Getting With Girls Like Us: A Radical Guide to Dating Trans* Women for Cis Women

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Recently, I went on a dinner date with a cis woman that ended a bit awkwardly. Some of the conversation we shared was nice, we talked about film (fyi – an easy topic to hold my interest, ladies!), our common roots back in the States, and her background in performance art. At one point she shared with me her frustrations over a performance meant to showcase artists from our region in the U.S. The thing is, whoever put together this particular exhibition had invited a number of men from her theatre program to participate — meanwhile she and several of the other women who graduated from the program found out about the event later when one of the guys posted it on facebook.

It’s pretty easy to feel anger over such blatant sexism, and it immediately reminded me of some of my own experiences of feeling ignored at times in my own workplace. But then she said something that struck a really odd chord:

“Yeah, it’s supposed to represent artists from the South, but it turns out it’s just a total sausage fest.”

Okay, we all get the basic intended meaning here. But is she really implying that the men who were invited to exhibit their work were asked to do so on the basis of their genitalia? As a woman I have to say that having a penis never got me special treatment in the academic world. And given that she was aware of my body configuration I have to think that is a strange comment to make to me on a date.

Sadly, the situation only further deteriorated with the appearance of the word “ladyboy,” and the fact that somehow the subject kept getting changed when I tried to discuss these things. After the point that she referred to me as a “trans woman” as opposed to a “woman woman,” I found it difficult to bring myself to even say much for the last few minutes of our little disaster date.

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Okay ladies, let’s stop right here and get our game together. One point is that this isn’t just a matter of grossing out a trans woman over dinner; it’s also a matter of a cis woman making herself look like kind of an ass. And beyond that, this kind of ignorant cissexism just gets in the way of us getting closer and having fun together.

Now, if your response is to start worrying over having to figure out all this ‘complicated trans stuff,’ then I would emphasize a lot of this boils down to respecting us as women just as much as you would want to be respected yourself. And the fact is that trans women are a component of queer women’s communities, so a lack of respect amongst us just means more devaluing of women, when society dishes out plenty of that for all of us already.

Not to mention that this results in some probably well-intentioned cis women missing out on connecting with lots of beautiful, amazing trans women. So with that in mind, I have put together some suggestions for cis women on thinking through some basic trans issues, including ideas on approaching trans women in a romantic or intimate context. And I want to be clear that working through this stuff applies the same in the context of a casual hookup as it does a romantic date.

I also want to be clear that the following represents only my own perspectives; I don’t speak for all trans women. Most importantly, whether you agree with every single point or not, the main thing is if you just think through some of these issues a bit you’ll probably be in a better place to come off as a well-intentioned friend rather than a jerk who doesn’t know any better. And you’ll be in a better place to have more fun.

Community Inclusion

In the last few years this situation has improved in some respects at least in some parts of the U.S. and Canada. But the fact is that there are still parties held in some places in which admittance is “women OR trans” only, meaning in this case that one should be either woman or trans, but not both. But even at parties, clubs or women’s spaces where we are included, many trans women have at times expressed feeling more tolerated than accepted.

As a further point, our inclusion in much of queer women’s culture is still nominal at best. As a nearby example, I’ve gotten some laughs out of some of the serial lesbian content on the sidebar here at Autostraddle, but I’m still waiting for a woman like me to show up on screen and join in the fun. Also, it’s rather cliché at this point that mainstream lesbian-oriented content tends to show more interest in trans men’s stories (who are, after all, not women) than ours (The L Word being the most obvious example).

Look, I get that it takes some time to work some of these things out, but part of my point is just that making it clear you believe trans women should be included is a good step towards developing meaningful friendship with us. On the contrary, referring to a bunch of dudes as a “sausage fest” might not be such a cool/sexy/romantic thing to do (regardless of anyone’s actual genital status… after all, some men have a vagina).

Recognize Our Perspectives

I realize there are a wide variety of trans narratives out there, and maybe it could seem like a lot to work through. But the basic script isn’t that difficult: respect our identities and our bodily autonomy, and when you’re not sure, find a gentle way to ask that doesn’t put anybody on the spot. (And if it’s just not your business to know something in the first place, then don’t ask.)

Another good idea is to understand that many trans people (including a number of trans-feminists) have come up with language to describe the cissexist world they see around them, and to challenge society to do better. Please respect our way of describing the world.

Sadly, a small group of aggressive anti-trans activists have gone far out of their way to introduce a lot of confusion about words like “cis,” claiming that it has some type of anti-woman meaning. This is completely false (and it makes no sense considering the word describes cis men just as it does cis women).

The word “cis” means “not trans” and it has no other meaning in this context. The point of using the word is to acknowledge that trans identities are equally valid and that cis privilege exists in our world and should be challenged.

It also conveniently provides you with the opportunity to refer to a “cis woman” instead of a “woman woman” and avoid wrecking our hang out session.

Please adopt this language, even when trans people are not around.

Cut Out Trans-misogynistic Language

This should go without saying, but referring to trans women as “trannies” or “shemales” is not only ignorant, it’s adopting language that is associated with social stigmatization and even violence against trans women. And having one of those words appear in the middle of our dinner-date is, um, anti-climatic in just about every sense of the word.

And from a trans-feminist perspective, I would emphasize that what underlies trans-misogyny is nothing more than misogyny itself. Remember ladies; you can’t buy into hateful language specifically directed against trans women without chipping in on hatred against women in general.

Dating Us On The Side

There are lots of wonderful, workable approaches to relationships out there, and different things work for different people. One of the awesome things about the queer women’s communities is that I think we tend to be much more open about possibilities for intimate relationships. Some women are poly, some are looking for an exclusive partnership, and there’s everything in between. Personally, I don’t even know if I have a strong preference; I think I’m more open to just working out the dynamics between individuals when the time comes.

I happen to have had a couple of awesome relationships with cis women who were already in long-term, (explicitly) non-monogamous relationships. That said, I can’t help but notice there seems to be a pattern in which I am invited to be someone’s “thing on the side.” While I can’t know for a fact if this is because I’m trans, I have heard other trans women relate similar things. In principle, I have no problem entering into such relationships with someone I trust and with whom I feel genuinely close. I’m just saying I know I’m not the only trans woman who feels a bit frustrated when this kind of thing seems to be on constant replay.

Fetishizing Trans Women

Again I’d like to think this goes without saying, but sadly I see it happen plenty. Look, I get that drawing the boundary between healthy, affectionate sexual curiosity and fetishization might not always be an exact science (and it might be a little different with different women). Personally I think I’m pretty relaxed and I can work with you as long as it doesn’t all reduce down to one thing (*cough*). However, if you’re on a date with a trans woman and your thoughts about her body are constantly distracting you from the conversation, just stop yourself and think: what if I was interacting with a guy and he kept having these kinds of thoughts about my body instead of listening to what I was saying? Would I feel comfortable around him?

Don’t reduce us to our genitals

(1)
Obviously this follows pretty strongly from the don’t-fetishize-us thing. A big part of this is what should be a pretty obvious hard rule: don’t put us on the spot with questions about our genitals.

Personally, I happen to be pretty open about this stuff (you might even notice a subtle dick joke appears in the previous sentence), but even if you know something about my body from reading one of my articles, that doesn’t make it cool to randomly bring my junk into the conversation if you meet me in real life.

Just the same, if you meet a trans woman who is a sex worker or if you’ve seen pornography in which a trans woman appears, that doesn’t give you some special right to ask her questions about her body anymore than it would if you met a cis woman who was involved in sex work.

(2)
Then there is the other side of the coin: some cis women might have an issue or feel uncertain about hooking up with a woman who has different genitalia than her own. First of all, you should never feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to do or that you’re even unsure about. If you aren’t comfortable or you just aren’t into it, say no.

That having been said, if genitalia is the one and only reason for not being into someone, I do think it is worth thinking through that. The result of your thinking could very well be “no, that’s not for me,” and that’s fine! We definitely don’t want to be with anybody who doesn’t want to be with us. But responding to one of the claims that some have made, I would emphatically state that nobody’s physical body is a representation of patriarchy. Such a statement is not only somewhat cruel to inflict on someone who herself is oppressed by patriarchy, it is also pretty defeatist from a feminist perspective (if we were really to buy into the idea that penises are the source of patriarchy, rather than socially constructed male privilege, aren’t we pretty much saying that patriarchy is a permanent fixture of human society? Eek).

Talk With Us

Beyond all these more detailed considerations, another key point is simply communication. Of course there are a myriad of situations that could arise that I’ve never even thought of, but if two people really care about developing a positive friendship or intimate relationship (whether for one evening or a committed partnership) then they will be willing to sit down together and talk through these things.

I have written previously about some of the alienation I have experienced as a trans woman dating in the queer women’s community. Now, I want to emphasize here again that no one is obligated to touch a woman’s penis if they aren’t into that. However it’s also important to emphasize:

1) Not every trans woman has a penis.
2) No general means exist to distinguish trans women from cis women.

The implications of these two points together are that statements such as “I am attracted to cis women but not trans women” simply do not make sense and are rooted in social prejudice.

(As a side comment, before moving on let me briefly address something that appears in the previous piece that I linked above. My article from about a year ago contains a reference to the concept of the so-called “cotton ceiling,” which deserves a brief comment here. While several trans woman-hating “radical feminists” have intentionally misconstrued this concept in rather bizarre ways, there are also a few trans people who have made statements in relation to this idea that I think are problematic. Hence, after having some time to reflect on the previous debates about this I have come to the conclusion that the “cotton ceiling” should be considered an unhelpful concept for this type of discussion and should be set aside by trans activists moving forward.)

Hooking Up

Awesome! Glad we made it this far. I would say, “now comes the fun part,” but actually the whole process of getting to know one another should be fun. And the fact is that respecting your potential partner and vice versa is really sexy, and it’s actually not that hard… err, difficult, to do.

At this point, again, the key is communication. There are trans women who like being touched in certain places or in certain ways, but not in others, just as a similar statement applies for many cis women. Those boundaries must be respected throughout by everyone involved. The key is to keep the channels of communication open throughout, and to rely on active consent as the model for sexual intimacy at every moment.

Underlining all of this of course is the opportunity for new experiences of friendship, solidarity and more.


About the author: Savannah is a queer trans woman and physicist originally from the great state of Carolina (that alone should tell you which one).  She also writes on trans feminism and other social justice issues on her blog leftytgirl, preferably while listening to metal.  Savannah presently lives in Tokyo where her principle hobbies include singing at karaoke clubs and getting lost on the subway.

Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.

Savannah is a queer trans woman and physicist who was unleashed into the cosmos from the great state of North Carolina. She has been active on LGBT diversity issues in physics and also writes on trans feminism and other social justice issues on her blog leftytgirl, preferably while listening to metal. Savannah presently works at a university in Osaka from where she misses her amazing cat Zinfandel back in North Carolina very much. Follow her on Twitter.

Savannah has written 12 articles for us.

840 Comments

  1. I myself fall into the category of lesbians who do not want to have sex with anyone with a penis, regardless of gender – but I still consider trans women to be women. But I just have one question – since we’ve established that you can accept trans women as women but still choose not to have sexual relationships with them, what exactly are you asking us to examine? Is there anything to examine if I feel this way? It’s a personal preference, even if I think about it forever I’m still not going to magically be ok with being intimate with someone who still physically has the body of a male. I’m sure that some people are transphobic and that affects who they have relationships with – but what if they’re not transphobic? As another example, what if someone wasn’t racist but wasn’t personally attracted to people of certain races? I personally wouldn’t think that if someone had a particular preference then they would automatically be racist/transphobic.

    Second point: Earlier on this post people mentioned asking possible partners what genitalia they have – that seems a bit ridiculous. Trans people are quite a small percentage of the population so yeah because it’s the norm, I do assume that if I’m talking to someone who presents as female then they have female genitalia. I’m guessing it might be difficult but if you are trans then surely it’s kind of your responsibility to let that person know before you’re in a sexual situation. Why should I have to point out to every possible woman I’m interested in that I’m not ok with penises (when the odds are that most of those women won’t be transgendered)?

    I have a few trans friends and they have never asked me to examine my preferences – they accept that I don’t want to sleep with them and because I don’t want to sleep with them, they don’t want to sleep with me. Simple. I also have a trans female friend who completely has no interest in being with trans men (she only dates cis men) despite being straight – is she transphobic too?

    • Not going to attempt to address all of your points since so much of it has already been addressed in this massive comment thread, but regarding your first point, in case you didn’t get it from reading the article itself, my post was primarily directed at cis women who are knowingly attracted to trans women or at least open to the possibility.

      Also, not dating someone of a particular race simply because of their racial background is in fact totally racist. It’s not the same as discriminating on the basis of genitalia at all: genitalia is a sexual trait, it’s reasonable that people have a right to discriminate on that basis in choosing a sex partner. Skin color/racial background is not a sexual characteristic, it has nothing to do with sex. So yeah, that is racist.

      • “genitalia is a sexual trait, it’s reasonable that people have a right to discriminate on that basis in choosing a sex partner.”

        We agree on that.

        And I think these kind of posts are absolutely fine until it turns into lesbians being asked to examine their own peferences. If that didn’t come into it then i’d have no issue with posts like this.

        And I wouldn’t say that example is racism – it’s about how you want people to physically look if you’re going to be with them. For example I myself am not very attracted to white women but that doesn’t mean I think they’re not people or don’t respect them as women or something.

      • I think that last paragraph you wrote about being racist if you aren’t attracted to a certain race is the stupidest thing I’ve heard all day. Things aren’t that simple. I’m not attracted to black people, and I never have been, yet I’m half black. I have many black friends and a lot of black family. So you’re saying I’m racist against myself? I find lighter skin attractive, so what? I still consider all races equal even if I don’t want to date someone of a certain race. That’s as stupid as saying ‘lesbians don’t like boys so they must be sexist.’

    • If you’re talking with a woman in a context where you’re about to sleep with her, you’re hopefully gonna also be talking about safe sex, what you do and don’t like in bed…odds are that it’s going to come up in that conversation.

      It’s not the responsibility of a trans* woman to announce what her genitals look like, any more than it’s the responsibility of a cis woman to do the same. An honest conversation between two adults having consensual sex should make is reasonably straightforward.

      • Do you seriously think everyone even has that conversation (about safe sex/what they like in bed) before they sleep with someone? Because the reality is that very often they don’t!

        And how would one night stands fit into this?

        Of course it’s their responsibility! I am assuming that they’re cis because most of the population is cis. If you aren’t the norm then yeah very often you have to say that or you are misleading someone – just like I have to say I’m gay because it’s not the norm.

        • Too few people do have that conversation…honestly, if more people did, a lot of “problems” would be far less problematic. Even for a one-night stand, you owe it to yourself and your partner to talk enough to know that you’re both comfortable with what is happening, and doing it as safely as you can/want to.

          • “Even for a one-night stand, you owe it to yourself and your partner to talk enough to know that you’re both comfortable with what is happening, and doing it as safely as you can/want to”

            1. If the one night stand was a drunken one night stand – which happens often – I doubt most people would have a serious discussion beforehand.

            2. Of course if I’m with someone we talk about these things but it’s usually during sex not before. If I get naked with someone and then suddenly she has a penis then yeah I’m going to be a little freaked out since I do think this is information that she should’ve told me before!

            The point is that people rarely set out a specific conversation to talk about these things, especially when you’re young (I’m 22). In my experience things like what someone’s comfortable with sexually usually get talked about during sex, not before. That usually works out fine.

            Obviously if she has a penis then that’s something she should probably tell me before we’re in that situation. A woman having a penis is a little different to talking about safe sex or talking about what someone likes in bed because those things can be talked about in the moment.

          • Your expectations are unreasonable. A trans woman does not have more responsibility to disclose her bodily configuration than you do to disclose your sexual hang-up about people’s bodily configuration, regardless of whether people with such hang ups are more common than trans people.

        • I half agree here. NO really, I do. As stated above, I think that everyone should really be on the same page when it comes to sex (no pun intended).

          You state you have to tell folks you’re gay, but whats interesting is basing it on an assumed majority. Say you meet a woman at a lesbian bar. You don’t feel like you should have to say you are a Lesbian, because well, duh, you and her are hitting it off so that’s pretty darn obvious everyone’s on the same team, and fun. :)

          However, should things get to the point of “Hey, you want to get out of here…” you, being a trans* woman who has a penis, need to explain that to this other women. Again, I don’t like the whole “Its YOUR responsibility!” but I can’t disagree with it. Because of the two people here, one is within the invisible “norm” of a cis-gendered lesbian, and one isn’t. That’s a fact, not one that has to stay etched in stone and hopefully it will eventually shift but that is, as you stated, the way things still are right now.

          So you tell this other woman you are packing a penis of the non-detachable variety and things either go Who cares?, Yay, or Uh no! Both are valid. Completely.

          Hopefully you don’t get the bonus round of “OH HOLY GOD BURN IT WITH FIRE.” (This rarely happens, we are talking about Lesbians here so it’s generally a wonderful group of people.

          I know in this scenario it would be me as a TRans* person who is going to be inhabiting a position of an assumption of a different body design to your assumption of my having a vagina.
          However what I think the take away here is that if you frowned or got pissed because your expected fun times aren’t happening, and treated it as just a Damn we are NOT compatible, thats cool. Well it makes for a bad evening for both of us, but think how bad it would be if we HAD gone back to someones house and THEN had the conversation. Ugh.

          If it’s just “Crud we are not compatible” not damn I was lied to and you are a GUY, it’s Cool.

          Oh, and me, as the trans* person? I personally would be “Oh, well crud, but that’s cool that you have a different sexual preference.” Hopefully we could at least be cordial.

          Trying to head this off immediately upon meeting someone by disclosing with a statement like “WAIT! Take that drink back! There is a biological penis nearby and I need to brief you on it’s current attachments!” (Which yeah, is probably how I would handle it because well, that’s me.) can be offputting but it’s better than trying to deal with it during later sexy times when it becomes *Surprise Genitals!*

          Is it fair to expect the trans* person to have to constantly tell people about their junk? No, that sucks really. But it’s not fair either to expect you, as a cis person who was expecting a vagina, to suddenly be ok with this change of the evenings menu. And since only one person is *knowingly*
          operating within an assumption of preference, that person should communicate things. I personally hope that it can be a fair, calm and decent discussion.

          • “Is it fair to expect the trans* person to have to constantly tell people about their junk? No, that sucks really. But it’s not fair either to expect you, as a cis person who was expecting a vagina, to suddenly be ok with this change of the evenings menu. And since only one person is *knowingly* operating within an assumption of preference, that person should communicate things”

            That’s my point. I’m sure it’s difficult for trans people but they still should tell the other person because then no time will be wasted if somebody isn’t interested. I wouldn’t say someone is lying if they don’t tell the other person, but they are withholding information and they are being a little deceitful. If they care about the other person being comfortable then surely they would let them know beforehand.

            What I meant by comparing it to being a lesbian is that I have to come out as a lesbian – straight people don’t have to declare their sexuality because they’re the norm. The same with cis and trans – trans people have to come out to prospective partners because they’re not the norm. You’d only really question someone if you suspected they weren’t the norm – like the way people ask ‘are you gay?’ not ‘are you straight?’

          • Hi Shelby, I’d like to draw your attention to another conversation up thread where I also discussed the issue of disclosure with Amy. I’m drawing your attention there just because I think it is an extremely important issue that deserves a good deal of nuance. Also I thought you might also have something to contribute there.

            (btw- I tried to leave a similar comment earlier with a direct link to those comments, but it seems to have been blocked by the comment filter)

    • “since we’ve established that you can accept trans women as women but still choose not to have sexual relationships with them”

      I don’t think that was established actually. I’m pretty sure what was established was you can accept trans women as women, and not want to sleep with penis-equipped folks. It would be awesome if people would stop assuming that all trans women have penises, cause that is kind of transphobic. (And particularly weird from my own privileged perspective, given I live in a country with publicly-funded SRS and I’ve met very few non-op girls.)

      As to what they want us to consider? I think it’s just that if you find yourself really attracted to a girl who has a penis, maybe you should reevaluate how strong that preference really is? Whether it’s maybe partly a social hang up? I dunno, some people’s sexuality has more flex I guess.

      Also, pretty much any non/pre-op trans woman is going to inform you of their genital status pretty quick, if we’re being realistic here. It’s not actually safe for those of us in that situation to get too intimate/alone with folks before disclosing. A lot of us end up getting hurt or killed that way.

      • “As to what they want us to consider? I think it’s just that if you find yourself really attracted to a girl who has a penis, maybe you should reevaluate how strong that preference really is? Whether it’s maybe partly a social hang up? I dunno, some people’s sexuality has more flex I guess.”

        I do agree that some people’s sexuality is more flexible. But even if I do like a trans woman I have every right to say actually I’m not going to date her because she has a penis and I don’t want to be in a sexual situation like that. I suppose it’s different if you are fine with penises and fine with that kind of sex. I have no issue with other people dating trans women, I just don’t want to myself.

        And regardless of what the reason is for it – whether it is a social hang up or not – I’m still 100% able to make that choice. Just like if a trans person didn’t want to be with a cis person or if they ONLY wanted to be with cis people – that’s 100% their choice.

        • Obviously it’s still your choice. That’s really not the point. The idea is more that you might miss out on something because you just go with an assumption of “I’m not okay with this” rather than thinking it through. Personally, I think I like vaginas too much to ever be in a relationship with someone who didn’t have one / wouldn’t let me touch it.

          I’m not sure what to make of you talking about penises and not liking them, but then saying you wouldn’t date any trans woman. I’m trans, I don’t have a penis. None of my friends who are trans have penises. I mean… sure, date whoever you like. No worries. But saying you have an issue with penises doesn’t actually explain why you object to dating trans women.

          • Perhaps, giving her the benefit of the doubt, she’s considering post-op women as no longer being trans?

            Just a thought, since she did explicitly state that she considers trans women to be women.

            And I can very well understand the position of not wanting to have sex with someone who has a penis (i.e., cis or post-op is just fine, pre-op, no thank you), whilst still being completely accepting of pre-op trans women as women (otherwise I’d kinda be undermining myself, too). For that matter, I can’t even conceive of having enjoyable sex with anyone as long as this growth is there on myself.

            And sex isn’t eating – it’s nice if you enjoy what you eat, but it’s not necessary to do enjoy it, but you have to eat to live, whereas sex kinda *has* to be enjoyable for it to be worth anything (at least, sex that isn’t exclusively for procreation), and you don’t *need* to have sex to stay alive.

          • Agree with everything.

            And yeah I was only talking about pre-op trans women – I personally wouldn’t have any issue with being with a post-op trans woman (although I know that some people would have an issue and I do think ‘I’m not okay with this’ is an absolutely valid reason to not date/have sex with someone – it is not oppressive to choose who you want to have sex with and although the preference MAY come from transphobia, having the actual preference isn’t transphobia)

          • And how exactly do you imagine this choosing is going to happen? I suppose now you’re going to tell me that I have a responsibility to disclose my history before sexual contact, because some folks might find it icky.

          • “I have a responsibility to disclose my history before sexual contact, because some folks might find it icky.”

            I don’t think it’s your responsibility if it’s your history and you’ve had gender reassignment surgery (so if you’re post-op). But if you haven’t had that then yeah I think it is your responsibility because you know that you may be putting them into a situation that they’re uncomfortable with because you know they’ve made assumptions about your body based on the way you present and you haven’t corrected them.

          • Actually, I think I’m with Amy here on this. Assuming for whatever reason that my response isn’t along the lines of ‘sorry I’m not interested right now’, then yeah, I’d definitely feel it necessary to say, ‘oh by the way…’ before we get too far along.

            I think it’s simply a question of respecting the other person. She’s expecting/assuming that I have a certain configuration, this is also the default assumption I make of what she’s thinking. So if I’m aware of something that might make a big difference, then yeah, it’s my responsibility to tell her. It’s like, you go to a restaurant and order vanilla cheesecake, if they bring you mango ice cream instead you’ll of course have some issue with it, hey, this isn’t what I ordered. But if the server says, sorry we’re out of that, would you like mango ice cream instead, then it’s a different matter and then you can decide if you want that or not.

            I know that’s kinda a silly analogy, and I’m sure some other trans women don’t feel the same way, but that’s my take on the question, yes, it *is* our responsibility to say something, *iff* we’re still pre-op, because yeah, non-standard parts and all.

          • I’m post-op. And the point was, how will someone’s preference for cis people express itself when there is no reasonable way to tell the difference? They won’t be able to make that choice if I don’t inform.

          • “They won’t be able to make that choice if I don’t inform.”

            The respectful thing to do is to inform.

          • Then I guess I don’t have much respect for that particular preference. I don’t feel like a casual partner has a right to any information beyond anything that impinges on their own health and well-being. That piece of my medical history is no more relevant to the situation than my eye surgery.

            Your also making an assumption that it’s so easy for me to inform. I’m stealth, and your asking me to risk telling someone who may or may not respect my privacy. That just isn’t going to happen. And being out as gay is nothing like being out as trans. Imagine being out 45 years ago, that’s what it’s like for us now.

            Personally, I have pretty intense trust issues with my body, so I don’t do casual sex and I don’t sleep with people who don’t know my history. But I have friends who do the casual sex thing. They don’t disclose. And I don’t think they have any obligation to.

            The potential cost for us is far higher in order to cater to the squeamishness of the occasional person who it totally does not affect in any real way.

            A lot of cis folks look at this situation in a vacuum without any real understanding of the stakes or stress on our side. Unless you are close enough to me to inform you of my history of self-harm and suicide attempts, you aren’t close enough to me to inform about my trans status. It’s private. And short of a serious relationship, none of your business.

          • “Your also making an assumption that it’s so easy for me to inform. I’m stealth, and your asking me to risk telling someone who may or may not respect my privacy. That just isn’t going to happen. And being out as gay is nothing like being out as trans. Imagine being out 45 years ago, that’s what it’s like for us now.”

            Sarah, that is such an important point. It can’t be stated often enough of how much of a higher risk trans* women are, especially those who are also women of color, for violence and murder. Just pick up the statistics and read! So how can anyone in their right mind expect trans* women to out themselves to people they don’t know well enough when being out comes with high costs? It’s totally reasonable to wait and see if they like the person in question well enough and if the said person seems trustworthy to them before they make themselves incredibly vulnerable.

          • Yeah, I should’ve clarified that in all my comments I’ve been referring to pre-op trans women – anyone who physically still has the body of a male.

            “The idea is more that you might miss out on something because you just go with an assumption of “I’m not okay with this” rather than thinking it through.”

            I really doubt I am missing out on anything, but even if I am then it’s really up to me if I want to miss out on it. I have EVERY right to actually say ‘I’m not okay with this’ – that IS an ok reason to not be with someone! You might not like it, but it is an ok reason. People can choose to think it through if they want but there’s no obligation to.

          • I don’t really have any idea what your point is. Obviously you aren’t under any obligation. But are trans women not even supposed to ask for risk of offending? Are you trying to say your experience is universal, and that there is no point in asking at all because nobody will ever change their minds?

            What if one of your supposed trans friends fell for you, and asked whether you’d reconsider your position? Would that be such a terrible thing for them to say? I am totally confused by what you are objecting to. There are no expectations behind the request. It’s just an honest request.

            Nobody is trying to label you as transphobic for not liking dick. Or least they shouldn’t be.

            Finally, I am still trans despite having had my genitals re-purposed. And that wasn’t just an issue of clarification. That was part of a longstanding tradition of labeling trans people’s bodies against their will. Which you are participating in by declaring non-op/pre-op trans women as “still having the body of a male.”

            So, no you aren’t transphobic for your preferences. You kind of are for your use of language though. Which I hope you accept is an “ok reason” to not be interested in you.

          • “What if one of your supposed trans friends fell for you, and asked whether you’d reconsider your position? Would that be such a terrible thing for them to say?”

            I would say no to any of my pre-op trans women friends. It’s not a terrible thing for them to say but I don’t want to be in sexual situations with someone with a ‘male’ body. And if one of my friends said that I should look at why I have that preference only for a female body, then I probably wouldn’t be friends with them anymore. It’s patronizing to tell someone that they don’t know their own mind or don’t know who they’re truly attracted to. I’ve had enough of that during my life.

            “Which I hope you accept is an “ok reason” to not be interested in you.”

            It’s a free world.

          • You’re right, it’s a free world and some folks choose to treat others like dirt because they can. Thanks for the reminder of why I’m stealth.

          • I really don’t understand what part of that you took as me treating you like dirt? but ok.

          • I told you that calling non-ops male was a crappy thing to do, and you went ahead and did it again. Deliberately. With emphasis.

          • Oh ok, I apologise for that. What would be the best way to refer to pre-op trans women’s bodies? (I always thought saying ‘male bodied’ was fine because it referred to biological sex and not gender but if it’s not then I’d like to know how to say it in a better way)

          • Amy, “pre-op trans women’s bodies” would probably be reasonably straightforward and not misgendering. Sure it’s long to say, but it’s only in very few contexts where we would actually be talking about people’s bodies in this way at all.

            “Male bodied” implies that the person is male (if you are a woman, you have a woman’s body, simply by definition; it might not be the same as another woman’s body, but it is still the body of a woman). That’s why it’s a problem.

          • You could also just call it a penis, when it’s a penis. I have a hard time understanding how you can really describe the form of someone who has been running an estrogen-based system, potentially for years, as “male.” I mean, it’s just factually incorrect, regardless of being shitty and misgendering as well.

            I mean my government has the sense not to label people’s bodies based on their genitals. It’s really not that hard.

          • @Dragon – Thanks, I’ll say something like that instead in the future.

            @Sarah – But I was referring to the whole body though – not just the penis. Again, I’m referring to pre-op trans women so i’m talking about the penis, absence of breasts, general physical form etc.

          • I think you’re confused about what pre-op is. That just refers to not having had vaginoplasty. Hormone replacement therapy is what creates breasts and reshapes our bodies. Absence of breasts implies pre-HRT.

          • “Hormone replacement therapy is what creates breasts and reshapes our bodies. Absence of breasts implies pre-HRT”

            Absence of breasts perhaps wasn’t the best way to word it but correct me if I’m wrong but I thought it took averagely 2/3 years to completely grow breasts on HRT?

          • I really don’t see how that’s relevant given you don’t want to fuck someone with a penis, and by the time someone can get SRS they will have boobs and an altered form.

            Over half of breast growth is in the first year, you have to have been on HRT for at least a year before SRS, and very, very few people get surgery even that quickly.

            And HRT isn’t exactly a magic wand. It helps, but there is a wide range in the appearance of trans women, particularly in relation to our finances to pay for body mods, our ages in starting HRT, and our genetic starting points. Some of us are never going to look cis, and some of us end up as poster girls for Western Standards of Beauty ™.

            It would be indelicate to comment on my own appearance. But my gf, who is also trans, is the product of starting hormone blockers at 17, $40k of facial surgery, and a huge genetic advantage in the form of a pure ectomorph body type – which means a slight slender frame. She’s 5’9″ and andro and painfully attractive, and it amuses me to watch other queer girls gawking at her. Very little of that has to do with estrogen reshaping her form.

            So basically, appearance is unpredictable, obviously. And being post-transition is no particular guarantee that you’re going to like our bodies. Just like there is no particular guarantee that we will like yours.

  2. And I’m seriously just wondering why aren’t cis men being asked to examine who they’re attracted to? (obviously it wouldn’t happen on autostraddle, but I haven’t actually seen it happen anywhere) Why is it perfectly fine for cis straight/gay men to only be ok with vagina/penis and they’re not accused of being transphobic? it does seem like every time this is discussed it comes from trans women (idk why but hardly ever trans men) and is always aimed at cis women – in particular lesbians.

    • > And I’m seriously just wondering why aren’t cis men being asked to examine who they’re attracted to?

      They are.

      > obviously it wouldn’t happen on autostraddle

      No kidding.

      > but I haven’t actually seen it happen anywhere

      Maybe you should consider that’s because you haven’t seen it, not because it doesn’t exist.

      I don’t honestly hang around a bunch of places where straight people or gay men have intimate conversations about their sex lives. I imagine you don’t either, but maybe I’m wrong? The main reason I know that trans issues come up in those contexts too is because of trans friends and seeing it come up in the context of trans venues. And from that view, I know a lot of discussion happens in a lot of contexts between a lot of different types of groups and our community is not unique in talking about this.

      > idk why but hardly ever trans men

      idk why you think most trans men would want lesbians to direct their sexual attentions towards them. Therefore you’re personally unlikely to hear that from them, wouldn’t you think?

      (There are some exceptions and trans men who do seem to want to date lesbians, but that is a whole different kettle of fish[1]. That’s dynamics I’ll leave for trans men to deal with as it’s dynamics I’m not well positioned to understand, deconstruct, or take action on. Nor are they dynamics I’m particularly inclined to want to have anything to do with since I don’t date men, trans or otherwise.)

      And for whatever it’s worth, I do think some trans men tend to suffer quietly about some of these issues and I feel really bad about some of the problematic shit some of my friends who are trans men have had to deal with. But it’s not my place to speak for them or their experiences so perhaps you could ask some trans men what they think. I assume you’d hear some insightful comments. :)

      [1] I’ve been recently trying to figure out where this saying comes from or why it makes any sense. I’m not exactly sure why you’d put fish in a kettle, but I digress.

      > is always aimed at cis women

      To some extent a lot of trans people have to work through a lot of our own issues about trans people (since we have to deal with them pretty first hand) and so it’s a bit less necessary. But that’s not really the whole story and a lot of us spend some time helping each other deconstruct and find our own shit too.

      Most trans people who date a trans person end up deconstructing little pieces of internalized nonsense that lurks around during the process. So it’s not just cis women.

      > in particular lesbians.

      I don’t see anything in this article or any other that suggests anything about how anything in question is exclusive to lesbians that wouldn’t also apply to women who identify as bi, queer or some other similar label.

          • (And for whatever it’s worth, even though I was familiar with the term kettle that is being referred to and am familiar that one *could* cook fish that way, I’m still left entirely perplexted about why one would want to. Broiling, grilling, frying, or an oven seems so much better than boiling. My only conclusion is that UK food can be a little weird sometimes. My UK friends seem to think the same of American fare, so I guess the feeling’s mutual.)

    • Here is an article I wrote specifically about trans women dating cis men, and challenging the violence that trans women sometimes face from them, and again challenging the socially constructed concept of mandated disclosure in that context:

      http://leftytgirl.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/on-the-disclosure-myth-and-the-cissexist-imagination/

      Also there are a number of articles out there about trans men dating both cis men and cis women. I suggest looking.

  3. Thank you for the article Savannah <3

    I am sorry for the lame date and all the negative & hateful comments on this thread.

    At least, speaking up will always be a helpful step towards the education of a few open-minded souls.

    A loved one once told me that compassion was much more valuable than understanding… To this day, I have actively worked on letting go of my attempts to 'understand' in order to focus on my ability to listen.

    I support whichever identities and labels you (and others) want to use – let's build a world where people can self-define who they are by selecting whichever words they want and focus on respecting those choices. The destructive need to reject someone's realities and experiences through exclusive boundaries is unnecessary.

    a.k.a. the only person who can define who I am and what I am is myself.

    I changed my label from "lesbian" to "queer" when I found myself falling in love with someone who didn't identify as a "woman", "bisexual" was also out of the question since ze didn't identify as a "man" either – so I found "queer" and I took it all for myself. Now I can finally fall in love with whoever the hell gives me all kinds of butterflies and work from "queer" <3

    ps
    "Those boundaries must be respected throughout by everyone involved. The key is to keep the channels of communication open throughout, and to rely on active consent as the model for sexual intimacy at every moment."

    Yes, yes, and yesss.

    I might have to make a large print of this one. Or an amazing Tumblr meme of solidarity. Could I have your permission?

    • I’m not policing your label, you go with whatever feel right to you, but…

      Bisexuals define bisexuality most commonly as “an attraction to (a) people of same/similar gender as themselves and (b) different gender(s)”. Which may or may not include attraction to “men”. Just sayin’.

      As this is the label of my choice, I’m kind of tired of non-bisexuals refer to it as “an attraction to men and women only”, while also usually implying that “men” and “women” also means exclusively “cis”. But that is not true for so many bisexuals. And this is not true for me.

      There are some more definitions by bi-organizations if you are interested: http://girl-panic.tumblr.com/post/27659014520/what-is-bisexuality

      Besides that miner point you seem like an awesome and open minded person. Your partner & lover is very lucky to have you, Elijah :)

  4. A kinda non sequitur thought at work today made me think… what happens if you take those TERF-ish diatribes and replace ‘wbw’ (or whatever word) with ‘white’… hate is hate, ladies, and this ‘cis pride worldwide’ is just as repugnant as ‘white pride worldwide’.

      • Is that the Horst Wessel Song I hear over there?

        You’ve got more in common with those skinhead rejects than with anyone here at AS.

        M2T? Okay, whatever. *I* know what I am, and your opinion is so, so irrelevant to that, that it’s almost amusing. You TERFs, though, do have something in common with the skinheads: you’re so insecure about your own identity, that you have to try to take your frustrations out on others. It’s kinda sad… I’ll pity you when I’m bored and have nothing better to do.

        What makes you assume that I’m white, btw?

  5. Ok please don’t be offended by this, but I actually don’t know which Carolina you are from just by saying that it’s great.

  6. Hi Savannah

    I’ve known about you since the Requiem for a Dialogue article you posted on PQ

    I have to say that this post is just one of many great ones you’ve done.

    Its a killer shame that there appears to be some on here who will always see us as men (even after surgery to correct down there). its almost depressing to read in all honesty

    I understand *that many don’t wish to be sexual with penis no matter who its on* (I put that in asterisks as sadly it does appear some can’t or wont read(delete as appropriate) but to go down with saying that we can have all the hormones and surgeries god can throw at us and were still just not a lot more then surgically altered men is pure transmisogyny, transphobia, cissexism, and all the rest of it

    Come on ladies sort it out, this is the 21st century not the stone age, or is it. Sometimes I do wonder

    • I hate that it is depressing and I used to wish I could be different. I can be a friend and an ally, because on an intellectual level I can think this person is a woman, they identify as a woman, and that’s all that matters. My day to day interactions with that woman are no different than with any other. Sexually it’s different though, it’s baser and my brain sees and interprets things differently than how I consciously think.

      I’ve often thought I would never date anyone who is female to male, because it would be wrong and a violation of that person. Some transgendered men (I know bringing them up is a trigger here, but I have a point) are very masculine and the hormones are incredibly effective. They do not turn my head, but some, who are perhaps not on hormones, are very feminine and I can’t help but see them sexually as very attractive butch lesbians. I’m not straight, it’s not right or fair, and even though I could use the right pronouns on the surface it would be a lie.

      My attraction to people and my social consciousness are not one. It’s not something I can change or think I should have to. It’s just how I am. I believe with the spectrum of sexual orientations there is someone for everyone.

      • You are making some pretty intense assumptions about what “trans” looks like. When the truth is that “trans” doesn’t actually look like anything in particular.

        I’m guessing you haven’t met or can even conceive of trans women who look like, well, me. Probably because when you meet someone like me, you aren’t going to know she is trans, so you’re just going to assume she’s cis and go on in your bubble of thinking trans women look a certain way and therefore are inherently unattractive to the sexy part of your brain. When really, you’ve probably already wanted to screw a trans girl, or even have screwed a trans girl, but you thought they were cis.

  7. I just wanted to make one teensy comment about use of the word “tranny.” Having recently seriously dated a trans guy, I’ve observed a lot of casual, accepted, even affectionate and loving use of the term. I recognize that each person will have personal relationships with the word, and that the bottom line is it is critical to follow an individual’s lead on the use of the term, but I also wanted to share my experience of “tranny” culture….

    • It’s reclaimed language…reclaimed for some, hurtful for others. It seems that trans* guys are reclaiming it more than trans* women, though I might be somewhat off on that.

    • Hi, just wanted to point out the term “tranny” is a slur that specifically targets trans women, not trans men. From my own perspective as a trans woman, I find it pretty strange for a trans man to ‘reclaim’ that word when I’ve never once heard anyone use the word in a pejorative manner against such an individual. I’m sure it must have happened once or twice at some point, okay, but then again if you hear the word “tranny” on the streets, in the media, it is virtually always intended to conjure up an image of either a trans woman “predator” in disguise, or derogatory porn featuring trans women, or maybe a “non-passable” trans women who is intended to be mocked, etc.

      As a trans woman who has been called the word in a number of hurtful circumstances, I would sincerely ask that nobody other than trans women attempt to reclaim this word (even them, I’m a bit skeptical). For another trans women’s perspective on this, please check here:

      http://inourwordsblog.com/2012/03/14/community-and-consequences/

      And for a trans man who concurs with this perspective (and more and more I think are coming to a similar conclusion I think):

      http://www.originalplumbing.com/2012/01/23/why-im-not-saying-trnny-and-id-like-it-if-you-guys-didnt-either-please/

      • Ah, Savannah, thanks for the link. I knew I’d read that Original Plumbing one somewhere and remember bits and pieces of it :)

        Do you have a bibliography, of sorts, of such links? Or just your own bookmarks?

      • i definitely hear and respect what you’re saying. again, as I said, it’s critical to follow the lead of whatever given person you’re talking to/about, but I’m glad you brought it up so I can be mindful in the future and not assume that just because my ex embraced the term that that applies generally.

  8. Savannah, this article is win. Simply too likeable for the amount of education within.

    [***Trigger warning: calling out people on their bullshit.***]
    To the haters: many trans* women consider their downstairs parts to be a birth defect. By saying that you are attracted to women but in finding out about that defect that you wouldn’t date them, it DOES make you a jerk. That is not only a cissexist attitude but a fucked-up ableist one as well.

    [***Trigger warning: sexual assault / assault***]
    You were sexually assaulted? That IS a big deal and you are an amazing survivor of a shitty experience – power to you. That assault, however, is not the fault of genitals, it is the fault of your oppressor and those alike to that person because it happened in their BRAIN not in their PANTS. Let’s say somebody attacked you with a common tool – I don’t know, a spanner or a screwdriver or a bat or some shit. Would you (did you) blame the tool for the attack? Really? I didn’t – IT IS JUST A THING. Blame the person holding the tool, not the tool itself.

    Your experiences and feelings are valid but just make sure to check that you aren’t simply being an arsehole to some person(s) who don’t deserve it.

    Rant over.

      • I am not apologetic but I regret having resorted to such an example. People making excuses for their prejudice does not sit with me.

        There are no excuses for prejudice.

        There are no excuses for prejudice.

        There are no excuses for prejudice.

    • “[***Trigger warning: sexual assault / assault***]
      You were sexually assaulted? That IS a big deal and you are an amazing survivor of a shitty experience – power to you. That assault, however, is not the fault of genitals, it is the fault of your oppressor and those alike to that person because it happened in their BRAIN not in their PANTS. Let’s say somebody attacked you with a common tool – I don’t know, a spanner or a screwdriver or a bat or some shit. Would you (did you) blame the tool for the attack? Really? I didn’t – IT IS JUST A THING. Blame the person holding the tool, not the tool itself.”

      When you have some kind of PTSD or are in any way triggered by penises because of assault/rape and your brain has linked violence and penises together then it’s really not as simple as just changing your thinking. And I’d just like to add in that argument of ‘blame the person holding the tool, not the tool itself’ is sometimes used by cis men towards women who have decided not to be with men anymore because of rape/sexual assault.

      And in regards to your example, yeah you’d blame the person and not the tool – but i’m sure if that happened afterwards you’d be wary of someone coming towards you with a bat or a screwdriver…

      • Regarding PTSD: My brain has linked violence and police together, violence and transphobia together, violence and queerphobia together, violence and hobos together, violence and conservatives together – plus a swathe of other things – and even if I am shit fucking scared of those things, because of the violence that I associate with them, I DO NOT STICK IT TO GREATER THAN NINETY PERCENT OF THE WORLDS POPULATION TO KEEP THEIR POTENTIAL FOR ABUSE AWAY FROM ME EVEN IF THEY COME TOWARDS ME WITH IT. No matter how traumatising it may be.

        All I am seeing in your post are excuses for blaming bits rather than behaviour. The onus is on you to stop hiding behind those excuses.

        • Major trigger warning for sexual violence.
          I think you’re a little confused.
          Also maybe a little ignorant.
          Your comments sort of felt like a punch in the gut.
          I stated above that I would not sleep with someone with a penis. A trans woman without one? Yeah, sure, if I was attracted to her. I CANNOT feel comfortable naked in a bed with a penis or a penis-shaped object. I just can’t. And that’s directly a result of diagnosed PTSD.
          But there’s a distinct difference between saying “I don’t feel comfortable being naked in a bed with a penis” and “I don’t feel comfortable naked in a bed with a trans woman.” I don’t believe everyone with a penis is dangerous/will rape me/evil/etc. Do I believe that penises have been used as weapons way too much? Of course I do. Bosnian genocide, for example. Even then, some of the women who survived that horrible, horrible event have gone on to have healthy sex lives. We cannot help what we remember, what triggers us, what sticks out to us. YES, it IS the people behind the attacks, not the weapon themselves, but we’re not really focused in the moment on channeling all of our senses into remembering the faces of the perpetrators so that’s the only thing that sticks with us. I have been raped by two girls working in tandem and by a man, and I was molested by an older teenage boy. Only in the case of the molestation do I remember distinctly his face, and every time I see it, whether on Facebook or whatever, I have a panic attack. In the other cases, I remember the way the hand over my mouth felt, the weight on my body, the breathing in my ear, their voices, the penis or penis shaped object inside me. That’s what I remember. And it’s not my damn fault I didn’t focus on their faces so that I wouldn’t associate the attack with anything other than their faces. My body focused on what exactly in that moment it could feel, what was causing me physical pain.
          I just think you should maybe not victim shame here. I’m not saying trans women are men, rapists, evil, dangerous, or that I wouldn’t be attracted to them. I’m not saying penises are evil, dangerous, etc. I am saying that *I* do not feel comfortable naked in bed with a penis or penis shaped object because of *my own demons*, not because of THEM.
          For the record, it’s not just penises/penis-shaped objects that make me uncomfortable during physical intimacy as a result of PTSD. I don’t really like being touched, anyway. My best friend/roommate climbed on top of me once in the middle of the night as a joke, and I gave her a bloody nose. A particularly rough one-night stand tried to pin me down and I threw her off of me, across the room.
          These aren’t things I assume people should know about me. I make it PRETTY DAMN CLEAR up front.

          • Perhaps you are right. Perhaps I am just a big evil and realise that subtlety often does not work. Regardless, victim shaming is not my intention and I apologise if that is what I did. Today has been very fail with me trying to put things into words…

            What I was trying to get at is that a traumatic experience CAN be separated from the esteem and potential of a survivor and to think and say otherwise is disempowering to survivors and will do naught to help them heal. It is insulting and demeaning to imply that the limit of their capability is that they cannot overcome.

          • At the same time, it’s not your place, as someone who does not know me or anyone else on this thread speaking on the subject of their PTSD, to tell me what I need to get over or work through in terms of PTSD.
            It’s not like I’m sitting on my butt doing absolutely nothing in terms of self-care.

        • “All I am seeing in your post are excuses for blaming bits rather than behaviour. The onus is on you to stop hiding behind those excuses.”

          If I consider PTSD a valid ‘excuse’ for not wanting to be in a sexual situation with someone with a penis, that’s really up to me – you don’t get to decide what a valid reason is. We’re talking about sex here, it’s an optional activity to start off with! Even if I wasn’t including PTSD, I have absolutely no obligation to consider trans women as prospective partners – I can do so if I wish, but I don’t have to. And I’m saying I don’t want to (in particular I don’t want to consider pre-op trans women as sexual partners)

          It’s very simple, I’m being ASKED to think about the reasons behind who I personally find attractive and I’m saying no, I’m attracted to who I’m attracted to and I do not want to examine that. You may consider that to be petulant but I’d rather be called petulant than not be able to make my own decisions and date trans women because I feel sorry for them or something.

          I’ve heard many times that the cotton ceiling is about women who are *already* attracted to trans women being respected as lesbians still, and I’m fine with that. But I’m not fine with many lesbians saying a clear NO we don’t want to date trans women and then they’re told ‘well it’s because you’re transphobic/bigoted/ignorant’. A no is a no. This is about sex – an OPTIONAL, ENJOYABLE activity – you get to decide who you do it with!

          “What I was trying to get at is that a traumatic experience CAN be separated from the esteem and potential of a survivor and to think and say otherwise is disempowering to survivors and will do naught to help them heal. It is insulting and demeaning to imply that the limit of their capability is that they cannot overcome.”

          I didn’t say it couldn’t be. For some people it can be overcome and for some people it can’t. Additionally, some people do not want to deal with it and that’s fine too.

          • Yes it is fine Amy and your choices regarding sex are completely yours to make and you have no obligation to consider a woman with a penis as a sex partner if you are not into that.

            I’ve disagreed with you strongly on other parts of this comment thread (including referring to non-op trans women like me as ‘male-bodied’ and such, eek) but here I agree with you more or less completely.

          • “You may consider that to be petulant but I’d rather be called petulant than not be able to make my own decisions and date trans women because I feel sorry for them or something.”

            I do not consider it petulant or think that anybody ought to date anybody because they feel sorry for them.

            It does, however, seem to me to be an incredible, two-faced, double-standard to want to sleep with women but not trans women due to what some people see as a simple (often awful) birth defect. To me it seems to promote trans-erasure and body policing and – if that is true – then it is well messed up.

          • Uh, I don’t quite understand why you would suggest that. Yeah, with regards to myself, it is a birth defect, and a pretty unbearable one at that, and as I’ve mentioned before, I can’t really picture myself sleeping with anyone until that’s remedied (unless, of course, my pants stay on, but that’s not really relevant right now).

            I’d have no problems considering sleeping with a trans woman… provided she’s post-op; I have valid reasons not to want to be near someone else’s penis in a sexual way that have nothing to do with my having been born with one. No, I won’t go into details, but they’re valid reasons in my perception, and as far as deciding whom one wants to sleep with, one’s own perception is all that really matters – and that has absolutely nothing to do with not acknowledging a pre/non-op trans woman as a woman, trans-erasure, body policing or any other such thing.

            The way I see it – so long as you acknowledge that yes, a trans woman is a woman – not wanting to sleep with a pre/non-op trans woman isn’t really different from not wanting to sleep with a cis woman because she’s tall or short or butch or femme or looks like your sister.

          • “No, I won’t go into details, but they’re valid reasons in my perception, and as far as deciding whom one wants to sleep with, one’s own perception is all that really matters – and that has absolutely nothing to do with not acknowledging a pre/non-op trans woman as a woman, trans-erasure, body policing or any other such thing.”

            Xenia V. if that is true, then where are all the same-sex attracted ciswomen coming forward about not fucking other ciswomen because they don’t like vagina?

            “… not wanting to sleep with a pre/non-op trans woman isn’t really different from not wanting to sleep with a cis woman because she’s tall or short or butch or femme or looks like your sister.”

            These are all excuses I have heard before, among others that are typically racist and ablist, that are dismissed by many lesbian and gay cliques as preferential rather than what they really are – actual systemic prejudicial (and often intersectional) problems. Stop listening to the rubbish that crops up from popular homo cultural icons and following it just because everybody else is. In short, check yourself.

            Also the “tall or short” part of your comment really, truly IS body policing. In my case, because I am short, my partners have always been taller than me – except for one person – which is not because I have a preference for people of a certain stature, it is because of what I am statistically likely to find. On the subject of statistics, I also find a lot of bigotry as being widely accepted in same sex attracted ‘communities’ because nobody has the decency to speak up against it in case it ostracises themselves from said group and perhaps ‘ruins’ their fuckability.

            Why not go out and celebrate some diversity in life instead of shuttering it out and further promoting segregation and bigoted clique attitudes? Go out on a limb at the risk of being excommunicated and maybe you will make some new, more accepting friends or find people actually WORTH getting with (again and again).

          • Obviously I wrote too much and you missed what I was trying to say.

            tl;dr I have issues with penes that make me not want to get near them, esp. not in a sexual way. No, I’m still not going to go into further detail with someone I don’t know.

            Now, I may be mixing you up with someone else who’s posted here, if so I apologise, but someone anyways *has* told survivors of sexual assault in some comments here to ‘just deal with’ their issues with the penis. Sorry, but no, I’ll deal with that in my own time and in my own way… and that still has *nothing* to do with trans erasure or transphobia or whatever else.

            As for the rest of what you wrote: I see a lot of assumptions, a lot of dismissals, and a lot of what appear to me to be pre-made judgements, so I’m not entirely sure it’s even possible to respond to it, since it seems to me you’ve already made your decision, and it doesn’t seem likely that anything I could say would change that decision.

            *shrug*

          • Xenia V. I am not even replying directly to you but you really did put your foot in it. I never asked for detail further or otherwise so get off your silly defensive tree.

            It gets my goat that arguments like this will never amount to more than removing ever more privilege from those who lack it whilst imparting it to those who already have it. It widens the social power gap further. And it makes me sick.

          • There is no reply button on your post at this level of comments so I have to press reply on my own post to maintain continuity. If I do not specify the context then it looks as though I am addressing my own comment. How would you propose that I work around that?

    • This may be worth some consideration on-topic, although it is written towards the other end of the gender curve. (I had to refer to Google cache as the originating site appears to be down or gone?) http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:nfYxzjU2-p0J:www.theprecarious.com/content/gender-stealth-why-transgender-disclosure-not-necessary

      It can be a lot to wrap one head around! Also please consider reading the comments, some are pretty interesting. kthxbai~

  9. Hi everybody… wow this thing never seems to end does it… well I collected a few of my thoughts on some of the conversations we’ve had here and put together a quick blog post about it last night… in particular I wanted to speak against this claim that keeps being made that “nobody is asking cis men to think through these things,” which is just like, totally not true:

    http://leftytgirl.wordpress.com/2013/03/17/some-follow-up-on-comments-on-the-dating-guide-conversation-at-autostraddle/

    • This is the thread that never ends…
      It just goes on and on my friends…
      Some people started posting and the Terf’s posted back!
      Now the cycles never ending and I think I’m gonna yak!

      This is the thread that never ends….

  10. As I said upthread I was out of town this weekend and spent the first day this post was up in a car, and my jaw dropped when I opened my laptop on thursday night and surveyed the situation. But I was also really warmed and inspired by everybody fighting back against the assholes, especially considering [name i cannot type here because i’ve set up our comment system to automatically send any comment containing said name straight into the spam folder]’s repeated attempts to alert her minions about this thread.

    Savannah, this post is awesome. I’ve liked your writing for a long time before we put up the trans*scribe call and was so happy to see your submission and read it and then publish it. I hope you keep writing stuff for us and g-ddamn your patience on this thread amazes me.

    Obviously this thread raises questions about our comment moderation policy and I don’t have those answers just yet, this is far from my area of expertise and I don’t know what the best thing to do is, or how to do it. Again, I’m not the comment moderator but in my position should be providing more guidance.

    Honestly, I would like to just delete the asshole transphobic and trans misogynist comments that get put up here, but I’ve yet to see one of those comments exist for more than ten seconds before somebody is responding to them and fighting back, and then I don’t know if this is a conversation people want to have and i should just let it be, or if i should delete the entire thread, or if i should delete the offensive comment but leave the rebuttal, even if the rebuttal doesn’t make sense without the offensive comment being deleted. In this case, by the time I even saw that the post had been published, it was already approaching 200 comments and there was no way to begin tackling individual threads without creating a bunch of floating responses to ghosts. So we have a lot of stuff to figure out! But I hope everybody knows that if at any time you feel a comment exists that should be deleted, you can contact us directly and we can do so. We rarely, if ever, delete homophobic comments, because we’re confident in our ability to handle them, but I’m not trans and neither are the mods and so please don’t hesitate to let us know when we’ve overlooked something you think needs to go.

    Anyhow, again, thank you Savannah and everybody on this thread who isn’t an asshole! I hope all the assholes on this thread have also taken some time out to write Cosmopolitan magazine to yell at them about forcing you to date men by publishing heterosexual dating tips in their magazine, which you sometimes happen to catch a glimpse of at the grocery store.

    • For whatever it’s worth, I personally appreciate that AS doesn’t delete the comments typically. I think it makes our community stronger to have comments from any woman who likes woman remain, even if some of them espouse some really unfortunate views. I wish those comments didn’t happen, but I’m not for pretending sentiment that exists doesn’t and I tend to think sunlight is a better disinfectant than silencing. I also think it’s more effective.

      Obvs some other people are going to have some different feelings, but I thought I’d toss mine in too. :)

      • thank you for weighing in, D! maybe we need to figure out a system with the redesign where vile comments are hidden and only visible by logged-in members who wanted to see them. like they could click a button to see them and the responses if they wanted to, but people who don’t want to see that shit could just scroll on by?

        • That sounds like a good option too. Though I think with all the things everyone hopes come out of the redesign Cee is going to have her hands full. I’m not sure how easy something like that is with wordpress, maybe it’ll turn out to be totally easy, maybe it won’t.

    • I’ll add my vote to leaving ALL the comments up, and continuing to flag the violation of comment policy wherever it occurs. It would be nice if some kind of header could added to the comments, warning people that flagged comments have not been removed, and that you may encounter hate speech.
      Best blessings to the AS women who encourage this dialogue, standing for community and understanding.

    • Hey Riese!

      I just sent you an email but I also wanted to respond here and just say thank you both to you personally and Autostraddle as a whole for working with me and other trans women on the Trans*scribe project. As I’ve stated elsewhere I’ve thought about writing for AS for a while and I felt like this was a really good opportunity and I’ve felt supported by you and your team on this project.

      About the comments, maybe it’s a tough question in some ways in part because the people that seem to hate us so much are just so obsessive… like I do actually feel kinda sorry for them in a way because they seem to spend a large part of their day writing endless blogs and comments across the internet about a group of people they have almost no overlap with in real life… it’s kind of sad really, but whatever.

      But in any case, I guess the main point is that I’ve enjoyed working with y’all on this and I’m hoping to continue doing so into the future!

    • Riese, you make it a policy to never delete homophobic comments but would want to know when you’ve overlooked something on this subject and it should go, please elaborate, as aren’t most statements being accused of being some type of phobic response when it comes down to it? I don’t get your response, because it seems to only make make sense it you are talking about guidelines like the swimsuit issues, but that is apples and oranges here.

      • it’s not our policy to never delete homophobic comments! i’m just saying that in practice, those comments, despite being against our official comment policy, might not always get deleted because the mods, as homos, may feel more comfortable making the call that something abusive can stay when they’re the ones being targeted? but that could also work both ways, which is why i really want people to feel comfortable contacting the mods to say “hey, you should get rid of this.” i think my head has totally exploded though and i’m no longer capable of communicating effectively with anybody or saying anything that makes sense. i don’t know. probably that sentence could just be deleted because it’s probably more confusing than relevant — i just want everybody to feel comfortable and happy here.

  11. Hi folks,

    I just wanted to jump in and add my thoughts to this debate. Firstly I’d just like to say thanks to Savannah for her article, it was a good read. I would also like to say thank you to the intelligent Cis and Trans women on here who have conducted themselves with grace and wit in this discussion and have tried to articulate their opinion in civil terms. Furthermore to those who wish to disrupt and create animosity in this space hoping that it will divide women from each other please go take a break from being a bigot.

    Now I am going to try and deal with two issues. The first issue is Cis queer women not wanting to date trans women with male genitals. I think that is ok. I mean no one has the right to compel another to desire things they don’t and to be honest I think most people feel the same way. In all honesty I think this issue really only effects Pre-ops and Non-ops as to my line of thinking on this is that there are two groups of Cis queer women who are open to dating transwomen let’s call them group (a) and group (b). Group (a) have no issues with their partner’s genitals and will date them if they want to. Group (b) on the other hand do have an issue and it maybe because of their sexual desires, past experiences, personal beliefs, insecurities about their identity etc but this group doesn’t want be to be with someone who is ‘packing’. However they are still open to being with a trans women just as long as she is going to have or has already had SRS. Now because of this women who are non-ops are going to have to accept that their dating pool is not going to include a lot of women from group (b) that is just reality.

    The second issue I want to try and deal with is the so called “cotton ceiling” (I really do hate that name). Now I don’t know a lot about it but what I know of it irritates me greatly as I think there is a lot wrong with this concept and the line of discussion advanced by proponents and opponents alike namely the way some members in each party trivialise Transphobia within the queer women’s community. Now that’s not to say that everything about it is wrong. In fact I think that it highlights two things that are a real problem for Trans women and Cis women in the queer women’s community namely exclusion and stigma. And I think that the assertive approach taken to tackle these by certain people is overall is a good thing. However trying to apply these same methods to dating and sexual relationships is a bad way forward for Trans women as it will only divide queer women from each other. If Trans women and queer Cis women allies want to deal with a lack of interest in dating Trans women then a new approach should be adopted to tackle this one that is not insulting of coercive.

    I don’t know if I made any sense but these are my thoughts do with them as you will.

    Cheers!

  12. Christ i lose internet for a week and miss… this, whatever it is. Anywho, thank you for this Savannah. Not too useful for my current gf, as we’ve had to work all of it out together anyway, but definitely useful too.

    Ignorance makes me sad.

  13. The implications of these two points together are that statements such as “I am attracted to cis women but not trans women” simply do not make sense and are rooted in social prejudice.

    I was with you until you wrote that. I’m a lesbian and while there are many wonderful emotional/personality things about women I love, a huge factor is attraction…on the most biological level and I don’t think you can invalidate my physical response by writing it off as social prejudice. You speak about respect and understanding, but you’re certainly not showing a whole lot.

    • It just means that you could have been attracted to a trans woman and not known it, or you could have actually been intimate with a post-op trans woman and not realized it.

      Basically the question is: would *knowing* she’s trans make a difference? Especially when otherwise one has no idea?

  14. I would just like to add my thoughts to the raging flood of comments.

    I am a transgirl, and I am attracted to girls. Because of my long struggle with body-hate, I’m not sure how I would react to a potential partner being a pre/non-op transwoman (e.g. having a penis). I hope I would react well, and not care about the genitals, but I’m not sure. Of course, this does not mean that I would consider her to be any less a woman, nor would I ever consider anyone to be other than the gender they identify with. For me, gender is all in the brain, and no-one can tell me or anyone else what’s going on in their own brains.

    (if the term girls offends anyone, I don’t mean it as in “a young girl” but as an alternative to woman)

  15. I’ve read through this thread and as a transwoman, I found this thread had so many awesome posters and I really appreciated Savannah’s article. I think the hard part of the radfems trolling this article is that trans women often have so little spaces where we won’t face invalidating attacks if we are completely open about our personal histories. I like the debate, I don’t like nanny boards, but I really got depressed reading people supposedly lesbians whose views of sex are as simplistic and fundamentalist as my evangelical extended family and parents. If your definitions of sex are the exact same as the pope or Focus on the Family wouldn’t that be a little suspect to a person who identifies as a lesbian?

    • I am frustrated that AS, a space that I thought is safe, stops feeling safe once the spiteful radical jerks come in to proverbially stomp all over the flowers. I thought I had found a place to be in AS but it looks like even this place has its share of spiteful, cissexist hate mongers. I hate the world.

      • Personally, I think the AS folks have done a pretty amazing job here on the whole.

        The vast majority of the haters and fundies were coming from outside the site because of a few radfem creeps who follow trans women around on the web no matter where they are (and a few of them have some weird personal obsession with me *shivers*). There were a few off comments from AS members as well, sure, but most of those were made out of ignorance, not hate.

        We’re all sisters, let’s try having some patience with one another.

          • (also we have blocked several radfem creeps from commenting over the past year or so and will continue to whenever we can concretely identify their IPs.)

          • Why is this okay… calling someone a “radfem creep”… this makes me really sad for what used to be an interesting and diverse community.

          • Masha, have you seen some of the sites they mention? Believe me, it is a totally appropriate term for this flavor of radfems. Not all radfems are rabid transphobes like these are. They are actually ruining the radfem name.

          • I think my pacifist and Buddhist foundation are translating into a specific way of seeing these issues… Considering that we’re at a stage of human consciousness right between death and rebirth, some birth pains are bound to accompany the rushes – it’s just important to realize that these are productive pains.

          • Yeah, I’ve had a rollercoaster ride of a journey in the past year with two very dear, long-term friends starting transition and both counting on me for support… I basically took a self-guided masters in gender studies so that I could be an informed and truly present friend for each of them. The most significant of my internal hurdles was the intense mourning that I experienced (especially for my FTM friend, a past lover) as their former selves basically died.
            How this relates?… what I see as the root of the frenzied denial of trans* realities on those radfem sites is not fear or hate… but intense, desperate, lonely mourning.
            I hope that makes some sense.

          • The terf radfems that attack trans women aren’t mourning. They are just full of pure hatred. They deny that transgender even exists. Transphobia doesn’t exist. Transmisogyny doesn’t exist. And they publicly shame us the way men use s-shaming. I could hardly call that mourning.

          • Sorry Lana, I mis-placed my reply and it ended up above yours in the thread.
            I also wanted to add that I can’t extend my intention to include a policing of public spaces (even cyber-spaces) because right now I am consumed with advocating for quality-of-care for these two precious friends, whose journeys ARE within my capacity to effect.
            After mourning, my biggest emotion was fear.. not OF my trans* friends, but FOR them.. that they would end up with the equivalent of a sexual lobotomy after the surgical interventions that are still ‘on the table’ for both of them. That it would mean an end to the potent sensuality that is currently a part of each of their lived, embodied, gender-variant existence.

          • What on earth are you talking about? I mean please explain to me how deliberately misgendering trans people (particularly trans women) equals grief, please explain how calling or insinuating that trans people (especially trans women) are rapists/sexists/paedophiles equals grief, please explain how denying trans people equal access to public spaces that are appropriate to their gender identity equals grief, please explain how actively promoting Transphobia within society equals grief, please explain how supporting systemic discrimination of trans people from governmental institutions and civil society equals grief, please explain to me how blaming trans people (especially trans women) for all the failures of the women’s movement or LGBT movement, or any other progressive organisation equals grief. I mean the list of things that these individuals force upon Trans people could go on and on but I’m not going to bore you. However if you want to take the position that that these individuals have done nothing wrong and that they are not morally responsible for helping to harm trans people then you go and do that but don’t for a second think that we agree with it, or that we accept it, or excuse it you have come to the wrong place for that.

          • Alice, by your intensely emotionally fraught comment (and its’ content) I can only surmise that you and I have been visiting very different radfem forums..
            Further, I would suggest that if you know of individuals who “force (atrocities) upon Trans people” you should pursue them with legal action.
            As for who is “morally responsible” for harming trans* people.. wow, I suspect that would be a rather long list – including you and I.
            I don’t know what to say to that last sentence.. you are very much mistaken about my position or what I think you have to “agree with, accept or excuse” (there were absolutely no directives or imperatives in any of my statements).
            But if you speak for this community.. I have DEFINITELY “come to the wrong place”… for any discourse or dialogue.

          • Trigger Warning: Extreme Transphobia. I understand if this post gets deleted but I feel I need to let Masha (and others) know exactly who we are talking about when we say “radfem creeps”. Please don’t visit these sites if you are offended easily by transphobia.

            pretendbians.com
            gendertrender.wordpress.com

          • “After mourning, my biggest emotion was fear.. not OF my trans* friends, but FOR them.. that they would end up with the equivalent of a sexual lobotomy after the surgical interventions that are still ‘on the table’ for both of them. That it would mean an end to the potent sensuality that is currently a part of each of their lived, embodied, gender-variant existence” -MashaDiaspora

            Perhaps you should be less concerned about the outcome of medical procedures your friends are considering…and instead give more thought about why you think you know better than them what they should do with their own bodies. The history of radical feminism and trans issues is full of well intentioned women “looking out for the best interests” of people they felt couldn’t or shouldn’t make decisions for themselves.

            Please do not take offense at this, but I think you might still be very attached to your notion of who your friends are (or were). Take a glance at your word choice at the the end of that quote.

            –“it would mean an end to the potent sensuality”–

            You mentioned that you dated one of your two friends, perhaps your fear is less about them and more about your feeling of losing something that you cherished.

          • Emma,
            I am not a radical feminist.. my role as a trans ally, specifically to these two friends rests in my every-day occupation as a medical advocate and facilitator to the immigrant and aboriginal communities in my area (and my concern for my friends is a part of what I have been asked, by them, to do for them).. these friends belong to the same immigrant community as I do and my potentially over-involved (to the Western gaze) concern for their medical outcomes is also more culturally appropriate for us… having survived civil war in our mother land, we tend to “look out” for each other (especially while negotiating these Western institutions) with particular fervor.

            “Please do not take offense at this, but I think you might still be very attached to your notion of who your friends are (or were). Take a glance at your word choice at the the end of that quote.”
            Yes, yes and yes.. to this I totally agree. Completely… Mea culpa.
            I ask you; how do you navigate this loss?

            “perhaps your fear is less about them and more about your feeling of losing something that you cherished.”
            I would say it is an equal measure of both.. and the reason I am speaking openly about it here is that I realize my burdening my former lover with this is… inappropriate.

          • @MashaDiaspora

            What was emotional about my response? All I did was cut the fluffiness out and jump straight to the crux of the issue, which is Transphobia. Legal action is taken to protect Trans people’s rights. In fact there is this little group of people out called the Transgendered rights movement. This is a group that is devoted to protecting the rights of Trans people as well as promoting their legal, social, health, etc issue within society. This group refuses to allow transphobes to get their way in all matters all of the time. What is your point about the list being long? I mean so the list will be long that’s a sad fact and it will include many different types of people who have done various types of transphobic things to Trans people. Furthermore as someone who did suffer from internalised Transphobia it is important that people be honest and take responsibility for what they have done so that they can help solve the problem and improve the quality of life for trans people.You may not have clearly stated your stance on this issue but you have attempted to justify the
            Transphobia of others that may not be a directive but it is a clue to what your personal feelings on this issue are. However if you wish to publicly state what your personal feelings are on this matter now is the place and time for you to do so.

            “But if you speak for this community.. I have DEFINITELY “come to the wrong place”… for any discourse or dialogue.”

            Firstly I speak for no one but myself. Secondly if you wish to leave fine no one will stop you but remember no one here is kicking you out you are choosing to walk out of your own accord because you seem not like when people disagree with you.

          • Alice,
            I have misunderstood you.. apparently.. I would like you to consider that you and I have two very different styles of discourse and there is very little potential for anything useful to be born from a conversation between us.. so I am “bowing out”. English is my third language and it takes a lot for me to translate back and forth and post a response that isn’t gibberish.. and I fear that I am both: not coming across correctly AND not understanding you correctly. I remain uncertain of your motives for what you have written to me but, as always, I will assume the best (that you are attempting to educate/inform).
            But.. you have “called me out” about “my stance on this issue” in a way that I find… offensive. This seems hard for you to believe, but I am not from your world; there are no Trans rights groups in my community; my battle to get my trans* friends out of a war zone and recognized as refugees in this country continues… is that “clearly stated” enough for you?
            As for any attempt on my part to “justify the Transphobia of others” – I do not live on the internets.. this is my first foray into any sustained opinion-sharing on any online forum.. I did not realize that there are hate groups directed at trans* people on the English-speaking sites and I’m not sure that I’m thankful for the knowledge.
            Thank you so much for your respect for my stated creed of non-violence, including non-violent discourse. Thank you for your consideration of the possibilities that your community and culture are not the ONLY community and culture in which trans* issues are being navigated… and thank you for not assuming that I am cis gendered.

          • MashaDiaspora-

            Sorry for assuming you were defending the old-school radical feminist stance on trans issues, but you had joined in the conversation (as far as I could tell) questioning why people would label someone a “radfem creep”. I won’t try and explain that topic or let it be a distraction from our conversation anymore. ^_^

            “I ask you; how do you navigate this loss?”

            Honestly, I do not know. I dated someone as a teenager and they could not move past mourning when I transitioned. Even though that was almost two decades ago I have been told they speak of me as if I died.

            “the reason I am speaking openly about it here is that I realize my burdening my former lover with this is… inappropriate.”

            It is wonderful that you realize this. However… mourning, though a very strong emotion, may not be helpful in the long run. I think it is important for you to remember that your understanding of your friends, their bodies and the entire emotional meaning of their lives was based on your assumptions and perceptions at the time. Reexamining the meanings of all you took for granted may seem intimidating, but I think it will be worth it in the long term.

            It is my belief that transitioning is like a lot like puberty. No one is the same before and after puberty, but nonetheless they are still the same person.

            I hope this helps.

          • Emma,
            Thank you for your responses and ‘nudges’.. they have absolutely helped – and thank you for your gentle forbearance.

            “I think it is important for you to remember that your understanding of your friends, their bodies and the entire emotional meaning of their lives was based on your assumptions and perceptions at the time. Reexamining the meanings of all you took for granted may seem intimidating, but I think it will be worth it in the long term.”
            – This is really, deeply significant.. and huge for me. And seriously daunting, I can’t lie.

  16. This was an amazing article but some of the transphobic comments literally made me ill. Depressed. One of the worst things about being trans is when abusive bigots have to abuse and demean you on any article that even mentions a trans* woman. It seems almost unavoidable no matter where you are, massive hate and vile is there. :(

    • I hear you, I would hope that when you pour through this monster of a thread you can see that the number paint a picture of massively supportive majority and a relatively small majority of non-members who flew in for the trolling.

      Sure thy are rough, but I still find AS to be amazingly supportive and safe. I know I never have to fight alone here. :)

      • I should have mentioned that. I was impressed by the support we are receiving from members here. And SO thankful! When you get depressed, it is hard to pull yourself back up.

      • It’s pretty gross how the trolls flocked to this to derail the whole thing. Glad to see everyone that’s actually a part of the community here is supportive.

  17. OMG you guys I just reread through all 6XX comments. I feel like my eyes are about to fall out.

    I realized upon rereading the article and the comments that I had in fact missed the emphasis on not wanting to hook up with a woman with different genitalia than your own is OK. Sorry if I added to the overall confusion, Savannah.

    I will say something about the follow-up paragraph though, the one about nobody’s body being a representation of the patriarchy. I think suggesting to cis women that they reconsider their stance on genitalia is unfair. Sure, some may be anti-penis because they think it represents the patriarchy, but I can’t imagine that it’s an important percentage. Not liking penises, or not being attracted to them, or PTSD all feel like they’d be more common.

    I also want to thank pac for her comments, because I think she and I share a similar stance. Also, of course, Shelby, Savannah, and others for their thoughtful, careful responses. Except for the radfems, this has been a really interesting discussion.

  18. I am so proud to be a part of the Autostraddle community where trans* girls’ voices heard and accepted. I’m a cis girl partnered with a trans* girl, so I was already familiar with most of this, but I think it will be very helpful for other girls.

    I can’t speak for the trans* community, of course, but I do want to contribute some additional things that I’ve had to learn in my relationships with trans* girls. (Lemme know if I’m off the mark on any of this, please).

    1. Before I really knew any trans* women in real life, I assumed that they were all very feminine in manner and dress- makeup, flashy jewelry, heels, etc. This was the very limited view of trans* women I was exposed to in the media. Just as not all cis women are high femme, not all trans*women are high femme either. My girlfriend is a self-described tomboy who uses minimal makeup and usually wears jeans and sneakers. She will never share my love of frilly, flowery girly dresses (although she will occasionally don a gothic Lolita dress). But no woman, cis or trans*, needs to get dolled up in order to be considered a “real” woman.

    2. Never discuss someone’s trans* status with other people without permission! This is definitely something you’ll want to ask your date about, especially if things progress between you two.

  19. I’ve never had a major problem dating other women. We work our relationship out or it isn’t a relationship. Life’s too short to keep any more assholes around than just the single one I need.

  20. I stumbled onto this post and its comments thread, and while I haven’t read through every one of the comments (it’s a pretty long thread), I’ve read enough of them to make me want to offer my sincere thanks to this community for lifting the spirits of a person struggling to find their place.

    I am FAAB and currently interact with the world as a female-identified person, but I have very recently started to come to terms with my gender identity, and I am still trying to work through a lot of conflicting thoughts and emotions to determine whether a non-binary/genderqueer identity is right for me, or whether I am, in fact, a transgender man. If I were to transition, I would be out to the world as a gay trans man. And while I sometimes feel that I should be more positive about this process of sorting out my identity, I’ve actually found it to be more terrifying and depressing than anything — I fear the effects that transphobia could have on just about every aspect of my life, and one of the many things I’ve been worried about is rejection by the gay community. Mostly I have worried about this in a “gay cis men will not see me as male and no one will ever want me” sort of way, but I’ve also heard stories in online trans* spaces about gay and lesbian communities being totally unwelcoming towards trans* people and dismissive of the issues that concern them. I have allowed myself to get bogged down in those stories, and the idea that the L and G don’t get along with the B and the T has fueled my fear of what comes next. And I’ve felt a lot worse as a result.

    But over the past few days, I have seen numerous examples of the exact opposite happening — I have seen cis lesbians and gay men not merely tolerating trans people, but accepting and including them, and speaking up for their rights, and discussing ways to make the world a better and safer place for everyone. And I’ve seen no more amazing, sparklingly intelligent, and, quite frankly, badass examples of this than in the comments on this article (which is itself a great read). You lovely folks (and of course I mean those of you who have stood up to the outright transphobia and willful misunderstandings) are the bee’s knees. I don’t know what my future holds, and I’m still very apprehensive about it. But one thing I am sure of is that, even as I move away from personally identifying as a woman, I hope my life will always be filled with the friendship and wisdom of positive, inspiring, and witty women such as yourselves.

    I know there’s some truth to those stories. I know that some spaces which profess to be for LGBTQ people are really just for LGB people, and often just for the G. I know that being lesbian, gay, or bisexual does not always preclude an individual from being transphobic. (We’ve seen examples of that in these comments.) And I know that the community has a lot of work to do on these issues. These are things I will have to deal with. But just to see that work being done, and seeing the effects of it in the words and actions of cis LGB folks, cuts through the gloom and gives me a more balanced view of my future. It can’t be all bad if there are people like you in it — people who make an effort to learn and to grow, people who understand or at least try to understand. People who care. AWESOME people.

    Much love and respect.

    (By the way, to the commenter who came up with RAGE BAKING: thank you for that. I don’t know why it never occurred to me to take out my frustrations on uncooked pastry. BURN, you pasty little lumps of dough! Burn in hell. And by hell, I mean my 350-degree oven. And by burn, I don’t mean to the point of filling my kitchen with smoke. But burn, nevertheless.)

  21. Avery’s comment makes me sad on a multitude of levels, probably because Savannah’s article was written so honestly and I have a really hard time accepting it when people try to undermine good journalism, and also because it actually hurt me on an emotional level.

    I’m not even sure whether I can respond in an appropriate manner because my pansexuality classifies me alongside the bisexual and straight women that Avery grossly grouped together as a binary to lesbianism.

    But a few months ago, my (now ex)girlfriend made a similar cissexist statement. I was obsessing over pictures of Andrej Pejic, who, for those of you who don’t know, is a genderbending model, born biologically male, but refuses to accept a label as male, female, or trans, as well as define his (I say “his” because that’s the pronoun many articles use and he’s okay with that) sexual orientation. My girlfriend got upset because I was fantasizing about someone who has a penis.

    So what if he has a penis? Who says that (in my fantasy land, if Andrej realized how deeply I admire him, and we actually got together (totally fantasizing, but go with it)) that he would even want to use his penis or have it touched? Having the biological components does not require a person to abide by heterosexual “norms.”

    The other reason Avery’s (and my ex’s) comment hurts is because it denies an undefineable feeling that is central to my being. I identify as a cis-woman. I love my body, accept my anatomy, and have worked to understand (and even radically reclaim) prescribed gender roles. But I’m also a dom (not to say all dom’s feel this way, but I do), and in the context of being in the bedroom, playing the role of “woman” makes me feel utterly unsexy. Whether I’m with a ciswoman or cisman, positions that expose my biological genitalia make me want to cry. I want to be with my partners in the way a biological male would, and it always hurts to be stonewalled by the essentialist argument that tries to define my behavior by my physical limitations. (note: I recognize that a few of the above statements sound heteronormative, but I cannot figure out a better way to articulate my feelings.)

    I do not identify as trans, and I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult the experience of a transindividual is, but I do know what it’s like to feel like I reside on the wrong side of society’s stupid binaries. So, as an ally to transpersons, cissexism and transmisogny not only work to erase the (very complicated) feelings people have, but they perpetuate a more general group of “isms” that I joined the AS community to escape.

    And speaking about AS, I just have to say that we all joined this group because we believe that love and sex should not be defined by society’s general and limited view of normal behavior. If those concepts could be grasped and defined simply, then there wouldn’t be a million (heteronormative) romcom’s about how difficult a balanced relationship is to acheive. With that being said, let’s all say “F*** You” to the binaries and love openly and respectfully as we all should.

    I know my response might border on being “too personal” but I could not easily respond to how Avery’s response tried to simplify other people’s feelings. Plus, this is AS, an accepting community where I feel like my emotional word-vomit is welcome.

  22. I would like to make a suggestion to Autostraddle. Would you consider not using a default icon (speaking of the girls happy in a field or whatever). Most of the transphobic comments were made with this icon attached and every time I see that icon I get triggered. It is actually traumatic. Even when I post a message and see it pop up on my own message.

  23. Somewhere along the way, I found GenderTrender. I was scandalized. Something she posted led me to one article, then another, then that led me here. I have just read all of the comments and I’m glad I did. I learned some things about myself.

    I have always considered myself a trans ally. I have many trans guy friends and my BFF’s husband is trans. I don’t happen to know any trans women, in real life. I would have said I was sure about my ally-ness.

    Until I read this and my first thought was “I probably wouldn’t date a trans woman.” Which made me think “But I would have dated a trans guy back when I was single. What’s up with that?”

    I realized something horrifying. I am pretty sure that I think of them as … men, but not “really” men. Jesus, Mary and Joseph. It’s that socialization thing – transguys were socialized as women, even though they weren’t and there are (or so I thought) vestiges of that remaining. Yes, I *know* that’s not right but apparently my subconscious didn’t get the memo.

    I needed the eye-opener and the self-check. Thanks for that.

  24. @Creatix Tiara: Please check your facts. AMAZONS are part of Greek mythology not anything “Latina/o”.

  25. Thanks for the nice article Savannah. Was glad to read it, but wish I had gouged my eyes out before gazing at the comments. I guess AS is just one more place that isn’t safe for women. Super thankful I didn’t submit anything to Trans*Scribe right about now.

  26. As a cis woman who’s been working on unlearning so many cultural cues and continuing to defend against them being re-planted, I was glad to read this article. It reinforces what I’m doing in my life.

    Also, I will walk away from a potential new sweetie who acts transphobically. I have ended friendships over cissexism. This isn’t to say I deserve a cookie (especially since I can buy them myself), mind. Just saying for my cis sisters to think this sort of thing through. If you’d walk away from dating a bigot over race or gender, consider transphobia as another problem on the same plane. Because it’s at least as deadly to others, if not more so.

  27. Hey, great article. I’d just like to make one comment. I have a lot of chats in my life about ‘women and trans’ spaces. Whilst I’m sure that in a lot of cases there is a transphobic ‘trans women aren’t real women’ notion behind it there can also be the nice inclusive meaning that some folk don’t identify as women or men. I see the inclusion of ‘trans welcome’ in an event to mean they are also accepting of folk who don’t fit into the gender binary =)

    • I think the problem with some “women and trans” spaces is, that what they really want to say is “female assigned at birth”, but because they don’t agree with judging someone by their birth sex, they put that label on it and then struggle with what to do when trans women show up.

      I think it is good if it works to include non-binary people. The test would be, whether they really accept non-binary people that were assigned male at birth. Then they would follow the “real” meaning of the label. But there it gets kind of difficult: even though I was assigned male at birth, some people who were assigned male at birth and keep a lot of their “privileged behavior” make a space a not-so-safe space for me.

      One group in Hamburg made the trouble with all that transparent: they said: “everybody but cis men”. And it makes sense, because you just want to exclude the dominant group that you have trouble with outside the safe space.

  28. Wow. I stumbled onto this article, read it with interest and had a few questions I wanted to discuss, but after reading a couple dozen recent comments…I feel completely overwhelmed and bewildered. I should add that I identify as a cisgendered bisexual woman and consider myself to be a feminist-not-otherwise-specified (I don’t adhere to any particular faction’s party line). I am accepting of transgendered people, but I remain somewhat ignorant and would like to ‘fix’ that. I have three acquaintances who are transgendered. Though I have always been very interested in gender issues, I don’t usually talk about gender with them unless they specifically bring it up, in which case I allow them to lead the discussion and I tread lightly because I don’t want to accidentally put my foot in my mouth. This means that I have a lot of unanswered questions that I haven’t felt comfortable asking anyone. I’d hoped that I could address a few things here, but the environment seems very…emotionally charged. I was not aware of the antagonistic relationship between the trans community and some feminists, and find it very distressing.

    • Some radfems think of us as rapists with mutilated penises created by the patriarchy to infiltrate women’s spaces and destroy feminism from within. I like to shorten all that to “transphobic.”

      If you’d like to ask some TG women and men questions (some of them are touchy too, but not usually quite as riled up as some replies here), you could go to tgboards.com. It was there that someone linked me to this Autostraddle page & topic. (I already knew of Autostraddle, though, and was thrilled they picked a trans woman for this year’s calendar of queer women.)

  29. Thanks for this article Savannah. Good to see you here on AS :)

    I just read all (yes all 800 or so… my eyes are bleeding) of the comments and actually in terms of debates, IMO, lengthy as this might have been, the outcome was overwhelmingly positive compared to similar debates following similar articles (some by yourself) elsewhere on the interwebs.

    Trolls will always find their way into this format of discussion because of the advantage of anonymity (obviously), but I feel as though the AS staff have done an excellent job of cultivating a safe and inclusive community here. For every troll, there were 10 other folks to jump on the comment and 10 more to hit the check mark to agree.

    In any case, I really enjoy your writing wherever it is on the net and thanks for bringing the discussion (old as the inevitable following debate can be) to AS.

  30. Hi Savannah,
    I just feel the intense need to somehow leave a comment about me being a cis girl in love with a trans girl, and about us having been happily together for a few years now. I hate that there is so much transphobia. And it affects us cis partners, too. You know, we get all the transphobic comments from the people around us, they tell us things they would not tell our trans partners because they think we can have it. And I sometimes feel lonely because I don’t know of any other cis girl my age (20-30) who is in a relationship with a trans girl, and who actually fell in love with her partner during/after transition. I wish I did not have this intense need for recognition, but I do. Sometimes I get tired of reading posts about what us cis queer women need to do and how we should act. Because I think I did everything right and cissexism affects me in a bad way, too – as a ‘victim’. I guess that’s why I felt this urge to leave a comment. But it’s not a game of ‘who is most pitysome’. Anyway, if you know of any cis-trans girl couples, please write articles about them and post pictures of them. And don’t forget the partner perspective. I will soak it up.
    Hugs
    Marta

    • Hi Marta,

      First of all, sorry (to everyone actually) for being so slow to get back to this recent batch of comments… this week’s kind of been all over the place.

      In response to your comment itself… I get where you’re coming from, and believe me, I would love nothing more than to put together some nice story about queer women couples that involve trans women (trans women with other trans women of course would also be nice to include along with cis-trans woman couples). Maybe part of the reason why I keep writing on this topic is because I’m still looking for that partnership myself… I’m sure you’ll understand that I can’t help but write about my own experiences, of course.

      But I will say that sharing some of these things and talking about them really is important from my perspective. You know, one week after the events I described in this article ( a couple days after I submitted this draft to AS, in fact) I went on a date with someone else that actually went far, far worse than the thing I talked about here…. like catastrophic, really. In that case, I met a woman who was visiting from the U.S. and a friend of hers, along with a group of people she didn’t know so well. Things seemed to be going okay-ish at first, so around midnight I agreed to stay out with them after the subway closed… basically it means I was stuck on the other side of Tokyo until 5 in the morning… I started interacting with the guys in the group more at this point, and for the rest of the evening they were misgendering me and asking me weird questions and shit like that. And somehow while all this was going on, my date didn’t notice any of it until almost the end of the night and I felt like I just couldn’t approach her about it. By then, I left the date on the verge of tears and utterly depressed… like to the point I couldn’t concentrate at work for the next couple of days I was so upset over it.

      Partly, that’s an example that it’s not necessarily just a matter of someone on a date saying something weird to me, it’s also a matter of having some awareness about our surroundings, do you know what I mean? And this isn’t some obscure point, because honestly I can think of four or five examples of this kind of thing happening in this type of situation just off the top of my head. (In fact, I *really* should have included another section in this already long-ass article to discuss this exact point).

      Anyways, maybe I’m totally going beyond your point here, but I guess it’s just to say that while I totally agree with you about the need to celebrate actual trans woman-cis woman couples and make them more visible in the community, I guess I kinda feel like I need to write these sort of articles in part cause maybe it helps me work through my own feelings as I’m trying to find that kind of partnership myself. Hope that kinda makes sense.

      hugs, Sav.

  31. This article and a lot of the comments kinda pissed me off. I agree with the girls who say lesbians are attracted to girls physically, which is why most wouldn’t date a transgirl with a dick. Some will, of course, but everyone has their preferences and its not right for you to look down on lesbians for not liking dick when that’s the whole point of being a lesbian. Everyone has their opinion and preferences, and to look down on lesbians for only liking cisgirls is no better than straight people looking down on gay people in general, because people can’t help who they are attracted to.

    And I know someone’s going to try and reply to my comment, jumping in to call me trans phobic or some shit like people said to some of the other girls. But you’ll just sound like a real idiot because my girlfriend whom I love very much and hope to marry someday is trans. I consider her a girl but I know it’s not the same as my ex girlfriend who had a vagina, when my current girlfriend has a dick. I’m bi/pan so it doesn’t matter to me but what does annoy me is when my girlfriend gets mad that her family calls her by her male/birth name sometimes. She just came out 2 months ago, meaning her parents are still not used to it after calling her one name for 20 years. trans people need to be more forgiving of people for using the wrong labels or wrong names. I didn’t meet a trans person until I was 19. most cisgender people have no experience whatsoever with trans people or know what to say. How would we possibly know what we are saying is wrong until you tell us? My girlfriend didnt tell me she was trans at first, so right when I got used to calling her a guy name she expects me to call her a different name and see her as a girl. It’s not easy, for anyone because you associate a face with a name, whether male or female.

    My point is trans people need to help cisgender people know what to say and what pronouns to use because we aren’t trans, we don’t know. My girlfriend researched it for years before she came out as trans, so she’s known for a lot longer than me or her family all the terms and background information, and she doesn’t seem to realize that. Give us a fkn break. You said in your article to have respect, well most of us don’t know it’s disrespectful to say certain things when most of us have no experience with trans people.

    • To me this sounds like “It’s not that we hate you, it’s just that we think you’re so unimportant, as an entire class of people, that it’s not worth the 10 minutes it would take for us to learn basic respect.”

      Sorry, but it’s not very comforting to me to be told that because I’m trans, I’m automatically in a class of people such that it isn’t worth any time to learn how to be a decent person towards me unless I spoon-feed and hand-hold you through it.

      • that’s the 90’s argument of various anti-oppression movements – “It’s not my responsibility to educate you”… and it really should have stayed there. either you want and contribute to a community that is awake to social justice issues or you don’t. if you just want to remain more-oppressed-than-thou and alienated, and part of a small, ghettoized community, then keep it up!

        • This is the information age, with information right at your fingertips. Would you expect in school, were a teacher to give you homework, that they would just give you the answers or would they get you to figure it out for yourself?

          Take responsibility to learn something for yourself. There is plenty of knowledge out there waiting for somebody to come along.

  32. Just recently I’ve met a very cute non-passing trans woman. Up to now, most trans women I’ve met were not my type, mostly because were too much conforming to society’s standards.

    Anyways, I didn’t want to try to pursue a relationship with her, but as a thought experiment I imagined having sex with her and found out that it could be a lot of fun, but that I would have trouble dealing with her penis. I did have contact with penises before (not only with my own), but I have to acknowledge the fact that I am uncomfortable with handling them, even if I really like the person attached to them. That might change and wouldn’t keep me from having some kind of sex with a person I am strongly attracted to, but a difficulty is definitely there.

    This made it a little easier to understand the fact that some lesbians are having trouble getting physical with pre-op trans women and that is not always connected to a lack of trans acceptance or trans respect.

  33. Brilliant expositional work. The highlight for me, though a short focus of the article and probably less significant for many decent cis women than the concrete suggestions, is that it can positively no longer be ignored that rejecting trans women wholesale is based on bigoted assumptions akin to rejecting immigrants or a given class.

    If one also accepts trans men, that really shows one’s true anti-trans colors (cissexism) and disrespect for the trans man’s identity, although he may well exploit it and feel like he’s getting over – he is a man, after all – until he realizes you’ll never stop calling him girly names and misgendering him. The sad irony is how much cis “lesbians”, especially privileged whites and academics, have reified and centered masculinity and male privilege, literally working overtime to give these men privileged access to women’s spaces and ensure trans women are left outside to freeze to death or locked up in the wrong prison…and let’s not pretend they do not know what happens.

    Radscum who still insist on disgusting phallic assumptions, and bigoted divisions between groups purportedly called “lesbians” and “trans women”: We’ve tripled the concentrate. Get in the vat.

    I feel sympathy for trans masculine people who waver between identities. However they owe it to women to explain themselves adequately and promote understanding, not exploit their male privilege and contribute to women being left in the cold. If you fully exploit cis women’s willingness to let you into women’s spaces, you should be, to some extent, still a woman, at least, and explain that excluding trans women would be bigoted and have violent consequences (maybe elsewhere but somewhere).

  34. Pretty interesting article, but I couldn’t help but feel that perhaps you were being a little unfair to your dinner date.

    When I read it, I felt like your reaction to the ‘sausage-fest’ comment was maybe a little extreme. I can say with 100% certainty that when she made that comment, it wasn’t in the context of your particular genitalia; it was in the context of a shared trait among a group of individuals who had treated her unfairly and sadly, it’s because that’s the physical trait that most misogynistic males call attention to when they are being misogynistic. In her mind, you were another girl; i.e., one of ‘us’ as opposed to ‘them’, and she felt comfortable expressing her hurt. You’re going to experience things like this if you want to date women, because as a people, we’ve been treated pretty badly by men.

    The ladyboy comment I agree was adolescent… but you took exception to the term trans woman? You didn’t elaborate on the context so if she used that term to separate you from the rest of womankind then you’re right, she is an ass… but if that term didn’t exist to describe a certain set of traits common to an individual, folks like me, the ‘cis’ woman formerly identified as 100% sapphist just now FINALLY figuring out why none of those relationships worked, would never have been able to put a name to these feelings and desires.

    I kind of think that perhaps you weren’t really that into her to begin with and maybe nit picked a little bit.

    Or maybe she was just an insensitive oaf. There really isn’t enough information in the article to make that call.

    Maybe it was a little of both, and that’s ok too.

    I’ll agree that folks like Emma (in the comments) need to take a pill or something, because wow… vicious much? But it’s also not fair to expect that just because women as a gender tend to be more accepting and unconditional that all sapphists should be able to have a relationship with anyone who identifies as female regardless of their physical traits. Attraction is pretty abstract, but is attraction nonetheless. You can’t coerce someone into desiring you by burdening them with this perceived guilt that their ‘conformance to societal norms’ or ‘phobia’ is the only reason they don’t want to try dating you. It’s also unfair to expect us to walk on eggshells and not have discussions about the very real oppression we suffer just because you share a physical trait with the oppressors (which, again, is the furthest thing from our minds when we are having these discussions).

    Some of us really want to date you, but with all the walls and rules and stuff it’s kind of discouraging. It’s almost like we’re not allowed to be women and deal with the issues that come with it because we have to sidestep around all of YOUR issues.

    I hope you have had better dates since this article, and despite my disagreement with some of your positions, I’m grateful that you wrote it.

    • In hindsight, maybe I was being a touch sensitive on the ‘sausage fest’ thing, I’m not sure. I don’t conform to traditional genital-essentialist notions of ‘woman’ and ‘man’ though, and given the crap that society dishes out around that, yeah I am going to be kind of sensitive about that. But the real problem more so than the comment itself was that when I tried to talk to her about it, the situation didn’t get better, it got worse, very quickly. Her body language was a big part of it; like I guess she was nervous to be hanging out with me, but that came out as these odd phrasings (some of which had sexual overtones) and when I said something she was just so aloof and matter-of-fact in her responses.

      Also, I didn’t take exception to the term “trans woman”, I took exception to the juxtaposition of me as a “trans woman” versus a so-called “woman woman,” which clearly implied one was a real woman and the other was not. And in all fairness to my date, she did figure out pretty quickly where she went wrong on that one when I just got silent at that point.

      The word ‘cis’ exists for a reason; it’s just so that trans people aren’t classified in language as some exotic fruit.

      > “But it’s also not fair to expect that just because women
      > as a gender tend to be more accepting and unconditional that
      > all sapphists should be able to have a relationship with anyone
      > who identifies as female regardless of their physical traits.”

      But that is 100% NOT my position. I guess some trans women out there have said something like that, but I don’t agree with that and never did. My position was just to say that if someone was otherwise attracted to a trans woman, but then freaked out based solely on her genitalia/history, then it is worth questioning where that comes from. Is it prejudice inherited from society? (because prejudice against trans women may be a lot stronger than you realize). Or maybe that person genuinely isn’t into her after all. I never said the answer to the question was “oh you have to sleep with her now or you’re transphobe!!” (or even implied it).

      People have a right to exit any sexual encounter at any time without any reason being given. But marginalized groups also do have a right to question social trends.

      > “In her mind, you were another girl; i.e., one of ‘us’ as opposed
      > to ‘them’, and she felt comfortable expressing her hurt. You’re
      > going to experience things like this if you want to date women,
      > because as a people, we’ve been treated pretty badly by men.”

      *sigh*

      You assume she was coming from the ‘we both understand this oppression’ place, but then you follow this up by assuming that you need to explain it to me after all? As if I don’t know how men treat women? Three weeks ago I was with a friend on the streets in NYC, a guy was apparently checking me out or something then picked up on the fact that I was trans and proceeded to follow me down the street, muttering out loud, how he “thought I was a woman” and saying ‘tranny’ and stuff like that. He only stopped following me was after my male friend made it clear he would have a physical confrontation if he didn’t back off. He didn’t hesitate to do this right in broad daylight on a busy street, and if my friend hadn’t been there, I probably would have been attacked. And it’s not the first time I’ve been in that kind of situation. The male demand to access women’s bodies falls on trans women with some particularly weird and aggressive quirks.

      (And I work in a male-dominated field, so I’m familiar with much of those dynamics as well.)

      But I acknowledge that if I were to write this article again today, there are a few points that I would write differently. I probably was being over-sensitive on the sausage fest thing. I have a girlfriend now in fact, and she has accidentally said ‘tranny’ a couple times herself. I was upset, but we talked about it. It didn’t end our relationship. Further, the truth is that I’m still working out some of these things myself, and I don’t claim to have it all perfectly right. And I admit my own insecurities probably play a role in some of this too, I’m sure.

      Mainly I was just hoping to open a conversation about these things, and that’s my main reason for having written this article. And I recognize that you are genuinely engaging in that conversation, and I appreciate your comment, even if I also disagree with some parts of it. I don’t think you should feel like you’re walking on eggshells if, one way or another, you were to end up dating a trans woman. I just think we should all be open to communicating about all these issues (and more).

      • “My position was just to say that if someone was otherwise attracted to a trans woman, but then freaked out based solely on her genitalia/history, then it is worth questioning where that comes from. Is it prejudice inherited from society? (because prejudice against trans women may be a lot stronger than you realize).”

        I did just this over the last few days in my research, and I have a few thoughts. First of all, honesty among all parties is always the best policy. Your approach to dating is the right one. Be up front and honest from the beginning and work through the issues. Many trans men and women do not take that approach, and then are upset when their romantic partners are shocked and even angry months (sometimes years) down the road when the truth comes out. I feel like one loses the right to be upset when one engages in that level of deception for such a long time, and as long as the response isn’t a violent or abusive one (because no one deserves to be hurt), these partners who were possibly envisioning biological offspring and the other things that come with specific pairings have a right to feel deceived.

        That leads into my second thought regarding the unique relationships between trans women and sapphists. I’ve been doing much online research, mostly because it’s interesting, but partly so I don’t make a complete fool of myself when I enter such a situation (knowledge is power!). At this point I have a pretty good grasp on the possibilities and probabilities, but that’s not going to be true for your average lesbian. I don’t think it’s so much a social prejudice as a general fear of things that they don’t have to worry about at all with a cis woman. In my research I have come to understand that the majority of trans women do not even want to acknowledge that particular defect in their anatomy, but there seems to be a fairly large number of non-ops who do, and who adjust their hormone levels so they are able to use it.

        That opens some pretty scary doors that your average sapphist doesn’t have to think about, and that could be part of it.

        All of a sudden, she sees this body part that represents things like pregnancy, possible need for birth control, and the possibility of her contracting specific STDs that aren’t as likely with female partners. Ideally, she would educate herself on the reality of these matters and both partners would discuss their boundaries, but for many, it’s just easier to avoid dealing with the issue entirely and find another partner. Does it suck? Yea, it kind of does. Is it because she’s just trans phobic? It’s more likely that she’s just not ready or willing to deal with the possible complications of having a female partner that has opposing anatomy. Reading into it as underlying hate might be a little disingenuous.

        Finally to wrap up these thoughts, I came across a website yesterday that mentioned you specifically and one other trans woman who I guess is another blogger. I don’t remember the site name (mostly because I didn’t expect to ever return to it), but I remember one of the terms they used. ‘Pretendbians’ is probably my new favorite word. I had never read something so ridiculous in my life, but seeing things like this does trigger empathy for what you are going through and the unique challenges you face. I really hope your new relationship works out. It sounds like you’ve found someone who isn’t afraid, and in this cowardly world (I’m looking at you, NYC guy hollering in the street like an animal and Ms. Pretendbians internet bully), that’s a rare thing to find.

  35. wow, females (however defined) just love to tear each other down! why on earth all the hysteria? why the hurt feelings when you don’t agree with one another? so so relieved to have no confusion over what I am attracted to and no need to justify it or discuss it with anyone, ever. all this interminable discussion and hate. give it a rest people, no wonder the misogynists are laughing at females all turning on one another in a sobbing screaming mob! wtf is this about me having to respect someone by being attracted to them sexually? isn’t that what sleazy male bosses have been telling us for an eternity?? i thought being a feminist in 21st C means i can relax and not be attracted to most people and won’t be insulted for telling them to please keep all genitalia and mention of it far far away…

  36. “Buy Gender Diversity at Amazon! Free Shipping on Qualified Orders.” Instead of wherever one of the links was meant to send me, I got a search results page advertising this.
    Sadly it’s a book and not a powder I can slip into the water supply of my conservative home town.

  37. If you are going for finest contyents like me, only pay a visit
    this website all the time because it presents quality contents, thanks

  38. I wish there were a guide for cis women already in relationships with trans women who don’t fall into particular pitfalls. something about how to survive going through transition with them, and general relationship advice. it’s hard to come by.

      • thanks. I translatedo it and read it, and really appreciate the response. however, I guess what I’m looking for is something a bit more in depth. I’m not struggling with acceptancestors or sexuality, or those sorts of things. it’s more just how to deal with common dynamics and struggles in that we are both still committed, but the sort of “teenage girl” stuff (her words, not mine) that come in the midst of transition, the emotional volatility, etc. most support groups and other resources I’ve come across seem to focus more on acceptance and identity struggles for the partner, and transphobia/transmisogyny, and I know a lot of people need that! but I’m wondering if there exists a blog or book or relationship guide -in any language- for folks who are well beyond that stuff and just want to work on having a really healthy relationship within the cis woman and trans woman sphere…

        • Don’t know if that is more along the lines of what you are looking for, but if you haven’t read it, I’d recommend Helen Boyd’s stuff. I have only read her piece in the anthology Nobody Passes, and her first book might be more about the issues you have already managed, but maybe there is something you can get out of her writings. This is her blog:

          http://www.myhusbandbetty.com

          • Can you give any examples, longoria, of what kind of information you are looking for? For me, I really miss something like that, too. I am a cis queer woman who got into a relationship with a trans queer woman, when she almost finished her transition. What I miss is information about sex, as her body parts are different and respond different than what’s in most sex ed, though there might be a psychological factor there as well. And when we just got together I had problems with dealing with too-curious questions from friends, and my own philosophical questions about who she was, because it felt so strange that she once looked entirely different yet was still the same person. I was also really nervous about saying or doing something offensive. Those things kind of solved themselves through the years, not automatically, but through talking and thinking them through. For now sex is actually the only matter still left, that I would like to talk to other post-partners or couples about.

  39. I have more of a question then comment, and I apologize first incase I use the wrong terms or sound offensive because is not my intention. I am a cisfemale (I hope I’m using that term correctly) I am attracted to women, very feminine girlie women, I am also attracted to men. My question is I’d like to date a woman who still has a penis but I have no idea how to find this. I hope i don’t sound like an idiot, im very attracted to the idea of having the best of both worlds (in my opinion of course). Can anyone help guide me in this quest?

    • Meeting lesbian trans women shouldn’t be hard. You’ll find them in all non-trans-exclusionary lesbian spaces, IRL or online. The challenge is that most trans women want to be seen as women first, being trans is for us a handicap at worst and some specific attribute that we accept and maybe are a little proud of at best. So if you are looking especially for trans women, because you like penis or even because you like men, you will like parts of us that we usually don’t like and if you like us as “men”, you are not respecting our gender.

      My hunch is that your best bet is to look for women who are really proud of their transness and for amab non-binary people. That would probably the best match.

  40. I am a cis-woman attracted to other women of all kinds — except for women who might display what it is typically considered “masculine attributes”. I, myself, don’t feel neither masculine or feminine — some days I think I look sexy with boobs, most days I think my shirts would fit better if I could just get those things off of me. When my partner calls me princess, something doesn’t feel right about it and I correct her with “No, I’m your Prince” but then again, I love it when she says “mi reina” — “my queen” in spanish and I would never want her to call me King. I am an “in-between” and have always felt that way ever since I was little. Before I knew the gender identity lingo, I called myself a “creature” — an alien — someone who can not be bound and will always be in a state of flux in regards to my gender expression. I have, in fact, been attracted to a woman that later told me they were trans, and I had to deal with what that brought up. The anatomy — for me — has always mattered in terms of my partner, as I had significant gag reflexes at the thought of a penis inside me. I think a lot of people with vaginas have probably felt this way LOL HELLLOOOOO! But I was young and still traumatized by all the experiences I had with those peeny-weenies. But then I discovered the joy of penetration — and I realized it wasn’t the PENIS I was turned off by it was the MASCULINITY. Personally, masculinity is a scourge on the planet and should be completely dismantled. But maybe I’m going too far. Anyhow, I often have queer women who are more masculine than me flirt / hit on me — and then I have to be like, “yo, dude, we are two sides of the same battery, can’t you see?” Masculine cis-women & cis men are the only people who have ever been shocked I wasn’t attracted to them. But just because I often date cis-women, doesn’t mean I’m solely interested in Vaginas. Actually, I really DO want to date more trans women, but they don’t like me — a cis-woman. They want a cis-man and if not, then maybe they’ll date a trans dude. But never me. Part of me feels like maybe I can’t make them feel woman enough without being a masculine man? But all that to say, is that it goes both ways — I’m also being judged on my genitalia and/or non-binary gender expression.

  41. I am a cis-woman attracted to other women of all kinds — except for cis-women who might display what it is typically considered “masculine attributes”. I, myself, feel neither masculine or feminine — some days I think I look sexy with boobs, most days I think my shirts would fit better if I could just get those things off of me. When my partner calls me princess, something doesn’t feel right about it and I correct her with “No, I’m your Prince” but then again, I love it when she says “mi reina” — “my queen” in spanish and I would never want her to call me King. I am an “in-between” and have always felt that way ever since I was little. Before I knew the gender identity lingo, I called myself a “creature” — an alien — someone who can not be bound and will always be in a state of flux in regards to my gender expression. I have, in fact, been attracted to a woman that later told me they were trans, and I had to deal with what that brought up. The anatomy — for me — has always mattered in terms of my partner, as I had significant gag reflexes at the thought of a penis inside me. I think a lot of people with vaginas have probably felt this way LOL HELLLOOOOO! But I was young and still traumatized by all the experiences I had with those peeny-weenies. But then I discovered the joy of penetration — and I realized it wasn’t the PENIS I was turned off by it was the MASCULINITY. Personally, masculinity is a scourge on the planet and should be completely dismantled. But maybe I’m going too far. Anyhow, I often have queer women who are more masculine than me flirt / hit on me — and then I have to be like, “yo, dude, we are two sides of the same battery, can’t you see?” Masculine cis-women & cis men are the only people who have ever been shocked I wasn’t attracted to them. But just because I often date cis-women, doesn’t mean I’m solely interested in Vaginas. Actually, I really DO want to date more trans women, but they don’t like me — a cis-woman. They want a cis-man and if not, then maybe they’ll date a trans dude. But never me. Part of me feels like maybe I can’t make them feel woman enough without being a masculine man? But all that to say, is that it goes both ways — I’m also being judged on my genitalia and/or non-binary gender expression.

    • You probably had a bad sample of trans women. I am trans and often attracted to masculine of center women and almost never to men, trans or not.

  42. I love this article. As a lesbian identifying trans woman, trying to date has been a nightmare. I have been single without a single date in 5 years despite having had my surgeries. I just can’t find a woman interested in me. I’m either just friendship material or assumptions about my body are made as soon as they find out I’m trans.

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