It started with a dream – Personal Journey pt. 1

My gender struggle began with a childhood fantasy. I was a highly intelligent child but physically weak. I was advanced in math and science which earned the praise of the adults, but was always picked last for teams and constantly bullied. Being smart was definitely not valued on the playground! I used to pray to be stronger and this caused me a lot of distress. I was bullied nearly daily by the stronger more popular kids. When I was around 5, I developed the fantasy of being turned into a girl. It seemed that if I were a girl, I could be a smart as I was, but then not suffer from the daily violence that I faced as a bit. Now I know how false that is, but I was 5 at the time!

I used the fantasy to help me sleep at night, and it was comforting. When I got to the 6th grade puberty started, and this fantasy became eroticised. I was also very definitely attracted to women, but then sometimes felt attraction for men as well. This was very confusing! My parents gave me a book about sex which contained a one page description of transvestites and transsexuals. It said that transvestites were men with a fetish for women’s clothing, while transsexuals were really women and would transform their body to make the outside match the inside. It clearly sounded better to be a transsexual, and since I had these fantasies of being a woman that must be what I am. It seemed so far fetched that I would ever do anything about it, but I felt that was the truth about me.

I felt very confused as I was also greatly desiring to find a girlfriend. Sometimes it felt like I was trying to be my own girlfriend. Plus, I was still sometimes attracted to men, which I tried to suppress. I had no success with dating at all until I was 16. Then I got online. This was 1990 before the internet was mainstream, so it was mostly on BBSs, and a local IRC (internet chat). This was something of a unique time, because the online world was only known to quirky, nerdy, smart kids. There were only a few of us at each high school, but together we formed a community of nearly 100 teenagers in the metro area. I was able to date successfully for the first time. I had 6 short-lived relationships with different girls that I met, mostly through this community. My transgender fantasies diminished and began to go away. I think this was partially because I was sucessful in dating, and partially because puberty advanced to the point where I could no longer see a woman in the mirror. I thought this problem had come to an end, and didn’t think about it much until I got to college…

8 comments

  1. Were/are you able to distinguish whether your attraction to males were of an “archetypal” androphilia or whether they were/are a theme of the fetishism?

    My own fantasies also started at that very early age! Sexual stimulation, although ofcourse I didn’t understand it as such at the time, was an absolutely indescribable magical feeling. A dream from that age which has recurred throughout my life, was of finding myself at school, with an acute sense of anxiety as to whether anyone noticed that I was wearing the girls skirted school uniform. I would go back and forth between the fear of potentially being seen and to then immersing in the sexual stimulation of the antagonising object, provocatively minsing girlishly in plain sight, to then hiding once more!

    1. I do want to make clear that I don’t believe my transgender identity was reducible to fetishism. If transgender identity were purely an expression of fetishism we would expect it to go away with the removal of testosterone, and this doesn’t happen. The erotic impriting was one component of it. My childhood fantasies were not erotic at all, they primarily had to do with comfort and safety. They became eroticized during puberty.

      I eventually discovered the difference between my attractions to men and women were that my attraction to men was not embodied in the same way as my attraction to women. I was attracted to women’s bodies but mainly attracted to a man’s masculinity. Being on estrogen did shift my attractions in that I found the way that some men smelled to be appealing, and when I am on testosterone I find the smell of men unappealing. Being on estrogen did activate some female-typical instincts I think, but the problem was that I had a scrambled mess of sexual instincts that didn’t work very well. Most of my relationships after transition were with men or with other trans women, but there was always an ambivalence.

      Now I am definately attracted to women. This is very clear when in the presence of others as I feel a visceral attraction to women and not to men. In my fantasy life I do sometimes think about men.

      1. “If transgender identity were purely an expression of fetishism we would expect it to go away with the removal of testosterone, and this doesn’t happen.”

        I distinction I usually emphasize is between longings directly mediated by sexual impulses and the potential for sexuality to provide the conditions for internalizations which are self-sustaining and not necessarily constrained by sexuality.

        “My childhood fantasies were not erotic at all, they primarily had to do with comfort and safety. They became eroticized during puberty.”

        My understanding includes the potential for trans/dysphoric feelings as (adjunctly) among the conditions of sexualized emasculation trauma, however much I think that the dysphoria on part of MEFs will routinely be derived from their fetishism. In regards to childhood memories, I think that sexuality and sexual stimulation can be present from as early as 4-6 years of age (as was my case). In my psychological development I see two important aspects, in the terms I came to represent my experience (my fantasies, dreams and longings remained isolated and I never found myself invested in anything like a traditional dysphoric/trans narratives). And the other aspect being, that from the earliest fantasies, I happen to remember a “special feeling” that accompanied them. That in the discovery of masturbation and the conceptualization of sexuality, I was able to recognise the earlier “feelings” as of sexual stimulation.

        So generally I think that eroticization will be present directly following the trauma itself, and that puberty will generally provide the conditions which to see something sexual as sexual.

        1. I think our experiences might be different in that respect. It is true that there can be some elements of childhood sexuality, or at least precursors to sexuality, but I don’t think that is what was happening in my experience.

          1. The question of how sexual mediation can be recognised in childhood is an interesting one. That perhaps the fundamental issue is (in the case that it is indeed present) whether sexual stimulation will itself be thematized into intelligible experience, in correlation with the feelings/fantasies, let alone whether it is remembered long into the future.

            http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/124/3/992.full

            Have you read this yet? (links to the summarized chapters are at the top)

            http://www.oocities.org/transsexual_analysis/transsexual11.html

  2. Identification may follow biology + trauma where, e. g., abusive male role models are paired with positive female ones.
    Then erotic imprinting . . . . Agree?

    1. Yes, I would agree. The men = abusive, women= good schema was embedded in my psyche, so I couldn’t possibly be a man and be a good person. I had to let go of that to detransition.

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