Here’s a serious splash of cold water:
Excerpted from Transvestism Is a Narcotic Drug
(Evangelina Carters, http://ts-si.org/guest-columns/28182-transvestism-is-a-narcotic-drug)
Essentially transvestism is the twisting or misdirecting of sexual targeting … the sexual attraction in men becomes focused not on a female but on that which surrounds the female or may even be on an object. Often the association becomes fixed when a male first becomes aroused sexually.
The male transvestite who begins by gaining sexual gratification through wearing items of female clothing and will progress slowly through multiple stages and levels of cross dressing to obtain ever higher levels of excitement. Transvestism acts like a narcotic drug.
I’ve watched as men in the early stages of cross dressing gradually progress from occasionally wearing their wives’ underwear for sexual kicks, through to creating a full female image. It seems never to stop there but instead tends to progress, ever closer to creating a more convincing feminine image until there is nowhere else to go, save hormones and SRS to create the ultimate pass. In other words naked in front of a mirror or better still in sexual intercourse with either sex.
It may take years in some cases as the individual becomes ever more curious about even greater levels of cross gender activity until eventually and seemingly inevitably they seek more permanency to the cross dressing. In other words full time and eventually may even move on to surgical procedures…
It is a well documented fact that the effect of pornography wanes as people become used to it and will at some time begin to seek ever more extreme scenarios of their favorite themes. Transvestism acts in exactly the same way but instead of being a harmless pastime … it becomes an ever greater part of the person’s life until eventually much like narcotics it becomes the force that drives their life…
There has been some speculation that certain pleasure chemicals are released during the periods of cross dressing and sexual activity and it is these chemicals that are the source of the addiction. The act of cross-dressing and subsequent sexual pleasure becomes associated with the release of these chemicals in the brain and it is the association which creates ever stronger desire.
Some notable responses found in the comments to this article:
“I have maintained for years that autogynophilia is end stage transvestic fetishism, a condition that mimics classic transsexuality but has no actual relationship to it. It is important to distinguish between the two because, according to the preliminary data collected by a number of psychiatric professionals I have contact with, surgical satisfaction levels, even with less than perfect results, for classic transsexuals is close to 100% while among post surgical AGs (and we have tests to tell the difference) it’s only around 50%.”
“TS women have the brain waves and brain parts of women, while TG/TV/CD ‘women’ have the brain waves and brain organs of men. The BSTc test proves that TS women have brains closer to the those of the sex they claim to be, than to TGs/CDs/gays. So do CT scans, and EEGs.”
This is a discussion I’m somewhat hesitant to wade into. It does not seem very productive to label some people who want to transition as “genuine” and others as somehow “false”. All transsexuals, regardless of how they got there, are real transsexuals.
But the notion of crossdressing as a narcotic is personally distressing, especially if you start at my beginning (filtering for escalation elements):
1. Age 5-6 – Earliest fantasies about being enclosed or bound, tighter and tighter.
2. Age 7-8 – Early excitement while hiding in the prom dresses on a clothing rack.
3. Age 9-12 – Curiosity and excitement trying on pantyhose.
4. Age 13-14 – Drawer explorations, seeking pantyhose. Old hose in couch pillows.
5. Age 15 – Skirts.
6. Age 16 – First full dressing.
7. Age 17 – First exploration outside.
8. Age 18-19 – First shopping and purchases.
9. Age 20-24 – First dressing games. Acquiring a large collection of clothing.
10. Age 25 – First video of self. Lots of shopping. Clothing collection growing.
11. Age 26 – First tranny porn, make-up, more and bolder excursions.
12. Age 33 – First serious transition thoughts.
13. Age 35 – First self-bondage experiments.
14. Age 47 – New wardrobe. Real aspirations.
Look like an addiction? In a way, it certainly does. There’s no question that it builds, and each new level requires the addition of something in order to get close to the previous thrill level. That’s if you want to look at it that way.
It seems, however, that you could also view it as the natural progression of adding experience as life progresses. Once something has been done, there is a natural human inclination to seek the next thing. We don’t really like to repeat the same thing over and over. It’s a well known principle, for example, in the sexual lives of married couples: novelty is a necessity.
Also, it’s my impression that addictions, while they can wax and wane, don’t take long to recur. My long time fallow might be seen to argue against understanding this as addiction. But I am no expert there.
Here is my tentative (though not posted) response to the author of this piece:
I’m at a crossroads. About a year ago, at age 47, I finally accepted myself as transsexual (MtF) and began planning out my transition. I’ve wondered my whole life about issues like those raised in your article, but felt I could no longer deny that I was on a clear path to womanhood. Until I admitted this, I’ve always considered myself a garden-variety crossdresser, and the shift in thinking actually caught me by surprise. Your post has reminded me of all my earlier reasons for not transitioning, especially the fear that transition would only be the escalation of a sexual addiction.
But I have been buoyed so far through the process by the thought that, if there is some sexual addiction within me, transition would represent the end of it. Though I have not started hormones yet, my genuine hope is that a reduction in testosterone will alleviate the small amount of remaining sexual gratification I get from the thought of going through this process. And I have come to view genital surgery as the ultimate freedom from a maleness which has had a stranglehold on me for so long (though I’m not entirely sure I will need to go that far).
In other words, I recognize that the process I have been through matches exactly your description of “narcotic-addicted transvestism”, but I also recognize that the addiction (if it can truly be called that) may have been a mask.
Like many, I knew that something was different about me as early as age 5, but for many years I identified to myself as a crossdresser only. The whole of my sexuality was wrapped up in gender issues, but there was a wall between that and the rest of my life. Unlike the conventional wisdom about transsexuality, I have never felt like “a woman trapped in a man’s body.”
But your post definitely has caused me to reconsider where I place myself regarding the criteria for the so-called “secondary transsexual” and your own “narcotic-addicted transvestite”. My hunch is that you would dismiss the former and go with the latter, which I will consider deeply. What you are describing matches suspicions I’ve had about the origins of my own gender issues, and my experience of their escalation over time.
But that explanation leads to a very real problem: Is there any hope for the “addicted” transvestite? If, as with all other addictions, there is only one direction (needing ever more of the “drug” to get the “high”), wouldn’t the only appropriate course of treatment contain the same elements as other addiction treatments? Should there then be some sort of rehab or detox or twelve-step program to relieve people who have gotten to the point where the addiction is potentially a serious impairment to life (i.e. those who have decided to transition)?
Wouldn’t the goal of such treatment then be simply to control the addiction — bring the patient back from the edge, so to speak — with the tacit acknowledgement that it cannot be eliminated? (Whenever you feel like putting on a bra, you call your sponsor.)
That’s the point at which you realize that crossdressing, if it does represent an addiction, is at least a very different animal from substance abuse (although it may have similarities to so-called “sexual addiction”). If the “addicted” crossdresser might be permanently happier by transitioning, it’s hard to find a reason to deny that as an option.
So, even though I respect your reasoning, and will add this to my long list of considerations, I’m not sure that the discussion is actually relevant outside of one’s own personal deliberations, and those performed with a qualified counselor. Even if there is addiction, transition may be the most appropriate treatment.