[Epistemic status: The data examined in this post is unreliable, and the post itself is a bit silly/tongue-in-cheek. The main point in this post is that people should be less overconfident about autogynephilia in cis women. Previously, I have expressed skepticism that autogynephilia is as prevalent in cis women as it is in natal males, disbelieving that it is normal female sexuality, and I remain skeptical of widespread autogynephilia in cis women, but I think it’s a position that needs to be criticized seriously (especially since some cis women, like Alice Dreger, believe that it is common) rather than dismissively, hence my defense.]
Behavioral autogynephilia is arousal to performing feminine behaviors. The general autogynephilia scale measures it using items like sitting in a feminine way or speaking with a feminine voice, but canonical examples given of behavioral autogynephilia might also include knitting, being a cheerleader, or similar. Behavioral autogynephilia is often rare in cis women, and so it is often used as an example to prove that autogynephilia is not normal cis female sexuality, e.g. here:
My own arguments against the claim that autogynephilia frequently occurs in natal females were more general and not directed at Moser’s survey. I wrote, for example, that the notion that typical natal females are erotically aroused by—and sometimes even masturbate to—the thought or image of themselves as women might seem feasible if one considers only conventional, generic fantasies of being a beautiful, alluring woman in the act of attracting a handsome, desirable man (or woman). It seems a lot less feasible when one considers the various other ways in which some autogynephilic men symbolize themselves as women in their masturbation fantasies. Examples I have collected include: sexual fantasies of menstruation and masturbatory rituals that simulate menstruation; giving oneself an enema, while imagining the anus is a vagina and the enema is a vaginal douche; helping the maid clean the house; sitting in a girls’ class at school; knitting in the company of other women; and riding a girls’ bicycle. These examples argue that autogynephilic sexual fantasies have a fetishistic flavor that makes them qualitatively different from any superficially similar ideation in natal females.
It may be useful to consider the rates found in trans women for comparison. For this, there is a survey on /r/AskTransgender that may work:
For behavioral autogynephilia, the relevant question was “Enacting stereotypical feminine behaviors (painting nails, knitting, etc.)”. Thus, apparently, in cis women the rate is 7%, while in trans women, the rate is 11%. This means that there is a difference of 7%/11%~0.6.
Due to the content of /r/ItsAFetish, it is unlikely that the participants have been confused about the meaning of the questions. This is relevant because in other surveys, such as those which find that most women report being aroused by the thought of being women (1, 2), it is often hypothesized that most women are not actually aroused by the thought of being women in the same sense that natal males are, but instead confused about the meaning of the question because they have never observed autogynephilia in males. This problem is unlikely to come into play here.
There seem to be a number of conclusions that can be drawn here:
- Behavioral autogynephilia is not typical cis female sexuality, but it is also not typical MtF sexuality.
- Presence of behavioral autogynephilia does not strongly distinguish between cis women and MtFs.
- If you strongly disbelieved one of the above two statements – and I suspect a lot of people arguing against autogynephilia in cis women disbelieved statement 2 – then you should be less confident about your assertions about autogynephilia.