Autogynephilia: an underappreciated paraphilia

Adv Psychosom Med. 2011;31:135-48. doi: 10.1159/000328921. Epub 2011 Oct 10.


Autogynephilia is defined as a male's propensity to be sexually aroused by the thought of himself as a female. It is the paraphilia that is theorized to underlie transvestism and some forms of male-to-female (MtF) transsexualism. Autogynephilia encompasses sexual arousal with cross-dressing and cross-gender expression that does not involve women's clothing per se. The concept of autogynephilia defines a typology of MtF transsexualism and offers a theory of motivation for one type of MtF transsexualism. Autogynephilia resembles a sexual orientation in that it involves elements of idealization and attachment as well as erotic desire. Nearly 3% of men in Western countries may experience autogynephilia; its most severe manifestation, MtF transsexualism, is rare but increasing in prevalence. Some theorists and clinicians reject the transsexual typology and theory of motivation derived from autogynephilia; their objections suggest a need for additional research. The concept of autogynephilia can assist clinicians in understanding some otherwise puzzling manifestations of nonhomosexual MtF transsexualism. Autogynephilia exemplifies an unusual paraphilic category called 'erotic target identity inversions', in which men desire to impersonate or turn their bodies into facsimiles of the persons or things to which they are sexually attracted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Erotica
  • Fantasy*
  • Gender Identity*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Paraphilic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Paraphilic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Paraphilic Disorders / psychology*
  • Sex Reassignment Surgery / psychology
  • Transsexualism / diagnosis
  • Transsexualism / epidemiology
  • Transsexualism / psychology*
  • Transvestism / diagnosis
  • Transvestism / epidemiology
  • Transvestism / psychology*