We all know that he is the founder of crossdreamers.com and an ardent transgender activist… but what’s his favourite pasta sauce? Does he like football? What motivates him get to get out of bed each morning?” If you’ve ever wondered who Jack Molay is? (And I know I have) this is your chance.
Hi Jack. Let’s start with five random questions. What is your favourite pasta sauce and are you a good cook?
My pasta sauce will be very basic: A can of crushed tomatoes, some tomato puree, a couple of garlic cloves, virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, fresh basil and oregano. Then let it simmer for some 45 minutes. We normally cook from scratch, my wife and me.
What’s your idea of a perfect Saturday?
We have a couple of favourite cafe’s where we live, and sometimes we just bring a book or our iPads and spend some time there over a latte. We may also go for a walk in the forest, but that is more likely to happen on a Sunday. The favorite part of a Saturday would be to spend a couple of hours in the sofa, watching one of our favorite TV series with our cat, Theophilius Paracelsus (real name withheld in order to protect his identity.) We could definitely make use of that pasta sauce, and have dinner at the same time.
By the way, have you seen the latest Wachowski/ Straczynski series, Sense8, over at Netflix? It is beautiful, and very relevant for male to female crossdreamers and female to male girlfags.
What do you think of the state of the world in 2015?
In some areas I see amazing progress. The fact that the majority of Americans now support marriage equality is mindblowing. This cultural shift is also of great importance to crossdreamers, transsexual and not transsexual, as it reflects a deeper respect for diversity in the realm of sexuality and gender.
But we should not forget that i other parts of the world — like in Russia, parts of Africa and in some countries in the Middle East — transgender and queer people are facing new obstacles and intensified persecution.
In other areas I see the same weird mix of progress (like more gender equality and reduced poverty in many parts of the world) and extreme danger (climate change, the aggression of Putin, ISIS and more). We have the know-how and the capability to solve most of our problems, if we manage to change people’s minds and reveal the true nature of the bigots. The success of the LGBT cause in many parts of the world tells me anything is possible if men and women of good will stand up and do something about it.
Who’s your favorite writer and why?
This is a hard question, as there are so many great authors out there. You should have seen our library! In the serious part of the collection: Fyodor Dostoevsky. I love his ability to reveal the deep emotional, spiritual and intellectual struggles of the human mind.
In the science fiction/fantasy section (which is extensive): Lois McMaster Bujold. She has written some really entertaining, funny and intelligent books.
Where would you like to be (physically or mentally) in five years time?
Well, I will still be presenting as a man, if that’s what you mean. But I hope I will have been able to make some kind of peace with my female myself. There is no doubt about it: Throughout my life I have managed to internalize far too much of the transphobia in our society and the contempt for men who feel and express anything associated with things female or feminine.
Those who have read my blogs over the years, will know that my head is anything but transphobic or homophobic. I have been trained to see through prejudices and bigotry and have for the most part managed to do so.
But social conditioning is not so much about the intellect as it is about feelings and the body. Society discipline young people by making them associate unwanted behavior with the fear of ostracization and lack of love. To handle that fear, most kids try to shut down the part of them that does not fit in, and they do so by repressing feelings. This is also a physical, muscular, process. In five years time I hope I have been able to connect to and accept most of those feelings.
Excellent. Okay…. let’s move onto crossdreaming. Would you find it funny or embarrassing if one day you were known as ‘the father of crossdreaming’ (sorry, tongue in cheek.) No seriously, could you tell us what crossdreaming is.
I guess I am — in one sense — the father of the crossdreaming concept. I am not ashamed of what we have achieved here. I know that the concept has helped many people find themselves and move on with their lives.
I normally define crossdreaming as “getting aroused by the idea of being your target sex”. Some use the word in a broader sense — to include all kinds of excitement, and not only sexual arousal, and that is OK with me. But the starting point was the need to have a non-toxic and trans-positive word that could describe the fact that some people, men and women, get turned on by the idea of being the “opposite sex” relative to the one assigned to them at birth.
Being a crossdreamer myself, I tried to find information about this phenomenon online, but most of what I found was referring to the “autogynephilia” theory of Dr. Ray Blanchard. It did not take me long to realize that his theory did not lead to liberation and self-respect.
The term crossdreamer is neutral. It simply acknowledges that some people have fantasies of this kind, and this is a word you can use to refer to this phenomenon, regardless of explanation. There are alternative terms: Trans-activist Julia Serano has suggested the terms Female/Feminine Embodiment Fantasies (FEF) and Male/Maculine Embodiment Fantasies (MEF), and the researcher and trans woman Jaimie Veal refers to cross-gender arousal. The term “autogynephilia” is in no way neutral: It refers to Blanchard’s explanation for what causes crossdreaming, and I strongly urge crossdreamers to stop using the term when describing themselves.
Are crossdreamers transgender?
Yes, in the sense of belonging to the broad family of gender variant people, they are. But not all crossdreamers are gender dysphoric, in the sense of suffering from a misalignment between their gender identity and the persona they show the world. And not all are transsexual.
My wife and I carried out an online survey of gender variant people last year, and the results indicated that approximately one third of the crossdreamers who responded were suffering from severe gender dysphoria.
The term transgender is an interesting one, as it has been used by many to put up walls between the “proper” transsexuals and the “fetishists”. There are so-called Harry Benjamin Syndrome separatists out there, who claim that the word was invented by crossdressers and crossdreamers to take over the transsexual movement. They get insulted if you call them transgender.
Recently we have seen attempts by so-called truscum activists over at Tumblr (mostly female to male transsexuals) who insist that the word transgender can only be used by people who suffer from gender dysphoria. Some of them have tried to stop me from using the word to describe myself — in spite of the fact that I, actually, do suffer from gender dysphoria.
Words and symbols have power, and these attempts at distancing themselves from — or taking over — the word transgender tells us a lot about the destructive stigmatization of crossdressers and crossdreamers.
Because of this, it is important to remember all the influential trans activists, and most health experts in the field, use the word transgender as an umbrella term for a wide variety of gender identities and expressions, including crossdressers, crossdreamers, genderqueer people and drag queens/drag kings.
Can you explain, concisely, why you don’t subscribe to the theory of autogynephilia?
First of all: The theory has been falsified. It has been proven wrong, not only by trans activists, but also by other scientists.
I have read all there is to read about autogynephilia, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind. This is bad science — extremely bad science — and the only reason a handful of people have gotten away with it is that they control the main science journal in the field, and that so few other psychologists and psychiatrists have taken a real interest in the topic.
And yes, I have included links to a lot of relevant material in my blog, Crossdreamers.
But do you know what? The main reason I have come to the conclusion that this is all bullshit, is that I have spent a lot of time studying the history of sexual research in general, and I see the same thing happening over and over again. The Powers that Be use science to exclude and invalidate ideas, identities and expressions they do not understand or condone.
In the late 19th/early 20th century women who demanded equal rights were diagnosed with hysteria and hospitalized and even sterilized. Women who expressed a healthy sexual appetite were pathologized as nymphomaniacs. Gay men were most often classified as hypersexual fetishists. Lesbian women were described as aggressive, masculine, narcissist. And the most offensive transgression of them all was — and is — for a man to desire to be a woman. Because even now women are considered second class citizens by many, and it is hard for many non-transgender people to understand why any “man” would voluntarily choose to identify as a woman.
The autogynephilia theory is nothing but sexist, misogynistic bullying in a scientific sounding wrapping.
How would you respond to someone who said that people who see themselves as crossdreamers are just autogynephiliacs in denial?
I have spent a lot of time patiently arguing with such people, many of them crossdreamers themselves. The reason I have done so, is that we have learned much from these discussions. And as I noted earlier, many crossdreamers — myself included — have internalized the cultural violence against feminine men, and we need time to dig ourselves out of that hole.
I am not sure I am going to be this patient in the future, however, at least not with those who are clearly enemies of the transgender community. Now that we have seen the Confederate flag taken down and the rainbow flag raised in the US, and now that Caitlyn Jenner — a late transitioner, if any — has been embraced by the American people, I think it is time for me to move on to a new phase, where we simply reveal this kind of bigotry for what it is.
But please note that I am not dismissing people who believe that crossdreaming is caused by psychological factors only. That is a valid point of view, even if I do not agree with it myself. What I cannot stand is those that turn the lives of transgender people into a sexual illness. That is unacceptable!
Why is there so much infighting in the trans community?
There isn’t as much infighting as there used to be. The separatists I mentioned before have close to zero clout today. There are only a handful of Harry Benjamin Syndrome activists left online, and the truscum movement collapsed after less than a year. Most transgender youth on tumblr soon saw them for what they were: People who have assimilated the hatred against gender variant people and who believe that the only way to be accepted is to become copies of their oppressors.
But the main reason has been systemic: If everyone tells a boy that expressing anything feminine is a perversion making him a weak sissy, he will often raise his own son in the same manner. He will often believe that he he is protecting his kid from harassment. But the truth is that he is the one causing the main suffering. The main conflicts in the transgender community are caused by people who share these prejudices.
Have you ever suffered personal attacks online? Tell us about the worse case.
I have clearly represented a threat to the separatist, both transsexual people who hate crossdressers, crossdreamers and drag queens, and crossdreamers who are not even willing to consider that they may be transsexual.
I strongly argue that there is no clear dividing line between crossdreamers on the one hand and transsexuals on the other. A lot of trans women and trans men have been crossdreamers. By saying so I raise the possibility that the separatists too, may have been crossdreamers and crossdressers once. Since many of them have, I threaten their status as “real women”, as they define this concept. They therefore, consciously or unconsciously, try to push me and people like me back into the closet.
There have been a couple of Harry Benjamin Syndrome activists who have done everything they can to ruin the discussions over at my blog, Crossdreamers.com, and at the Crossdream Life forum. Some of them used to lure themselves into the discussions, faking sympathy for crossdreamers, before using the autogynephilia theory to invalidate their lives and their identity. I have now implemented a zero tolerance policy for these trolls, as they tend to destroy any meaningful conversation for the rest of us.
Bearing in mind that some crossdreamers decide they will never get what they truly want…. what is your advice for someone trying to cope with a desire they can’t fulfill.
I do not believe in active repression, that is in denying this part of yourself any outlet whatsoever. I often use the metaphor “inner woman” to describe this side of myself, and I come to the conclusion that the only way to get a good life is to accept her, embrace her and learn to love her.
This means that “she” must have some way of expressing herself. Some write stories and captions, some crossdress, some take part in online role-playing; cosplay has become an outlet for some… There are many ways of doing this.
Crossdreaming can become obsessive, especially when repressed, and I realize that this means that many will have to find ways of handling this in a sensible manner, and that this may also mean rationing the time given to this side of you. But in this crossdreamers are no different from many other people struggling with undigested feelings, loneliness, identity conflicts or sexual frustration.
Being seen and accepted by others can make a huge difference. I kept this side of me secret from my wife, as I believed I might lose her if I told her about my crossdreaming. After I accidentally outed myself to her, and to my amazement found that doing so made our love stronger, and not weaker, I also got to feel how the acceptance of others can help you heal.
There are significant others who cannot live with a transgender partner, I get that, so there is a real risk involved with coming out. But the crossdreamers who believe that it is impossible to keep up a love relationship while being transgender or genderqueer are fortunately wrong.
Finally, what’s one thing you want to tell people in our community that I didn’t ask about?
We need to do more to include the female to male crossdreamers. I believe I must have been one of the first to actively try to include the lives crossdreamers assigned female at birth in the crossdreamer and crossdresser narrative.
There is so much to learn from them, and their very existence makes it so harder for people to reduce crossdreaming to an effect of a misdirected male sexuality. This is why Blanchard, even now, refuses to acknowledge their existence. To do so would be to admit that his world view was wrong all along.
By making female to male crossdreamers (and girlfags, which is a partly overlapping concept) more visible, it will also be easier for crossdreamers to find partners who understand and respect them for who they are. I have heard of quite a few crossdreamer+crossdreamer partnerships already, but it is hard to find someone like that, if you have no way of identifying them.
Thanks, Jack… you’ve been a great sport,and I hope this is the first of many correspondences we will have in the future.