While there is variance of gender from male to female, from cis to trans, from authentic to bad faith, there are in fact very few Typologies of Gender Variance.
The best known are:
Harry Benjamin in The Transsexual Phenomenon, 1966
- Pseudo Transvestite
- Fetishistic Transvestite
- True Transvestite
- Non-op Transsexual
- True or Core Transsexual (moderate intensity)
- True or Core Transsexual (high intensity)
Anne Bolin in “Traversing Gender”, in Sabrina Ramet. Gender Reversals and Gender Culture, 1996
- hermaphroditic genders
- two-spirit traditions
- cross-gendered roles in the manly heart tradition
- cross-gendered rituals
What each of these typologies have in common is that they are typologies of trans variance only, not of cis variance, and in fact contribute to the mistaken idea that gender variance is a synonym for transgender, that trans persons are at variance in not being cis.
There are in fact quite distinctive variants among people considered as cis-gendered.
Autogynephilia went wrong especially in that the idea was applied to transsexuals before it had been investigated in cis-women as to frequency and as to what are its normal manifestations. The same goes for autoandrophilia in cis men. Typologies of trans gender variance are likewise shackled.
I will be treating crossdreamers (to use Jack Molay’s term) as cis, in that that is how the people around them regard them. Arguably they are wannabe trans, and might persuade a psychologist or a gender therapist that they are such, but one of the points that I will be making is that the dividing line between cis and trans is movable.
As with trans persons, cis persons can be arranged by psychological identification, and then clothing, hormonal and surgical enhancements.
Here are some of the variants within the cis spectrum:
- persons who are quite comfortable with the gender of their body and, what is another way of saying the same thing, are not at all uncomfortable with the idea of or in the presence of transsexuals, genderqueer, drag performers, transvestites, etc.
- persons who do not want to change their gender, but are nevertheless estranged from their current gender. While there have always been such persons, post-structuralist theory has offered new ways to articulate it.
- intersex persons who stay with the gender of rearing. Intersex is, of course, an umbrella term covering much variation of its own.
- autogynophilics/autoandrophilics. For many this is a phase typically starting with puberty where they are erotically excited at being the sex/gender that they are. For some this excitement continues into maturity.
- crossdreamers who have accepted their inner cross gender persona, are comfortable with trans persons, but have not or not yet decided to do anything about it.
- a variant on crossdreaming is literary androgyny where a writer is able to pass, not in person but through his/her manuscripts as the other gender. Examples would be Fiona Macleod, George Elliot, James Tiptree, Jr, Patricia Highsmith, and the female writers of contemporary gay romances.
- persons who are uncomfortable with the idea and/or the presence of various types of trans persons. On the model of the research that has established that male homophobes are erotically aroused by male imagery, we may speculate that persons in this type are crossdreamers in denial.
- persons who seek out homosocial environments, be it the military, a convent, a feminist group, a male-only pool-hall as a validation of their biological gender.
- hom(e)ovestites, who dress in a standard or exaggerated way associated with their own gender, even when it is not appropriate. Examples are men who always wear suits, even when their friends are casually dressed; women who wear skirts and makeup when they are impractical.
- butch men and women. For men this is an extreme homeovestity. Butch women are taken by some to be a type of trans, but many butch women object that they are not.
- There should be an extreme femme homeovestity, but apart from femme lesbians it does not seem to exist, probably because it is indistinguishable from the way that prostitutes dress – which is required for employment.
- the bear culture that has developed over the last few decades, that appreciates the normal appearance of middle-aged and often overweight men. This is still mainly a gay culture, but straight bears are becoming more common.
- same-sex hormonally enhanced cis-persons. Most women in the developed countries spend some years taking contraceptive pills which of course are estrogens. Until a health scare a few years ago, many women went on hormone-replacement therapy after menopause. Estrogens again. Some men into bodybuilding or athletic attainment like to take testosterone for greater achievement, but this is generally illegal.
- cross-sex hormonally enhanced cis-persons. Many men are put on estrogens to diminish prostate problems. Women athletes sometimes take testosterone for the same reasons that men do.
- surgical enhancements 1: plastic surgery. Traditionally associated with women, this is becoming more common with men.
- surgical enhancements 2: in vitro fertilization
- surgical enhancements 3: body modification.
- surgical enhancements 4: Transhumanism.