Columns Apr 2, 2014 at 4:00 am



@259 I think it would help fight rape culture by legislating extreme romantic deception. Like name, marital status, fertility, children, criminal history. If the romantic relationship is older than 6 months and you're still having sex and lying about the biggies, you get a ticket and fine and listed. Could be called dating without license. Rape, lacking consent in the moment, and risking internal damage and possibly pregnancy & STIs, is much more severe to be sure.

@261 Sucks that you didn't press charges, but I do unfortunately understand mistrust in the legal system and am a bit sympathetic to vigilatism with sex crimes and minority victims. You are letting your ex off the hook pretty easily I think; did she encourage you to press charges? As for early disclosure, if you had been out to her or disclosed immediately or early in the first date, her asshole would have heard "I met a guy with girl parts today!" or "I can't believe I hit on a guy with girl parts today!" instead of "I thought this nice guy and I were hitting it off but he was stringing me along because he was hiding girl parts, wah!" I think that the response would have been different. And more out means more aware of safety issues. But you are right, I can't know if it would have prevented serious crimes. In my imagination at least, the asshole is roasting on a spit. Mmm roast asshole.
@262 That's the biological definition. Sometimes a female means a woman, which is not the case here. To be clear, transgender is to present as the non birth gender. Not to present as the ideal male XY human specimen with average anatomy & chemistry. Some people's brains are shaped differently, some people's genitals or chests are shaped differently, some people's hormone balance is different. For whatever reason they want operations or hormones and to be treated like the gender they prefer. I don't think this warrants legislation. I get sadz when a cis male decides he doesn't like his best parts. But I can deal with that to live in a more reasonable society. I do have some cock preference, so I grope. Deflection would squick me out. Especially after this column. And I don't expect honesty in dating, I just find it attractive.
@308 in the posts you reference, I don't call NCA anything bad. As far as I know, she has acted with great dignity and humanity throughout.

me @19: " 'Liking penis doesn't make me a homophobe.' Agreed. Feeling disappointed to learn that this attractive man has no penis would be an appropriate response. Ending the relationship is an appropriate response." [Note to Eudaemonic: those were NCA's responses, as far as I can tell]

me @39: "NCA doesn't sound outraged. NCA knows Marcus, and sees him as a guy, and just doesn't want to continue dating. Absolutely reasonable."

The fact that (early on, before 79) I criticized other people who reacted to the scenario with anger doesn't mean that I accused NCA of reacting with anger.
@308 "try to rethink your position regarding when it's not okay to decline sex you don't want. It is always okay."

Yay, we agree!
So to be clear here, Marcus is definitely not a man, a transman but absolutely not a man.
@307 EricaP: Thank you and bless you and others for your continued concerns. Getting a full-fledged hysterectomy was my poor, beloved mother's only medical option after bearing four children back in her day, but still did not correct the medical problems she so desperately wanted and needed resolving. Because her outcome left such a negative impact, Mom adamantly argued against my ever seeking a hysterectomy myself, adding that the high costs alone for something so ineffective would be insurmountably prohibitive for me.
Meanwhile, my gynecologist, amazing naturopath, and the good folks down at PeaceHealth Laboratories are all saying that my internal lab reports are otherwise love letters, so this one's definitely a stumper.
Hopefully, my gynecologist's office will call me back soon, offering more encouraging news and further options. I absolutely hate my uterus at this point in my life, no matter HOW healthy my insides reportedly are.
@312, I've found this conversation to be an incredibly infuriating experience, largely because it seems like you're arguing for what would in effect be a loophole to that principle, and doing it in a manner that strikes me as uncharacteristically sketchy and underhanded.

I can't think of any way to rectify this impression, so I'm going to stick with bowing out.
@313 If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, then you should probably treat it like a duck.
It is always ok to decline sex in the future. Declining sex that already happened is trickier.
@290 Oh, no! Some random bigot on the internet thinks I'm a sad loser and doesn't believe I'm a real man! *sob*

If only I had a wonderful wife, an awesome son, good friends, supportive parents, a satisfying job--oh, wait. I do have all that. Never mind. Crisis averted, internet troll!
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck it's a duck. No matter how insistant it is that it is anything other than a duck. Agreed.
@318- Iam sincerely happy that there is one more person out there living a fulfilling life. Iam sure that you are a wonderful father, husband and employee. This is a good thing for the planet, and a great thing for society in general. You may have a slightly inflated sense of moral entitlement though if you believe that you have he right to bully me by dismissing me as a "bigot" and a "troll" simply because I (like MANY MNY MANY others here do as well) that there is a distinct difference between someone who is born a man, and someone who simply refers to others as one. Simply wishing it does not make it so, but there doesn't have to be any animosity between those who are trans and those who recognize the reality that there are differences between a born man and a trains man.
@317- she wouldn't have allowed the sex if she weren't lied to, and "Marcus" lied in order to manipulate the situation. Why are you being so deliberately obtuse ?
I'm reading a very interesting article about the pro's and con's of "rape by deception" laws (and the underlying principles) in the Yale Law Journal. I came across this quote which seemed apt:

"...Lying is wrong because it violates human autonomy. Lying forces the victim to pursue the speaker's objectives instead of the victim's..."

- David A. Strauss, Persuasion, Autonomy,
and Freedom of Expression, 91 COLUM. L. REV. 334, 355 (1991);…

The fact is that, however we dress it up, Marcus indulged in self-serving lies - he coerced NCA into pursuing Marcus' objectives instead of her own.

These weren't little white lies like "no, you don't look at all fat in that dress" or "yes, I'd love to watch 'The Matrix' with you for the 9th time" or "Yes, your mac-n-cheese is the ultimate mac-n-cheese of all time" that we sometimes indulge in for the purpose of getting our partner into a more-receptive mood for sex.

What Marcus did was rob NCA of her human autonomy, her right to say with whatever kindness and compassion she truly felt in the moment, "Gosh, Marcus, I'm really disappointed but I have to be honest and say that I'm not interested in being in a sexual relationship with you if you're a transman. I want a lover with a natural male body. I am not sexually interested in vulvas or vaginas or substitutes for real male genitals. I wish you all the best, but no, I cannot take that next step into sex with you."
Okay, Ankelyosaur & SBJ:

Do you see what Marcus did as worse than JunieGirl's guy hiding his severe ED until she was emotionally attached to him? If so, why is it worse?

What consequences do you think Marcus should face?
Susan B Journey- Ok, where did you come from and what will it take for you too go back? Cause you're totally ruining the buzz I'm getting from my favorite IPA. And that's not cool. As an anarchist minded mostly feminist (I only say mostly because of people like you) woman in my mid twenties I find you repulsive. Please fuck off.

EricaP It's over 300 comments in, can't you just let it go at this point?
@ 325 - No.
@324 - I didn't read JunieGirl's post. Is the ED curable or treatable? Did he promise her PIV at some point in the future? Was he in denial about his condition and its severity? Or intentionally manipulating her into a corner?

I already stated that I think Marcus should be socially shunned by NCA forever for betraying her trust. I also think that the only fair thing for Marcus to do is apply to transfer to a different college (one hopes far, far out of state) and cede their mutual friends to NCA. She didn't do anything wrong and shouldn't be walking on eggshells for the rest of her time at that college.

Note: if "rape by deception" were illegal in her community and she wanted to press charges, I would support her decision. But after further reading and research, I doubt either would apply in this situation.

Other than that, I hope everyone learned something, that Marcus stops lying to intimate partners about important things ("those jeans look fine on you" - yes; "I have a penis but I'm saving it for later" - no!) and that NCA isn't too damaged by the experience to reasonably trust friends and lovers again in the very near future.
@327, I'll go with intentionally manipulating her, since she wrote: "He specifically did it because he knew he had trouble getting women interested [because of] his medical issues." See @69 above.

>> I hope everyone learned something >>

Me too.
@323 Well put. Quibble with 'real male genitals'. But I agree that large deviations from the norm should be disclosed before sex to be polite. And not disclosing before it gets hot shows bad character.

@319 If he passes and he's happy, no big deal. I don't want a world where I'm not a woman until you see my junk. Your perception that a trans man is not a man does not make it reality. It's just disrespectful of a reasonable preference.

@325 I guess you're mostly American because of Americans like her too. This has nothing to do with equality, it's about dishonesty and disclosure.
@320 Why not go up and read #290, since it was the comment I was replying to, instead of assuming I was talking to you?
@314 Don't let your mother's medical experiences dictate your own. My mother told me horror stories too and none of it turned out to be true for me. Women's health used to be far far worse than it is now, and doctors used to be far far shittier about it.
@ 328 - He sounds like a creep. I suspect that this was not the only time in their relationship where he indulged himself in self-serving lies and manipulation in order to get his way (coerced her into serving his interests rather than her own.)

People will put up with more or less of bad behavior in a partner depending on other factors (fear of being alone, desperately wanting an intact family for their children, feeling fulfilled in other areas, low self-esteem, etc.) but my tolerance for sexually abusive coercion/manipulation is very, very low.

We're not talking about someone unthinkingly handing her a Coke when she ordered Pepsi.

Lying to someone over a period of months in order to have sex that their target would have rejected if fairly informed is waaaaay creepy and should, in my opinion, be ringing all kinds of warning bells about past, current and future bad behavior.
NCA's letter is indeed an example of the situation where the justification for a criminal rape charge would be that the rape victim WANTED penetrative sex from the rapist and he couldn't give it to her.

Lewis Carroll and Joseph Heller are looking down on this and laughing their asses off.
Suze - would you say if you had sex w/ a married or otherwise non-single guy (unknowlingly), that would be rape under the law? Would you do the whole rape-kit/call the cops thing?
I seriously think nonsense like this are (1) sad because prove some people just have no hearts and (2) that some women are the worst enemies of women.
By reducing rape to something so idiotic its an offence to women and all rape victims.

Some of you should try harder to be good loving people. Love, live and let live
@331: You offer some good points, but I'm still harboring doubts about the long-term benefits, if any, from my going so far as to having a full-fledged hysterectomy done at just-shy-of-50. This isn't stemming from my mother's past naysaying as much as it is my own concern (costs aside) as to how my internal system most likely would be thrown off balance from what used to be a regular monthly cycle. A hysterectomy is still an irretrievably permanent surgical procedure, despite modern medical advances in technology. I couldn't just put everything magically back in its original place if I suddenly changed my mind later, or if something else went wrong post-op.
Maybe what I REALLY need is a hysterical-ectomy.
Absolutely terrible legal advice from the Lambda Legal lawyer! Contrary to the wishful thinking made-up rules that suit their world view, honest disclosure of trans status (and Poz status for that matter) are not optional in the eyes of the law. Dru Levasseur's argument that trans identity is "constitutionally protected" is ridiculous and legally incorrect. Consent to sexual activity is a "fact question" which means 6 lay jurors will decide if the sex was consentual based on he said -she said. The ivory tower LGBT experts and so-called activist lawyers cannot save Marcus through their 'magical thinking'. I'm quite upset and worried by Dru's advice. This is precisely the incorrect advice that has led Poz nondisclosers to criminal convictions. Marcus admitted to his deception and in a criminal trial he would have no credibility with a jury. Does Lambda understand this or are they merely trying to shape public opinion?
why do people keep talking about whether anger/outrage are appropriate or justified? the letter writer didn't say she was angry, just not interested anymore. and that she's sweet enough to even feel bad for this shows there's nothing wrong with her as a person. it's just not her thing. i can't blame her. i would lose interest too, and feel guilty about it. a bit.

and not disclosing a hysterectomy is not analogous. you can still have any and all kinds of sex with a hysterectomy. you just can't have babies. i somehow don't think breeding was a consideration in this instance.
@ 333 - You are attempting to paint as absurd what is in fact a very basic principle in human ethics and in law:

If the underlying (defining) principle of anti-rape laws is preserving a human right to "sexual autonomy" then sex without consent *** is rape ***.

If NCA would not have consented to sex with Marcus had she known that Marcus is a transman with a female body, and Marcus reasonably knew this and chose to not just withhold this information but to lie about having a penis and his desire to have PIV with her in the future, all as part of a scheme to intentionally deceive NCA into oral and digital sex, then Marcus deprived NCA of her sexual autonomy. NCA was coerced into unwanted sex via intentional deception.

This could easily be proven by either Marcus confessing to his intentions and asking for mercy ("I thought she wouldn't want to have sex with me if she knew") or by a prosecutor offering into evidence witness testimony, Marcus' writings in a journal, letters or e-mails to friends, etc.

As mentioned above, when het males are *tricked* into oral or anal sex with a transwoman, sometimes they are so outraged that they murder the impersonator afterwards. We all know that this has happened dozens of times in recent years. The cases are all over the news. Why should we be surprised or make fun of the fact that a woman could also be horrified, ashamed and/or appalled after being tricked into sex with a female-bodied transman?

I think Marcus is getting off remarkably easy, given her behavior (she probably won't be seeing the inside of a courtroom over this) but I also think that if this kind of behavior persists (is enabled or minimized within the trans* community), we'll inevitably see more of these cases ending up in criminal or civil courts.

There's nothing absurd about heterosexual female human beings (or anyone else) having a right to sexual self-determination.
Your transphobia is showing, Susan. Transpeople are not "imposters" and it is not *them*, but the people who *kill them*, who are responsible for their murders.

I was willing to give you the benefit of the doubt earlier, that you didn't *intend* to imply that rape survivors are weak because they failed to fight to the death. But it turns out victim-blaming is just kind of your thing.
@ 341 - People get killed robbing banks. People get killed defrauding investors. People get killed selling worthless bonds to old ladies. Perpetrating deception and fraud, even when people's bodies and intimate feelings are not involved, can be a very risky business.

Of course not all anti-trans violence is provoked. But when someone LIES to another person and defrauds them into having sex they wouldn't have agreed to otherwise, then some percentage of the victims of sexual fraud (like some percentage of victims of every other category of fraud) are going to become violent over being defrauded. How many? 1%? 5%? 10% I don't know exactly, buy it's not 0%. Reading the news makes this perfectly clear.

Understanding human nature doesn't make me a victim-blamer any more than saying "if you stick your hand in the tiger's cage it might bite you" makes me a victim-blamer.

People like you shove the victims of rape by deception into a corner. You give them no recourse, no path to justice. Yes, most people will just take the humiliation, the degradation, the betrayal and try to piece their dignity and their lives back together. But given the chance, some percentage of them will strike out in rage.

Speaking this truth isn't victim-blaming. It's shining a light on how retaliatory violence can be avoided. I honestly don't care if you agree. But I do care that young, ignorant, and inexperienced trans folks learn before they're facing imminent harm that rape by deception is not a game, it's not a victimless crime and they will not always get away with it with impunity.

I would suggest that you educate yourself and learn how to reason before you make baseless and irrational accusations, but I see that this is "just kind of your thing".
Okay, a few things:

1) "Of course not all anti-trans violence is provoked." Uh, yeah, try *almost no anti-trans violence is provoked.* Not even a significant fraction of anti-trans violence comes from people their trans victims had sex with. Your handwringing about how all the young trans folks out there raping people are risking retaliatory violence is just jaw-droppingly ignorant.

2) You insist on equating Marcus to a criminal, but you're the only one who sees him that way. NCA doesn't mention any feeling that he raped her. She certainly doesn't mention having her "trust shattered, dreams betrayed, hopes crushed", no matter how much you want her to.

3) When criminals are killed for being criminals, rather than by an act of self-defense, their killers are murderers. Weird, I know, but individuals are actually responsible for their own actions. There's no level of anger or disgust that becomes permission to administer your own violent punishment. Or, to put it another way, if a woman flirts outrageously with a man in the bar, she's not responsible for that man raping her later, no matter how much he felt she was asking for it.

(By the way, I saw in the other column you were complaining about being labeled as transphobic. Since you apparently can't understand why that would be, let me explain. I see you as transphobic because you often refer to Marcus as "she" and accuse "her" of tricking NCA into "lesbian sex", not to mention calling transpeople "imposters". Refusing to respect another person's identity is hateful. Insisting that Marcus is really a woman is no better than saying, "Sure I know that nigger would like to be called African-American, but call a spade a spade, amiright?")
If we contribute to a society with a suite of attitudes that gives trans people legitimate reasons to fear exposure, do we have any right to be outraged when they don't advertise themselves?

Sure, it's easy to paint the violence, even to the point of murder, against the trans community as simply the horrified reaction of some poor man who was tricked into sex with a dude, but that's not even half of it. Our society does not need the excuse of some cishet individual being tricked into gay sex (because, of course, it's vitally important in these situations that we ignore identity and insist that the trans individual is the gender on their birth certificate, no matter what) in order to justify violence against them, it is enough that they are "impostors" in daily life before we even reference their sex lives.
Trans people face abuse and discrimination as standard, so they have reasons, supplied by our society, to avoid advertising their status... but hiding that status is deception and fraud, and it's their own stupid fault if someone kills them for it? They have a good chance of being killed if they don't hide themselves, and they have a good chance of being killed if they do. In what universe is that a liveable situation? We put them in an impossible position, and blame them for the outcome whichever way it turns out. We force them to hide who they are if they are able, and then we vilify them for doing so. That is neither rational nor just.

Yes, full disclosure is obviously preferable, but how can we expect it when we make exposure so threatening? They're deviants if they're honest, and they're deceivers if they hide, and either way they deserve what they get. Heads we win, tails they lose. How can any of us look at that situation and not recognise it for the utter bullshit that it is? It's irrational, immoral, and incoherent to maintain this double standard, and more so to put the blame on them when we've given them no choices.
EricaP, you are arguing from a place of complete intellectual dishonesty. Marcus knew damn well that the girl he was dating might not be okay with having sex with a trans man. Everyone in the world knows that that is a possibility. It really doesn't matter whether she SHOULD be okay with that or not, but everyone knows that there is a high possibility that any given person would be really bothered, even horrified, by the idea of having sex with a trans person, even one they otherwise found attractive. He KNEW that, but he wanted to have sex anyway, so he lied (not by omission, openly lied) about having a dick. He said he wanted to wait to have PiV sex because it's a "large commitment," implying that he had a P to put in her V at some later point. But even the lie by omission would have been terrible enough because, unlike your gun-owner analogy, he KNEW that this could be a dealbreaker for her and he still didn't disclose.

I don't think he's a terrible person or anything. I think he's young and naive and inexperienced and did something stupid and selfish while attempting to navigate a difficult and scary situation. Mistakes happen, especially at that age. But what he did is not at all okay and you shouldn't be arguing that outrage is an inappropriate response.

What you are effectively saying is that it is perfectly okay to have sex with people KNOWING that you are withholding information that would cause them to say no, just because you disagree that that information should matter. YOU don't EVER get to decide that for someone else. And that is why this argument always sounds SUPER rapey, and you and trans activists in general would do well to just fucking drop it.

Furthermore, I think it's disingenuous for you to be arguing that someone's gender and sex are on the same level of importance as whether one is an asshole or a gun owner. You KNOW that most people feel much more deeply and viscerally about the former, and the latter is entirely cultural. You know it's not the same.

I think you might have some good points buried somewhere in the mess of an argument you are trying to make, but speaking from a place of intellectual dishonesty is not going to do you any favors, score you any points, or get anyone to take what you have to say seriously.

Either way, stop trying to shame people for how they feel about fucking trans people. Working for a more accepting world for trans people in other ways, outside the bedroom, will naturally have the effect of getting people to let go of their prejudices and preconcieved notions and make them more open to the idea. You can't put the cart before the horse on that one. But even in a perfectly accepting world, there would still be tons of people who really didn't want to have sex with trans people. And that's okay. You can't pretend that a trans man is exactly the same in every way as a cis man. The earlier they are allowed to transition, the fewer those differences are, but there are still obviously some major ones and always will be. You can admit that a trans man is a different type of man than a cis man without seeing him as a woman or some shit. But they ARE different. Both men, but different. The bedroom is one of the only places where those differences matter, and I think that's why a lot of trans activists get caught up in these cotton-ceiling-type arguments, but the difference DO matter there, and always will. Let it go.

    Please wait...

    Comments are closed.

    Commenting on this item is available only to members of the site. You can sign in here or create an account here.

    Add a comment

    By posting this comment, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.