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Drag chasing: A beginner’s guide to gynemimetophilia

If you were a regular viewer of the American drama Dirty Sexy Money you may remember that one of the stories played out across the series was the on-off relationship between Patrick Darling IV (played by William Baldwin) and his transgender mistress girlfriend Carmelita Rainer (played by Candis Cayne who in real life became the first transgender actress to play a recurring transgender character on prime time television). Although Patrick Darling’s relationship with Carmelita was fictional, there is a minority of men who have a sexual preference for women who were born men.

In a review of paraphilias not otherwise specified (P-NOS), Dr Joel Milner and colleagues briefly overviewed this condition that was termed gynemimetophilia by the sexologist Professor John Money (from the Greek, gyne [woman], mimos [mime], and philia [love]). Dr. Milner and his colleagues define gynemimetophilia as a sexual paraphilia where an individual (usually male) derives sexual arousal and pleasure from sexual partners who are gynemimetic (typically a sex-reassigned, male-to-female transsexual). Such people are colloquially known as ‘transfans’ (although other names include ‘tranny chasers’ and ‘tranny hawk’). Milner and colleagues also note a related condition termed gynemimesis that normally refers to a homosexual male who engages in female impersonation without sex reassignment (such as a drag queen). Among females, the paraphilic equivalent (also coined by Professor Money) is andromimetophilia (from the Greek, andros [man], mimos [mime] and philia [love]). The T-Vox website provides advice, information and support website on the internet for transgendered individuals. It claims that:

“Gynemimetophilia may be a word assigned to both chasers and admirers. People who are attracted to female identified transgender people may be of any gender or sexual orientation. They may or may not think of their attraction as a fetish. Some people may have a more sex positive view of fetish and not be bothered by the idea of objectification while other people may view fetish and objectification as oppressive and dangerous”.

Attraction to transgendered individuals doesn’t necessarily have to be paraphilic although the (sexual and/or romantic) attraction is said to be enduring. Some academics distinguish between those who are attracted to those individuals who have undergone gender reassignment surgery, and those who are attracted to those who simply dress as the opposite sex. To be classed as a paraphilia, the attraction would normally have to be an exclusive or primary sexual preference for trans men and/or trans women. Some clinically oriented academics characterize transgender attraction as a medical diagnosis to be managed, but it would appear that most individuals who are attracted to transgendered individuals do not seek treatment (therefore it may not be clinical condition in most cases). According to a the Wikipedia entry on transgender attraction:

“Many members of the transgender community (particularly in the MTF [male-to-female] population use ‘tranny chaser’ in a pejorative sense, because they consider it a fetish-like attraction to the penis of a pre-operative or non-operative trans woman MTF or to the vagina of a pre- or non-operative trans man. In [the 1996 book] ‘True Selves’ [Mildred] Brown and [Chloe] Rounsley suggested that tranny chasing men may be homosexual men in denial. The term tranny (or trannie) is itself considered a slur in some circles”.In [the book] ‘Diary of a Drag Queen’, Danny Harris describes four types of men interested in him while he was cross-dressed: heterosexual men who wanted the presumed superior oral services of another male, homosexuals who were only interested in his genitals, other cross dressers, and men who were intrigued by the mixture of masculinity and femininity he represented”.

The reasons for attraction differ from one person to another but a recent 2011 paper by Dr. Jeffrey Escoffier in the journal Studies in Gender and Sexuality highlightsthat the exoticism of the transgendered individual can be a primary attraction and that such people are “often both hyperfeminine in appearance and sexual aggressive”. He claimed that the phenomenon is fairly new and claims that the first known cases occurred in 1953 following the first case of male-to-female sex change (i.e., Christine Jorgensen). Others may be attracted to what transgendered individuals represent and the way they challenge male/female sexual orthodoxy.

However, a 2008 qualitative study in the journal AIDS and Behavior led by Dr. Don Operario examined men who have sex with transgender women (or MSTGWs as they termed them). Operario and his colleagues conducted in-depth semi-structured individual interviews with 46 MSTGWs living in San Francisco. Approximately three-quarters of those they interviewed described themselves as heterosexual or bisexual. They reported great diversity in the ways MSTGWs explained their sexual orientation, and reported there was “no consistent patterns between how men described their sexual orientation identity versus their sexual behavior and attraction to transgender women”. As one of their interviewees said: I like women with dicks. I like tits and I like dicks…Something erotic about getting fucked by someone who is a woman”.

A 2010 sociological study by Dr. Martin Weinberg and Dr. Colin Williams examined men who were sexually interested in trans women (MSTW) in the Journal of Sex Research. In their study, trans women were defined as genetic males who used estrogen to feminize their body but retained their penis. They examined the nature of MSTW’s sexual attraction towards trans women, and then examined how this related to their sexual orientation identity. Their main finding was that those MSTWs who identified as heterosexual tended to gloss over the fact that the trans woman had a penis, while the bisexually identified MSTWs were more likely to incorporate the trans woman’s penis into the sexual experience. Finally, it is worth noting that the T-Vox website is not in favour of using the word ‘gynemimetophilia’ because:

“The word gynemimetophilia has a negative connotation and is a somewhat loaded or controversial term in the transgender community, particularly since associated with paraphilia or fetish. In order to promote positive gender identity, many transgender people would rather not use terms which refer to fetish because of the connotation of sexual objectification in relationship to transgender people… Gynemimetophilia is a primarily psychological term and psychological practitioners should take care in using this label as it can be psychologically damaging”.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Blanchard, R., & Collins, P.I. (1993). Men with sexual interest in transvestites, transsexuals, and she-males. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 181, 570–575.

Brown, M.L. & Rounsley, C.A. (1996). True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism: For Families, Friends, Co-workers, and Helping Professionals. Jossey-Bass.

Escoffier, J. (2011). Imagining the she/male: Pornography and the transsexualization of the heterosexual male. Studies in Gender and Sexuality, 12, 268–281.

Milner, J.S. Dopke, C.A. & Crouch, J.L. (2008). Paraphilia not otherwise specified: Psychopathology and Theory In Laws, D.R. & O’Donohue, W.T. (Eds.), Sexual Deviance: Theory, Assessment and Treatment (pp. 384-418). New York: Guildford Press.

Money, J. (1984). Paraphilias: Phenomenology and classification. American Journal of Psychotherapy, 38, 164-78.

Money, J. (1986). Lovemaps: Clinical Concepts of Sexual/Erotic Health and Pathology, Paraphilia, and Gender Transposition of Childhood, Adolescence, and Maturity. New York: Irvington Publishers.

Operario, D., Burton, J., Underhill, K., & Sevelius, J. (2008). Men who have sex with transgender women: Challenges to category-based HIV prevention. AIDS and Behavior, 12, 18-26.

T-Vox (2012). Gynemimetophilia. Located at:

Weinberg, M.S. & Williams, C.J. (2010). Men sexually interested in transwomen (MSTW): Gendered embodiment and the construction of sexual desire. Journal of Sex Research, 47, 374-383.

Wikipedia (2012). Attraction to transgender people. Located at:

Bee-rotica: A beginner’s guide to insect sting fetishes

In a previous blog I briefly examined formicophilia (i.e., being sexually aroused by insects crawling and/or nibbling on a person’s genitals). According to both the Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices (by Dr.Anil Aggrawal) and the Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices (Dr. Brenda Love), there is a specific sub-type of formicophilia that relates to being sexually aroused by bees (i.e., melissophilia). To date, there has not been a single academic or clinical study examining melissophilia. However, what there has been are many historical, cultural, and/or academic references to the use of bee and wasp stings for sexual purposes (including the books by Dr. Aggrawal and Dr. Love that specifically make passing reference to melissophilia).

The most common reference to the use of bee and wasp stings is their use as a method of penis enlargement. There are many cults that are devoted to the phallus. Furthermore, it is known that many ancient religions (especially those that are polytheistic such as Hinduism and Greek mythology) have gods with gigantic penises. Similarly, there are also some monotheistic religions (e.g., Judaism) that make reference in the Tanakh (i.e., the canon of the Hebrew Bible) to promiscuous females that desire males with very large penises. Consequently, men belonging to these religions in various different countries have used a variety of methods for penis enlargement including penis gourds, stretching methods, and bee stings. Arguably one of the oldest reference to insect stings as a way of enlarging the penis was in the Kama Sutra (the fourth century Hindu love manual). It suggested:

“To increase the size and potential of the penis: Take shuka hairs – the shuka is an insect that lives in trees – mix with oil and rub on the penis for ten nights…When a swelling appears sleep face downwards on a wooden bed, letting one’s sex hang through a hole”

Shuka insects are a form of wasp and the hairs are the shuka’s stingers. The Kama Sutra claims that the “swelling caused by the shuka lasts for life” (although I haven’t seen any evidence that this would actually be the case). In the 2007 book on The Miscellany of Sex, Francesca Twinn also noted that there is an Amazonian wedding ritual that involves covering the penis with bamboo that is filled with bees as an aid to penis enlargement. This very same ritual was allegedly tried by the Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger (after one of his former girlfriends – Janice Dickinson – criticized how small his penis was). The film maker Julien Temple was quoted as saying:

“It involved putting bamboo over the male member and filling it with stinger bees so that the member attained the size of the bamboo. Mick spent months in the jungle in Peru”

The medicinal effects of bee venom and stings have long been known but there are also inherent dangers. A recent 2011 paper on bee stings in the World Journal of Hepatology by Adel Nazmi Alqutub and colleagues summed the situation up concisely when they noted that:

“The use of bee venom as a therapeutic agent for the relief of joint pains dates back to Hippocrates, and references to the treatment can be found in ancient Egyptian and Greek medical writings as well. Also known as apitherapy, the technique is widely used in Eastern Europe, Asia, and South America. The beneficial effects of bee stings can be attributed to mellitinin, an anti-inflammatory agent, known to be hundred times stronger than cortisone. Unfortunately, certain substances in the bee venom trigger allergic reactions which can be life threatening in a sensitized individual. Multiple stings are known to cause hemolysis, kidney injury, hepatotoxicity and myocardial infarction”.

Despite the possible dangers, there are very few reports in the literature of penile wasp and bee stings. The few that have been reported tend to be on young children stung while playing naked in the summer. (I came across a particularly gruesome case – with photos – of a three-year old with a penile bee sting in a 2011 issue of the Turkish Archives of Pediatrics that you can check out if you have the stomach for it). However, a few academic medical papers make the point that if the penile bee stings are self-inflicted and things go wrong, such people may be just too embarrassed to seek medical help.

In a 2005 book chapter by Dr Brenda Love (in Russ Kick’s Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong) examined some of the strangest sexual behaviours from around the world. She wrote that bee stings have been used by men to extend the duration of orgasm, enhance sensations of the penis, and increase its circumference. She also recounted this anecdote related to a man who got his sexual kicks from bee stings:

“Bee stings were once used as a folk remedy for arthritis sufferers. The insects were captured and held on the affected joint until they stung. The poison and the swelling it caused alleviated much of the pain in their joints. One male, having observed his grandparents use bees for this purpose, and later having a female friend throw a bee on his genitals as a joke, discovered that the sting on his penis extended the duration and intensity of his orgasm. Realizing that the bee sting was almost painless, he developed his own procedure, which consisted of catching two bees in a jar, and shaking it to make the bees dizzy to prevent their flying away. They were then grabbed by both wings so that they were unable to twist around and sting. Each bee was placed each side of the glans and pushed to encourage it to sting.  (Stings to the glans do not produce the desired swelling and the venom sac tends to penetrate the skin too deeply, causing difficulty in removing them)…Stings on the penis, unlike other areas, resemble the bite of a mosquito…The circumference of the man’s penis increased from 6.5 inches to 9.5 inches. Swelling is greatest on the second day”

This account is by no means an isolated incident as I have come across a number of similar stories online. For instance, in response to a man’s question about whether bee stings have a demonstrable effect on virility and sexual performance, one person responded:

“My boyfriend would [use bee stings] all the time and it would turn me on so much. You squeeze the abdomen of the bee to trigger it into combat mode, so it will sting and get the stinger out. You put the stinger in the urethra and keep on pinching the bee until it releases the venom and stings the penis. The reasons this works is because the venom from the bee makes your penis swell, and well, that just seems to make it harder and larger”

The next account is just an excerpt from the full account and I want to stress that I personally do not advocate trying this – I’m merely reporting this account to demonstrate that the practice appears to exist.

“After reading the text for the Kama Sutra [I] have come up with a plan to increase girth using the common paper wasp… To catch and manipulate the wasps I use a type of lab tweezers…Once I find the nest I select a worker that is alone and catch it by the wing with the tweezers. Then I place it in a small jar with small holes in the lid…After I have three wasps then I can rotate them out in a sting session. [With] a partial erection [I] use a pen to mark 1/2″ circles every 1″ around the base and a second ring of circles 1″ apart. These are your targets. Put the jars in your fridge for a minute or two. NO LONGER! You want to slow them down not kill them. Select your first wasp and grab her wing near the middle with your tweezers…Manipulate your wasp/tweezer combo to target the circle. Once you have a single sting move on to the next circle target…When you finish you WILL jump around for awhile, but the reward is worth the five minutes of discomfort…You will need to [rub your penis with] olive oil for a few minutes just after the sting treatment…After ten nights do another treatment…Do not use hornets or yellow jackets in place of paper wasps they hurt a lot more but don’t produce any better results. Do not use anything containing caffeine or aspirin during this treatment as they can retard the swelling that you want”

I should also point out there are also variations on a theme as some online accounts that I came across involved other types of insect sting being used to increase penis size and girth such as those who used the stinging properties of fire ants. In fact, I did come across some interesting academic papers from South America (by Jose Marques and Eraldo Costa-Neto, Universidade Estadual de Feim de Santana, Brazil) by examining the use of insects and animals for “medicinal purposes” and there was an example of the sting of great ants (Dinoponera) being used for “strengthening a flaccid penis”. There are also other sexual practices that use stinging insects (mainly ants and wasps) but these used in the case of sexual sadism and sexual masochism (such as those practices outlined on sites like the Slave Farm).

I’ll leave you with this final snippet. The most remarkable sexual bee stung story I have come across is that of Chloe Prince, a transgender woman from Jackson, Ohio (US) who was born male. As a male (called Ted) he married his wife, had two children, and then claimed in the national press and broadcast media that as a result of a severe reaction to a bee sting, his testosterone level dropped significantly. Prince claimed that after she had been stung, her male body developed a more womanly shape, and eventually underwent gender reassignment surgery. (However, I no of no evidence that bee stings can cause changes in testosterone levels, and Prince was diagnosed with Klinefelter’s Syndrome – a genetic condition in which human males have an extra X chromosome and that can result in the development of female sexual characteristics such as increased breast tissue [i.e., gynecomastia])

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Alqutub, A.N. Masoodi, I., Alsayari, K. & Alomair, A. (2011). Bee sting therapy-induced hepatotoxicity: A case report. World Journal of Hepatology, 27, 268-270.

Bonnard, M. (2001). The Viagra Alternative: The Complete Guide To Overcoming Erectile Dysfunction Naturally. Rochester: Healing Press.

Abraham, T. (2012). My husband became my wife: Transgender woman reveals how a bee sting led to her sex change… and how the woman she had married stood by her. Daily Mail, February 9. Located at:–started-bee-sting.html#ixzz1xba6y0eA

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Aggrawal, A. (2011). A new classification of zoophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 18, 73-78.

Gates, K. (2000). Deviant Desires: Incredibly Strange Sex. New York: RE/Search Publications.

Love, B. (1992). Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books.

Love, B. (2005). Cat-fighting, eye-licking, head-sitting and statue-screwing. In R. Kick (Ed.), Everything You Know About Sex is Wrong (pp.122-129).  New York: The Disinformation Company.

Özkan, A., Kaya, M., Okur, M., Küçük, A. & Turan, H. (2011).  Three-year-old boy with swelling and ecchymosis of the penis. Turkish Archives of Pediatrics, 46, 259-60.

Twinn, F. (2007). The Miscellany of Sex: Tantalizing Travels Through Love, Lust and Libido. London: Arcturus.

Private practices: A brief overview of male genital self-mutilation

One of the rarest behaviours in the world is the act of genital self-mutilation (GSM) in males. To date, approximately 125 cases have been recorded in the clinical literature dating back to the turn of the twentieth century. The first recorded case is thought to be a letter in the Journal of the American Medical Association by Dr D. Stroch in 1901.

GSM has been recorded in a variety of forms (e.g., simple lacerations, scrotal cutting, testicle removal, penile amputations, self-castration, and a combination of the above, so called ‘lock, stock and barrel mutilation’) across a variety of countries (USA, Middle East, India, Kenya, and Nigeria). There appears to be an increased incidence of GSM over the last decade although this may be due to increased reporting rather than increasing number of cases. GSM usually occurs in Caucasian men in the 20s and 30s (although there is a minority of cases from African and Indian descent and some case reports of individuals over the age of 70 years).

The range of instruments used to enable GSM include kitchen knifes, Stanley knives, scissors, blades, chain saw, and axe. In many cases, the genitals are disposed of immediately such as a recent case reported in the Saudi Medical Journal where a 37-year old male schizophrenic cut off both his penis and testicles and flushed them down the toilet.

A 1988 study by Tobias and colleagues in the South Medical Journal reported that self-mutilators (including all types of self-mutilation not just GSM) were most likely to suffer from schizophrenia (particularly command hallucinations), religious preoccupation, substance abuse, and/or social isolation. Genital self-mutilators are similar, and tend to fall into one of four types – schizophrenics, transsexuals (i.e., those with a gender identity crisis), those with complex cultural and religious beliefs, and a small number of severely depressed people who engage in GSM as part of a suicide attempt (around one-tenth of cases). A 1991 study in the journal Psychopathology also reported that GSM may also be triggered by a feeling of guilt for sexual offences. Similarly, Dr A.C. Waugh writing in the British Journal of Psychiatry concluded that GSM most commonly occurred in men with chronic paranoid schizophrenia and a history of delusions where only castration absolves them of guilt for sexual wrongdoing

A 2003 case report in the journal Urology, reported an attempt by an Indian man to become a ‘hijra’ (i.e., eunuch of the Indian subcontinent) due to his dissatisfaction with the wait for gender reassignment surgery. Reports indicate that transsexuals often resort to genital self-mutilation especially if they are unaware of the availability of professional (medical) help. Dr. D.B. Russell and colleagues in a 2005 issue of Sexual Health reported that genital mutilation that has a more ‘rational’ basis usually involves removal of the testicles (i.e., auto-castration) whereas those in a psychotic state are more likely to engage in penile amputation. An early study in 1993 by Aboseif and colleagues in the Journal of Urology reported that among a group of 14 genital self-mutilators, 61% of episodes involved the mutilation of one or both testicles. They also reported that among repeat mutilators, around one-third (31%) had a history of alcohol abuse and over a half (55%) had a history of drug abuse. The degree of injury didn’t differ between the psychotic and non-psychotic self-mutilators. Reporting on 52 cases in the Archives of General Psychiatry, Greilsheimer and Groves found 87% of genital self-mutilators to be psychotic and 13% to be non-psychotic. The psychotic individuals ranged from those with functional psychosis through to those with brain damage.

Those who engage in GSM as part of a religious belief are typically diagnosed as having Klingsor Syndrome. This was derived from the character Klingsor in Parsifol (a Wagner opera) who engaged in an act of self-castration to gain entry into the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Holy Grail. According to Samir Shirodkar and colleagues in the Saudi Medical Journal, group genital mutilation is a custom of a sect of Australian Aborigines where the blood is drunk by the infirm (who believe it restores their health).

In a fairly recent issue of the journal Mental Health and Substance Use, Dr Thomas Dunn and colleagues reported an unusual case of GSM. A 55-year-old non-psychotic homeless male turned up at hospital with penis and scrotal maggot infestation that was secondary to GSM. The man had gender identity issues and had performed GSM while he was drunk. However, he only sought medical help when he was barred from travelling on public transport because of the smell emanating from his maggot infection.

In a 2007 issue of the Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry, Dr. Craig Franke and Dr James Rush provided some risk factors that help in the identification of people at risk for GSM. These included: (i) psychotic patients with delusions of sexual guilt, (ii) psychotic patients with sexual conflict issues, (iii) prior self-destructive behaviour, (iv) depression, (v) severe childhood deprivation, and (vi) pre-morbid personality disorders. However, the condition is complex and as Dr Nagaraja Rao and colleagues highlighted in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, “genital self mutilation like any other serious self injury is not a single clinical entity and it occurs in any psychiatric condition with corresponding psychopathology”.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aboseif, S., Gomez, R. & McAninch, J.W. (1993). Genital self-mutilation. Journal of Urology, 150, 1143-1146.

Ajape, A.A., Issa, B.A., Buhari, O.I.N., Adeoye, P.O., Babata, A.L. & Abiola, O.O. (2010). Genital self-mutilation. Annals of African Medicine, 9, 31-34.

Dunn, T.M., Collins, V., House, R.M. & Dunn, P.W. (2009). Male genital self-mutilation with maggot infestation in an intoxicated individual. Mental Health and Substance Use, 2, 235-238.

Eke N. (2000). Genital self-mutilation: there is no method in this madness. BJU International, 85, 295-298.

Franke, C.B. & Rush, J.A. (2007). Autocastration and autoamputation of the penis in a patient with delusions of sexual guilt. Jefferson Journal of Psychiatry, 21, Located at:

Greilsheimer, H. & Groves, J.E. (1979). Male genital self-mutilation. Archives of General Psychiatry, 36, 441.

Martin, T. & Gattaz, W.F. (1991). Psychiatric aspects of male genital mutilations. Psychopathology, 24, 170.

Master, V. & Santucci, R. (2003). An American hijra: A report of a case of genital self-mutilation to become India’s ‘‘third sex’’. Urology, 62, 1121.

Murota-Kawano, A, Tosaka, A. & Ando, M. (2001). Autohemicastration in a man without schizophrenia. International Journal of Urology, 8, 257-259.

Rao, K.N., Bharathi, G., & Chate S. (2002). Genital self-mutilation in depression: A case report. Indian Journal of Psychiatry. 44, 297-300.

Russell, D.B., McGovern, G. & Harte, F.B. (2005). Genital self-mutilation by radio frequency in a male-to-female transsexual. Sexual Health, 2, 203-204.

Shirodkar, S.S., Hammad, F.T. & Qureshi, N.A. (2007). Male genital self-amputation in the Middle East: A simple repair by anterior urethrostomy. Saudi Medical Journal, 28, 791-793.

Stroch, D. (1901). Self castration (Letter to the Editor). Journal of the American Medical Association, 36, 270.

Schweitzer, I. (1990). Genital self-amputation and the Klingsor syndrome. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 24, 566-569.

Stunnell, H., Power, R.E., Floyd, M., & Quinlan, D.M. (2006). Genital self-mutilation. International Journal of Urology, 13, 1358-1360.

Tobias, C.R., Turns, D.M., Lippmann., S., Pary, R. & Oropilla, T.B. (1988) Evaluation and management of self-mutilation. South Medical Journal, 81(10), 1261-1263.

Waugh, A.C. (1986). Autocastration and biblical delusions in schizophrenia. British Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 656-658.