The term autogynephilia (auto for self, gyne for female, philia for desire, often shortened AGP) refers to a psychological condition in which a man (usually heterosexual) derives sexual or even "romantic" pleasure from the fantasy of being female. The term was coined by psychologist Ray Blanchard after working with and studying many transsexual patients.
While not being the only reason for wanting to become a male-to-female (MtF) transsexual or claiming to "identify as a woman," autogynephilia seems to be exhibited by a great deal of transwomen. According to a 2015 survey of roughly 3000 American transwomen, at least 60% stated attraction to women, meaning they are heterosexual males. According to Ray Blanchard's studies, this would put them in the autogynephilic category, as homosexual transsexuals (HSTS) generally don't exhibit AGP.
Feminists are often critical of men openly exhibiting AGP and find them offensive, especially if they claim to be women, since their fantasy of being female usually seems to be based on highly sexist, objectifying, and reductive notions of womanhood.
Transgender activists claim that the concept is a transphobic myth, as it asserts that non-homosexual transsexuals are essentially under the effect of a paraphilia, or more bluntly a sexual fetish. They insist on the monolithic "female gender identity" theory to explain all MtF transsexualism and transgender identification, seeing woman-attracted transwomen as "trans lesbians" who should be accepted as being just like any other lesbian woman.
The phenomenon of AGP can be observed easily on the internet by searching for web forums dedicated to the paraphilia. Searching for terms like "sissy fetish forum" quickly turns up whole internet communities for AGP and similar fetishes, where some of these communities have an explicit focus on transgender topics, or sub-sections dedicated to members who desire to transition.
(waiting for Yardley's approval to add content from https://medium.com/@mirandayardley/a-history-of-autogynephilia-7fc31e385436)
Role in transgender activism
The misogyny of transgender activism is sometimes hypothesized to be rooted in the movement being controlled to a large degree by autogynephilic transwomen. Since they are originally (or arguably still) straight men and tend to transition in adulthood, often after having established powerful positions in life, it would follow that they have enough privilege and feelings of entitlement to dominate the discourse of the transgender movement. Their reductive view on womanhood, and again their feelings of male entitlement, would in turn explain why they would steer the movement in such a sexist direction and lash out at feminists who don't follow suit.
- "Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey" (PDF). National Center for Transgender Equality & National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. 2015-01-21. p. 29.
- (Adult content) Club Sissy - SRS/Hormones/TS
- (Adult content) House of Sissify - "Strict sissy training & forced feminization for transgender sl*ts. Like you."
- (Adult content) Why am I a sissy? "... I’m sure you are majority hetero with a minor kink NOW…and probably will be all your life, but a minority of sissies experience a fundamental shift in which the kink becomes something different and a transgender identity develops."