Becoming what we love? No, loving what we might have been!


A highly influential article on autogynephilia by Anne Lawrence suggests that autogynephiles are normal heterosexual males who suffer from a directionality problem, i.e. that we are sexually attracted to females but focus this attraction inwards towards ouselves rather than outwards towards another human being. It is succinctly described as the ambition of an autogynephile to "become what we love".


I am probably an autogynephile, at least as close as one comes to this category, so I probably have a right to say something about this hypothesis. And I feel that while they may have identified the connection correctly, they have got hold of the wrong end of the stick. For me, the becoming bit was much, much, earlier than the loving bit. My transgender feelings go back to when I was five or six. Possible even earlier.


But the connection is probably there. I have a newspaper cutting that I have kept since my childhood. It shows a girl playing the fiddle. It is just a normal picture, but it fascinates me. And the reason is that the girl looks more or less exactly as I did as a teenager: the face is more or less the same rather androgynous shape, the haircut (or lack thereof, from the point of view of a boy) is quite similar, straight auburn hair going down just past the ears. The stance is similar. Even the expression of concentration is similar to that I have seen in photos of myself playing the fiddle. Objectively, she is not beautiful. But somehow, in some inexplicable way, the picture is so wildly attractive, so charged with inner beauty. Even erotic, in fact. And the only reason for this that I can imagine is that she looks exactly like I would have looked if I had been a girl.


So when we see a beautiful woman, being her is what we really want. But that is of course impossible. As far as we are concerned, then, loving her is the next best thing. We don't do it very well. of course, because our love different from normal heterosexual love. No matter how deep and sincere and all-consuming our love for her is, it is not the kind of love that a woman really wants. But that is because we do not only want to be with her, we want to feel what it is like to BE her, in every sense of the word. So rather than "becoming what we love", as Lawrence suggests, I think the true description is "loving what we might have been".