The problem with autogynephilia
A brief but sympathetic exploration of the ethics of autogynephilia as currently presented in western culture.
Autogynephilia (AGP) is a subtype of transgenderism and seems to account for the majority of male to female transitioners. Loosly defined, it is a male’s sexual attraction to the idea of the self as a woman. Despite being the most common of the two male to female transition motivators, it is the least talked about of every subtype of transgenderism. In fact, activists usually dismiss it as entirely non-existent or simply a tool of transphobia. In their defense you can see why they would want to keep this out of the mainstream narrative. It does not work with the popular, elementary school friendly idea of an innate gender identity. In fact, it is closer to a sexual orientation than a gender identity. In short, it is inconvenient to the cause.
I have had conversations with multiple transwomen who are autogynephilic. I have a lot of empathy for them and the unique and, I imagine, incredibly inconvenient sexuality they have been saddled with. I also have a great deal of respect for the men and trans women who are honest and self-aware regarding their autogynephilia. However, they are unfortunately the minority. Most of those with AGP believe the fact that they are ‘euphoric’ about the idea of being women is due to that previously mentioned ‘innate gender identity’. Couple this with the culturally accepted refrain that ‘trans women are women’, these men whose sexual fantasies begin and end with them appropriating womanhood, are now really women.
Most of these people do, without admitting, understand that their motivation to live as women rests between their legs. As such, they do not seek sexual reassignment surgery (SRS). While the idea of having a vagina is certainly enticing, the surgery would ultimately negate the primary motivation. Few however are not so forward thinking. A UK based therapist, Dr. Az Maxwell Hakeem, includes in his clientele men who sought SRS and immediately came to regret it. Their desire to be women was eradicated along with their testicles.
All of this says nothing of the wives, girlfriends, children, and other family impacted by an AGPs declaration he is now a woman. Because of the current black and white narrative surrounding all things trans, the female partners of AGP males who do not embrace them as women are derided as transphobic. Children must accept dad as now mom. And, more broadly, the larger world they inhabit must also embrace them as women. To be direct, organizations, institutions, and facilities previously dedicated to women must now also accommodate men who are aroused at the idea of being women.
To wrap this up, autogynephilia in and of itself is not a problem. It can be acted upon healthily, enjoyably, and consentually. But when a sexual paraphilia is wrapped up in a package of civil rights, where others are socially or even legally pressured into participating, coercion is of course the outcome. And there is nothing ethical about that.
Disclaimer: I am not autogynephilic. I’m not even male. These our my own interpretations and observations from listening to people who are autogynephilic, as well as hearing from former partners of autogynephiles.
Thank you for writing about this
I'm not sure why it wouldn't involve civil rights in cases when these people transition and start to live as women. Being seen as a woman may make them feel more sexually attractive, but if they are living as trans women — how are they much different from the trans population at large?