Is this all a fetish… or am I really transgender?

by Electra L on September 24, 2014

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For all the talk of how enlightened and gender fluid young people are, Electra still sees a fundamental lack of understanding about cross gender fantasy. Today she discusses a common Reddit post.

The Context

Every week, a teenager or twenty-something posts on Reddit about how wearing women’s clothes and imagining they have a female body really turns them on, and that, in fact, their entire sexuality is based on cross gender fantasies. Now, they’re considering transition, but can’t help think that maybe the whole thing is just a fetish because they get off on stuff like sissy hypno. This feeling is amplified by two factors…

1. Post orgasmic guilt/relief from the desire to present as female.

2. Although they would prefer to be a girl, they don’t mind so much being boys.

Their principle questions are:

– is it all a fetish?
– are they transgender?
– should they transition?

And of course, the question is delivered with urgency because the earlier you transition the more feminine is your face and body.

A brief aside on post-orgasmic guilt

Have you ever ever drank a half bottle of bacardi, eaten a kebab, kissed an ugly boy and vomited on your mum’s new sofa covers? If you have, then you’ll know how you feel the next morning? Like shit.

The male post orgasmic minutes are called the refractory period and can be seen as a mini-hangover from the pleasure you just had. It is a period in which it’s physiologically impossible to have another orgasm (sorry, Sting!). A dopamine suppressing drug is produced called prolactin which is a bit like the opposite of cocaine. It puts you on a downer.

However, it’s more complex than that, because of course we all know the feeling of satisfaction we can experience after good sex. My personal belief is that your mood can go two ways depending on how you perceive what just happened… if you’re deep down, ashamed of cross gender fantasy, then the prolactin kicks in as a downer. If you just had great sex that makes you feel like a champion lover, the prolactin kicks in as a downer – but more of a relaxant.

The bottom line is… there are a whole lot of chemicals at play, and the fact you suddenly feel ashamed doesn’t tell you shit about whether you’re transgender or not. However, I have heard anecdotaly that when you stop being ashamed of cross gender fantasies – post orgasm – it’s a milestone on your merry way to full blown transsexualism.

Why this type of Reddit post (is it a fetish or am I transgender?) concerns me so much

Living in the information age is great if the information you get is correct and the advice well considered. Unfortunately, though, any moron with an internet connection and no friends can now set themselves up as an expert because – being a moron and having no friends – they’ve written a trillion posts and gained platinum status.

Let’s face facts – a defining quality of youth is stupidity. This romantic idea which hippies have (like my mum) – of some innate wisdom of youth – is NONSENSE. Adults need good advice, young people even more, and the two sources of advice on offer – fetishists or transfundamentalists – is a choice I wouldn’t wish on anyone. It’s true there are voices of moderation, but most of the forums are black or white.

These stark options – fetishist or transgender – are an example of the continued lack of understanding about cross-dreaming in all quarters. In fact, we now run the risk of going completely the other direction: where cross-gender arousal was once a source of shame… erotic cross dressing is now treated as a clear sign of being transgender. All of us with experience in this field know that fetish or transgender is a dangerous binary, and the truth is far more nuanced.

I have decided to write, therefore, what I hope is a helpful answer to the question.

1. Is what I feel just a massive fetish or are these the signs of authentic transgender feelings?

There is only one correct answer to this question…

NOBODY KNOWS! And anyone that tells you any different should be ignored.

You’re asking a question about the causes of the transgender condition and its relationship to sexuality: what’s the relationship to being aroused at the idea of being a woman… and wanting to be a woman? There are many interesting answers to the question but none can be scientifically proven.

There are only three pertinent facts we know for sure…

    ⦁ Some people grow up with cross-gender arousal and firmly believe it’s nothing more than a fetish, and then suddenly they have a gender identity crisis and seek transition. All goes well.

    ⦁ Some people grow up with cross-gender arousal, seek transition, and it doesn’t work for them.

    ⦁ Some people enjoy cross gender arousal their whole life and never question their assigned gender to the day they die.

So, where does that leave you?

It leaves you having to disregard your first question. You need to shift your inquiry from questions about the erotic aspects of transgenderism and the authenticity of your feelings… to the practicalities of what transition is and whether it’s for you or not.

Trust me, this is far better than trying to suss out whether you’re female or not. Get straight to the point: transition – yes or no?

Should I transition?

The fact there’s a strong erotic element to your cross gender sentiment and you question your true feelings indicates that you are late onset transgender (this has nothing to do with age but realization of one’s being transgender.)

The only real significance of this is doubt. One of the principle differences between early and late is that the former seems to somehow know from their earliest days they are transgender. For their late onset peers, however, it is common to go have a lot of doubts.

This gives further impetus to what you need to do: rigorously analyse transition and think whether it would make you happy or not. To do this you must go through all the important aspects of your life, one by one, and think of the consequences of transition. Think about…

1. Your parents.
2. Brothers and sisters.
3. Wider family and community.
4. Friends.
5. Boss / colleagues / clients.
6. Your love life ie. current partner or future partners.
7. Your health – do you have any exiting conditions which disqualify you from taking hormones?
8. Do you want to have children? And fertility complications.
9. Your finances.
10. Your future career.
11. Appearance. Is it important for you to be beautiful. If so… how do you know you will be beautiful… have you ever had an objective viewpoint?

One of the most important aids you have in contemplating transition is your imagination. Think of scenes from your daily life – the gym, the bus, family parties – and imagine yourself arriving and interacting with people, presenting as female. (Obviously, do not start to eroticise these thoughts!!!)Think in detail about how you would feel, and how people will react, and how you will react to them.

Another thing is, the possibility of a misdirected life plan. If you are young and you suffer from any of the three afflictions I call DAP – depression, addiction, purpose (lack of) – then you need to sort that shit out in therapy to make sure that gender is not some form of running away from you problems, or some magic promised land where you think everything’ll be pink and fluffy. Yes, it’s true that DAP could be caused by gender issues, but if that was the case you’d probably have less doubt about transition.

Basically, this is something that can’t be done with head or heart… but with a God damn pen and paper and a lot of hard, analytical thinking. Oh yes… and a licensed therapist… but make sure it’s not some over enthusiastic trans-fundamentalist who has you on hormones before you can leave his office. Check first that he or she has actually had some patients who weren’t directed to transition.


So, is this all some massive, subverted sexual thing?… I don’t think so, but no one knows for sure. I have known people who – pretransition – were sex addicts. I mean, the amount of time they spent masturbating to cross-gender fantasies was pathological. They’ve then transitioned, their sex drive decreased massively, and they loved transition. There are others who lose all interest once the sexual thrill is gone. Therefore, your sexual appetite is not an indicator of whether to transition or whether you are transgender.

What separates the sexuality of crossgender from the identity of transgender is your life minus the horny fantasies. There must be a clear argument that your life in general will be much improved ie – happier – living as a transwoman.

So, should you transition? I don’t know… neither do you, neither does anyone on Reddit. The only person who knows is you – after you’ve done your transition analysis, resolved any possible mental health problems like depression etc. and had some sessions with a counsellor.

Good luck! X

If this question is really important to you, we recommend Felix Conrad’s book ‘Transgender: Fact or Fetish?’ You can buy it here or on Amazon. The book is 75 pages long, costs 2 euros 25 and can save you years of endless debating about why you fantasise the way you do.

Am I really transgender or is it just a fetish?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Julie October 20, 2015 at 7:30 pm

Thank you so much


Andrew November 21, 2015 at 7:36 am

Gee… Got so much I could say, but I’ll keep to one small piece of this… But first, you are so correct when you say NOBODY KNOWS THE ANSWER. I might go further to conjecture that the question itself indicates a misunderstanding about things that are not understood—there is no answer because the question had no foundation.

Ok… I want to complicate things with a little bit more nuance…. This is related again to terminology and the danger of labels and categorization that assume a fixed frameworks or trajectory. Specifically, I am at odds with the polarity between so-called early-onset versus late-onset….

My lived experience seems to contradict your loose distinctions indicating there is even more going on. I am a “biological” male aged 51—I was raised and socialized and have lived my entire life as a male. I am married for 23 years—14 of which have been dominated by troubles triggered and scapegoated to my previously undisclosed gender identity “problems”.

My “cross-dreaming” or “desire” to be a girl emerged at the very cusp of my rudimentary grasp of what boy and girl was. I know at the age of three I wanted to be like my sister, to be girly and have a girl body—to me that meant the penis was stuck up in the behind :-). Hence, I was tucking in the bathtub at the age a three hoping that I could make myself into a girl.

These feelings NEVER abated. But I had no framework for what it meant and was already burdened with shame by 5 or 6 years of age. Not so much for being a “sissy” as for being shy, introverted, and just not comfortable with boys or boy activities—although I loved my toy cars and trucks. I also longed for girl toys.

By 8 years of age I had very long hair and I guess very non-traditional “male” interests. I was on the fringes of being feminine. Not in a prissy or sissy way. Just soft, gentle, girlish. By then I fantasized about being a girl a lot and was actively dressing in my sisters clothing and hoping for that magical transformation. It was also at 8 that I first learned about this “sex change” operation through my sister and her friend… I hung out with them and her friends sister who was my age. The discovery was the joy and Bain of the rest of my life…

My outward girlish appearance continued and even became more pronounce the next couple of years as I became the target of constant harassment. In my new school I was called “the fem” or “so-and-so’s little sister” every day and was physically harassed and terrorized. The ame calling started with a few bullies but grew to more than half the school population.

Imagine the shame and humiliation….

I had a 4th “in-between” year as I tried to become more masculine and began to experience puberty. By now I was fully obsessed with transition in my secret life but disgusted with the sickness and hatred of those who did. My dressing took on an erotic component as I acted out my sex changed with devices that both lead to orgasm (which I though/hoped was my penis breaking) and some superficial damage to the organ.

I became knowledgable about hormones and puberty and wished for pre-puberty (complete) transformation. I dreamed of it and fantasized about constantly. I should add that my early crushes and sexual interests were all with boys—but always with me as a girl. Meanwhile my fantasies were more and more erotic. At the same time I dissociated my public self from this secret self. Yes, I though about it constantly especially when I was around girls, but that person who who was “transsexual” was not me… Not in my head because that was do sick and hated.

Overtime I relegated the whole thing to fantasy… I was big a muscular a did not cross dress. But I longed to be svelt and soft and imagined myself that way and master bated to cross dreaming fantasy and fantasy of having sex as a women with males.

I was in my 30s when I went into therapy for major depression and anxiety. Eventually I started talking about gender and my history… Slowly over time. This was during the early days of read news trans groups and some chats. For the first time it seemed there were others—but the narrative and the pecking order made me feel non-authentic…. I wasn’t this overtly feminine gay kid who insisted on cutting off and hating my penis and never having erotic experience… I was a pervert… I continue to struggle with this. I don’t know if I’ll ever recover.

Anyway…. Here’s the problem with your characterization. I had VERY EARLY onset and knowledge of my trans desires that were very clear and unambiguous. I wanted to be a girl from the age of three and on. I had sexual feeling ps for boys as a girl from the age of 9 up to 18… At the same time I was riddled with growing shame and total secrecy. My experience became eroticized and the older I got the more doubt I developed.

I knew from the earliest age… I had no doubt. But I had shame. There was no sudden emergence of gender questioning at puberty as that started at 3. At puberty the erotic piece came in which created more shame and eventually the development of post orgasm DISGUST—like a switch I went from absolute desire to be female to hating the thought and being disgusted with myself. So I have pretty much the hallmarks of BOTH early and late onset. I had one therapist who pretty much diagnosed (whatever that means) me as early onset… She called it type I. But that is patholgizing ad it is.

Anyway. I understand the usefulness of the distinction, but I don’t think everyone fits neatly into one of the other. That adds even more confusion when it comes to self acceptance, shame reduction and the question of transition versus no transition… And if no transition then what then????

Thanks… Do more podcasts!


Transcend Everything December 30, 2015 at 2:32 am

Sorry Andrew,,, I somehow missed this comment. I will do more podcasts,


Derp December 9, 2016 at 7:56 pm

Wow… You could have at least responded to what he was saying instead of just saying you missed his comment. After all, he showed up that some of the information in your article is controversial.

Also you say the following in your post:
“Unfortunately, though, any moron with an internet connection and no friends can now set themselves up as an expert because – being a moron and having no friends”

Therefore I have to ask, what exactly assures us that you are not the same type of person? Or did you just mention that to feel better about yourself?


Transcend Everything December 9, 2016 at 9:25 pm

Hello my friend, thanks for commenting. Why don’t you say what’s really bothering you? Get it off your chest. xx


Derp December 18, 2016 at 4:57 am

Now I’m really starting to question your credibility.
People point out flaws in your article, but you just ignore it and then say how much better you are than people on reddit.

Transcend Everything January 4, 2017 at 8:13 am

I am quite assured that I am a total moron! Don’t worry!


Transcend Everything November 26, 2015 at 9:39 pm

Hello my beautiful friend… clothes seem to suggest fetishism… but I suspect they are fundamental symbols of femininity both for women and trans women.


Hmm December 12, 2015 at 6:15 pm

Andrew, after reading your story I was wondering what kind of male influence you had. You speak about all your sisters growing up. Did u take baths together? How did u know so young the difference? Were you close to your father? All of my close friends with gender issues/home sexual attraction had issues identifying with a parent be male or female. Do you agree or disagree?


Shawn February 12, 2016 at 1:29 am

Thanks for this wonderful article hun, this does put things in perspective and what I need to do to sort my crap out.


Mag January 3, 2017 at 5:33 pm

Hi I have suffered from gender related issues since very young. I have read about the subject a lot and frankly nobody knows. What was however very useful (for me at least) was to take anti-androgens. You see the current logic for doctors is to only prescribe those pills to people that have decided they are trans. The problem is that androgens / sex drive tend to blur our reasoning and we cannot make a decision. I guess for “pure” trans it should not change anything. The approach I followed was: let’s take out my sexual urges / fantasies (all of them) for a while then think about all this. What happened was very interesting. When I started taking them I felt really turned on by the idea, fueling my fantasies actually, but as the drug reduces androgens I started to be less interested and started really thinking about my life without the sexual aspect. That plus discussions with a therapist really helped. It is not a miracle “cure” and sometimes when the urges come bak too strongly I have to take pills again for a few weeks but it worked really well. I have never had to take those more than a few weeks. Not suggesting doing it on your own (auto medication is dangerous) but definitely worth trying. Hope that helps.


Transcend Everything January 4, 2017 at 7:55 am

Thank you so much for your comment…it is much appreciated.

I find your story fascinating because I have much information on what happens to the gender variant sexuality on oestrogen but very little on anti-androgens alone. While I applaud and encourage any treatment that allows someone to be happy and to overcome persistent gender dysphoria, the problem with this treatment is that it’s essentially a form of temporary chemical castration. My own soloution is to focus on the cognitive therapy side of things while keeping my sexuality untouched. This of course, makes it more difficult…but I don’t want to interfere with my body’s natural state. However, once more…I’m happy you have found a strategy and thank you for sharing it. xx


Transcend Everything January 4, 2017 at 8:14 am

I don’t claim to have credibility. I just share my thoughts. Have you managed to chill out over the holiday season or are you still an angry bunny?


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