Transsexual heterosexual men – autogynaephiles – share some characteristics which can be listed and described. Their most salient pyschological traits are (1) narcissism, (2) immaturity and (3) a total lack of empathy, bordering on sociopathic behaviour. There are also sometimes (4) some overt physical traits.
Narcissism and immaturity – invisible to a woman in love
Narcissism is sometimes hard to detect, but it is the fundamental driver of autogynaephiles even before transition.
In the first few years of our marriage my ex-husband “Paul” occasionally mentioned to me, with great self-satisfaction, his “small feet”, his “shapely legs” and his “full head of hair”. He seemed sometimes to be gently mocking me, which disturbed me. In fact his physique was in no way unusual, but the way he savoured the chill which he created certainly was.
In 2001 “Paul” had a facelift, without warning or discussion. I was stunned and very worried about this act. I assumed at the time that he was vain and excessively worried about showing his age, because of the age difference between us. He was so proud of his small feet, his shapely legs, the fact (in his view) that he looked young for his age…. These were strange traits for a man.
Immaturity and lack of roots
“Paul” was reticent and very shy in social settings. He was far too reticent for a man of his age (50s), who was well established in his profession. He found it difficult to find new business opportunities and instead he used my acquaintances to build a new circle. I would say now, with the benefit of hindsight, that he was childlike – a trait which I interpreted through the fog of my sexual love for him as trusting. It was flattering, but it was also parasitical and manipulative. I gradually realised that none of his friends or long-time business acquaintances knew much about him and he had drifted in and out of their lives leaving few traces. Even his childhood friends could not account for his abrupt changes – of wives, of business interests, of homes. This was very strange because he had a superficially confident air and was quick to charm with intelligent comments and jokes – without the usual sexual innuendo which was to me a refreshing change from most men.
In short, at first there was a lot to like about “Paul” combined with some puzzling shortcomings.
Lack of empathy, breaking down boundaries and assuming an increasingly controlling, “gas-lighting” behaviour – and total secrecy at all times
“Paul” seemed to think – this really should have told me that something was wrong! – that the biological sex of human beings was a matter of choice or belief: he talked of a “person of the male persuasion”. I just thought this was one of his weird jokes…. I didn’t put all these facts together as I am doing now
A few years into my marriage, “Paul” was no longer kind. He was not generous. In fact he was selfish and very mean both to me and our young children. He was lazy, surly, sullen, bad-tempered and capricious.
Over the years, he did a number of sudden, unexplained acts, due to his childish and impulsive nature. In particular in about 2000, after he had sold his first investment property, he bought a new yacht at the Boat Show without any explanation or discussion with me. I was astounded. Why, how could he afford to do this? The yacht was stolen six months later and he recovered the full purchase price (> £200K) from the insurance, thank God! I was very, very relieved when he rolled the proceeds over into another property development, not into a wasting asset.
At first he was inconsiderate to me (e.g refusing to help lift heavy shopping), then he refused to do any chores, was untidy, refused to come to bed in time in order to get up early in the morning – by then we had two healthy and happy children and school mornings – and he displayed other similar types of wearing and irritating “rebellious teenager” behaviour. The deterioration in his behaviour was gradual but relentless. Despite being asked numerous times “Paul” never explained why he was changing, and his introverted and disruptive behaviour was the source of great and increasing tension between us. Even the children thought it odd that he usually took their side, not mine, when I reprimanded them about small matters like reaching across the table or not asking politely at meal times. “Paul”‘s gentle teasing of me turned into spiteful taunting every hour of every day, year in and year out for 4 years, culminating with the (predictable) twisted knife: “You should take an anger management course!”. After years of patience in the face of obdurate and unexplained taunting, anyone will eventually loose their temper. I did occasionally loose my temper and I broke his glasses twice late at night when he would not go to bed. But during the day I kept my distance from him, observing him and refusing to rise to the bait. It was like living with a wild animal. Instead, and as a proportionate response to his impossible behaviour, I tipped the contents of his large filing cabinets on the floor twice. This was not destructive, but it was very annoying to him, just as his behaviour was to us.
None of this would have mattered if he had offered an explanation: a physical or a mental illness, some worry, some rational reason for his behaviour….. He offered none. He never intended to explain himself at all: he made an announcement just as he was about to leave us. He was cold and he was completely secretive.
No neutral observer could describe this as “brave and courageous” behaviour!
“Paul” was 6 ft tall and handsome, with an active mind and considerable charm when I met him. He had two physical peculiarities: his eyes were a very pale blue and the rims were noticeably pink. So his eyes always looked tired, as if he was straining to focus. And he had an enormous head – as if the destructive forces straining inside his brain were forcing his skull to expand – or, perhaps, his head had continued to grow in the same proportion as a child’s.
When I asked a Consultant Psychiatrist to explain to me what is the cause of Gender Dysphoria she said the main cause is “immaturity” – a word which has far, far more serious consequences in psychiatry than in normal conversation.