Third Way – Why I am in neither the AGP camp nor the feminine essence camp

I’ve had a couple of people read my writing and assume that I believe that my MTF transition (and maybe all MTF transitions) are caused by a fetish. This is not what I believe and I am trying to be careful with language to emphasize that point. I don’t believe my female identity was caused by a fetish. Indeed this stuff is complicated, and does not lend to a simple solution.

I think the idea that pre-transition fantasies of being female and transitioning are correlated is non-controversial. People in both camps would agree that this happens. What they argue about is the causality. As the scientific saying goes, correlation is not causation Let A represent the fantasies, and B represent the female identity

One possibility is A causes B.

Theorists such as Ray Blanchard and Anne Lawrence believe that transgender identity (in non-androphilic transsexuals) is caused by a kind of paraphilia (which I refer to as erotic imprinting to be non-stigmatizing). This erotic fantasy is used to allievate anxiety and becomes stronger and stronger, eventually taking over the psyche and creating a compulsion to transition. According to this theory this identity is nothing but the ultimate expression of the fantasy, and involves a kind of self-love or falling in love with an internalized woman. Of course the big trouble with this, is that if it was sexually fueled we would expect the removal of testosterone to eliminate the issue. This clearly doesn’t happen, and Blanchard explains this by saying that the love for the internalized woman remains, even when the sexual feelings are gone.

A second possibility is B causes A.

This is the feminine essence theory which is espoused by queer theorists and many trans women. This states the fantasies are an expression of a repressed feminine identity that is being distorted by the presence of testosterone and converted into erotic fantasies which are the only way she can express herself. Then eventually the person accepts their feminine identity and transitions, and maybe eventually moves to HRT and SRS. The removal of the erotic compulsion when testosterone is eliminated and positive feelings when estrogen is added are seen as evidence of the feminine essence.

However, when looking at a correlation there is a third possibility: C causes A and B. This is what I believe.

In my model C is a combination of trauma and biological factors. I also want to emphasize that when I say trauma plays a role in transgender identity development I am not saying it is the sole cause. Biological factors can play a role as well. Indeed, this multiple causation is the norm in psychology. Through identical twin studies we know conditions as diverse as schizophrenia and homosexuality are neither completely genetic, nor completely environmental. It would actually be surprising if there weren’t multiple causes involved here as well.

In my model A is erotic imprinting, and B are various pre-verbal structures. It wouldn’t be surprising if the structures manifest themselves as feminine figures in the psyche and archetypal themes, as these are pre-verbal constructs and that is how we can interact with them. I will write more on that later.

8 comments

    1. What I am trying to say is I don’t believe that what you call the dysphoric psychology is a product of the sexuality. Trauma causes global effects through out the brain, and the sexualization is just one potential aspect.

      I think you are saying something like trauma -> fetish -> dysphoric psychology -> transgender identity

      I am saying biology + trauma -> erotic imprinting + schemas + other PTSD symptoms -> Narratives (culturally-based stories we tell ourselves to explain what is happening in our psyche) -> transgender identity

      1. I see that this this culture (as well as the conditions in the oocities link) is the general condition of the trauma.

        Pre-existing narrative conditions+Biological sensitivity to trauma-> Trauma-> Erotic Imprinting-> Narratives.

        For me, the differences between a fetishist who experiences a fetish and a fetishist who, for example, goes on to transition, is the psychological construction. Especially the emotional-ideological factor in the psychological construction of the transitioning fetishist.

  1. “I am saying biology + trauma -> erotic imprinting + schemas + other PTSD symptoms -> Narratives (culturally-based stories we tell ourselves to explain what is happening in our psyche) -> transgender identity.”

    This sounds like me. I have strong reason to believe my mom took Diethylstilbestrol when pregnant with me – which could be the biology part of my struggle. As my dysphoria dramatically increased the last few years, I suspect PTSD is the culprit. I just retired from being a Christian minister (because of my dysphoria), and I experienced many great tragedies with my members, besides having gone through a divorce. I am 57 and, last year, was diagnosed as transgendered, and started and stopped transitioning.

    Here is my point: How do I find a therapist where I live who will treat me with a mindset like yours? If I don’t get the right help, I fear that I will eventually transition. It seems that the vast majority of professionals have bought into the wave of transgender diagnoses and won’t treat someone like me, who wants to figure out how to live with himself as a male.

    1. Sorry you are struggling with this. Finding a therapist is a tricky thing as you mention. Most gender therapists don’t think about things in this way, and most non-gender therapists will simply refer you to a gender therapist.

      If PTSD is present, I would recommend seeing a therapist that specializes in trauma and not gender. Particularly one that uses EMDR which I really recommend for dealing with trauma. I also recommend trying out multiple therapists and telling them what it is you want. They are there to serve your goals and needs. Fit is very important when choosing a therapist and you should have a good feeling about the therapist, sometimes the unconscious knows what you need even more than you do consciously.

      There are also some gender therapists that would be open to supporting your goals of how to manage this and live as a male. Again it is very individual which is why interviewing multiple therapists is important.

      Sometimes there can be obsessive qualities present as well, and managing OCD can be factor. This is some interesting reading on that topic I also like what they say about personality integration.

      1. I appreciate the thoughtful and thorough reply. Thank you very much.

        I had never heard of EMDR, and did a bit of reading on it, yesterday. There certainly might be some obsessive qualities present, at the very least in the strong desire to have even more that which one cannot have.

        As I move forward, I will make use of your suggestions – and I will keep reading your helpful posts. Thank you!

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