"Classic" transgender women generally see themselves as women trapped inside mens bodies. For the most part, they say that they know who they are inside and that arousal does not come into it. As crossdreamers (I prefer the term over autogynephiliac if only to dissuade critics from disregarding the message due to a fixation on the terminology,) we are forced to constantly allow for the possibility that we are just victims of a frustratingly-unfulfillable fetish. Lately though I've been feeling that this is just a poor way of interpreting this condition and that even though sexuality is a significant part of the experience, it is just a strong component of the fact that we are all sexual creatures anyway.
Last night I dreamed I'd become female and while not going about things the way I would if I were consciously choosing (as is usually the case with the strange concoctions our minds come up with while we sleep,) I remember waking and, though the dream slipped away very quickly, I retained a memory of liberation; of feeling as though I was able to express myself the way I truly wanted for the first time in my life. Contrary to my occasional thought that maybe, if I were to finally experience the female form I so strongly desire, I might not experience the exhilaration and the feeling of things being "set right", I felt as though, having had some sort of pseudo-experience of being female temporarily, that the inner peace, happiness and gratitude I felt was in fact the true response I would have.
All of this surfaced periodically in my head throughout today and I came to a new thought that I had not had before. Though many are saying that autogynephilia and "classic" transsexuality are different conditions at their core, what if they are wrong? Perhaps the only real difference is that a "classic" transgender female feels like a "woman in a man's body", thus experiencing an early onset gender confusion, whereas we crossdreamers are "women in a man's body and mind". If the difference is simply a factor of the way our mind is wired, then perhaps the sexual response is simply a male mind's response to the need to be female. It would also provide an idea as to why autogynephilic men tend to start responding to their condition later in life than classic transsexuals. Having a male mind would simply mean that it is harder to initially recognise what is going on under the surface, as the initial "I am a girl" thought form is not manifested due to a more masculine mind and would cause us to confuse the autogynephilic sexual response with a fetish of sorts.
As time passes it's becoming more accepted that women are just as sexually-driven as men, if not more so, though society and its morals tend to have trained women into suppressing their outward expression of this to an extent. On top of this, I have read from multiple sources that it is common for women to become turned on to some degree at the thought of themselves being sexy, attractive and desirable, which leads me to wonder if there is any crossover between that and the sexual attraction to the thought of ourselves as female, seeing as I suspect most, if not all of us, tend to only choose attractive mental imagery as the (self-directed) target of our fantasies.
For me at least, all of this is strengthened by the countless days where I experience little in the way of feeling "turned on", yet still have this deep aching inside of me to somehow be transformed into the object of my desires. I do have a separate unrelated fetish, though I won't get into the specifics, and because of the experience of these in tandem, I can feel a significant difference between the fetish and my autogynephilia. Whereas with the fetish I can be turned on very strongly, I don't actually want it to be made manifest- "it's just a fantasy", yet with the desire to be female there is nothing I want more, even though it usually doesn't turn me on quite as much as my fetish. Each day my desire for a female form varies in intensity, but irrespective of how turned on I am on any given day, the feeling that I am somehow trapped inside an inescapable prison and sometimes almost crying at some level deep inside, seems to point strongly to the suggestion that we are more closely related to classic transgendered women than many would have us believe.