General Question

Vincentt's avatar

Do transsexuals more commonly have a sexual preference for the original or new gender?

Asked by Vincentt (8079points) September 4th, 2010

I just had this discussion with my sister, but I couldn’t find any statistics/research on this, so I was hoping Fluther knew of some. If a person has a sex change, is it more common for him/her to have a sexual preference for people of his/her old gender or for his/her new gender?

Note that I don’t discuss transsexuals often, so if I made a mistake in terminology, my apologies (and please correct me).

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25 Answers

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muppetish's avatar

Sexual preference and gender identity are two separate facets of a person. I don’t have statistics (nor am I transgender – someone else could possibly shed better light on this from personal experience) but I do not believe that the two are linked out of necessity. I know my sexual preference. A transgender individual knows their sexual preference. That’s not likely to change regardless of their physical body.

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

Just FYI:
Cisgender means someone who is comfortable in the gender they were assigned at birth. It is also refered to as “gender normative”.
Transgender means someone who is not comfortable in the gender they were assigned at birth AND/OR someone whose identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender roles, but combines or moves between these.
Transexual means only those that have altered their body to change their gender already.

Sex, in this context refers to only what is between your legs, whereas gender includes what is in between your ears (what you feel you are). No matter what changes you try to make, you cannot change your DNA, so someone who was born a woman but has now had a double mastectomy and “grown a penis and testicles”, as it were, would still be referred to as “double X chromosomed”.

Vincentt's avatar

@muppetish I don’t know if it is related, but I can very well imagine it to be. (It also wouldn’t be surprising to me if gay people decided on a sex change more often than heterosexual people).

@papayalily Right. The particular case that led to this discussion applied to someone who used to be a man but would get surgery in a few weeks to become a woman, so a transsexual to be. So we’d be particularly interested in those who feel themselves to be in a body of a gender other than their mind so strongly that they actually underwent a sex change. So I guess my usage of the term transsexual was correct :)

MyNewtBoobs's avatar

@Vincentt It’s actually usually money that stops them. The whole process costs in the ballpark of 40k. And there’s no “the surgery” – it’s a series of various changes. MTF, laser or electrolysis to stop facial hair, breast implants, hormone treatments, and whatever they do in between the legs. FTM, stimulating facial hair follicles, breast removal, injections into the clitoris to enlarge it, rearranging the labia majora and stuffing it to become testicles, hormone treatments, and I think there’s something with the uterus and ovaries that they do. All of this is done over many months, if not years.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

As @muppetish correctly points out, one’s gender identity and sexuality are completely separate so a trans person can be straight or lgbt or asexual – I do think, however, that trans and gnc (gender non-conforming) individuals, just by nature of what they’ve experienced, are more likely to consider non-conventional sexualities and ways of coupling/being with people – their minds are more likely to be open…but, that is by no means, something that can be applied to all trans people, because many like the gender binary and when they change sex, they want to pass so badly…that, contrary to all else, they’ll want to be with people that their new sex is ‘supposed’ to be with.

Ben_Dover's avatar

If they are unsure of what sex they want to be, how can the be sure of what sex they want to take to bed with them?

muppetish's avatar

@Ben_Dover First of all, this is a question of gender identity and not biological sex. Secondly, what makes you think they are unsure about either?

harple's avatar

@Downtide would be a great person to ask :-)

laureth's avatar

From my experience, a gender transition does not affect the gender of the person they want to sleep with. If someone liked women before, for example, they generally like women afterward.

GeorgeGee's avatar

I know of one previously married male -> female transsexual who ended up not liking males OR females and is currently living alone. Another previously married male -> female transsexual is still married to “her” original wife. Bottom line: The sex change was about personal identity, not a covert expression of homosexuality.

Ben_Dover's avatar

@laureth Why would you go to the time and trouble of changing from a man to a woman just to become a lesbian. it seems sort of silly.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Ben_Dover Because, again, gender and sexuality are two separate identities. You don’t change from a man to a woman because you want or need to become a lesbian – you do it because you don’t feel like a man and becoming a woman makes more sense.

harple's avatar

Forgive me if I’ve gotten this wrong, but my understanding of the question is that it is not asking (or suggesting) that sexual preference changes when a person has a sex change, but asking whether there are typical preferences that people who have sex changes have.

MacBean's avatar

Why would you go to the time and trouble of changing from a man to a woman just to become a lesbian.

Because a male-to-female transsexual isn’t changing from a man to a woman. She was always a woman; her body just didn’t always match that. It doesn’t matter if she used to have (or still has, if she’s pre-op) a penis. She was still a lesbian.
I wish I had a good answer for the original question. I’d be really interested in some actual statistics on this. I think in documentaries and text books and similar things that I’ve been exposed to, a majority of the transfolk I’ve heard about are straight. But not the same huge majority that you’d find in a cross-section of “normal” society. I think that transfolk do a lot more experimenting as we’re trying to figure ourselves out, and so we find out that we’re actually open to a lot of stuff the average person might not even think about. I’m pretty sure none of the transfolk I know personally identify as heterosexual or homosexual. They tend to go for terms like bisexual, pansexual, polysexual, omnisexual, or just plain ol’ queer.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
LostInParadise's avatar

I am just speculating, but I would think that part of believing oneself to truly be the new gender would tend to involve sexual attraction to those of the old gender. Gender and sexual orientation may be too different things, but they tend to go together.

laureth's avatar

@LostInParadise – I believe that by the time a person has gone through the reassignment process, it’s not that they believe they have become a new and different gender, but that they have more fully been able to express on the outside what they have already long felt was true on the inside. The taste one has in a partner would not be affected by such a transformation. If you are a lesbian (who happened to be born in a body that feels absolutely wrong to you because you accidentally were dealt a penis), you are still a lesbian afterward and still prefer women.

The new gender is not something you have to “believe yourself to be” after the process is done. It’s what you should have been all along, but somehow were not.

LostInParadise's avatar

Yes, but generally women are attracted to men, so I am saying that by probability that same attraction would carry over as part of the package of feeling oneself to be a woman. Again, let me emphasize this is pure speculation.

laureth's avatar

@LostInParadise – Perhaps I am misunderstanding. Are you saying that someone with (for example) XX chromosomes, who was born physically female and is attracted to men, would, upon becoming a trans-male (still with XX chromosomes but now presenting socially and hormonally male), would no longer be attracted to men, and wake up one day and suddenly find himself attracted to women because he’s “now a man, and that’s what men do?”

In my experience, I find that to not happen. Granted, I am not trans myself, but having dated MtF and FtM individuals (one each), had an aunt who married a MtF person, and been involved in my locals trans-community to some degree, I am taking this beyond speculation and into the realm of anecdotal “data.” ;)

LostInParadise's avatar

Pardon me for communicating poorly. What I am saying is this. Someone is born biologically as a woman, but she feels herself to be a man. Part of being a man is being attracted to women, so I am thinking that before the operation there may be a good chance that the woman is a lesbian. From what you are saying, this has not been the case with those who you have met, that gender identity and sexual attraction were two completely separate items. As I said, I was just speculating and I find your evidence, even if anecdotal, to be enlightening.

Vincentt's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I definitely am not asking whether something applies to all transsexuals, just whether there are some statistics on a significant difference from cisgender people.

@laureth Like @harple correctly pointed out, I’m not asking whether their preference changes, I’m just wondering whether e.g. a woman that becomes a man more often has a preference for men or for women.

@MacBean And what would “straight”, then, mean? ;-)

@LostInParadise‘s theory was something along the lines I was thinking of. Considering that most men are attracted to women, a woman that actually felt like a man and in the end became one could be expected to be more likely to be attracted to women.

I could also very well imagine the theory of transsexuals being more open-minded about sexual preference to be true as well, meaning that a gay transsexual would be more likely to find out/come out, and thus the majority of heterosexuals to be less than under cisgendered people.

However, I’d still like it if there were some statistics on this :)

laureth's avatar

OK, it makes sense now. :) In my meager experience, the majority of people I have known did identify as “straight” before their transition, and “gay” afterward, because the desired mate did not change. Thanks for clarifying.

Response moderated (Off-Topic)
downtide's avatar

Gosh. How did I miss this one? I found it with the new Search facility.

As has aready been pointed out, sexuality and gender identity are unrelated, so transsexuals can be gay, bi or straight just the same as cisgendered (non-transexual people). Most people do not change their orientation during transition: which means if they were interested in women before transitioning they’ll remain interested in women afterwards as well. Which means that most transsexuals will intersect with the LGB community at some point in their lives, either before or after transition.

I am an active member of the trans community in the city where I live. There are about 60–80 transsexual people who regularly attend the trans group and trans support centre. Based on those who I know are in relationships, my estimate of this fairly small and very sample with a quick count-up, says about 25% are involved in gay/lesbian relationships after transition. So it’s still majority straight, but that there’s more gays and lesbians than there would be in general society.

Of the trans-men, those who identify as gay are almost exclusively dating other trans men. I am the only one there who’s involved with a cisgendered man.

I have no idea which if any of these people identify as bisexual in general, I can only go by what relationships I observe them in.

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