General Question

rockfan's avatar

Is it transphobic for a straight man to be uncomfortable dating a transgender woman?

Asked by rockfan (11779points) 1 month ago from iPhone

I asked this question on a subreddit about transgender issues and I immediately got labeled transphobic.

I asked this question after coming across an article by a transgender woman claiming that it’s impossible to be a transgender ally if you have a sexual preference against dating trans people. I was also called transphobic for saying that a man dating a transgender woman is not straight, he is considered pansexual.

I was also accused of being transphobic for insinuating that a transgender woman isn’t a woman. I later clarified that they are biologically male but transitioned into a woman, so yes, I refer to them as the pronoun they prefer to be called, but I still acknowledge that they were born biologically male. And that transitioning into the gender that they feel comfortable in, is something that I 100% support.

I’ve done a lot of soul searching the past couple of hours. I consider myself an LGBT ally and stunned to be accused of being transphobic. I was even permanently banned from the subreddit. What are your thoughts?

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80 Answers

Demosthenes's avatar

Getting labeled “transphobic” is like shooting fish in a barrel. Even acknowledging that there is any difference between a biological woman and a trans woman is enough to be considered a transphobic bigot. Unfortunately, trans activism often embraces irrationality. I have no problem considering trans women to be women and using the appropriate pronouns. But I will acknowledge that they are not exactly the same as a biological women, that sex matters in terms of sexual attraction, and that, as a gay man, I would probably not date a trans man.

Bring on the labels, I guess.

Smashley's avatar

I dunno. You’re basically saying that you don’t care about other factors: shape of genitals, and/or ability to procreate, to you, is the most important thing about a woman. Yeah, I’d say there’s a good argument you’re being transphobic.

hmmmmmm's avatar

Are you saying that you wouldn’t date a woman who is trans because she is trans? If so, I think the pushback you got is legit.

And why would you feel that a man dating a trans woman is not “straight”? You seem to have some strong opinions here that you might want to investigate further.

Demosthenes's avatar

@Smashley If you’re attracted to men or women, you’re attracted to the whole package, and yes, that includes genitalia, especially since we’re talking about sexual attraction. It’s not the only thing that matters. But it is part of the attraction and it’s important in a sexual relationship.

rockfan's avatar

I’m not sexually attracted to transgender women, that’s why my sexual preference is women. I also got a lot of pushback for saying that as well.

rockfan's avatar

“And why would you feel that a man dating a trans woman is not “straight”? You seem to have some strong opinions here that you might want to investigate further.”

I meant to say that a man dating a biological male who transitioned to female, is not a heterosexual relationship. Is that a controversial statement?

hmmmmmm's avatar

@rockfan: ”Is that a controversial statement?”

I would say it is. It also doesn’t make sense to me. A man in a relationship with a woman is considered “heterosexual”, right?

Blackberry's avatar

The entire discussion is taboo, scientists, and professionals in the medical and mental health field are losing their jobs, leaving their jobs, and being shunned out of the discussion for stating basic issues associated with the entire thing.

I think in the current climate, I’d rather not even get involved because I’m not informed enough on the topic.
I’d leave it up to the trans community to tell us what is and is not acceptable.

Smashley's avatar

@Demosthenes – possibly true, however, genitals come in various forms and states of function, even within cis groups. We don’t interview each other about micropenises or enlarged clitorises, or vaginal canals too small for sex, or any of the myriad of other things that can be different, those are second stage relationship issues, and good partners are game to go with what they got. To put out a blanket statement that one grouping of shapes of genital will always make the rest of a person unattractive to you, demonstrates an inflexibility that I feel could be characterized as transphobia. Attraction is learned, not inherent.

ragingloli's avatar

What is your attitude towards dating transgender men, then?
Like Buck Angel?

Demosthenes's avatar

@Smashley So then why doesn’t that apply to all monosexuals? By that logic, only bisexuals and pansexuals are not ”-phobic”. I won’t date women because I’m not sexually attracted to them and yes, that rules out all women. Does that make me sexist and misogynistic?

gorillapaws's avatar

@rockfan “I’m not sexually attracted to transgender women, that’s why my sexual preference is women.”

Every person is entitled to make their own decisions about who they love or want to have intimacy with. Anyone arguing differently is full of shit.

hmmmmmm's avatar

@gorillapaws – If this were about personal preference, of course it would be fine. That’s not what @rockfan is asking, however. He has some strong opinions defining other peoples’ relationships and sexuality as well.

hmmmmmm's avatar

Additionally, @rockfan is stating that he has a personal preference for the origin of a woman he may be interested in. If that woman had been born with male genitalia, he has already determined that this is important enough to him that he must find out. (I’m not sure how you ask someone about that prior to getting intimate or whatever).

Demosthenes's avatar

@hmmmmmm Then I think another relevant question would be if you were dating a trans person, didn’t know they were trans, then found out, would you continue the relationship?

hmmmmmm's avatar

^ I can’t imagine why not – if everything (including the sex) – was working out.

I’m old and married, but I don’t recall being concerned that a woman I was dating would have turned out to have been born a male.

KNOWITALL's avatar

Not to add on to your hurt feelings @rockfan, but it does sound transphobic to say a male that transitioned to a female is not a real woman.

You know I have a friend that finished her transition last year, physically, and you know who it bothers in my area? Homophobes and religious zealots.

Let’s put it this way, if you were okay with a mixed race couple dating and having children as long as it wasn’t in YOUR family or YOUR kids, would you still think that person is racist?

PS It’s brave of you to make yourself vulnerable here. I’m proud of you for asking. :)

kritiper's avatar

Are you going to fault him for it when it isn’t any of your business?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@kritiper Anyone you date is a personal choice, whether it’s bad breath or more serious concerns. @rockfan is asking a deeper question, examining the phobia’s, and questioning his motives for his true feelings and/or prejudices.

Much like we are now asking people to examine their inner feelings regarding racism, immigration, etc…

In the end, as humans, it’s definately our business to care for each other and grow. This particular issue is more and more relevant. Kids are committing suicide and losing their families over gender identity issues, adults who have transitioned are still assaulted or killed, losing jobs they are qualified for, not allowed to use the restroom of their gender, etc…

gorillapaws's avatar

@hmmmmmm “Additionally, @rockfan is stating that he has a personal preference for the origin of a woman he may be interested in. If that woman had been born with male genitalia, he has already determined that this is important enough to him that he must find out. (I’m not sure how you ask someone about that prior to getting intimate or whatever).”

Well perhaps I’m a transphobe as well, because that wouldn’t appeal to me either. People have a right to be treated equally and with respect. The science is clear that people have a mis-match between their physical bodies and their mental gender, but it’s also true that people are attracted to the other person’s physical attributes. I’m sorry but you can’t expect guys to be obligated to find transgender women attractive or otherwise be labeled bigots.

If a man finds a transgender woman attractive and the feeling is mutual, then great, but he’s not under any obligation to feel that way. Not being physically attracted to all transgender women is certainly possible and is that person’s right. I’m not physically attracted to underage girls or old grandmas, that doesn’t make me an “ageist.”

hmmmmmm's avatar

@gorillapaws: “I’m sorry but you can’t expect guys to be obligated to find transgender women attractive or otherwise be labeled bigots.”

You’re either in the wrong thread – or I am. Not sure where you get this “expectation” from.

@rockfan likely has been attracted to women – or even flirted with some – who may have been born male. This idea is something that repulses him. It’s not the physical attraction or lack thereof. It’s the concept that there may be something hiding in the origin of this woman.

So, his question is a good one. But you haven’t been addressing his question. You’re onto something else altogether.

Additionally, he has made statements that go way beyond any possible personal preference topics (the concept of what a “woman” is, “straight”, etc).

Dutchess_lll's avatar

You date who you want. I am not attracted to every single male who comes along. I prefer, among other things, that they are taller than me. I am not sexually attracted to overweight men either. Does that mean I hate short fat guys? No! It means I don’t feel any sexual attraction for them.

rockfan's avatar

@hmmmmmm

“likely has been attracted to women – or even flirted with some – who may have been born male. This idea is something that repulses him.”

You are putting words in my mouth. Doesn’t repulse me whatsoever.

hmmmmmm's avatar

^ Sorry. I misunderstood. I thought you were saying that you would no longer be attracted to a woman if you discovered she was trans.

(I’m clearly having an off day and very confused about the topic of this thread. Ignore my comments.)

gorillapaws's avatar

Trans women give me the uncanny valley feeling. The idea of a trans woman kissing me makes me feel the same revulsion as the idea of a man kissing me, and it would probably generate similar feelings in a gay man imagining kissing a woman. I genuinely wish the best for them and want them to to find people they love and who love them back, but that person is not, and will never be me. I want them to be treated well and kindly by all, but I shouldn’t be made to feel bad because I’m not attracted to trans women. I’m also not attracted to women with fake breasts or Joan Rivers.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@rockfan @gorillapaws But isn’t a mental ‘prejudice’ transphobia? If you met a beautiful woman and she told you she was trans, automatic ‘outta here’ right? Because you aren’t ‘gay’ or Pansexual, thus you couldn’t allow yourself to foster that attraction.

It’s understandable, I’m not judging you, but we have to be real and not delude ourselves.

What happens to that trans woman if she had fully physically transitioned and didn’t tell you until a year down the road?

trans·pho·bi·a-dislike of or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@rockfan “Is it transphobic for a straight man to be uncomfortable dating a transgender woman?”

This question is ambiguous. Do you mean “is it transphobic for a straight man to be uncomfortable dating a woman who happens to be trans” (i.e., he isn’t comfortable dating this particular woman who, perhaps unbeknownst to him, is trans), or do you mean “is it transphobic for a straight man to be uncomfortable dating a woman because she is trans” (i.e. the only thing that stands in the way of him being comfortable dating her is that she is trans)?

In the first case, the answer is “no.” It’s not transphobic because the fact of her being trans is not the source of the feeling of discomfort. In the second case, the answer is “yes.” It is transphobic because the fact of her being trans is the source of the feeling of discomfort.

“But wait,” one might say, “those aren’t the only two possibilities! What if he finds her unattractive not due to the mere fact that she’s trans but due to some other thing (facial structure, vocal range, genitals, etc.) that comes from her being trans?”

That, however, was not the question. Discomfort and lack of attraction are not the same thing. Lack of attraction is simply that: the person does not register to you as being attractive. Discomfort implies that you would otherwise date a person (that is, you are attracted to them), but some fact about them makes you uneasy, anxious, and/or embarrassed.

Furthermore, the factors cited (facial structure, vocal range, genitals) are not solely things that have to do with her being trans. There are plenty of cis women who have “masculine” facial structures and vocal ranges. And there are all sorts of genetic anomalies that affect genitalia that have nothing to do with whether or not one is trans.

The relationship between genotype and phenotype is not 100% determinative, so a person can have two X chromosomes and still end up with a penis. Similarly, a person with an X chromosome and a Y chromosome can end up with a vagina. Your genitals do not fully determine your status as cis, trans, male, or female.

“I asked this question on a subreddit about transgender issues and I immediately got labeled transphobic.”

And it seems that you might be.

BUT

There are degrees of transphobia, just as there are degrees of all kinds of bigotry. You aren’t comfortable dating a trans person, but you are presumably not someone who goes around assaulting and/or murdering trans people. Both are transphobic, but one is pretty clearly more transphobic than the other. The second kind should be met with strong condemnation and criminal charges. The first kind should be met with gentle explanations of what’s wrong with your attitude and some help untangling your conceptual framework. Unfortunately, we are not very good at navigating this kind of nuance.

“I asked this question after coming across an article by a transgender woman claiming that it’s impossible to be a transgender ally if you have a sexual preference against dating trans people.”

I haven’t read the article, so I can’t comment on it directly. If the claim was something like “you can’t be an ally if the mere fact of someone being trans prevents you from dating them even if you are otherwise completely attracted to them,” then I partially agree. I think you can still be an ally, but an ally with a bit of personal work still to do. If the claim was “you can’t be an ally if you’ve never been attracted to a person who happens to be trans,” then I disagree. It is possible, even if unlikely, to have never been attracted to person who happens to be trans merely as a matter of coincidence.

“I was also called transphobic for saying that a man dating a transgender woman is not straight, he is considered pansexual.”

This isn’t transphobic so much as it is straight up false. Trans women are women. If a straight man dates a woman, it doesn’t undermine his straightness. That said, your reasons for believing the false statement could be transphobic. So you might want to consider why you believe it.

“I was also accused of being transphobic for insinuating that a transgender woman isn’t a woman.”

Well, trans women are women. So yes, this would be transphobic.

“I later clarified that they are biologically male but transitioned into a woman”

But what exactly do you mean by “biologically male”? This concept is a lot more fraught than you might imagine. The only coherent way to talk about biological sex is in terms of allosomes, and once we do that we discover that biological sex is not binary. So it is not necessarily the case that everyone who is trans is “biologically male” according to whatever definition of “biologically male” we may settle on (assuming we don’t reject the term altogether).

“but I still acknowledge that they were born biologically male.”

In what context are you “acknowledging” this, and why is it so important for you to bring it up? It just seems like a weird thing to hold onto so tightly.

kritiper's avatar

@KNOWITALL Yes it is MY choice. And nobody’s business BUT mine.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@kritiper Okay. Why is it such a threat for someone else to live their best life though?

gorillapaws's avatar

@SavoirFaire “Well, trans women are women.”

I think it’s legitimate to make a distinction between their psychological identity and the physical reality of the person’s gender. I think people are obligated to acknowledge the gender the person identifies as. I don’t think people are obligated to pretend that a surgically sculpted vagina is the same thing as a real one, any more than someone is obligated to pretend that an artificial limb is real (“your hand must be freezing without a glove on…”). I think people are obligated to be respectful of others, but they can’t be expected to be aroused by it.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Demosthenes “Even acknowledging that there is any difference between a biological woman and a trans woman is enough to be considered a transphobic bigot.”

Except this can’t possibly be true because using the terms “cis” and “trans” itself acknowledges a difference, and it is not transphobic to use the terms “cis” and “trans.”

“Unfortunately, trans activism often embraces irrationality.”

All forms of activism have irrational members. And focusing on them is itself irrational. In all cases, the rational way to approach an issue is to consider the strongest version of each position. It’s called the principle of charity.

“as a gay man, I would probably not date a trans man.”

But the question is why. Consider any man you would consider dating. Now keep all aspects of his current personality and external body the same while changing only his status as cis or trans (which may or may not mean changes in his genotype and/or internal phenotype). Would you still not consider dating him?


@gorillapaws “Every person is entitled to make their own decisions about who they love or want to have intimacy with. Anyone arguing differently is full of shit.”

Of course they are. But that doesn’t mean there can never be bad reasons behind the decisions they make, even if they have an absolute right to make those decisions however they choose.

“Trans women give me the uncanny valley feeling.”

All of them? You’re sure you’ve never passed by a trans woman and thought she was attractive? Or even just not noticed that she was trans? Here are six women: [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6]. I’ve normalized them so that the pictures are all the same size and all depict just faces. Which ones are cis, which ones are trans, and which ones give you an uncanny valley feeling?

“I think it’s legitimate to make a distinction between their psychological identity and the physical reality of the person’s gender.”

First, there’s no such thing as the “physical reality of a person’s gender.” Gender is a social construct. Assuming you meant “the physical reality of their body,” however, I never said that it was illegitimate to make that distinction. Trans people themselves don’t reject the legitimacy of that distinction. But the statement you pulled out of context was about sexual orientation.

“I don’t think people are obligated to pretend that a surgically sculpted vagina is the same thing as a real one”

Define “real one.” And in any case, some trans people are born with both a penis and a vagina, get socialized as if they only have the penis (which may or may not involve surgical intervention), and then decide they are actually more comfortable having only the vagina. So a trans woman could hypothetically have had a vagina all her life.

We have a tendency to think of the most common cases as the only cases, but they are not.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@gorillapaws No one’s asking for you to pretend though, just treat them with basic dignity like you would anyone else.

This thread is making me sad.

rockfan's avatar

It’s not considered homophobic for a straight man to not be interested in dating a gay man. I always thought that a straight man not being interested in dating a transgender person was the same sort of thing. A sexual preference. I think this belief was what got me banned from the group on Reddit. And I’m really surprised

rockfan's avatar

And it’s interesting, I’m the one who ferociously defends transgender people against moronic bigots who say that transitioning is harmful and that transgender rights shouldn’t be protected.

mazingerz88's avatar

To the OP, I don’t think feeling uncomfortable equates with having a phobia. We don’t fear trangenders we just may not be attracted with women who used to be men. Does that make sense?

SavoirFaire's avatar

@rockfan “It’s not considered homophobic for a straight man to not be interested in dating a gay man.”

As I already said, not being interested is not the same as being uncomfortable. And the reason that a straight man isn’t interested in dating a gay man is because he’s a man, not because he’s gay.

“I always thought that a straight man not being interested in dating a transgender person was the same sort of thing.”

Again, you didn’t say “not interested.” You said “uncomfortable.” That’s going to get different reactions. And secondly, they aren’t exactly the same thing. It’s fine if you never meet a trans person to whom you are attracted. But what you’re describing is more like meeting one black person and deciding that you are categorically against dating black people.


@mazingerz88 “I don’t think feeling uncomfortable equates with having a phobia.”

This is kind of a tired response. “Phobia” can mean “aversion” as well as fear. You don’t have to be literally afraid of gay people to be homophobic. By the same token, you don’t have to be literally afraid of trans people to be transphobic.

“We don’t fear trangenders we just may not be attracted with women who used to be men.”

(1) Please don’t say “transgenders.” It is considered disrespectful. Say “transgender people” or “trans people” instead.

(2) Discomfort and lack of attraction are not the same thing. The premise of this question is discomfort.

(3) Trans women were never men. They were just assumed to be men.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@rockfan So what I’m hearing is your brain/intellect accepts it, but your body/ego/emotions do not. And that’s okay, too, it’s part of the process of growing.

rockfan's avatar

Sorry for the confusion. Maybe “uncomfortable” was the wrong word.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@rockfan Unfortunately, words often matter. People can only respond to what you actually say, which explains the reaction you got.

gorillapaws's avatar

@SavoirFaire “that doesn’t mean there can never be bad reasons behind the decisions they make”

That’s a fair point, but what we’re aroused by isn’t really a choice. While it’s reasonable to place value judgments on people’s decisions, I don’t think it’s reasonable to do so with factors that are not decisions such as their sexual (for lack of a better word) proclivities (orientation, kinks, body types, age, race, etc.). IMO not being attracted to trans women would fall into this category.

“which ones give you an uncanny valley feeling?”

I’m getting the uncanny valley vibe from all of them (that feeling is not limited to trans people btw—I get it from Joan Rivers, photo-shopped/airbrushed centerfolds and otherwise beautiful women who wear lots of makeup). It’s a fair point that I might be committing the Toupee Fallacy, although it would be impossible to know. I’m admittedly guilty of false-positives.

“Define ‘real one.’ ”

A vagina that wasn’t the result of a surgical procedure? and if she was born with both a penis and a vagina, that’s probably a deal-breaker for me too. And if she’s born with a clitoris that’s larger than my (average) erect penis, that’s also a deal-breaker. I don’t hate women with those attributes, I don’t want them to feel bad, I certainly want them to be accepted for who they are and treated with dignity and respect, living meaningful and happy lives filled with love and joy, but I’m not going to be aroused by or want to engage in physical intimacy with them.

I don’t think people should be sad about that fact. I certainly wouldn’t feel sad if a lesbian didn’t find me sexually attractive, I would think something to the effect of: “of course she’s not attracted to me, she’s attracted to women, and I am not a woman” except it would be such an obvious thought that it would just be processed subconsciously in a microsecond.

rockfan's avatar

The writer believes that saying you’re not attracted to trans people is prejudiced. Because you are discounting millions of trans people before you’ve met them.

Demosthenes's avatar

@SavoirFaire If I’m sexually attracted to a man and I love his personality then yes, I would consider dating him, trans or not. I have a high sex drive and the sexual aspect of a relationship is important to me so it would have to be a later decision to take it further depending on how the entire relationship works out, including the sexual aspect. I am not made uncomfortable by the thought of a trans man. I just foresee a difficulty with the sexual aspect of the relationship.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I would say that I have a right to feel anyway I like about my preferences. Any disagreement is violating my boundaries.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I have had women make passes at me. I had ZERO interest. Does that mean I hate lesbians?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@Dutchess_lll No. Just not your type.

SavoirFaire's avatar

And literally no one is saying otherwise.

hmmmmmm's avatar

This thread is very strange. There is total agreement about personal preferences and the right to have them. This is not the topic. @SavoirFaire has clearly laid out the different issues that we’re talking about here. But one by one, people come here to declare their right to not be attracted to something. Odd.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@hmmmmmm “Is it transphobic for a straight man to be uncomfortable dating a transgender woman?” I didn’t read the details and most of the answers. I got the impression that one is wrong not to have feelings for someone else. One’s feelings are never wrong. Unless your hurting yourself or others.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

@hmmmmmm I also got scared that being transphobic is opening up to in the future that “the law” would being lawsuits in the future for not having feelings for someone else.
Like wrongful break-ups. Like we do for wrongful dismissal in the job market.

Smashley's avatar

@Demosthenes – again, you’re equating genital shape with gender. Gender, as our society dictates it, is much more than genitals. It is a collection of ideas and presentations with a million variations. If a person is saying that someone they might otherwise be attracted to is disqualified for genital construction, that is prejudice. It’s not an uncommon prejudice, lots of people talk in absolute terms about deal breaking qualities of a potential partner, breath, weight, race, income, height, etc, but it doesn’t mean they are right to sink back into comforting stereotypes.

Demosthenes's avatar

@Smashley @RedDeerGuy1 I think part of the problem with this question is it asks about comfortability with dating (at first) but a lot of people (including me) were reading it as asking about what you are attracted to and coming to the conclusion “if you’re not attracted to trans people, you’re a bigot”. I’m attracted to what I’m attracted to. If I happen to be attracted to a trans man I didn’t know was trans, that wouldn’t suddenly evaporate the second I found out they did not have male genitalia. But I am most certainly not equating gender with genitalia; if I were, I would be denying that trans men are men. As I said above, “If you’re attracted to men or women, you’re attracted to the whole package”. What I am saying is that genitalia and the potential for intercourse is part of sexual attraction and a sexual relationship.

Smashley's avatar

@Demosthenes – yeah, I wasn’t saying you exactly. I meant more the OP, as if he might be using the arguments you had.

I agree that it’s part of attractiveness, not a sexual relationship, which knows no limits to the creative. I just want people to get over that genital revulsion they have, and acknowledge it’s only a small sidestep from someone who is otherwise perfect for them.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Scenario 1

A longtime partner tells me that she has been a trans woman all along and not a cis woman. I have always been attracted to her, I have always been happy with our sex life, and I have never felt uncomfortable to be with her. In short, her being trans has never posed any problem for me during the period of time when I was ignorant of that fact. And if she had never told me, I would have gone my whole life without it being an issue.

If I now become uncomfortable dating her because of the deception, that is not necessarily transphobic (so long as I am not using the deception as merely an excuse to break up with her). If the deception doesn’t bother me, but if I now become uncomfortable dating her because she is trans, then that is transphobic (since the only thing that has really changed is whether I conceptualize her as cis or trans).

Scenario 2a

I meet a woman who I find very attractive. We get to know each other, and it slowly becomes apparent to both of us that we’re on the path towards getting together. One day, she says to me something like: “Before we get involved, I need you to know that I am trans. And while I understand that this is extremely forward, here’s what my body looks like” (at which point she hands me a bunch of photographs of her naked body or disrobes and turns around in a circle or whatever).

Suppose her body looks almost exactly like I would have imagined it to look like when I thought she was cis. There’s no deception, there’s no change in her personality, and there’s no change in what she looks like or what I imagined her to look like. If she had lied and said, “before we get involved, here’s what my naked cis body looks like,” I would have been 100% on board. Again, if I now become uncomfortable dating her because she is trans, that that would be transphobic (since once again, the only thing that has really changed is whether I conceptualize her as cis or trans).

Scenario 2b

The same setup as Scenario 2a, but this time her body does not look almost exactly like I would have imagined it to look like when I thought she was cis. Maybe I’m just not attracted to her with her clothes off. Maybe I’m willing to give it a try, but we find out that we want different things out of a sexual relationship. But here’s the thing: both of these could happen with a cis person. So if I decide not to pursue the relationship any further, it’s not necessarily because she’s trans. It could just be that we are sexually incompatible.

There’s a difference between not getting involved with someone because you are not attracted to them and not getting involved with them because they are trans (or gay, or black, or whatever). There’s also a difference between not getting involved with someone because you are not sexually compatible with them (which could have something to do with their body, but could also be the result of all sorts of other factors) and not getting involved with someone because they are trans (or gay, or black, or whatever).

Conclusion

So instead of saying “I’m not attracted to trans people,” how about “I’ve never knowingly been attracted to a trans person”? Or maybe don’t even think of it in terms of cis or trans at all—because whether or not someone is trans shouldn’t be the issue.

“But @SavoirFaire,” you might say, “why worry about such esoteric matters of phrasing?” Because they shape our thinking, our thinking shapes our behavior, and our behavior shapes the world we all have to share.

When we say to ourselves “I’m not attracted to trans people,” it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. It sets up a filter in our minds that becomes hard to break, even when people slip through it without us noticing.

The same happens when we tell ourselves we’re not attracted to black people or blondes or any other broad category of people we aren’t actually in a position to evaluate. It’s bad epistemic hygiene, and we should want to do better.

gorillapaws's avatar

@SavoirFaire Thank you for clearly articulating the argument. I completely agree that phrasing and precise language is very important in a discussion like this. I have made errors with my terminology earlier, and may continue to unintentionally do so. I’ll do my best to write as clearly as possible.

I guess for me, I am unable to get past the physical aspect. For me, a trans woman’s mouth is still a male mouth (the cells are literally XY) being controlled by a woman’s mind, no matter if there’s lipstick or Botox or other means used to alter it. The idea of an intimate kiss with male lips, regardless of the gender of the mind that’s controlling them, is revolting to me, personally. I’m not at all revolted by the person, or their identity, just the idea of kissing lips that are male. I would expect a gay man to feel the same way about kissing the lips of an anatomically female mouth.

It’s the same sense of revulsion I would expect to get if I were to make out with a woman, only to later find out we were siblings separated at birth. If the sister knowingly deceived me, I would be justified in my anger. One could even argue that what occurred was a form of sexual assault (especially if the roles were reversed) and that the person never would have consented to the act had they known.

It reminds me of the chariot metaphor and the identity problem in philosophy. If you change or alter parts of the chariot is it still the same chariot? Even if someone has some parts of their body altered/removed, isn’t their body still male, regardless of the gender of the mind controlling it? I don’t see how it’s morally unacceptable to view a trans person in this way from a personal sexual preference perspective, while still acknowledging and respecting the trans woman’s gender identity?

Demosthenes's avatar

@SavoirFaire Scenario 2b is the kind of thing I was thinking of in my initial responses. And yes, that’s true that sexual incompatibility could happen between me and a cis-person for a variety of different reasons.

seawulf575's avatar

I think that being branded as a transphobic because you have a sexual preference is about as bigoted a comment as I have ever heard. It makes the assumption that if you don’t find them attractive sexually there is something wrong with you. I don’t want to date a guy because I don’t find men sexually attractive. That doesn’t make me homophobic, it just means I prefer to sleep with men.

rockfan's avatar

Basically, half of the people in this thread would be branded as transphobic by the trans community…

Brian1946's avatar

@seawulf575 “That doesn’t make me homophobic, it just means I prefer to sleep with men.”

I’d say the vast majority of men who prefer to sleep with men, aren’t homophobic. ;-)

seawulf575's avatar

@Brian1946 Doh! Supposed to be I DON’T prefer to sleep with men!

rockfan's avatar

I’ve been chatting with some transgender women and they say that it’s transphobic to say that transgender women are different than cisgender women. I can’t wrap my head around that. I asked further if medical doctors would agree, and then they got upset at the question.

Probably the last time I talk about these kind of transgender issues with other trans people because obviously I will never see eye to eye on basic science.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@rockfan So after being told by some you sounded transphobic here and another place, you went to talk to trans women and upset them?
The most basic block of any relationship is respect, and it doesn’t sound like you can offer than to trans friends right now in a healthy way without further education or understanding of the psychological changes they also experience.

Here is the medical legalities involved with discrimination regarding transgenders. You are required, in that industry, to respect the patient’s stated gender identity.

Because discrimination against a patient on the basis of his or her gender identity is discrimination on the basis of sex, covered entities must be careful to respect the person’s stated gender identity.
https://www.americanbar.org/groups/gpsolo/publications/gpsolo_ereport/2017/march_2017/respecting_gender_identity_healthcare_regulatory_requirements_recommendations_treating_transgender_patients/

rockfan's avatar

People were sending me direct messages and I was replying back to them, I didn’t go out of my way to message them and upset them.

rockfan's avatar

Someone mentioned that a straight cisgender male dating a transgender female is the exact same thing as a straight cisgender male dating a cisgender female. How in the world is it transphobic to disagree with that? Because I don’t think think it is the same thing.

rockfan's avatar

I fully recognize that their gender identity doesn’t match their assigned sex. So they transition. And I fully support that. I think it’s insulting to say that I have an irrational fear of trans people.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@rockfan You don’t recognize the fact that transitioning is more than cosmetic surgery. All you seem to see is birth gender as a static fact for all time, when it’s a non-binary construct, a grey area per se, not black and white.
You even said you could not wrap your head around it, so you acknowledge it and are here asking questions, asking questions of them, too, so it doesn’t seem like you are operating from a place of fear, but curiousity. But will you be able to fully call yourself an ally until you can ‘wrap your head around it’?

Here’s a paper you could read about being trans-affirmative.
https://www.apa.org/practice/guidelines/transgender.pdf

rockfan's avatar

“You don’t recognize the fact that transitioning is more than cosmetic surgery.”

Never insinuated that at all. Not sure where you’re getting that from

KNOWITALL's avatar

@rockfan “I was also accused of being transphobic for insinuating that a transgender woman isn’t a woman.”

Trans-affirmative: Being aware of, respectful and supportive of the needs of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals.

gorillapaws's avatar

@KNOWITALL “You don’t recognize the fact that transitioning is more than cosmetic surgery”

Physically speaking, how is it different from cosmetic surgery? Are the cells in their bodies converted to XX from XY? I’m unaware of any scientific process that can achieve this. If an archeologist were to find the skeleton of a trans woman, what sex would they believe it to be?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@gorillapaws We aren’t just speaking about just physically though, there is a psychological component you guys aren’t recognizing.

gorillapaws's avatar

@KNOWITALL ”...psychological component you guys aren’t recognizing.”

What are you talking about? We’re constantly acknowledging the female mind. Is there a single post I’ve made where I have rejected this idea?

rockfan's avatar

The entire point of transitioning is to both physically and psychologically align with their gender identity. I’ve recognized the psychological component the entire time

KNOWITALL's avatar

@gorillapaws Are you acknowledging the female mind in a male body, or vice versa? That it’s possible? It’s far more than cosmetic surgery!

@rockfan So then why is a trans woman different than a woman? If her body finally matches her mind/psyche, why can’t you wrap your head around it?

gorillapaws's avatar

@KNOWITALL Here’s from my 2nd post:

“The science is clear that people have a mis-match between their physical bodies and their mental gender”

From a later post in the thread:

“I think people are obligated to acknowledge the gender the person identifies as”

and here:

“For me, a trans woman’s mouth is still a male mouth (the cells are literally XY) being controlled by a woman’s mind”

All of those acknowledge the female mind of a trans woman. What I don’t accept, on a purely anatomical level, is that the body transformation is anything more than surgery and hormones. I understand why it’s important for a trans woman (psychologically) to pursue those changes. I support them in that process and I would never want to disrespect them or their bodies. I would never tell a trans woman that I don’t accept her vagina as being real, or want to make her feel bad about it. But that also dosen’t mean I’m morally obligated to want to put my penis in a surgically sculpted orifice that used to be a penis just because I’m a straight man. That’s just not my thing.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

I agree with RDG and a few others. It’s a preference. I’m a lesbian and personally am not attracted to MTF trans women.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

How could anyone possibly know if a trans woman actually has the mind of a woman? Does a wtm trans male actually have the mind of a male? How could we know?

dabbler's avatar

You don’t date categories of people, you date individuals.

I don’t think it’s “phobic” in any way to feel like dating someone or not. Feelings are innocent. People want to date whom they want to date and there is zero wrong with that.
Dating is completely personal and individual, the motivations for attraction are deep and often un-rational. Whom you pick to date is your choice.

If, without meeting someone, you dismiss them as a potential ‘dating’ partner because of some demographic category then you might be phobic. On the other hand I’ll stick with an individual’s right to express and fulfill their own personal feelings to love whom they want to. Not wanting to ‘date’, ‘love’ someone is personal and innocent and nobody should be made to avoid their true feelings on such intimate matters.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I dated a category of people: Men.

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