On Autogynephilia in Cis Women

[Epistemic status: I’m super confused about this, and no matter what future opinion I end up with, I’m going to look back at this and ask how I could be so stupid as to not realize that this is the true answer.]

[Update: I suspect this may be a better approach.]

Some people point out that the autogynephilia that is common in trans women seems to have analogues in cis women’s sexuality. For example, before transitioning, AGP trans women will imagine having female bodies in sexual fantasies, similar to how cis women tend to imagine having female bodies in sexual fantasies; AGP meta-attraction is the sexual desire to be seen as an attractive woman, and being desired seems like a big aspect of cis female sexuality; and last but not least, AGP trans women report that being a woman is sexually arousing, just as cis women do.


(This diagram is based on the data from my Survey on Traits You’re Attracted to or Would Like to Have.)

Suppose we tentatively extend the concept of “AGP” to cover the previously mentioned AGP-like sexuality observed in cis women. How do these concepts compare? First, let’s consider some similarities:

  • Autogynephilia in trans women is associated with less attraction to men and more attraction to women, whereas in cis women it’s associated with more self-reported attraction to both men and women. However, there are two different subtypes of trans women, and in the AGP subtype, autogynephilia is positively associated with effective attraction to men. Thus, the correlation with sexual orientation seems to match.
  • Autogynephilia seems associated with a desire to be or remain a woman regardless of who has it (cis men, trans women, cis women).
  • Autogynephilic cis women are more likely to feel that their sexuality affects what sorts of style and body they would like to have, similar to how autogynephilia in trans women is thought to be the motivating factor for their transition.

There’s also some significant differences:

  • Trans women seem to occasionally be autogynephilic about things that are really “weird”, such as menstruation or riding women’s bikes.
  • Autogynephilia in cis men seems associated with other erotic target location errors, and trans women seem to have a higher rate of these. However, AGP in cis women does not seem to be associated with ETLEs in the same way.
  • AGP in natal males seems to be associated with more attraction to androgyny, whereas AGP in cis women seems to be associated with slightly less attraction to androgyny.

And last, there’s points where the relation seems unclear:

  • Autogynephilia in trans women and cis men seems to be connected to certain sorts of masochistic sexuality, such as sissy fetish or other forms of emasculation. It is unclear what forms of sexuality would be analogous to this in cis women, but AGP in cis women is correlated with self-reported kinkiness.

Applying this concept of autogynephilia to cis women seems to present a number of challenges, though, in addition to the differences I mentioned above. For example, AGP trans women are not very feminine, so it’s unclear why they’d have ended up with a feminine aspect of their sexuality. In addition, HSTS trans women do not experience AGP, despite clearly being much more feminine and also plausibly having a more feminine sexuality.

Overall, I’m skeptical that autogynephilia can be applied to most cis women, but I have to admit that there’s a surprisingly good case to be made for it. I definitely think it’s worth investigating more thoroughly. However, I don’t think it necessarily destroys the typology of trans women if it turns out to exist; for example, “AGP” cis women seem to report that their sexuality affects their desired looks, which seems to match the proposed etiology for AGP trans women. It’d just… complicate things a bit. (Well, a lot, probably.)

6 thoughts on “On Autogynephilia in Cis Women

  1. Pingback: Here Be Liars – Silly Ol You

  2. I always thought that there would be a mirror opposite for Cis Women but after
    speaking with a few, I realized this is not the case. They weren’t really friendly
    to talk to either which surprised me.


  3. These two things are really not comparable. Women are already female. If they think they look sexy in lingerie it isn’t because they conceptualise themselves as women – it’s because they think they look sexy in lingerie. Trans women who are AGP are not thinking of themselves but of themselves as female. That’s entirely different.

    Also, I would really like to see how the questions were actually phrased in this survey, how many people answered, how you found people to answer your questions. Otherwise that chart is pointless.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I did not ask the participants whether they looked sexy in lingerie, though, so that confound shouldn’t be in place. I asked them whether they found it arousing to be a woman.

      You can find the specific question phrasing here: https://imgur.com/a/0Naq5q8 . The participants were recruited from http://www.reddit.com/r/SampleSize .

      I’ve recently found a promising way of asking that seems to generate more-expect answers, namely asking “Picture a beautiful feminine woman. How sexually arousing would you find it to imagine *being* her?”. For this question, cis women score much lower than trans women, with cis lesbians scoring similar to cis men. It still has some limitations though.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Looking at the survey, it doesn’t specify sexually arousing to *who*, the subject or their partner. It already assumes respondents aroused by their own body, but it is far from obvious for people without autogynephilia. For me it reads like a survey “what aspects of your body are sexually arousing to your partner”.

    I believe, it’s an interpretation gap by 2 different groups – those with “auto philia” and those with external erotic targets. They answered 2 different surveys! Trans women answered the survey about “sexually arousing to themselves”, and cis women answered the survey about “sexually arousing to somebody else”. The notes don’t clear the confusion. If thinking of how sexy your partner is isn’t counted, looking through men’s eyes at yourself is still valid. Is wearing my lacy lingerie sexually arousing to men? Sure. Similar views on female sexual attraction come as no surprise.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s