A commenter makes an excellent point


On my last post about trans people and “disclosure” in relationships, where many people seem to have missed the point entirely and launched into the usual debate over if and when trans people should disclose and whether cis people consider trans people to be acceptable partners, commenter Sivi cuts right through the bullshit:

As a brief note, to other cis straight dudes, can we refrain from patting ourselves on the back by going “You know, by gum, I would sleep with a trans woman.” It’s uncomfortably self-congratulatory for what is, after all, an admission that as a straight dude you would sleep with a woman.

As Greta has pointed out, when someone calls a woman “ugly”, the proper response is not your immediate reassurance that they aren’t ugly. Focusing on someone’s perceived attractiveness only serves to center the discussion on this, mistakenly reinforcing the idea that it’s relevant. The same applies here. No matter if they answer yes or no, straight men’s opinions on whether they would sleep with trans women are simply not the point. Just as the validity and worth of a woman and her work do not hinge on her appearance, the identities of trans people do not become any more or less real based on whether cis people want to fuck us.

When someone tries to invalidate our genders by saying that, sexually, they consider us less than “real” women and thus unacceptable by their standards, the error in this argument is deeper than the surface-level result that they don’t want to sleep with us. It’s easy to think this is where they’re mistaken, but that’s still not the core of it. The underlying error is the assumption that whether people accept or reject us as sexually desirable has any bearing on the reality of our womanhood. Failing to recognize and reject this can lead to counterarguments of the “Well, I’d fuck you” variety, which are equally irrelevant and only solidify that flawed assumption.

Comments

  1. besomyka says

    The first time I read Greta’s post it was an epiphany for me. That answer was somewhere in my head, I knew there was something wrong with the surface level of debate, and I knew the sexuality question was at the center of it, but I just couldn’t make the problem concrete. I couldn’t get my finger on it.

    And then you, Greta and that commenter come along and make the problem manifest in a way that not only highlights the deeper truth, but gives us all the mental hand-holds needed to do something about it. At least it feels to me like I can make a coherent argument when it comes up.

  2. Who Knows? says

    What’s the consensus on people who are attracted to trans people, mostly because they are trans?

    Is that being creepy? Or is it fine that someone would find that attractive?

    • julian says

      Not speaking for anyone but myself but fetishes in general can get iffy. Especially race and culture ones.

      So far most chasers I’ve seen tend to be attracted for very problematic reasons. For example, one who said he was attracted to trans women because they understood the importance of “femininity” and would keep themselves thin for their man. Another was a gentleman who saw it as they should be grateful for any male attention and he was thus owed sex.

      The attraction by itself the only problem spot I see is that it reaffirms that they aren’t “real” women. They’re a special category outside of the group.

      P.S. I just realized after typing that I completely ignored trans men. I will scold myself appropriately.

      • Who Knows? says

        Being in a special category might be seen as a positive by some. The experience of transistioning would have to give a trans person some unique insights on life and relationships.

        However, I don’t really know. I don’t have a personal relationship with any trans people and the only trans people I know are people like Zinnia who blog and I just know them from what they write.

        • Pteryxx says

          However, I don’t really know. I don’t have a personal relationship with any trans people and the only trans people I know are people like Zinnia who blog and I just know them from what they write.

          That just means you don’t personally know any people that you know are trans. How likely do you think it is that your assumption is correct?

          • Who Knows? says

            That’s a good point. It’s not something that one would share with just anyone.

            I did work with a guy who left because he was going to trans. I found out after he left. He worked in a completely different area than me, I fix computers so most people here I just meet now and then.

            I really wish I would have known, I would have loved to have some how talked to him about it.

    • dogeared, spotted and foxed says

      Humans are kinky. Finding someone you like who is also compatible with your kinks is awesome. Putting the kink before the person is dehumanizing.

      • Who Knows? says

        That kind of puts people between a rock and a hard place. On one hand it is awesome to find someone that is compatible, but we’re not supposed to consider what makes them compatible?

    • earth & stars says

      Being attracted to an entire group of people whose only common characteristic is a specific (not to mention highly stigmatized) medical condition? Creepy, not to mention othering. I want to get involved with people who want to be involved with *me*, not people who want to be be involved with an elaborate fantasy based on a pile of stereotyping and a problem I’d really prefer not to have.

      • Who Knows? says

        I do understand what you mean. There are likely a lot of people out there who likely identify trans people as sex toys. So it would be a minefield.

        But how is being attracted to someone because of their trans status any different than being attracted to someone because of their gender? Or any other physical characteristic? Isn’t physical attraction how most relationships start?

        • earth & stars says

          I’ll play along, then: Since we’re talking about physical attraction, what do all trans men (or trans women) have in common besides being trans?

          As for how attraction because I’m trans differs from attraction because I’m male, re-read my earlier comment, paying particular attention to the bit where I say that transsexuality is a stigmatized medical condition that I’d prefer not to have.

          • Who Knows? says

            The one thing that all trans people have in common is the experience of transistioning from one gender to another. With that, I assume, would come a unique perspective concerning sexuality, gender roles, and really most everything. Perspectives and ideas I find interesting and assume would be in line with what I have been thinking.

            Sure, I don’t personally know any trans people, so I could be full of shit and just kidding myself. Like I say, who knows?

          • Who Knows? says

            After giving it some thought, it’s probably just a granfalloon of my own constructions.

            Nice chatting, hope I didn’t offend anyone. I’ll see myself out.

      • punchdrunk says

        Yeah, those people don’t seem to be looking for a real, human partner so much as searching for bodies that meet their real doll specifications. And assuming that all people in any given group are interchangeable and necessarily alike.

        The ‘I’m not a bigot, but my cock is, hurrrrrrr’ argument. It’s despicable. Libido isn’t divorced from the person, isn’t floating around, some separate and unchangeable force. It’s part of a person’s psychology, just like plain ol’ nonsexualized sexism/racism/transphobia/ablism/etc. Many people seem to think that it’s okay, it’s not real bigotry if it involves sex.

        You know how our crotches float around, doin’ and thinkin’ stuff without us.

        • Who Knows? says

          So, let me get this straight. If you would never consider a relationship because someone they are trans, you’re a bigot? If you consider trans desirable, you’re an incredible douche?

          Is there any kind of middle ground here?

          • punchdrunk says

            How about finding people attractive or unattractive, rather than grouping entire classes of people into ‘fuckable’ and ‘unfuckable’?
            There are a lot of ways of being trans* or genderqueer or any other category of human being.

          • earth & stars says

            Yes. It’s possible to be open to the idea of trans people as sexual/romantic partners without fetishizing us.

          • No Light says

            Because it’s just gross. Not being sexually attracted to someone until you know their medical history? It’s creepy as hell.

            What would you think of someone who said “OMG people who were born premature are hot” or “You know who’s sexy? People with asthma. They have a truly unique view on life. I mean it doesn’t get much more vital and life-altering than when breathing’s a challenge! Sexxxay”.

            Premie-sensuals and Inhaler-chasers would be seen as fetishising, othering, and reducing someone to one aspect of their medical history.

          • says

            What is bigotry? Unwarranted, irrational prejudice against a group of people. Writing off an entire group of people, not because you’re not attracted to them, but because of a complicated emotional/intellectual construct you have about the particular configuration of genitalia they might have, well, that’s not rational. If you met a cis woman with whom you were compatible and to whom you were attracted, but upon learning that she was a breast cancer survivor and had prostheses instead of “real” breasts, you dumped her, would that be rational? Would it be an example of prejudice?

            Honestly I don’t know but it’s not behavior that I find admirable.

  3. sc_43598d7a9185fb7de53e94601c54059d says

    Which explains why (after having sex with about 50 different men, most of whom did not know I was TS and ONE dangerous time), I truly believe sex without love is a waste of time and dangerous. I’m happily celibate.

  4. Arjaizen says

    You really can’t control who you are attracted to, so why not just roll with it when it happens, and not get so hung up on the details of inny vs outie, cis vs trans, or gay vs straight?

    Just as important, don’t worry about anyone else’s attractions. If what you’re into makes both you and your partner happy, nothing else should matter.

  5. earth & stars says

    @ Who Knows?

    We were talking about attraction to physical characteristics, not how you assume a shared experience* has affected us.

    *one that not all of us actually share, by the way.

    • Who Knows? says

      To be honest, I’ve never really thought of it as a medical condition and thinking about it, I’m not sure what I think of it as. I guess I just thought that’s how some people are. So, I was a bit miffed at it being equated with a fetish or kink. It just doesn’t seem like that to me.

      • earth & stars says

        You seem to start out talking about transness (referring to a medical condition) and end up talking about being attracted to trans people, so I’m not too clear on what you’re actually saying. All I’m getting from it is that you’re quite new to thinking about trans people and our experiences. I’d suggest checking out a few bloggers like Natalie Reed and Zinna Jones if you want to further your education.

        • Who Knows? says

          To be honest, I had to lookup cis and genderqueer. So, yes I’m not aware of how to describe these things. That isn’t to say I haven’t thought about transness for very long. Trans people, and if you could say their culture, I don’t have much direct experience with.

          I’ve read Free Thought Blogs since it’s inception and had no idea that Zinnia was trans, I just thought she was another woman blogger until one of her posts caught my eye and I took a closer look.

  6. Kenn says

    I apologize for my comment on the previous article. It was insensitive and, whatever my intentions, I shouldn’t have posted it. At the very least, I should have thought about what I was saying and how I was saying it.

  7. Robofish says

    Bit late to this one, but I just wanted to say, very well said. The endless discussions on whether various men would or wouldn’t fuck various trans women is just an example of the broader cultural misogyny, in which women are judged based on how fuckable they are. Not for nothing is the main way of criticising a woman arguing that no man would want to fuck her. And however irrational that argument may be, we still see it every day. (Of course, the second main way of criticising a woman is arguing that she lets *too many* men fuck her, which just illustrates the double bind our society puts women in.)

    Frankly, if you’re *ever* thinking of publicly commenting on whether you would fuck a particular woman (including trans women), you should have a long hard think about whether there’s something of greater value you could add to the conversation, that doesn’t encourage misogynistic cultural values. And if not, probably better not to say anything at all.

  8. spacklick says

    OK, I’m fully expecting to have missed a point here but, what’s wrong with people identifying Trans-women as a different category from Cis-women? There are differenced between the groups, things common to all or most individuals of one group and not common to any or many individuals of the other?

    If some Cis-Hetero Guy finds the group Trans-women as a whole a turn off and some other guy doesn’t, while I see it’s irrelevant to anything other than the sex lives of those two guys, is it actually a bad thing?

    • says

      Just like cis women, trans women come in all shapes, sizes and varieties. Some are pre-op, some are post-op, some are non-op. They’re red heads and brunettes and blonds. They have curvy hips and straight hips. They have nice skin and blemished skin and put their shoes on just like every other woman in the world.

      Finding a group of women a turn off in and of itself is biased and a personal preference. However, claiming that all trans women are a turn off is like saying all thin women are a turn off. Because of one characterist it, thinness, you refuse to consider that they might be attractive after all. And a lot of times people make assumptions about trans women when it comes to their genital configuration. Which is no one’s business but that woman’s and anyone she cares to tell.

      As many others have said, if you don’t want to be with someone who has a certain trait, fine. That’s your choice, but so many are attracted to trans women until they find out they’re trans* and potentially have no vagina. (There are many who do.)

      Sex and sexuality is so often based off of heteronormative sex that it’s literally impossible for some to think of sex as anything but penis in vagina. And as a result, if there is no vagina (And no interest in anal for either partner) then there’s no interest in sex. Which is a very limited view on sex.

      • spacklick says

        That’s a nice set of opinions there, but it in no way answers the question posed.

        “but so many are attracted to trans women until they find out they’re trans*”
        And? How you mentally view a partner affects how attractive they are. If you replaced trans there for racist/republican/hairy you’d find men who would say the same.

        Anyway, my question wasn’t about the sexual attraction portion of the blog, but the “less than “real” women” bit.

        What is wrong with me having 4 categories of sex in my head rather than two (I use sex rather than gender here because gender is a true greyscale spectrum)

        • says

          Ah, I see. One of those are you?

          You should read up on sex because that isn’t how it works. And what about the trans* women who do have vaginas? Are they a third sex? What about intersex people? Classifying a woman by her genitals is ridiculous. If I, as a cis woman, had no vagina, would I not be a woman? Ridiculous.

          And yes, you’re more than welcome to be biased about your sexual preferences. Doesn’t mean others can’t criticize your bias. You don’t get out of criticism just because it’s an opinion. Especially when that opinion is based on what makes your penis hard.

        • says

          [M]y question wasn’t about the sexual attraction portion of the blog, but the “less than “real” women” bit.

          What is wrong with me having 4 categories of sex in my head rather than two (I use sex rather than gender here because gender is a true greyscale spectrum)

          You’re free to have 4 categories as much as you want. No one’s forcing that on you, but don’t be surprised when very few trans*women acquiesce to your categorization of them. Trans*women don’t spend years of being hated and abused and maligned to be miscategorized. They don’t spend often hundreds of thousands of dollars to be miscategorized. They don’t spend heartache, emotional swings, and loss of friends and family to be miscategorized.

          Trans*women are women, period.

          Second I’ll address this point, though it has nothing to do with your other point.

          “but so many are attracted to trans women until they find out they’re trans*”
          And? How you mentally view a partner affects how attractive they are. If you replaced trans there for racist/republican/hairy you’d find men who would say the same.

          If you met a transsexual woman who was in all ways attractive to you – even to cissexual standards – now finally mentally, physically, and emotionally female, why should her status as a transsexual bother you? She is a woman. She may not be able to have children, but so do many cis-women. She may have had to be surgically altered to fit the cissexual standard of ‘woman,’ but so have many cis-women. The only thing remaining is that Y chromosome, but fuck the Y-chromosome.

          People who lose attraction to trans*women after finding out they’re trans, even when they’re a woman in every way that matter, are reacting to something that doesn’t matter. It’s the least important aspect of who she is.

          • spacklick says

            “Trans*women don’t spend years of being hated and abused and maligned to be miscategorized. … Trans*women are women, period”
            I guess this is the nature of my question, what makes it a mischaracterisation? They are different to Cis-women and many people don’t use the Cis-woman/Trans-woman label but “Woman”/“transsexual woman”. I’m asking why that is miscategorisation?
            “If you met a transsexual woman who was in all ways attractive to you – even to cissexual standards – now finally mentally, physically, and emotionally female, why should her status as a transsexual bother you?”
            It wouldn’t. It wouldn’t make a blind bit of difference to me. But I know people who it WOULD make a difference to.
            “She may not be able to have children”
            Which has nothing to do with it.

            “She may have had to be surgically altered to fit the cissexual standard of ‘woman,’ … The only thing remaining is that Y chromosome, but fuck the Y-chromosome.”
            If that knowledge about someone makes someone mentally uncomfortable with them, why is that mental discomfort a bad thing? There is a difference, not one that you think matters, fine, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter, just that it doesn’t matter to you.

          • says

            Like I said, feel free to play with the terms as much as you want. Very few trans*women are going to play along. I certainly wouldn’t. When I transition, I will be a woman. I may not necessarily be attractive to cissexual standards, and that’s fine – but I’ll be a woman regardless.

            The categorization of cis woman versus trans* woman allows for the ability to categorize the women as “real women” and “fake women” by the haters and the transphobes. It’s a category that allows people to continue to heap abuse and hatred on trans*women. It’s the method being used by the truly rad-fems, the ones who refuse to see trans*women as women. It’s the method being used by transphobic men and women who laugh at the trans*women and who call them abnormal.

            Yes, it’s true that cis-women are different from trans*women, and in regards to this point and the other point you made, I’ll re-quote my last paragraph from my reply to you:

            People who lose attraction to trans*women after finding out they’re trans, even when they’re a woman in every way that matter[s], are reacting to something that doesn’t matter. It’s the least important aspect of who she is.

            Being trans* is the least important aspect of who a trans*woman is. She is a woman physically. She is a woman emotionally. She is a woman mentally. She kicked the ass of her own Y-chromosome. Only historically is a trans*woman not a woman, but that doesn’t matter, cause history changes – who we were in the past is not who we are now. I am no longer an evangelical, Christian, closeted, self-hating man. I haven’t been that for years, why should it matter anymore. When I finally close the book on my “man” history, why should THAT matter anymore.

          • spacklick says

            “The categorization of cis woman versus trans* woman allows for the ability to categorize the women as “real women” and “fake women” by the haters and the transphobes.”
            Haters gonna hate, whatever labels we use. let’s not conflate label use and bigotry. You needn’t be bigoted to use different labels for what are ostensibly two different categories of people.

            “She is a woman physically.”
            Says you, but not according to many other peoples definition of the label. There are physical differences between a Cis-woman and a Trans-woman. As I’ve said, here we’re simply talking about labels. You recognise the difference between cis-women and trans-women, and also what is not different. So rather than worrying about labels, would it not be more productive to actually identify when people make distinctions where there are no differences?

  9. says

    They are different to Cis-women and many people don’t use the Cis-woman/Trans-woman label but “Woman”/“transsexual woman”. I’m asking why that is miscategorisation?

    And hey, what’s the problem if someone thinks of people as either “normal” or “gay”? What could possibly be wrong with it if they think of people as “regular” or “Indian”? Really, do you think this has any relation to how they view the social status and proper place of people other than the “default” of white, straight and cisgender? I certainly don’t see how!

    • spacklick says

      I’m sure there are plenty of cases where htey do view it like that, but even in those cases, it’s the viewing them as of different social status that is the problem, not their seeing it as a different category.

      There probably is a correlation between the two but saying that using the two different categories is the problem is like saying the temperature is the problem when you’re ill. Treat the bacteria and you’ll get better, treat the temperature and you’ll just feel better.

      • earth & stars says

        People have been kindly showing you the point you thought you might have missed in your first comment for some time now. How about going away and thinking about what they’ve said instead of arguing that they’re *obviously* wrong? The way you’re carrying on is making you look like a troll.

        • spacklick says

          I apologise then, because I’m still missing it.

          Treating people differently because of their different categories is wrong, recognising different categories is not wrong. What is it exactly that I’m missing?

          “instead of arguing that they’re *obviously* wrong? The way you’re carrying on is making you look like a troll.”

          I may look like a troll, and if so I’ll try to change how I write in this sort of forum but I really haven’t seen an answer to my question. What has been posted so far either doesn’t or doesn’t do it in a way I have understood.

          • earth & stars says

            …except for the part where you *are* arguing that treating trans women differently from cis women is acceptable because the cis men, they have all these sacred prejudices based in bigotry and misinformation.

            You’re also arguing that letting cis women remain an unmarked class isn’t problematic, despite being offered evidence to the contrary by people who actually know what they’re talking about.

            What you’re apparently missing here is the willingness to listen to what other people are saying and think about it.

          • spacklick says

            except for the part where you *are* arguing that treating trans women differently from cis women is acceptable

            If you believe I’m arguing that in the general case then you’ve grossly misunderstood me. I’m saying that when it comes to sexual attraction a variety of factors will affect different people differently. Some people will find the knowledge that you are trans, a turn off. Others will find the knowledge that you like metal music a turn off. Neither is inherently wrong in as far as it only affects your feelings and choices about your own sex life.

            You’re also arguing that letting cis women remain an unmarked class isn’t problematic, despite being offered evidence to the contrary
            I don’t know what you mean by “an unmarked class” or what evidence you’re pointing to, could you elucidate?

            What you’re apparently missing here is the willingness to listen to what other people are saying and think about it.
            You’re free to believe that if you want, but I’m genuinely trying to find out what the downside to using seperate labels is. Or rather why that is so often the target instead of acts of discrimination.

          • says

            @spacklick:

            Seriously, read.

            The downside to using separate labels is that those labels are used as a kind of discrimination themselves – that cis women are “real” women versus trans*women. You’re associating trans*women with their trans* nature, rather than with their woman nature.

          • spacklick says

            @ de la mort

            “You’re associating trans*women with their trans* nature, rather than with their woman nature.”
            Wow, I’m glad you know what I was thinking better than I do. Sure am glad you’re here to tell me that by having category labels I’m associating someone with one aspect more than another.

            Let’s take Zinnia here, all this time I thought I associated her with quirky smart female youtuber, but because I would categorise her as a trans*woman if asked I must associate her most with trans*women.

            Oh, by the way. Using the labels Cis-woman and Trans-woman as opposed to woman and trans-woman, honestly doesn’t change the categories in my head, just the labels on the words and I assume the same would be true for bigots who think in terms of “person worthy of moral consideration” and “not person”.

            So again, any actual evidence based answer to the question(s)? I’m not trying to be an arse here, I just don’t see why labels get all this attention. Or why someone choosing sexual partners based on minutiae is anybody else’s business.

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