Question Seventeen: Does it undermine a trans man’s identity for a lesbian to say ‘I like butches and trans men’?
April 17, 2013 § 28 Comments
Another contentious one – and so early in the morning! Panel bios here.
I really appreciate this post, because I want to be the best trans ally I can be. I’ve always understood that as a cis woman, it was my responsibility to read & educate myself on trans issues & not expect the trans people around me to educate me. And I think this does have some merit, because cis people should treat trans people just like anyone else, & ask them the usual “what do you do” questions, not intrusive “what surgery have you had” or “how do you have sex” intrusive questions, which some of my straight cis-friends have actually asked my trans friends. My question is, does it undermine the gender identity of a trans person if for example, a lesbian says “I like butches & trans men”. Or are we all just queers who feel attracted to human beings?? Hope that makes sense, thanks xx
Naith: This is a very interesting question. As a trans man, I’ve always gone with the rule that I would never date or hook up with someone who wouldn’t do the same with a cis man. I would find it very uncomfortable to be with a lesbian or straight man, since I would be constantly worrying that wouldn’t see me as a man, or a special kind of man that isn’t the same as a cis man. Some people manage it, but I never could. And I do find it irritating when people say they’re attracted to “women and trans men” – it feels like they’re treating trans men like a special category of men who aren’t quite men, who are almost like women. And I hate that.
Roz: Treat people as people, let anyone trans tell you what they feel like telling you. Or not.
Natacha: If I were a trans man I think I would be very upset by that sort of remark but I can’t speak for trans men. I do know that there are a lot of straight cisgender men out there who enjoy anal sex but do not fancy men. This is why there is a demand for pre-operative trans women as sex workers. I think the first part of your statement actually answers the question. We just want to be treated as anyone else. Eg in some cases we appear female and have vaginas, in other cases we appear female and have ladysticks. In both cases we are still women.
I think some trans people however would not like the idea that they are queer. This represents coercive queering which is not appropriate for all trans people.
CN: There’s been a fair bit written recently about the inclusion and fetishization of trans men and trans masculine people in lesbian spaces (usually with a side order of excluding trans women) and I would urge you to have a read: Feministing here and here, Lipstick Terrorist here, and my own thoughts here and here. I would absolutely say that someone who calls themselves a lesbian making an exception only for trans men is undermining the validity of a trans man’s gender. It relies upon a stereotypical idea of what trans men are and defines them by the sex they were assigned at birth. As a contrast, I do have a few lesbian friends who occasionally fancy very girly men and, if they were to end up in a relationship with such a guy, would call themselves bisexual – but those men are no more likely to be trans than cis.