Tuesday, February 16, 2021

All you need to know about "autogynephilia"

"Autogynephilia" has been defined as "a male's propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female." 

Note the male pronouns. This is a theory that is actively used in attacks against transgender women. Trans-exclusionary "radical feminists" love the theory, for that very reason.

The AGP theory states that only straight (androphilic) "men" have such fantasies. Women do not. Gay men and straight trans women do not.

In medical circles  the theory does not have much traction as far as understanding transgender women is concerned. The American psychiatric manual, the DSM-5 argues that cross-gender erotic fantasies (also known as crossdreaming or "female/male embodiment fantasies") might simply be an expression of gender variance. The international health manual, the ICD-11, has no references to "autogynephilia", "transvestic fetishism" or any other related terms whatsoever. 

Moreover, both manuals underline that being trans is not a mental illness. The "autogynephilia" theory, however, classifies such fantasies as a "paraphilia" (sexual perversion). 

There are many scientific studies that document that the basic premises of the theory is wrong, and trans people have for the last 30 years or so argued strongly that it does not fit their experience of the world. For instance: There are gay men and androphilic trans women who have such fantasies, as well as many people assigned female at birth.

So does this mean that the theory is dead? Well, nearly. A few MTF feminization enthusiasts, often people who do think of themselves as any shade of transgender, seem to gravitate towards it. To them it may look like it is the only alternative concept that describes their reality. It isn't.

Others seem to see the existence of crossdreaming or cross-gender arousal as proof of "autogynephilia" being a real thing. In other words: They think that since some people use the term "autogynephilia" to describe feminine embodiment fantasies, that must means that the AGP explanation for such fantasies (an "erotic target location error") is true. This is what we can call "a logical target location error."

There are other and more reasonable explanations for why such fantasies appear.

We have gather some essential articles on "autogynephilia" and the "autogynephilia theory" that can help you understand what the debate is all about, and what may really explain why some people have erotic cross-gender fantasies.

More resources from the autogynephilia debate.

Photo: Aleksandar Georgiev

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