Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Eroticization of Cross Gender Expression Part 2: The Exotic Becomes Erotic

In part one, I discussed the evolution of my damsel in distress fantasies through childhood and adolescence. Since, I've gotten several emails and comments from other ladies who have had similar experiences. What is interesting to me is that is is not only crossdressers who have had these fantasies but also early-transitioning transsexuals as well. What I've heard flies in the face of the claims made by many about the nature of CD vs TS folk.

One of the Trans Women I spoke with was Andrea James. In our correspondence she told me that she believes for many of us, the desire for cross gender expression is impossible in childhood and adolescence and that it becomes sublimated and is expressed through sexual fantasy. Why sex? Andrea believes (and so do I) that the desires are so exotic that they become erotic.

The "Exotic Becomes Erotic theory" was develeoped by Daryl Bem and states that biological factors (e.g. chimerism) create proclivities towards behavior (e.g. gender variant behavior)in children which makes them feel "different" in relation to a social group (i.e. female children) and the child experiences physiological arousal (e.g. gut reaction) when near that group. The physiological arousal later becomes sexual arousal as the child becomes an adolescent and adult.

In my case, I was smaller and weaker than boys of my age which made me a "sissy" and bad at sports. I also was a little "He/She" and often mistaken for a girl by adults at the grocery store and other places. Nevertheless, I still believed I was a boy and that my place with the boys.

It was the girls who made me feel different. Or rather the feelings I had about their clothes and hair and (later on) make-up. I have vivid memories from when I was 8-10 years old of being in spaces with cis-girls in pigtails and baubles or my cis-woman teachers in skirts and boots or seeing cis-women put on lipstick in their car mirror.

The reason I remember these times so vividly is because of the intense physiological responses they produced. Who knows what behaviors I might have displayed if I had identified with the female peer group instead of the male one and sought their companionship? But I didn't and so my desires for cross gender expression were expressed (or repressed) in a different way.

I see my strong reactions (or "thrill" as I called in my last post) to depictions of women tied and gagged as the beginnings of repression. Metaphorically it seems like my male self attempting to control and silence my own desires to express femaleness; trying to ensure in a very primitive way that it would never gain expression. Then in adolescence those depictions were removed from their original purpose and became sexually arousing to me.

This is how gender and sexuality became "tied up" for me in early life. Eventually my desires to dress and appear as female came to the surface, but the exotic had become erotic many years prior and so the expression of my femaleness was highly sexualized. In my twenties, I dressed in fetish outfits and even had a website with photos of me as a damsel in distress. I had turned my female presentation of self into a sex object, which really was just another level of control being exerted by my male side; hoping that by turning her into a sex object, she would never be taken seriously by the world as is the case with cis-women who turn themselves into sex objects. And by being tied and gagged, she would never be able to tell anyone otherwise.

Not all of us develop along these lines of course, but I'm fairly certain most so-called AGP transitioners and crossdressers come from the a very similar soup. I think the process by which AGP transitioners and crossdressers make a sex object out of their own femaleness is very similar to what I have described above as the exotic becoming erotic. More on this in part 3 of this ongoing series....


  1. My memories were about wanting some of the toys the girls played with. I don't imagine many boys wanted dish sets and clothes irons. Yes I even had the ironing board.

    I didn't identify with the other boys in the neighborhood. At the time I "knew" something was different, I just couldn't place my finger on it. I imagine having a sister, I would have better understood some of it.

    BTW, curious if you had taken the BEM sex role inventory, and if so what the scores were. My scores are at the post at Callie's Chronicles.


  2. Hi Sarah

    I had not taken the BEM inventory, but did so this morning. Here are my scores:

    45.833 masculine points (out of 100)
    71.93 feminine points (out of 100)
    70 androgynous points (out of 100)

  3. Hi Christy,

    Your writings are very insightful and strike a chord with me. I'm curious if you've read Jaimie Veale's "Identity-Defense Model of Gender-Variant Development" ( which proposes a pretty compelling theory to explain the varieties of transgender identity development and incorporates the "Exotic Becomes Erotic" theory.

    I'm a 30yo autogynephile (a concept which I discovered about a month ago and shook me to the core). My female side is definitely still chained up and gagged in the dungeon of my mind, but her groans are getting louder, and I have a suspicion I'd be much happier if I let her out.

    I've been trying to go to transgender support groups in the hopes I could find some role model or peer, but I just can't connect with any of the people at these groups. I don't know if it's just the peculiarities of the type of person that these events draw, or the generation gap, or my own internalized transphobia or what, but I just don't feel we're cut from the same cloth and the groups actually discourage me rather than support me.

    I was reading one of your posts on Crossdream Life and I noticed that we both live in Portland. I thought maybe you might be a potential role model or peer or friend, and I was wondering if you might want to meet for tea or coffee sometime. If so, you can email me at

    duckducktruce (at) gmail (dot) com

    Hope you are doing well.