Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Trying to Organize my Thoughts

I wanted to write a post about relationships and how William's and my relationship is faring. But there are too many random thoughts flitting around in my brain. So I thought I'd just write all the thoughts down and see what happens...

Sex is something that all (well, okay...most) animals do in order to procreate. Procreation is a biological need for most species...but not humans. Humans choose to have sex for pleasure and several do not feel any need to procreate at all. While masturbation is acceptable, most prefer sexual intercourse with another human being.

Relationships are vital to human beings. Studies have been done on infants, depriving them of human touch and affections...nearly all of them died. Love is vital. Human touch is vital. So why do AGP's try so very hard to satisfy all of those needs within themselves?

I read somewhere that when a part of your life becomes dysfunctional, it's importance in your life becomes disproportionately large. Much larger than it should be. I have found that to be true in my life. I'm sure it's true for many who are trying to "find themselves."

Why do some AGP's only imagine that they are female when they want to have sex while others feel more feminine in other areas of their life. Is this then the difference between those who eventually choose to transition and those who do not? Can AGP be a gender identity issue for some and a sexual fetish for others? Is it the same AGP then? or is it actually different?

The issue of inadequacy and low self-esteem seems to be related to AGP, but are they caused BY the AGP or are they a result of the AGP. It seems to be a case of "which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

William has pretty low self-esteem when it comes to his looks. He is a very nice looking man. I thought so the first time I met him - and I still think so today. He, however, does not find himself attractive as a male at all. He sees himself as a "geek" and focuses on his "bad points" - which, oddly enough, do not matter to me in the slightest. He does, however, find himself attractive when dressed in drag. Obviously, his perspective is extremely skewed!__________________________________________

Not sure what really to make of all of these thoughts, but it was worth writing them down to get them out of my head. I'll finish with a quote I read yesterday by Emerson "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself."


  1. from "A" (26/m/TV)

    "Love is vital. Human touch is vital. So why do AGP's try so very hard to satisfy all of those needs within themselves? "

    Speaking for myself, part of this is wound up in fear of sexual performance. It's a self-fulfilling problem. In this culture, human touch is bound up with sexual intimacy. So what happens when I am alone with a girl? I am wired completely different than normal males. She can tell very quickly there is something 'wrong' with me, as I'd rather become comfortable around her, give each other backrubs, touch each other gently , etc, than have a one-night stand. Once you know you are 'different' from other men in a fundamental structural way, because of the nature of your erotic fantasies, this causes immense cognitive dissonance. Anyway the reason is because it's easier. There is no rejection. There is no risk of failure. There is minimal emotional pain. There is not always a sense of shame etc. There is no woman asking "what's wrong with you?" "don't you want me?" "why are you closing your eyes?" etc. These sorts of things are immensely painful to hear, especially for the second or third time. So it's only natural to try to satisfy these needs ourselves, due to the unusual nature of our erotic fantasies. At a certain point it becomes obvious we are not even remotely 'normal'. It's a very depressing realization, and many times the simplest reaction is just to withdraw in order to cope. Furthermore I think AGP are in "love" with the idea of being female. Does this preclude a successful relationship? No, absolutely not. I had one for almost 3 years with a girl who knew everything about me. But it's not easy. Part of the reason I think it worked is because we were young and didn't know any better than to love each other.

    Knowing myself now, I haven't given up , but in a few years I probably will. This is definitely not easy.

  2. from "A" (26/m/TV)

    "Why do some AGP's only imagine that they are female when they want to have sex while others feel more feminine in other areas of their life. Is this then the difference between those who eventually choose to transition and those who do not? Can AGP be a gender identity issue for some and a sexual fetish for others? Is it the same AGP then? or is it actually different?"

    Good question. I think this is probably the difference (just erotic fantasy or life consuming?) between those that transition and those that don't. Another factor is probably the internal gender identity. Myself I am approx 50% male / 50% female. Additionally, I think this is the same AGP as broad category ("in love with self as a woman") regardless , but the differences result from different ratios in gender identity , relative success with the opposite sex, future prospects, etc. So yes it's the same AGP it's just a spectrum. This might have to do with ultimate intensity of the problem in terms of how different certain brain structures actually are.

    "Can AGP be a gender identity issue for some and a sexual fetish for others?"

    Yes, I think so. I've found that my gender identity issues subsided when I found an accepting partner, and they return with a vengence during the end of relationships. It's very complex. AGP is cross-wired with gender identity, long-term bonding, sexual fantasy, coping mechanisms, etc etc.

    "The issue of inadequacy and low self-esteem seems to be related to AGP, but are they caused BY the AGP or are they a result of the AGP. "

    I think feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem are CAUSED BY the AGP. Namely, I think the progression is as follows.

    High Prenatal Estrogen -> Incomplete male brain development -> Gender Identity problems in early childhood (partial role identification with females) -> Misdirected target aquisition during puberty (erotic target becomes located within) -> Problem compounds in adulthood resulting in a few different outcomes (LTR, transgender, TV, etc)

  3. Hi, Susanne.

    This part was interesting: "William has pretty low self-esteem when it comes to his looks. He is a very nice looking man. I thought so the first time I met him - and I still think so today. He, however, does not find himself attractive as a male at all. He sees himself as a "geek" and focuses on his "bad points" - which, oddly enough, do not matter to me in the slightest. He does, however, find himself attractive when dressed in drag. Obviously, his perspective is extremely skewed!"

    This is exactly how I've felt. Growing up, I hated my appearance. Not so much because I thought I looked objectively ugly but because I thought I portrayed something goofy and nerdish - the antithesis to the cliche alpha male.

    I wasn't bullied for this but I think it crystalized in my self-image for a long time. I mean that's how I really saw myself: this ugly, weak, unattractive dork. Of course, seeing myself that probably caused me to live up to that in some ways.

    It was very alluring to escape the constant pressure of what I thought were my unattractive looks and become someone extremely attractive. I think that I actually got addicted to that feeling of sexual allure and power and over time even conditioned myself to want only that. Most of the time I felt like my sexuality was actually trying to mature but my self-image and beliefs about my virility wouldn't allow it. I couldn't even conceive of how I could be a healthy part of adult sexuality with another woman or anyone at all, really. Sexuality was reserved for men that had something I didn't and for the women who they deserved.

    Anyway, it may help to explore this appearance issue with William. For me it was/is a huge component of my AGP.

    Also, I agree with the above poster with what wrote he wrote about performance anxiety and most everything else too.

  4. I really appreciated your recent comments on Jack's blog and am happy to be reading your posts here now. I'll be thinking a little about your questions and hope you don't mind that I've linked to you on my All Things Qweird blog. :)


  5. William feeling unattractive? I can totally relate to that. I still think I look dull at the best of days and ugly at the worst.

    My girlfriend is clearly of a different opinion. Even if she does not consider me a Brad Pitt, there is no denying that she likes my body and find it masculine!

    I found an old photo album the other day. There were pictures of me at the age of around 14. That was a terrible age for me. I believed I was fat and ungainly. The pictures show a perfectly normal young boy with not an ounce of excessive fat! I wasn't bad looking at all.

    The fact that I feel ugly makes me believe that women cannot be attracted to me. This attitude has worked as a filter. I understand now that there have been several girls and women throughout my life that have signaled an interest in me as a man, but I have unconsciously ignored them.

    Now I am starting to believe that this filtering is some kind of self-defense mechanism against future humiliation and disappointment.

    As Anonymous points out, this is more than a fetish: we are wired differently and we fear the day the woman we love finds out and leaves us.

    The good thing about this discussion is that it has helped me deconstruct the theory of autogynephiliacs internalizing the external object of desire and being unable to love a real woman. This isn't true at all. We are not internalizing the external woman, no more than any other regular Joe who seems to prefer masturbation to real life. We are just so scared that keeping it all a secret seems preferable to the alternative: being exposed as failed men.

  6. Jack, Susanne, etc...

    There are sooo many commonalities among AGPhiles. I've been exploring this part of myself in depth for about 3 1/2 years and I've yet to come across a single one (who has actually taken some time to introspect and ask himself WHY he behaves this way) that doesn't struggle with masculine inadequacy and shame at a deeply fundamental level.

    The details in this change from person to person, of course. In terms of physical appearance for example, one man thinks he's too fat. Another thinks he's too skinny. Others think their penis is too small and others may think they have weak jaws. But it all falls under this belief that we do not have some essential trait or feature that is required for us to be seen as desired sexual candidates with women.

    It's not just a floating insecurity, it's a BELIEF that is burned into our self image and may or may not ever be corrected. Like Jack said above, his girlfriend sees him differently but that doesn't change his perception of himself. When I was in college, I dated a 19 year old model who was head over heels in love with me. Despite her affirming words and the many women who've made themselves sexually available in the years since, I CANNOT see myself as adequate.

    About an hour ago, I read a science article that stated how women prefer strong, masculine men with square jaws for short-term sexual hookups and then turn to the less masculine men to help raise the offspring. I could literally feel the shame and emotion burn through my body - it was another confirmation that I am not meant to have sex with women. That I am living in a physical prison that disgusts women and makes them see me as mediocre and unattractive. Am I really this way? Who knows. I believe it and that's really all that matters.

    What I'm attempting to do lately is really work on that part of myself. To dismantle these beliefs and actually force myself to think differently. I don't want to go into some kind of identity repression or denial, but I can't let another year pass where I'm in isolation, hating my own face and body and mind because I think it disgusts women. Even if I never transcend AGP, I can at least learn to live with in a way that still allows me to love myself. At least that's my hope.

  7. I've been thinking all night about the concept of a "failed man." While I can appreciate that an AGP's self-image shows him that, as an outside observer, I have to dispute the validity of that perception. AGP's are NOT "failed men." An AGP is only a person. And all people are deserving of love. Most people are capable of returning that love. Those that are not are generally diagnosed as [whatever] and [whatever] has nothing to do with AGP. Perhaps AGP is a gender identity issue, perhaps it is simply an elaborate coping mechansim. Regardless of the cause, I do believe that an AGP's extremely distorted self-image causes them to fail to develop "normal" relationship skills. Their own certainty that they are "unloveable" creates a self-fulfilling prophecy, so to speak. AGP's unconsciously act in ways that sabotage their relationships, push their loving partners away. Jack, Ag-in-Doubt, you are all taking actions to "heal" yourselves, to improve your self-image. To make the choice to believe that you ARE worthy of love. To make the choice to participate as a full partner in a loving relationship.

    I realize that this is greatly over-simplified. If it was as easy as a "choice", then you would have done it years ago. Yet on another level, any "leap of faith" is at some point, a choice. A conscious decision to reject the inaccurate self-perception that you are a failure and thus, destined to be alone. You cannot change biology, you only have free will. Free will to embrace the idea that you are NOT a failure. Over-simplified?...yes, but what other choice do you have?

  8. Susanne,

    You are right: we are not failed men. But that doesn't change the fact we BELIEVE WE ARE despite understanding the concept we aren't. It's similar to how girls with anorexia still think they're overweight even though they weigh 90 pounds. Actually, it's not even so much that they think they're overweight (or that we feel hideously ugly or whatever), it's that we still see flaws. We still see something that makes us feel inadequate and as though we haven't measured up yet.

    If there is a biological component to this, it is probably responsible for how this state of mind shows up in our behaviors. A lot of men who feel this kind of shame may overcompensate and become aggressive philanderers and sleep with hundreds of women to prove something. Those with a biological tendency towards a more feminine disposition may withdraw into their own minds and become avoidant and addicted to fantasies; fearful of engaging the outside world. I dunno - just a hunch.

    I imagine this must all seem very bizarre from an outside perspective.

    I've been much healthier in the past few months. Somehow, I've managed to start changing these beliefs. I don't really understand the process or how it's working quite yet, but I've actually started to break up this self-image of myself as an unattractive, unloveable, unremarkable freak. Unsurprisingly, my urge to act out through AGP behavior has diminished and I feel more open to the idea of having a girlfriend now. For me, it has a lot to do with allowing myself to feel OUTWARDLY - towards a woman so that we can create something between us, instead of me absorbing her identity into my own mind were I can take control of it like it was a sock puppet.

    I hope all is well with you and William. Thanks again for the blog - I'll read it as you update it.

  9. I love the comparison of an AGP's self-image to girls with anorexia! I know William is able to "see" the truth of what I say when I am able to corrolate it to an outside event/idea and this comparison fits that exactly!

    I am thrilled to read about your progress, Ag-in-doubt. The "outward" focus is vital to a successful relationship - understanding that AND being able to make some changes in that direction is a major step and means that you are truly "healing." Even though we don't know each other, it's amazing how much I care that you, ALL of you reading this, find love and support. That you learn to love yourselves and be happy. God bless you all - and thanks for your help!

  10. Susanne,

    I am not necessarily the source of all information when it comes to AGP but I think that what is important here is that you love your husband and that it shows. As you have probably read on Mr. Molay's blog, there is good evidence that AGP is a genetic disorder and that it typically does run in families. You probably will never understand why your husband does what he does. I think it is hard to understand why anyone who looks and principally acts like a male would want to look like a female. To me personally, a lot of AGP people come off as bizarre, more than a little strange, and sometimes delusional. It seems strangely incongruous when you find someone in a dress talking about very masculine interests or talking about relationships like a male.

    I think you just have to love him for who he is.. warts and all. He did not choose to be AGP and while being AGP is seen as socially bizarre, it does not make him less of a man or make him someone fundamentally different from the person you knew and loved for those 7 years. He is still the father of your children and still the man who loved you and who you loved.

    Further; and this is a point I hate to bring up, there is some chance that your children or one of their children will one day have AGP. Do you want your children to grow up embarrassed or feeling that they have to hide a very innate part of themselves? Or would you prefer those children to understand that while they have a very real biological condition, they can still find a wonderful woman to love them and have a very normal life as men? Do you want them to feel embarrassed to the point where they hide their actions and then their wife finds out and maybe she is not like you and they end up with an ugly divorce? People with AGP are fundamentally innocent people. The condition may not be "normal" but we should not hold them up and stigmatize them for it. Please forgive me my cruelty. I really wish you the best but sometimes hard things must be said.

    As far as the reason why most AGP people transition, I have a couple theories. One theory would be that their AGP issues are really really intense to the point that it impedes functioning. The other theory would be that because they face continual stigma and rejection as men for their issues, they feel that they are better off trying to normalize their sexual fantasies by making themselves into women. I am sure I am off base and limited in my theorizing and I ask that people please forgive me my limitations. Theories are by nature impersonal and insulting but we often learn and rationalize by just tossing our thoughts and ideas out in written form.

    My problem is that I personally do not think most AGP should transition. I think there should be better options and more acceptance. I think that AGPs are usually men who like being men and have normal male interests. The thought that someone needs to redefine their entire person to fulfill a limited part of their needs is dysfunctional on the part of society. A man who likes dolls does not suddenly become a girl. We as a society should not allow stigma to become so bad that an unusual sexual need forces someone to walk into a life which is in many ways less fulfilling. There is also the fact that allowing men with relatively normal sexual desires into woman's space is probably not the brightest idea in the world. No matter how much we want this world to be a bright and cheerful place, little words like rape do exist. Most men are as innocent as young puppy dogs but.. *shrug* So, finding a good solution is probably about meeting the best needs of everyone.

  11. Rather than being a complete hypocrite, I will give a little background on who I am. I come to this blog from finding Mr. Molay and because I have gender identity issues but though I sometimes worry about AGP, I really do not view my issues as sexually motivated. Principally, I am just an effeminate person who is uncomfortable with the role expectations of a male and has trouble identifying with men (to simplify things quite a bit). So, I am a representative but perhaps not the best representative of the other type of people who usually consider gender reassignment. I have not transitioned to live as a woman but I am planning on doing so. At times I feel really scared and sometimes I hate myself for foisting myself off on women who heaven knows have enough issues. I know that many women resent us and all I try to ask is that we are judged on a case by case basis. Some of the people out there who desire transition are very real women just born wrong. I do not feel it is my right to categorize myself or force legitimacy of my actions but there are children who have horrible lives full of stigma because they could never fit in as the sex they were assigned at birth and the pain of trying to force people into molds that run innately contrary to their nature needs to end. The only good reason to transition in my mind is because you see yourself as fundamentally female and are willing to accept the hopes, burdens, and life of a woman irregardless or stigma or loss of status for yourself. It should not be about carrying some male culture into female territory. foisting it on women,
    and saying shut up and accept us.

    Thank you for your time and your kindness :) and I pray I have not offended too many here. I try to be civil but I can have a sharp tongue.

  12. GenderQuestioning,

    I know your comments weren't addressed to me, so I won't speak for Susanne specifically. Still, I can say that in general, for men and women alike, love often means NOT accepting "warts and all" - for the sake of whoever has the alleged problems.

    I'm sure there are biological elements that help form what is known as AGP. But not everything it eventually becomes is biologically explainable - much of the behavior eventually comes from negative conditioning and shame. Whether that's because we live in a culture that doesn't accept such sexual aberrations or not is beside the point. The point is that, at the end of the day and regardless of fault, many AGP's (myself included) eventually wind up at a point that includes a lot of compulsive and self-hating behavior cloaked by alienating themselves from much of their external reality - possibly including wives and children. This isn't a good place to be for anyone to be and enabling that in other person is destructive.

    For me, the threshold for when it becomes unhealthy is when the secrecy and isolation come into play. From there, it just turns into an addiction.

    Anyway, many an autogynephile are caught up in these behaviors and simply can't see how far down the spiral they've gone. Believe me, I've been there and I know the addictiveness of it. The porn and/or cross dressing and losing myself in hours of fantasies locked far away from any meaningful relationships in my life. The constant nitpicking and abuse I'd heap on myself for my appearance and personality and anything else about who I was. The compulsive masturbation and anxiety over being found out or even the avoidance of talking to women FOR YEARS because so much of this has come to define who you are. And that's just the beginning.

    To keep someone in that slough is one of the worst things you can do. It doesn't mean you have to "make them straight", it just means you have to help them accept who they are and to quit hiding from life. To discard the compulsive neuroses and keep what can just be a healthy part of one's sexuality. For example, I think what may work well for me is to be with a strong, dominant woman. Not in BDSM kind of way, just in the sense that her natural inclination to take the lead and be in charge may be a good fit for myself. But that's something I can explore outside of my head with another person to create intimacy and have a real relationship. What I can't keep doing is quarantining myself from life like I was diseased. Hiding behind my computer for hours a day, looking at porn sites and imagining myself as a woman and barely even leaving my place. Masturbating 10 times a day and being alone constantly. That stuff needs to be dealt with.

    Anyway, I just wanted to point it out because I think denial is rampant in the TS community. Not saying you are, just that there are many men with perfectly fine sexualities that have gotten corrupted and toxified for whatever reason. It's nothing to be ashamed of, it just needs to be dealt with, IMO.

  13. ag_in_doubt,

    I know that people often do not accept differences but I am a hopeless romantic :) Besides, I feel that Susanne would not be here if she did not want to love and stay with her husband.

    You are right that there are many TS people who are AGP in denial. Transitioning AGP people probably outnumber those transitioning for other reasons. Much of this was my reason for suggesting that TS people be judged on a case by case basis. AGP people will get to a point where they believe they are women even while acting like men.

  14. GenderQuestioning: I'm not sure what causes one individual with AGP to transition and another NOT to. I agree with you that a male who is effiminate, feels feminine, and wishes to live as a female all of the time is more likely an appropriate candidate for transitioning than a male who is comfortable with his maleness most of the time and only wishes to change gender for the sex act. One thing that AGP's either forget or don't understand is that for MOST people, sex is not the predominent driving force in their lives. oh, they might think about sex once or twice a day, but that few seconds compared to the other 23 hours and 45 minutes is minimal. But for AGP's, since they feel that that piece of them is so dysfunctional, sex becomes all-encompasing. It consumes them. Those who transition report that the AGP fades after transition - that must be such a relief!

    I have considered that AGP runs in families - and that thought scares me. I couldn't care less if my child was gay/lesbian/TS or TG, but I wouldn't wish the pain that goes along with that world for anyone, much less my beloved child. My son loves pink and purple, he would love to wear princess underwear, but he loves guns and dirt and buiding things also. Maybe he is destined to be AGP, I hope not for his sake, but regardless, I will make every effort to make sure that he know that I love him NO MATTER WHAT.

    Ag-in-doubt: I completely agree with you regarding loving with your eyes open. Supporting your spouse acting in self-destructive ways is not loving them, it's enabling. And therein lies our dilemma. I agree that the secretive, isolating behaviors cross the line - into something less loving, something more...addictive. I also agree that AGP is "aggravated" by conditioning and negative/positive reinforcement.

    I am interested in your description of your ideal woman. That description would fit me, I think. My former career had the word "controller" in it - and for 15 years, I was trained to be a strong, Type-A, assertive personality. I worked primarily with men - or other women much like myself. I have always known that my independence was something that William liked in me, but in many ways, it makes us even a better fit.

  15. Susanne,

    Please do not think all of our issues revolve around sex. There are quite a few people in TS land who do not think about sex very much at all. Some of us are asexual. I am not so unfortunate but sometimes I do not think about sex for months at a time. Issues like survival are often more important to me.

  16. GenderQuestioning: I believe that most TS/TG people do not transition because of sex. They may have some sexual feelings about the transition - or may not - but I don't believe that it is the primary reason for the transition. The requirement to live as the opposite gender for a year prior to transition is a good one - it gives the transitioner the opportunity to see what their lives will be like after transition - and it's not all about sex. Most of life is not about sex.

    Before Sept 17th, 2008, I was one of the uninformed general public, with limited contact with this world. I've had a few gay/lesbian friends over my lifetime, but to my knowledge, I had never met a truly TS/TG person. I had always assumed that transition was done to correct a biological error - men or women whose mental/emotional gender were at odds with their biological gender. I had never heard of AGP - and even after all of this, I still find it hard to believe that people actually complete transition solely for sex. I still think that somehow, somewhere, most AGP's who actually transition have more of a mental female self-identification - that they are truly TS/TG under it all - and just don't know how to express it. I believe that AGP's who transition solely due to sex become one of those who regret the decision afterwards. I know my own William would be one of those - if he ever chooses to transition. I am positive he won't, however, for a variety of reasons, but mainly because he is truly an AGP man, not a TS/TG woman.

  17. Susanne,

    You have a kind heart :)

    There are a lot of sad regrets out there. There are a lot of TS/TG people who never re-integrate into mainstream society or can be accepted as female and it is sad. Men who other than a quirk of fate would never even dream of being women just don't have much chance of being assimilated into society as women.

    Still, there are some people who have AGP type issues who probably really are TS/TG so there is truth in your words. Living a life and adapting to have gender identity confusion of any sort is a bitch and we all have to find a way of coping.

    If you want to meet a real TS, find a local TG meeting and stay there for about a year until a young child suddenly shows up. You will suddenly meet the most real woman you have ever seen born TS and your heart will break. You probably won't even know she is TS until she says something. Those are the ones I care the most about.

  18. One more thing to Ag-in-doubt regarding your "ideal partner." I told you that I am an assertive, independent woman, yet I wasn't always that way. As a young person, my father described me as an introvert, quiet young woman. I doubt he saw me as "independent"; I wasn't trained to be. I was, however, fairly self-confident - at least in my abilities and my self-worth. (My self-image was always poor, but separate from the rest of me in my mind.) It was only after I fell into my career - and was conditioned to be assertive, that my personality changed. I think that a more mature, fairly self-confident woman would be best for the AGP. Mature because those woman have lived a bit, have learned a bit, and hopefully have found some wisdom along the way. They can, I think, be more accepting of "differences." "Self-confident" is mandatory because they have to be able to survive in a relationship where their partner is not "turned on" by them. They have to learn to separate sex and love, like a man. (Again, more mature is good here.)

    Although I am strong, I would NOT describe myself as "dominant". (I don't believe William would either.) Instead, I believe that William and I "compliment" each other. I am strong in areas that he is not - and he is strong in areas that I am not. That is the best kind of partnership.

    And my best advice: look PAST the exterior. Lots of good, strong woman are not pretty, not in the way that an AGP sees pretty, anyway. It's the old adage: Looks fade, it's what's on the inside that counts.