Love that last comment--about ditching friends so that they understand that they are assholes. I'm grateful for the people who taught me in that rough fashion.
"Losing friends due to your assholery is an important learning experience for many. Don't cheat these guys of it."
Great advice. I would say that it's an important lesson for almost everyone, save a few exceptions. Most of us have been assholes at one point or another in our lives and anyone who says otherwise is an asshole.
Bravo to further graphic genius of Joe Newton, and Dan the Man, I salute you for calling out assholery.
You are still in porn sphere, you only saw professional sex videos of the people you think you’re interested at, yet never met one in person.
Before attempting to date the trans woman of your dream, the one you only saw on your computer screen, try and meet some real ones. Not sure where in your area, yet reach out to trans social events if you can find any.
Other alternatives to the bar scene may include joining a queer soccer team, attending poetry readings, and checking out kink events.
I don't understand Bailey Jay's advice to "talk about both of your bodies." What can a cis person possibly disclose about themselves? That's like asking someone to come out of the closet as a heterosexual.
@7 Psst, it's penis size.
Great answer from Bailey Jay. Yes, there are trans women on OKCupid, plenty of them (though I can't guess how many there are in Utah). Fetlife will also have lots of non-op trans women, given that so many men consider them a fetish (ahem). I agree with Ms Jay that asking about their genitalia might be offensive if they haven't mentioned it themselves. If GHMP would not date/break up with a woman who had had bottom surgery (which I personally find a bit crappy if he's previously been happy fucking women with vaginas), he should avoid sex until a discussion of genitalia has naturally come up. If he's being honest about this, he should lead with "I'm looking for a relationship" since so many men are not, particularly where trans women are concerned. And he should never EVER act as if they should be grateful for his interest.
Re TDE, Dan, you say there are gay men who don't want to sleep with cis men? Wouldn't that make them, you know, -not gay-?
Rolando @3 and SFHally @4, sorry, you're not only wrong but transphobic. We ARE living in a pansexual utopia. Trans is not a costume any more than being an asshole is.
TLC @7: Bwahahahaha, yes, because all cis people look exactly the same naked. Indeed, Bailey means if that if cis guys are going to judge her penis, they should be prepared to be judged on theirs.
@9 - a good friend of mine is a trans man. He sleeps with many men, and trust me - they're gay.
LW1 may want to consider seeking an agender or non-binary queer pantyboi, a femme with unabashed and working boy parts who likes cis men. Could be the best of all worlds. There are some around. ;-)
Alkmenesankles @10: That's not what I said. I didn't say that men who like trans men aren't gay. I said that if you are not (also) attracted to cis men, how can you be gay? Are there men who are exclusively attracted to trans, not cis, men -- and how can they tell? The only difference is the penis, and if you like men but don't like penises, well, I suppose you -could- call yourself gay, but I've never heard of such a thing.
Rocky @11: True, there are options besides trans women for people who like both femininity and penises.
BDF @12 I have a vague recollection of a gay man in the comment section who liked male bodies but found penisis not particularly arousing or interesting. FWIW, I'm 98% hetero and I feel something like this about vaginas. Somewhat cute but not especially arousing.
I'm seconding, thirding and fourthing the comment about not using questions about genitals as an icebreaker. Sometimes I say I was born without them, but with a huge, all-engulfing anus. Sometimes I read out a paragraph in whatever mindstretching feminist tome I'm reading and subject the questioner to an hour of disquisition (they tend to last five minutes) before answering queries on my name.
TDE, go and have a great time. I was a femme-presenting gay thirty years ago, apprehensive that my divergence from cis-maleness would stick out in a gay-male space. 99% of my concerns were unfounded. In one sense, the feeling in these spaces is that there is an overground, 'Muggle' sort of cishet world, and then the caverns of the queer--and that newcomers are 'with us now', among the queer. And very welcome. You don't have to throw yourself into sex--though you may well be able to (you may find willing partners). As for particular configurations of fucking, what Dan says is right. It’s not always possible to play every role, inhabit every identity, in a gay male sphere with a particular heritage and affects (of pride and righteousness) attached to it, like a bathhouse. When I got fucked in a bathhouse, I was a woman in my head, sometimes, but a male bottom, together with the so-many male bottoms, in presentation. There will perhaps occasionally be scenes where you won't get to join in. Mixed, trans-friendly and entirely ad hoc contexts--private dungeons--may ultimately be the place to gravitate towards to satisfy your needs or kinks as they emerge or (perhaps) become more definitional for you.
@3. rolando. Well, my penis is female. I call her Hermosita.
So I have a question re: the comment about cis het going to drag shows. I really hope this doesn't come across the wrong way because I'm genuinely curious. I'm a cis het female. I've been to drag shows in the past and had a fucking blast! I don't go to gay bars on normal occasions. Was I out of line to go for a drag show? If so, in what context is it ok for a cis het person attend one? I don't want to offend or invade anyone's space.
@4. sfhally. There's no attempt at blending. The claim is that there are different types of women--ciswomen (the vast majority) and transwomen. Some but not all the transwomen have penises. This, the yea or nay of dick-having, is beside the point of their being women. 'Pansexual' doesn't mean what you think it does, either--it describes those whose attraction is primarily to individuals conceived in a nongendering way as persons, rather than to those within certain gender designations like male or female. Rather than pushing for 'utopia', trans activists and supporters want respect and cohabitation.
For anyone for whom the world is moving too fast ... your world doesn't have to change. Your pipe, slippers, landline and group of friends will be exactly where you left them. No one is asking you to be trans. You don't have to have a heart-to-heart with a trans person. Your needing to legislate wrt gender (if you do) probably says more about you than it does about anyone non-gender-normative.
@17. Too Wong Fu. No, you were not out of line. They are being mainstreamed anyways.
@7. TheLastComment. A trans person may have in their minds and imagination a cis and a trans body. One could e.g. get an erection when aroused when thinking as a woman and e.g. the hard-on not mean anything; it be a vestigial expression of sexual energy, or e.g. the hard-on be something you want to use, take pleasure from, give pleasure with, whatever mental gender you're inhabiting at the moment.
It’s persons, not body parts, that are gendered.
Please don't let some virtue-signalling moron making snide comments about a previous cis life cause you second-guess yourself and whether you can go somewhere . Go where you want, nobody cares. This way of thinking is suuuuuch a funsucking drag.
@20. OK. 'Both of your bodies' doesn't mean 'your two bodies'. That was something of a personal interposition. Penis size, yes, but not just--why not the potential turn-off for a transwoman of a hairy back?
Registered @13: But you are attracted to cis women, yes? This is not the same thing as a gay man not being attracted to cis men.
Harriet @22: Body hair was another example of something a cis man should potentially disclose to partners before disrobing, yes. But I do think -- and she even admits this was a joke -- she was joking about how she herself may find some cis men's penises unappealing.
@3 Gender is attached to people. Penises are (generally, with many exceptions) attached to people. If a penis is attached to a woman, then it's a woman's body part, in the same way that you have a simpleton's mind, a bigot's mouth, and a troll's fingers. Words do mean things. The ones you chose to string together mean that you're an asshole.
"Sooner or later they are going to age out of hot?" Ah,were truer, or sadder, words ever spoken?*
@23. Bi. You're right as ever.
Witty wordplay re 'digital' from eastcoast and 'attached' from smajor. ;)
Has anyone ever seen a picture of a dick and thought "This one might be a woman's penis?"
@27 Yes, when it's attached (or presumed to be attached) to a woman.
Too Wong Foo @ 17
“I've been to drag shows in the past and had a fucking blast! Was I out of line to go for a drag show?”
You were not, main stream drag shows seem to attract many het cis women anyway, just be aware that this is a show just like trans women in pro porn are.
Please acknowledge the far less glamorous off stage that most “drag queens” are facing. Quite a few non-performers are not as “passable” like the people you probably see on stage, some may not even bother hide their hairy arms and legs, pot bellies, and other masculine-associated body traits.
Please accept trans women as who they are, and ask for a preferred pronoun if applicable. Calling one “a drag queen” may come across as offensive.
Also please don’t stare when you see us in the mall, and at least attempt to do a better job hiding that instinctive not-necessarily-malicious smile that many can’t control when they see a male born presenting themselves as a woman. (I try not to hold it against them, it still bugs me sometimes nevertheless.)
Also, don’t freak out if a man you’re dating likes to dress up on occasion or more. (And if that’s your thing then don’t be shy to bring up the subject yourself.)
Hey readers this is LW1, first off I wanted to thank Dan for selecting my letter, i've made Savage Love part of my Wednesday routine for many years now. I just wanted to clarify a couple things here for them and the comment section. First my author name was different than what was chosen here, (I named it after the Tumblr blog I mentioned) and I think that caused some problems; I didn't mean to imply that a penis is solely a man's parts, if that's what it came across as I apologize.
I do understand that some trans women may want bottom surgery and if I met the right person and really hit it off and formed a relationship, i'd like to think i'd be okay with that. (but I do admit that those who have top but not bottom surgery really turn me on) As far as bringing up the subject goes, I actually don't recall ever meeting a trans woman before and have not yet spoken to any offline yet, so I absolutely won't use genital questions as an icebreaker.
@CMDwannabee I'm having a difficult time even finding the profiles of trans women on dating websites who live in Utah, and i'm also not sure if there are any trans social events here. From what I can find it's more like a general LGBQT community somewhere in SLC. If anybody finds some resources to link here i'd appreciate it.
@BiDanFan I haven't fucked any women with vaginas actually, though I have pursued them with varying degrees of success (failure). Being that I live in such a conservative state, I hadn't considered dating somebody trans because I have never met any. It was only after browsing that blog for a year that I considered it and wondered if it were a possibility.
@rockyboy I have thought about that too, I would be open to that. I am attracted to feminine features, though in my experience (and I mean this in the nicest way possible) most of the people I see in Utah's dating scene who identify in those terms have bodies like linebackers that aren't feminine at all.
@Harriet_by_the_bulrushes that's somebody's fetish.
@smajor82 I agree with you that gender is attached to people. All men start off in the womb as female, and men's nipples are just leftover hardware we all happen to have on our bodies.
@sfhally Men aren't considered women for having nipples, therefore women can have a penis and still be a woman.
@unknown_entity Well to be fair, have you ever seen a picture of a guy's "moobs" and mistook them for a woman's chest?
@30 Hi herbertstevensh! Thanks for following up, it's always nice to hear from the LWs. As someone who has dated trans women, my advice would be to follow the golden rule: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Trans people are people, as worthy of courtesy and respect as anyone else, not walking sex-delivery devices. It's OK to be attracted to certain body parts, as long as you're not reducing that person to just those body parts. They're people, with their own lives and emotions and stories. Be respectful of that.
As far as dating, you might also try Grindr. It may sound strange, but there are definitely trans women on there (along with the scores of cis men looking for them). Beware of scams, and you'll probably run into some escorts (I have the impression that some went there after the Backpage/CL personals shutdowns), but there are some who are looking to date.
@Dieter789 I actually don't have a smartphone, so I can't use these apps. :T
Another aspect of "talk about both of your bodies" is to be honest about how your body works.
If you have what Dan calls "death grip syndrome," or you come very quickly or only in certain positions or you need a certain fetish to be indulged (as fantasy or reality) -- don't make your partner struggle to figure that stuff out in bed. Use your words.
Oh and if part of the reason you started noticing trans women is that you have your own gender issues, bring that up too. If you're hoping for a relationship where your partner uses her penis and you don't use yours -- bring that up early.
@bidanfan, I believe that Dan's point was that since trans men are men, men who only have sex with trans men are gay. A penis is not required for manhood, two trans men who have sex with each other are having gay sex, a cis man having sex with a trans woman is not gay, etc. Of course life is complex and definitions oversimplify the many expressions of queerness, but these are the labels we're working with.
@30. herbert. Sorry--what is somebody's fetish?
With your remark about not having had sex with any women, I'm getting the impression that you're a fairly young man in a conservative environment who's open to his first partnered sexual experiences (of fucking, say) being with the people he desires most--pantybois or women-with-dicks. I say, go on and find all this out. Launch yourself on the Salt Lake queer scene. I'm sure there will be non-gender-normative people there. Lots of people will the stuff you like--oil paintings, antique furniture, pictures of animals, women-with-dicks. It's a readily imaginable aesthetic and 'erotic'.
BOY / GIRL PARTS
I'm a gay man with a hetro past. Honestly, I don't know what to expect from a transexual so I just don't go there. To me, they're a third and fourth group of people from a sexual perspective. Right? (Male presenting with Vaginas, Female presenting with Penis')
DEALING WITH A-HOLE FRIENDS
By far the worst hazing I saw during my college fraternity days was towards a "brother" who had become a significant BOTHER. He was a raving alcoholic, complete asshole to everyone, had two very serious DUI incidents, and a domestic abuser to boot! We drove him from the fraternity. I'm told he ended up being a fairly decent human being once he dried up.
Okay, everybody. I'm going to clarify what I am talking about here.
Quoting Dan's reply to TDE:
"There are gay men out there who don't want to sleep with tall men, short men, masculine men, femme men, big men, small men, vanilla men, kinky men, and—yes—even cis men."
"There are gay men out there who don't want to sleep with ... cis men."
Okay? Got it? Everyone know what I'm talking about now? The assertion that some gay men don't like cis men? Which conflicts with the definition of a gay man as someone who is attracted to men? Strange @35, I'm simply having trouble wrapping my head around the concept of a gay man who is attracted to trans men but not cis men, because most trans men look (to me) indistinguishable from cis men, so it seems impossible to be attracted to one and not the other. Ruling someone in or out based on their genitals is different from experiencing attraction. It seems odd to me that someone would rule out sex with someone because he has a penis and still identify as a gay man.
If someone had phrased is as, "There are gay men who have a fetish for trans men," okay, that would make sense. Thanks, me, for explaining it to me. ;)
Plenty of tops out there who don't care about penises on the men they have sex with.
The term woman is the wide umbrella. Under that you have different groups. The cis women and trans women, and then branches down from there.
Semantics. If you are attracted to trans women LW1, go for it. Why do you need to get permission from anybody.
As the guest said, treat each woman as an individual, that’s what we all ask.
I've met people who, I think, match TRASH's description. My impression has been that they're engaging in lighthearted self-deprecation as humor; in the same way you'll hear a lot of 'anti black' jokes when you're in a black neighborhood (if you can't imagine it, imagine a black standup doing the "my people, you know we don't tip" routine). In that manner, the use of humor is way of disempowering the negative talk rather than an expression of internalized hatred. If that's what your dealing with, let it ride, laugh along, tease your friends.
"The assertion that some gay men don't like cis men"
Some gay men are demisexual or strongly monogamous with no interest in anyone but the one man they're committed to.
If such a man happens to fall in love with a transman, then, yes, he's not attracted to cis men. Because they're all the wrong men for him.
@38 BiDanFan: I responded to your email regarding last week's SL. I apologize for the misunderstanding.
You want to meet trans women, they don’t exist in your area, and you have no means of connecting to sites that may help you meet any.
Ever considered moving elsewhere?
Ms Fan - There was a gay podcast guest who was the author of a comic more or less about his life who found that everyone to whom he was attracted was not only trans but trans having been on hormone treatment for at least a year. That was what floated his particular boat. I remember that his attitude towards -I- was that a game gay would be willing to give it a try to please his partner, while Mr Savage (who has said that, were Mr Miller to transition, that would have to end at least a significant portion of their relationship) was much more gung ho and willing to insist one be enthusiastic about interacting with that particular female-coded part. That eventually gave me the terminology that it is possible to have straight-appearing gay sex.
There are lots of trans women looking for het men on Grindr. That’d be my first port of call for a date.
Dan said "don't want to sleep with", not "aren't attracted to". I think there's a difference.
I have a friend, a transguy, who identifies as bi/pan, but generally speaking ~doesn’t want to sleep with~ cis men. He says he's had too many unpleasant experiences, either because the cis guys he was trying to hook up with were clueless and/or assholes, or because it seemed to trigger his dysphoria. So although he may find some cis men attractive, and gets offers from cis men, he tends to turn them down. My friend is bi, but I don't think it's too difficult to imagine a gay version of that - i.e. a trans guy (or a cis guy, for that matter), who, for his own reasons, only wants to sleep with (other) trans men.
Strange/Erica/Venn/Margarita: Upon further reflection on this topic, I realise that not all trans men pass. I had been fixating on the examples we see in the media of masculine trans men and forgot, for instance, Skyler from Queer Eye season 2 whose transness is obvious. Margarita, you're right that people make their decisions on whom they want to sleep with based on more than just their appearance. (Erica, I don't think "men who are emotionally monogamous and already partnered" are relevant to TDE's hope to find men who might want to date him, as these men don't want to sleep with trans men, plural, either.) It is difficult for me to imagine a cis man only liking trans men -- I can more easily imagine a trans men only liking only trans men -- but we're all odd in our own ways, right? This is just a different kind of odd that I hadn't considered before. Thanks for enlightening me, SL has been educational once more!
What's the current opinion on gathering trans demographies? I suppose it's a nonsense question in light of Trump's attempt to slash the census but in a sane world...
"It is difficult for me to imagine a cis man only liking trans men -- I can more easily imagine a trans men only liking only trans men -- but we're all odd in our own ways, right?"
Yes, and this particular inclination does have an academic name - andromimetophilia, defined as "an attraction to trans men or to females who look and act like men". It seems to be less common than it's transwoman-centric equivalent, gynemimetophilia, but trans masc chasers are out there.
Well... can we call them "trans parts" then? It seems kind of silly and counterproductive to call a penis and balls "girl's parts", no matter whom they belong to.
Maybe Contrapoints has already made a video on this? She's always very convincing.
MartyVega @53 - why do you need to use a coy euphemism anyway? This isn't kindergarten. How about
"How can I meet a trans woman who is hopefully comfortable with her ~penis and testicles~ and seeking a relationship?"
@36 I was referring to your comment about your "all-engulfing anus"
MartyVagas@53, it does get confusing. And around trans issues, it can get explosive. People fall over themselves to get the right terminology, so not to offend. Best not to say too much because won’t be long before someone corrects you. As you found out.
Herbertstevensh, so you haven’t been with any women? And you don’t have a smart phone?
Get a phone and start checking what’s out there. Join fetlife and the groups there, get involved.
BiDanFan @50 -- Dan was talking about the fact that ANY man who goes to a gay bar will encounter men there who aren't interested in fucking him. (That is, no matter how good looking a particular man is, there will be men at the bar who are looking for something else.) So TDE shouldn't focus on the ones who aren't interested in him, but look for the ones who are. I don't think you and I disagree on anything in particular, here.
@37. tim browne. Not knowing what to expect would be irrelevant if you wanted to go there--if you were attracted to femme-presenting trans people, or just one such individual. In a sense, we never know what to expect from a new encounter or person.
@39 Granny. Yes, well said.
@56. herbert. Oh yes. I don't actually like having huge objects stuffed up my ass. One of my partners liked me to do it--and of course I could get there, by dint of practice; and one takes a certain pride in it, after all--but it's not exactly my thing. Psychologically, though, I do like the idea of exercising a tacit or covert form of mastery even though I'm bottoming. The feeling is that I'm ingesting (this word may have the wrong connotation) or engulfing, rather than being forced or done 'to'. For a while, this was referred to as 'topping from the bottom', but the phrase took an unfortunate turn and started to mean something else much less affirmative.
@60. Last Margarita. Yes, and I think these two inclinations are perhaps obscured by the important political practice of insisting that trans men are man and trans women women. Many people, transitioned or not, remain or relocate in the middle of the range of gender projections and self-stylisations. And some people skew towards the middle, while still having an orientation attracted to 'men' or 'women'. The people who have been drawn to me have been like this--consciously, and for the good, in some cases, and once in a confused way, having a mental predilection towards women and (in fact) finding in me as much of a woman as he could handle....
@38: BiDanFan, I've met some gay trans guys who don't date gay cis men, only other gay trans men...
So--failing to whole-heartredly agree with an aspect of the trans world gets you threats and juvenile insults on a level with "Mean Girls".
And funnily enough--Just like Trump-ers.
Look--you want to claim you're a woman with a girl-dick, knock yourself out.
You want to proclaim yourself the Emperor of San Francisco and demand tribute, have fun.
You can paint yourself blue and insist you're a Smurf.
But you can't demand that others go along. That's just how it works.
Who is this week's Lucky @69 Award winner? Tick...tick...tick...
This is veering off topic, I freely admit, but WTF is up with the horrendous ads in the Stranger offering money to "Patriots" voting for Trump?? They're appallingly repulsive!
Please, please, PLEASE--!!!!---will SOMEbody from the Stranger pull those repulsive pro Trump ads at the right of the SL comment threads? 1st Amendment be damned. This is Twitler bullshit propaganda at its putrid worst.
@64 First Amendment only applies to the government. A private website is free to refuse to run Trump-friendly ads. So far, at least, "Trumpster" is not considered a protected class (other than by the judiciary, obviously).
@54 You're right. Calling things what they are is much simpler.
@57 As trans-friendly as I consider myself to be, I still find it difficult to accept the they/them bastardization of the English language, which just makes a lot of discussion that much more difficult to follow. I wish someone would come up with a workable novel alternative. Or that gender non-binary people learn to embrace their "itness". I haven't been personally confronted with this situation yet (although I believe at least one member of my extended family is exploring this), so we'll see how I respond in the moment.
Lava @57: "Best not to say too much because won’t be long before someone corrects you."
Why is being corrected bad, if it means you learn something? (I've learned something about trans men this week!)
Erica @58: No, I don't disagree with you, and I didn't misunderstand that part of Dan's point.
Dan @61: Thank you for responding! Yes, I can see how gay trans men might prefer to date other trans men -- similar to how I would prefer dating other bi women to lesbians, because my bi-ness isn't an issue with other bisexuals. I admit I was picturing a gay cis man, as I assumed would be TDE's target market.
Sfhally @62: Don't you see how insulting it is for you to compare trans people to Smurfs? You don't get to do that with impunity, either. Yes, if you say something transphobic, people are going to call you on it, and why should they be expected to be any more polite than you?
Marty @65: Several non-gendered pronouns were tried in the 90s -- zie, hir -- and failed to catch on. Like it or not, you will need to learn to wrap your head around "they" as a singular pronoun. Which I'm sure you already use in different contexts. "Someone forgot their phone." "Call the doctor and see if they have any available appointments today." It's not difficult and gets easier the more you do it. Besides, it's not a "bastardisation" -- the use of "they" as a singular, gender neutral pronoun has been around for centuries:
"It" is not a valid pronoun for human beings, nor would it be accurate for all non-binary folks. Some enbies think of themselves as having no gender, while others identify with both genders -- and he plus she equals they. I hope for the sake of your family member that you end up finding this as easy as using a newly married person's new last name.
@66, Fan. For sure it’s important to learn new things. Not by being patronised though.
Marty was enquiringly why a dick and balls were called girl parts, and suggested trans parts.. which could be made more specific by saying trans’ girl parts. A valid observation: generally a cock and balls are man’s parts.
It gets so convoluted around language, and rather than drawing more people in to understand about transexuality/which needs to be the focus because in the general pop there is a lot of transphobia/, it pushes people away. A trans woman does have different parts to a cis woman and pre op the same parts as cis men.
Marty @ 65; I have hardly come across people who don’t identify as male or female. I think the explosion around non binary identification is very much a big city phenomena. Not met or seen many trans people either.
The non binary view is not something that grabs me. I see gender as yin and yang, masculine and feminine principles.
I respect others views of how they wish to construct gender. Don’t often feel the respect returned. Their way or the highway.
I do see the need to loosen up stuck gender roles, rid us of the ‘how it should be’ to ‘how it is.’
To attempt to eradicate all of it, the difference between the sexes, is throwing the baby out with the bath water. imo.
That's interesting - if I understood correctly, you are talking about gay men who are also gynemimetophiles (attracted to transwomen/ AMAB fem-presenting people)? I haven't come across much data on this sexual demographic. Most studies at this point (link below) seem to indicate the opposite - that men who are primarily attracted to transwomen and AMAB femmes display arousal patterns similar to those of straight men and different from those of gay men. Clearly, more research is needed! :)
Lava @67, yes, and I asked why use a playground-level euphemism, when it only creates confusion and risks causing offence? Marty agreed that plain language is better. Your white knighting seems unnecessary.
To finish the thought about confusion around words. The word Woman.. means a man with a womb. So all up trying to fit it together can cause one to go cross eyed.
I’ve been getting told a lot my words are unnecessary LM @70, since I first came onto Dan’s threads. If I write ‘em, they are necessary for me.
I didn’t jump on to white knight- ess anyone, LM.
Marty made a legitimate statement, and your response closed him down which is what often happens around discussions of trans issues.
No mater what the label is, a cis person will always be a cis person and a trans person will always be a trans person. There is no shame in these realities.
Margarita @69, congrats on the magic number!
Lava @67, the problem is when people try to define OTHER PEOPLE's gender based on their own understanding. I doubt anyone has ever challenged your use of "she" as a pronoun, or your identity as a cis woman? Accepting that some people are trans and others are non-binary should not be construed as an attack on cis people's right to define themselves as men or women. But stating that YOU see gender as strictly male and female, therefore you won't use other people's different words or pronouns, is disrespectful to their identity. So yes, it is "their way or the highway" when it comes to talking about themselves. You can't choose what to call someone else and claim to be an ally, or a decent human being. (I've segued into general "you," not you-Lava-in-particular.)
Non-binary is a big city phenomenon because in small towns, people are afraid to come out, because not many people will respect them. So they stay closeted or they move to where they will be accepted.
I agree that many of us could do with being reminded that ignorance simply means not knowing, and correcting people who mean well but just aren't well informed should be done gently. That can be difficult when there are so many jerks like @3 and @4 around. See, their nasty comments have been deleted. Scoffing and insults seem far more common than people genuinely wanting to learn. Gentle corrections seem to just make people defensive and they don't listen. As Rodney King said, why can't we all just get along?
I agree that singular "they" is not bastardisation (what's bastardisation is spelling 'bastardisation' with a 'z', if you ask me ;)). What I struggle with in terms of its modern usage, is talking about they/them-identified peeps in any sort of group context. I catch myself constantly backtracking to clarify whether something was said or done by the whole group or just one non-binary member of said group. It's not a big deal though, and similar clarifications are often needed in other contexts, e.g. when discussing complex situations with multiple "hers" or "hims". It just takes some getting used to.
@30 You may be a serial killer who tortures puppies and doesn't recycle for all I know, but based on your letter and follow up comment, you seem pretty great and I hope you find happiness out there. Is moving an option? Where you live and how you want to live don't seem very compatible.
@53 No. Gender is a social construct. Penises and vaginas are anatomical components that some people have. Your penis does not define your gender. It doesn't even define your sex in a biological sense - that's in the chromosomes, and even there the idea that we can all be split into XX's and XY's is sheer ignorance.
Also. It's silly (infantile, moronic, small-minded) to call anything "girl's parts" and equally silly to give a fuck what kind of genitals people of different genders have.
Not telling anyone else how to live their life, but.... I'd suggest the Trans world come up with a more accurate way to explain themselves early on in any encounter that might lead to intimacy. Specifically, what type of equipment are we working with here, and what would you like to do / have done with / to it? Seems like there are quite a few possible scenarios there, not all of which may be interest to another person.
Saying you're a "Trans Woman" suggests that you were born with a penis but your gender is Female. However, that does not signal whether or not you prefer the company of Men, Women, or many other possibilities. It also does not say whether or not you continue to have a penis, and whether or not you like to use it.
On the other side of the coin, I am a gay man who is a top. It's very clear where I'm going, right?
Well, just to sit on the opposite side of the language spectrum from my usual self...we all seem to deal just fine with the singular "you," don't we? Hardly anyone wishes we still used "thou." So I figure the singular they will become more natural over time. And as Bi says, mostly people only complain about it in written English anymore, anyway, it's pretty natural in speech.
Can we please, though, talk about the current trend of using "bemused" to mean "wryly amused"? Because that is not what it means. At all.
tim browne @77
"On the other side of the coin, I am a gay man who is a top. It's very clear where I'm going, right?"
Not really. Are you a top in the sexual or BDSM sense of the word? If sexual, will you be topping for oral/ anal/ intercrural/ all of the above? If BDSM, are you a sadist, a dom, a bondage top? As a gay man, are you open to sex with cis and trans men, or just cis men?
I don't see why you'd place the responsibility to "explain themselves" squarely on "the trans world"? Surely if two (or more) people are planning an intimate encounter of some kind, they share the responsibility to communicate openly and honestly about any relevant physical, psychological, or logistical factors (that includes asking questions about things that are important to you, not just expecting the other person to volunteer information).
Like, a while back the GF and I were planning a threesome with a woman we met online. Her profile said "F" and "Lesbian". When we were discussing what sort of sex we were all into in the 3-way chat, the woman said that she was trans, and transitioned 15 years ago. Now you can say that's an ambiguous statement, as different people define transitioning differently. But it didn't matter to me what sort of plumbing she had, so I didn't ask. The GF was curious enough to ask, so she did. The woman said that yes, she had a penis, and in general hasn't had any surgeries, just HRT. Then we talked some more about the sex. Then we had the sex, which by all accounts was pretty awesome. We didn't discuss every technical detail and remote possibility beforehand, as we're all pretty "go with the flow" kinda people - but we did talk about things that seemed relevant and important to all of us at the time, and no one was expected to be a mind-reader or volunteer a load of information from the get-go.
It doesn't seem all that difficult to me.
GHMP - call me a romantic, but the appropriate time to learn about a potential partner’s genitals is when you have persuaded them to take their underwear off in your company. And the only appropriate response is ‘You look so sexy’. After that, do your best to enjoy your partner’s whole body, and let them enjoy yours. If you don’t enjoy your partner’s body, well, better luck next time. It is always horribly rude and demeaning to ask about genitals you have not seen.*
TDE - Welcome, and thank you for joining Team Gay. Now your officially one of us, you’ll discover not only the pleasure of anal sex, but also the pleasure of being a bitchy and judgemental queen. Unfortunately, while some gays manage to be bitchy, judgmental and funny, others can only manage bitchy, judgmental and misogynistic, or transphobic, or racist, or just awful. I find the best way to deal with a guy in any of those categories is not to sleep with ugly ones, and sleep with the attractive ones once or twice, and then call them bitchy and judgmental and stop answering their texts. I: not sure what this strategy achieves, but I do get to sleep with attractive men, which is definitely a pro.
*For example, all those guys on Grindr who think ‘R U hung?’ Is a suitable way to start a conversation. Fond as I am of my genitals, they are in fact only the second most important organ I use to have sex. If you ever start a conversation with me like this, I guarantee you’ll be talking to a dick.
Tim @77: Fortunately, this is how most trans people DO live their lives. Why indeed would anyone have to say anything more to you than "I'm a trans woman" when you, as a gay man, will never need to know any more? Just this week I was messaged on OKCupid by someone who went into great detail to describe herself as a non-binary trans lesbian with a penis who presents as male at work but as female elsewhere. In my experience, like Margarita's, details of a non-traditional gender do come up before the underwear comes off. Beautiful brave new world we live in.
I wonder if we should all zoom out a bit, given the Herbert's additional comment:
"I haven't fucked any women with vaginas actually, though I have pursued them with varying degrees of success (failure). Being that I live in such a conservative state, I hadn't considered dating somebody trans because I have never met any. It was only after browsing that blog for a year that I considered it and wondered if it were a possibility."
Herbert, do you mean that you are bi and have had success with men but not women, or do you mean that you are straight and have no success with anyone? I'm asking because I wonder if the bigger picture here that you are having trouble having sex with women, generally (trans or otherwise). I think a lot of us can use online experiences as a replacement for sexual experiences. I'm doing that to a certain extent in recent years because I'm now in a monogamous relationship so engaging with people's sex lives online gives me a kick I can't get in real life anymore. Could your interest in Tumblr be an outgrowth of lacking real life experiences?
Even if it is, there's nothing wrong with that and it doesn't invalidate the truth of your attraction to transwomen. But the right strategy to how you initiate these sexual relationships might be to first consider why you've been unsuccessful having sex with women (with any genitalia) in the first place. It could be about where you live? In any case, I'd think any strategies that could help with that would increase your likelihood of finding more specific partners. If there are fewer transwomen in your area in general and then you want a specific subset of them (transwomen who are pre-op and who want you to interact with their penises), then it seems like this is going to be an even bigger ask. Others will have to respond as to your chances or how you go about it, but I just wonder if (IF!) you are having difficulty getting laid at all, it isn't a great strategy to increasingly narrow what you are looking for. On the other hand, having a specific experience in mind might be easier to get because you could ask directly for that, arrange it online, and then travel to it (if necessary)- for example in the nearest big city? I also wonder if a good first step might be to seek a sex worker? This will not give you a relationship of course, but if you are starting at a place of mostly sexual inexperience, then it might be nice to enjoy a few desires just for the sexual nature of them while you are also looking for someone with whom you could have a relationship?
Again, sorry if I'm way off on a tangent here, but to me, it changes the way I'm reading the letter if we are talking about someone with very little sexual experience at all vs someone looking for something new/different than what they are accustomed to.
Maybe I should be more clear. If a person has a way of referring to themselves that could be prone to numerous interpretations, they probably shouldn't be offended when someone asks questions.
I get the impression from many many letters to advice columns (both here an on Slate especially) that people in the Trans community are fairly easy to offend. Maybe I'm wrong.
("non-op" not "pre-op", sorry, which is what Herbert said he's looking for)
Tim @84: Maybe I should be more clear. Why is it any of your business? Would YOU be offended if someone you barely knew started asking questions about your penis? You're gay; do you enjoy straight people asking detailed questions about your sex life? Trans people are no different. It sure is easy to offend trans people, just be transphobic. Just like you can easily offend a person of colour by being racist. If someone who appears a certain way to you gives you a name or pronouns that conflict with your impression, what does it hurt you to use the name and pronouns they give you and keep any questions or doubts to yourself? Again, why is their medical history any of your business?
I dunno, I think the point is there's a big difference between "x-phobic" and "ignorant about x" or "curious about x," and sometimes it's hard for people in the latter two categories to get enough information to act the way people in group x might prefer, without first asking questions that may be badly phrased, appear offensive, etc.
I suppose it's tiring to feel like you're always having to educate people. I get pretty tired of answering the particular set of questions which tend to come up about some unusual circumstances in my life. And I can imagine that it might be even more annoying if the questions were about me as a member of a group, rather than about me as an individual. But people are interested in differences, and that's not ever going to go away--nor should we think that expressing interest in a difference is a prelude to treating someone differently because of it. So I think you just have to be as generous about it as you can, and try to give people the benefit of the doubt.
@62 sfhally. It's hardly just 'one aspect' of transness, though--that trans people have become the gender to which they aspired. They are women. They are men. Why are you making your remarks? It must be important to you. How does, say, trans women being accepted as women make your world worse?
@69. Lost Margarita. Yes. There are gay guys who, in a relationship, are the masc-of-center type, the 'man', the husband, the rock, the sensible one, and who tend to hook up with more femme-presenting or effeminate gay men--who can project different personalities, but are possibly e.g the 'arty type', the dresser-up, the fabulous or extravagantly self-fashioning person. Of course it's only a subsection of gay male dating. Some of this gets lost in the old-fashioned insistence, now, that camp men, 'poofs', are not any the less male or gay. There was an ideal when I was a young man of two men dating looking comparable and projecting a show of 'equality'--and something dispiriting in immediately being pegged (not that way) for a bottom. Or, yes, that way... Erm... I'm just not most guys' type, because physically I look as if I should be strong and butch, whereas my manner is limply gay in a way beyond my control. The men who have liked me enough to want a relationship have always been into femme guys. Your link is interesting.
@69. Last Margarita. I'm not sure that many people with sexually-ambiguous or sexually/gender-indeterminate or -intermediate bodies would think of themselves (ourselves) as 'shemales'. That's a bit of a tabloid term; and it suggests some post-op transition to being female. The men (or people) drawn to shemales are partly intoxicated, I'd think, by the nexus of 'having done that to yourself', 'having gone that far'--the deliberate or calculated divergence from gender norms, and mix-matching of male and female sexual characteristics, is what gives fuel to the 'fetish'. I agree that getting hooked on this, finding it utterly sex and arousing, is much more a straight than a gay male ethos. It's a difficult issue--because there's often a big difference in self-conception between camp men, evidently AMAB but gravitating to transvestism, passing and much of the culture of femininity, who are not (yet) calling themselves women, and AMBs. (Many of the old-style 'cross-dressers' become trans; and I'm supportive of any feature of someone's lives that allows someone to be 'trans' while undergoing as little surgical intervention as they wish).
@84. tim browne. 'The trans community' ... 'I'd suggest the Trans world come up with a more accurate way' ...--but these are individuals.... Individuals who negotiate their dating and fucking sometimes haltingly, unsuccessfully, embarrassedly, just like everyone else? What is your interest, if your ideas are both vaguely aversive, and pitched at this level of generality? The existence of trans men as another kind of men, and often another kind of gay men, does not shrink your space. It needn't challenge your self-definition. It's far more often ciswomen than cismen, in my experience, who feel their right to legislate on behalf of their gender is usurped by transness. Lost Margarita's responses to you are heroic!
"sometimes it's hard for people in the latter two categories to get enough information... without first asking questions that may be badly phrased, appear offensive, etc."
Is it, though? We do have the internet. It's no use if you want to know about some unusual circumstances in your dinner date's life, but it can sure help with all your badly-phrased Gender 101 questions. Yes, anyone can slip up and put their foot in it sometimes. And some people - people of a different generation or a different culture - can perhaps be gently educated if they say something unintentionally offensive. But I do think that, generally speaking, 'ignorant' and 'curious' people should do their own basic research, instead of expecting marginalised folks to patiently provide random strangers with free education, and illustrate it with personal details from their own lives.
Personally, I see a lot of "but how will I ever leaaaaaarrrrnnn???"-type whingeing from my fellow cis-whites, and I don't buy it. It smacks of sealioning and wilful ignorance.
@84 Tim, I know the apps have desensitised a lot of gay men to a lot of very selfish and rude behaviour, so it might help to think of a broader context. If you want to know “what you’re dealing with” as soon as you approach them (or they approach you), you are saying that the most important thing about them is that they are a dick, an arse or a c*t. Most people would be offended if you’re opening line was “You look like a c*t. Are you?”. You may not use these exact words, but everyone gets your meaning.
Harriet @89, I thought the autogynephilia findings were an interesting aspect of that study. 42% of the men in the study group scored positively for autogynephilia (sexual arousal at the thought of oneself as a woman), compared to 12% of straight men and 0% of gay men in the control groups. I think that does resonate somewhat with what you said about eroticising "having done that to yourself", "having gone that far", etc. The male viewer identifying on some level with the transgender actress in 'shemale' porn.
Whereas what you are talking about in gay masc-fem pairings sounds more like the equivalent of butch-femme dynamics for lesbians - an attraction to 'traditional' gender roles, perhaps, to gender polarity or complimentarity.
@69 Lost Margarita: Congratulations on scoring this week's Lucky @69 Award! May an abundance of spring greenery come your way soon! Savor the riches.
@72 LavaGirl: Keep on rockin' the house! I have had commenters tell me the same thing, to which my response is exactly the same as yours.
I wonder who will nab the Hunsky this week? Tick...tick...tick...
Ms Ods - Or between X-phobic and "turned off by X".
While there's a ton of good information available on the internet on many or most subjects, most is probably accompanied by two or three tons of bad; I don't know that I'd want to trust in people's stumbling on the right source through independent research. If I didn't direct people to Miss Austen, someone might emerge admiring a Bronte.
M?? Harriet - yes, there are both what I've been calling the Complementarians and the Mirrorists. There was a motto for a while, "Become what you want to attract," which suited the Mirrorists well. The Complementarians have advanced rather beyond gender roles in their quest for an Other Half (shades of Hedwig?), although some non-gay people want to make gays look as bad as possible.
Ciods @87: It should go both ways. People who are genuinely curious should be respectful about their questions, which includes recognising that some questions are intrusive and the person being asked is entitled to decline to answer. "Do you mind if I ask about..." "Sorry if this is too personal, but..." Or they might try asking Google instead of individual trans people. Because you're right, it is exhausting to be asked questions over and over and no wonder many people default to a snappy answer. I agree that being visibly trans does invite curiosity, and answering respectfully phrased questions could be viewed as one's good deed for the day.
Harriet @90: Indeed, I'd like to award Lost Margarita a gold star for education on this week's thread!
Fair points. I certainly agree on the "random strangers" front; I was thinking more new friends/acquaintances. I had not even thought of the internet, which maybe shows my age; I still think of it as an unreliable source for important information. But I just googled now, and although as Venn implies @95 there's a lot of harmful crap, there are also several nice respectful pages. So you are completely correct.
(And Venn, I got a giggle from your Bronte remark.)
I used to teach, and there were times when at the end of a day, having taught several sections of the same class, a student would ask a standard question and I could feel myself becoming irritated--in my head a voice was saying, "I have already explained this so many times!" And I'd have to take a breath and remind myself that although I had, in fact, explained it many times that day--and probably hundreds of times in my life--for that particular kid, it was still brand-new and foreign. Trans folk (and gay folk and people of color and so on) don't sign up to be teachers, so it's not a perfect analogy, I know.
I will say one other small thing, which I toss out occasionally on SL comments because I think it's not part of (most of our) usual experience: there's a little bit of what I would call "urban (or middle-class) privilege" underneath some of this conversation--namely, the ideas that people should be familiar enough with issues such as pronoun choice to know to ask in the first place, as well as the idea that everyone can easily google something. Many people in my town do not have internet access. Some don't have a computer.
Ms Ods - I thought afterwards I could have shown my work there. "Educate yourself!", while being a valid response, also seems risky. I'm glad I managed to provide am entertaining example. I can see a point, though, in wanting potential allies to be able to prove they can find the right direction without a push or hint.
Mr Sapien - Please stick to speaking for your own team in future, but thank you for providing an excellent example of why changing out the motto "gay is just as good as straight" for "it's not who you love but how you love" doesn't work for everyone through agency denial.
@93. Lost Margarita. On the 'autogynephilia' question, this must be a place where there is an extraordinary diversity of self-conception and -presentation among enbees. I have always found the mere act of feminising my body daunting, sometimes necessary and ... not erotic at all. This might have to do with how my sexual orientation, in my birth gender, is more gay than straight, or at least culturally gay. An AMAB person who's straight as a man is more likely to find the 'becoming' or 'self-transformation' aspect of transitioning (or just crossing or dressing up) sexually fascinating. For me, presenting en femme feels like making myself look more like I am, innerly, and needing to be more convincing than my otherwise slovenly, or scatty, mien would project. The caricature I would have of many straight men looking at shemale porn, and in consequence feeling an attraction to the performers as people, is that they're swept away by the 'pneumatic tits and big dick' image.... But there are people (the transwomen) like that, just as morally serious (or more so) than anyone else. And there are bi and a few gay people like this style of porn's devotees--but maybe not so many find the images of sex irresistible in the way one often does with a serious kink or taste.
@96. Venn. Well, in gay male company I was always a complementarian. You don't like 'Jane Eyre'?
@98. Bi. The hypervisibility of being trans, in any sense, is a burden. Almost all ciswomen are visibly female--but there's a presumption everyone understands what it means, so that people aren't habitually fielding questions.
101, M Vennomiinon. My apologies, but you appear to have misunderstood me. The 'pan' in my name is not a reference to my sexuality, but to my species. 'It is not the pan of pansexual, but the pan of Pan troglodytes. So my full Latin name would be Pan sapiens sapiens and, while I have no wish to be pedantic on the point, the correct formal address would be Mr Pan. I swear by Judy, Babs and Gaga that I am a member in good standing of Team Gay, and am fully authorised to welcome new members by Sister JudyGarlandsfuneralcausedthestonewallriot of the Order of Perpetual Indulgence.
You know, Mr. Ven, Virginia Woolf aside, it's possible to be on both teams Austen and Brontë.
@100: Congratulations, vennominon, on scoring this week's Lucky Hunsky Award! May you be awash in riches soon, and savor the wealth.
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