Triangulating Autohomosexuality

Autogynephilia in natal males and autoandrophilia in natal females can be thought of as a notion of “autoheterosexuality”; a sexual interest in being the opposite sex. They are hypothesized to be variations on heterosexuality, in some sense applied to the self. (Or at least, autogynephilia is; autoandrophilia is a bit weirder.)

It seems like in theory some symmetric notion of autohomosexuality should exist. Not necessarily be common, mind you, but if it’s possible for gynephilic men and androphilic women to invert their sexuality in some sense, then the same should be possible for androphilic men and gynephilic women. That autogynephilia doesn’t go away with MtF transition is further evidence for this hypothesis.

Anecdotally, I’ve heard some cases of this too. I know a trans man who post-transition has sexual interests that are unambiguously like those of AGP cis men, and he says that pre-transition, he had similar interests, e.g. fantasizing about being the women he found attractive.

One characteristic of autoheterosexuality is that it often gets reified into arousal to the idea of being the opposite sex. It’s unclear to me whether autohomosexuals would reify their sexuality the same way, thinking of it as arousal to the idea of being their current sex, because this might merely be a side-effect of not being the desired sex. It’s also not fully clear to me what autohomosexuals would be into. For instance, it’s often proposed that they might masturbate to themselves in a mirror, but to me it also seems plausible that they might instead more be into taking on the appearance of other people of their sex that they find attractive (at least, I’ve had more success with that reification in some initial surveys on the topic).

Based on what we know or suspect about autogynephilia, I would propose the following characteristics for determining the validity of a putative autohomosexuality measure:

  • Since autoheterosexuality is more common in heterosexuals than homosexuals (at least in natal males… autoandrophilia is weird), we should expect autohomosexuality to be associated with typical homosexuality (though it would not necessarily be common among gay people).
  • If autogynephilia and autoandrophilia are hypothesized to be the same sorts of variance applied to different underlying orientations, then we should expect them to be strongly correlated in bisexual women. This expectation might also be applied to bisexual men, but on the other hand, it is often not clear how bisexual the bisexual men actually are, so it shouldn’t necessarily be expected there.
  • Similarly, autogynephilia is hypothesized to “run in families”; if this is the case, then we might expect the bisexual sisters of AGP men to also be AGP.
  • Autohomosexuality should have some elements in common with autoheterosexuality that makes it recognizably similar; but I wouldn’t require exact identity, and it might look like a bit of a stretch when it has actually been fully discovered. However, at the very least I would expect autohomosexuals and autoheterosexuals to “recognize” their own sexuality in each other when having them described, at least moderately better than chance.
  • There’s no clear reason why we would expect autohomosexuality to be more common than autoheterosexuality, so we probably shouldn’t expect this.
  • If the measure works for trans women too (and some AGP autohomosexuality measures might not), we should expect trans women to score highly. Similarly, if it applies to cis men, we should expect it to be in agreement with other autogynephilia measures.

One thing that can be noted is that these validation rules are based on the assumption that autogynephilia is a variation of attraction to women. Some instead argue that it is a form of feminized sexuality. I find this argument somewhat questionable, as I would think that it is androphilia that is feminized sexuality. I’ve seen some quite conflicting anecdotes and arguments that focus on the form female sexuality takes, and I don’t think there’s any clear conclusion here, so it’s difficult to just rely on experience. Instead, one way I would test this would be by looking at whether they are correlated with other forms of feminized behavior. IME this holds for attraction to men but not for autogynephilia, so therefore I wouldn’t think of autogynephilia as being a feminized sexuality.

Using these guidelines, we can try to evaluate a number of proposed autohomosexuality measures. They generally focus on autogynephilia in women, rather than autohomosexuality in general, as very few people seem to pay attention to autoheterosexuality.

1. Moser’s approach

In his paper Autogynephilia in women, Charles Moser took the Cross-Gender Fetishism scale and translated it to better apply to cis women. He then did a survey where he tested how many women answered it affirmatively.

Very little additional data was collected for Moser’s scale. A lot of his sample was heterosexual, and he got a significant amount of affirmative answers, so this could be interpreted as evidence that his scale doesn’t correlate with sexual orientation, or perhaps even correlates with heterosexual orientation. However, it’s not very clear, and more research would be needed to say for sure. Similarly, the other validity checks are also impossible to evaluate currently. As a result, Moser’s scale can only really be interpreted as a suggestion, rather than a validated approach.

Perhaps the most notable thing that is missing is a comparison to trans women’s responses. The first of his items might not generalize well to trans women, but the rest should probably work relatively OK.

2. Lawrence’s approach

Anne Lawrence criticized Moser’s approach for not using scales that reified the “attraction to being a woman” enough, and instead suggested a different set of items that strongly reify this concept.

Nobody has collected data with Lawrence’s items, but I once collected data with a similar approach. It did not pass many of the validity checks that I was able to run.

agp

Picture: comparison of the results from trans women and cis women on a scale much like Lawrence’s.

In particular, it did not correlate by sexual orientation; it and AAP were uncorrelated, perhaps with a negative trend, in bisexual cis women; and trans women had the same distribution as cis women. The main validity check that it passed was that in men, it matched the results from another autogynephilia measure.

I also tested a similar measure in men. Here, it seemed to partially pass the sexual orientation criterion. However, among bisexual men, it was negatively correlated with autogynephilia, and for some reason autoandrophilia was more common than autogynephilia regardless of sexual orientation. In women, this autoandrophilia also matched the more-standard ones I use well. On the other hand, trans men didn’t score super high, so it’s hard to say what to make of that. (It may be that autoandrophilia is not a primary cause of gender dysphoria on reddit, but instead that something else, e.g. masculinity, is. If that is the case, we should be able to identify this by finding that autoandrophilia in trans men is negatively correlated with this “something else”.)

reified-a_p-diagram

Picture: different degrees of autogynephilia and autoandrophilia in different groups of men.

3. Veale’s approach

In her Master’s thesis, Jaimie Veale changed Blanchard’s Core Autogynephilia Scale to be more relevant for cis women by asking whether they had ever been sexually aroused by imagining having “more attractive” physically female features. Her thesis is much more extensive than Moser’s paper, so this time we can evaluate some new things.

On page 66, she has a correlation table which found that her measure of autogynephilia was associated with attraction to men rather than with attraction to women. In general the associations were weak, and so it’s hard to say anything for sure, but it makes me question the validity of her scale.

A lot of the other validity checks were not examined, and so I don’t know whether they held, but that’s not surprising considering they’re relatively obscure. It might be useful to research this in future studies, though.

Veale found that trans women scored slightly but not much higher than cis women on her scale.

4. The Self-Attraction approach

Some people feel that attraction to oneself would be the way autohomosexuality works. On the one hand, I can sorta understand that, and I could totally see the counterfactual female!me be attracted to herself. In fact, there’s quite a few anecdotes of things that seem like autogynephilia and include a heavy element of self-attraction. But I’m not sure this is how it would work, and part of it is the evidence I got when I tried to test it.

self-attraction

Pictured: the average self-reported degree of self-attraction in my Survey on Sexuality, Masculinity and Femininity.

While there does seem to be an effect, where queer people report greater levels of self-attraction than straight people, the effect size is modest. As such, it’s not a very convincing case of passing the sexual orientation test.

I do not have the data to evaluate this approach on many things other than the sexual orientation test yet.

In another survey I tried a variant, asking about arousal by own body and sexual experiences (such as masturbation sessions) focused on admiring one’s own body. This yielded some more-promising results:

own-body-arousal

Pictured: results from Survey on Personal Sexual Arousal.

This suggests that perhaps the most-effective way to ask about this would be the third approach, asking about whether people have sexual experiences where they focus on their own body.

This general approach strikes me as similar to autosexuality, so perhaps this is something that needs to be researched.

5. The Mimicry-A*P approach

When talking with a trans man I know who is AGP, he suggested focusing on fantasizing about being other women, rather than on sexual interest in oneself. Before he transitioned, he had found it arousing to imagine having a body like the women he was attracted to.

This leads to the concept I call “mimicry-autohomosexuality”. Here, I ask something like “Picture a handsome man/beautiful woman. How arousing would you find it to imagine being her?”. This approach has seemed to pass quite a few tests.

mimicry-A_P-groups

Pictured: mimicry-A*P results from my Survey on Gender, Sexuality and Other things.

The expected ordering with sexual orientation is there; queer > straight. We also see trans women score higher than other groups, though this doesn’t apply to trans men for some reason. Among trans men, there was no statistically significant correlation between masculinity and autoandrophilia (r~-0.266, p~0.1). Among bi women, there was a strong correlation between mimicry-AGP and standard ways of asking about AAP (r~0.32; p~0.0003), and also between mimicry-AGP and mimicry-AAP (r~0.45). The mirrored correlations didn’t exist in bi men (r~-0.1 and r~0.23).

Mimicry-autoheterosexuality had adequate agreement with my standard way of measuring autoheterosexuality in men (r~0.6) and in women (r~0.63). However, I got much higher rates of affirmative answers for mimicry-autoheterosexuality in men (66% vs 45%) and slightly higher in women (54% vs 43%).

The range on this measure seems limited; for instance, trans women seem to tend to hit the ceiling, and so their degree of mimicry-AGP is likely underestimated:

agp_development

Pictured: response distribution for various groups.

One potential issue with mimicry-A*P is that people seem systematically more likely to endorse the variant that matches their gender than the variant that doesn’t. For instance, gay men were 1.4x more likely to endorse mimicry-AAP than straight men were to endorse mimicry-AGP, and straight men were 1.4x more likely to endorse mimicry-AAP than gay men were to endorse mimicry-AGP.

a_p-by-orientation

Pictured: amount of mimicry-A*P endorsed by various groups in my fourth porn survey.

There may also be other potential flaws; e.g. in women, I found mimicry-AGP to be correlated with narcissism (r~0.24, p~5E-4), even though I found no such connection in men. Mimicry-AGP also seemed correlated with femininity in women (r~0.13, p~0.03), despite no such connection in men or trans women. My conclusion from this is that most likely, mimicry-AGP picks up on additional things beyond just autohomosexuality.

Overview

Perhaps it might be relevant to create an overview of the different approaches:

Criterion 1 2 3 4 5
Queer higher than het ? No No Yes Yes
Correlated with AAP in bi women ? No ? ? Yes
Runs in same families as autohet ? ? ? ? ?
Surface-level similarity to autohet Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Same prevalence as autohet ? No No Maybe Kinda
High scores for trans women Likely Kinda Yes N/A Yes
Concordance with other autohet measures N/A N/A N/A N/A Kinda

Overall, I believe that the most promising approach is mimicry-AGP, but there may be value in considering other approaches and expanding the scales. In particular, it seems that it would be very valuable to discover that multiple different approaches agree with each other, as that could be useful for studying this in a more stable manner.

10 thoughts on “Triangulating Autohomosexuality

  1. I think you are continuing a confusion that was kinda understandable in the 70s or 80s when Blanchard was active, but should realy be consigned to history.

    Namely, you take everything that arouses a person and throw it into the same bin under “sexual attraction”. This makes arousal by own body being feminine “autogynephilia”. by own body being masculine “autoandrophilia”, and you assume it has the same nature as attraction to other bodies, with some form of “location error”. Therefore you expect a correlation with sexual orientation. And you don’t get it.

    My suggestion is you don’t get it because the entire model is wrong. There never was an “erotic target location error”. There never was an “erotic target” in one’s own body. Rather, there is a separate erotic variable, different from erotic desire for others (which is modelled by the orientation system). Namely the erotic self-image.

    We will start with typical cis heterosexual men to explain what it is. These men desire women. However, they also desire to be seen as manly, possessing strength and prowess. Flattery about the man’s manliness and prowess is a rather stereotypical skill expected from female sex workers, for example. The nature of desiring manliness/prowess is also erotic, but is different from erotic desire for others; these men are not homosexual, and usually not bisexual either.

    In fact, even back in Blanchard’s time an erotic-natured fantasy of a hypermasculine transformation existed and was aimed at cis heterosexual man. i mean the comic series named “The Incredible Hulk”. Imagining oneself as very strong and muscular and intimidating, free of the entanglement of complicated thought, and yet ultimately “good” was a feeling very successfully marketed. Pop culture outpaced sexology at the time, and Blanchard apparently failed to notice The Hulk.

    So, a typical cis heterosexual man can derive erotic satisfaction from seeing oneself as super manly – while still desiring women. Why can’t, then, a male person with pre-existing dysphoric tendencies, whether or not “crossing the threshold” of an outright dysphoria diagnosis, similarly derive erotic satisfaction from seeing oneself as ultra feminine, “Barbie” to stay in US pop culture – while still desiring others, whether women or men? If the Hulk-fantasist is not experiencing “autoandrophilia” why would the Barbie-fantasist be experiencing “autogynephilia”?

    A move to cis women in this discussion is made complicated by cultural stigma against strong female sexuality. I would even suggest that most of the alleged difference between women’s and men’s sex drives is cultural, not biological. So it is harder to get the underying eroticised feelings of most women about their bodies. However, kinky cis women often do experience sexual pleasure from being hyper femme – *without* any reference to partners, and without necessarily being lesbian. (Of course, some modern studies raise the question of whether 100% heterosexual cis women even exist at all).

    I would really hope someone like Contra would get some of these kinky cis women on their YouTube channel and interview them about their erotic feelings related to their own bodies. This would tear another one in the old, dated Blanchardist system. which fails to recognize that self-eroticisation is not an “error”, not even a separate “target”, but a normal, organic part of human sexuality.

    Like

    • “Namely, you take everything that arouses a person and throw it into the same bin under “sexual attraction”. […] Therefore you expect a correlation with sexual orientation. And you don’t get it.”
      You may want to read the post more carefully; I do get a correlation with sexual orientation for quite a few of the approaches, namely approaches 4 and 5. And for men, with approach 3 too.

      “My suggestion is you don’t get it because the entire model is wrong. […] There never was an “erotic target” in one’s own body. Rather, there is a separate erotic variable, different from erotic desire for others […]. Namely the erotic self-image.”
      I briefly addressed this in the post:
      “One thing that can be noted is that these validation rules are based on the assumption that autogynephilia is a variation of attraction to women. Some instead argue that it is a form of feminized sexuality. I find this argument somewhat questionable, as I would think that it is androphilia that is feminized sexuality. I’ve seen some quite conflicting anecdotes and arguments that focus on the form female sexuality takes, and I don’t think there’s any clear conclusion here, so it’s difficult to just rely on experience. Instead, one way I would test this would be by looking at whether they are correlated with other forms of feminized behavior. IME this holds for attraction to men but not for autogynephilia, so therefore I wouldn’t think of autogynephilia as being a feminized sexuality.”

      “We will start with typical cis heterosexual men to explain what it is. These men desire women. However, they also desire to be seen as manly, possessing strength and prowess.”
      I recently did a sex fantasy survey where I asked people to describe their sexual fantasies qualitatively, and of the 15 men who gave nonempty responses, somewhere between 0 and 2 mentioned desire to be seen as manly. (One mentioned being dominant, one mentioned his partner playing with his penis as it grows. I think it’s a bit of a stretch to class these as “desire to be seen as manly, possessing strength, and prowess”, but I’m willing to round it in your favor.) As such, I don’t really think this is what men think the most about when they think about sex.

      “In fact, even back in Blanchard’s time an erotic-natured fantasy of a hypermasculine transformation existed and was aimed at cis heterosexual man. i mean the comic series named “The Incredible Hulk”.”
      I’ve never heard of men finding The Incredible Hulk arousing, but I can add a question on it to a survey.

      “If the Hulk-fantasist is not experiencing “autoandrophilia” why would the Barbie-fantasist be experiencing “autogynephilia”?”
      If I heard about a gay man whose primary fantasies involved Hulk-like transformations, I’d probably diagnose him as autoandrophilic…

      “I would even suggest that most of the alleged difference between women’s and men’s sex drives is cultural, not biological. So it is harder to get the underying eroticised feelings of most women about their bodies.”
      That seems to be in direct contradiction with most data I’m aware of. I had far more women saying that they were aroused by having a female body than men saying they were aroused by having a male body in approach 2, for instance, and there’s various other things that contradict what you say, e.g. here: https://twitter.com/DegenRolf/status/1026533747150217216

      Like

      • I did not actually say that “autogynephilia” is a “form of feminized sexuality” because I’m not sure what a “feminized sexuality” is. Your position, “I would think that it is androphilia that is feminized sexuality”, is heteronormative and therefore in this context entirely invalid. Besides, you also write – in the same comment – that you “had far more women saying that they were aroused by having a female body”, which would in fact support a notion that “autoynephilia” is a “femnized sexuality” – except I think we’re in a territory where cultural limitations onterfere with answers.

        I suggest that, regardless of sex or gender, “erotic self-image” is a separate variable from “erotic target”. But men are culturally conditioned not to talk about erotic self-image, which is why you won’t get it in a poll of men. In my theory, you will, however, get much more of it if you poll *women who have sex with men* about what arouses and satisfies *their partners*.

        As for “orientation”, we need to remember that is a model too, a model predicting range of sexual targets. It is a pretty good model, not without its exceptions but that’s true for any model. However, my statement is that “erotic self-image” is a separate variable and therefore not determined by orientation.

        Like

      • “I did not actually say that “autogynephilia” is a “form of feminized sexuality” because I’m not sure what a “feminized sexuality” is.”
        By “feminized sexuality” I’m referring to the hypothesis that there are sex differences in how one’s sexuality works, where “feminized sexuality” refers to a sexuality that (at least in some ways) has developed to work like a woman’s.

        “Your position, “I would think that it is androphilia that is feminized sexuality”, is heteronormative and therefore in this context entirely invalid.”
        I’m referring to innate/evolutionary/biological factors, not questions of morality or society. It’d obviously be completely delusional to think that heterosexuality isn’t, in an evolutionary/biological sense, the primary selected-for sexuality, since it is what directly leads to having kids. (There may be secondary selection pressures for non-heterosexual attraction, such as for socializing, but e.g. exclusive homosexuality cannot plausibly be selected for unless you invoke extremely sketchy hypotheses, and non-exclusive homosexual attraction would be selected for in such a way that people wouldn’t accept themselves having exclusive homosexual behavior instead of some heterosexual behavior.) That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be allowed to be non-heterosexual or that society shouldn’t embrace it (which’d be heteronormativity), but when trying to understand how sexuality works, we can’t just ignore the primacy of heterosexuality.

        “Besides, you also write – in the same comment – that you “had far more women saying that they were aroused by having a female body”, which would in fact support a notion that “autoynephilia” is a “femnized sexuality””
        Again, if you would please take care to properly read my original blog post above, you’d see that I had already mentioned this finding under approach 2.
        I don’t know how to interpret this finding for sure. However, one thing we can observe is that in both cis men and trans women, autogynephilia correlates with a gynephilic sexual orientation. Thus I would think that the notions of AGP-in-cis-women that corresponds to our notion of AGP-in-trans-women should be something that similarly correlates with sexual orientation, which quite simply doesn’t hold for approach 2.
        Now if you have some other account of why AGP correlates with sexual orientation in trans women while still corresponding to approach 2, then maybe we can look into that. But until then, I think approach 5 looks more correct than approach 2.

        “I suggest that, regardless of sex or gender, “erotic self-image” is a separate variable from “erotic target”. But men are culturally conditioned not to talk about erotic self-image, which is why you won’t get it in a poll of men.”
        This seems to contradict your previous claim of “it is harder to get the underying eroticised feelings of most women about their bodies”.
        In addition, it seems like this should apply extra strongly to trans women, due to the stigma associated with it, yet it’s easy enough for me to get them to report it in my surveys.

        “In my theory, you will, however, get much more of it if you poll *women who have sex with men* about what arouses and satisfies *their partners*.”
        Can you show me an example of the results of such a poll?
        Also, I would worry that there might be an element of typical mind fallacy here. But I’m not sure.

        Like

  2. Pingback: Response to a Blanchardist | ramendik

  3. Autohomosexuality is actually very common, though I have not heard it called that before. It is what causes Sexually Inverted males to appear to be masculine — ie, the Western New Gay Man. In this, the male, who is Sexually Inverted and thus has female (passive) sexuality and so should have feminine gender, is constrained from revealing this because of social intolerance aka transphobia. But his ideal sexual target remains, as it does for all male Sexual Inverts, strongly masculine men. An ETLE can form in which the subject himself then ‘falls in love’ with himself as his own ideal sexual target; then, just as an Autogynephile might, he recreates himself in that image. This explains the narcissism and hyper-masculinity of the Western New Gay man.

    It is also why the New Gay Man is practically non-existent outside the Anglo-Saxon West. There are plenty of Sexual Inverts in se Asia for example, many millions but all bar at most a few thousand are more or less feminised, from ‘femboys’ through to full transwomen and all points in between. There is simply not the transphobia that exists in the West, to discourage this display of femininity.

    More usually, this is called ‘Autoandrophilia’ or ‘AAP’. Note that AAP does not occur in females but something else, Autohomoeroticism, (Blanchard) does. In this the subject desires to have sex as a ‘gay man’, but she has conventional female sexuality, though she may, in this instance, prefer to be penetrated anally.

    Moser has been discredited, his essay was a trolling expedition, by the way.

    Like

    • “It is what causes Sexually Inverted males to appear to be masculine — ie, the Western New Gay Man.”

      That is one hypothesis for why, but it hasn’t been proven.

      “This explains the narcissism and hyper-masculinity of the Western New Gay man.”

      As autogynephilia is not associated with narcissism, there is no prediction at all that autoandrophilia would, and so this does not in fact explain any such narcissism (not that I’m aeare of evidence that gay men are narcissistic either).

      “More usually, this is called ‘Autoandrophilia’ or ‘AAP’. ”

      Autoandrophilia would not include autogynephilia in women, whereas the point of this post is explicitly to talk about both.

      ”Note that AAP does not occur in females but something else, Autohomoeroticism, (Blanchard) does. ”

      This is incorrect; I have observed non-AHE autoandrophilia in women.

      “Moser has been discredited”

      Sooooorta. Lawrence crticized Moser, but as you can see in my article if you go by measures in the style Lawrence proposed, autogynephilia is even more common than what Moser found.

      Like

    • No, it’s just that autoandrophilia is correlated with homosexuality rather than with heterosexuality, so the ETLE story doesn’t seem to work for that, and it’s not clear what would work instead.

      Like

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