Autogynephilia is the arousal by one's self as female, and many male to female transsexuals experience this erotic desire. I am proposing that the term 'autogynephilia' misses the mark when describing the particular sexual interest of certain individuals. A more accurate term would be 'phylometamorphophilia' (a self gender transformation fetish), which is a subset of a broader range of self transformation fetishes. Other types of transformation fetishes include: species or partial species transformation, age regression or progression, body modification, or transformation into an inanimate object.
I have discussed the idea of autogynephilia as a gender transformation fetish with other autogynephiles, and I have had mixed reactions. There are those who agree wholeheartedly that this is the case. Many of them have multiple transformation fetishes, and can see the relationship between a species transformation and a gender transformation. Others are much more reluctant to agree. They might find the idea of a story about a gradual gender transformation arousing, but typically in their fantasies it go straight to the idea of them inhabiting a female body - no transformation process at all.
When is a Transformation Not a Transformation?
How can one distinguish between a gender transformation fetish and a self as female fetish? A transformation does not have to be gradual; it can happen all at once and still be erotic for the person with this form of sexual interest. But if it happens all at once, and the fantasizer does not even consider a magical or scientific process that caused this to take place, it's difficult to determine if this is actually a transformation. This particular type of fantasy might appear to be unrelated to a transformation fetish and is simply a self as female fetish. However, if a male inhabits a female body, that is, by definition, a transformation. It is a transformation from male to female, regardless of the process or lack thereof. The problem is that it dismisses the idea of there not being a transformative aspect by saying that it is always a transformation. This amounts to an unfalsifiable assertion that any type of self arousal as the opposite gender is a transformation fetish, which seems like a disingenuous and unhelpful way of reaching a proper conclusion. It is also not the case for homosexuals who desire to be female, as they do not have gender transformation fetishes.
Can a Gender Transformation Explain Other Types of Arousal Associated with Autogynephila?
Autogynephiles are attracted to women, hence the gynephilia. But autogynephiles are also interested in other sexual partners: gyneandromorphs (a.k.a. GAMs, people who appear female but with some male anatomy), feminine men, and masculine men). I propose that we could lump GAMs and feminine men in one category in masculine men in another. GAMs and feminine men could represent those who have partially transformed. They are men who have taken on female characteristics and appear partially female. Masculine men play a different role. They signify to the gender transformation fetishist that they have been transformed into a female. They validate that the transformation took place. The attraction to a masculine man is not genuine for a transformation fetishist; they simply play a role in the fantasy.
Without the idea of autogynephilia as a transformation fetish, how do we explain the attraction to GAMs and feminine men? Why would an arousal to one's self as female have anything to do with these erotic targets? One would only expect the so called meta-arousal by masculine men if autogynephilia was unrelated to a gender transformation fetish, as well as the more genuine arousal by women.
Gender Transformation Co-Existing with Other Transformation Fetishes
Gender transformation often co-exists with species and age transformations. A male heterosexual furry is commonly aroused by being transformed into a female anthropomorphic animal. A heterosexual age transformation fetishist is often aroused by not only a change in age but also in gender. I have even noticed that for some who are aroused by diapers, they are aroused by being transformed into a diaper.
How to Research the Gender Transformation Theory
Survey data is likely the best way to find a relationship between autogynephilia and gender transformation fetishes. When I try to determine if someone with gender dysphoria is autogynephilic or a homosexual with the desire to be female, I have found that the easiest way to draw a conclusion is to ask "Do you have a transformation fetish?" with autogynephiles having this fetish and homosexuals not having this fetish. A survey related to the various forms of transformation fetishes is probably the best way to get data regarding this subject. I would also like to speak to an autogynephile who adamantly is not aroused by the idea of transformation, although it's difficult to isolate autogynephilia from gender transformation for the reasons mentioned earlier. I plan to take a qualitative (seeking out autogynephiles who claim to lack any interest in gender transformation and asking them questions) and quantitative (survey data) approach to the question of autogynephila as a gender transformation fetish.