I love transgender women. Because I am out and proud about this, I get emails and calls from all kinds of people (men, women, transgender women, trans men) asking all kinds of questions about their transamory.
Men have the most trouble finding reconciliation. They find transgender women beautiful, worthy of love and, frankly, irresistible. Even while realizing dating transgender women sometimes comes with extraordinary drama levels. Despite that, many of these men aren’t struggling with that. What’s difficult is reconciling their attraction with being a “normal” man.
I’m writing this story –– my story –– for those men. The following is universal. Yet it is uniquely helpful for men right now. I mean “normal” men.
I write “right now” because men face intense (self-inflicted) scrutiny. Scrutiny well deserved. This January, the American Psychological Association (APA), said traditional masculinity is sociologically harmful. “[It] stunts male’s “psychological development, constrain[s] their behavior, result[s] in gender role strain and gender role conflict and negatively influence[s] mental health and physical health”, they said.Traditional masculinity is what I call normal men.
Feminism suggests the APA’s findings originate in male awe, envy and ignorance. Feminists call this Womb Envy. That’s a term coined by German psychoanalyst Karen Horney. Normal men find awe in what they instinctively know: Every human enters life through a womb connected to a vagina. At least for now. Forgetting their part in life-creation, normal men feel insecure and envious. Their envy becomes all-consuming. Willful ignorance replaces envy, allowing the subordination of women. Normal men gain superiority this way.
The result: Masculine wholeness –– which recognizes the female in the male –– gets lost.
This is what I’m seeing in the Gillette controversy. Men’s life experience is reflecting back to them their out-of-balance-ness. Like children, some men are reacting first, to Gillette’s spot-on ad, then thinking. Or not thinking at all.
What does this have to do with loving transgender women?
It is this acting out first then thinking, or not thinking at all, that gets a lot of men in trouble. It also gets many transgender women killed. All, believe it or not, for the sake of love.
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I realized I was transamorous in my 30s. Before that, I saw “masculinity” and “femininity” as two parts of a whole being. Sometimes I felt more feminine than masculine back then. Even though I was having sex with girls.
Sometimes I would sneak into my mom’s closet. It was an endless sea of femininity. There, I would dress in my mom’s clothes. I used her lipstick and pranced before her full length mirror, with its ornate wooden frame and chipped paint. Her lingerie particularly intrigued me.
Often these sessions would end with masturbation.
That’s how I got busted.
One day my mom called me to her room. How did she know it was me and not one of my brothers? Let’s just say it was mothers’ intuition. Otherwise I don’t know. In any case, my mom’s love trumped anything else in our little chat. She didn’t want me playing in her clothes, she said. But it was ok that I was exploring.
That could have gone a lot worse.
This was before “transgender” was a thing. I mean, it was a thing. Transgender people have always been around. But it wasn’t in the public eye as it is today with high-profile transgender models, actresses, politicians, Julia Serranos, Stef Sanjati’s.
Even it if was, I was too young to know what “transgender” was. Thinking about that time, and times today, I can imagine how it feels to be transgender. Not knowing you are transgender. Then discover the word “transgender” for the first time.
It must come with profound relief to know you’re not alone.
The same is true for men attracted to transgender women. They think they’re alone. But they are not.
When I discovered my transamory, “transamory” wasn’t a thing either. I didn’t know, for example Lou Reed had a long term relationship with a transgender woman. But I sure loved his song.
Nor did David Bowie’s gender-bending persona catch my eye.
So when I fell in love with the first transgender woman I ever saw, in a Yakuza bar in Osaka, Japan, I was blown away. Blown away by her beauty. Blown away by the circumstances. And blown away for how deep and instantaneous my attraction was.
I was in the Marines at the time. My girlfriend, who would become one of my few fiancés to never cross the threshold, took me to see her home town. She thought I’d get a kick visiting a Yakuza bar. I don’t think she knew how profound that kick would be. It kicked off what would culminate in everything I am today. That and how I tell my transamory story with recovering “normal” transamorous men looking for solace.
My ex-wife used to call me her “gay boy”. It’s true, my feminine side is well-developed. I don’t cross dress or anything like that. I do enjoy reveling in that part of me that is soft, kind, receptive and open. And yet, I do present male, although I consider myself gender neutral. I recognize the female in me as much as I do the male.
And here’s where love comes into the picture. And by that I’m referring to self-love.
Many of my fellow Marines weren’t as appreciative of my nature as my ex-wife was. Or my mom. It wasn’t constant, but Marines can be callous towards someone not embracing the macho, natural-born-killer persona believed to enshroud what it is to be a Marine. Of course, the occasional taunts ended once I became a Sergeant of Marines. Yet, the juxtaposition between my feminine side and my masculine side represented a crossroads back then. The path I took was embracing both. Choosing to be me, I said to hell with everyone else. After all, if I could take shit from Marines, I could take shit from anybody.
In other words, I chose loving myself for all that I am. I chose that over caring what other people think about what I am. An aspect of what I am is a man who loves transgender women.
As I love myself, I love the blend that is the transgender female form. I love the struggle transgender women must go through. I love their strength. I love that they are sometimes reviled not only by men, women and society, but also by their parents sometimes. I love them because I know all these challenges make them who they are.
As my challenges made me who I am.
Today, I am no longer married to the woman who was my wife. Ours was a marriage of convenience. By that I mean, there was no better relationship for us than the one we had, which called us to become more of that which we each are are: more clear about what we want and more clear about our authenticity.
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I met my wife online. I hadn’t been successful dating transgender women. I had relationships, but the early ones reflected my own trans-attraction insecurities. My insecurity showed up in meeting transgender women who also were insecure. Insecurity is no foundation for healthy coupledom. It didn’t help that I dated in secret. In between cis-gender lovers.
Maybe that sounds familiar.
Insecurity transamorous men feel initially shows up in many ways. One is fear of being seen in public with the woman they find attractive. It’s an early “trans-attraction” stage of transamory. It sounds dumb, but it’s real. And it’s a step older transamorous men go through more than younger ones these days. Some younger generation transamorous men reflect their generation. Their generation accepts gender fluidity, so they do too. So they don’t experience as much insecurity.
Pro-tip non-sequitur for transgender women: Ridiculing and shaming men for being in this stage prolongs it. Want men to be proud to be with you in public? Stop shaming them.
When I met my wife, I was not intending to marry. I was open to a non-traditional relationship. Anyone I found attractive and compatible would do. Yet I entertained preference for a transgender partner. I knew, however, my insecurity wasn’t going to match me with a transgender partner of my dreams.
Today, many of my clients are having to unpack decades of being married to cis-gender women, when they knew they were trans-attracted before they got married, but didn’t own their authenticity. In some ways, I was no exception.
My wife was determined to break her streak of meeting men who were not good for her. Like me, she realized she was her problem. Not the men she dated. So we were a perfect match.
Relationships are always like that. Perfect matches.
Our marriage was a training ground. In it we were helping prepare one another for partners we eventually will have. It was our agreement.
As we together grew into our individual security borne of authenticity, we accepted who each other was. Our marriage’s dissolution reflected that.
If you’re trans-attracted or transamorous, married or not, you can’t love the object of your affection until you first love yourself. Especially if you’re married. A lot of transamorous men are married to cis-gender women. There is nothing wrong in that.
Still, if you are married, your wife knows on some level that you are different. I assure you fights between you two have a lot to do with insecurity born of that awareness.
Hardness creates more struggle. So does insecurity. Extreme cases result in death. Almost half the murders of transgender women in 2017 happen in the context of intimate relationships gone awry, according to research I’ve done online. Seems to me the sooner you embrace who you are, the better you and everyone else will be. You’ll be one less transamorous man hiding in their shame. That can prevent a murder.
Men loving transgender women is normal.
Love between humans is the norm. So it is normal that a human would express love for another human. Both men and transgender women are human. So love between them is as normal as any other love.
But I would argue there is no such thing as a “normal” man.
There are all kinds of men. The Gillette controversy shows that. If you’re trying to be a normal man and think that’s ok, you’re not expressing your authenticity. You’re expressing insecurity. Your “abnormality” is the norm. Your “perversity” is the norm. Your “sin” is the norm. Abnormality, perversity and sin are words reflecting societal judgment.
Your individuality is the norm. That means there’s no such thing as a normal or traditional man.
Transgender people are here to help all humanity to come to grips with the fact that to be human is to be different. There are a lot of normal men out there confronting their normalcy in light of their transamory. Some respond violently, with tragic consequences for both victim and perpetrator. Others call me, or send an email.
If you find transgender women attractive, you’re in good company. All men will find the attractive ones attractive. Until they discover that attractive woman is transgender. But that doesn’t negate their initial attraction. It only masks the attraction with shame expressed as revulsion. You’re still attracted to her.
If you find transgender women worth loving, but struggle with it, that’s ok. You don’t have to figure it all out now. You will in time. My experience is, the journey is worth it. For you, for your relationships and for the human race as a whole.
The journey is sweeter, though, after you accept what you are.
On your way, consider doing something now to sweeten life for LGBTQ people. You might meet your match in the process.