I’m not trying to make a sympathy appeal for transamorous men. I talk about the thin line transamorous men tread in my Man’s Guide for Finding a Transgender Partner. What I am thinking about though is how easy it is to make the transamorous man the bad guy in the cis-male – transwoman relationship dynamic.
Season Two of Transparent got me thinking about this. In the Episode “Davina”, a transgender woman has a boyfriend named Sal. In this episode he gets out of prison and comes home to Davina’s delight. There’s a moment in the episode where Sal has a conversation with Maura, the show’s main character. The conversation he has was reminiscent of thoughts I’ve had about some transwomen I’ve been interested in. Sal takes it to a whole other level though. Sal makes recommendations for surgeries and results Maura can undertake to improve her appearance. It’s a difficult scene to watch if you’re at all clued into how sensitive such subjects are. And here’s where things get dicey. A far better description comes from a quick website search:
“Ex-con boyfriend, Sal…comes back to society and promptly begins telling Maura exactly how many ccs of silicone he recommends she have injected “in the titty area.” This leads to one of the realest exchanges we’ve seen between Maura and Davina yet, as the tension between the two boils over into argument: can Davina do better than the “trans-amorous” Sal, or does she have to settle for life with a man who may well only want her because of her gender identity?”
As a “trans-amorous” man myself, I cringe at this author’s description of men like me. And, I understand it. How far can I go in offering advice on changes a person can make? Is it even my place? I remember, early in my transition, making suggestions to a woman I was dating who was considering her FFRS. I felt my ideas would be warmly received. After all I was one of a small handful of people in her life who cared about her. But she wasn’t warm in her response to my suggestions…and that’s putting it lightly.
I get such decisions are personal to the transperson. I also get that there’s a line any man can cross when interacting with any woman regarding her appearance. For transwomen I imagine the process of making appearance changes to match an ideal are a huge and personal set of decisions….with an emphasis on “personal” meaning “none of my business.”
But what if the person you love makes choices which result in her looking in ways which are unattractive to you? Yes, looks should not play that big a role, but shoulda-woulda…they do! After all, don’t transwomen, whether they are lesbians, heterosexual or whatever, have preferences? Even shallow ones like race, height, and such?
Of course they do.
I met and dated, very early on, a transgender woman just after her chest and SR surgeries. She got these e-n-o-r-m-o-u-s breast implants. She was pretty and well-adjusted, but I just couldn’t bring myself to finding that massive chest attractive. She was certainly grossly disproportionate IMO. It wasn’t the only cause that ended our relationship. But her appearance, or rather my desires in my partner’s appearance (my story) played a part in our relationship’s demise.
So where does the transamorous man stand regarding decisions his transpartner makes during her transition? Is there a point in a relationship where it becomes ok to give input? It’s a curious question to consider. For the line is fine. And clarity, understanding, grace and rational approached – coming from both parties – can help a lot.
Also published on Medium.