhale amyl nitrate ("poppers"). I find that the pot and the poppers allowed me to relax and more fully enjoy the experience. One day when I climaxed, the woman on the screen suddenly changed forms and became something I'd never seen in real life: a boy who was a girl physically. At first I thought, OK, now I'm starting to deal with my own homophobia and soon I won't be interested in these images anymore. This never happened. Gradually I became less scared about the seemly hallucinatory images I was seeing. (I still haven't told anyone else about this for fear that they will have me committed as mentally unbalanced).

When I began my transition a year ago, I can say that it was not for overtly sexual reasons. I just found that I was a lot more comfortable with myself as a female and since then I've been guided by the belief that I need to do what I need to do in order to feel whole. If others don't understand, that's their problem.

47. An autogynephilic TS woman admits that sex has had a great deal to do with her desire for SRS but denies that she is a "man trapped in a man's body":

Thank you for your research. I find it terrifying and frustrating that we have to deal first with people in society who are completely blind to sexual issues, and then with people in parallel situations who reject us because we are not clones of the [accepted] TS model.

I am successfully married, and find I feel more asexual than anything; but I still must admit my greatest arousal comes from fantasizing or imitating having female genitalia. Even though my wife is a natural female, I can block her out and make believe she is penetrating me; or when I am lucky, she will play along and kiss me with her tongue and tell me what a pretty girl I am. I finally got through years of therapy and my doctor recommended SRS. I am elated and my wife is supportive. I tried to deny my life for her sake, time and time again, but I only got angry and then resorted to my "secret world" alone. No one wins then.

I always felt like a girl trapped in a man's body. I remember being young, teenaged, a young adult, in my thirties and now my forties, and I know what I endured to survive this long. I will never think of myself as a man trapped inside a man's body. I know the woman inside. Perhaps she is a sexual experience, but I know her heart and soul. I look into my eyes and we are just one.

I will make this comment on clothes and arousal. Even dressed to the hilt, if I cannot see or feel myself as a woman, with a woman's anatomy, I feel more sad than aroused. Yes, sex has a great deal to do with TS surgery desires and goals. But being real and free are things I look forward to 24 hours a day, now and after surgery.

It is sad that first we are trapped in physical body that torments us, and then, if we see no way out, we work to accomplish success in [an] artificial world. Then we become trapped by our own success. My early years were extremely lonely. I stayed busy in school, college, professional school and then beginning a practice. Now I am tired, I cannot stay busy enough and the mirror makes it harder every day to see the girl inside.

I have worked hard, loved hard and lived in a prison all my life. Is it insane to throw away true love, family, and profession for a sexual experience? Is reality better than fantasy? Some of us can only find contentment by changing our sexual equipment -- but at least we can be content within ourselves after SRS.

48. A TS woman reports that autogynephilic fantasies have largely shaped her internal feminine identity:

My first understanding that I desired to be a woman, and its accompanying excitement, came when I was around five years old. This occurred watching a Doris Day movie, and at first it involved the wonderful clothes she wore. The idea of the clothing fascinated me, and caused an excitement I did not know what to do with at that age.

My first crossdressing incident was an attempt to directly emulate Ms. Day. By the age of eight, I crossdressed regularly -- meaning every chance I could find. I would find reasons to stay at home when my mom went visiting friends (I would undoubtedly be reading a book and not want to stop). By about age twelve, the early excitement began to be associated with the beginnings of sexual arousal. By the age of fifteen, the sexual arousal itself was not a sufficient a reason to dress in clothing designed for girls. Instead, I dearly wanted to BE a girl. The thoughts and fantasies I had, and continue to have, centered on the desire to fully experience life as a female. The sexual life I had was confused at best.

I met and married a wonderful woman, to whom I am still married after almost 25 years. In about the second year of marriage, I began to crossdress again. Soon after, the desire to become a woman again resurfaced -- this time usually associated with acts of sex or with fantasies about sex with my wife. In the years that followed, I again desired to "be" Doris Day. Not in actuality, but using her as the representation of what I wanted most -- to be a very feminine woman. This desire became much, if not most, of my fantasy life, whether sexual in nature, or in night or day dreams. While my sexual performance was not completely tied to these dreams, they were usually present during sex play with my wife, or while alone. I would say that these powerful sexually oriented night/day dreams largely shaped who I thought I was internally.

Throughout these years, I have attempted to understand who I am, and to balance that with the commitments that my marriage has brought into my life. I have concluded that I am at the least transgendered; and that I will not be able to pursue SRS without the destruction of my marriage. Being unable to fulfill, for all practical purposes, my life-long desire to become a woman externally, I settled on appearing as a woman only in the limited sense of clothing, and in believing my internal dialog about who I believed myself to be.

However, about a year and a half ago, I developed severe pain in my testicles, a pituitary adenoma, and an elated PSA (I have three uncles who have died of prostate cancer). My testosterone level dropped to that of a genetic woman, and slowly the signs of its loss have made themselves known. Part of the treatment prescribed by my urologist is removal of the testicles, and a low dose of estrogen. While all this is certainly unfortunate, painful, and potentially life threatening, I am inwardly welcoming these health problems and their treatment. Since these problems have been diagnosed so early, there is little chance of their having long term affects. The flood of emotions concerning the limited fulfillment of my great desire is nearly indescribable. Although I will probably not obtain full SRS unless something occurs to end my marriage, to me this is an unbelievable leap forward -- one that my adult fantasies could not have predicted.

49. A TS woman believes she fits the autogynephilic pattern and now understands that she really is a transsexual, rather than a transvestite:

Oh wow -- there I am, in your article. Now I understand why I am what I am. I have never felt like a woman trapped in a male body -- I have always just felt like me. Like many others, I have always thought that perhaps I was not a TS, but just a TV. Now I know I am right to feel that I am a TS. I love women -- I just want to be one. I am bisexual, but have very little interest in men, other than to be penetrated by them.

Your article explains so much. I am 53, and I have been feeling this way for over 30 years. I have been trying to get on female hormones for quite some time with no success. I am taking your article to a new doctor I have an appointment with, in the hope that after reading it, she will agree to give me the hormones I so desire, in order to have the female shape I want.

I so want to look like a female, with real breasts, nice hips, etc. I know I will never have the body of a model, but when I see pictures of models on covers of magazines, I do not desire the model, but rather desire to look like her.

50. A TS woman explains that her autogynephilic fantasies also involve urination and a desire to appear physically and sexually immature:

One of the earlier narratives that mentioned a fantasy of urinating like a female was pretty close to mine. I'm glad that person wrote in. It is very good to find material like this, to know that this type of activity, which is arousing for me, doesn't invalidate my possible transsexuality.

When I was younger, maybe eight years old, I always wanted to wear diapers and pee in them. Around this same age, I would often pull my penis and testes down, and cross my legs to hide them and see how I'd look with female genitalia. Somewhere around 14, I found a box of maxi pads in the garage and put one on and peed in it. There was also an incident where I got some diapers and I tried one on and peed in it. I had wanted to do this for so long. I remember that I wanted the feeling of it getting wet "down there," near my butt, like I imagined it was for a girl. For years after this, I would sneak maxi pads from the closet, honing this fantasy of having a girl's parts and peeing. Being a very creative person, I thought up devices to give me female genitalia. I tried tubes, Ziploc bags, underwear with a hole in the bottom to stick my penis through, wrapping my scrotum around the tip of my penis, etc.. In exploring with these, I fantasized about being a girl who didn't have full control over her bladder.

In the hundreds of erotic episodes that I have had, I have only ejaculated a couple of times, and when I did, it was very uncomfortable. I have never masturbated in the usual hand-on-penis way that I hear of, and even the thought of it is very repulsive. I have learned how to keep from ejaculating now when I have an episode. I have had many nocturnal emissions over the years, and when I have these in my sleep, I am invariable peeing, either in the toilet normally, or in a maxi pad or diaper.

I have always tried to keep my genitals from being obvious under my clothing, like I was ashamed of them. In considering not having them, I would not feel any great loss. I would consider it a mutilation of my body if I simply got rid of them, yet still kept a male body. But in a female body, this would be natural, and I would not consider it a mutilation at all.

I have never had any thoughts of wanting to have sex with a female. I am attracted to females, but not so much by physical lust, but by personality displayed in interaction and through facial features. My fantasies involving relationships have focused on the emotional and companionship aspects, not the physical ones. My attraction has always been to happy, simple, "innocent" girls. Recently I have longed to be able to relate to females as other females do. I want to be accepted as one, and to take part in their activities. I have always been very respectful of them, and I have never taken advantage of any acceptance I have gotten.

One question I have asked myself, which I found very telling, was: if I had a female body, how would I feel about it? When I did that, it was amazing the feeling I got. I actually felt like my body was mine, fit me, and I could show it off without shame. I could actually see myself asking others, both male and female, "How do I look?" I have never had thoughts like that before! This was a new experience for me. I do not like my male body at all. I do not want to show it off. I hated every aspect of puberty, and never looked forward to pubic/facial hair as a child, nor any of the other physical changes.

I haven't crossdressed much at all yet. When I think about it, I look so silly. It just doesn't feel right. But when I think about dressing in female clothes with a female body, it feels fine. I don't feel silly. Putting on female clothing (so far, just a figure skating dress, basically a leotard with a skirt) does arouse me a bit, but not to the point of anything serious. I have not at all considered masturbating in the clothing, as I haven't considered it anywhere else. It repulses me the same way. But when I put on the dress for the first time, after I let myself relax for a few minutes, I started to cry and felt very safe and at peace. I'm not sure what to make of this.

I have never found breasts to be arousing. I like the shape they add to figure, if they aren't too big, but don't like sexy display of them. It's like I'm more obsessed with the child female form. I have been aroused by imagery of females in swimsuits, since they show the crotch area, in all its smoothness, no big things hanging off. I have had this arousal for many years. Recently, I have had the idea that I wanted to actually be this. It was like the arousal was an obsession. This is where my idea for crossdressing came from. But, as my experiments have shown, it is not an issue of simple arousal, but more of inner peace.

51. An autogynephilic TS woman describes the unique genital configuration she believes would satisfy her "vulva envy":

If I had already had my SRS, I would identify as a lesbian grown-up tomboy. It took too long for me to arrive at such a sexual/gender definition for myself. I can't deny my so-called autogynephilia, but I am one the academic psychological categories and definitions don't fit very well. There was a time when I had breast envy, and so I also felt like having breasts; but today I can't feel that envy any longer, and my feminized body would not include breasts anymore. But I have always felt vulva envy.

When I got to be twenty years old, I began to think over my future SRS seriously. But I heard of the frequent difficulty in reaching orgasm among MtF transsexuals, and since then I've been designing a surgical procedure to satisfy my own needs. If having a sex change was going to make it difficult or even impossible for me to experience orgasms, then my vulvoplasty would have to be modified in order to preserve my penis somehow.

For several years I believed there was no solution to this problem, because there seemed to be a total incompatibility between the normal human vulva and an oversized clitoris. And indeed there would be, if I kept on insisting on the "normality" of vulva I desired to have between my thighs. One day I convinced myself that if I became a woman, I would not have any need for a vulva that looked like the vulvas of "true" women. That is, I would not have to risk my orgasmic capacity because of the anatomical stereotypes of "normality," or because of the lack of know-how and will-to-research of Medicine as an institution. I finally realized that the vulva I want to own will have a prominent, canalized and intromittent clitoris. And, no less important, its vagina will be as erectile as the "true" ones because it will be linked to lateral inflatable prostheses, which would make totally unnecessary the regular dilations that are required to prevent the normal neovaginas's contracture. Labia minora, labia majora, mons veneris, and inguinal skin folds will also be present, of course.

I can't really know when MY sex change will take place, for it will not be a normal SRS procedure; however I will not be satisfied with less than that. To me, to be a woman is to have a vulva between the thighs --- nothing more, nothing less. The BEAUTY of being a woman comes from the vulva, and is in the vulva, and only there. To wear the most beautiful clothes, to have a pretty face, to have breasts, round hips -- these mean nothing to me in the absence of the vulva; and when I have my vulva, I will feel beautiful enough.

52. An autogynephilic TS woman feels that her genuine sexual attraction to other transsexuals contradicts any simple theory of autogynephilia:

I have been on hormones four years now, and have had major craniofacial surgery to feminize my face. I have been married with one daughter, but am now divorced. As a psychologist, I thought my compulsion to visualize myself as a female in order to achieve reliable arousal was as a result of a short-circuited eroticism (the normal circuit requiring two oppositely-gendered people).

Eroticism is a powerful conditioning agent. Real girls come and go, but my one true and permanent girlfriend was myself in female role. I thought that by continually rewarding myself with arousal to autogynephilic fantasy, I had created a "groove" in my mental processes. I also knew, with absolute certainty, that this was a "rotted out" part of my soul. I tried unsuccessfully for decades to repair this "rotted" region of my mind by avoiding fantasy-based autoeroticism, and by becoming hyper-heterosexual.

I now believe that my autogynephilia is a permanent feature of my soul, for better or worse. I find myself hardly aroused by popular heterosexual material on the Playboy channel. I have decided to start dating again, and I find myself dating heterosexual crossdressers. Early in my TS days I had crushes on more advanced TSs. I see this feature of my TS evolution as contradicting any simplistic [theory of] autogynephilia.

As a woman, I find myself much more relaxed and more appreciative of the feminine in my lovers. Strict autogynephilia would imply an autoerotic component in my arousal with a lover. I no longer find this to be true.

I think that TSs can reveal an underlying sexual motivation behind many respectable drives and motivations. I have supported my employees' transitions and surgeries without ever once touching them or fantasizing about them. I find it satisfying in an selfless way, yet somehow linked to deep erotic undertones. Indeed, many of our higher motivations have sexual energy without overt erotic properties.

What is the relationship between autogynephilia and the gynephilia that occurs in the attraction between two TSs? What about the apparently more natural gynephilia between women? Not lesbianism per se, but two female partners drawn together by the sexual attractiveness of each other's typically feminine attributes.

There is more to autogynephilia, and we should not constrain our understanding of it. I am interested in the exceptions, and in the apparent contradictions in TS evolution, which imply that there is more to us than "simple" autogynephilia.

53. A TS woman describes some of her sexual fantasies, which involve behavioral and physiologic autogynephilia:

Your writings have been a great help to me. I am a 52 year old genetic male, and I consider myself a transsexual. I have informed my gender counselor that I consider that his work with me to be my first step toward SRS.

Of my thousands of sexual experiences, both with women and masturbatory, probably 98 - 99% centered around autogynephilic themes, from my very first masturbatory experience, to my most recent. These themes include all those that you've listed.

My first experiences reading Playboy found me almost instantly aroused by the idea of being the model. When I was about 18, some friends took me to an old fashioned strip show, and I got aroused, all right -- as soon as I got home, I put Noxzema cream on my nipples to simulate pasties! Even the idea of owning a girl's bike has aroused me.

One favorite fantasy involved visiting a girlfriend, and my luggage gets lost by the airline -- so I have to wear her clothes -- but not before she discovers that I sit while urinating ("It's just easier and more sanitary"), wear women's cotton underpants ("They're more comfortable -- cheaper too"), and use FDS vaginal deodorant spray ("You know, men smell down there too"). I move in and begin to share her interests -- knitting and sewing. Eventually I begin to stay in and do the housework and cooking, while she does the "handy-man" stuff.

Another fantasy involved having female roommates, and doing the cooking, and becoming the "housemom." I succeed at "feminizing" the house with flowers, and posters that are my roomies' favorites. I play only women's music on the stereo, etc. When my birthday comes, they honor me by declaring that I am an honorary woman, to my great pleasure -- amid appropriately feminine gifts, especially a beautiful leather purse ("Something I really needed!").

In yet another fantasy, I am married to feminist career woman. When she gets pregnant we agree that we should split childcare completely fairly. We also want the baby to be breast-fed. We decide that I should start taking the appropriate hormones so I will be able to lactate. Because of the pressure of her work, I eventually take over all the nursing. We find out that a procedure has been perfected whereby men can be made able to receive the couple's fertilized egg, becoming pregnant. This is perfect for her career, and I willingly bear our second child.

There are many, many more of these fantasies. The curious thing about all of them is that, while they cause sexual stimulation, they all still work for me as non-sexual fantasies.

54. An autogynephilic TS woman wants to have breasts and a vagina and is consequently willing to accept everything else that goes with them:

I am a 46 year old, a self-employed software developer with a Ph.D. in mathematics, divorced with three teenage children. I started on hormones three days ago. And, like just about every other TS, I started a diary. This was part of my first entry:

"How sure am I that this is what I want? God knows. I've chickened out before but I really want to be a woman with breasts and a vagina. I guess I'll have to accept everything else that goes with it. Is this the same as feeling like I am a 'woman trapped in a man's body' -- possibly not."

I came across your pages on autogynephilia, which I found I was easily able to identify with. I have been to meetings of the local TS support group and found it very hard to identify with them. I suspect many of them fall into this same category, but are denying it and following the "accepted" TS path with their therapists.

I started crossdressing as a child, probably about age five or six, and continued to do this most of my life. At times it was difficult as I had no sisters and had to use my mothers clothes until I got my own place a few years into my university course. My ex-wife knew about my crossdressing before we were married, and even helped by buying a wig and making me some clothes in the early days. After we were married she didn't want me to do it, or at least didn't want to know about it if I did. For most of the 19 years of the marriage my activities were limited to dressing at home, which almost always finished with masturbation.

About seven years ago we separated, and I shaved my whole body, bought a wig and joined a TV support group. I then went overboard with crossdressing, trying to make up for lost time, I guess. I got better at presenting myself and more confident at going out in public. Now I go out fully dressed and made up three or four times a month. I have had laser treatment and have nearly cleared my beard, and have pierced my ears. While I am out and dressed, I feel quite comfortable and natural.

Usually the act of getting dressed, putting on make up and getting ready to go out is not erotic, but I certainly enjoy making the transformation to an attractive woman. I am attracted by my female image, but this does not lead to an erection. However, when I get home I am almost always sexually aroused by my image, and usually masturbate as a form of closure for the evening. For quite some time now this act involves the use of a vibrator or dildo and I imagine that I have a vagina and a clitoris. I have found that by stimulating myself anally and sometimes my nipples I can have an orgasm without stimulating my penis or having an erection. In fact I have on a number of occasions had multiple orgasms this way. However, again as a means of closure, I usually have an ejaculation. This is usually achieved with the dildo inserted, rubbing the tip of my not erect, pushed up penis and imagining it to be a clitoris.

I have been in a steady relationship with a lady some eight years older than me for nearly five years. We usually only see each other one night a week. We regularly have sex and I really enjoy getting her excited and giving her orgasms. She gets to a point where she wants me inside her, and I do this, but I usually have to imagine I am the woman to have an orgasm myself. For some reason she likes to have her legs closed, so I am usually the one with my legs spread, which reinforces my fantasy of being the one who is penetrated. I have not told her what I fantasize about during sex, and have not told her that I have started hormones.

I have also had sexual encounters with eight men. These have been generally less than ideal, since for one reason or another they have all had trouble maintaining erections. None the less, I found I enjoyed the physical aspects of this type of sex and felt I was confirming my womanhood by being a passive partner. All these encounters occurred while I was dressed and were all one night stands. I have never been interested in sex with a man when I was presenting as a man myself.

55. An autogynephilic TS woman who feels unable to transition is considering having SRS while continuing to live as a man:

I am 43 years old, and I consider myself a transsexual. What you are talking about here is me in many ways. I want to have a woman's body.

I am married to a lovely lady who has been my wife for 23 years. I love her, and she tries to understand. But the only way I can have sex is to dream I am a woman with breasts and a vagina. This last year has been the most painful of my life, because this wanting a female body has been so strong now.

I grew up wanting to be a girl. At age six or earlier, I can remember praying to God to let me be a girl. When I got married, I thought if I could just have sex, this feeling of wanting to be a girl would go away. But it didn't. For some periods of my life I have lived with less pressure about my transsexualism, but now it is getting very strong. I feel helpless. I have taken some hormones that I got from overseas. I have also found a surgeon who will perform the surgery for me, and I would live as a man afterwards. I am considering this. I want to transition to live as a women, but my family situation won't allow it.

When I self-pleasure, I can only orgasm if I dream of being a woman and making love as a woman. I am not really attracted to men, but if I were a woman I might try having sex with a man. I feel so guilty about all of my transsexual feelings. The pain I feel inside is unbearable sometimes. I feel like I am at a dead end. If I transitioned fully, my wife who I love would leave me. I have prayed that God would change our bodies -- my wife says she wouldn't care. When we have sex, I watch her and want to be her.

56. A post-op TS woman is not ashamed that she is sexually aroused by being female and regards this as an acceptable motive for transitioning:

I am a 41 post-operative TS. I received my surgery about two years ago from Dr. Meltzer, and I am very satisfied with the results.

I found your article about autogynephilia fascinating. When I was in the throws of making my decision, some of the issues you discuss in your article concerned me a great deal. I was lucky that I had a very understanding therapist, and I was able to openly discuss those feelings.

I began having feelings of wanting to be female at a young age, and started crossdressing in my sister's clothes at age five. Later, when I started to go through puberty, I believe that these feelings became sexualized. I began to masturbate while dressed, and I think that linked my desire to be female with sexual gratification. I think that the early sexualization of transgendered feelings causes a lot of the confusion about transitioning later on. I know that it caused me to question my own motives. I also think that this is a taboo subject for many transsexuals, because they think that it in some way diminishes their motives.

I don't think it is as simple as saying that wanting a sex change is purely driven by sexual fantasies -- at least it's not that simple for me. I think that it is a factor that is woven into a complex set of emotions and feelings that drive one to undergo such a dramatic change in one's life.

I admit that I have many sexual fantasies about being female, and about having a female body, a life-long dream for me. I have found that I get the most sexually excited now when I fantasize about being sexy and beautiful and when someone else sees me that way. In fact, adoration from someone else plays into it. I have asked a couple of GG's who I could trust about this, and they describe something similar, although not exactly the same thing. In fact, they said they were more turned on by how their boyfriend looked at them and how excited he got than they were over the actual sight of him. So sometimes I wonder how abnormal autogynephilia is, even in GG's. Being turned on by one's own body is actually a pretty normal thing for a lot of people, I would guess.

I am not ashamed that I am sexually turned on by being female now, nor do I think that it was a wrong motivation for transitioning. I know that before transition, when I would have a relationship with a woman, I found myself fantasizing about being her. That's definitely not what most men do. Now, when I am intimate with a man, I find myself getting turned on by how gorgeous I think I am at the moment (and any guy who is smart will make you feel that way as much as possible, if he wants to get some). Is this weird? I don't think so. When I self-stimulate, most of the time my fantasies are about things like being seen naked, being dressed sexily, being in a sexy situation, being very feminine, and being "taken."

Does this mean I experience feelings of autogynephilia? If so, so what? So do a lot of non-TS's, I'll bet.

57. A TS woman has experienced sexual arousal to a variety of autogynephilic fantasies but states that this was not the reason she transitioned:

RLT is over, and I am about to have my first appointment with my surgeon. I have experienced sexual arousal to all [the things] that are on your list, and I conform with all else I've read. I always was attracted to woman. These desires were NOT the reason for transitioning. The understanding of my really being TS was.

I haven't been open about my sexual arousal, due to fear of being misunderstood. It did impact my sex life during masturbation, and even while having coitus, but not during foreplay. During coitus, I had to find a way to flip the coin, to be a woman having sex with someone. In a way, sexual partners have been surrogate bodies for me.

The effects of my role reversal during sex were pleasant most of the time, due to the creativity needed to find ways for me to be able to have sex. Crossdressing quite naturally seemed to fit in at times during sex, too. The role reversal thing never really attracted much attention within my relationships, though.

58. An autogynephilic TS woman has needed to use forced feminization fantasies to achieve orgasm but has not told her gatekeepers about this:

Prior to puberty, I had no concept of crossdressing for sexual arousal. Upon reaching puberty this changed, and as I got older, more often than not I had to indulge in forced feminization fantasies to enable me to orgasm. This process lasted from the age of thirteen to the age of 32, when I decided to transition.

All the conditions you mentioned (wearing women's clothing; having or acquiring a woman's body, feminizing one's body by applying cosmetics, etc., imagining being pregnant, breast-feeding or menstruating, engaging in typically feminine activities, being among women where men are not present) have been part of my previous [fantasy] experience.

I am now 34, and in my second year of transition. I have had an orchidectomy, and most of those fantasies have to a certain extent subsided. Because of a lower sex drive, I can really see through the fog of my hunger for such fantasies. I am now a very happy and well-adjusted female, and have my own business and a loving boyfriend. I am looking forward to SRS so as I can complete what once was a fantasy and make it a reality

I personally feel that looking sexually desirable as a female and being penetrated are very normal [sexual fantasies] for most females, TS or biological. Forced feminization fantasies are, I feel, a product of being denied one's natural sexual tendencies; and thus I feel they are probably normal for most transsexuals, regardless of what they say. But let's face it, tell that to a psychiatric gatekeeper and see how far you get. I think most of us know what we want, but just play the game to get there.

59. A TS woman describes her anatomic autogynephilia and her ambitious plans to realize her fantasies:

I am a 61 year old pre-op. Last year my wife of 35 years drove away from the marriage, and within two hours I began RLT again. I tried it once in '86, but I reconciled with my wife, who had filed for divorce three weeks previously. At that time I decided that my feelings for her were deep enough that I would substitute living with her and crossdressing for reassignment surgery.

Now I'm now back in the subculture. I have come out to my dentist, my lawyer, my sons, and my other relatives. I had liposuction last October, and will have an almost total facial package done within the next several months. The doctor is going to sand away my brow bones, fill in my forehead, suck out the fat on my jowls, add fat to my cheeks and lips, and raise my mouth in relation to the distance between my chin and my nose. That will cost almost 20 grand. Later I'll undergo a nose job and a chemical peel on my face. After that, I'll spend another twenty grand inside my mouth, ending up with movie star teeth. I'm on the list at E2000. All totaled, I intend to spend about 90 grand on surgery, electrolysis and dental work.

My thing is not [just] to have a female body, though I am definitely an anatomic autogynephile. My thing is to have a super-sexy female face and body. I want to be the woman that men look at and know that, unless they're the CEO or extremely successful professionally, they can't afford me. I feel like I'm an ideal candidate to be the wife of an extremely successful person. I've seen the male side of things and I'm going to have extraordinary empathy for his side. I was extremely successful as a male, starting with graduating from a service academy and learning to fly. Even though I'll be a sex-bomb, I won't be an airhead. I'll be the best of the combination of two worlds. Right now, I fit in the mold of those who see men as faceless objects, necessary only to fulfill the fantasy.

The thing is, though, I see myself with men, even though I haven't experienced that yet. The female inside me has had ample opportunities to have already tried men, but my sense of honor would not allow me to do it. Thinking of all the men I flew with or knew -- I was an airline pilot for almost 30 years -- I can't think of more than a handful who I'd consider being with, and I was not really attracted to any of them.

What I'm proposing, and I realize I'm not the first to do so, is that my sexual persuasion is not for male or female, it's for straight sex over homosexual sex. I have no homophobia. There are too many people on the planet going to sleep alone and unhappy at night for any of us to look down on any lifestyle or sexual preference. My opinion, though, is that even though I've been a horny devil with a wife for almost all of my life, when I'm on the Internet, I'll be advertising for men, not women.

Despite having said this, I recently found myself attracted to a woman while in my female persona. The attraction is still strong enough that I think I may end up bi in my new role. The future conflict I foresee is that, since I have already admitted my attraction to females, what am I going to do when I'm married and monogamous with a male, and a very attractive female wants to get-it-on with me? It'll be more difficult to be faithful then than it has been so far, since my basic sex drive will still be an attraction for the female gender.

I hope you pick up on the fact that I used the word gender instead of sex in the previous sentence. I haven't had sex with anyone in the community who is a female with a penis, but that is someone I could be with. I'd be the ideal person for an extremely successful part-time CD, one who doesn't contemplate surgery, to marry. My tolerance level would enable us to go out together as girls, have sex as girls and just be girls together whenever we want.

© 1999 by Anne A. Lawrence, M.D., Ph.D. All rights reserved.