Autogynephilia (Template:PronEng) (from Greek αὐτό (self), γῦνή (woman) and φῖλία (love) — "love of oneself as a woman") is the term coined in 1989 by Ray Blanchard to refer to "a man's paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman." It has been theorized to motivate erotic cross-dressing (transvestism) in biological males and to motivate gender dysphoria in some biological males. Autogynephilia has also been suggested to pertain to romantic love as well as to sexual arousal patterns.
Autogynephilia is recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, which indicates that of individuals with gender identity disorder, "[The] adult males who are sexually attracted to females, to both males and females, or to neither sex usually report a history of erotic arousal associated with the thought or image of oneself as a women (termed autogynephilia)" [emphasis in original].
Blanchard (2005) provides case examples to illustrate the sexual fantasies that people reported and that suggested the existence of autogynephilia:
Philip was a 38-year-old professional man referred to the author's clinic for assessment....Philip began masturbating at puberty, which occurred at age 12 or 13. The earliest sexual fantasy he could recall was that of having a woman's body. When he masturbated, he would imagine that he was a nude woman lying alone in her bed. His mental imagery would focus on his breasts, his vagina, the softness of his skin, and so on—all the characteristic features of the female physique. This remained his favorite sexual fantasy throughout his life.
According to Blanchard, "An autogynephile does not necessarily become sexually aroused every time he pictures himself as female or engages in feminine behavior, any more than a heterosexual man automatically gets an erections whenever he sees an attractive woman. Thus, the concept of autogynephilia...refers to a potential for sexual excitation" [emphasis in original].
- Transvestic autogynephilia: arousal to the act or fantasy of wearing women's clothing
- Behavioral autogynephilia: arousal to the act or fantasy of doing something regarded as feminine
- Physiologic autogynephilia: arousal to fantasies of female-specific body functions
- Anatomic autogynephilia: arousal to the fantasy of having a woman's body, or parts of one.
Blanchard (2005) also provides other examples of autogynephiles' narratives to illustrate the range of those fantasies in their own words:
I have been in a steady relationship with a lady some eight years older than me....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 women 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 reinforced 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. (Narrative #54)
An early experience I can still vividly remember of becoming aroused at the thought of becoming female was when I was approximately 9 or 10 years old. I was overweight and I had begun to develop breasts, solely from my weight. I would soap my breasts in the shower and imagine I was really a woman with a real woman's breasts, and I would become extremely aroused....It was until I actually started therapy that I began appearing in public dressed as a female. In the early days I would become aroused whenever anyone, a sales clerk, a casual stranger, would address me as "Ma'am" or perform come courtesy such as holding a door for me. This arousal led to a heightened fear of discovery, i.e., that my erection would give me away. (Narrative #13)
When having sex with women, biological males with autogynephilia (regardless of whether they plan actually to undergo transition) sometimes imagine themselves as women sexually interacting as lesbians. Blanchard notes that biological males with autogynephilia will also have sex with males: "The effective erotic stimulus in these interactions, however, is not the male physique of the partner, as it is in true homosexual attraction, but rather the thought of being a woman, which is symbolized in the fantasy of being penetrated by a man. For these persons, the male sexual partner serves...to intensify the fantasy of being a woman." Blanchard (2005) provides an individual's narrative illustrating the phenomenon:
I have also had sexual enounters with eight men....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 [cross-]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. (Narrative #54)
There also exist biological males who report being sexually aroused by the image or idea of having some but not all female anatomy, such as having female breasts but retaining their male genitalia; Blanchard referred to this phenomenon as partial autogynephilia.
Origin of the concept
Blanchard has recounted how he came to recognize the phenomenon of autogynephilia and to coin the term describing it. Although Blanchard provided autogynephilia with a precise definition, previous authors, using the terminology available in their day, have described the same phenomenon: According to Harry Benjamin, some male-to-female transsexuals imagine themselves as women being penetrated by male sexual partners, an observation that had also been noted by Lukianowicz (1959).
Fenichel (1930) observed in some of his patients that "Love for the subject's own self—phantasies that the masculine element in his nature can have intercourse with the feminine (i.e., with himself) are not uncommon."(p. 214)
Havelock Ellis (1935) variously used the term sexo-aethetic inversion and Eonism to refer to cross-gender behavior and feelings, writing that "The Eonist is embodying, in an extreme degree, the aesthetic attribute of imitation of, and identification with, the admired object. It is normal for a man to identify himself with the woman he loves. The Eonist carries that identification too far" (p. 244).
Magnus Hirschfeld (1948) used the term automonosexuals, indicating that "We are almost tempted to believe that we are here faced with a splitting of the personality in the sense that the masculine component in the psyche of these men is sexually stimulated by the feminine component that that they feel attracted not by the women outside them, but by the woman inside them" (p. 167).
Kurt Freund (1982) coined the term cross-gender fetishism to refer to "the subject's fantasizing, during fetishistic activity, that she or he belong to the opposite sex...the fetish, in such cases always an object characteristic of the opposite sex, is used to induce or enhance cross-gender identity" (p. 50).
- Blanchard, R. (1989). The concept of autogynephilia and the typology of male gender dysphoria. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 177, 616-623.
- Lawrence, A. A. (2007). Becoming what we love: Autogynephilic transsexualism conceptualized as an expression of romantic love. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, 50, 506–520.
- American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed., text rev.). Washington, DC: Author, p. 578.
- Blanchard, R. (2005). Early history of the concept of autogynephilia. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 34, 439–446.
- Blanchard, R. (1991). Clinical observations and systematic studies of autogynephilia. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 17, 235-251.
- Blanchard, R. (1993). Varieties of autogynephilia and their relationship to gender dysphoria. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 22, 241–251.
- Newman, L. E., & Stoller, R. J. (1974). Nontranssexual men who seek sex reassignment. American Journal of Psychiatry, 131, 437–441.
- Blanchard, R. (1993). The she-male phenomenon and the concept of partial autogynephilia. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 19, 69–307.
- Blanchard, R. (1993). Partial versus complete autogynephilia and gender dysphoria. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 19, 301–307.
- Benjamin, H. (1966). The transsexual phenomenon. New York: Julian.
- Lukianowicz, N. (1959). Survey of various aspects of transvestism in the light of our present knowledge. Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, 128, 36–64.
- Fenichel, O. (1930). The psychology of transvestism. International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 11, 211-227.
- Ellis, H. (1935). Psychology of sex: A manual for students. New York: Emerson.
- Hirschfeld, M. (1948). Sexual anomalies. New York: Emerson.
- Freund, K., Steiner, B. W., & Chan, S. (1982). Two types of cross-gender identity. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 11, 49-63.
- Dan Karasic and Jack Drescher (2006). Sexual and Gender Diagnoses of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM): A Reevaluation. Haworth Press. ISBN 0789032147.
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- Wyndzen MH (2004). Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Autogynephilia (But Were Afraid You Had To Ask), from Psychology of Gender Identity & Transgenderism
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