Transsexual Anonymous

From transsexual to recovering sex addict: a different approach to gender dysphoria

Welcome to my website. I’m a transgender fantasy addict. I’ve created this site to share a message drawn from my personal experience – one that may not be relevant to very many people, but which I hope may be of life-changing, even life-saving, significance to those few.

In a nutshell, my story is this:

For anyone who identifies with my experience, my message is: THERE IS HOPE!

I suggest beginning by reading my story (link here). Then this link will take you to a guide through the rest of the material here.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

My story

I was a shy and lonely boy. My early childhood was marked by two experiences of separation: hospitalization when I was eighteen months old, and a move which took me hundreds of miles away from my old home and friends when I was four. By the time I was five and starting school, I was experiencing the world as a threatening and frightening place. My family’s culture was firmly based on the notion that nice Christians do not show their feelings, so I learned to keep my fear and pain inside. I suspect that the expectation that I should be able to keep a stiff upper lip was especially strong because I was a boy.

My earliest memory of transsexual thoughts goes back to when I was six. I had a dream in which I was a young woman working as a rich woman’s maid, and wearing a pretty dress something like one of my mother’s slips. In effect I was dreaming of a life in which I had traded autonomy for security. I have little doubt that strong sexual feelings must have accompanied the dream, ensuring that it made a lasting impression on me.

I can remember a couple of other occasions during my childhood when I fantasized about being female, and found this was a pleasant escape from reality. But it was in puberty that such fantasies really came into their own. My sexuality divided me in two. I longed for a normal relationship with a girlfriend, but my crippling lack of self-confidence made it impossible for me to approach girls. As an escape from this painful reality I could spend hours in my fantasies of being a slave girl, forced to wear skimpy clothing and to have sex at the whim of my owners.

Going to university and finding myself surrounded by attractive women who were so near yet so far (a new experience, as I had attended a single-sex school) made my shyness still more painful. My sexual acting-out progressed to include pornography. As I masturbated I would imagine that I was one of the models in the photos. I had discovered the existence of transsexualism from a book review in a newspaper and a paragraph in a sex education book. I did not believe I could really be a transsexual – my yearning for a heterosexual relationship as a man was too strong, and I could not deny to myself that my transgender fantasies were at bottom sexual – but I felt very envious of those who were.

Social phobia and depression made it impossible for me to study effectively. I was living virtually as a recluse. I eventually sought treatment from a psychologist, but it didn’t help, and I could see no alternative to dropping out of university. At this low ebb in my life I lost my virginity by going with a prostitute.

I found a job after a few months, and although it was badly paid it enabled me to fund my collection of pornography and regular visits to prostitutes. After each sexual encounter I was consumed with shame, self-loathing and despair, but I couldn’t stop. I saw a “normal” relationship with a woman as my one hope of redemption. I had crushes on various women, but I only ever asked one of them out, only to be turned down.

When I was in my mid twenties a legacy enabled my parents to move into a bigger house, which meant that I no longer had to share a bedroom with my brother. My almost immediate reaction to this new-found privacy was to begin buying and wearing women’s clothes. The first night I spent sleeping in lingerie bought from a sex shop was intensely pleasurable. Although clothes were far from being enough to realize my fantasies, I decided I must at least be a transvestite even if I wasn’t a transsexual.

This phase ended after a year or so with my getting rid of all the women’s clothing I had accumulated. The pleasure of indulging my transgender urges was eventually outweighed by the fear that being ‘kinky’ would make it totally impossible to have a normal relationship with a woman. However, I could not change the pattern of masturbating to transgender fantasy.

As I neared 30 there were some positive changes in my life. Success in studying led me into a job which had a future, and the boost to my self-esteem enabled me to begin going on some blind dates. But fundamentally I still had no confidence that I was attractive and loveable. The first woman I had a second date with became my partner for ten years. It was a sick, co-dependent relationship between two sick people. For me it was ‘any port in a storm’, as I was driven by loneliness and guilt to find some alternative to the misery of anonymous sex with prostitutes. Once the co-dependency bond was established I felt trapped.

I stopped seeing prostitutes throughout this time, but towards the end I was making increasing use of pornography – now available to me in especially addictive form on the Internet. What never stopped was my use of transgender fantasy. I would habitually use fantasy whilst having sex with my partner, both as an escape from the pain of the relationship and as the only way I could achieve orgasm.

I increasingly thought about becoming a woman as a serious option. In my distorted thinking it seemed to me to be the only morally justifiable reason for breaking my commitment to the relationship. When the relationship finally did break down, the dam burst. Within a couple of days I’d begun buying women’s clothes again. I pored over TS websites and magazines. I got involved in a TV/TS support group. I found a TS-friendly hairdresser who would give me a unisex style, and a beautician to teach me about makeup. I ‘came out’ to some of my friends and my sister. I embarked on an expensive and painful course of pulsed-light treatment to remove my beard. I thought the next step would be to see a specialist who would give me the green light to begin taking hormones.

And yet something wasn’t right. Was it that I always felt ill at ease in transgendered gatherings? That I was still terrified of going out in public en femme? That when I met TSs I could never, in my heart of hearts, feel that they were really women? That I couldn’t reconcile a realistic expectation of what hormones and surgery could do for my fortysomething-year-old body with the stunning beauty I dreamt of being? Was it the reluctant identification I felt with accounts I read of sexually-motivated, “autogynaephilic” transsexualism – being a “man trapped in a man’s body”. Or all of this rolled together into that nagging voice in my head asking if I was doing the right thing?

And there were other things going on for me that were hard to reconcile with my desired self-image as a ‘woman in waiting’. I had started seeing prostitutes again. The first time was when I was on my way home from a meeting with a pre-op TS with whom I’d been exchanging letters. I’d been disillusioned to find her highly unconvincing as a woman. After a while, paying for sex developed into a habit which I’d indulge every ten days or so. And my use of Internet pornography and prostitution-related sites was out of control. I’d stay on in the office until everyone else had left, then start surfing. Sometimes I wouldn’t even wait. Then I started working from home (I was living alone) and got a broadband Internet connection, and there were simply no boundaries. I’d surf all through the night, seeking out increasingly extreme and abusive material.

Eventually I reached a crisis point where I was forced to admit to myself that there were no longer any boundaries around my use of pornography that I could trust myself not to cross. Having admitted this I could not deny that I needed help. I delayed for a while, then a further ‘rock bottom’ experience pushed me into taking action. A woman I’d paid for sex told me her story. Basically she had been driven into prostitution by pure financial desperation after an injury forced her to give up a job she loved. It dawned on me that I had in a real sense paid for the right to rape this woman. The next week I attended my first meeting of Sex Addicts Anonymous and for the first time spoke the words “I’m a sex addict”.

I entered the recovery programme of SAA with clear goals: to stop my use of prostitution and of Internet pornography. The relationship of these goals to my transgender feelings seemed equally clear-cut: by removing the compulsion to engage in these characteristically masculine behaviours, I would resolve the conflict between them and my desired self-image as a woman, and thus clear the way to full gender transition. Others in the fellowship with whom I shared these thoughts, my sponsor included, were entirely supportive of me as a transsexual.

I did however identify the use of sexual fantasy, and masturbation to fantasies, as part of my addictive behaviour pattern, and decided that I therefore needed to try to give this up. My fantasies were so consistently abusive (mainly to myself) in nature that it was obvious to me that they could not form part of a healthy sexuality. Whereas in the first few months of my recovery I struggled to maintain abstinence from my “bottom line” behaviours for more than a few weeks, I found it relatively easy to stop fantasizing. I was very much helped by a path of spiritual growth that I was following outside the SAA programme – I was preparing to be confirmed in a church which I had started attending.

It was after I had been in the SAA programme for about four months that I had a profound experience of spiritual awakening. I chanced to be in the area where my ex-partner and I were staying when our relationship came to an end almost exactly two years before. There was a little church nearby, and I went into it to pray. Almost as soon as I got down on my knees, tears started coming, and didn’t stop for the next hour. All the bottled-up grief and pain over the failed relationship was coming to the surface. At the end of it I felt a deep serenity, a sense of being healed and at peace with God. These feelings were accompanied by a tremendous clarity of mind, through which I saw my gender issues in a completely new light. I realized how much they were bound up with my feelings about the relationship – that the dream of being a woman had given me something to hope for as the relationship fell apart, and something to cling to when it finally collapsed. I found myself positively wanting to stay male rather than try to become what could only ever be a poor imitation of a woman – accepting both my male body and my complex gender identity as gifts from God. I also felt ready to open myself to the possibility of a new relationship – not attempting to conform to anybody else’s expectations of masculinity, but simply as myself.

To be sure, I asked myself whether this was all wishful thinking. But as I wrote in my diary, “it has the ring of truth because I felt so emotionally alive after such a long deadness”.

Over the next few weeks I let go of all my transgender behaviours and, most importantly, the fantasies which fed them. I have now been abstinent from them since April 2002, and from my original ‘bottom line’ behaviours of paying for sex and using the Internet for sex since the following July. I am not “cured”, and never will be, but I am recovering. Recovery has not always been an easy ride, especially in the early stages when I was often left confronting a great emptiness which I had previously filled with fantasies of being a woman. Medical treatment for clinical depression has played a vital part here. At the same time I sought God’s help and guidance in filling that emptiness through spiritual growth – and my prayers are being answered. The most wonderful of God’s gifts to me has been my marriage to a woman I met whilst in recovery. I felt total trust that it was God’s will for me to commit myself to this relationship as a man, and the love, tenderness, open communication and joy I experience within it are continually strengthening me in my positive acceptance of my maleness. It’s great to be a man!

March 2008 update: still abstinent, still no regrets!