While I admit it’s awkwardness, I have no qualms with explaining myself in the context of sexually-motivated gender dysphoria. There are reasons for that, some personal and some external. Personally, I thrive on a little bit of controversy; I can provide an example from when I was in Kindergarten and pulled down my pants in front of classmates as a gag. Two of my best friends and I were in the bathroom heading towards the urinals after class. I happened to be leading them, and in a moment of sudden empathic inspiration, I felt how funny it would be to perceive myself from their eyes if I pulled down my pants and shook my ass and danced in front of them. Such a Straussian, paradigm-shattering event would be made the funnier by the fact that my friend really had to pee, so I pictured myself interrupting his beeline to the urinal and performing this stunt, forcing him to wait in agitation and amusement. I did exactly this. To my surprise, my friend thought it was so funny that he fell over laughing and doused himself in his own urine. I was sent to the principal’s office and for weeks contemplated myself in the light of that event. Carl Jung has recorded his awesome moment of discovering his own self-concept as at the age of 11; this, if memory serves correctly, was mine.
So I thrive on a little bit of controversy, but there are other, better reasons for being straightforward about this, starting with the fact that almost no one else is. Almost no-one with sexually-motivated gender dysphoria is upfront about it. This has been famously documented by paraphilic researchers like Ray Blanchard, and historian Alice Dreger summed it up nicely when she said this is best understood as a condition that “would rather we did not speak its name.”
There are reasons for that, but I don’t want to get off-track. First, to continue with the necessity of discussing this, I want to evidence three claims: 1) this is not a healthy event, i.e. it is not something you would wish upon a loved one, 2) it is growing in severity, both in terms of the number of men affected and the manner in which they are affected, 3) the primary cultural manifestations are pornographic; increasingly, the cultural ‘conversation’ to be had on this issue is reduced to an appetitive spectacle, consumed in private, so that any degree of humane and reasonable conversation on this issue comes as a much-needed breath of fresh air. This has been confirmed by the response to my interview on the topic last year, which many fellow sufferers (men and transgender women alike) have expressed their appreciation for.
My expertise on this issue comes from founding and moderating relevant subreddits (which, despite my best intentions, and despite the clear framing of these as discussion forums, turned pornographic in a matter of weeks), from communicating with dozens of people with the condition, and from generally being concerned with the reality of what I’m experiencing. My experience with individuals has been consistently satisfying: dignified, respectable people going through a struggle and making the necessary decisions for furthering and maintaining their well-being (e.g., transitioning or not). There is, however, an undertone of dismay in most of these conversations, a bitter ‘bite the bullet’ mentality that pervades, and few of us consider ourselves to be “living our best life,” which makes sense, because as I said before, this is not a healthy condition that you would wish upon a friend or loved one. Furthermore, the evidence is clear on two things: that this rarely alleviates across the lifetime (until the decline of sexual function in later years, at least), and also that it follows a similar pattern to addiction, where scratching the itch once guarantees a more severe impulse for scratching the itch again, but in a more extreme way this time, and so on; paralleling the incredibly bottomless quality of the unprecedented porn culture emerging in these circles.
For a time I lived in the darkness of these pornographic caves, before, following the central Jungian ethos, beginning the push towards consciousness, which, as far I could tell, meant conversation, and so I began that journey on Reddit and have been continuing with it until now.
My timeline has included about 9 months of cross-dressing, which I thought essential for exploring my gender identity at the time, and maybe it was, but have nonetheless removed it from my lifestyle in an effort to halt the growth of the impulse. Cross-dressing, it may be noted, is not limited to a sexual event, but has been described as being a tool for stress-relief among other things, invoking feelings of security, vitality, richness, ‘warmth’ and embodiment, testifying to the underlying complexity of this condition (the same was true in my case as well).
While this summarizes my interpretation and historical experience with the condition known as autogynephilia, I have written this to provide a more recent update: that I no longer experience the condition, and haven’t for several months.
The reason for this must be attributable to a chronic illness I’ve experienced over the last 10 months or so, which began as mono and seems to have progressed into chronic fatigue. I’ve experienced debilitating fatigue symptoms including a decline in sexual and other appetites, so maybe this isn’t altogether surprising. In any case, my conservative nature has found in this the opportunity to avoid gratification of the impulse to gender-bend, and events have aligned to help ‘reset’ my brain, alleviating depressive symptoms and improving mental hygiene across the board.
Furthermore, I’ve experienced a substantial (albeit not total) return to health lately, and the autogynephilic and transvestic impulses remain negligible, perhaps nonexistent. With health comes a surge in appetite, but this seems mostly redirected towards ambition: an appetite to exist in the world and act, the antithesis to my weeks in bed.
Time will tell whether the dysphoria and related impulses have permanently abated. For now, all I can say is that I am grateful for this blessing in disguise; grateful also for my current health, which may, too, prove temporary, but will be enjoyed and employed in the time that it lasts.