Gynephilia and androphilia
Gynephilia (or gynophilia) (From Greek gunē, "women," + -philia, "love") is the romantic and/or sexual attraction to adult females, and its counterpart androphilia (from Greek andro-, "male," + -philia, "love") is attraction to adult males.
Sex and/or gender
The terms gynephilia and androphilia are occasionally (but increasingly) used when referring to the sexual orientation of transgender and intersex people, since the terms homosexual (same-sex) and heterosexual (different-sex) can be unclear. In describing an individual's sexual orientation as homosexual or heterosexual, we are not only saying something about the sex/gender of their object choice, but also something about their own sex/gender — specifically, that their sex and/or gender is the same as, or different from, that of those they desire. Difficulties in making these judgements can be seen, for example, in debates about whether female-attracted transmen are a part of the lesbian community. Androphilia and gynephilia are often preferred, because rather than focusing on the sex or gender of the subject, they only describe that of the object of their attraction.
The third common term that describes sexual orientation, bisexuality, makes no claim about the subject's sex or gender identity.
The terms can also be used to distinguish attractions to adults from pederasty and pedophilia. In the field of sex offender rehabilitation, the term gynophilia is used to mean "attraction to adult women", in contrast with pedophilia, with the aim of therapy usually being to replace pedophilic desires with gynophilic ones.
Magnus Hirschfeld, writing in the early 20th century, offered a threefold age classification system for homosexual males:
- Ephebophiles, "who are attracted to youths from puberty to the early 20s."
- Androphiles, who prefer men from age 20 to 50s
- Gerontophiles, who prefer older men.
The term androphilia has been useful in describing societies where pederasty was the norm, but where homosexual attraction to adult men was frowned upon.
- Dynes, Wayne Androphilia. Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. Dynes, Wayne R. (ed.), Garland Publishing, 1990. p. 58.