I first really recognise experiencing AGP at around 7 when I started developing my first crushes at school and spending more time with girls in general. I think at first it was typical childhood development stuff, but after a while I started to get strange feelings that I wouldn’t make sense of for many years. I started to get feelings that I wanted to be a girl.
Thinking about myself being a girl started to make me feel good in a way that I had never experienced before. A strange mix of excitement, happiness and shame. It is what I now recognise as arousal, but a young me could not make sense of these feelings. I thought they were shameful and something that shouldn’t be talked about.
I was aware of transgender people as young as 10, but the narrative of being trapped within the wrong body never described my feelings. I was unquestionably a boy, if not a slightly shy and introverted one. I have had an obsession with cars, planes and machines since before my first words. I loved computers. I wanted to be a racing car driver when I grew up. All things considered to be roles and things for boys/men.
It wasn’t hard for me to fit in with other boys pre teen years, and I had no reason to question my gender or my sexuality. Since It was women that made me have these feelings, I assumed it was just a form of normal heterosexuality that wasn’t really talked about.
I ended up going to an all boys school for my secondary education and as a result I did not spend much of my adolescence around girls my age. Girls weren’t really something I really had to think about. The act of having sex does not appeal to me in itself so I saw no sense in actively trying to pursue relationships. It is a bad habit that has followed me throughout my life.
Like many I became very depressed over the changes to my body puberty brought, not so much entirely because I knew I wanted to be a woman but because I definitely did not want to be a man. Having witnessed domestic abuse throughout my childhood and bullying by boys at high school, I had a bit of damaged perception of man hood, but it was something I accepted as inevitable.
Transgender fiction became an outlet for me from mid puberty onwards. I quickly rediscovered that the concept of becoming and being a woman made me feel amazing, so I just kind of rolled with it. I knew at some point it had something to with a core part of my sexuality, but I never questioned it, I never really had to. I had largely disassociated with life in general anyway, so my AGP was just there.
It escalated to the point of me actively researching transition, but I did not consciously consider why for many years, until friend discovered I had been looking at HRT. She asked me if I was trans, I said no, she asked me why I was looking at HRT and I honestly did not know. Being ‘discovered' forced me to confront my feelings and experiences and search for a way to make sense of them.
It took me a while to really start making sense of myself, but the writings of Blanchard and Lawrence described my feelings, experiences and very existence better than any other narrative or explanation I can find. I initially found it difficult to accept, but through learning more and more about transgenderism and talking with other AGP people that our stories and experiences are real and valid.
I have been on HRT for 1 year, I am out as trans to my friends and family and am considering transitioning at some point in the future but I feel I am not quite ready yet. I spent so many years of repressing that I still have a lot to learn and accept about myself, but ultimately I have found a path where I can be happy.
I am certainly a lot happier now knowing that there is a name for my experiences, that I am not alone and that I know I have nothing to be ashamed about. My only wish is that there was more awareness and understanding of AGP so that I could have started the process of understanding myself sooner.
During childhood, I really had no signs of being transgender. I was a nerdy, introverted boy with a passion for computers. If I really cherry-pick my memories, there are perhaps a few that stood out as potentially transgender; for instance, when I learned about the existence of trans people, I would briefly wonder how to decide whether I should transition, but I quickly forgot. I don't think I had any meaningful trans traits at the time. I did have a lot of social problems in childhood, and I ended up being diagnosed as autistic, which I still definitely am. I might also have some ADD-like traits, though I don't yet know if I qualify for a diagnosis.
When I reached adolescence, I never really got any desire to seek sex with girls. I don't know whether that has anything to do with my autogynephilia, though. I did get aroused by the female form, and consumed erotic material such as picture or images with nude women, but I did not like things containing sex. My memory of the time is vague; I am pretty sure I didn't consciously imagine being female for my sexuality back then, but it does sometimes seem that I was implicitly imagining it, as I tended to use material where I wanted to experience - and halfway imagined experiencing - the things that the women in it were experiencing.
At some point, I think perhaps when I was 12 or 13 or so, I encountered a video that had a title related to sex swap. I immediately felt a strong attraction to opening that video, but decided to try and avoid it instead out of shame. However, that video made me realize I could imagine myself as female during sexual fantasies, and once I realized that, I couldn't stop doing it. My sexuality ended up being almost exclusively autogynephilic ever since then. This didn't really lead to much change in practice, though; at the time, I didn't really become gender dysphoric or anything like that until much later. This may partly have been a result of me really not doing much reflection on the topic. Or perhaps it did lead to some changes; in some ways I seemed to slowly distance myself from things I viewed as pathological masculinity, but it's really not clear that this isn't just maturity playing a role.
Fast forward several years, to around age 16 or 17. At some point then, I encountered trans people on the internet, and I started following them on twitter. Slowly, I started relating to them more and more; I realized, when I started reflecting on it, that I would want to have a female body. At the time, I somehow didn't realize just how severe the limitations on medical transition treatment was. Since I only tend to be gender dysphoric about the things I can't change, this meant that I didn't really get gender dysphoria at the time.
At the time, I also started getting an interest in understanding how gender issues work. In the beginning, this lead me to try to make sense of it using theories broadly accepted within the trans community, but I became deeply interested in the topic and began to study it more and more. I started doing my own informal surveys about gender issues, trying to figure out how they work, and over time as I became more knowledgeable, concepts like autogynephilia started looking more and more right as explanations.
In the meantime, I was experimenting with figuring out whether I was transgender based on the interactions I had with trans people online, and also slowly realizing the limitations of what transition could do for me. This realization made me slowly become more and more gender dysphoric. In a sense, my experiences sorta seem similar to those described by the Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria narrative; however, I don't think this is an accurate descriptor for my experiences, as I had the preexisting autogynephilia. On the other hand, my informal surveys suggests that something like this may apply to most kids who are called ROGD, both MtF and FtM.
I started hormone replacement therapy close to my 19th birthday, but I have not and do not intend to socially transition. This is not because I think that there is something wrong with socially transitioning, but it just doesn't appeal to me specifically. My gender dysphoria is almost exclusively anatomic. That's not to say that I wouldn't want to live socially as a woman if it came with having a female body; the issue is that this is not exactly an option I have.
Over time, during my attempts to study how gender issues work, I've established some places for people to discuss this from an empirical point of view. This eventually lead me to create this website about autogynephilia, in cooperation with the a handful of other people I've met in the communities I've created.
Like many other people with AGP I had a childhood which seemed to be one of a “normal” boy. That doesn’t mean I didn’t struggle with some gender role expectations. But I consciously thought of myself as a boy and didn’t think much about girls or even being one.
What I struggled with was just my personality. I was always rather reserved, emotional, kind and sensible. I didn’t like playing sports or rough and tumble games with the boys. I rather drew pictures, played music and built stuff with LEGO. The boys picked up that I wasn’t like them and so the bullying began in kindergarten and lasted until a graduated. But I wouldn’t regard that as a trans experience but rather a difficulty I had because of the expectations for boys to be tough and strong which I just never had the desire to fulfil.
My first experience I would count to my AGP development happened around the age of eight. I don’t really recall much from my childhood so I can only showcase the few snippets I have. We were visiting my grandma who always had those huge catalogues for clothing lying around and I would skimp through the women’s section with great interest. I didn’t think much of it back then, but I knew I wasn’t supposed to do that. So I did it in private when nobody was looking.
I must add that I always tried to be a good boy. I never dared to speak up against anything I didn’t like and I always tried to behave as expected. I guess it was me trying to be accepted by others, which still didn’t happen nonetheless. But I was tempted to try over and over again and tried to live up to the standard for boys by avoiding everything feminine, even coloured clothing. Many things seem ridiculous in hindsight, but all I ever wanted as a child was acceptance and love and all I’ve ever gotten was avoidance and hate. So over the course of the years I grew bitter.
Adolescence brought a whole new range of issues. I was relatively late in my development and didn’t start to notice changes until I was 13 or 14. By that time I was already very isolated and an anxious and depressed shell. I knew that my interest was steered towards the girls when I fell in love with a girl from my class. That wasn’t reciprocated, unfortunately. To this day it’s the only time in my life I felt love for anyone. After a while, I noticed that my attraction to girls seemed different to other boys.
While boys were pursuing them romantically and sexually I mainly wanted to be friends with them and was kind of envious of the things they could do. But my thoughts weren’t exactly like “I am a girl” or “I want to be a girl” but rather “I wish I would have been born a girl”. It confused me that other boys didn’t felt like that and I was grossed out by how these boys were pursuing and treating the girls.
Regarding my body image things had gotten worse as well. I always haven’t had a very positive self-image due to the bullying, but with puberty I grew very foreign to my body. Body hair was one of the first changes I really noticed and I tried to combat it at first but eventually gave up and started to disconnect from my body. I remember questioning why I couldn’t be happy with my body hair or beard like other boys. I didn’t figure it out. But I never went swimming again from then on and had a hard time taking care of my body. I sometimes look into the mirror and get scared, thinking “Is that really me?” I also experience other forms of derealisation and depersonalisation, for example feeling foreign to my voice or just like I’m not in the real word. If that’s a form of gender dysphoria or because of my childhood experiences, I don’t know.
Since my life has been a struggle from the get go I eventually just didn’t want to go any longer. At the age of 17 I tried to put an end to it. Obviously, I failed. After having been in a hospital for three months afterwards I promised myself I would get my life together. I finished my apprenticeship, got a job and explored different hobbies. But the inner void never left me. In my early twenties I scheduled my whole day to the minute and kept myself busy at any given time. It wasn’t healthy, but it was the most efficient way to cope.
I never managed to develop romantic feelings for anyone anymore. I felt very attracted to women, nearly every women I saw, but that attraction wasn’t romantic nor sexual. It was different and I didn’t understand it. Eventually, I started cross-dressing at the age of 23 for the first time, accompanied by the sexual response which lessened over time. It gradually developed into a feeling of being comfortable and complete. I already had my first fantasies of being with a man as a woman sexually a few years earlier, which became more pronounced and dominant as time moved on.
Since I never met any LGBT-people I only had a vague ideas about homosexuality and especially trans people. But after two years of cross-dressing I started searching the Internet for why I’m so weird and stumbled over the threads on Quora and Reddit. I could relate, like, a lot. I even had an experience where I put on makeup and clothes, looked in the mirror and could recognize myself. A feeling I never encountered before. It shook me to the ground.
After the first few months of being all happy about my findings I eventually started questioning the presented narrative of being in denial about it for 25 years of my life. I never had the feeling I consciously denied that I’m a girl, because I knew I was a boy. It was also suspicious that I never expressed myself in any feminine way and that I was attracted to girls. I also didn’t understand my attraction to guys. I had the fantasies of being with a man for a couple of years now, but they never really translated to the real world. In the end, the trans community couldn’t explain logically why I had these thoughts and feelings, so I went on searching by myself.
I ended up reading Blanchard’s and Lawrence’s work with great interest and had so many moments where I could recognize my path very clearly. Since no other theory managed to explain my weirdness in such detail and precision I eventually accepted the fact that I’m AGP, which was a big let-down initially because it confirmed what I had already known, that I’m a man with a weird quirk.
I started counselling, hoping to find new strategies to cope. I’m now at 26 years of age and after one year in therapy rather hopeless regarding that. Everything I would label gender dysphoria has gotten worse, probably because I’m more conscious about it. New strategies to handle the situation without medical intervention helped only for a short amount of time. I’m now facing the question, if I want to start beard removal and HRT or try to live my life as a man. Both options don’t seem satisfying.
Living as a men would probably be easiest for now. I’m used to it and can get through the day, although it takes quite some effort. The fear pertains the future. How will I react to the aging of my body, getting more and more masculine? If I eventually find a girlfriend, will I eventually grow up to be one of the late transitioners in their 40s or 50s? But if I start HRT, can I really ever fit in as a woman? Do I have the strength to deal with others regarding my trans status for the rest of my life? Will I still feel like I made the right decision in ten years?
Since most questions can’t be answered I’m taking slow steps which feel right. I don’t know where I end up eventually, but I don’t see HRT as the Holy Grail which fixes all my problems. Instead I try to work on my depression, DPDR and anxiety first and foremost to get a clearer picture of what I need to do. But after having lived with suicidal thoughts for the last fifteen years I’m eventually just not going to care anymore and start transitioning anyway. The next years will decide.