Love in a Threadbare, Tired World

My Twitter feed has been brutal tonight! One of my dear sisters is being evicted from her home by a transphobic landlord. People are hurting and anxious. People can’t sleep.

…and another of my dear sisters is at war with everyone.

Being a person without cis-priviledge is hard. At many times, it can feel like the entire world is in on some fantastically elaborate plan to harm us. What I regret so deeply is that many of us get so used to the fight, that we know no other way.

Such was the case tonight, when an ally was coming to the community to be affirmed for her work on Trans* Awareness Week as part of her college’s LGBTQIA+ alliance. When someone performs an act of service, there is a sort of implied exchange. This ally was wanting to be thanked in return for her work. Gratitude is a very reasonable exchange, and many of us were happy to give it.

But, surely as I sit here, there seems to always be someone who wants a fight. So, my dear sister brought her fight to the doorstep of our ally. She took exception to the ally’s choice of the word “nifty” to describe the work she was doing. My dear sister did not believe that word should be included anywhere in a conversation which also addressed transphobia and violence.

To be clear, in no possible interpretation was the ally saying that violence was nifty. But my dear sister, presumably so deeply entrenched in fighting with every person and every institution, in public and in private, each day and each night scolded and bullied the poor ally in such a way as to bring shame on us all.

In this world, there are those who need to be thanked for their help and solidarity…

There are those needing gentle and kind corrections of their misconceptions…

And, yes, there are those who deserve the full weight of our refusal to back down.

As a marginalized group, we must pay close attention to which person we are addressing at any given time. Know your history, my loves. While progress is moving more swiftly than at any other time, we remain in the Booker T. Washington part of our fight. We must not prove ourselves to be as our detractors portray us. We must use our lives to embody the best in our community.

It is an unfair burden, to be sure. But when you open your mouth to speak, do so knowing that you hold the power to make life better or worse for every other person like you. Speak of love for the oppressed. Speak not of hate for the oppressor. Unleash the deep humanity of forgiveness, in all its transformative power. See in your oppressor the potential for compassion.

…and yes, if they fail to provide such compassion, demand it!

Demand it until the last vile drop of this sickening hatred and fear is driven from our good world.

Care for yourselves, care for one another, and make love your weapon of choice.

 

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How Do You Solve a Problem Like a Dry Spell?

…or, “How The Keeper and USC Girl have ruined everything”

A couple of days ago, I got a message on the dating site saying that someone had selected me as a person of interest. I wrote her a pleasant note, which she replied to, and things were off to a fast start.

Already, I am feeling like this is too easy. I told DW last night “The new girl is not asking enough questions.” One example is that there was no conversation about my status after I came out to her. To my thinking, it makes sense to ask questions like “Is there anything that I need to be doing to be respectful of, or sensitive to that issue?” That didn’t happen. For all I know, she isn’t even aware of what trans* means.

…and, she’s never been with a girl.

She’s recently divorced, and is distinctly not looking for anything serious. I’m fine with that. It would take a lot to get me to be serious about anyone but the most exceptional people right now. Honestly, just being in the outer social orbits of USC Girl (whom I may begin to call ChattingAboutHeidegger… thoughts?) and The Keeper has my want for people of substance pretty well satisfied.

I just need some freaking contact! Sex would be magnificent, but just being held, and cuddled would fill a huge empty place in my life.

I can tell you that she is …um…very actively exploring her freedom as a single person. I have a couple of concerns for that, and they are health related.

so…there’s that.

And, while easy to talk to, she isn’t a person with whom I feel I can have particularly meaningful conversation.

So, what do you think? Meet her and hope for uncommitted fun time, or take a pass and wait for someone with more potential?

Help a girl out!

MWAH!

Original Poetry: “I am All of These”

I love queer girls, because I don’t have to explain the appeal of a body and heart like one’s own

How it feels to come out and join our great, gay family, and yet…

To be disowned

to be a survivor, struggling with drawn claws to grasp the dignity which is afforded most without request

I love fat girls, because I don’t have to explain how much the world insists that we hide ourselves

how we vacillate between allowing and refusing to be policed by thinly-veiled bullshit rhetoric about health

that Loving myself is brave and subversive

to stand proud in my size 22 body, knowing that I would fuck me…  a lot

I love trans girls, because there is no one with a greater ability to deconstruct what being a woman really means

We will never birth babies.  Our forms may be forever odd and prolapsed, confusing partners and gawkers alike

But we know a different womanhood than those whose first bra came at 12 and not 30, We are fire-proven

to be radically unafraid, and say to that condemning delivery room doctor YOU ARE MISTAKEN

I love poly girls, because Hearts can be too big for one

We have great big arms, and great big tables, and great big listening ears

Our villages are warmly lit by the glow of generous giving

To refuse society’s fear, and give of ourselves as fully as we know how

I love nurturers, and counselors, andteachers andbestfriendsandsisters-in-armsandromanticsandcreativesandsillies, and those-for-whom-things-haven’t-been-easy, and 

AM   ALL   

OF   THESE

Friday in My Pants, Vol.1 Ejaculation for Vagina-Owners

Wow! The first edition of Friday in My Pants, and I only got as far as the title before I had to make some language decisions. I will always try to use the most accurate and culturally sensitive vocabulary possible when dealing with matters of gender, sexual orientation, number of sexual partners, STI status, physical sex characteristics, gender history, etc. I absolutely want to be using language which anyone can read and not feel upset about. If my wording is in any way uncomfortable for you, I really hope you’ll reach out to me with an option you’d prefer.

With that out of the way, let’s set out on our first exploration: Ejaculation for vagina owners (with notes on parallel techniques for penis owners.) I will talk about the science, then the fun part!

The Science:
This is one of my favorite truths of human bodies: Almost all sex characteristics among those assigned male at birth have a corresponding part, and in many cases, a corresponding function to those of people assigned female at birth, and vice-versa. Bodies are much more similar than we typically consider them. In a lot of ways, this helps me feel better about my own (MtF) body.

I will likely get into some of the other similarities in future posts, but for now, let’s focus on the spongy, glandular tissue encircling the urethra. This structure and its potential function exist in those assigned male at birth and those assigned female at birth. (I was not able to find definitive information on this structure among people with various intersex conditions.)

In those assigned male at birth, we call this structure the prostate gland. During orgasm, fluid is secreted by this gland as a delivery medium for sperm. The tension and release sensations of this action are significant in the gratification of orgasm.

People assigned female at birth have this structure as well, and we call it the urethral sponge, or G spot. It is not well understood whether this glad itself, the adjacent Skene’s glands, or another location altogether is the source of the ejaculate in people assigned female at birth, but stimulation of the G spot is seen as the method for causing ejaculation. While ejaculate is expelled from the urethra (just as it is in those assigned male at birth), ejaculate is definitely not urine, and has very different chemical properties.

There is anecdotal information to indicate that post-operative transsexual women (MtF) are able to ejaculate as well. In (so many names exist for this, but I will go with) Gender Affirmation Surgery, the prostate gland is relocated along the anterior wall of the neo-vagina. (This places it in the location of the G spot in those assigned female at birth.)

Note: Bodies are beautiful, and what bodies do is beautiful. If you’re not sure whether you’re squeamish about this, you may find it useful to learn more about it, or simply choose another activity.

The Fun Part:
In addition to being a wonderful equalizer among differently-sexed bodies, ejaculation is probably my favorite way to give really intense orgasms to my partner(s).

*BONUS: This activity can work for people assigned male at birth by inserting fingers anally, and stimulating the prostate.

Here’s the How-to: As in the case of any sexual contact, it’s important to keep things safe and consensual. Rubber gloves can provide an effective barrier layer, if that is something you and your partner prefer. Additionally, I find that gloves can actually enhance the experience by providing a uniform surface texture which does not absorb lubrication like skin does. I happen to like texture of tattoo gloves like these: http://unimaxsupply.com/md/1glov/mg1330phantom.htm

This activity practically necessitates the use of a water-based lubricant (remember, silicone lube and barrier products don’t get along.) Even in the case of a partner who self-lubricates copiously, I would definitely suggest lube.

Protect the surface that the receptive partner is lying on with several towels, or a similar absorbent material. The amount of ejaculate can vary enormously. On the upper extreme, be ready for several cups of fluid…seriously.

Trust is always key, but it goes double if this is your partner’s first experience with ejaculation. It’s okay if it happens, and okay if it doesn’t.

Spend time making sure the receptive partner is relaxed and comfortable, and this is a must: The receptive partner should empty their bladder immediately before you begin.

Many people suggest that the penetrative partner should insert two fingers (index and middle) with the palm of the hand facing the ceiling (assuming the receptive partner is on their back.) This leaves the thumb free to stimulate the glans of the clitoris, if one is present. The typically suggested approach is to curl the inserted fingers in a “come here” motion stroking along the G spot (or prostate.)

(This paragraph only applies to receptive partners who are vagina owners.) I take a slightly different approach, which I have found produces stronger orgasms. I insert two fingers, and use my thumb to stimulate the clitoris, as in the typical method. But, I rotate my inserted fingers roughly 90 degrees and use the middle segment of my index finger to stroke the G spot. This does two things differently. It applies a larger, and more uniform surface against the G spot, and allows for additional stimulation using the finger tips along the Bartholin’s gland, located alongside the vaginal opening. Whether that has anything to do with it, I have no idea, but the 90 degree trick has been very successful for me with multiple partners, so take it for what it may or may not be worth.

Consistency is key. Try to use the same stroke over and over. As your partner gets closer to orgasm, it may be useful to go faster, but listen to what their body tells you. In those assigned female at birth, you will feel a distinct ‘grasping’ or tightening of the vagina as the body prepares to climax.

As orgasm nears, the receptive partner will likely feel a strong urge to pee. This is completely understandable, given the pressure of the fluids building up in their body, but be assured A. they will have just emptied their bladder, and B. it is absolutely normal and expected to feel this urgency when one is about to ejaculate.

The receptive partner should keep their body as relaxed as possible, and fight the impulse to clench and hold the fluid in. Likewise, it is not necessary to bear down and expel the fluid. An involuntary action of the body will release it at the time of orgasm.

When the receptive partner achieves orgasm, the best thing to do is probably nothing at all. Don’t withdraw your fingers, as this will change the pressure and may cut the orgasm short. Likewise, it is probably not necessary (or perhaps even possible) to continue to stroke.

A couple of things are possible at this point. Your partner may be completely finished and want nothing more than to bask in a great orgasm, or they may want to have another. While ejaculation does not seem to affect the refractory, or ‘reset’ period in those assigned female at birth (and even a very select few who are assigned male at birth) it is generally more taxing than an orgasm in which one does not ejaculate.

Take the opportunity after you’re all done (and the receptive partner has peed to minimize UTI risks) enjoy a moment being close to one another. The receptive partner will have been deluged with wonderful hormones like Oxytocin, and periods when this hormone is elevated can lead to profound bonding.

Whew! I feel like I need a cuddle after thinking through all of that.

Happy sex, my loves!

See you on Monday!

MWAH!

Here are a few great sex vlogs, if you’re in the mood 😉

http://www.youtube.com/user/lacigreen

http://www.youtube.com/user/sexplanations

http://www.youtube.com/user/NikolHasler

http://www.youtube.com/user/kicesie

The MRM vs. Transwomen ***TW***

***TW: mis-gendering, strong trans*-bashing, transphobic violence***

In the primer, I shared what I felt was a useful summary excerpt from a very good article by Jaclyn Friedman. I also found some interesting reading on attempts to ‘rebrand’ the Men’s Rights Movement, in light of the negative publicity generated by… well, by speaking. Here is some of what I read: http://community.feministing.com/2013/02/25/mras-attempt-rebranding-as-mens-human-rights-activists/

But, what I just couldn’t pry myself away from was a post in “The Spearhead.” (seen as one of the “moderate” and “respectable” MRM drivel-spiggots)

I thought it was especially appropriate, given that I have been talking about transgender motherhood, I wanted to share a little gem with you from this past Mother’s Day. After I let the author, W.F Price have the floor, I will be back with some thoughts.
Here is the article, presented unaltered, with extremely strong trigger warnings:

__________________________________________________________

A NY Times Mother’s Day Op-ed: Trannies are Equal Moms

by W.F. Price on May 12, 2013

When you see some kinds of articles, you start to understand why it was prescient women like Phyllis Schlafly who killed the Equal Rights Amendment. Men were pretty much in favor. I mean, what’s not to like about it? Under legal gender equality women would have to share all the crap that falls primarily on men’s shoulders. However, it should be pointed out that feminists, with a few notable exceptions, never supported it either. The version they supported included something known as the “Hayden Rider,” which preserved all female privileges and exemptions while granting women all of men’s privileges, i.e. the status quo.

But a brave, valiant minority is challenging female supremacy. Not patriarchal drones or supporters of male privilege, but men who reject everything about masculinity. Men who reject it so much that they chop off their genitalia and take female hormones in order to eradicate everything male about them.

One of these stalwart, self-mutilating individuals – a “former” male who goes by the name Jennifer Finley Boylan – has declared that he’s every bit the mother as any woman. Sure, he had children as a male, but that doesn’t mean he can’t now call himself “mom,” and demand they do the same. However, it isn’t only his kids who must call him “mother,” but all of us. If we don’t accept that he’s a mother, we’re bigots. Why? Because he has shared the defining maternal experience, which he puts down as “suffering.”

ONE day, toward the end of my transition from father to mother, I came home to find my 6-year-old son looking thoughtful. “Are you all right?” I asked.

“Yes,” Sean said quietly. He was playing with Thomas the Tank Engine. His favorite engine was No. 5, red James. That had also been my name, back before it became Jenny.

“What are you thinking?”

“It’s just it used to be you and me and Zach, the three boys on one side,” he said, “and Mommy and Lucy-dog on the other.”

“I know,” I said, feeling my heart clench.

“Now it’s Zach and me on one side, and you and Mommy and Lucy-dog over there.”

“I’m sorry, Sean,” I said. My voice was barely a whisper. “I’m so sorry.”

“It’s O.K.,” said Sean. “The boys are just outnumbered.”

I have been a dad for 6 years, a mom for 12, and for a time in between I was both, or neither, like some parental version of the schnoodle or the cockapoo.

[…]

People have pointed out to me that, despite calling myself a mother, I didn’t give birth to my sons. They’re right, of course. But there is a lot more to parenting than birthing, just as there is a lot more to a novel than its opening sentence. After this long journey from an opposite-sex couple to a same-sex one, my wife and I can say it’s what comes after that counts.

I understand the reluctance many people have to play down the importance of gender, or for that matter, biology, in parenting; a world in which male and female are not fixed poles but points in a spectrum is a world that feels unstable, unreal. And yet to accept the wondrous scope of gender is to affirm the potential of life, in all its messy beauty. Motherhood and fatherhood are not binaries. And that, I’d argue, is a good thing.

Only a small percentage of American households now consist of married couples with children in which only the father works. The biggest outliers in our culture are not same-sex couples, or transgender people, or adoptive parents, or single fathers, but the so-called traditional American families themselves.

What does it even mean, at this hour, to call anybody traditional? Surely it is not the ways in which we conform that define us, but the manner in which we each seek our own perilous truth.

Pure self-indulgence of the most disgusting variety, and highlighted on Mother’s Day. I’d like to say it’s sacrilegious, but sadly it is appropriate. I understand why some of the most selfish, depraved men among us would want to relinquish their masculinity. In our society, women are free to pursue their heart’s desire without fear of sanction. Judging women for putting their own needs first is condemned in every mainstream outlet, from Dr. Phil to The Atlantic.

Some men are bound to be envious of this. Some of them go so far as to try to try to become a woman. And what kind of woman do they emulate? The worst parody of one. Gaudy, self-righteous, exhibitionist, attention-seeking, demanding, selfish and all too willing to place their burdens on others.

And in this great society we have built, it is they who stand at the pulpit and speak to the masses.

USA! USA! USA!

______________________________________________________________

Let’s all just take a minute. Let your arms fall loosely at your sides. Draw a good, full breath, hold it a moment, and let it escape slowly from your mouth.

Okay. Are we good? Let me establish what I think are some parameters.
First off, I will never be able to educate Mr. Price.
Second, Many of you could probably write at least as good a response as what I am about to.

I am talking to those in the middle. The people who read that post and thought, “I can see both sides of this.” If you said that, I am talking to you.

I began this by writing a character assassination. It was disturbingly easy to find materials. But I don’t want to have to shoot every messenger who pollutes the world with this kind of hate. Thus, I deleted it.

I’d much prefer to appeal to your humanity.

Let’s start by establishing that Jennifer Finley Boylan is a person. She has feelings. She has a family, who also have feelings. One predictable outcome of Mr. Price’s insidious hate speech is that these people’s feelings would be hurt… profoundly. Who is helped by that?

Then we go out one layer to find people like me. People desperately trying to carve out a place in this world when the endless shouting of the W.F. Price’s of the world trying to take those places away… People like the ones who made this:

Go out another layer still, and find those who haven’t yet learned enough about transgender people to know what to think about us. Gosh! If it means male perverts in girls’ bathrooms, I’d better make sure those trans-whatchamacallits stay the hell away from my kids.

Which is just great!

In fact, why don’t we just round up all the transgender people and put them into internment camps, like Todd Kincannon, the former executive director of the South Carolina Republican Party suggested.

Oh, and remember that scary pervert in the girls’ bathroom that everyone is so scared of? Here she is:  Seriously. This is SIX YEAR OLD Coy Mathis. THIS GIRL, and others just like her are what people are loosing their shit over.

And, even if this was an adult transwoman like myself, we don’t have any intentions of causing trouble in bathrooms. We are far too busy being afraid for our own safety

Chrissy Lee Polis, 22, was viciously beaten by two teenage girls after allegedly trying to use the women’s restroom at the McDonald’s restaurant.

This may all seem like fun and games to you, Mr. Price, but I am paying for the real-life consequences of the hate that you invoke.

Too many of my sisters have paid a far greater toll…

In 2012, 256 transgender people were murdered because they dared to exist.

Nibbling Fine Chocolate While Taking a Bubble Bath and Having and Orgasm

That’s about where I am in my life at this moment.

…But wait, I thought you told us today’s post was going to be about the intersection of womanhood, motherhood, and birth.

Yup! That’s what it’s about.

In order to get from the questionnaire responses to my current euphoria, I have to establish the context a bit.

I have had to fight very hard to claim my womanhood. Given my transgender history, I will likely always have to fight to claim my womanhood. Contemplate, if you will, the insanity of having to do that in perpetuity.

I spent the first thirty years of my life attempting to cobble together a passable male identity by affixing ill-fitting scrap metal bits of the caricatures of men to myself.

I thought men were angry, so I was angry. I thought men were controlling, so I was controlling. I thought men were all sorts of awful things, so I was those things too. I presented a version of masculinity which was very much like nails glued to the outside of a cupcake. There was no substance to back up any of the behaviors I was emulating.

Nobody bought it, and, as a result, I was bullied (Very old posts about that here: https://serialnonconformist.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/myself-laid-bare-originally-posted-nov-23-2010/ and here: https://serialnonconformist.wordpress.com/2011/07/08/it-gets-better-originally-posted-oct-19-2010/ Take them for what they are, my thoughts from a very long three years ago.)

In the years after divorcing my first wife, I began to feel safer about letting the nails fall off, and exposing the cupcake reality. When I decided that I had to and could transition, I tore the remaining nails off right then and there.

This did not, however, leave a fully-formed adult woman standing there. I had to be a girl first, then an adolescent, then a young adult. This is an often repeated, if not universal part of early transition. A person transitioning has to go back and live an abridged version of what their life might have been like if they’d been assigned their true gender at birth.

I definitely feel fully formed now, but in any life, there are holes in a person’s understanding of the world. In my case, those holes are patched over with the mythos of womanhood that I retained from my years worshiping women from the outside. Part of that mythos held that pregnancy and birth are the quintessential aspects of womanhood. Before you judge me too harshly, consider how pervasive the ‘magical motherhood’ narrative is in our culture.

The other thing to keep in mind is that, in some ways I am a thirty-three year old woman, and in other ways I am only a three year old woman. In this case, I hadn’t had time to learn that ‘magical motherhood’ was not a narrative which was broadly subscribed to.

…which brings me to why today is glorious!

I have been able to accept so very many things about myself, and assert that my realness is not inferior to my cisgender sisters. Pregnancy was a hold-out, though.

I know straight, cisgender women who have struggled, and had to choose non-gestational motherhood. I also know other non-gestational lesbian mothers. Each of these people ache over it to some degree. But, at no point do any of them have to defend their right to be seen as female.

I was needing to be told that, with all that’s different about me, my abilities and limitations did not make me an outsider. That was what this project gave me!

Thank you all, from the bottom of my heart.

I got to feel like Babykiddo’s mom today.

I doubt that I have to tell you what that’s worth.

I feel REAL

I love you all so very much!

MWAH!

 

 

 

Infighting in the Broader LGBTQIA+ Community

In April, I had a wonderful opportunity to attend a presentation by Erin Davies, whose documentary “Fagbug” sought to bring attention to acts of hate against gay people.

One of the points presented in the film is that some people within the gay community became upset with her methods and message. While certainly not a messiah among gays, Erin seems to be trying to do the best job she can. What else can one realistically ask?

…and, she is hardly the first entity to divide opinion within the group. The Mattachine Society, The Daughters of Bilitis, ACT UP… Indeed, the Stonewall Riots themselves were hotly debated within the community as to the ‘correctness’ of their message.

When I asked Ms. Davies why she thought there was so much strife over her activism, she pointed to the absence of a clear leader in the movement. Ellen Degeneres, she mentioned, was about the closest thing to a spokesperson the movement has.

No single person can be the exclusive representative of a movement. We look back on the legacy of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as being the definitive voice of the struggle for Africa-American civil rights. This is a very over-simplified perspective. Many in the black community had disagreements with the methods and messages of Dr. King, some of them quite impassioned. That said, it was obviously useful that the movement had Dr. King to lead, and serve as a media spokesperson.

Whether or not a leadership vacuum is to blame, it does seem absolutely ridiculous that we seem to have the energy to fight amongst ourselves. At the time of this post, only 14 US states, and the District of Columbia extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. (Hawaii and Illinois may be close to joining them.)

Marriage equality is an important cause, as is employment non-discrimination. In the case of the latter, the trans* community was arguably thrown under the bus by the Human Rights Campaign and then Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) among others, by not supporting inclusion of gender identity protections in the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) The counter argument to this is that adding protections for gender identity was a “poison pill” which would ensure the defeat of any such legislation. One might even believe that there was the potential to set the trans* community back by inviting debate on a subject which enjoyed no popular support at the time.

Whatever the truth may be about all of this, it’s another prime example of the notion that we just can’t seem to present a unified movement. Even within any of the subsets of the LGBTQIA+ community, there is considerable disagreement on demands and tactics. While robust conversation is healthy and helpful to such causes, the vitriolic nature of LGBTQIA+ infighting is painful for me to witness.

Infighting in the Trans* Community

A few weeks back, Calpernia Addams, a prominent transgender activist, was talking about her difficulty with members of the trans* community as she attempted to cast a TV show featuring transgender people. It seems she was receiving emails and messages from people who wanted to make sure that her casting selections were composed entirely of transgender people who met some specific concept they had of what a transgender person should be seen as.

I remember well, when I was first transitioning, that some of the hardest people to cope with were other transwomen. For some members of the community, I was ‘doing it wrong.’ Really?  Doing it wrong? How do you juggle flaming chainsaws while blindfolded and riding a unicycle? Any way you can!

It wasn’t just early transition, this has happened to me even recently. I was at a housewarming party about six months ago in a mostly transgender crowd. Most of the ladies were extremely thoughtful to one another, and took efforts to build each other up. That said, there were a couple of my sisters who hadn’t gotten the memo to be nice.

One of the things a trans* person has to learn for themselves is which behaviors from their old identity are genuinely a part of who they are, and which parts they were having to embody in order to keep up the lie of being what people expect them to be. (Which is to say, which behaviors were just to prove their gender as assigned at birth.)

The ladies with whom I took issue (and, this is the first of several places where I will likely make angry comments happen) were still hanging on to the ugly competitive boasting which had likely been a centerpiece of their false male identities. This was absolutely something I had to do in my feeble attempts to be seen as male by my young peers.

I feel like I can hear you talking to your screen right now.

“But, cisgender women have ugly competitive behavior too.”

That’s definitely true, but I hope you’ll allow for the possibility that the two seem a somewhat distinct in my observation of their tone.

I do not know why people within this community, who are so marginalized, have the energy to both fight against the vicious discrimination that we face, and still have enough fight left to turn against one another.

 

 

 

 

How Very Timely (Second in the trans* attraction series.)

 

Today I set about my usual task of contemplating which subject should be blogged about today, when, much to my delight, this appeared on my Twitter feed.

It’s an editorial published on Salon.com about a cisgender, straight man who wants to join in the discussion which we find ourselves engaged in. Give it a read, I think it’ll prove to be a worthwhile piece of the puzzle I hope to put together over the next week.

_______________________________________________________________

I’m attracted to trans women

After years of confusion and shame, I’m ready to stop hiding the truth about my desires — and I’m not alone

I never thought I would have to come out about being attracted to women. But that’s the funny and sad position I’m in these days. Although I don’t see anything different about my sexual orientation, most people do.

About four years ago, I was an exchange student in Thailand, a country known for its large, open transgender population. While most men avoided trans women, I saw no difference between them and cisgender women (women who were born biologically female). I was attracted to trans women, in other words, and I spent the next three years of my life in confusion and shame.

The heteronormative world in which we live had successfully convinced me that being attracted to transgender women meant I had a fetish. I began questioning my sexuality and even my masculinity.  I didn’t even know what to call my sexual orientation.  Finally one day, after hours of searching, I came across two terms that described what I was feeling. Trans-attraction and trans-orientation. Neither one is official or common, but their use is growing due to the increasing demand for a way to categorize people who are attracted to transgender people. When I saw these words, a feeling of relief washed over me: I was not alone. I don’t always describe myself as trans-attracted, but the label helped me feel like I had a place in the queer community and it helps others understand my sexuality.

My year in Thailand made it a second home for me, and I returned last spring for a study abroad semester. Once again surrounded by the transgender community, I started thinking about my sexuality almost every day and this inner conflict re-arose.  That was when I started reading queer theory. Julia Serano, a transgender activist and writer, pointed out that it is not acceptable to consider attraction to trans women a fetish, because that reduces them to fetish objects.  Trans women are treated as if they are not worthy of love. In her speech, titled “The Beauty in Us,” she said, “Because our culture deems us undesirable, our lovers and partners are often expected to explain why they choose to be with us.”  After reading that powerful speech as well as many other queer theorists, I stopped feeling so backward. It was the shaming of trans-attraction that was ridiculous — not my sexual orientation

However, I wasn’t ready to be open, because I wasn’t yet aware of the desperate societal need for me to do so. I didn’t realize just how damaging my shame could be to trans women. It wasn’t until I fell for a transgender girl in Thailand that my own toxic silence finally melted away. When we met I thought that she might be transgender, but I was not sure.  Regardless of what might be between her legs, I found her confidence, independence and grace inspiring. We started seeing each other.

We met three times before she told me she was transgender.  It breaks my heart when I remember how nervous she was. She was afraid to tell me for two reasons: One was fear of rejection. It must be so painful to be turned away and shunned by someone you like because he does not see you as a “real” woman, whatever that means. The other devastatingly sad fear that she had to deal with was fear for her safety. I could have exploded into a violent rage and responded with my fists, or even a weapon. This certainly happens to transgender women, often when all they are doing is searching for love.  According to Trans Murder Monitoring, there were 265 trans people murdered in 2012 alone. Somehow, facing those fears, she mustered the amazing strength and courage to tell me.

I watched relief pour over her face when I told her that I didn’t care.  It’s a strange world that we live in when two people who are attracted to each other have to come out to each other.  Later that evening, she turned to me and said, “I feel free.”  Finally being open about my sexuality was liberating for me, too.

So why bother coming out? I could easily hide this, since I am attracted to cisgender women, too. I decided to be open about it, though, because of how few openly trans-attracted people there are in the world and how this silence contributes to stigma about trans people and sexuality.  Although trans attraction is hardly a rare phenomenon, it remains hidden because almost all trans-attracted men are in the closet. As a result, the common assumption is that men who date trans women are desperate and simply put up with the fact that the woman is trans. Yet, we are not just OK with it; we are just as attracted to trans women as we are to cis-women, regardless of their biological sex.

A few weeks ago, in September, DJ Mister Cee, a prominent figure in the hip-hop community, was “caught” with a transgender woman.  After being outed and admitting to being attracted to trans women, he was so ashamed that he resigned from his job at the radio station Hot 97. His trans attraction was turned into a scandal. The only thing that should be considered scandalous is the fact that he had to hide his attraction in the first place.

I’ve had enough of this shaming. It’s created a disgusting culture of trans-attracted men using trans women for sex but never forming a committed relationship with them. Most trans-attracted men are only trans-attracted at night. Then, during the day, they run back to their heteronormative relationships with cis-women of whom they are not ashamed.  Even men who are in committed relationships with trans women will often tell those women that they could never introduce them to their friends or family. Imagine a woman who has been to hell and back trying to transition into who she really is only to be told by her lover that he is ashamed to be with her. The hardship that trans-attracted men go through (and believe me, it is hard) does not even come close to what trans women have to go through in their day-to-day lives. That is why it’s so important for trans-attracted men to start coming out of the closet. Personally, I am proud to be attracted to women who are so strong.

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I want to get into trans* visibility in a forthcoming post, but I felt like this was a good stepping stone as prerequisite reading. There’s a compelling story unfolding, and we may be at a point where trans invisibility is no longer the favored state.