This article is sort of specialized to research methodology, but it tells a lot about the different manifestations of autogynephilia and what’s going through these guys’ heads.
- Hsu KJ, Rosenthal AM, Bailey JM. The Psychometric Structure of Items Assessing Autogynephilia. Arch Sex Behav. 2014 Oct 3.
Autogynephilia is a man’s paraphilic tendency to be sexually aroused by the thought or image of himself as a woman (Blanchard, 1989a). Autogynephilia can be conceptualized as an erotic target location error, which involves mislocating a preferred erotic target within one’s own body or internalizing an external erotic target (Blanchard, 1991; Freund & Blanchard, 1993; Lawrence, 2009). In the case of autogynephilia, a man who is otherwise sexually attracted to women mislocates them within himself and is thus sexually attracted to the act or the fantasy of resembling or impersonating women (e.g., by cross-dressing). In other words, autogynephilia can be understood as a kind of erotic target location error that occurs in men who are sexually attracted to women or whose preferred erotic targets are women.
Consistent with the idea that autogynephilia is a misdirected type of heterosexual attraction, Blanchard (1992) demonstrated that autogynephilia tends to compete with typical sexual interest in women. In addition to cross-dressing, which is the most familiar way in which autogynephilia manifests, there are other behaviors and fantasies related to the idea of being a woman that autogynephilic men find sexually arousing. Blanchard (1991) described four aspects of being a woman that manifest in the sexual behaviors and fantasies of autogynephilic men: exhibiting female physiologic functions, engaging in stereotypically feminine behavior, possessing female anatomic structures, and dressing in women’s clothing. He labeled these different ways in which autogynephilia manifests as types of autogynephilia and called them physiologic autogynephilia, behavioral autogynephilia, anatomic autogynephilia, and transvestic autogynephilia, respectively.
Examples of physiologic autogynephilia include sexual fantasies of lactating, breastfeeding, and menstruating (Blanchard, 1991). Some autogynephilic men also find the idea of being pregnant to be sexually arousing. Behavioral autogynephilia involves behaving in a stereotypically feminine way or performing activities that symbolize femininity. For instance, some autogynephilic men report sexual arousal at the idea of speaking and walking in a feminine manner or of being with other women in a locker room or in a hair salon (Blanchard, 1991;Lawrence, 2013). Others report sexual excitement from seemingly trivial or mundane feminine activities, such as knitting in a circle with other women, owning a girl’s bike, or taking birth control pills. Men who experience the anatomic type of autogynephilia may be sexually aroused by the mere idea of having a woman’s body or they may focus on specific female anatomic features, such as the breasts or the vulva. Sexual arousal at the thought or image of having a woman’s hairless legs, buttocks, or face also constitutes anatomic autogynephilia. Blanchard (1993a,b) found that the anatomic type of autogynephilia was closely associated with gender dysphoria,or feelings of discontent with one’s biological sex, among autogynephilic men. Specifically, Blanchard showed that autogynephilic men who reported the most arousal at the thought or image of themselves as nude rather than partially or fully clothed women were more gender dysphoric (Blanchard, 1993b) and that those specifically aroused by the idea of having a vulva were also more gender dysphoric (Blanchard, 1993a). Transvestic autogynephilia is generally considered synonymous with erotic cross-dressing, or transvestic fetishism, and it is one very unambiguous and behavioral way in which an autogynephilic man can make himself more like a woman. It is also considered the most frequent manifestation of autogynephilia (Lawrence, 2013).
A fifth putative type of autogynephilia that has important theoretical and clinical relevance is interpersonal autogynephilia, or sexual interest in interacting with or being admired by other people as a woman (also called autogynephilic interpersonal fantasy) (Blanchard, 1989b). Most commonly, such behaviors and fantasies involve sexual intercourse or activity with other people (either real or imagined) while cross-dressed or thinking of oneself as a woman (Blanchard, 1991). Blanchard subsumed the autogynephilic behaviors and fantasies of this variety under behavioral autogynephilia, but he noted their particular significance relative to other behaviors and fantasies of the behavioral type. For example, Blanchard found that self-reported autogynephilic interpersonal fantasy was more highly endorsed among autogynephilic men identifying as bisexual compared with those identifying as heterosexual (Blanchard, 1989b). Blanchard speculated that bisexual behavior and identity among autogynephilic men reflects interpersonal autogynephilia—specifically, their sexual interest in the idea of having sex with men as a woman—rather than genuine attraction to male bodies in addition to female bodies. Thus, a distinction between interpersonal autogynephilia and the more broadly defined behavioral autogynephilia seems conceptually useful.
Although there is value in categorizing the various ways in which autogynephilia manifests, it is not clear how the different types of autogynephilia are organized. For example, it is conceivable that autogynephilic men focus on one type or a few types of autogynephilia at the expense of others. Alternatively, there might be only one general dimension of autogynephilia, with the most autogynephilic men especially likely to exhibit multiple types of autogynephilia. From numerous case reports (Blanchard, 1991; Lawrence, 2013), it seems common for different types of autogynephilia to co-occur within an individual. In addition, a particular autogynephilic behavior or fantasy may include elements from more than one type. For example, simulating a pregnant woman may involve cross-dressing in maternity clothes and could be considered both physiologic and transvestic autogynephilia. Wearing a female cheerleader’s outfit may be a form of transvestic autogynephilia, behavioral autogynephilia, or both, depending on the meaning that an autogynephilic man ascribes to the act. If he is aroused by wearing feminine clothing, then he is manifesting transvestic autogynephilia, but if he is aroused by enacting the female-typical role of a cheerleader, then he is manifesting behavioral autogynephilia. It is often the case, however, that an autogynephilic man is aroused by the variety of ways in which a behavior or fantasy is feminine. Because types usually refer to discrete categories, referring to the different manifestations of autogynephilia as types might be less than ideal, as they appear dimensional (i.e., they overlap and can be expressed to different degrees).
The present study attempted to clarify the structure of autogynephilia psychometrically. Specifically, we focused on the extent to which the different types of autogynephilia manifest in autogynephilic men, their relations among each other, and their relations to a more broadly construed construct of autogynephilia. Although previous researchers (e.g., Blanchard, 1991; Lawrence, 2013) have speculated about the differential prevalences of the various types of autogynephilia, there is no strong or empirically supported evidence to suggest what these might be. We assembled 22 items to assess five types of autogynephilia in a sample of autogynephilic men and subjected the items to exploratory factor analysis, which attempted to explain the variability and correlations among the items by reducing them to reflect latent factors. We then examined the evidence for five group factors and a general factor of autogynephilia that underlies them. In order to test construct validity, we compared the autogynephilic sample with heterosexual men from a control sample who were unlikely to be autogynephilic. Finally, we created factor derived scales and subscales from the 22 items and tested their psychometric properties and concurrent validity with variables related to autogynephilia (e.g., gender dysphoria).
[BOTTOM LINE OF THEIR FINDINGS: THE NEW SCALE WORKED PRETTY WELL. DOWNLOAD THE ARTICLE IF YOU’D LIKE TO KNOW MORE DETAILS.]