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Object Transference

August 20, 2014

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I'm a twentysomething genetic male. I thought for a while that I might be trans, but I ended up deciding that while I hate my masculine features and like girl clothes and want to be "cute," I have no desire to be female and don't want to have breasts or a vagina. I also don't identify with a particular sexual orientation, as I don't find the concept useful. I've been with both boys and girls, and currently I'm with a trans girl. I've never been a fan of pornography, but recently I've found myself indulging in trans-girl porn. Is it insensitive to have a predilection for trans girls? My girlfriend wants to get sex-reassignment surgery (SRS) in the future, and while I support her wholeheartedly, I think she knows that I'm happy with her current set of equipment and I don't have any desire for her to go through with SRS. I believe she resents me for this. But this isn't a relationship question. My question is more of a catchall: Is it insensitive, as a rule, to be attracted to trans (or intersex) girls? I like to think of myself as sexually progressive, and I don't want to objectify anybody. I just think trans girls are real cuties.

Unavoidable Gender Hullabaloo

"Having a sexual preference—whether it's liking guys with red hair, tall women, sports fans, blue-eyed agender individuals, men with vaginas, or women with penises—is fine," said Parker Marie Molloy, a freelance writer and trans media activist whose writing has appeared in the New York Times and the Advocate and on Slate. "So long as the preference is not the sole reason for the attraction, so long as UGH remembers that trans people are actually human beings with a diverse range of emotions, interests, and experiences, and aren't solely defined by their transness, UGH should be able to avoid coming off as creepy."

Building on Molloy's point: If the only thing you like about your current girlfriend is the fact that she's trans, you're probably guilty of objectifying her. But if her trans-girl cuteness is one of the things you find attractive about her—even if it's the thing that initially drew you to her, even if it's something you focus on during sex—you're not objectifying.

"As is the case with any sort of physical, emotional, or sexual attraction, a preference crosses over into the realm of objectification only when the person's potential love interest is reduced to a single aspect of their life," said Molloy. "So UGH's preference for trans women is only insensitive and objectifying if UGH makes it insensitive and objectifying."

Molloy is right: No one wants to be reduced to a single aspect of their life by a romantic partner or anyone else. But being objectified in short, concentrated bursts by a lover isn't a problem for most people—quite the opposite, in fact. Being objectified by someone who doesn't care about the rest of you? Most people don't find that sexy. Being briefly objectified by someone who loves the particular thing/things you bring to the table/mattress/sling and the rest of you too? Most people find that fucking sexy.

Finally, UGH, while I had Molloy on the line, I asked her to quickly address the issues of trans porn and SRS. "It's no more wrong to indulge in trans porn than it is to indulge in porn starring or created by cis people," said Molloy. "Whether UGH's favorite trans-porn outlets are stories, pictures, or drawings—or if they're videos of mainstream trans porn stars like Bailey Jay or independent queer-feminist performers like Chelsea Poe—UGH shouldn't feel ashamed. As to whether his girlfriend gets SRS, that's something that has to be up to her. Quiet resentment, guilt, and pressure to have or not have surgery should serve as signs that maybe this relationship doesn't have much of a future. I suggest that the two of them sit down and have a long talk about genitals, preferences, and deal breakers."

Follow Parker Marie Molloy on Twitter @ParkerMolloy.

If a woman writes in her Craigslist hookup ad that she is a "bigger beautiful woman," is there a polite way to press her for more specific details? Or is it always inherently rude to ask a self-proclaimed BBW just how much she weighs and how big she actually is—to determine if one will be attracted to her?

Befuddled Baffled Wonderer

If we were talking about personal ads on sites where people look for relationships—, OkCupid, Gun Lovers Passions, etc.—it would indeed be rude to ask someone precisely how big she is. In that case, I would suggest going on a low-stakes, no-expectations date instead and having a look/human interaction. But we're not talking about a dating website, BBW, we're talking NSA hookup ads on Craigslist. We're talking about a virtual meat market. And when you're in a meat market—literally or figuratively, physically or virtually—there's nothing wrong with asking a polite, direct question about the meat on offer.

I am a bi man married to a straight woman for 10 years. We are in a wonderful GGG relationship. On a pretty regular basis, we invite others into the bedroom for fun. We have one friend who we do this with weekly. Because he is here so often, a bit of his clothing and a few other essentials are stored in our guest room. We are careful to hide our monogamish lifestyle from those who might unfairly judge us, but we figured a few pieces of clothing and a friend who "crashes" with us on the weekends wouldn't raise too many eyebrows, right? Wrong. My snooping mother-in-law found a drawer with boxers that were obviously not my size, lube, and a butt plug. Apparently that jazzed her up, and she continued to snoop so that she could "find evidence if I was cheating." She found gay pornography in our bedroom and a few ambiguous text messages. She had no reason to look in any drawers—or phones!—and I'm infuriated at the invasion of our privacy. Now she thinks her daughter is married to a closeted gay man. I want to tell her the truth, but my wife does not. MIL is religious/conservative, and she may disown my wife if she finds out our marriage is often a threesome. What's the right thing to do here?

Not In The Closet

You should tell your MIL to shove her fucking money—the inheritance your wife might lose if her mother were to disown her—up her religious/conservative ass. (I can only assume the stress about being disowned involves an inheritance, aka big money; otherwise, there is no downside to being disowned by this bitch.) But if your wife places a higher value on her mom's money than she does on her own independence and your shared right to marital privacy, NITC, then she should tell her mother that the plug and the gay porn are hers. (Shrug off the ambiguous text messages.) Lots of straight married women with 100 percent straight husbands enjoy gay porn. (Most slash fiction is written by and for straight women—why not send MIL some links?) I guess it boils down to which will be the greater torment for your MIL (and therefore likelier grounds for disinheritance): the whole truth (her daughter and bisexual SIL are sinful, nonmonogamous pervs) or the face-saving lie (her daughter being a bit of a perv). recommended

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Comments (10) RSS

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xjuan 1
I think MIL is awaaaay too snoopy. Perhaps she wants some part of the action. Even more: I'd say she's the true closet case here. I'd say: confront her with something close to the truth and see what happens. In the end: it isn't her business.
Posted by xjuan on August 19, 2014 at 6:36 PM · Report this
Is refusing to discuss the topic with MIL and never inviting her over again an option? Whether the wife will inherit or not, I get not wanting to sever relations with a parent, even a very difficult one. (I have some experience on the subject.) But I can't see any need at all for this woman (the MIL) to ever darken the LW's doorstep again.
Posted by MN on August 19, 2014 at 6:46 PM · Report this
To NITC: strengthen the passwords on your phones and other accounts! And settle with your wife about whether the two of you are in the closet. She seems to think you are; your sign-off says you're not. If you can't agree, talk it out in front of a therapist.

Re UGH: I personally won't be surprised if UGH later shifts position on the gender spectrum. Currently doesn't strongly identify as either male or female but has strong feelings about a partner's genitals... To me that sounds like displacement. Not to mention the completely avoidable unhappy acronym. I suspect UGH would benefit from some long conversations with a therapist experienced with gender issues.

Posted by EricaP on August 19, 2014 at 6:51 PM · Report this
NITC's wife should deal with the MIL's invasion of their privacy, or NITC needs to deal with his wife. Slick coverup idea.
Posted by Philophile on August 19, 2014 at 7:18 PM · Report this
Alison Cummins 5
RE BBW: she’s putting that out there because she doesn’t want to deal with shit from hookups who aren’t into fat women. (As discussed on a different thread, sex with someone who thinks you’re unattractive is unlikely to be good. And as a man, the LW will know the unpleasantness of rejection.)

Is the LW into Medium-Big Beautiful Women? Or Extra-Big Beautiful Women? If so, he can put up an ad saying so. His ideal woman has a BMI of around 28-32, so if she’s 5'6" she’d weigh between 170 lb and 200 lb. Or he’s looking for women who weigh at least 250 lb, the bigger the better. That way a woman can choose not to respond to him if she’s not who he’s looking for.

Or is the LW into conventionally thin women but willing to push his limits in order to get some tail of some description, and wondering if he could stomach someone who describes herself as a BBW? Again, put it nicely in his own ad. Likes women on a spectrum of body types but 225 lbs is his max for a 5'6" woman.

It’s not foolproof. Some women will approach him or respond to his inquiry who are outside his stated preferred range and won’t volunteer that information, betting that they can seduce him anyway once they meet in person. If they really are not his type he can gently explain that his expressed preference was real, apologize for wasting her time and wish her well. Or he can just suck it up with the philosophy that any pizza is better than no pizza and try to get it up to boink her anyway.

If he’s going to include body-type requirements in his ad, he should include some body-type information of his own. Do like all the other guys and include a pic of his headless torso.
Posted by Alison Cummins on August 19, 2014 at 7:57 PM · Report this
I think you are jumping the gun on the wife with the snoopy mother. There are tons of reasons to not want to be disowned that have nothing to do with money. It is hard to break from a parent. Sometimes it is harder to break from a parent who was emotionally controlling or abusive. You want to earn your parent's approval. So being disowned really hurts. Plus, depending on family dynamics, being disowned may also mean losing contact with the rest of the family. It's easy to say she shouldn't want to be related to someone like her mother, but it's a lot more complicated than you realize. My dad didn't leave me a penny when he died. That wasn't what hurt. What hurt was that he made it clear he didn't give a damn about me when he was alive. From what I know, you had parents who did love and support you. Those of us who had more complicated relationships with our parents can have many mixed feelings about losing them altogether.
Posted by percysowner on August 19, 2014 at 7:59 PM · Report this
Get a series of increasingly alarming things and periodically leave them all over the house for Mom to "stumble across." Make sure the last one is a note that says, "Fuck you, you privacy-violating bitch." Say nothing, pretend none of them exist, and let her stew.
Posted by avast2006 on August 19, 2014 at 8:44 PM · Report this
I know sub-zero about craigslist hookups but I assume the ads don't usually include detailed pictorials. Why not just do what you would do with anyone else you met up with and decided they didn't do it for you? Or is # of pounds literally the only criteria for who you'll fuck?
Posted by chi_type on August 19, 2014 at 8:51 PM · Report this
I am aghast at the trivializing of the relationship the wife might have with the snoopy MIL. Yes, she is in the wrong, but parent-child relationships are so often much more complicated than an inheritance. Assuming a person's relationship with their family is trivial seems wildly at-odds with much of the guidance you normally give. It *might* be she only wants an inheritance but I doubt it's that simple (is it ever?). Admittedly there isn't much advice to give in a limited format, but it feels almost like a pop answer to hate on the mother--and not very helpful since it isn't solely his choice to break up with the rest of her family.
Posted by Catshire on August 19, 2014 at 9:22 PM · Report this

Now I shall be too irritated to get any sleep. Mr Savage would have to go and mention that ghastly genre. Slash fiction has about as much to do with actual, real, living, breathing same-sexed human beings as I have knowledge of female anatomy beyond what I learned from Shirley Valentine. And yet people think it an accurate description. No wonder it was almost impossible to win any rights by popular vote. And when anyone tries to correct the false heterocentrisms advanced, he's told to shut up and that straight male objectification of women justifies female appropriation of male homosexuality.

My positively last boyfriend took two years longer to come out almost entirely because he read quite a bit of slash fiction and was afraid it was accurate. If it were, I'd not have blamed him at all for doing everything in his power to be straight.

In fact, I shouldn't be surprised if it were all some giant plot, part of a huge recruiting strategy to win over all the bi men into exclusive heterosexual behaviour.
Posted by vennominon on August 19, 2014 at 9:25 PM · Report this

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