We often get letters from men thanking us for the work we’re doing. But this last month we got a doozy.
It was such a wonderful letter, I asked the author if I could post it publicly. We recently talked about this letter on IN YOUR FACE our Facebook show with the author’s permission on the condition that we not use his name. He also gave me permission to post it here, under the same condition. When you read it, you’ll understand.
I’d love to hear what responses you have to this letter. We thought it was powerful and touching. Maybe you’ll agree. Or maybe you won’t. Either way, I’d love to hear from you.
BTW, I have not edited it at all…
I’m a 54 year old man, happily married, and living a low keyed, simple life together.
So yes, I’m married, however there is something within that I have not confessed out loud to anyone. I have an insatiable attraction to trans women. I’ve had it for as far back as I can remember. For me, trans women embodied femininity in ways that I did not experience from many cisgender women. The problem is that I would really swing the wrecking ball inward at myself about my attraction to trans women. I would get caught up in the web of thoughts and fears about what others would think of me. Like many, I fell prey to the fear based issue of labels, fearing that my attraction would make me gay. I spent far too long worrying about what category I would be in for being intrigued about being in an intimate relationship with a trans woman.
I will fully admit that I was adversely affected by accusations that for a man to profess an attraction to trans women, it would be seen as a fetish. During my coming and going in the urban area, I’ve met many wonderful trans women whom I would have loved to have been in a relationship with. I wasn’t looking for a quick fantasy blowjob or role play or anything of the like. Of course physical intimacy was a part of the attraction, but not without a romantic, meaningful relationship of sharing and experiencing the joys of life together and even facing challenges together as any loving couple would. But the stigma and gay/straight labels prevented that. And the fetish label was something that I simply could not understand. I’ve heard many men who’d professed having an attraction to Asian women yet never heard anyone accusing them of having an Asian fetish. So why would a man who happened to be attracted to trans women and aspiring to share meaningful, quality time and growth with her be considered to be a fetishist?
This created even more apprehension and self-hatred in me for my attraction to trans women.
As hard as I tried to ignore my attraction, it simply would not go away. Many times, I would travel to the north side of town, a predominantly gay community where it was common to see trans women going about their everyday lives. While there, I would enjoy the fleeting moments when a trans woman and I would exchange greetings and maybe brief conversation, yet I was very shy. I also didn’t want to lead anyone into a relationship that I would have been unable to be fully present for because of my insecurities and fears about societal labels and judgment. Instead of subjecting a trans woman to my insecurities, I decided that I would simply appreciate them, their courage, their beauty, and feminine grace from afar. I was enjoying the fleeting moments and encounters that always sent my hopeless romantic heart thumping in double time. The result was, I’d always felt like I was standing on the wrong side of the fence looking in to a place where my heart was inviting me to be. Once when I was out a date at a casual restaurant with a cisgender woman, I looked over her shoulder and noticed another couple being seated at the next table. I was immediately struck when I noticed a cisgender man and an exquisite, statuesque trans woman out together as a couple. My heart soared when I saw the them holding hands on the table as they talked and laughed together as they were waiting for their meals. I tried to conceal my occasional glances at them savoring one anothers company. But the other thing that I noticed were the judgmental stares around them. I could even hear someone use the term transvestite with an overt tone of disgust, yet fortunately the couple could not hear it. At the same time, I wanted to be considerate to the cisgender woman that I was with that night. As much as I was savoring the romantic connection going on between the cisgender man and the trans woman, I trained my eyes and put my focus on the person that I was with that night. It would have been unfair to not do so. But that night, I laid in bed with the image of the man and trans woman holding hands and looking into one another’s eyes with such adoration. This fanned the flames burning within, yet I stopped myself from feeling anything further. And that felt unnatural to do, but I did it nonetheless. I cringed at the reality of the judgmental stares and behind-the-hand conversations as that beautiful couple enjoyed one another. As awesome as they looked together, I feared for their safety in a homophobic society that was plagued with bigotry and prone to violence. I wanted to protect that couple, provide for them a safe haven to freely share their adoration for one another without fear of judgment.
I felt that it wouldn’t be safe for me to out myself as a man who was attracted to trans women. I tried to rid myself of something that should have been beautiful. Instead, I tried to convince myself that it was wrong, an abomination, an aberration of nature. As soon as I explored those concepts, I rejected them one by one. How could something as beautiful as this be anything other than a celebration of humanity? Someone who was born male exercised the courage to burst from the chrysalis and transform themselves into the truth of who they were. To put in the time, energy, and even the money to make this beautiful transformation. How could something so beautiful be viewed with such hatred? How was it that a man who expressed a desire to treat that trans woman with love be viewed with hatred and seen as less than a man?
I started to pique when I heard topics of transgenderism being reported in the media. I remembered news stories that mentioned celebrities like soul singer Teddy Pendegrass and comedian Eddie Murphy being in the company of trans women. And I remembered the seething statements and judgments from their fan base expressing their disappointment. But I had a totally different reaction. I imagined Teddy Pendegrass with Tenika Watson, the trans woman in the car with him that night. I imagined Mr. Pendegrass being a perfect gentleman to her and not objectifying her. I imagined him wining and dining her, even serenading her before the infamous accident. Later my heart soared as I read Ms. Wilson’s account and that she and Teddy Pendegrass actually cared about one another and that she had even attempted to visit him in the hospital. That their relationship wasn’t solely about sex.
It was difficult to have this undeniable attraction inside, never to be explored due to fear. I wanted and needed an outlet for this unexpressed attraction. Unfortunately that came in the form of trans pornography. But not just any pornography. I was most turned on by materials that depicted a man and a trans woman in the heights of intimacy with a lot of kissing, caressing, hand holding, and and romance. I was least interested in the materials that were devoid of any tenderness, or where the man was verbally abusive, and rough. I was turned off by videos of men who would refer to trans women as their “little sluts, bitches, or whores.” Occasionally, I would be lucky enough to stumble upon a video of a man romancing a trans woman and the two of them experiencing what looked like beautiful expressions of intimacy.
When I was younger I attempted to pursue a relationship with a trans woman. I answered a few ads in the classified sections of a local newspaper entitled M2F pre-op transsexual seeking man. Unfortunately I was disappointed to learn that many of them were escort services. I also had a similar experience when I approached a trans woman that I’d met while out only to find out that she was soliciting. But neither of those experiences tainted my view of trans women. I realize that there is a harsh reality for some trans women that they turn to sex work to pay bills and avoid homelessness. That deeply saddens me. In fact, there was once a time when I actually stopped my car, a trans woman walked up assuming that I was about to hire her for sex and was surprised that I only gave her money without asking for sex in return. That I wanted her to have the money to use for whatever she needed. She was clearly baffled by my gesture, but also expressed her appreciation. I thought to myself that I wanted to do at least something to spare this beautiful person an encounter with a man who would only use and discard her. Instead I wanted to give her money to put toward staying safe in her home. Did it make a difference, I can only hope. But as I pulled away and saw her waving and smiling in my rear view mirror, I did experience some joy in hoping that it had made a difference in the life of that beautiful person. I silently sent her positive energy, hoping that she would eventually be safe, free to be herself, and someday find a man whom she would find joy with and that he would treat her with love and respect.
Out of curiosity, I decided to visit sites such as tsgirlfriend.com, which provided advice for men and trans women. Aside from that, I’d visited some sites and was (and still is) active in trans rights movements. On those sites, the trans women were very critical of “chasers” and “admirers.” I started to pay close attention to the people that were singled out as “chasers” or “admirers.” There seemed to be a common theme to the men that had gotten this title. These were men who appeared to only want trans women for sexual pleasure only. I noticed that their bios contained no mention of pursuing relationships, or romance. They were seeking fantasy fulfillment of anal and oral sex and referred to trans women as “shemales, trannies, sluts, or sissies.” Many of the men were either married or in relationships with cisgender women, yet were actively pursuing quick discreet fantasies with trans women only to then kick them to the curb until the next time. I will fully concede that while I am physically attracted to trans women, that attraction entails not just physical intimacy, but tenderness and an emotional component. After I realized this, I did not feel as if I fit into the “chaser” category.
My attraction is something that I am continuing to accept and embrace – not as something that should bring shame and guilt, but instead as a part of me that is somehow intricately woven into me. If I had it to do over again, I would likely have been in relationships with trans women but that did not happen for reasons share earlier.
I do recall a term that one of your guests used – collateral damage. The reason that it stuck with me is that while I’m accepting the fact that I will always have an attraction to trans women, the fact remains that I’m married, I’ve earned my wife’s trust, and I do not want to do anything to betray that trust. I understand that “chasers” take a different approach. I’ve learned that there are many married men who venture out to explore fantasies with trans women only to kick them to the curb until next time. That saddens me on many levels. It saddens me for the unsuspecting wife as well as for the trans woman who is being objectified and treated as a sex object.
That being the case, I do not pursue relationships with others. It is why I do not patronize pick up sites. I have had conversations and friendships with trans women, but they know that I’m supportive of them and their rights and not pursuing anything further. In fact, my support is for them also includes my hope that they find a man who will treat them with love respect and not objectify them as chasers do. If I were single, I would surely explore a meaningful relationship with a trans woman. But I’m not. My attraction to trans women extends beyond physical intimacy and into mutual adoration for one another. Being with a trans woman (or anyone for that matter) should be a sharing of time, affection, likes, dislikes, etc. Anything short of that is unfair to other person. This is why I’m totally against the practice of married men who seek out trans women for sexual fantasies.
Like before, I find that I still feel better when I have an outlet. Unlike the pornography as my main outlet, I’ve become an avid reader of inspiring romance novels in which the love interest is a trans woman. I gravitate towards movies such as Different for Girls Girls Like Us, and A Fantastic Woman. I bask in the loving scenes of such movies as A Soldier’s Girl and The Crying Game and visualize alternate endings where the man and trans woman live in peace and freedom.
Here I am married to a loving woman that I am staunchly loyal to, yet on the inside, I still have an undeniable attraction to trans women. I realize that there are some who would say that this is unfair to my wife to hold this inward and untold. That I should simply trust that she would accept me for who I am. That it’s not simply enough to inwardly accept this unchangeable part of me.
I listen to the Transamorousnetwork podcasts as I fall asleep and I live vicariously through some of the stories. I do not wish to end my marriage by any stretch of the imagination. I love my wife dearly. I worry at times that possessing the attraction that I do for trans women is wrong because of the fact that I’m married. But the fact remains, I will never, ever make attempts to pursue an expression of this attraction. But I will work toward equality and safety of the trans community. I fully support sites such as transamoruous network for the amazing things that they are doing to change the landscape of our society. I believe that you are making a difference. In doing what you’re doing, you are opening people’s hearts, dismantling fear, and inspiring men and trans women to recognize true loving relationships and that it is possible to have them. Thank you for that, for sharing your wit, your insight, humor and for promoting the fact that love is love period. Something as beautiful as this subject matter should not be stifled for fear of labels and bigotry. Trans women deserve nothing less than a loving man who will treat them with respect and not objectify them. So please keep on doing what you’re doing. Bravo!