Does Not Wanting to Screw Trans Women Make Me a Bigot?

I’m 26, straight, and male. I consider myself a socially progressive person, have been a vocal supporter of LGBT issues since high school, and was president of my college Gay-Straight Alliance. Here’s my issue: I fully support the trans community. I have numerous friends in varying states of transition and I’m 100 percent behind them. But in my own dating life, I wouldn’t feel comfortable dating/having sex with a woman who had at one point in her life been a man. I realize I wouldn’t be fucking a dude, but it’s a mental hurdle I can’t clear. All my LGBTQA friends—be they trans, gay, bi—call me a transphobe, because if I were truly on their side, if I truly “understood,” then sex with a MTF straight woman would be no different than sex with a cisgender straight woman. Do I have the right to not feel comfortable with the idea (or reality) of having sex with these women and still consider myself a supporter of the trans community? Are my friends being unreasonable by judging me against their schema of appropriate sexuality? Or am I a hypocrite? —Fears Real Activism Undermined [by] Dick

“He’s not transphobic—not in my book,” says Kate Bornstein, author, performer, “advocate for teens, freaks, and other outlaws,” and herself a trans woman. “One more thing he’s not is straight. Sex-positive, supportive of trans folk, and heterosexual? Cool! He’s a queer heterosexual—and some of my best friends are queer heterosexuals.”

As for your specific issue—you’re not attracted to trans women—Bornstein says that by itself isn’t evidence of transphobia.

“A queer heterosexual is just as entitled to the fulfillment of their sex and gender desires as anyone else,” says Bornstein. “Sometimes those desires depend on the nature of their lover’s body. Well, trans people have bodies that are different than cis people’s bodies. We’re two (or more) mints in one—a physical blend that attracts a lot of people. FRAUD just doesn’t happen to be one of them. The fact that he’s sensitive to that blending of genders in our bodies does not make him transphobic.”

What can you do about it?

“Go have good sex with cis women,” says Bornstein. (Don’t know what “cis” means in this context? See:

Whatever else you do, FRAUD, Bornstein wants you to stop identifying as straight.

“He’s part of our queer tribe,” she says. “And who knows? One day, he might meet the right trans person.”

And who knows? One day, your cranky LGBTQA friends might accept who you are just as you’ve accepted them. Make an effort to use “attracted to cis women” in place of “wouldn’t feel comfortable dating” trans women, and you’ll hasten that day’s arrival.

Kate Bornstein’s new memoir, A Queer and Pleasant Danger (Beacon Press), will be published in the spring. Follow her on Twitter @katebornstein. (Follow me @fakedansavage.) —Dan

I’m a 26-year-old guy in a polyamorous relationship. As this is my first kick at the poly can, I wasn’t dying to tell my family, “Hey, I’m dating a married woman!” However, through the magic of Facebook, my brother found out that the girl I’m seeing has a husband. Once I was “busted,” I discussed the situation with my sister-in-law. The issue is that my GF and her husband have a 10-year-old son. This isn’t an issue for me, but my brother has compared the poly community to drug addicts and stated that CPS should remove my girlfriend’s child from her home, etc. My brother and his wife are now threatening to cut me out of their lives—as well as their children’s lives, whom I care for a great deal—if I don’t dump the girlfriend. Thoughts? —Forced To Pick

Right off the top of my head: Your brother is a shit-smeared asshole, your sister-in-law is an ass-smeared shithole, and they’d be doing you a huge favor if they cut you out of their lives.

Pick the GF, FTP. That might mean you won’t see your nieces/nephews for a while, which would be sad for you and bad for those kids (children with crazy, controlling parents need to spend quality time with saner family members). But if you dump your girlfriend at their insistence—if you fail to stand up to them—you will have established a dangerous precedent: Your love life isn’t yours to manage, it’s theirs, and all your future partners will be subject to their batshittery/scrutiny and, if they disapprove of any future girlfriends (concurrent or subsequent), they will attempt to exercise the veto power you ceded to them during this conflict.

Your brother and sister-in-law are bullies, FTP, and you’ve got to defend yourself. So long as your GF and her husband aren’t doing anything inappropriate in front of their son and they’re not placing unfair burdens on their son (they don’t expect him to keep secrets, if they’re not out about being poly; they don’t expect him to be out about his parents being poly, if they are out and he’s not comfortable sharing that info with his friends), you need to come to their defense, too. And you might want to consult a lawyer now, just in case your brother and sister-in-law call CPS. —Dan

I am a 29-year-old male with a fetish for snapping pictures of women’s legs and feet in nylons. I look for women online who will allow me to pay them to take these pictures. I recently posted an ad and received a reply from a coworker. I find her very attractive and would like to photograph her legs and feet. How should I handle this? —Sent From My Mobile Device

Here’s a relevant story from the files: Vanilla Gay pays a social call on Kinky Gay. KG informs VG that there’s a Hot Dude tied up in his playroom. KG invites VG to view HD. KG is right: HD is hot. HD is also, as it turns out, one of VG’s coworkers—one of VG’s straight coworkers.

It was an unexpected twist of fate—HD didn’t know that VG and KG were friends—that resulted in VG discovering something about HD that HD didn’t choose to reveal to VG. (A twist of fate and the rules HD agreed to when he played with KG: HD had consented to KG showing him off.) While it’s possible that HD wouldn’t have cared that VG knew his secret, it was likelier that HD, if he knew VG knew his bi-for-bondage secret, would’ve felt embarrassed around his coworker—not to mention compromised during any routine workplace conflicts with VG.

I urged VG to keep his mouth shut.

In your case, SFMMD, while it’s possible that your coworker doesn’t care who knows that she does fetish modeling on the side for extra money and/or thrills, it’s likelier that she would be embarrassed to learn that someone she knows professionally discovered what she’s doing. There are plenty of other women out there, and plenty of other legs and feet to photograph. Keep your mouth shut. —Dan

I was reading a letter in your archives from a woman who didn’t have much libido. I was disappointed that you didn’t mention that decreased libido is a common side effect of almost every form of hormonal birth control. The first thing a woman with low libido should do, if she’s been on the same pill for years, is to switch methods. I would love it if you’d mention this in your column. —Spread The Word

Done and done. —Dan Savage

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Our Readers Say

Re: FRAUD and not wanting to have sex with transwomen.

Well fair enough. I'm FTM trans and I find myself that I view transwomen and ciswomen differently, just as I do cismen and transmen. That's not a statement of better of worse or a value judgements of anyone as a person. It's not even a case of "Ew, born a man" (attracted to a few men here and there for all that I'm basically a transdyke) We each have our aesthetic. It's a fair source of personal angst on my own part but ultimately, you're attracted to whoever you're attracted to. In the end it all comes down to the individual, cis or trans, male, female or whatever. You're clearly in the place of being an ally...just because you don't want to shag me doesn't mean that you're not supportive of who and what I am.

Remember though: it's easy to be twitchy about this stuff when you're transitioning; you invest so much time in your identity and when you finally say "This is me!" and the world in a thousand different ways says "No it's not...freak." then all you want to do is scream and hit people. That's in my head though not yours and kudos to you for having the guts to actually examine your own motives, publically no less. Keep doing the same though...there are more personal epiphanies to be had there I'm sure.
what the fuck?! I'm sorry but this is blatant transmisogny. For me, it's all summed up right here: "I wouldn’t feel comfortable dating/having sex with a woman who had at one point in her life been a man." FRAUD is a transmisogynist. The hypothetical person FRAUD is referring to has never been a man. They have been perceived as a man , but they have always been a woman. If FRAUD was a cis woman who said they weren't "comfortable" dating a transman because they had one point been a woman, I think people would be quick to identify that as blatant transphobia. For some reason people always trip about transwomen "really being men" and it's just bullshit. People need to stop coddling this behavior and attitudes toward transwomen and stop pretending it's "preference" when it's really "transmisogny."
Kate talks about preferences but this guy didn't mention what he likes just his opinion. It would be like him saying that I support equality for Black people but I couldn’t marry a Black woman because they are Black. I believe that he is supportive but needs an attitude adjustment and expanded understanding because people who transition are women; special, different, yes but still women.
Elle and Jolene are full of crap. I don't date blonde men. That doesn't make me anti-blonde. It just means I'm attracted to men with dark hair. And I shouldn't have to apologize for not being attracted to blondes. FRAUD is no different. Just because you don't want to F*ck someone doesn't mean you secretly disapprove of/hate/fear them.
Whenever I hear or read someone use the word "sexpositive" I figure they've been conditioned to allow themselves into being manipulated into a world view that basically boils down to "I'm participating in my own destruction - and I'm OK!"

Good luck in the coming destruction of Babylon, kids.
You're like, SO, like, anti-tolerANCE, like, you KNOW? Like, its good to be positive 'bout like SEX, you KNOW??? Yah, like I smoke a lot of POT, like, ya KNOW???
Sure, and you're, like, so you KNOW, intellectUAL, ya KNOW? I can tell by the way you raise your voice at the end of like, each senTENCE.
Hello Dan
I like what you told FTP, because I'm on your side on that one Dan, His brother in law and sister needs to get a life, and stop trying to live your, it sounds to be the brother in law is mad that he can't do what you are doing. But like Dan said FTP, don't give in to them, because if you do, you will hate your self later. keep up the good work Dan.
@ Danika: You tell em! @ Frank: "SHUT UP!" Frank....if you're so worried about maintaining your outdated religious morals (which I don't imagine its included scriptures lead you to this LIBERAL-AS-IT-GETS website to read all these racy tales in detail---and THEN have to nerve to post feedback). If you didn't like this stuff too, you wouldn't be on this site! Now...Danika: I concur that 'to each his own' means just that! No free-willed individual should be denied their inherent right to defining and maintaining their own personal standards. Whoever chooses to take offense to one's pre-defined preference is the one with the shortcoming....not him. It's not too often that I disagree with the replies, but I don't think the quoted author can call someone she doesn't even know Out like that. There could be numerous reasons he hangs with the company he keeps. There may be an element of contrasting variety in the circles in which he hangs. No need for the 'specials' to be so defensive. There are plenty of men who not only won't mind their transgender status....but seek it out in personals and in nightclubs---as we all know quite well how many already do (openly AND on 'The Low'!!!!)
I'm so tickled at the designation "queer heterosexual" I can't tell you. "Straight" never feels like it describes me. My ex-husband, still a dear friend, is a trans-woman, I write a lot of fiction with gay characters, I'm an outspoken advocate and committed ally, have a rainbow flag in my window and have a pan-sexual history myself. When I fall in love, with one exception back when I was 19 (21 years ago), it has been with men, so I ID straight, but it never feels quite accurate. That was a nice compliment Karen paid to FRAUD. It's really a nice thing to call an ally.

As an aside to FRAUD, I never thought I'd dig a guy 25 years older than me, till I did, etc. You might not think a trans-woman could do it for you, but you might then meet one who proves you wrong. You never know. You sound like the cool kind of guy that would be open to that.
I agree with K.B.'s response. There should be nothing about one's politics that compels one to consent to sex with any particular person. Elle is correct that most transwomen have never been men (Some would say that they have, but generally transwomen were never 'men' in their heads, only male in body). But I would not be so quick to call FRAUD a transmisogynist for phrasing things a certain way. It's not fair to expect that kind of perfection out of other people! You really end up sounding mean.

FRAUD, the thing that stuck out to me most about your question was that "all your LBTQA friends" know you do not want to have sex with trans women. How do they know? Do you tell them all the time? If so, stop it! Accept yourself, and then have the courtesy not to talk about this so much. Many trans people very much tire of hearing these sorts of things, as they make us dysphoric and unnecessarily uncomfortable. If you meet a trans women and she's interested, just tell her you're not into her personally (If you're not). Don't make a big deal out of it. Be discreet.

In the comfortable anonymity of the internet, I'll give you an example. I am generally not attracted to Asian people. The skin tone and facial features just don't strike me as sexy. I don't get turned on. Sooo.... what? I know I'm not racist against Asian folks. I'm not obligated to do it with any Asian folks. I might like someone who is Asian someday, quite a lot, but it hasn't happened yet. But I don't tell people about this! I don't talk to my friends about it in order to try to exorcise my guilt. I certainly don't go and talk to Asian people about it. I'm only discussing it here because it's so pertinent. But I'll likely never mention it again. Because it isn't that important, and it could only hurt someone.

Some folks are so very pansexual, so very open in their sexual attractions, that they don't realize that this is probably NOT caused by their politics. It's probably somewhat innate. Now, we're all capable of discovering magical new vistas of human sexuality. But you can't force it (unless that's your thing...) Being an ally doesn't mean you need to screw everybody equally. But it might mean you shouldn't constantly talk about why you won't.

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