**Alec is a recovering crossdresser who attends Sexaholics Anonymous meetings in person, over the phone, face to face, and through an email discussion group.**
There are different groups for sex addicts. There is also Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, etc. Sexaholics Anonymous came about first though. The excerpts I copied are from the “White Book” a 200 page booklet that was written by the group’s founder back in the 1970’s. The author’s name is not listed. Because this book was written four decades ago, it spends most of its time talking about strip clubs, sex partners and looking at pornography. It was before crossdressing became a fad, before the LGBT movements, or other newer methods that are being used for lust and acting out, including crossdressing.
Most of the men in my meetings have a similar problem; they are alone, widowed, divorced, incapacitated, most are over the age of 50 and retired. Most afflictions deal with pornography and strip clubs. More than a few have been arrested for acting out in public. Most are free to do as they please and temptation can make life difficult. Well, you know the saying, “Idolatry is the Devil’s Workshop.”
I think it helps to have both the Christian and 12 Step viewpoints. But you don’t want one without the other. After much study and some prayer though, from the Sexaholics Anonymous perspective, crossdressing by and large of itself is not a sin but it is how one responds to it that gets one in trouble. That is where the Bible comes in, with its scripture, telling us not to follow the ways of the world and to deny oneself.
As far as how Sexaholics Anonymous has helped me, it helped me control the acting out (the masturbating). I first got into the program in June 2015. Things didn’t change for me overnight. The natural thing was/is to rebel and lust and act out more. I would say about 12 days into the program I stopped acting out, as I developed an understanding of lust. Also trying something new, something fresh-hearing new things for the first time made Sexaholics Anonymous interesting. Each time I went to a meeting I was allowed to “share” about my addiction and my response to it, and we were brutally honest. (I heard men break down and cry several times).
It was the first time in my life I could share my embarrassment of being a crossdresser in front of a group of 20 men. We shared for how long we have been sober. I found it best to say, “I’m sober today”, or “I am sober one day at a time.” At the beginning of each meeting we give our names, say we are Sexaholics and state our length of sobriety, if we wish. I would introduce myself as Alec, I am a sexaholic, I am addicted to being turned on by crossdressing and looking at transgender females. If I am working any steps today, I will say I am working Step ______.
In the beginning I stayed sexually sober for a few days at a time, one time went for six weeks and my longest tenure was four and a half months. Basically I didn’t touch myself for those lengths of times but I must have also controlled the lust, which is the thinking that leads to the acting out.
I grew more excited with it, meeting other men like myself and couldn’t wait for the next meeting. In every share I had something new and fresh to say.
But something else happened. As I began to share more and more, I began to analyze more and more and that lead to me over thinking. I started to rationalize new reasons for my crossdressing. I said to myself that addiction to crossdressing will go away if I surrender to it and just live the life because once I am out in public my fantasizing will become reality, I will have fulfilled an unmet desire and the sex addiction part of it will go away. I told myself I will sleep better at night too.
Shortly after that I quit going to meetings after I moved back in with my wife. That immediately sobered me up and stopped me. I moved to the country, away from the internet and went to church too. From what I learned in the program I did not act out for almost 5 months. Still though there was this burning desire to put this new hypotheses to the test, once I would be able to be alone again.
Last June it happened. I was alone for almost two months. And upcoming was the local pride festival, including a separate day for Transgender people and a Trans march, with many activities at our local Transgender Resource Center, less than a mile from where I live. All alone, close-by, all too convenient. Over tempting. The lust to get out of the closet was tearing me apart.
Even with all the Sexaholic Anonymous meetings going on, it was not enough to combat my stubbornness. In the program we say, “It works when you work it because you’re worth it.” Well, I wasn’t working it when I got out of the closet. When I did, I found my hypotheses to be working – at least some. As I got around real people and real situations I did quit masturbating. That can be attributed to not wanting to do so and get myself arrested. I did have, while being out in public, a tremendous hard on and when I get home I continued to have a “boner” for the rest of the day, and had continued insomnia. Except for going out in public I had 14 anxiety attacks in a two and a half week period.
I paid the price too, my wife discovered photos I had taken from my time out in public which lead to horrible embarrassment and shame and I have not been out of the closet since and that was last September. Following the online Sexaholics group has worked to control the lust. Here I share below some text from the White Book for Sexaholics Anonymous. Pay particular attention to lust (bottom of this email) and how it applies to you:
I will begin by listing the 12 steps of Sexaholics Anonymous:
1. We admitted that we were powerless over lust that our lives had become unmanageable.
2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7. Humbly asked him to remove our shortcomings.
8. Need a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10. Continue to take personal inventory and where we were wrong we admitted it.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood him, praying only for knowledge of his will for us and the power to carry that out.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to sexaholics, and a practice these principles in all our affairs.
From page 202 in SA White Book:
What is a sexaholic and what is sexual sobriety?
We can only speak for ourselves. The specialized nature of Sexaholics Anonymous can best be understood in terms of what we call the sexaholic. The sexaholic has taken himself or herself out of the whole context of what is right or wrong. He or she has lost control, no longer has the power of choice, and is not free to stop. Lust has become an addiction. Our situation is like the alcoholic who can no longer tolerate alcohol and stop drinking altogether but is hooked and cannot stop. So it is with a sexaholic, or sex drunk, you can no longer tolerate and cannot stop.
For the sexaholic, any form of sex with oneself or with Partners other than the spouse is progressively addictive and destructive. We also see that lust is the driving force behind our sexual acting out, and sobriety includes Progressive victory over lust. These conclusions are forced upon us in the crucible of our experiences and recovery; we have no other options. But we have found that acceptance of these facts is the key to a happy life, enjoying freedom we could otherwise never know.
This will and should discourage many inquirers who admit to sexual obsession or compulsion but who simply want to control and enjoy it, much as the alcoholic would like to control and enjoy drinking. Until we have been driven to the point of despair, until we really wanted to stop the good night, we did not give ourselves to this program of recovery. Sexaholics Anonymous is for those who know they have no other option but to stop, and their own enlightened self-interest must tell them this.
LUST, THE FORCE BEHIND THE ADDICTION
What is so wrong with sex?
We hear this question often, and it was one of our favorite expressions of denial that we had a problem. We could ask similar questions for other addictions, the workaholic, for example. What’s so wrong with honest labour? Or with compulsive overeating: What’s wrong with it? We have to eat to live! What was the use of alcohol and drugs: what’s wrong with a little help to relax and escape? And finally, with the sexaholic: What’s so wrong with sex? It’s God-given! People asked similar questions about the use of television, movies, music, exedra. Usually those of us trying to rationalize our addictions are the ones coming up with these responses. When the questions are asked in such a manner, it is easy to see how we can be misled and sex, perhaps, carries the most confusion. We find it confusing and difficult, if not impossible, to see the physical manifestations of addiction has caused enough for surrender. Knowing we must stop, we go to Great Lengths to find reasons for quitting:
“I might get VD or the wife will leave me.”
“I’ll have a heart attack if I keep on eating like this.”
“I just know this weed will give me cancer sooner or later.”
“I’ll wind up with hypertension if I keep on working like this.”
“I’ll get cirrhosis of the liver and brain damage if I don’t stop drinking.”
“If I don’t unglue myself from this tube I’m going to turn myself into a vegetable.”
Such reasons are seldom enough to make the true addict stop because they deal only with external. The clue here is that we must differentiate between the physical action and the spiritual action (attitude) taking place at the same time in the same individual. Because he lives inside his attitudes, the individual doesn’t see them; he sees only the physical activity and thinks he’s feeling guilty for that. It is truly puzzling to him. Hence the confusion on the proper motivation for wanting to stop any given addiction. When we look only at the activity itself, most of those final sufficient motives to stop, but if we can see its spiritual consequences, this can help us despair of it sooner and surrender. That’s why we must look behind the physical to see what’s really at work in our sexaholism. But first, let’s take a look at lust, for it is this concept that serves as a bridge between the physical and the spiritual aspects of our sexaholism.
Why in Step One do we say we are powerless over lust instead of sex? Is not some form of sex what we are addicted to? Yes, we answer, but our problem is not simply sex, just as in compulsive overeating the problem is not simply food. Eating and sex are natural functions; the real problem in both of these addictions seems to be what we call lust – an attitude demanding that a natural instinct serve unnatural desires. When we try to use food or sex to reduce isolation, loneliness, insecurity, fear, tension, or to cover our emotions, make us feel alive, help us escape, or satisfy our God hunger, we create an unnatural appetite that misuses and abuses the natural instinct. It is not only more intense, the natural becomes something totally different. Eating and sex bring us into a different dimension; they possess an unnatural spiritual component. The addiction is just to lust and not merely to the substance or physical act. Lust-that attitude itself-becomes the controlling factor in the addiction.
This may be why people exhibit lust in more than one area. Often, those of us addicted to substances or forms of behavior discover we are also addicted to negative attitudes and emotions.
“I remember that when I came off lust, alcohol, and tranquilizers, resentment burst forth like a damn volcano. I remember thinking that controlling lust must be like trying to control a piece of jello; you press in here and it bulges out there. Or like trying to rout a gopher; you plug up one tunnel only to have the beast go to work in another.”
People having sex in the sense of some people are allergic to pollen, strawberries or cats, that we do become “allergic” to lust for food and sex. Misusing the natural instinct of sex for an unnatural use and over and over again increasingly sensitizes as to the association, until the simple thought it’s the compulsion. For the sexaholic, lust is toxic. This is why we need recovery, and not merely physical. This is so crucial.
WHAT IS LUST? A personal point of view
It’s pretty tough to get a handle on it, but here’s what lust looks like in my life. It’s a slave master that wants to control my sex for its own ends in its own way whenever it wants. And it’s like a mental-spiritual noise that distorts and perverts sex, much as a raucous radio interference distorts a lovely melody.
Lust is not sex, and it is not physical. It seems to be a screen of self-indulgent fantasy separating me from reality – either the reality of my own person in sex with myself or the reality of my spouse. It works the same way whether with a girlfriend, a prostitute, or my wife. It thus negates identity, either mine or the other person’s, and is anti-real, working against my own reality, working against me.
I can’t have true union with my wife while lust is active because she as a person doesn’t matter; she’s even in the way; she’s merely the sexual instrument. And I can’t have true union within myself. That fantasy partner I’ve conjured up in my mind is really part of me! With lust, the sex act is not the result of personal union; sex doesn’t flow from that union. Sex energized by lust makes true union impossible.
The nature of the lust-noise interference I superimpose over sex can be many things: memories, fantasies ranging from the erotic to revenge or even violence. Or, it can be the mental image of a single fetish or of some other person. Seen in this light, lust can exist apart from sex. Indeed, there are those who say they are obsessed with lust who can no longer have sex. I see my lust as a force that apparently infuses and distorts my other instincts as well: eating, drinking, working, anger….I know I have a lust to resent; it seems as strong as sexual lust ever was.
In my experience, lust is not physical; it is not even strong sexual desire. It seems to be a spiritual force that distorts my instincts; and whenever let loose in one area, it seems to want to infect other areas as well. And being nonsexual, lust crosses all lines, including gender. When energized by lust, my sexual fantasies or acting out can go in any direction, shaped by whatever I experience. Thus, the more I indulge in sexual lust, the less truly sexual I become.
Therefore, my basic problem as a recovering sexaholic is to live free from my lust. When I entertain it in any form, sooner or later it tries to express itself in every form. And lust becomes the indicator of not only what I do, but what I am. But there is great hope here. By surrendering lust and its acting out each time I’m tempted by it, and then experiencing God’s life-giving deliverance from its power, recovery and healing are taking place, and wholeness is being restored – true union within myself first, then with others and the Source of my life.
Not being able to say no
Constantly being in dangerous sexual situations
Turning my head as if sex-starved all the time
Attraction only to beautiful people
Use of erotic media
Being addicted to the partner as I would be to a drug
Losing my identity in the partner
Obsession with the romantic-going for the “chemistry”
The desire to make the other person lust
Another Personal Perspective
Lust Kills –
Lust is the most important thing in my life; it takes priority over me.
Captive to lust, I cannot be myself.
Lust makes me its slave; it kills my freedom; it kills me.
Lust always wants more; lust creates more lust.
Lust is jealous; it wants to possess me.
Lust makes me self-obsessed; it drives me into myself.
Lust makes sex impossible without lust.
Lust destroys the ability to love; it kills love.
Lust destroys the ability to receive love; it kills me.
Lust creates guilt – unavoidably; and guilt has to be expiated.
Lust makes part of me want to die because I can’t bear what I’m doing to myself and my powerlessness over it.
Increasingly, I direct this guilt and self-hatred inward and outward.
Lust is destructive to me and those around me.
Lust kills the spirit; my spirit is me. Lust kills me!
One more thing I will include from the Sexaholics Anonymous White Book is 20 questions from the introductory chapter. Try replacing where you see the word sex, with “crossdressing” or “trans porn.” You will see A LOT of relevance.
1. Have you ever thought you needed help for your sexual thinking or behavior?
2. That you’d be better off if you didn’t keep” giving in”?
3. That sex or stimuli are controlling you?
4. Have you ever tried to stop or limit doing what you felt was wrong in your sexual behavior?
5. Do you resort to sex to escape, relieve anxiety, or because you can’t cope?
6. Do you feel guilt, remorse, or depression afterward?
7. Has your pursuit of sex become more compulsive?
8. Does it interfere with relations with your spouse?
9. Do you have to resort to images or memories during sex?
10. Does an irresistible impulse arise when the other party makes the overtures or sex is offered?
11. Do you keep going from one relationship or lover to another?
12. Do you feel the right relationship would help you stop lusting, masturbating, or being so promiscuous?
13. Do you have a destructive need -a desperate sexual or emotional need for someone?
14. Does pursuit of sex make you careless for yourself or the welfare of your family or others?
15. Has your effectiveness or concentration decreased as sex has become more compulsive?
16. Do you lose time from work over it?
17. Do you turn to a lower environment when pursuing sex?
18. Do you want to get away from the sex partner as soon as possible after the act?
19. Although your spouse is sexually compatible, do you still masturbate or have sex with others?
20. Have you ever been arrested for a sexually related offense?
As you can see it talks a lot about sex partners, etc. More than self-sex, crossdressing, which has to do with the time when this was written and back in the 1970s this would have been all that sex addiction would have been perceived to be about (a sex partner, watching XXX movies, porn, frequenting strip clubs, etc..). Hopefully a new edition of this book can be written someday soon. But in the year and a half of being associated with Sexaholics Anonymous, I meet more and more crossdressers and trans people.