Oh boy, I can already imagine the responses to this post.
There’s a great article on Medium, written by Julia Serano. It’s pretty complex and long, but worth a read. In it, Serano describes how the word “transgender” came about. She explains that trans activists in the 1990s coined the term purposefully intending it to be “open-ended”. She says the term “refers to people who defy societal expectations regarding gender”.
And here’s where things get dicey. Because some society members, including early stage trans attracted men spooked by their self-discovery, would say that trans attracted men do defy societal expectations regarding gender. But this is where things get crazy. And confused. People generally, and our trans attracted men specifically, have an Ouroboros perspective on what it means when a man loves women who happen to be transgender. I use the phrase “women who happen to be…” specifically because it points out the twisted logic. Which I’ll get to in a second.
If you troll Craigslist’s M4T sections in casual encounters. You’ll often find these men describing themselves as “straight.” This in my opinion is a result of the screwy perspective. I think the reason why these trans attracted men feel they have to clarify their orientations is because they don’t really believe women who happen to be transgender are, in fact women. Particularly men who are experimenting with being penetrated, or being attracted to women who have penises.
And the same goes for society. Society’s big beef with trans attracted men, calling them gay and such, stems from this flawed thinking. If transgender women are actually men, not women, then of course the men who are attracted to them must be gay, goes the thinking. So it’s no wonder trans attracted men must clarify in their posts that they’re straight. Unfortunately, for them, and their potential readers, this often comes off as an insult, because the women reading these posts are women. I think the reason they identify their heterosexuality in their posts has little to do with the women, and everything to do with their own self-view: They are writing their post as much for themselves as for those who will read it.
It’s interesting to ask: if trans attracted men are gay, wouldn’t they be interested in men who present as men? And I suppose the cynical answer is: not if they are too embarrassed to own their homosexuality. Being with a transgender woman could be more palatable for these terrified guys because at least they have some of the physical trappings of “real” women…
That argument doesn’t go very far when the trans attracted-to-transamorous trajectory is thoroughly examined. As a transamorous man myself, I know my process included experimenting with men and transwomen only to discover a profound distaste of men and an equal, continued attraction for both cis-gender and transgender women. I know and have talked with many men whose trajectories are similar. No doubt there might be men in the early stages of trans attraction who actually are gay and end up with men. But I would bet they are a tiny minority.
Back to “are trans attracted men transgender?” It’s an interesting question. Serano says this about the term “transgender”:
it may refer to transsexuals (i.e., people who transition, who I’ll get to in a minute), people who identify outside of the gender binary, crossdressers (i.e., people who identify with their birth-assigned gender, but sometimes dress and/or express themselves as the other gender), people whose gender expression is non-conforming (e.g., feminine men, masculine women, people who are androgynous, etc.), and possibly others. Not everyone who falls under this umbrella will self-identify as “transgender,” but are all viewed by society as defying gender norms in some significant way.
A man loving a woman who happens to be trans isn’t defying gender norms. Unless you think such a woman is not a woman. But such a woman is a woman. So where is the defiance? If there is defiance, it can only be defying society’s (false) assertion that women who happen to be transgender aren’t women. And since that assertion is false, so is any defiance.
I’ve had two conversations with transgender women who offered the idea that trans attracted men are transgender. I’m not so sure that’s the case. But I’m open to hearing the arguments.
What are your thoughts?