Loving Women with Penises

Dr. Olson,

I feel a bit lost. I’m in my late twenties, and I have been trying to date women quite unsuccessfully for years. As a teenager I didn’t know if I liked women or men. I didn’t get aroused by looking at women in erotic materials most of the time, but I didn’t have much response looking at erotic materials of men either.

One day I found a website and thought this woman looks like the type of woman I would like to have sex with. Scrolling down, I realized she was a nonoperative, transgender woman—a woman with a penis—and I had a stronger reaction than I have ever had. I avoided it for years. Now I find that when I see a woman who was born a woman, I feel there’s something missing, and I have a recurrent fantasy of being with a woman with a penis. I have avoided it because I feel it’s something wrong, but now I think that maybe I would like to have a girlfriend who is transgender, and my arguments against it are becoming less and less good.

 Now the only things that are nearly stopping me are what my family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors would think; how it would impact my job; what risks I would experience in defending against others’ hate; what God would say; and whether there’s a “cure” for this.

You are not as alone as you feel. A book called Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us about Who We Really Are gives us some insight. The author argues that the best way to learn what people are really thinking and doing isn’t to look at research based on surveys; what people are doing is best considered by looking at big data like Google and Pornhub searches.

Gynandromorphophilia—sometimes referred to as just GAMP—describes what you’ve just written about. This word is easier to understand if we look at the Greek roots of the word:

gyn = female

andro = male

morpho = body

philia = love

Basically, the word means a love for the body of someone who has both male and female characteristics, typically someone who loves the female body form but wants a penis attached to it. I’m sure other variations exist as well. The phenomenon is much more common than is known, but it’s not something that often comes up in casual conversations.

The author of Everybody Lies writes that 1.4 percent of searches on Pornhub are for women with penises. Now, 1.4 percent seems like a low percent, but when taken as a percentage of all searches on Pornhub, the number is very impressive. A Google search for “chicks with dicks” returned 267,000,000 entries.

No one really knows what controls our sexual attractions and desires, and if you look on Google, Pornhub, or some of the other sources of big data, you can find almost every imaginable type of attraction (and some you likely wouldn’t want to imagine). But the image we all have in our head of sexual attraction is one woman, born a woman, and one man, born a man.

If that wasn’t enough, our media beats into our head the pictures of photoshopped men and women who are not just ideal but uberideal. We internalize that image, and it becomes the standard by which we measure ourselves and others.

I don’t see our sexuality on a continuum between gay and straight. I see it much more as a matrix with a wide variety of sexual attraction and expression. As I’ve argued in other essays, I like the word queer—although many do not because it has been used as a term of derision—but queer has gained favor as a grand umbrella sheltering an infinite number of variations of sexuality.

Some might suggest that you’re bisexual, but that doesn’t cover what you’ve described. If what you experienced was so unusual, no gay erotica or adult videos would exist depicting “chicks with dicks.” But a lot of them are readily available.

Although your specific desire limits the scope of people available to choose from, the greater visibility of the trans community has greatly expanded that scope. Your acceptance of trans women could make you a hot commodity among those women who have become the highest target for hate crimes. I see no problem with your seeking a trans woman as a girlfriend, at least as far as developing a relationship with her.

You may find criticism from family, friends, and coworkers. That is the reality of the world we live in. You could even experience problems in employment. I would remind you, though, that when we make these kinds of decisions, we magnify the negatives and minimize the positives. Chances are good that much of what you worry about will never happen. People who love you will still love you, but they may not understand you. Since you can’t explain to someone why you feel the way you do, you can’t expect others to understand it either.

I can’t advise you about religion. That’s a very personal matter. But as I understand it, Jesus didn’t only love white, cisgender men and women.

No doctor can cure you of this, though some unethical therapists may claim that they can. Conversion therapies have been discredited and proven in many cases to be damaging. A good therapist might be helpful, providing help to “normalize” this experience and deal with any challenges.

Many people don’t realize that in choosing a therapist they can first interview the therapist before committing to treatment. Ask prospective therapists directly about their feelings regarding your desire. If they think you’re crazy or promise they can “convert” you, look elsewhere. In choosing a therapist for any issue, the critical issues in making that decision are (1) that the therapist is well trained and (2) that you both “click” on a personal level.

One final word: When we live our lives trying to fit in and always please others, we have relinquished control over our life to others. Take back that control. Hopefully, most will support you, but if they do not, surround yourself with those who will accept you and your desires as something that makes you even more interesting than others.