It’s becoming a common occurrence for people to be shamed for their sexual desires in the lgbt community. I would like to argue why this is bad for everyone. It is creating a situation where people don’t feel their boundaries/sexuality are respected, many people find it intrusive and offensive, and it is not an exaggeration to state it is contributing to increasing animosity between some gays/lesbians and the transgender community. I do not want anymore unnecessary animosity in the lgbt community.
Nothing makes me happier than seeing queer people find trans and same-sex partners for love and companionship. Only around 3% of the population does this, which is a very small minority. I like underdogs. All of us not in cis female/male relationships have few role models, incestuous dating pools, lack of a historical support system, risk of being gawked at, and often have no familial acceptance.
But more and more certain members of the queer community feel a sense of entitlement to deride other people for their sexual attractions. I want to strongly state that I don’t want to be insensitive to anyone in the trans community. As a young person, my queer dating experiences were pretty awful. Few women I fell for loved me back. The lesbian/bisexual community is very small and it was considerably more difficult to find people to date then it was when I dated boys. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to feel unhappy with the body you were born with. And dating as a trans person has to be more difficult than it is for anybody. To go out with someone who likes you and is attracted to you and then be dumped when they find out you are transgender must be extremely painful and trans people should have every right to talk about that pain publicly.
However, there are too many instances where expressions of frustration are crossing over the line to coercive behavior, not even just by trans people but also too often by allies as well. I am not interested in stirring up drama about a few random extreme things on the Internet. The scope of this issue is greater than that. This isn’t just seven people attending a poorly named Cotton Ceiling workshop. It is not one or two people on Tumblr. It’s not a concept promoted on obscure websites but on major chat boards and mainstream news sites. And it is affecting the lives of people face to face in the queer community. It mostly affects lesbians. Gay men don’t seem to get nearly as much of this because frankly they don’t tolerate it and gay/bi trans males are a relatively smaller number than lesbian/bi trans women. It hardly affects straight people at all. Some women suggest this guilt tripping by trans activists and allies perpetrates “rape culture.” This may be hyperbole but hardly more hyperbolic than calling a lack of attraction to trans women as “transmisogynistic.”
Below are some quotes from Tumblr and other sites. We can blow this off as the extremes of the Internet but young people are in fact growing up on this Internet and are as influenced by it as anything else in their day-to-day lives. And much of these sentiments come from very popular blogs. People on these sites do in fact leave their house and interact in the community. I am not going to promote these sites. If you want to verify google the quote. I’m refraining from using the more disturbing and even violent quotes that do actually exist as I think the people who try to sound more reasonable are actually a more serious problem.
Here are quotes in regards to lesbians liking female penis from this Tumblr blog after a previous completely polite exchange with no actual transphobia…
“Nobody wants to force you to have sex with anyone. We just want you to examine how you see the world and others in relation to sex and gender, thats all, honestly i dont want you ever dating a trans woman, ever. Not with your toxic biological essentialist attitude. Its not about who you aren’t f***ing, its about how you gender organs, now sit down radscum.”
This blogger addresses some lesbian’s lack of attraction to penis…
“See, there’s two broad groups of people who are still fascinated with what other people have under their clothes: misogynists and transmisogynists. Among misogynists, it’s a classic male entitlement to sex: they believe our bodies to be public property and they are therefore allowed access to every inch of them. Among transmisogynists, it can be a bit more complicated, as many of them happen to be women. They make a litany of excuses, conveniently forgetting that rape isn’t just about penis to attempt to excuse their obsession with other people’s genitals. However, ultimately, it’s all about entitlement nonetheless.”
My personal favorite story from sites that track this, an example of right-wing Christian conversion therapy going New Age…
“Somebody on my college’s yik yak was literally encouraging lesbians to “try hypnosis or meditation” if we aren’t attracted to dick. I’m so upset. They’re literally being praised for it too like yes, pushing conversion therapy is sooo enlightened and progressive”
These attitudes are not just confined to places like Tumblr. Mainstream publications are presenting these ideas. This article on Buzzfeed “The Transgender Dating Dilemma” is completely heartbreaking and I feel horrible for this person’s pain. But it still needs to be criticized. Like many straight men, the author stereotypes lesbians as not liking penis because all lesbians spend their whole lives obsessed with the patriarchy and it defines their sexuality. This is offensive in of itself. Lesbians haven’t been obsessed with the patriarchy since the 1980’s. They mostly sit around and complain about their jobs and relationship problems like most humans do. And ironically lesbians associate trans activists disrespecting their “not interested” sentiments in articles like this with patriarchy even more than the presence of a penis.
Queer women’s circles are particularly plagued by transmisogyny. Being a “gold star lesbian” means never having had sex with a man or with a penis — that status is viewed as an achievement….When I hear that someone doesn’t want to have sex with a trans woman because of her penis — say, a lesbian who wants to maintain her gold star status or a straight man who insists he isn’t “gay” — I hear assumptions about how that sex would play out….When it comes to queer women’s culture, in particular, many lesbians misguidedly deal with trauma from the patriarchy by attacking essentialist notions of manhood. But the penis is not an essential element of manhood — it can beautifully and comfortably coexist with womanhood in one body
Queer Feminism’s “The Cotton Ceiling is Real and it’s Time for All Queer and Trans People to Fight Back.” Here a non-lesbian, non he/she “zir” person, Avory Faucet, says this…
Radfems, you’re not just missing out on great sex…I care that you don’t bother to interrogate the origins of your phallus-based distaste for trans women, and think about whether it’s actually a dislike of the organ that’s happening here or whether transphobia and a refusal to view trans women as women is involved.
In the Daily Beast article “The Struggle To Find Trans Love” Julia Serano shames lesbians for their “conservatism”…
I also find it ironic that cis dykes—many of whom pride themselves on their progressive politics and subversive sexualities—tend to be far more conservative and conforming to our culture’s yuck-dating-a-trans-woman-is-gross mindset than their cis male counterparts, at least here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In a Slate article “Can Cis Lesbians and Trans Women Learn to get Along” by Vanessa Vitiello Urquhart and Parker Marie Molloy they write…
For cis lesbians, it can also be difficult to tell the difference between an honest lack of attraction and feelings of fear or disgust at the idea of a partner who they perceive as “really” a man—feelings that are rooted in transphobic cultural conditioning.
What is being promoted here is the ideology that teenage girls and women aren’t capable of making “honest” decisions about who they are sexually attracted to. And they are taking it upon themselves to re-educate you if you are a lesbian that doesn’t desire trans women that you really need to work on your “transphobic culturing condition.” They don’t even acknowledge the fact that none of these lesbians are actually “transphobic” which means an “irrational fear.” In most of these articles they acknowledge that lesbians mingle with trans women and accept them as women in the community. But too many in their opinion are denying them sex and relationships. That’s unfortunate. The justifications trans women/allies use for not taking no for an answer is “we are merely asking lesbians to examine their cultural prejudices the way racists should and we have the right to do that.” Conflating this with racism is a manipulative tactic. I’ll be blunt. Lesbians have already gone down the cultural rabbit hole by having sex with females. They are not in general fighting their attractions to trans women because they think “what would Jesus and my friends think if I had a trans partner.” They already embrace an alternative lifestyle. Trans woman/SJW allies are greatly exaggerating the effects of this cultural conditioning. Mostly lesbians are just experiencing a visceral lack of sexual attraction in these situations because it just isn’t their thing (the surgery, the dysphoria issues, their energy, or whatever). And that lack of attraction is more in tune with other people’s lack of attractions for physical traits and essence. The appropriate response to this isn’t to call someone a “bigot” or a “transmisogynist” and mount a campaign. It’s just a general societal, “It would be nice if we could all get past superficial characteristics and love someone for their soul.”
If I thought this was just something weird that happened in dark corners of the Internet I would not be concerned. I wish I could quantify how big of a problem this is somehow as I prefer hard facts but that isn’t really possible. All I know is that I have reached out to several lesbians in their early twenties, mostly moderate people who support trans rights and I have had some of them tell me things like homophobic right-wing bigots have more respect for their sexuality than many members of the queer community right now, they feel pressured to say they would date a woman with a penis, and that they would be too afraid to even put their preferences on a dating profile. When a 20-year-old lesbian is too afraid to politely state what she wants on her dating profile for fear of a backlash, we have moved into a situation where people’s rights are being infringed upon. Like trans people lesbians are a very tiny percent of the population, maybe between %.7-2%. As trans people do, they too desperately need these campus support groups, girl’s club nights, dating sites, and queer communities and to feel that their sexuality is respected. Some lesbians have their own intolerance issues in regards to trans people and bisexuals and that should be discussed as well. But this situation certainly isn’t helping.
There is another reason why I think this is a major problem. I want to stress here I’m not comparing trans people to predators. I just want to make a point about young women. I have a black belt in a kung fu style and also trained in Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. I taught well-researched self-defense programs to women and children for years. One theme in literature on women and violence that came up over and over and over again was just how terrible many women are at asserting their own boundaries even at the peril of their own physical safety. Almost more important than the physical self-defense techniques we taught were the exercises in boundary setting that included both every day situations along with more serious ones. A perfect example of why self-defense instructors find this so important to teach is a story in Gavin De Becker’s book The Gift of Fear. A woman is carrying her groceries, a man offers to help her, deep down she realizes he’s creepy, but continues to politely grin at him and let him help to her apartment where he rapes her. I want to make clear I am NOT comparing trans people who are upset by people rejecting them to violent rape. What I am trying to point out here is that being cooperative people pleasers to preserve the feelings of others is a very common behavior in girls and women. And the current sense of entitlement to shame young women for there sexual preferences should be discouraged not encouraged by our community.
People don’t need to have their sexual desires critiqued by modern queer theory. Homosexuals have been risking death to be together for centuries and still are in some places. It’s very difficult to deny an “honest attraction” despite what Julia Serano or Avory Faucet say. Just as more people who were on the fence about bisexuality are more comfortable exploring homosexuality now as it is socially acceptable, more people who were on the fence about dating trans people will be more comfortable dating them than they have in the past. This is a natural evolution that doesn’t need this unhealthy identity politics culture pressuring people.
And there is a MAJOR rational flaw in the whole concept that people should accept and date trans people or they are bigots, transphobes, or transmisogynists. And this is true whether or not that person does or doesn’t have bottom surgery. The EXACT same arguments trans people use to express their right to do what they want to with their bodies also applies to what others want to do with their bodies in relation to who they date and have sex with. Someone’s choice in a sexual partner should be no more a target than trans people’s own decisions to chemically and surgically alter their bodies. If you want to attack someone for their personal feelings for not finding certain genitals appealing, fine. But then they are equally entitled to critique your choice to alter your body chemically and surgically because they think you should adhere to their concepts of gender and sexuality and just be happy feeling like a woman in a man’s body. If their inherent desires are up for critique, then so are yours. Call them a transphobe, they can accuse you of promoting unhealthy gender stereotypes. See how intrusive all this is. You can’t have it both ways.
Trans people should have the right to transition to their desired gender without members of the community dictating to them that they should accept gender critical feminism that discourages SRS. AND People should have the right to choose how they view sex and gender in regards to the sexual partners they choose without members of the community dictating to them that their sexual attractions must be in line with modern queer theory.
Trans people should have the freedom and autonomy to choose what they want to do with their bodies in terms of hormones and surgery. AND other members of the community should have the freedom and autonomy to also choose the body types that they want to interact with sexually/emotionally.
People should have the right to define their sexual orientation as gay/lesbian as including dating trans people of their preferred gender. AND other gays/lesbians should have the right to define their sexual orientation as not including dating trans people.
People should be able to identify as pansexual. And other bisexuals should be free to decide if they aren’t interested in dating someone with gender dysphoria. Their bisexuality doesn’t obligate them to have expansive dating preferences anymore then anyone else.
There is very little discussion of this problem publicly in the “queer” media. I think it is actually time that organizations and websites that present themselves as being concerned about queer issues and women to pick a side on this in their articles and policies. So websites like AfterEllen, Autostraddle, SheWired, Diva Magazine, The Advocate, and Out Magazine should be calling this out even though I understand and sympathize that they desperately want to keep the peace. It would also be more just if liberal sites like Slate or Buzzfeed would at least print rebuttal articles if they promote writers that present arguments that lesbians are dysfunctional, patriarchy obsessed people that need to try harder to be more sexually and emotionally accommodating.
Personally, I am planning on sending this to every queer media site, women’s media site, and liberal site as I can. I am a supporter of trans rights. I believe trans people should receive proper medical care, I believe people should transitions if they want to, and I think it’s great when people date trans people. I don’t like being harsh on people who are hurting and want all to find love and acceptance. The trans community is diverse and many don’t share these views and some of the worst offenders aren’t even transgender. I am not trying to foment drama. I want to see it diffused actually. This issue has already done damage. Young lesbians that had zero clue as to what a TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist) even was and zero interest in their ideology are going to websites like that because they are the only ones that actually care about their problems. Many gay men are equally as offended by the frequency that homosexuals get called bigots for not wanting to date trans people. There are already rifts in these communities and the examples I have laid out here are worsening them, not causing anyone to become more attracted to anybody. I am trying to point out this isn’t good for the trans community, something I do care about. I hope everyone will realize we need to be mutually respectful of all people’s choices in regards to what they do with their bodies. And I hope more writers, campus organizers, and activists in positions of power unlike me will help promote the concept of respect for personal boundaries, particularly in regards to queer youth.
Originally Published 10/24/15
More Info on This Topic
Here is another good blog post on this on Genderspacial.
The natural progression of this mentality apparently, is the push to remove legal recourse for people who feel victimized when a partner deceives them about their biological sex in order to gain sexual access to them. “Why Violating A Person’s Vagina is Worse than Violating Their Pronouns: Gender Fraud, Sexual Orientation, & Gender Identity”
Think this doesn’t affect lesbians in the real world? A lesbian porn star, Lily Cade, became the victim of a twitter harassment campaign for not wanting to have sex with trans women in her porn or choose other actresses to do so. Then they attacked her for calling herself a “gold star,” a term lesbians have previously been entitled to use for themselves. They also claimed this was employment discrimination. Did the left-wing feminist community stand up for a woman asserting her boundaries and her business interests…no. They put her on Blockbot (a list designed to stop abusive Twitter trolls) and printed this not totally accurate article on a “feminist” website, unfairly painting her as some kind of abusive person. Keep in mind, this human being had been completely minding her own business.
Feministing, another “feminist” website has another patronizing article on this topic as well about queer women dating FTMs. Lesbians are more likely to go the bisexual route with trans men because often they were lesbians already in the community they knew, they are partners of females that decide to transition, and a man with a vagina just has more appeal than a woman with a penis for some of them. It is not out of some kind outrageous affront to trans women. I have seen this resentment of women that date FTM’s more than once. Many people, especially women, ARE flexible in who they date and will be happy to date trans women. And that’s great. Focus on them.