Editor’s Note: The following submission is from Phaylen Fairchild. Have an LGBTQ+ related experience or story to share? Having your article published on this site will automatically enrol you into a raffle to win a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Submit an article today via queerdeermedia.com.
[amazon_link asins=’B0749K59QR’ template=’ProductAdRight’ store=’ourqueerstories-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’e13e4d4a-f0db-11e7-8621-691ddd55ed64′]As Trans* people, we’ve come a long way, and although 2017 has been rife with devastating setbacks and the ire of hatred stoked against us has been demonstrably crippling, we can’t dispute or progress. Indeed, the past year has sent our spirits spiraling with frustration as we witnessed, with incomparable agony, the attempt to ban Transgender people from joining the military, or the excision of the very word “Transgender” from vital conversations in federal government agencies- and let’s not forget the ongoing bathroom debacle that plagues us, quite unnecessarily, as opponents argue that their wives and children must be protected from Transwomen as though we represent a violent threat by simply existing is Cisgender spaces. However, hope is not lost. In 2017, our community saw a boon in visibility in mainstream, which witnessed the first Transwoman actually transition from male to female before their eyes. There has been more coverage in the media regarding transgender families, even children, and support groups established to provide essential resources for confused parents and those struggling to discover their identity in an increasingly non-binary world. The fact that the word “Non-binary” has been introduced to the masses, along with 50 new gender options on Facebook has not only created awareness, but is widening the berth for gender diverse individuals globally. While it’s easy to feel consumed by the onslaught of redactions of protections and reversals of rights that pose social threats and the rates of Trans murders increased in the past year, it is fair to state with certainty that the current political climate has taken an egregious toll on multiple levels. Instances of depression, social anxiety and self induced alienation due to fear of violence have increased exponentially with each startling tweet or alt-right march protesting our inclusion in society. Sometimes, it feels futile, but we are not a segment of society that has grown accustomed complacency. We are fighters, by our very nature, because most of us have had to do it from the very start of our lives. The Trans folks who came before us, those without the new identifiers or the growing system of support or public allies lighting up social media in opposition of our oppression like candles in the dark, they survived. They survived having to lead dual lives, or live a lie entirely to appease a hostile, conservative social infrastructure. They didn’t have a day of remembrance, or a week of awareness, but instead, gathered in discreet locations under the cloak of darkness often hundreds of miles from their hometowns just to feel part of a greater community, if they were brave enough. The extent Trans people, merely 15 years ago, had to go to were incredibly tedious, just so they wouldn’t feel alone in a world that seems so small by today’s standards where everyone is just a text away.
Yet, with all that progress that we’ve made in representation, there is an extension of our lives that has been left behind, even altogether ignored, and that is the Men who might love us. I’m going to speak specifically about Cigender Men here, because while many in our community have female partners or wives, Ciswomen do not suffer the consequences of a grotesquely hypermasculine society that still demonizes Men who do not conform to male expectations. Society is more liberal with women than they are men, and whereas women are often celebrated for demonstrating a more fluid sexuality, men are vilified for it, shamed even.
Here is the commonly asked question: Is a man who is open to dating a Transwoman gay? Lets lay that to rest now. No.
Are men confused, thinking that dating a Transwoman means they will be misidentified as gay? Yes. Are they afraid they’ll be ostracized by their peers? Yes. Are they terrified of being labeled as grotesque or humiliated like they’re wearing their fetish on their sleeve for public display? Yes. Do they think they’ll be outcast by their indoctrinated religious organizations, or does it conflict with the faith based teachings that have been hammered into their heads since they could comprehend the word “Abomination?” The answer, again, is yes.
So, like the gender diverse people that came before us today, those that gathered in the furthest recesses from recognizable society, these men still do that today. That’s where they expect to meet us. Time has moved on. We have moved forward. They have not, for the most part. The questions, confusions, and desire to live with unbridled authenticity that once plagued us still holds them hostage. Thus, they repress their desires and would turn away from any opportunity presented to date a Transwoman in favor of what they perceive as traditional and acceptable to the masses. They get married, have two children, a white house in the suburbs and wait until everyone is fast asleep before sitting in the ambient glow of some seedy Transgender porn website on their computer screen, and then hate themselves for being aroused. They feel as though they’ve betrayed those who expect them to be normal.
Ask any transwoman about dating and the stories are startling similar; They’re usually solicited by a man with an anonymous profile on a dating website or phone app. He won’t tell you anything about himself, but asks for an encyclopedia of photos or videos of you. He uses words like “Friends with Benefits,” “Discreet” or “No strings attached.” If he discloses, he is often married or in a committed relationship. He won’t give his telephone number but instead proposes communicating via other anonymous app or third party service that protects, and then erases his identity. If he wants to meet you, it isn’t for a date. There are no flowers; No quaint dinner or a walk on a beach, but instead a solicitation for a sexual encounter. Almost always they’re looking for an “experience,” like sex with a Trans* person is a cool theme pak ride they’ve always wanted to try out but never had the nerve. Even being in the company of a Trans* person has them incredibly nervous or riddled with anxiety, looking over their shoulder to see if anyone is gawking with quiet judgment. This is what society has done to them, and as a consequence, this is what our typical experience is with them. We are reduced to being their forbidden fruit. They have been conditioned to dehumanize us as we fight daily for our presence in greater society to be normalized rather than sensationalized.
Other Transwomen who have dating experience will tell you that even their successful engagements with Men usually ends in emotional tragedy, with him eventually choosing a non-trans woman who presents a more appropriate visage to onlookers and loved ones. It makes life easier. It’s the path of least resistance. No questions asked, none to answer.
These men have witnessed the attacks launched on us for years. The slurs tossed around recklessly that refer to us as people or our anatomy. They don’t want to join us on the receiving end, where we’re called everything from harbingers of a destructive society by politicians to practitioners of bestiality by preachers behind pulpits. To them, it’s the gay battle. The war for equal rights. They’re synonymous to the otherwise ignorant Cisgender male who has never had to pick up the gauntlet and demand to be recognized as a valid human being or had their character questioned because of who they love. Who would want to have to do that, anyway? To them, we’re almost a different species entirely, from another planet, who speaks another language and their curiosity is palpable but disallowed.
They are afraid that experiencing any emotion beyond the intention of secret sexual gratification or fantasy fulfilling encounter calls into question their sexuality or their coveted masculinity. The badge bestowed upon them as an assigned male will be revoked and they’ll be remanded to the ranks of a minority, like us, and declared sexually perverse while shoved onto the fringes of society like a modern exile. It compromises their comfortable, walk-thru life. Midnight meetings are easier.
In my own experiences with Cisgender men, regardless of their sexuality, I’m either celebrated as a drag queen by gay men, or treated as a potential predator by straight men who are unsettled by their attraction to me. They must assert/protect their heterosexuality by telling me immediately about how straight they are and how much they love women to curtail any advances they presume I might make because I blinked twice too fast. Some having even gone into graphic detail just three minutes after meeting me for the first time about their insatiable appetite for orally pleasing a woman. I’ve learned to roll my eyes and move onward. Like so many, I’m quite familiar with the men who avoid eye contact and position their backs against a wall while strategically covering their crotch like I’m a crocodile waiting for a vulnerable moment to make them my next meal.
Those who claim it all boils down to body parts are incorrect. The crux lies in the debilitating culture we’re created for men and their relationships with Transwomen. Problematic is the fact that they cannot see us as women- just women. The general awkwardness and conflict created is propagated by the swirling controversies surrounding us as a community. Their lack of desire to get involved, or worse, be accused as a co-conspirator in authenticating us, our lives, our ability to be loved and respected is a natural response. Where has this placed many Transwomen? In a position where they must feel satisfied with what I call sex-ceptance. The idea that, via sex, they have achieved some semblance of love, affection and acceptance from the men that pursue them, but deem them ineligible for an actual date or a potential long-term relationship.
How do we change something so deeply embedded in our social definitions? As we’ve forged ahead asking society-at-large to assimilate and educate, how do we also remind them that we are not sexually vulgar for having relationships or, in contrast, sexless spinsters who wear flouncy sundresses and are completely content with cats? There has been such an imbalance of focus on surgery and genitals and Caitlyn Jenner when referencing transwomen that the appreciation of our person has been deprioritized. Our right to use a bathroom in North Carolina or to fight terrorism in Afghanistan, or any of the dozens of small fires we’ve had to centralize our attention on has allowed people to forget we’re more than a cause, a charity, a movement, a request for rights… but people who can love, who deserve love, who sometimes want to get married, have children, the dog and the house in the suburbs. And someone to share it with us without having to ask them to bear the social and political baggage.
I believe many men look at me and see “That Transgender girl” who writes about Transgender issues and therefore I represent, not a person, but a plight; a civil circumstance rather than a girl who just writes, and who deals with a particularly relevant and current political issue. For some women it’s breast cancer awareness or the right to sovereignty over their own body, but they’re still women and I’m no different. Our cause is not the complete sum of our parts, and just as we are not defined by our genitals, we cannot allow our natural human desire interaction to be mechanized or removed by those who think that, collectively, we’re automated responses to a radicalized government or trigger words on twitter. Within our collective, we are single cells who have jobs, we’re daughters, sisters, best friends, colleagues, college students, some of us love the ballet, sushi or (In my case) sitting at home in stretch pants watching Netflix. Between that reality and the mythical ideology that has been created between Transwomen and the men who could love them lies a chasm of miscommunication, misunderstanding, and even still, the desperate need for acceptance of both us and themselves, as we are.