James W. Hicks, M.D.

Posts Tagged ‘transvestite’

Metamorphic

In Flexible People, Sexual Types on October 17, 2010 at 9:00 am

Metamorphic is a term I invented to capture several different sexual types which have in common some degree of identification with the opposite sex. There are many theories about the features which define and distinguish the different types, for example by contrasting gender identity to sexual orientation, but we do not really have a coherent explanation for the wide range of combinations that exist in real life.

This is the most preliminary and uncertain sexual type in my model, so I hope you will bear with me and continue to give feedback until we get it right. Surprisingly, metamorphic features have turned out to be much more common in the profiles generated by my Flexuality Test than I expected.

In the most common metamorphic presentation, you are not only attracted to the opposite sex, but also sexually excited by the idea of imitating or becoming the opposite sex. As a child, you enjoyed wearing the clothing, shoes, accessories, or make-up of your opposite sex parent or siblings, and at puberty, you found these experiences sexually arousing. But in contrast to some boys and girls who later grow up to identify as gay, you are otherwise typically masculine or feminine and feel comfortable with the sex of your birth.

When you are with a sexual partner as an adult, you may ask to wear his or her clothes. When you are alone, you may cross-dress and arouse yourself in front of a mirror. You may wear undergarments of the opposite sex beneath your regular clothing in public and become aroused later when recalling the sensation. You may switch gender roles during sex, and you or your partner may use a strap-on dildo. You may have heard these sexual behaviors and preferences described as a cross-dressing or transvestic “fetish.”

For some who have these feelings, the desire to inhabit the body of the opposite sex becomes more intense. You may imagine yourself switching places with your partner or think of yourself in the role of the opposite sex when watching pornography. Though you consider yourself straight, you may have homosexual experiences (perhaps while cross-dressing) in order to better imagine what sex would feel like from the perspective of the opposite sex. A few men and women in this category eventually seek to live as the opposite sex, changing their wardrobe, taking hormones, or seeking surgery. Social scientists refer to them as “non-homosexual” transvestites and transsexuals.

In contrast, you may have identified closely, and for non-sexual reasons, with the opposite sex since childhood. You may feel you were born into the wrong body and consider yourself effeminate or butch, respectively, compared to other boys and girls, at least when you were growing up. Your interests and mannerisms may be more typical of the opposite sex. Children with these traits tend to identify as lesbian or gay when they grow up, and may be presumed to be gay by others. Some, who identify most strongly with the opposite sex, may seek to change their gender and may think of themselves as straight from that perspective. Like the other metamorphic type, you may cross-dress, take hormones, and eventually seek gender-realignment surgery, but out of a desire to live as the opposite sex rather than because you find it sexually exciting.

In clinical settings, metamorphic presentations are seen almost exclusively in men, but this may reflect the difficulty and distress felt by men who try to dress as women, rather than the actual incidence of cross-dressing. In Western countries, women can generally get away with wearing men’s clothing without attracting much attention, and “tomboys” are treated better than “sissies.”

Another variation of the metamorphic type would include those who feel that they are neither male nor female. You may dress and style your hair in a way that blurs the distinction between male and female (as opposed to cross-dressers, for example, who may exaggerate the traits of the opposite sex in the process of imitation). Some might feel uncomfortable with gender labels in the same way that others are uncomfortable calling themselves gay or straight. Some in this category may be most attracted to other androgynous individuals.

Finally, some who consider themselves unambiguously male or female may be most attracted to partners whose gender is ambiguous or paradoxically exaggerated, including transvestites and transsexuals. Again, this may be conceptually a very different group, but may also be a variant of the metamorphic type.

A recent example of the metamorphic type is Chastity Bono, the daughter of Sonny and Cher, who has legally and surgically changed his gender, and now goes by the name of Chaz Bono. He grew up lacking the interest of other girls and came out as lesbian before switching genders. The early 20th Century Brazilian, gay hustler, murderer, and transvestite, Joao Francisco dos Santos, portrayed in the movie Madame Sata, is another example. And though I don’t intend to speculate about the artist Prince’s personal sexuality, his stage persona exhibits heterosexual-metamorphic traits, evident in his hermaphroditic outfits, iconography, and lyrics. “If I were your girlfriend…,” indeed!