Thursday, August 5, 2010

"Are You Gay?"

When I came out to my last girlfriend, that was one of (if not the) first questions she asked me: "Are you gay?" I assured her I was not gay, but at the time, I needed reassuring myself. The time was the early 1990s, and although I had studied and read up on terms like crossdressing, transvestism, and transsexualism, it would be several more years before I heard the term "autogynephilia".

Fortunately, I told her the truth, even though I was not certain at the time. I had gone through several bad relationships, and one day put 2 and 2 together and figured there was the possibility that I was gay. Let's look at the facts. Fact one -- I enjoyed dressing in women's clothes. Fact two -- I had always dated women and never even considered anything romantic with another man. Fact three -- in many of my fantasies and daydreams, I was often a woman with another woman. Fact four -- in many of my fantasies and daydreams, I was often a woman with a man. Three out of four of those facts screamed "Gay!" at me.

I figured I should consider the possibility that I was gay. After a few talks with some gay friends and a quick perusal of some gay "romance novels", I was quickly convinced that as a man, I did not want, did not desire, did not have the slightest inclination to be romantic with another man. However, I was still confused. Here is what I now knew: in reality, I like women; in fantasy, I liked both.

I knew that in my fantasies I wanted to be a woman. That along with my general feelings on crossdressing led me to believe I might be transsexual. Much literature on the subject written back then suggested that many transsexuals had experienced shifts in their sexual preferences, and I figured that in a worse case scenario, I would be bi-sexual, and hoped that correcting all the "plumbing" would make me a straight woman in search of a good man.

After dating my girlfriend for awhile, I began counselling on my transgenderism. My doctor was very practical in his outlook and very helpful. I asked him one day if he thought I was gay. He asked if I dated men or women, and I replied women. He told me I was straight. I then brought up the subject of my fantasy in which I was a woman with a man. He told me I was straight. I asked how he could be so sure. He replied that I was fantasizing about a man and a woman having sex -- what was gay about that? I answered that it was gay because I was the woman in the fantasy. I then started to see what he was getting at, and realized I still had a lot more work to do in figuring out my fantasies. Even if I did work at deciphering my fantasies, they were still just fantasies. In real life I was physically male and enjoyed dating women. Fantasies would never change that.

Fantasies are not real. Fantasies are not factual. If one of your fantasies were to come true, there is no guarantee that you would like that fantasy as a reality. Fantasies are just a variation on the classic daydream. Ever have a daydream about going skinny-dipping in a mountain spring on a hot day? My real experiences with mountain springs tells me they are usually a bit cold for skinny-dipping.

I'm confident in my sexuality these days, even if the trip to that destination was a bit convoluted.



  1. Great title. It's a question we get asked from time to time. First from ourselves, then from others. Whenever Jim would bring up the subject with Amy or get caught playing, that would be the first question Amy would ask of Jim. And it was a question Jim was uncomfortable answering at first, since he couldn't reconcile some of the seemingly gay behavior. What made sense to Jim was his attraction to women and he wasn't attracted to men and surely not gay men.

    Then he stumbled on the concept of AGP and was able to find some reassurance and clarity. At last the pieces of the puzzle fit and the picture took shape. He really wasn't gay after all, moreover was less bissexual than he realized. These behaviors really were an extension of his heterosexuality as he suspected all along, he just didn't know what to call it.

    For many of us this is uncharted territory and having other opinions available to us to bounce off of is very helpful as we travel down this path. Being able to find common ground amongst each other is refreshing. It's good to know the answer to the question "Am I the only one?..." is a resounding no.

  2. I have similar fantasies. The difference is that I identified with being gay. For me, homosexuality means that you are sexually attracted to men. I discoved my attractions for men when I was 13. This is when I would become aroused when I would see a man with a nice chest or a big penis. I would then see myself as a woman that was being f#cked by this man. I no that this is heterosexual sex by no straight man would ever think about this. After masturbating I would feel really guilty and would wish there was some way I could change. When I was older I would tell my friends what I was going through. All this did was cause me to lose friendships. Later on I discovered with will power I could control my fantasies. With practice I was able to think of myself having normal sex with a woman. By the time I was in my late twenties, I was finally able to break my virginity and have a healthy satisifing sex life. I belive that if anyone with autogynphilia wants to have a long lasting relationship with a woman he can, but it starts by not giving into our cross gender fantasies.

  3. Anonymous,

    After sharing this with Jim, he can relate on your experience. After all, he went through a lot of the same things you did. If there are some other similarities, I'd take it you are a real romantic type. You don't identify with the "manly man drink a case of beer and watch football all day" personality. You're probably a little intimidated by such folks. When you grew up, your mom (who was a strong influence in your life) drilled you about "respecting women." You have a hard time meeting women in the first place, the fear of rejection is almost crippling. Funny how common experiences can be passed off as ESP.

    If you can allow me, I may help put some things to rest for you. These are things Jim and I found through painful experience as we came to know this little quirk we have. Speaking as a straight woman, I happen to be attracted to Jim, a straight man. Since I am, in reality a part of Jim does that make him gay? No. The reason for this is that Jim and I seek out a straight relationship as man and woman with each other. Last time I checked, a man and woman having sex with each other was straight behavior. The most you could say about Jim in this vein is that he is a straight male with a little twist. If you are imagining yourself as a woman in the fantasy, that is still not "gay" behavior. Jim could tell you that that most gay men still see themselves as men during sex. He should know since he grew up around it. If you have been wondering if you are gay, I'd suspect based on your post, you're not.

    Jim also used to have terrible guilt over his "elaborate masturbation technique". He used to hope that things could be different and he was bedding a real female. He also learned very quickly to be careful what he said about himself and what he did. Most people you're likely to run into think that transgender has something to do with being gay. It doesn't. There was a lot of confusion for him back then. These days he is more comfortable with who he is and my place in his life.

    As Jim, Amy and I found out, gender dysphoria never really does go away. While it can be arrested, it is always there beneath the surface. Jim thought that marrying Amy was going to be enough to keep him from doing those things anymore. It was several years along that it was time for the guilt and the toys again. This time though, Jim had access to the internet and could learn some things about himself. As he learned, he found out much of what he suspected about himself really was true. I'm not telling you this to scare you, but prepare you for when this desire should resurface. What you do with it then is up to you.

    For a straight male, the world is a virtual feast, especially since men are outnumbered by women on a 2:1 ratio. There are plenty of good women out there. Jim and Amy found each other. She is doing her best to deal with the challenge of Jim's rediscovered GD. I think with time she will come to terms with it. Amy is the girl Jim was crying for in his younger days. If I can be forgiven for bringing religion into a TG conversation, Jim and Amy look upon their relationship as a "God thing". I hope you can find someone who will understand you for who you are, warts and all. She IS out there, you just have to be patient, mostly with yourself. God answers prayer with "Yes", "No", or "Later". When Jim was searching all the years for both Amy and an answer to what makes me tick, he always believed the answer was "Later." Turns out he was right on both counts.

    Sorry this was so long, I guess I had a lot to say.

  4. I've noticed that my quest for knowledge on the subject of transgenderism or gender confusion was greatly hampered in the past by the lack of knowledge in general on the subject. Thirty-five years ago, about the time I realized I was different from other boys, the only two possibilities presented to me was transvestism and transexualism. At the time I thought I must be one or the other, but never felt completely comfortable with either label. When the term "transgendered" came into being, I adopted that label as it was something of a catch-all. It wasn't until I heard the term "autogynephilia" (thank you internet!) that I finally realized this might be the perfect description for all these confusing thoughts and emotions running through my mind.

    Putting on a dress never affected me the way it did my crossdressing friends. There were similarities, but fundamental differences. I've also known people who underwent sex-change procedures, and I could never convince myself that was the solution for me. Autogynephilia fits me almost perfectly. In my mind (which plays a crucial role in sex), I am a woman. I fantasize about my life with both men and women. These can only be fantasies because I am not a woman in reality.

    I now have many of these thoughts organized into logical order in my mind, and they make sense to me, but you can easily see how in the days before "autogynephilia" I could have fantasies about being a woman with a man and worry that meant I was gay. Even with more acceptance and knowledge of the term "autogynephilia" there are people who have these fantasies and it bothers them a lot. It's confusing, and they worry how the unknown will affect loved ones. It takes time to work through this confusion, and I can speak from experience, you cannot speed up the process of working through this confusion.

    I had to start this process with little to no information. People these days can fast forward years ahead from the point where I started because we know so much more today. If I had know then what I know now, I think it would have dramatically cut down the time I spent confused, but patience would still be needed.


  5. Working through autogynephilia and all the fantasies and quirks involved takes time. Thirty-five years ago when I was young and realized I was different from the other boys, I discovered I had two choices to describe this difference: transvestism and transexualism. Over time I came to realize that neither one of these labels really fit me, but for many years I found myself as something of a square peg in a round hole, and I was not very happy about it.

    Thankfully science continues to learn more in this field of study, and thanks to the internet (and improved resources at my library) I learned about autogynephilia. Discovering that term lifted a heavy weight off my shoulders. It still took time to work through questions, fantasies, and such that I had, but I no longer felt like that square peg in a round hole.


  6. Kelli,

    If labels are helpful at describing a situation, then I would have to agree that under the umbrella of autogynephilia, I seem to match the description of non transitioning transgender. What a mouthfull! I guess that's why Jack Molay and I prefer the term crossdreamer. It's a kinder and gentler term that seems to describe us. It's not tangled up in all the psychobabble. If you say it fast enough, the uninitiated are likely to mishear it and think, "Okay, if you like to do that sort of thing, I guess." Or something like that.

    If you've looked at my blog postings, I think you'll find a lot of similarities between you and I in asking this question and others. Many of our blogs have the word "journey" somewhere in the title or description. As much as that may be a tired old word by now, I feel it best explains our search for why we feel the way we do. And just because we learn some things and are able to wrap them up in a neat package does that mean we reach the destination? These places are merely stops along the way. Jim and I agree for us the journey really ends at the creamatorium. These postings and tidbits we leave behind us are like tree markings through the woods. They are not only for our benefit, but also to help others along the way as they travel there too. A chance to learn something from our experience. And knowing that the journey continues is a real blessing, because there is always something to learn.